Thursday, March 4, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 05 March 2010
The Leukaemia Foundation World's Greatest Shave

The World's Greatest Shave is one of Australia's biggest fundraising events.

Money raised is used by the Leukaemia Foundation to fund free services to support patients and families living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders. It also funds blood cancer research to find better treatments and cures.

More than 125,000 people are expected to shave or colour their hair each year - be one of them!

For extra fun, get together a team of friends, workmates or club members! As team captain you can set your team's fundraising goal and keep everyone motivated leading up the day when everyone shaves or colours their hair.

Most people will shave between 11-13 March 2010. However if that doesn't suit, you can take part at anytime to suit you, just visit our website at or call 1800 500 088.

Closing on average: OCR to 4 per cent

The emergency is over and it's time to get things back to `normal', the Reserve Bank told Australians this week when it decided to raise interest rates for the first time since December.

The move takes the Official Cash Rate (OCR) to 4.00 per cent.

Economists were predicting the rise was almost inevitable, given the OCR had been at a 49-year low of 3 per cent from April to October last year. It was then gradually lifted a quarter of a percentage point each month to December 2009, in a "wait-and-see" progression to gauge the effect.

Announcing the decision, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens pointed out that, for most borrowers, interest rates nonetheless remain lower than average.

"The Board judges that with growth likely to be close to trend and inflation close to target over the coming year, it is appropriate for interest rates to be closer to average", Governor Stevens said.

"Today's decision is a further step in that process."

Fewer homes approved in January

Approvals to build new homes dropped in January following a rise in the previous month, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The new data shows that building approvals fell 7.0 per cent to 14,045 in January 2010.

The number of approvals for private sector houses rose 0.3 per cent, but there was a fall in the number of approvals for private sector dwellings other than houses (-29.1 per cent). This drop follows strong increases in November and December 2009.

The number of dwellings approved fell in Victoria (a drop of 15.9 per cent), Queensland (down 7.4 per cent) and Tasmania (down 27.0 per cent).

Victoria (up 4.9 per cent), Queensland (up 0.7 per cent), South Australia (up 4.6 per cent) and Western Australia (up 4.2 per cent) recorded more private sector house approvals this month according to the ABS.

These results were offset, however, by a drop of 7.5 per cent in NSW.

Building up to boom

The Australian economy is on the threshold of a major cyclical upswing. Growth will pick up speed over the next two years and build into a boom later this decade, driven by rolling investment cycles, says leading economic forecaster and industry analyst, BIS Shrapnel.

BIS Shrapnel's Long Term Forecasts, February 2010 Update reports the economy currently has enough spare capacity and slack in the labour markets to cater for the initial phase of the upswing without inciting either demand or cost-side pressures.

However, the forecaster warns problems will occur in three-to-four years' time when all the major construction cycles synchronise and inflationary pressures re-emerge, leading to higher interest rates.

"We are now well and truly into recovery from what turned out to be a modest downturn, and not a recession, as other forecasters predicted at this time last year," says BIS Shrapnel report author and senior economist, Richard Robinson.

"But it's now time to look forward not backward. We're into a rebuild phase, rather than a rebound.

Initially, housing upswing will become the key driver of growth, the report suggests.

Robinson says investment, and particularly the construction side of it, is the primary driver of growth in the economy.

"The next phase of investment will underwrite growth in the economy, but the timing and logic of each construction cycle is different, with varying knock-on effects to different sectors and across the states," he says.

"From 2010, housing construction will take over from waning public spending as the key driver of growth.

"Initially spurred on by a combination of first home owner/builder grants and low interest rates, this upswing will gather momentum into a boom by 2012.

Robinson predicts that despite lingering affordability problems, healthy consumer confidence, high rents, a chronic undersupply and rising immigration will continue to boost first home owner, investor and up-grader demand.

"But the question is, how long will the housing boom continue in the face of rising interest rates?" he asks.

What to consider when selling a vacant house

Most houses are sold before their owners move out, but what happens if you have to move away before your home is sold? Or if you have decided to sell your investment property but the tenants have already moved out?

Selling a vacant house is not as easy as it may seem at first glance. An empty house always looks and feels empty, so is harder for buyers to imagine themselves at home there.

Fittings such as curtains or pictures can distract the eye from marks on the walls, while furniture gives a sense of perspective - prospective buyers may not like your sofa, but at least they can see how it fits in the room.

If you have to sell your house while it is vacant, here are a few points to take into consideration.

Stay in close contact with your real estate agent. If you're selling long distance you'll have to rely on them more than if you still lived in the house. Stay updated on how many people are viewing your house and see what feedback your agent is getting.

If possible, try to leave some furniture in the house. A furnished house is much more attractive and looks bigger than an empty one. Besides, people buy homes, not houses - they want to be able to feel they could live there. If you can't leave some furniture then consider renting furniture to fill out the rooms, or have a stylist come in and do it for you.

Make sure the house stays looking good from the street. This will probably mean you'll need to hire someone to mow your lawn, rake the leaves or trim bushes and trees.

Before you move out of your house, spruce up the landscaping. Plant new shrubs, lay down some fresh ground cover, or brighten it up with some colourful annuals... just make sure you have someone available to water your new additions otherwise they may not survive.

Once your house is empty, go through it and touch up any paint where necessary. Moving furniture can leave scuff marks and scratches which potential home buyers will notice instantly.

You might like to consider freshening up the paint in your house with a clean, neutral colour. If the house is empty, the walls are going to stand out. Bold coloured paints (especially in an empty room) can put buyers off, so consider painting them a neutral colour.

Have the carpets professionally cleaned. After all, with nothing in the house, all would-be buyers have to look at are the floors and walls.

Don't set your unoccupied house up for potential break-ins. Invest in exterior sensor lights that automatically turn on when it gets dark and turn off at sunrise.

Make sure you cancel the newspaper subscription and redirect mail before you move. An overflowing letterbox is a sure sign to a would-be burglar that no one is home.

If you have a security alarm, use it, but make sure you leave the entrance code with your real estate agent.

Finally, be sure to review your home insurance. Some insurance companies have a limit on how long they will cover a home while it remains vacant.

Curiosity killed with cat food

Not all of us have to deal with cane toads in our area, but we do know that once they move in the little terrors ravage the local flora and fauna and are hard to get rid of.

Scientists at Sydney University have just announced a possible solution to the problem - with something as simple as tinned cat food.

It's not so much the cat food itself, but the carnivorous ants the food attracts that are also immune to the toads' poisonous skin.

A report on the SU website shows that last year, scientists at the university found encouraging evidence of the deadly effect of native meat ants on young cane toads. Now they have further proven their thesis by luring the ants to cane toads with cat food.

Professor Shine and his colleagues observed ant-toad interactions on the Adelaide River floodplain 60km east of Darwin, Northern Territory, in the Australian wet-dry tropics during last year's dry season. It was found that ant densities and toad mortalities increased "more than fourfold" with the addition of cat food baits.

"We can look at an interaction that's already happening, meat ants are already killing millions of cane toads," Professor Shine explains.

"We're just looking to make it a bit easier for them."

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