Guess what the median Australian house price was in 1976?


We all have one of these stories.

I’m referring, of course, to the ‘one that got away’ in the property market.


If we haven’t personally looked back on a property that, in retrospect, we could have bought for next to nix, then we know someone who does.

This was the case with a Sydney investor I met recently, who lamented the fact that his grandma sold her prime piece of real estate for a song in 1985.

The family was given the opportunity to buy the apartment, perched on Sydney’s harbour – quite literally on the waterfront, overlooking the Harbour Bridge and Opera House – for around $180,000, but no one was interested.

So some lucky buyer picked up the two-bedroom apartment, which would currently be worth well over $2.5 million.

In these situations, investors can often become annoyed or frustrated over their ‘lost opportunities’, but not much can be gained from that mindset.

After all, it’s not exactly news that property prices increase significantly over time.

Most people are fairly clued up to the fact that the price and value of real estate generally grow as each decade ticks over.

That’s why it’s often said that time in the market, rather than timing the market, is the safest way to invest in property.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve always encouraged young home buyers and investors to get into the property market because I believe that the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run as compounding (of property price growth) and time work their magic.

The proof of this philosophy is pretty much in the pudding, as property values have grown exponentially over the years.

Let’s assume that you bought your first home or investment property just over 40 years ago, in 1976.

  • Sydney – $36,800
  • Canberra – $35,100
  • Melbourne – $32,900
  • Adelaide – $29,800
  • Hobart – $31,575
  • Perth – $33,000
  • Brisbane – $26,275

There are a few interesting things that come out of these figures.

  1. How cheap property prices seem when you look back today (not that they seemed inexpensive at the time)
  2. Brisbane was the cheapest capital city then, well behind Hobart and Adelaide.

It’s important to keep things in perspective, though.

The average wage in the mid-1970s was around $6,000, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, so the median Sydney house price was almost six times the value of the average annual income.

Forty years on, both wages and house prices are considered higher, although they haven’t grown at a consistent pace.

Sydney’s median is now 27 times higher than it was in 1975; if wages had matched that pace, the average wage would now be $162,000.

Of course two of the big reasons behind this are:

  1. There are more 2 income families (both partners working) today than there were 40 years ago increasing disposable household income.
  2. Interest rates are at historic lows substantially increasing affordability. The standard variable interest rate in 1976 was 9.88%, meaning you needed to pay up to three times as much interest to service the same dollar value of the loan.

House prices today:

According to CoreLogic, median capital city property values at the end of July 2021 were as follows:

  • Sydney – $1,017,692
  • Melbourne – $762,068
  • Perth – $532,392
  • Canberra – $793,872
  • Brisbane – $598,615
  • Darwin – $486,054
  • Adelaide – $516,454
  • Hobart – $621,102

And this is a great time to enter the property market.

Sure our property markets have been strong despite all the challenges thrown at them.

And yes, property prices seem expensive in some locations; but knowing what you know now, who wouldn’t have liked to buy their parent’s house for what your parents paid years ago?

Wouldn’t it be great to have a crystal ball and take a peek into property markets of the future and see where real estate prices will be in another 40 years?

Analyzing Property

In its absence, I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that in the long term, property values will continue to grow, underpinned by our growing population and the general wealth of our nation.

It’s important to keep this in mind when you’re negotiating your next property deal, as squabbling over $5,000, $10,000 or even $20,000 in today’s dollars is unlikely to have a huge impact on your eventual wealth.

An opportunity like the present – a once-in-a-generation property boom – doesn’t come around too often in your life.

That doesn’t mean you should buy any old property

Just like over the last 40 years, in the next 40 years, some properties are going to outperform others – that is why you need to buy “investment grade properties.”

And remember the location of your property is going to do around 80% of the heavy lifting with regards to its capital growth – so choose your location wisely.

When you invest there are 3 main variables:

  1. Your budget – and that’s generally determined by the banks
  2. Location – as I said, don’t compromise on this
  3. The property you purchase in that location – as I said, is an investment-grade property.

But to ensure you buy the right property let’s look at a few trends I see moving forward…

1. Property demand from home buyers is going to continue to be strong

Currently, home prices are surging around Australia, auction clearance rates remain high, and the media keeps reminding us we’re in a property boom.

The result is emotions are running high at the moment, with FOMO (fear of missing out) being a common theme around Australia’s property markets.

Melbourne Million Boom

One of the leading indicators I watch carefully is finance housing approvals, and these are suggesting that more Aussies are looking at getting into the property and we will have strong ongoing demand from owner-occupiers and investors over the next 6 months.

Now, with borrowing costs lower than they ever have been, the reassurance that interest rates won’t rise for a number of years, it is likely that buyer demand will remain strong throughout the year.


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