Today Tonight - Cheap Houses
29 September 2008
Reporter: Gavin Alder
"You can buy multiple properties in the United States for the price of one house in Australia and when you do the figures on that cash flow wise, it's a sound investment", Nathaniel said.
Formerly Brisbane based, Nathaniel now lives in Missouri, where real estate prices are hitting rock bottom. Today he's got his sights set on a home that has three bedrooms, a basement and an attic. And Nathaniel is ready to drive a hard bargain. "It started at $44,000 they've already dropped it to $41,000, so that's where we're at".
With record numbers of foreclosures in the US, real estate prices are plunging says local agent Marty Lyle. "The banks don't want to hold these properties, they want to get them off the books and get them sold", he said.
"A house for $30,000 could be rented for, depending on the bedrooms, depending on the condition, could be rented for $500, $550, $600 a month", Nathaniel said.
Nathaniel's brother Matthew is based in Queensland and is looking for Australian buyers for U.S. property. Shaun and Jodie Brady were one of the first in the queue. "Naturally there are some concerns about it being so far away and the state of affairs over there at the moment, but like all investments there is always a risk", the couple said.
Real estate buyers advocate David Morrell of Morell and Coren has concerns. "Buying in a market you know nothing about; not doing the proper due diligence; buying in an economy that's purely a basket case; not understanding the tenancy law; not understanding the tax laws and not having any defined exit strategy when you want to get out of it", are just some of his concerns.
But Shaun and Jodie say they weighed up all those risks and went ahead, and Nathaniel organised a tenant paying $500 a month on a 12 month lease.
"We've got property managers over there. We have lined up accountants over in the States who can communicate with accountants back here - everything is taken care of", Nathaniel said.
Australians are not only buying in the U.S. David and Sharon Stratford visited France and loved it so much -- they bought a slice of their own. "The village is really what you want to buy into. It's the village, it's the ancient ruin on top of the hill, it's the 12th Century church, the little commerces in town there. It's probably all the stuff the French people living there take for granted", the couple said.
The locals are leaving historic homes in the village centre to buy in new estates on the outskirts. David and Sharon use their townhouse once or twice a year and rent it out for the rest. "Probably if we rent it for 10 weeks of the year it pays for itself, at $500 a week", David said.
Now David and Sharon are showing others how to invest in French property. Sue McGary bought a two bedroom townhouse for $78,000. It's in Pouzauges in South West France. "It's an hour from the beach, it's about an hour from the wine region of the Loire Valley, about two hours from Bordeaux, four hours from Paris. It's a beautiful spot", Sue said.
Sue visits once a year and rents out to Australian and English tourists for the rest of the time, which gives her a tidy return. "When you have paid less than $100,000 for the house and when interest rates are around 5% fixed and the French banks are prepared to lend you the money at that rate, then absolutely it stacks up as an investment", Sue said.
"I do have clients who purchase properties overseas, but they do it more for lifestyle. There's a difference between buying a lifestyle investment as opposed to buying and investment overseas. In other words you're going to get some use out of it", David Morell said.