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  • Writer's pictureThe Economist

Investing in Shares vs. Property: A 20-Year Comparison

The following information is for general advice purposes only. It is crucial to consult with a financial adviser to discuss your unique financial situation before making any investment decisions.

Investing is a pivotal component of building wealth over time, and in Australia, two primary options have consistently been at the forefront: shares and property. In this post, we'll delve into a comparative analysis of the performance returns, benefits, risks, and disadvantages of investing in shares versus investing in property over the past two decades.

Performance Returns


Over the last 20 years, the Australian stock market has seen remarkable growth. Historically, the All Ordinaries Index, which represents the broader Australian stock market, has delivered an average annual return of around 7-8% when considering both capital appreciation and dividends. However, this return can vary significantly depending on factors like market volatility, economic conditions, and the specific shares in your portfolio.


Property investment in Australia has also seen substantial growth over the same period. On average, property investments have generated annual returns ranging from 8% to 10%. These returns encompass rental income and capital appreciation. Nevertheless, it's important to understand that property returns can vary significantly based on factors such as location, property type, and prevailing market cycles.

Location Matters: In the case of property, the old adage "location, location, location" holds true. Properties in major metropolitan areas tend to appreciate faster than those in regional or rural areas. Additionally, factors like proximity to schools, transport, and amenities can influence rental yields and capital growth.

Property Type: The type of property you invest in also plays a crucial role in your returns. Residential properties, commercial real estate, and industrial properties all have their unique dynamics. For instance, commercial properties may provide higher rental yields but can be subject to longer vacancies.



  1. Liquidity: Shares are highly liquid investments, meaning you can buy and sell them quickly, making it easier to react to market conditions.

  2. Diversification: Investing in shares allows you to diversify your portfolio across various industries, reducing risk.

  3. Dividends: Many shares provide regular dividend payments, offering a source of passive income.


  1. Stability: Property tends to be less volatile than the stock market, making it a relatively stable investment option.

  2. Leverage: You can use leverage, such as a mortgage, to purchase property, potentially amplifying your returns.

  3. Tangible Asset: Property is a tangible asset, providing a sense of security and potential tax benefits.

Negative Gearing: One of the unique features of property investment in Australia is the concept of negative gearing. This strategy involves borrowing money to invest in property, with the aim of generating rental income that is less than the costs associated with owning the property (e.g., mortgage interest, maintenance, property management fees). The tax benefits of negative gearing can make property an attractive long-term investment option.



  1. Volatility: Share prices can fluctuate significantly in response to market conditions and news events.

  2. Lack of Control: As a shareholder, you have limited control over a company's operations and decisions.

  3. No Guarantees: There are no guarantees of returns, and you could potentially lose your entire investment.


  1. Illiquidity: Selling property can take time and may not be as easily converted to cash as shares.

  2. Ongoing Costs: Property ownership entails expenses like maintenance, property management, and property taxes.

  3. Market Cycles: The property market can experience cycles with periods of growth and stagnation.

Market Timing: Property markets, like the stock market, are cyclical. Investors who enter the market during periods of growth may experience substantial capital gains, while those who buy during downturns may need to be patient as the market recovers. Understanding these cycles is crucial for property investors.



  1. Emotional Investing: Share market volatility can lead to emotional decision-making, which may result in poor choices.

  2. Complexity: Understanding the stock market can be challenging for inexperienced investors.


  1. High Initial Costs: Purchasing property often requires a substantial upfront investment.

  2. Market Dependence: Property values are highly dependent on the local market, and regional variations can affect returns.

Transaction Costs: When buying or selling property, be mindful of transaction costs such as stamp duty, legal fees, and real estate agent commissions. These costs can significantly affect your overall returns and should be factored into your investment strategy.

In conclusion, the choice between investing in shares or property in Australia over the past 20 years has its advantages and disadvantages. Both options have provided opportunities for growth and income, but the decision should align with your financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon.

For personalised financial advice tailored to your unique circumstances, please reach out to a qualified financial adviser. They can help you create a comprehensive investment strategy and make informed decisions.

Click HERE to schedule a meeting and discuss your financial future in more detail. Remember that investing involves risk, and past performance is not indicative of future results.


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