Thursday, October 29, 2009

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 30 October 2009
Quote of the week

"You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

~Chinese Proverb~

Land prices on the rise

The price of land is increasing nationally, according to the latest residential land report released by the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and property information and analytics provider,

The Residential Land Report shows the weighted median price of raw land in Australia increased by 1.1 per cent in the June 2009 quarter to $174,490.

Sydney remained the most expensive market with a median price of $255,000, while the most affordable market was Mallee in Victoria with a median price of $70,000.

The report shows that median land prices rose for the second consecutive quarter, after declining throughout 2008.

The volume of land sales for Australia is also trending higher, with sales up by 1.3 per cent in the June 2009 quarter compared to the same period last year.

Of the 40 non-metropolitan areas around Australia reported on for the first time in this report, 25 saw an increase in median land value over the June 2009 quarter.

According to Tim Lawless, National Research Director, the effect of land supply constraints are likely to be compounded by ongoing increases in demand for housing.

"In raw numbers, population growth is at record levels and Australia's population hasn't increased this fast since the baby boom", Lawless said.

"The latest population projections released by Treasury suggest the rate of population growth in Australia is not likely to let up any time soon."

Lawless suggested that this fact alone should spark policy makers to act sooner rather than later with regards to instigating a more proactive and strategic land release program.

Buying a home not so scary

Halloween can be for many people a time for scary films, eerie pumpkin carvings and lolly-seeking children dressed up as ghosts and goblins. In the midst of a busy Spring property season and with so much `spook' about, it's understandable if you find buying your first property frightening.

Property ownership need not be scary, as long as you take the time to research your options, prepare yourself for the lifestyle change - emotionally and financially - and think through each decision before finally committing yourself, according to national mortgage broker Mortgage Choice.

Senior corporate affairs manager Kristy Sheppard says it is also important to remember that a property purchase provides you with an asset. So, while accruing the related debt may be daunting, you're actually adding to your long-term financial wealth.

"There are no real tricks to achieving property ownership; it's hard work but many Australians will vouch the treat is well worth it", Ms Sheppard says.

"To put the `scariness' into perspective, the top five concerns for first homebuyers aiming to purchase this year, according to our 2009 Mortgage Choice First Homebuyer Survey, were the length it takes to pay off a home loan, the fear of not being able to afford repayments, the concern of being committed to such a large financial obligation for such a long time, the amount of money repaid by the end of the loan term and buying the wrong home."

"These are all valid concerns, especially when considering imminent rate rises, widespread pay increase freezes, high migration figures and the pressure of supply versus increasing demand", Ms Sheppard said.

"Yet, undertaking thorough research while seeking professional knowledge and support can help ensure nothing scary comes your way."

She suggests asking all the necessary questions before you are locked in; careful research will help you understand what those questions are. This may involve searching the web, talking to friends and family about the purchase decision and your mortgage choices and seeking professional finance advice.

If you're still in doubt about your ability to repay a mortgage on your own, consider purchasing with a friend, partner or family member.

The survey found that an increasing number of first time buyers were looking to purchase with someone else to ease the financial obligation.

"Make sure, however, that you consult professional legal advice to understand the roles and responsibilities of each party before committing yourself", Ms Sheppard advises.

This Halloween, Mortgage Choice offers these handy treats to help make buying your first property a rewarding experience.

Research all that you can but save yourself valuable time by embracing new media - online forums and social networking sites are a great place to ask questions and gather firsthand accounts of the pitfalls and benefits.

Set up a great savings plan early on so you don't feel overwhelmed or rushed to scrape together a deposit when you find your ideal home. Challenge yourself to save as much as you can within a timeframe; this will give you a clear goal post and help you to create a good savings habit. A small treat here and there is a good reward for staying on track.

Practice making loan repayments ahead of time. Visit a reputable mortgage broker to help you figure out what your weekly/fortnightly/monthly repayments would be and budget accordingly so when the time comes it's no real financial surprise.

Be organised with your paperwork. Set up a folder to collect all of the documents you'll need for applying for a home loan so when the time comes you're not rushing around searching for that important piece of paper. Documents such as passports, bank statements, recent pay slips or tax returns, plus written details about assets, liabilities and any other income will all be required.

You don't have to do this on your own. Forty-one per cent of all new Australian home loans are written through a mortgage broker. Offering a step-by-step guide to the mortgage market, they can help reduce your apprehension and empower you to make the right move.

Make your renovation a winner

Renovating a property for sale can appear to be a trump card, but homeowners have been advised this week to study the deck before judging the strength of their hand.

Building advisory service Archicentre suggests homeowners who are considering renovating their homes on the strength of predictions of a dramatic jump in property values over the next few years take a conservative approach to avoid over-capitalising.

David Hallett, Victorian State Manager of Archicentre says that while design, budgets and cost controlling are not at the sexy end of renovation, these are the things that are more likely to return value on renovation projects.

"More than half of all Australians renovate at some point in their lives with the hope of generating extra non-taxable income when they sell the family home, the principal place of residence", Mr Hallett says.

"If home owners get the renovation design wrong they can end up spending tens of thousands of dollars to devalue their home or reduce its market appeal."

He cited the example of the young couple who turned a three-bedroom home into a `two-bedder' by building a new large bathroom and walk-in robe at great cost.

"When the couple called the real estate agent to sell the property they were stunned to find the removal of the third bedroom had devalued their property by between 10-15 per cent as they had made it unmarketable to families with more than one child - thus a large part of the market."

Mr Hallett said renovators who pour money into expensive fittings such as taps, benchtops and whitegoods in the kitchen and bathroom areas can find they add little or no extra value to the sale of the home, cutting into the financial return.

