Why I recommend people not buy property

By Victor Kumar
Some property investors get so caught up in growing their portfolios that they buy when they shouldn’t.
They rigidly stick to a plan that might be out of date.
There are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t buy, which I’ll outline in this next part of my special “why” series on property investment strategies.
Say no to new
One of the key reasons to not buy is when your accountant gives you “advice” that because you’re paying so much tax then you “must” buy a property, which invariably is a brand new one.
If your accountant, your broker, or your financial planner is recommending you buy an off-the-plan “opportunity”, it is paramount that do you not buy that property because there is money likely changing hands behind the scenes that you might not know about.
At the end of the day, allegiances generally lie with the person who is paying you, so in that scenario that “advice” is probably being swayed by the commission being offered for the sale.
Another reason not to buy a property is if it will use up every single dollar you have to purchase it.
That’s because it will then significantly impact your cash flow position.
Murphy’s Law is that once you’ve bought an established property you can expect to have what I call a “teething” period.
That’s usually lasts the first six months and is when you will have a number of niggling repair and maintenance requests, such as leaky taps or broken locks.
This is often the case when the property has been vacant for a while before you bought it.
The point is that if you don’t have any cash flow leftover, how will you pay for their essential repairs?
Plus, you don’t have a financial buffer if the property remains vacant for a period of time after settlement, which means you have to cover the mortgage repayments.
When that happens, landlords often make poor tenant selections because they’re desperate to get someone in.
So, they don’t, or can’t, wait for a good application and take the first one that comes along, which usually ends badly.
Life changes
Another reason why you shouldn’t buy a property is imminent changes to your income, such as going from being a PAYG employee to being self-employed or setting up a business.
That’s because there is usually an issue with cash flow in the first six months when you leave the relative safety net of employee-land.
So, you’re potentially just adding more to your pain by buying at that point of time.
A better strategy is to wait until your finances and cash flow has improved or stay at your job for longer.
The same goes if your income is reducing because of a new addition to the family.
You have to factor that in because once you’ve bought you’re stuck with it for the long-term.
It’s very easy to get into the market, but it’s much harder to get out, and you could lose money if you have to sell in bad market conditions.
Equally importantly, too many people just concentrate on one side of the equation – such as buying quickly – but not on the vital fundamentals such as insurances to sustain them over the long-term.
At the end of the day, to build a portfolio there are four avenues of incomes, which need to be protected.

  1. Rent, which is covered by landlord insurance.
  2. The property value, which is covered by building insurance.
  3. Your own income, which is covered by income protection insurance.
  4. Debt retirement, which is covered by life and trauma insurance.

It’s this basic house-keeping that will make the difference between whether you will be a successful investor over the long-term or a fly-by-night one who has to sell because they bought too quickly or bought the wrong property on bad advice.
If you missed the first part of this special series click here to read all about why I haven’t bought substantially in Tasmania.