My housing market predictions from 2007

Heidi and I are thinking about buying a house. Looking at what’s on the market is pretty depressing, and I’m reminded of why I didn’t want to participate in the housing market to begin with.

I remembered making a few notes and predictions a couple of years ago (when the Australian real estate market was climbing new heights of stupidity). So I searched through my Tomboy notes and was pretty suprised by what I found.

Here’s a summary:

There are three general groups (grossly divided by socio-ecomonic status and age):

  1. Homeowners (own/occupy a house; many borrow against equity)
  2. Property investors (also have investment properties)
  3. First homebuyers (own/occupy a house and have mortgages)
  4. Renting (do not own a house)

To these groups, the massive growth in the housing market means:

  1. Paper money (impression of added value, but not a liquid asset)
  2. Wealth (drammatic increase in value of liquid assets)
  3. Insecurity (potential paper returns, but assumption of large loans)
  4. Inflation (money devalued if housing prices unrealistically high)

Overall, the rapidly increasing overvaluation of the property market increases the division between rich and poor (and the older and younger generations). It also creates a pseudo-rich group who can borrow (unsustainably and unwisely) against their property equity.

When the housing market crashes, what will happen to each group?:

  1. No real effect (impression of loss) or high repayments (if “leveraging” equity)
  2. High losses (drammatic reduction in value of assets)
  3. High repayments (relative to value of home)
  4. Cash worth more (as housing prices are adjusted)

An overvalued housing market has an inflationary effect on the economy. Houses aren’t worth twice as much as they were a few years ago, the money used to buy them is less valuable.

How will the various groups respond? And what will they demand from the government?:

  1. We’ve lost equity and have repayments to make! Subsidise us!
  2. We’re losing money on our speculative investments! Bail us out!
  3. We have high repayments (relative to new buyers)! Subsidise us!
  4. We’re finally able to buy a house. (No demands.)

Given that a lot of people are caught up in the speculative property market, the government (and reserve bank) will respond with a number of measures to retain votes (and correct for overstimulation of the economy).

What will the government do for each group?:

  1. We’ll arrange for special conditions to protect your home and manage your repayments (eg. lower interest rates)
  2. We’ll artifically stimulate the market so you can liquidate your investments without too high losses (protecting banks).
  3. We’ll give you lower interest rates and various assistance handouts. This is only in the short-term mind you.
  4. We’ll give you grants to get into the market, so that you can give the money to group #2. Then we’ll take your money in tax hikes (or via a deficit) so that you can subsidise everyone else.

So maybe it doesn’t really pay to be conscientious when the majority of the population isn’t. Even less so when the government proactively tries to stimulate an overinflated market.

The first homebuyers grant is a prime example of irresponsible governance. It looks like the money is going to first homebuyers, but it’s really going to incumbant land-owners and banks via first homebuyer. It amounts to handouts for those who already have substantial assets. It assists in maintaining high property prices. This has an overall inflationary effect on the economy, and further increases socio-economic divides.

The government should instead consider: regulating how much banks can loan (to first homebuyers and those using their homes as equity), significantly increasing tax and duty on investment properties, and implementing some rental price controls. Unfortunately too many voters are already caught up in the property bubble for any government to do this.

I’m pretty happy to have made some predictions that I feel are holding up… but it’s all fairly depressing overall (especially for those that borrowed substantially against equity or bought their first house at the peak of inflated property prices).

All real estate agents we’ve dealt with recently have seemed pretty desperate, and I feel that prices will drop again after the first homeowners grant expires at the end of the month. So I’m hopeful that Heidi and I will be able to buy a house at a reasonable price at some point in future.

Japanese games industry mergers (2003-2009)

I recently saw a reference to “Koei Tecmo” and found out that Koei and Tecmo have merged. It looks like almost all the large Japanese games software companies now have two-part names (aside from Sony and Nintendo obviously).

The Japanese games industry consolidation has been going for a while though. I made this diagram in order to visualise recent mergers:


The pairings seem fairly natural though… except for Square Enix buying Eidos… maybe they wanted to get into Europe. Also, from a consumer perspective, Taito seemed more suited to Namco Bandai.

I’ve love to see a massive diagram showing the flow of money, ownership, licenses, staff, and intellectual property between games companies internationally. I started on something… but it became fairly overwhelming very quickly.

Let’s Make Games meeting

We had a quick Let’s Make Games meeting today in order to organise the next event (Tuesday, June 30) and discuss future plans.

If we can secure a large enough venue by the end of the week, we’ll go ahead with a Videogame Trivia Night (which would obviously be super-awesome). Otherwise, we’ll arrange something else and hold out on the trivia until next month.

Is anyone out there able to recommend good venue for around 100 people? Preferably somewhere inexpensive and all-ages friendly.

E3 2009

Here are my thoughts on this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo.


  • Project Natal was interesting. I’m skeptical about the granularity and consistency of controls and the lifespan of the product on Xbox360. I assume that it’s a test-bed for next-gen technology and that we won’t be seeing a fluid integration into the Xbox platform for many years.
  • Milo really doesn’t interest me. I want a game to entertain me, not the other way around. As an aside, I’m surprised to have not seen sensational news stories along the lines of “Peter Molyneaux wants you to play with young boys”. See also: Seaman and EyePet.
  • Games On Demand was the most interesting thing to me. However the pricing really has to be lower than retail stores for it to float.
  • Microsoft seemed to be more focussed on future technology (user interface and content delivery) than upcoming titles. It feels like Xbox360 is winding down. They are churning a lot of sequels preparing to test various ideas that may make it into the next console/platform.
  • Overall, I feel that Microsoft are overpromising and will definitely underdeliver. Project Natal will only really be suited to a certain set of “full body motion” games and Milo will fail to manifest into a mass-market consumer title (although aspects may appear in Lionhead’s future titles).


  • Sony felt a bit more measured than Microsoft. They are (obviously) also pursuing motion tracking, but draw on their EyeToy experience to recognise that controllers still have a place: “Can you imagine playing a shooter without a trigger?” It’s also clearly under development and not presented as the be-all-end-all of gaming. I guess part of their EyeToy experience is an appreciation for the actual market for this sort of input device.
  • PSP Go feels like an end-of-line product (much like the PSOne or GameBoy Micro). It’s great to see the UMD removed, more online integration, and the size/weight reduced… but it’s just a natural upgrade/redesign. Likely timed to compete with DSi and iPhone 3G. Personally, I’ll wait for the PSP2.


  • Meh. (Maybe they have nothing to prove.)

After seeing what’s coming out, here are the games that I’m most looking forward to:

To end this post, here’s a video of The Last Guardian:

It looks like it’s going to be all PS3 and DS for me in the near term. 😉

BTW: Thanks to Diomades for posting summaries and his thoughts on this year’s E3. I’d like to hear what others in Perth think about news that came out of E3 as well.