MCG Quantity Surveyors has found that 23 per cent of those with an investment property have lived in it initially as owner-occupiers, for an average of four years and 11 months.
According to MCG, data collected from the preparation of tax depreciation schedules revealed one-fifth of landlord clients stepped into property investment simply because they did not want to sell when the time came to change properties.
“Many of these owners seem to have fallen into their first investment, rather than made a strategic decision to become a landlord,” said Mike Mortlock, managing director of MCG Quantity Surveyors.
“It’s a fairly stunning result given the broad perception of property investors as a calculated, high-earning cohort set to tactically snap up all the available real estate.”
Mr Mortlock said the length of time these investors chose to stay in their initial homes shows that they were not strategic first home buyer investors, cashing in on stamp duty concessions or grants by living in the dwelling for the minimum period of time.
“Such a group always planned on being investors, but they would be a very small percentage of those in our research, otherwise the average resided-in period would much be lower than five years,” he said.
Mr Mortlock predicts Sydney and Melbourne’s dwindling housing market could give rise to more “accidental investors” looking to take advantage of house prices.
“Around 60 per cent of all property transactions in Australia occur in Sydney and Melbourne – two markets where price softening is now firmly entrenched,” he said.
“As such, one of the reasons a home owner in these southern capitals might choose to retain their old residence as an investment is because their hoped-for sale price is now less achievable."
Mr Mortlock also highlighted that it is this group who will likely be the most affected by changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax should Labor be successful at the next election.
“Most of these landlords own just one property and are mum-and-dad style investors looking to get a financial step-up before retirement,” he said.
“It’s this group who will be most impacted by any future changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax, or upward movements in interest rates.
“In our experience, those with the largest property portfolios are the least likely to care about negative gearing or tax changes because they tend to be positively geared.”