However, Lee’s address at the Rismark conference would suggest such reasoning is clouding the real issue – that residential property can actually be a good investment. Lee highlighted a number of factors pointing to an expected property boom, backed up by another conference presentation where ANZ senior housing economist Paul Braddick measured, graphed and demonstrated his prediction the market was headed for “the mother of all housing booms”. Lee also pointed to the strong history of property performance and the low volatility in this asset class. Not to mention the gaping capacity to take on institutional money – the asset class is already estimated to have a capital value of around $3.2 trillion in Australia. “From a long term balanced perspective it should be a very serious consideration for long term investors,” Lee said.
“The impact of building up long term assets in this area is going to be quite profound.” “There are a range of factors underpinning its stability and growth. You’d be hard pressed to find as many [factors] in some of the other traditional asset classes.” Whether any super funds pay attention to Lee’s arguments is hard to guess. He is a bit of an anomaly among the asset consultants when it comes to residential property.
According to one funds manager, Lee is the only representative among the consultants saying the asset has big benefits. Lee says consultants and investors are dragging their feet on taking a more serious look at this asset through the shared equity structure. “It’s a slow and frustrating process but that’s the process we follow. You can’t rush institutional investors – it’s not sensible to do that under any circumstances.”
Like Rismark and Greenway Capital, Lee is hopeful the sector will grow. And no doubt, he too is holding his breath waiting for the first super fund to make the jump.