Investment propertyThe recession, market inexperience and the urge to protect what is yours can make knowing how to make the best investments- be it in investment property or the stock market- seem impossible. It’s tempting to take the short-term view, and it’s natural to panic when you see your hard-won investment on a downhill. But property, like many other investment classes, needs a long-term strategy to allow compounding of your asset value to take place.

Compound interest can’t be all that, surely?
Oh yes, it can. Compounding is the process where the interest your money earns this year is added back to your principal, and then earns more interest next year…and so on. It sounds really simple, but spend three minutes with Google for a few examples if you’re still skeptical about how impressive the results of compounding are. It’s a powerful growth force, and one present in any investment that grows faster than inflation- so it’s very relevant to your investment property’s value- but it only works if given the time to do so. You’re more likely to lose money over the short-term then gain it, but more likely to gain then lose over the long term.

That can’t work like that?
There is one problem with the many examples websites give of compounding- it presents it as a straight line of growth. Anyone who’s spent any time around investment knows that doesn’t happen like that. There’s peaks and dips in any asset class, be it investment property or the stock market. The thing is, these classes still make great returns on average- so while there may be a loss one year, a few years of fabulous gains make it all average out to a nice overall growth rate. So you arrive at a situation where if you sell in 3 years you could make a catastrophic loss, but in 20 the property would make a massive gain.

Why is a short-term strategy a bad idea?
The longer you retain your investment property, the more that power of averages is going to work for you. Think of the example above. 1 bad year in 20 is nothing- 1 bad year in 3 is a third of your investment term! The economic market, as we’ve said, is not stable. Think of just a few things that have happened recently- most Australians will remember unforeseen menace that was the Global Financial Crisis with heavy hearts. For those who sold at that time, it was a disaster as all their gains were wiped out- but those who were able to hang on to their investment property over that time will now see a recovery and ultimately those properties will prove sound investments as good years and the occasional incredible year buoy up the damage of the bad ones.

Sudden unforeseen crisis isn’t the only pitfall of short term investment, of course. The market is always ebbing and flowing, and other facets such as changing governmental policies and the discovery or new resources in areas can all influence whether the market will peak or flop in any individual year. So, when you’re considering your investment property, keep these things in mind:
* The power of compounding
* The power of averages
* The natural fluctuations year-to-year [and that they aren’t impossible to outlast]

Overall, it’s not half as important to make a profit this year as it is to make a profit over many years- thereby leads the path to a sound, profitable investment. When choosing your investment property, it’s absolutely vital to consider it a long term investment, not a short one.