Thursday, November 26, 2009

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 27 November 2009
Quote of the Week

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance."
~H. Jackson Brown~

Still 50,000 homes short

The recovery in new home building will fall short of what is required to meet increases in Australia's population, according to the latest National Outlook released this week by the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

HIA Chief Economist Dr Harley Dale said that more than six million dwellings will be needed over the next forty years to match Australia's projected population growth.

HIA is forecasting the number of housing starts to increase by 9 per cent over 2009/10 following a drop of 18 per cent last financial year.
Starts are forecast to grow by a further 16 per cent over the period 2010/11 to 2011/12 to reach 166,000 dwellings.

After suffering a 4 per cent decline in 2008/09, total investment in renovations is forecast to increase by 10 per cent over the three-year period to 2011/12, reaching a record worth of $32.8 billion.

The state of the land

The gap between supply and demand for housing land has widened even further, according to a new report released this week by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

The 2009 State of the Land Report has found that there is a substantial undersupply of land for new housing across Australia's major capital cities and that the situation has been ongoing since 2005.

The Report highlights that Melbourne is currently managing its land supply the best of any capital city. On the other hand, Sydney, while delivering higher levels of infill development, is significantly underperforming in greenfield land production and housing supply generally.

According to UDIA National President Stephen Holmes, the Report shows that the gap between land supply and demand has widened and there is a growing undersupply of housing right across Australia.

"Housing demand in Australia is increasing due to changes in household formation, natural population growth, and most significantly, historically high levels of immigration", Holmes says.

"The adequate supply of land to support new housing is the principal driver for ensuring the maintenance of housing affordability in Australia, so unless the supply-side issues are rectified, housing will increasingly become less affordable for Australians."

UDIA has made the following recommendations to start addressing the gravity of the issue and implementing actions to improve land supply production and delivery:

1. That the Productivity Commission be charged with undertaking an inquiry into financing local infrastructure and specifically examine the proliferation and impact of development levies.

2. That the Major Cities Unit of Infrastructure Australia assume responsibility of the inter-Governmental co-ordination of residential land supply to ensure that there is sufficient supply available in all capital cities across Australia.

Tough guys cry, too

We're used to seeing stars like Nicholas Cage and Eddy Murphy winning, losing and toughing it out as celluloid heroes, but even they are vulnerable to the perils of the real estate bust in the United States over the past twelve months, according to Forbes Magazine.

Forbes recently reported that Cage lost two New Orleans properties at auction (a bank was the buyer) for just two-thirds their appraisal value of US$3.4 million.

It is a problem facing many owners of high-end homes across the States, where the asking price of luxury homes has reduced by an average 14% compared with the national average of 10 percent.

Actor-comedian Edie Murphy reportedly slashed the price of his 32-room home by 50 per cent from its original listing price of $30 million, while hip-hop label Def Jam creator Russell Simmons dropped the price on his home by a third to 16.5 million.

Fire-resistant? Irresistible

The growing urban sprawl surrounding Australia's capital cities, combined with the baby boomer tree-change and sea-change phenomena, has increased the need and demand for fire-resistant homes, building advisory service Archicentre warned this week.

Victorian State Manager David Hallett said that stark memories of the major fires that have swept through most states in Australia over the past decade, together with current fires in South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales, continue to place a focus on the importance of building fire-resistant homes.

"Traditionally people have seen fire resistant homes as a regional or rural issue", Hallett said.

He pointed out that the urban sprawl is placing tens of thousands of new homes on the fringe of major cities every year, often interfacing with state forests.

This situation is being compounded as baby boomers move away from the cities into coastal and rural areas.

"Anyone building a new home or renovating on the urban fringe should ensure fire prevention standards are included in their design and permit applications."

Mr Hallett advised homebuyers to be aware of local, state or national building standards, to complete a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment of their property before they move in and to consider upgrading the building to reflect current requirements.

The Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment is part of the residential building Australian Standard, (AS 3959-2009), to improve the ability of buildings to withstand attack from bushfires. The BAL takes into consideration a number of factors including the Fire Danger Index, the slope of land, types of surrounding vegetation and its proximity to any building.

"Information on fire resistant home design should also become part of apprenticeship training programs for builders and associated trades such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters and landscapers in relation to fire resistant plants as a whole-of-industry approach", Mr Hallett suggested.

"A well-designed and sited home including fire prevention measures stands a significantly better chance of survival especially after the fire has passed."

Archicentre's Bushfire Design Guide, which is available for download, contains advice for homeowners and builders and covers topics including.

Design Principles in Bushfire Prone Areas :

  • Keep the exterior design of the house simple and avoid crevices or cracks where burning material can lodge.
  • Avoid decorative timberwork such as trellis and lattice-work on exposed areas of the building. Remember timber balconies and decks are also high danger areas for trapping burning debris and should be kept to a minimum.
  • Make sure you have any chimneys screened off to stop embers blowing down the chimney during the fire and entering the home.
  • In designing the home ensure the use of leafless guttering or if allowed by council install ground level rubble drain collectors.

Management Issues:

  • Do not store firewood against or under the home
  • Make sure all doors have close fitting screens
  • Clear all debris from guttering and decks
  • Have a fire emergency plan - check with local fire brigade
A natural selection from the shelf

It seems an exceptionally rare and valuable first edition of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" may not have survived by being the fittest, but by hiding in a toilet bookcase.

A family bought the copy for "a few shillings" in the late 1960s or early 1970s, Reuters reported recently, saying they only recognized it as valuable when they saw another first edition at a Darwin exhibition.

Christie's auction house will offer the book this week on the 150th anniversary of its original publication, and expects it to fetch AU$70,000-110,000.

Walls come down in cookie town

The hunt is on in Norway for the vandals who destroyed an entire city. An entire city made of gingerbread, that is.

Residents of Bergen, home to the traditional pre-Christmas display "Gingerbread City", were in pieces recently when they found all the 1200-1300 "buildings" had been smashed only hours after the project was completed, the Norway Post reports. Each year up to 10,000 people from the larger Bergen region participate in the event, 2,000 of whom had helped to set up and decorate the miniature cookie-structures earlier that day.

While police are investigating the matter, many residents have already begun making new gingerbread houses, including professional bakers intent on seeing the sweetest city around.

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