Thursday, November 5, 2009

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 06 November 2009
Quote of the Week

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.~

OCR up to 3.5

The Reserve Bank decided this week to raise the official cash rate (OCR) for the second month in a row.

The move takes the OCR to 3.5 per cent, adding about $45 to the average monthly payment for a typical 25-year, $300,000 mortgage.

In a statement announcing the decision, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens said that the strong economic conditions in Australia have meant that inflation is not likely to drop as much as previously expected.

Higher dwelling activity and public infrastructure spending are also starting to provide more support to spending.

Inflation has been declining for the past year, but the Reserve Bank Board expects that both CPI and underlying inflation will be consistent with the target in 2010.

"With the risk of serious economic contraction in Australia now having passed, the Board's view is that it is prudent to lessen gradually the degree of monetary stimulus that was put in place when the outlook appeared to be much weaker."

Governor Stevens hinted that there might not be further rises in the near future.

"The adjustments at the October and November meetings will work to increase the sustainability of growth in economic activity and keep inflation consistent with the target over the years ahead", he said.

Home prices rise

House prices in all capital cities have risen over the past twelve months, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Over the year to September 2009, preliminary estimates show that the price index for established houses for the weighted average of the eight capital cities increased 6.2 per cent.

Annually, house prices rose in Darwin (+12.3 per cent), Melbourne (+8.4 per cent), Canberra (+7.8 per cent), Sydney (+5.9 per cent), Brisbane (+5.6 per cent), Hobart (+5.4 per cent), Perth (+4.4 per cent), and Adelaide (+3.7 per cent).

The movement in the preliminary established house price index between June quarters 2008 and 2009 has been revised from an estimated decrease of 1.4 per cent to an estimated decrease of 0.7 per cent.

Preliminary estimates show the price index for established houses for the weighted average of the eight capital cities increased 4.2 per cent in the September quarter 2009.

The established house price index increased by 4.3 per cent in Sydney, 4.7 per cent in Melbourne, 4.4 per cent in Brisbane, 1.7 per cent in Adelaide, 4.5 per cent in Perth, 1.8 per cent in Hobart, 3.4 per cent in Darwin, and 4.3 per cent in Canberra.

The movement in the preliminary established house price index between March quarter 2009 and June quarter 2009 has not been revised, showing an estimated increase of 4.2 per cent.

National Architecture Awards announced

Australia's major new arts, theatre and `culture palaces' from Canberra to Melbourne to New York, and the architects who designed them, are among major winners at this year's Australian Institute of Architects' National Architecture Awards.

For the first time in four years, Australia's most prestigious residential award returned to Sydney, with the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture/ Houses going to an innovative house on Sydney's northern beaches - the Freshwater House by young Sydney husband and wife team Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little of Chenchow Little Architects.

In describing the project, a four-bedroom home for a young family of five on a small 332 sq m site, the jury commended the design for providing "an outstanding solution for an elevated site, and achieves a private compound, screened from the neighbours, yet open and expansive towards an outdoor lawn terrace, the beach and sea."

In a second major win for the couple, Chenchow Little Architects shared the National Award for Small Project Architecture for the Ang House in Sydney's Mosman, with young Victorian firm Bellemo & Cat for their Polygreen House in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote.

In a double scoop for fellow young Sydney-based husband and wife team Rachel Neeson and Nick Murcutt of Neeson Murcutt Architecture, the couple received National Awards for Residential Architecture for two strikingly unique houses in NSW and Victoria - the Whale Beach House at Whale Beach in Sydney and Zac's House at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsular.

The Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing was presented to Melbourne-based practice Wood Marsh for the 22-storey Balencia Apartments on St Kilda Road in Melbourne.

Of the project, the jury said: "The architects have demonstrated sensitivity, skill and experience in negotiating an impressive balance between the commercial interests of the client, the comfort and amenity of the occupants and architecture's responsibility to the public domain. They have created an exemplary model for sophisticated multiple housing in an urban setting."

The Colorbond® Award for Steel Architecture was presented to young Sydney-based architect James Stockwell for the Snowy Mountains House overlooking Lake Jindabyne.

"James Stockwell's commission to create a robust, economical house for an extended family carefully addresses issues of climatic extremes, simple maintenance, and sustainable objectives. It has its origins in simple alpine huts and basic ski lodges, but here delivered with a straightforward finesse. The house combines autonomy with reasonable construction cost, minimum maintenance, and good longevity, achieving excellent sustainable credentials."

Insulation rebate thins out

Insulating our homes became more expensive but safer this week, with the reduction of government subsidies and the introduction of new regulations.

From November 1, the insulation rebate has been reduced to $1200. Transitional arrangements apply for people who have accepted a quote but are waiting for the work to be done, provided the work is completed by 16 November 2009.

Announcing the changes, Environment Minister Peter Garrett said that demand for the rebate in the first four months of the full roll out of the scheme has been significant and is currently running well above projected demand.

"More than 500,000 Australian households have already installed ceiling insulation putting them on the path to reductions in their heating and cooling costs of up to 40 per cent", Mr Garrett said.

The new safety precautions and consumer protections, which also apply from midnight on Sunday 1 November 2009, include:

  • a ban on metal fasteners for foil insulation such as metal staples or nails
  • mandatory installation of covers over downlights and other ceiling appliances , which have always been commonly used but are not compulsory under Australian Standards
  • a targeted electrical safety inspection program of Queensland homes with foil insulation installed under the program, starting at 10 per cent of installations, with the potential to adjust upwards as results are analysed.

From December 1 the Government will also:

  • publish a 'name and shame list' for any business struck from the installer register as a consequence of failure to meet program guidelines including 'dodgy' behaviour
  • a requirement for the provision of two genuinely independent quotes
  • a mandatory requirement that a formal risk assessment be completed for every installation before any installer is allowed to start work.

The Minister said the creation of a 'name and shame' list was also an important change to the program guidelines.

"Through our audit and compliance program I expect some 6,000 ceilings to have been inspected by the end of November, escalating to 11,000 by the end of the year", he said.

"Insulation installers are on notice that we will not hesitate to strike them from the register, take legal action and name and shame them if they are found doing the wrong thing."

Mr Garrett added that the two-quote rule will encourage householders to shop around, find a reputable installer that they're comfortable with and get value for money.

What did you say, sleepyhead?

Most of us have woken from a deep sleep sometime with pillow creases imprinted on our face, in which case greeting others is the last thing we want to do.

Now a UK-based designer has come up with a way to let your early-morning face speak for you.

With the words Good Morning Sweetheart embroidered on a 100 per cent cotton pillow slip to imprint onto your skin as you enjoy those last few Zs, your loved ones can see how you feel even when you're tired and drowsy.

Vacation with the Jetsons

Hotels often lure vacationers by offering out-of-this-world attractions, though not many can claim to be literally out of this world. With the ultimate goal of being the largest chain of space resorts, Galactic Suite has its sights set on launching the very first private space station as an orbital hotel by 2012.

According to its website, the entire experience will include an 8-week astronaut training course on a tropical island from where the space ship will launch.

After arriving at the outer-space resort, vacationers can enjoy weightlessness, Velcro suits (to help with the weightlessness), showers in a spa room with bubbles of floating water and the experience of orbiting the Earth at 30,000 km/h, completing 15 orbits each day. In simpler terms, travelling around the world in 90 minutes, meaning every 45 minutes you witness the sunrise and sunset.

If things go to plan the galactic resort will be up and running by the end of 2012, and it looks like a 3-day vacation will cost just under AU$5M per person. Better start saving!

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