Friday, September 25, 2009

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

> Next week brings changes to the First Home Owners Boost, which will be halved for the next few months before being phased out altogether.

As a part of the May Budget, the Federal Government announced an extension to the First Home Owners Boost until 31 December 2009 with changes to the payment from 1 October 2009.

This means that the Boost will be reduced by half at the end of September - next Wednesday.

Eligible first home buyers who sign a contract to purchase an existing home between 1 October 2009 and 31 December 2009 (inclusive) will receive an extra $3500, taking the total lump sum payment (including the First Home Owner Grant) to $10,500.

Eligible first home buyers who sign a contract to purchase or construct a new home in that period will receive an extra $7,000, taking the total lump sum payment (including the First Home Owner Grant) to $14,000.

According to a ministerial release, more than 137,000 Australians had taken up the First Home Owners Boost by the end of July.

NSW led the way, with close to 50,000 applicants taking advantage of the offer in that time.

> The total number of housing starts dropped by 3.7 per cent in the June quarter for 2009, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this week.

Detached house starts grew by 4.2 per cent to 22,808 in the June 2009 quarter however, the number of apartment or multi-unit starts dropped by 21.5 per cent to 7,603.

The biggest increase in the number of commencements was recorded in the Northern Territory, where total housing starts leapt by 64.9 per cent. The Australian Capital Territory recorded an increase of 17.6 per cent, Tasmania (8.9 per cent) and New South Wales (2.1 per cent).

Housing starts fell by 3.7 per cent in Victoria, 10.4 per cent in Queensland, 9.6 per cent in South Australia and 6.3 per cent in Western Australia.

> For many Australians, purchasing a home is one of the most important decisions they will make, and one of the most important factors when purchasing a property is location.

A new report from St George Bank has put the words `location, location, location' back in the spotlight.

Based on a nationwide analysis by RP Data to determine the best value suburbs, the St George Bank National Property Hotspots Report has identified 24 suburbs around Australia likely to provide the strongest value for home buyers.

The suburbs were selected for their proximity to central business districts, transport and retail outlets, as well as renovation potential and strong pricing.

"Many opportunities still exist to buy well located, affordable properties in capital cities and regional areas," the report says, adding that while other opportunities exist, it highlights the best.

The cheapest suburb in the country is Redan, in the regional city of Ballarat, Victoria, where the current median house price is $190,000.

Ashburton, a suburb 12 kilometres southeast of Melbourne, was the most expensive with a median price of $706,750.

Some of the other standout suburbs were Granville (Sydney), Chadstone (Melbourne), Keperra (Brisbane), Bassendean (Perth), and Thebarton (Adelaide).

The report also found that in 2008/09 the median dwelling value across Australia's capital cities rose by 4.5 per cent.

Darwin recorded the biggest rise in value, up 7 per cent in the year to June, while Adelaide recorded the smallest at 0.6 per cent.

Dwelling value in Melbourne rose 6.5 per cent, while rival city Sydney grew 5.9 per cent.
Canberra was up 3.1 per cent in the year, while Perth and Brisbane grew 1.9 and 1.4 per cent respectively.

The report found that the population grew by 406,000 in 2008, and this was likely to place upward pressure on housing prices over the medium to long term.

"With fewer dwellings being built, the supply shortage continues to be exacerbated and is anticipated to increase over the next few years as the population grows further and the required amount of dwelling commencements needed to fill this shortage goes unfulfilled" report authors wrote.

> The Government stimulus package continues to underpin confidence and construction activity according to the results of Master Builders Australia's National Survey of Building and Construction for the September quarter 2009.

Master Builders Australia Chief Economist, Peter Jones, said this week that the Government's policy strategy to leverage the building and construction industry to help cushion the economy from the effects of the global financial crisis is having the desired effect of stimulating the economy and protecting jobs.

"Government stimulus measures, particularly the schools program and social housing initiatives, are driving a recovery in sentiment after the plunge in builder confidence experienced in late 2008 and first part of 2009", Jones said.

"The stimulus package, combined with a backlog of work - albeit reducing - and low interest rates are preventing a collapse in construction activity despite twin challenges of reduced credit availability and weaker economic conditions."

This is evidenced by survey results revealing that builders' own business conditions continued to recover in the September quarter 2009, though remaining well short of levels achieved prior to the onset of the global financial crisis.

"Despite a pick up in operating conditions and greater optimism about the outlook, the industry still faces major stumbling blocks and the likelihood of a volatile period ahead", Jones noted.

Master Builders predicts a fall in construction output of between 10 and 15 per cent over the course of 2009/10 and 2010/11, with employment likely to fall by 7 to 10 per cent over the same period.

The building and construction industry lost nearly 10,000 jobs in the 3 months to August, to be down by nearly 30,000 or 3 per cent from a peak level of 995,000 achieved last year.

"The Government's stimulus measures will help maintain up to 50,000 jobs in non-residential building that would otherwise have been lost, ensuring the trough in total construction employment is closer to 925,000 than the predicted 875,000 without the stimulus programmes", Jones said.

"The residential building sector outlook remains positive on balance, with key forward indicators providing some encouragement, but it will take some time for activity to turn around and for a full-on recovery to become evident, particularly as the first home owners boost scheme phases out.

"Although residential builders are becoming more optimistic about where activity is headed, the challenge will be to overcome sluggish investor activity and the prospect of higher interest rates", he concluded.

> The old bait and switch

There were some red faces recently when a German city accidentally advertised porn on its website among the services on offer for residents.

The administrative error arose when an employee compiling the list thought that brothel owners might type "porn" into the search box to find out about the city's sex tax, Reuters reports.

A spokesman for the city authorities said it had been a mistake and there was never any intention of the city providing pornography as a service.

The word has since been removed from the list.

> I'm being shadowed by a mooncandle

Candles can set the mood in any space around the house, but they often require replacement and you need to keep an eye on them to avoid stray wax or flames.

Mooncandles are an innovative world first - allowing you to enjoy real wax candles without messy wax or fire-hazards, as they're lit up from the inside by LED lights. The colour-changing flameless candles operate by remote control so you can position them in hard to reach areas, and have 4 and 8 hour timers, so you don't have to snuff them when you head out or off to bed.

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