Thursday, October 15, 2009

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 16 October 2009
Quote of the Week

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."
~Earl Nightingale~

Investment housing finance rises

Investors are moving in to fill the gaps being left as first home buyer numbers decrease, according to latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the total value of dwelling finance commitments excluding alterations and additions increased 0.7 per cent.

An increase was recorded in investment housing commitments, up 7.6 per cent, while owner occupied housing commitments fell 1.7 per cent.

First home owners represented 24.9 per cent of the total number of finance commitments in August, down from the high of 28.5 per cent in May. This is the lowest result in nine months.

Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) President David Airey pointed out this week that the number of loans to first home buyers is now similar to that in December 2008, two months after the First Home Owners Grant Boost (FHOG Boost) was announced.

"This is an indicator of what can be expected between now and the end of the year, as the FHOG Boost is phased out", Mr Airey said.

"We continue to see investors filling the gap left by first home buyers with the value of investment housing commitments up 7.6 per cent", he added.

The number of finance commitments for new housing increased by 4.6 per cent for the construction of new dwellings and 4.9 per cent for the purchase of new dwellings in seasonally adjusted terms.

The REIA suggests this indicates the Government stimulus for the construction industry is working, although a slightly lagged response.

Loans for owner occupied housing decreased in most states and territories, with the exception of ACT, SA and VIC. The decrease in the number of loans was not so great as that observed in July 2009, when the number of loans decreased by 2.8 per cent.

Construction activity resumes: Australian PCI®

Stronger demand in the housebuilding sector has driven the national construction industry back into positive growth in September 2009 following 18 months of contraction, according to the latest Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction Index (Australian PCI®).

The seasonally adjusted Australian PCI® rose by 8.4 points to 50.8, to be above the critical 50 points level for the first time since February 2008.

By industry sector, growth was confined to house building where the rate of growth in activity increased to its highest level since December 2007.

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) Associate Director, Economics and Research, Tony Pensabene, said the results provide further encouraging signs of an improvement in the industry from the extreme weakness reported at the start of the year.

"Underlying the move into positive territory in September was house building activity, which expanded for a third consecutive month on the back of low interest rates and the stimulus from the First Home Owners Grant both of which are now in reverse", Mr Pensabene said.

"Moreover, while the pace in decline in new orders eased, it is clear that weak conditions persist in the apartment, engineering and commercial construction sectors."

The results show that industry conditions remain tough overall with companies facing intense competition to secure new contracts amid the on-going difficulties of tight credit conditions and poor investor sentiment.

"While this persists, growth will be held back and conditions are likely to remain fragile," Mr Pensabene warned.

Key findings for September include:

  • Total industry activity moved from negative territory to a position of stabilisation.
  • House building exhibited solid improvement in September, signalling the third consecutive month of growth in housing output.
  • New orders (seasonally adjusted) increased in September, although overall growth was at a modest level.
  • Employment expanded in September as an increased number of firms adjusted capacity to accommodate higher workload requirements.
Keeping the roof on

We all know we need to look after our bodies in order to live longer, yet we often forget that our homes also require maintenance over time. While things like cracking paint, peeling wallpaper or squeaking doors are easily noticed and repaired, other areas of the house such as the roof can be overlooked - until it springs a leak, or a possum makes a new home there.

So how do you know when to repair the roof, restore it or replace it altogether?

Leaves and foliage left to pile up on the roof and in gutters can cause rotting and in turn lead to leaks or structural damage, so the first and easiest step in roof maintenance would have to be keeping an eye on the gutters and on overhanging trees.

If your roof is in generally good condition, you may be able to save a considerable amount by only repairing the particular areas that need attention. If you do decide to repair, remember to take into account what the replacement tiles look like and where you can get them from, as similar tiles are often unavailable or difficult to match, and the "patchwork" look may not be for everyone.

Restoring your roof involves repairing the damaged materials on your roof and removing lichen and moss with a chemical spray treatment. You may wish to have a professional do the job for you, or at least have one inspect your roof to check if a pressure hose could do further damage.

If your roof is just beyond repair, or you are looking to alter or change the material, a full roof replacement may be in order. Also, if you are renovating or extending your home, it can be worthwhile to replace the entire roof to keep continuity throughout the house.

An alarm you won't want to miss

House fires aren't the type of thing you want to sleep through. A US man whose home caught on fire and partially collapsed early one morning this week slept through the entire ordeal, only to be awakened when fire-fighters were doing a walk-through of the home 2 1/2 hours later, the Pittsburgh Post reported recently.

The early morning blaze was so out of control when firefighters arrived, they were unable to gain access to the home for two hours.

Firemen inspecting the house after the flames had died down were alarmed to find a man sleeping in a bedroom. Perhaps not as alarmed as the newly woken man, who appeared to have no idea what was going on. No one else was harmed in the blaze, though fire-fighters were baffled at how the man had survived.

When it comes to house fires, we aren't all so lucky to escape unharmed, and that's where smoke alarms come in handy. As we edge closer to summer, it's a good time to check and even replace your current ones.

When purchasing smoke alarms, be sure they have been certified as meeting the requirements of the Australian Standard and carry the Standards Australia Tick Mark.

There are two main types of alarms available, and it's helpful to know what the main differences are.

Ionisation alarms detect the presence of large quantities of very small particles entering the ionisation chamber, which when in sufficient quantity will cause an alarm to sound. They are more responsive to fires that start as, or quickly escalate into a flaming stage. This type of fire often produces less visible smoke.

Ionisation smoke alarms are prone to nuisance alarms from cooking (toasters, open grillers, birthday cake candles and the like) and should not be installed near kitchens.

Photoelectric alarms have a chamber with a light source and visible smoke entering the chamber makes the light scatter (like the dust in the air in a sunbeam of light), and in sufficient quantity will make the alarm sound. These alarms are superior to ionisation smoke alarms in detecting the visible smoke produced by smoldering fires. Most residential dwelling fires, whether flaming or smoldering, tend to produce large amounts of visible smoke.

Photoelectric smoke alarms should be installed in sleeping areas and paths of travel to sleeping areas.

Top tips for saving water

Next week is National Water Week, which seems like the perfect time to look at reducing water usage around our homes.

If you have a garden, mulch it well to reduce evaporation by up to 70 per cent and fill it with native plants such as grevilleas. They don't need a lot of water, flower all year and attract bees and birds.

If you don't have a garden, reduce the time you spend in the shower and check taps for drips - a leaking tap can waste up to 20,000 litres of water a year.

Soaking up good vibes

And during Water Week, what could be more relaxing than kicking back in a nice warm bath, listening to your favourite music?

In an innovative new design from Kohler, VibrAcoustic bathtubs create an environment of harmony and vibration.

Built-in panels broadcast sound waves through the water and resound in your body, while colour-changing lights perform chromatherapy functions; and if that's not enough, the DTV-Bath interface that controls all the features will let you program your own favourite playlist or choose a radio station.

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