New vs Old Property – The Age-Old Question for Investors 

New vs Old Property – The Age-Old Question for Investors 

In the world of property investment, one question consistently sparks debate: should you invest in a new or an old property?  
This decision, often a conundrum for many Australian investors, hinges on market trends and personal investment strategies. Each option, new or old, carries its unique benefits and challenges, making the choice highly individual.  

As we delve into this age-old question, it’s important to remember that the best investment for you will align with your specific objectives, financial situation, and long-term plans. Let’s explore what both new and old properties have to offer, helping you make a more informed decision for your investment portfolio. 

The Allure of New Properties 

Investing in new properties presents a unique appeal in the property investment landscape. These modern dwellings often come with the promise of contemporary design, the latest amenities, and financial incentives that can be particularly attractive to certain investors.  

However, like any investment choice, they also have their downsides. So, let’s dive into the pros and cons.  

Advantages of Investing in New Properties 

New properties, particularly those bought off-the-plan, offer significant tax advantages. A key benefit is the ability to claim depreciation on both the construction cost and fixtures over time.  

For instance, if you invest in a new property with a construction cost of around $300,000, you could claim up to $7,500 annually in depreciation (calculated at 2.5% per year over 40 years). This depreciation can serve as a substantial tax write-off, enhancing the property’s cash flow. 

Another advantage lies in their appeal to tenants. New properties often come equipped with modern fittings, energy-efficient systems, and contemporary layouts that meet the expectations of today’s renters. This modernity can translate into lower vacancy rates and a higher quality of tenants as these properties are often more desirable in the rental market. 

Government incentives also play a part in the allure of new properties. Incentives like stamp duty exemptions (you only pay on the value of the land) for new homes can significantly reduce the upfront costs for investors, making new properties an attractive option financially. 

Disadvantages of New Properties 

On the flip side, new properties typically come with a higher purchase price. This increased cost can impact the potential return on investment and should be carefully considered in your investment strategy. 

Another notable concern with off-the-plan properties is the risk of being valued lower at completion than the purchase price. While the reduction in value may only be a “paper loss,” it can cause issues with any further financing or extracting equity down the line.  

Another drawback is the limited scope for adding value. Unlike older properties, where renovations can significantly increase value, new properties offer little room for such enhancements. Everything inside is brand new, and you’re on the hook for the respective depreciation (even if you can claim a significant chunk of it back on each tax return).   
Additionally, the land component of new properties is often limited, reducing opportunities for future development like subdividing or adding structures, which can be a drawback for investors looking to maximise land value. 

The Attraction of Old Properties 

Old properties represent a potentially significant opportunity for potential return on investment. Often found in established areas, these properties come with various financial and strategic benefits that can be key to a successful investment. However, just like new properties, they also have a unique set of considerations to weigh carefully. 

Advantages of Investing in Old Properties 

One of the most obvious advantages of investing in old properties is the potential to add value through renovations and improvements. Whether it’s a full-scale renovation or cosmetic updates, these changes can significantly increase the property’s value and appeal to tenants. Adding value in this manner is particularly attractive for investors looking to actively grow their investments. 

Another key advantage is the appreciation of land value over time. Generally, the land component of an older property is more substantial compared to newer properties, especially those in established suburbs. Over time, this land tends to appreciate in value, often outperforming the average and seeing higher capital appreciation. 

Old properties also benefit from established infrastructure and a proven resale value. They are often located in well-developed areas with access to amenities like schools, hospitals, and public transport, which can be a strong draw for potential tenants and buyers (for when you feel it’s time to sell up) alike. 

Disadvantages of Old Properties 

However, investing in old properties is not without its challenges. One of the primary concerns is the higher maintenance and repair costs. Older properties may have outdated systems, appliances, and other important items that require more frequent upkeep, often resulting in significant expenses over time. 

