Ben Hurley Reporter

Ben covers the property industry and has a keen interest in entrepreneurship and travel writing. He speaks Mandarin and previously covered housing and urban affairs for The Australian Financial Review.

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Tarbey and Mirabito’s annual residential property bet predicts few fireworks

Published 05 April 2013 11:08, Updated 08 April 2013 06:51

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“Until Melbourne and Sydney align, the country can’t pull out,” says RP Data’s Graham Mirabito.Photo: Rob Homer

Despite signs of renewed interest in housing, two of Australia’s most prominent figures in residential property – Graham Mirabito and Charles Tarbey – have predicted a tepid housing market this year.

Mirabito, the relatively bearish managing director of property data provider RP Data, and Tarbey, the more bullish chairman of Century 21 Australia and New Zealand, have formalised their annual bet on the housing market but neither predicts fireworks this year.

Mirabito believes the national housing market as a whole will not rise in value by more than 1 per cent in the 2013 calendar year. He cites ongoing weakness in Melbourne as a key reason.

“I think at the end of the year we will be slightly positive,” Mirabito says. “Until Melbourne and Sydney align, the country can’t pull out.”

“Perth scares me a bit,” says Century 21’s Charles Tarbey.Photo: Luis Ascui

Charles Tarbey, however, expects there will be a little more than 1 per cent growth by the year-end. Melbourne will have an influx of interstate investment and end up slightly above zero, he expects, while Sydney will slightly exceed 1 per cent, and remains the best capital city in which to invest, in his view. Perth is possibly a bit too heated, Tarbey says.

“Perth scares me a bit,” he says. Any listings his franchisees are getting are quickly sold, he says.

The loser of the bet will have to admit he was wrong in front of industry heavyweights at a Sydney restaurant, and foot the bill.

The pair were talking at a lunch event in Sydney where they called their 2012 bet a draw. Tarbey had contended at the start of 2012 that property values would end the year higher, while Mirabito believed the opposite was true. In the end, capital city property values fell 0.4 per cent, according to RP Data-Rismark’s daily index, which was deemed close enough to call even.

Sydney values rose 1.5 per cent over 2012, and Perth by 0.8 per cent, but Melbourne weighed the national figure down with a fall of 2.9 per cent.

Since the beginning of 2013, the housing market has risen in value by 2.8 per cent over the first three months, only Adelaide recording a fall (-0.5 per cent).

While Mirabito held up against Tarbey, he lost a bet against Greville Pabst, the chief executive of WBP Property Group. Mirabito contended the Melbourne property market would fall more than 5 per cent over 2012. The bet was made after a few drinks, Mirabito admits.

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