One common piece of advice property investors get when starting is to time the market to achieve the best capital growth. However, a study by the Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA) found that doing so could actually cost investors thousands of dollars.
Investors who try to time the market could potentially lose as much as $140,000 in a 15-year period, according to the study.
"Trying to time the market is not only extremely difficult for most investors, but the transactional costs of buying and selling multiple times, including stamp duty and capital gains tax, eat up a significant chunk of your potential profit," PIPA chairman Peter Koulizos said.
The study analysed the median price changes in every capital city over the past 15 years. Melbourne, Hobart, and Darwin were the top-performing cities, with median house-price growth ranging from 106% to 147%. The analysis found that no capital city was the strongest for a sustained period.
"Sydney's market was actually the strongest prior to the most recent price upswing. Likewise, over the past 15 years, Darwin was the third-best performer in the nation — and the best between 2003 and 2008 — even though its market is considered to currently be in a downturn," Koulizos said.
He explained that for an investor who purchased a $400,000 dwelling in 2003 and adopted a time-the-market strategy, the results would vary in terms of location. If the investor purchased the property in Melbourne, capital growth of $588,000 could be achieved.
However, the investor would likely lose around $137,700 if the property is in any of the worst-performing capital cities and if the investor tried to time the market.
"For argument's sake, if an investor somehow managed to select the best locations each time, sure, they would be ahead by $386,000, yet by simply buying and holding in many other locations their capital growth result would have been better," Koulizos said, "On top of that, there is the stress of buying and selling three times in a 15-year period, during which time market sentiment and conditions can change dramatically as well."