These properties also tend to attract lower rental returns than brand-new ones unless they are extensively (and, therefore, expensively) renovated. If a property lacks modern amenities and conveniences, it tends to lack appeal to most tenants.  

Lastly, the tax depreciation benefits are more limited for old properties. Changes in tax legislation in 2017 have restricted depreciation claims on used plant and equipment in second-hand properties, which can affect the potential tax write-offs and overall return on investment. 

Cash Flow and Rental Yields – Old vs. New Properties  

Understanding the differences in cash flow and rental yields between new and old properties is crucial for making informed decisions. Each property type offers distinct financial dynamics that can impact your overall investment strategy. 

Cash Flow in New vs. Old Properties 

New properties often present a more straightforward cash flow scenario initially. Modern construction and warranties can mean lower maintenance costs in the early years of ownership, contributing to a more predictable and often positive cash flow.  
Better still, with more options available for depreciation, you can claim back potentially tens of thousands each year. These annual write-offs alone can often switch a property from negatively-geared to positively-geared.  
This stability can particularly appeal to investors who prefer a more hands-off approach. 

On the other hand, old properties might offer a less predictable cash flow due to potential higher maintenance and unexpected repair costs. However, these properties can also provide opportunities to increase cash flow through renovations and improvements, particularly in sought-after locations where such enhancements can significantly boost rental returns. 

Quality of Tenants and Rental Yields 

New properties often have the edge when attracting tenants due to their modern amenities, finishes, and energy-efficient features. This appeal can lead to higher-quality tenants willing to pay a premium for these conveniences, potentially leading to lower rental voids and stable rental income. 

Conversely, old properties may initially attract a different tenant demographic, potentially yielding lower rental returns unless renovated or located in high-demand areas. The charm and location of an older property can be a significant draw, but this often requires a strategic approach to property improvements to maximise appeal and, consequently, rental yields. 
If extensive refurbishments do take place, given the much lower initial purchase price, it’s not uncommon for older properties to substantially outperform new properties on yield percentages (in addition to better value appreciation).  

Making the Right Choice for Your Portfolio 

When deciding whether to invest in a new or old property, the right choice ultimately hinges on your long-term goals. You need to make this decision with a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve and how each type of property aligns with those objectives. 

So start by considering your investment strategy. Are you looking for immediate cash flow and a hands-off investment, or are you willing to put in extra effort for potentially higher returns?  
New properties might suit investors seeking a more straightforward, passive investment despite the higher inherent risks. On the other hand, old properties can be ideal if you’re willing to actively manage their investment, especially if adding value through renovations aligns with your strategy. 

Location is another critical factor. The location of your investment property can significantly influence its appreciation potential. While new properties might be in developing areas with future growth potential, old properties are often located in established neighbourhoods with proven track records of steady appreciation, lowering risk.  

Finally, consider the long-term value and potential for appreciation. New properties can offer immediate tax benefits and appeal, but their long-term appreciation might be limited compared to well-located old properties. 

In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether new or old properties are better for investment. It’s about aligning the property type with your personal investment goals, strategy, and risk tolerance. Conduct thorough research, assess the property’s immediate benefits and long-term potential, and consider how it fits into your overall investment portfolio. 

Making an Informed Choice: New vs. Old Property Investments 

In the debate of new versus old property investments, there is no definitive answer as to which is better. The right choice depends on your personal investment strategy and the specific market dynamics of the area you’re considering. 

At Living Property Management, we understand that navigating these choices can be complex and nuanced. We help you make the best decisions by offering unparalleled local market knowledge and a commitment to aligning our services with your investment ethos.  

Our team is ready to guide you toward the best properties that suit your investment style and goals, ensuring you make a decision that aligns with your long-term objectives. Plus, our network of 60,000+ tenants ensures your investment can be profitable from the outset. 

So, if you’re contemplating the next step in your property investment journey, we’re here to help. Contact us to discuss your preferred investment strategy, and let’s explore the best options for your portfolio together.