Archicentre is urging caution for homeowners to ensure they maximise their profit return by doing their homework and not bank on forecasts of property values.

"For many cashed up home owners the renovation of the family home is often the last roll of the dice to substantially increase their wealth in retirement by investing in the family home, which becomes a tax free investment when ultimately sold."

"With a quarter of Australia's population expected to be 65 or more by 2047, the use of equity in the family home to boost retirement funding through renovation has become an important national wealth creation strategy as well as underpinning jobs."

Mr Hallett urged home owners who are considering renovating as a way of generating savings or boosting their retirement funds to make sure they do their homework on the design of the renovation, cost, tendering and management of the project.

"Undertaking a renovation is like running a small business by dealing with the many suppliers, tradespersons, and gathering the materials, fixtures and fittings", he said.

Archicentre recently polled its membership of over 800 architects on what requests their clients were making to improve their homes through renovation. This is what they found:

Kitchen Trends

* Drawers not cupboards 81.7%
* Large island benches 77.2%
* Walk-in pantries 58.0%
* Concealing appliances 50.2%
* Colourful splashbacks 35.6%
* Computer data points 22.8%
* Concealed food preparation area 20.5%

Master Bedroom Trends

* En suite 93.2%
* Walk-in-robe 85.4%
* Deck or balconies 57.5%
* Study 28.8%
* Freestanding furniture (sofas) 17.8%
* Bidet 7.3%

Bathroom Trends

* Frameless showers 80.8%
* Double basins 54.8%
* Separate powder rooms 50.2%
* Baths 48.4%
* Double showers 37.9%
* Concealed cisterns 37.0%
* Heated floor 37.0%
* Free-standing baths 30.1%
* Views of internal courtyard 28.8%
* Spa baths 13.7%

What's the buzz about?

The sweet taste of honey, the sound of Spring or a sharp and painful sensation brought on by a sting - we all have particular associations when we think of bees.

As pollinators, however, bees play a major role in multi-billion dollar industries all over the world, as well as a critical role in the way our ecosystem thrives.

Australia has over 1,500 species of native bees that live in a wide variety of nest sites, which unfortunately can be destroyed through landscaping and careless gardening.

The good news is there are things you can do at home to help the buzzing little workers thrive, like cultivating flowers and plants suitable for bees, providing them with a healthy environment in which to exist.

We tend to pay close attention to the plants we personally want and don't want in our gardens (such as "weeds").

However, animals and insects aren't so picky - even weeds will at times provide pollen and nectar, so before you go clearing them out, consider removing them after their flowers are spent (but before they go to seed).

If you really want to help out nature's pollinators - not just bees, but butterflies, flies, wasps and beetles also perform the function - plan your garden to include a range of plants that will offer pollen and nectar throughout the year.

Plant or encourage the growth of plants native to your area, as native bees will automatically have a stronger attraction to them. They particularly like eucalypts, grevilleas, callistemons and melaleucas, amongst many others, though they also like non-native plants like roses.

Some of the best non-native plants to encourage an increase of bee activity around your garden are herbs such as borage, basil, lavender, hyssop or rosemary or flowers such as Zinnia, Wallflower, Globe thistle or Cotoneaster.

If you can avoid using pesticides, do, or aim for one with low levels of toxins, and keep bees in mind while you're planting - they will need shelter from strong winds, and have been found to prefer warmer sunlit spots to shaded areas.

According to the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, bees come in a great range of colours and sizes, from a tiny 2mm to 24mm. Some have furry overcoats while others are smooth and shiny like a stainless steel kettle. During these warmer months, you have a good chance of seeing native bees anywhere in Australia. Bees nest in habitats as diverse as tree hollows, underground burrows or inside plant stems.

Native bees that you are most likely to see include:

Stingless Social Bees (Trigona and Austroplebeia)

Australia's own native honeybees can be found building resinous nests inside hollow trees. They store their aromatic honey in tiny pots.

Leafcutter Bees (Megachile)

Many gardeners first discover leafcutter bees when they notice the neat circular pieces that the bees have cut away from the edges of leaves. The bees weave these leaf pieces making tiny cells for their young.

Blue Banded Bees (Amegilla)

These bees love visiting purple flowers such as native peas.

Teddy Bear Bees (Amegilla)

These fat bees can be found nesting in shallow burrows in the soil.

Reed Bees (Exoneura)

Reed bees make a habit of nesting in dried stems of a number of plants including tree ferns and the dead canes of lantana. When these plants are removed from gardens or bushland people often don't realise they are destroying the colonies of these bees. Check for nests and relocate them before removing.


  • European honeybees collect 90% of available nectar and pollen but pollinate only about 5% of our plants.
  • Native bee honey called Sugarbag has a unique, tangy flavour.
  • Not all bees sting. In fact, most Australian bees don't.
  • Most Australian bees are solitary. Of the 2000 species of native bees, only 10 are social and form hives.
Out of the big house, into the fire

Choose wisely the people you live with, as the wrong combination of people can make your home feel less like a safe house and more like a prison. An Italian man recently opted to return to prison than serve out his term under house arrest arguing with his wife, Reuters reports.

Santo Gambino had already served time in prison for dumping hazardous waste before being transferred to house arrest, but found it more peaceful on the inside.

When Gambino went to the local police station and asked to be put away again, police charged him with violating the conditions of his sentence and made him go home to patch things up with his wife.

A new bathroom page-turner

Sharing a house with friends or family can save lots of money and keep things lively, though a shared fridge, sink and toilet seat can raise points of tension.

The book may have been re-written on the latter with Toilet Pages, a concept from an Italian designer that offers a set of individual wafer-thin seats for each member of the house, with a bookmark-style tab on the side to tell whose is whose.

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