Sunday, October 10, 2010

Karratha property boom

I was criticized by some for cherry-picking my houses in the last Australian property post.  I did not cherry pick houses – but chose ordinary houses in fashionable suburbs.  I stated that clearly in the post.  The criticism – if any – was that the suburbs were cherry-picked.

Now I am going cherry-picking.  Karratha is a remote town in Western Australia – near the main port for loading iron-ore for its trip to China.  It is also near the new ($12 billion) Pluto LNG development.  

Land release is limited because the land is owned by the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation and this town – more than any other – is the epicenter of the Australian resource boom.  I am just going to pick one house from – but there are many others.  This is a new house on the edge of suburbia  - and you can have it for just over a million dollars.

9 Wedgetail Eagle Ave, Karratha, WA 6714


9 Wedgetail Eagle Ave, Karratha, WA 6714


You get a bathroom too –


9 Wedgetail Eagle Ave, Karratha, WA 6714


This is in – as the Google map shows – a new development in the desert…




And just so you know there is no scarcity value to the real-estate I zoomed out a little:



There is increasing land release by the local aboriginal community.

But there is a bull case.  You can probably rent this out for $1500 per week.  And the iron-ore boom does not looking like stopping rapidly.  However the construction phase of the Pluto project will stop by 2012 and local employment should fall a little then.






babar ganesh said...

one question -- in the US near the top of the boom there was a lot of construction that didn't make economic sense. many of the large developments in florida for example. in new york city there were residential buildings built very close to highways, etc. this was taking place in the middle of a general rise in prices, so that people were probably paying top dollar to build marginal properties. this sort of thing started happening very quickly in 2006-2007. do you see that kind of rapid change in what's built in AU?

Anonymous said...


Given the increase in prices - why hasn't there been a construction boom? you would think that if prices doubled or tripled it would be very profitable building new houses / apartments. Are all the traadspeople working in the mines?

John Hempton said...

There has been a construction boom - but tradespeople cost 200K plus (which is what they get in the mines) and there is a limited land release.


Anonymous said...

Bubbles are only a problem if they are not isolated and they burst.

There's definitely a bubble in regional WA. There's probably one in wealthy Sydney. But these are isolated little areas.

If there's a bubble burst in Australia it will be from a rise in unemployment - which will hit the outer suburbs. Think Liverpool and Broadmeadows.

Houses there are around the $450k mark. These prices are high but sustainable with $100k/pa household incomes.

John Hempton said...

Last I looked there were an awful lot of people on outer-Western and Southwestern sydney whose household income was below 100K.

Maybe you and I look at different statistics.

If you look at the demographic data by electorates (last published 2006) only 19.9 percent of families in Lindsay (an electorate typical of what you suggest) had a household income above 100K. Its probably less than 25 percent now.


John Hempton said...

No CDO squares or CDS of CDO I know of.


IF said...

So, you have a country the size of the US and a population 1/15th, but no land to build on, hence prices are double or triple? How much is a cubic meter of tap water if I might ask? I presume it varies.

John Hempton said...

The marginal cost of a cubic meter of tapwater in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth (all with marginal desalination plants) is about $3.50.

The price is about $1.

This is - of course - stupid.

The marginal price of irrigation water varies - with lowest certainty water at 0.2 cents per cubic meter and highly certain water many many times that - but still cheap compared to tap water in the cities.

There are irrational restrictions on that too.

I could go on.


Ex Comalco Type said...

Ah, supply and demand.

I suppose it explains why Arafura's up 50% in the past 10 trading sessions. Aussie rare earth hottie special of the month.

Water? So scarce in the Imperial Valley (US) that agricultural irrigation issuer Linday (LNN) is up close to 20% in the past 10 trading sessions.

Long time reader, first time commenter said...

To return to a previous thread, who is George Valente and why is he buying 6.9% of UTA? Could it be related to and does that company have any relationship with UTA?

Ted K said...

You sure have been awfully quiet about Bank of America lately Mr. Hempton...... Any thoughts on the "Putback Parade"?????

Anonymous said...

There was a reason why Spain and Portugal deserted their WA excursions.

They didn't know top shelf surf spot when they saw them.


H.R. D.

Anonymous said...

Kinda quiet around here since that failed attack on UTA.

Anonymous said...

This is gonna be a hell of a short at some point. Perhaps second only to JGBs when they finally hit the windshield.

Alas, as always, timing is everything.

Anonymous said...

Hey John, you should write a piece on the Brazilian bank that pretty much just went under. It's called Banco Panamericano. Looking forward to see how you would have detected fraud in there!

anonymous said...

have you stopped blogging? i seriously hope not

John Hempton said...

I have not stopped blogging - but I am thin on ideas that are not shorts that will give me a heartache if I publish.


I got nasty phone calls after publishing on UTA. No need to go there.


Anonymous said...

1500 a week for 1 million is a 7.8% rental yield. That's not a bubble. A bubble would be where rental yields are lower than, for example, 10 year government bond yields. For example in Miami at the peak, cost of owning a condo might be $3k a month, and it would rent for $1200 a month. So the cost of ownership was 150% higher than it 'should' be.

Here, the rental yield is actually reasonable. 7.8% is a fat yield and probably compensates for a reasonable amount of the risk involved. Even a shift down to a 5% yield (still not absurdly low) would be a big capital gain. It's when the yield is something like 3% or 2% that there is simply no way to make a profit in the long-run.

key real estate said...

The proposed Anketell Port is 30km east of Karratha and will be developed by a consortium of iron ore producers who need access to rail and port facilities in the west Pilbara to expand their mining operations..Your post is surprising and pictres are nice.

yennett said...

No doubt with this fact that the property investment in karratha is in the boom of property market now a days. It creates wonderful opportunities for investors and owners both.

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