My 2021 Predictions – thoughts on what 2021 will deliver

Profound predictions, bold statements and audacious utterings are not something normally associated with the button-down persona of quantity surveyors.

But I’m about to buck the trend.

Perhaps I’ve been I’m emboldened by this year of challenge. Maybe I’ve gone lockdown stir crazy. Possibly, it’s just the end of the year and it’s time to pop on the Hawaiian shirt, grab a festive morning mimosa and let fly.

Don’t stop me… I’m on a roll.

Here are my thoughts on what 2021 will deliver Australia’s property markets.

  1. More building

There’s been a substantive move toward new-property investment in the past few years, and this will only pick up the pace in 2021.

Now there’s been plenty of stimulus reasons for this. First homeowner grants and various building boosts are part of the equation. Yes – I realise these things don’t apply to ‘investors’ but in many instances, these newly built properties will become investment assets (more of that in another blog).

In 2021 this new-home trend will continue. Government stimulus to assist the construction industry post-pandemic isn’t going away. In addition, once these homes do become investment properties, the depreciation benefits each year are more than enough to pay for cabanossi, Jatz crackers and brie at your EOFY celebration (yes, that’s a thing).

  1. Attached housing changes

We’re all well versed in the challenges faced by new unit construction throughout the past five year. Oversupply issues in many capital cities coupled with bad press around structural concerns all hurt the industry.

But throw in a pandemic – which included swathes of lockdown time within your tiny apartment’s four walls – and you can see how stir-crazy residents are growing weary of units.

Buyers are already looking toward larger units, but there’s a noticeable increase in those acquiring townhouses as well.

Even if it’s a purchase for investment, the popularity of space can’t be denied. Tenants need room too, and they’re willing to pay for it.

Investors also seem to be growing weary of large unit developments based on our analysis at MCG. Smaller, boutique style projects with a bit of individualistic flare will continue to play a major role in our markets.

  1. No ‘mass exodus to the regions’

Shock! Horror! I’m taking a contrarian position and make no apologies for it.

Despite the column inches written on how we’re all fleeing the city in search of low-density regional centres, I just don’t see it happening on a broad scale over the long term.

Yes – I understand the arguments. You can mostly work from anywhere with an internet connection. Why wouldn’t you enjoy the beach or bush? It’s time to escape the city.

But facts remain – we all want to be within a reasonable commute of our CBDs. That’s where the action is! They’re the major financial, services and social interaction hubs of our states and territories.

I expect that while inner-CBD and higher density suburbs will suffer a little in 2021, it won’t be distant regionals that benefit most. Instead, it’ll be lifestyle centres within a short train ride of the big smoke. Think Sydney’s Northern Beaches (post -Christmas lockdown of course).

  1. Lending will drive gains

We are living in the era of a 0.1 per cent cash rate. Make no mistake… our children will talk of this moment with their offspring. Money has never been so cheap – but interest rates aren’t the only consideration.

Early in 2021, there will be serious discussion about stimulating the economy by making the process of securing a loan less arduous.

In the wake of the Royal Commission, APRA edicts and responsible lending laws it’s been a nightmare for loan applicants who, in many cases, could easily afford the repayments.

But political will to see the economy grow will compel the powers that be to ease up on lending guidelines well before June 2021.

And when it becomes easier to get a loan at these historic low rates, most markets will move.

  1. Infrastructure boomtime

Again, post-pandemic Australia will be all about growth and ‘Build! Build! Build!’ will be its mantra.

Across major capitals you’ll see extraordinary projects designed to both improve lifestyle and increase employment. From transport to entertainment venues to commercial precincts, dollars will be spent.

The flow on from more money in the pockets of working Aussies always end up being a property uptick.

We are coming off a fairly low base in 2020, so the effect will be magnified in 2021.

  1. First homebuyers are in force

After being relegated to the real estate wilderness for so many years, first homebuyers are making their presence felt now, and will continue to do so throughout 2021.

It should be no surprise that I’m all for investors. They’re an extremely well-educated cohort who, on the whole, seek to become smarter about the market and the benefits of participating in real estate ownership.

But in 2020, they stood back as uncertainty rained down, and that vacuum was filled by first homebuyers.

Government grants and improved affordability in certain locations have seen first timers step into the market like never before, and their influence will continue into 2021. Expect to see more housing produced to cater to this group, and for home ownership to become an ever-increasing badge of success among the young, particularly in the lower and mid-level property sectors.

Despite some concerns around easing government economic assistance and the efficacy of the vaccine rollout, I remain as upbeat as a Christmas elf about 2021. Stock levels are tight, confidence is rising and there’s political appetite for economic growth.

With all this in offer, I have no doubt we’re in for a great year.

Now… back to that mimosa.

Mike Mortlock is a Quantity Surveyor and Managing Director of MCG Quantity Surveyors. MCG Specialise in Tax Depreciation Schedules and Construction Cost Estimating. You can visit them at Mike Mortlock is a Tax Depreciation expert, Quantity Surveyor and Managing Director of MCG Quantity Surveyors. He is a regular speaker and commentator having been featured in the Financial Review and Sky Business. MCG Specialise in Tax Depreciation Schedules and Construction Cost Estimating for investors. You can visit them at