Finance advice
Steve Waters

Why arguing cash flow v capital growth is a mistake

By Steve Waters

More property magazine column inches have probably been devoted to this subject than just about any other – but I think those picking sides in the cash flow versus capital gains debate are missing the point.

Investment strategy 101

The theory behind the argument of whether to invest for either cash flow or capital gains, stems from the simplistic reasoning that investors can only have one or the other, but not both.

As a gross generalisation, if properties are located close to CBDs in blue-chip positions, then capital gains are sure to follow, but the relative rental return won’t be so hot.

Similarly, other investors seeking high rental returns from their ventures don’t expect the values to shoot up quickly, because high yield properties are often in fringe locations with less scarcity and more generic housing on offer.

Where it all falls apart

In essence, the main error in choosing a strategy is it fails to recognise that smart investors take a holistic approach to their multi-property portfolios - and healthy portfolios are balanced.

That way, depending on the investor’s requirements at a given point in time, the portfolio can be weighted slightly towards cash flow or capital gain.

Real estate accumulation shouldn’t be built on a ‘one strategy’ approach, but rather should comprise a mix of property types that will service the investor’s immediate needs with a long-term perspective on wealth building.

Each and every purchase needs to be deliberate and have a desired outcome that makes sense to the overall balance sheet. This is why multi-property portfolio’s make sound financial sense.

ABS data shows around 8 per cent of Australians own an investment property. That’s approximately 1.9 million people. The problem is that most – around 85% – of those investors only own one investment, and the percentage drops dramatically as you increase the number of holdings. Did you realise only around 0.07 per cent of Australia’s population own 6 or more investment properties?

That’s just under 17,000 Australians with a multi-property portfolio set for a healthy retirement.

When to hunt for cash flow

I realise the definition of ‘high rental returns’ can be different measures in different markets and during different time periods. An investor in metro Melbourne would be ecstatic with a 5 per cent gross yield while someone buying in regional Victoria would scoff at the idea of so little.

That said, the upside in buying a cash flow investment is that it provides sustainability to your portfolio by mitigating risk.

A high cash flow where all the income takes care of all the expenditure gives you serviceability, which gives you time in the market because you’re not at the mercy of high interest rate and market fluctuations. You have enough dough to take care of the bills.

The negative is you don’t get the same growth in dollar values as you do when you buy a capital gains-oriented property. Most would agree you don’t get truly wealthy from cash flow alone.

Why you need capital gains

Capital gains help make the big money, because in a sustainable market, if you’re holding $2 million in assets, an annual rise of 5 per cent in value translates into $100,000 in the first year which continues to compound as the property price cycle runs its course.

The downside to being heavily exposed to capital gains investments is there’s not as much risk mitigation, because you don’t have a high-income buffer to help in the down periods. Your susceptible to external risks such as interest rate movements, unexpected unemployment or vacancy rates.

You’re backing an odds-on favourite every time and sooner or later it’s bound to get beaten.

What’s the answer?

Constant vigilance is the key.

Don’t let anyone tell you property investment is a set-and-forget proposition because successful investors ensure their portfolio is consistently and periodically reviewed so their next purchase will be perfect for their requirements.

You need to understand the maximum shortfall you can tolerate out of your disposable income to support the whole portfolio and that should be your trigger to change tac or stop investing before you start getting into the red.

The best investments find a balance of both CF and CG where you can earn a decent cash flow in the short term, while realising a healthy capital gain in the long haul.

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About the Blogger

Steve Waters

Steve Waters

Steve has almost a decade of hands on, comprehensive property investment experience and is himself an accomplished property investor with a substantial property holding.

Steve is the director of Right Property Group where he acts as a professional negotiator, property strategist and licenced real estate agent. He has successfully negotiated more than 2,000 transactions from one-bedroom units to multi-level apartment blocks and renovated over 85 properties adding massive value and also substantially increasing rental yields.

FROM THE WEB

podcast

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A softening market can be a difficult time for a property investor with finance approval tightening and property capital growth slowing, and while many real estate agents are also feeling the squeeze McGrath Brighton Le Sands' Bill Tsounias claims it is simply the market returning to normal.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Bill joins host Phil Tarrant to share his thoughts on the current Sydney property market, and to share the shifts that he has seen in house and unit sale prices following their worst quarter in the past decade.

Bill will unpack why properties are spending longer on market, share what he believes property investors are doing wrong when trying to sell their properties and share the secrets to getting the best out of a real estate agent and an auction in the current softening market.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

Why I still buy in Sydney
Property market update: Sydney, July 2018
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AREAS MENTIONED:

Revesby
South Hurstville
Sans Souci
Strathfield

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Gavin Kemp and his now-fiancé bought their first property together after only six months of dating. They weren’t even living together at the time. Now, two years on, the pair have bought five properties, sold two and have a solid plan in place for their ongoing property journey. 

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Gavin joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss how he chose the locations where he decided to invest and how, due to the initial lack of education (something that he now values highly), he lost money on his first two investments.

Gavin will share his thoughts on the current property market, reveal the people who he has leaned on throughout his property journey and discuss why his strategy employs a zero procrastination rule.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

What makes a good investment suburb?
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AREAS MENTIONED:

Redcliffe
Port Macquarie
Loganlea
Launceston
Raceview

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A joint property portfolio before they were even living together
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As the investment market tightens are you looking to learn something that will help you realign or readjust your property goals? In this episode of The Smart Property Investment Show, first time on the podcast Lisa Porter joins host Phil Tarrant to talk about the gems and wisdom associated with her modest portfolio of ‘only’ six properties.

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Listen now as Lisa and host Phil Tarrant discuss how her property journey started in the UK, with the purchase of a rough unit in a lower-socio suburb of South London. Lisa breaks down how that first purchase provided her greatest lesson, one she still applies today - turn off the noise, don’t worry too much about the peripheries and just get on with it.

The pair also discuss how property has given Lisa so much extra value in her life, not just building an asset base and heaps of enjoyment, but it also how it changed the trajectory of her career. Women, she says, shouldn’t be fearful of being proactive and taking control of the direction of their family’s financial future.  

 

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Walking and talking property investment with Lisa Porter – therapy, empowerment, education and inspiration

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