Thursday, May 13, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 14 May 2010
Australia's Biggest Morning Tea - Thursday 27 May

Australia's Biggest Morning Tea is one of Cancer Council's leading fundraising events and the largest, most successful event of its kind in Australia. Over $70 million has been raised since it first began in 1994.

The concept is simple, host a morning tea for your friends or workmates and raise funds to help the fight against cancer.

Southern Estates will be hosting morning tea at our office at 98 Market St, Wollongong on Thursday 27 May at 10:30am. We would love for you to come along and join us for a warm cuppa, a delicious assortment of cakes and great company!

By taking part you can help Cancer Council support the 1 in 2 Australians who will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85

Please let us know if you can make it by either emailing Nicki at or simply phone our office and leave a message with our fabulous Receptionist Tamsyn.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Approvals lift game

A spike in the more volatile `other dwellings' component that includes apartments and townhouses has driven a big increase in dwelling approvals in March, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The number of `other dwellings' approved rose by almost two-thirds (59.9 per cent) in March 2010 to be up 56 per cent on March 2009.

The total number of dwelling units approved, seasonally adjusted, rose by 15.3 per cent to 16,383 in March. This is 51.6 per cent higher than the same month in the previous year.

Private sector house approvals rose by 0.5 per cent to 9,779 to be up 29.7 per cent on the same month last year.

Master Builders Australia, Chief Economist Peter Jones commented that it looks as though investor-driven activity may at last be starting to overcome the lingering effects of the credit squeeze.

"The Government's social housing stimulus spending is helping, with public sector approvals up almost tenfold on levels of a year or so ago", Jones said.

Public sector dwelling units rose by 25.6 per cent in March, to be 496.5 per cent higher than the same month last year.

New code for dispute resolution

From 1 July 2010, Australian consumers will have much greater access to free, independent external dispute resolution services when they have a problem with their credit provider or broker, following the release of updated regulatory guidance from ASIC.

The new dispute resolution requirements for credit will deliver assistance to consumers who are in hardship or financial difficulty.

For example, a lender's contact details for making a hardship application (i.e. telephone number, and where possible, a fax number, postal address and email address) will be posted and kept updated on an external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme's website.

It is expected that this will assist consumers and their representatives to find out where to direct a hardship application.

There will also be quicker response times for the handling of urgent credit disputes by the credit licensee's in-house complaints handling process.

Instead of the current maximum 45 days for handling disputes internally, lenders will have shortened timeframes for handling certain types of credit disputes. For instance, for disputes involving default notices there will now be a maximum 21 days.

ASIC will review the dispute resolution requirements once the new national credit regime has had a sufficient time in operation.

Investors fill in the blanks

Investors are returning to the property market in droves, mortgage broker AFG reported this week.

AFG's latest Mortgage Index shows that while mortgage sales fell by 15.6 per cent between March and April this year, the proportion of investors surged as owner-occupiers dropped off.

Property investors accounted for 36.9 per cent of all mortgages arranged in April, the highest
such figure AFG has ever recorded.

This compares with 10.2 per cent for first home buyers and 16.3 per cent for up-graders. The balance of new mortgages in April (36.6 per cent) was arranged for refinancing purposes.

AFG Mortgage Index shows that the $2.7 billion of mortgages arranged nationally in March fell to $2.3 billion in April. This figure is also 17.5 per cent lower than the $2.8 billion arranged in April 2009.

NSW saw the largest decline of 19.9 per cent from March sales, with QLD falling 16.4 per cent, SA 15.9 per cent, WA 14 per cent and Victoria the most robust with an 8.7 per cent fall.

Mark Hewitt, General Manager of Sales and Operations for AFG attributed the growing number of investors to the fact that investors tend to be more insulated from fluctuations in interest rates.

"They may have the option of rent rises or negative gearing to protect them", Hewitt said.

"This is why we're seeing the emergence of a two-tier mortgage market."

AFG Mortgage Index shows that Loan to Value Ratios, the value of a home loan expressed as a percentage of the value of a property, was 63.3 per cent in April, compared with 73.7 per cent in April 2009.

This reflects the growing proportion of relatively well-funded investors as well as the decline of first home buyers over the past 12 months.

Where the rich get richer

Things have been tough for many US homeowners in the past few years, but hard times don't seem to have affected the fabulously wealthy, according to Forbes Magazine's latest list of America's most expensive homes.

Forbes reports that this year the most expensive homes on the market are commanding even higher prices, on average, than last year, with a price range between $65 million to $150 million.

Top of the list at an astounding US$150 million is Candy Spelling's English-style mansion, aptly named The Manor. The 56,500 square-foot (5248 sq m) house has a bowling alley, wine cellar, rooms for gift-wrapping and silver and china displays, a library, gym and media room.

Its 4.6 acres includes pools, spa, landscaped gardens, a waterfall and parking for over 100 cars.

Just down the street and slightly less costly at $125 million, is Fleur de Lys, a 35,000-square-foot home reputed to be modeled after the Palace of Versailles. No mention of a Hall of Mirrors, but apparently it does have gold-embossed leather walls.

$100 million will buy you a 210-acre spread with 20,000-square-foot main house with art studio, sports gym, golf course, boathouse and views of Lake Tahoe. Still belonging to Tommy Hilfiger co-founder Joel Horowitz, it has been on the market for almost four years with no likelihood of dropping the price.

Three coastal parcels in Hawaii combined make up a 5.5-acre property that is one of the country's most expensive (at $80 million). The island getaway offers coastal views and a 12,000-square-foot boathouse and marina that are almost as big as the 15,000-square-foot home.

If you can't quite raise 80, then $75 million will see you the proud owner of Humming Bird Nest Ranch in California. Set on 123 acres, it has a 17,000-square-foot main house, six guest homes, 10 townhouses, as well as a fully equipped equestrian centre and parking for 200 vehicles. If driving doesn't suit you, there's also a helicopter pad.

Alternatively, $75 million could buy you a New York townhouse off Fifth Avenue or Porcupine Creek in California, which features a 19-hole course that won acclaim from Golf Digest magazine.

Forbes Magazine said they limited the list to homes on the public market which could be verified, as some high-priced sales are `closed-door' transactions.

Home with a throne, sand and foam

Public toilets aren't places we like to stay for too long, let alone spend a night, however one UK couple has managed to see past the muck and mire and right into beachfront views.

The two spotted the potential in a dilapidated public lavatory that had been used for almost a century before being closed in the 1990s, the UK Telegraph reports. Extensive renovations inside make it possible to forget the place where the TV sits was once the men's urinals, or the bedroom and bathroom was once the ladies' toilets.

Not only do they now have a home sitting right on a tourist-hot-spot beach, but the property is in the lowest band for council tax and the couple have a permit to park across the road.

House of shadow puppets

Concrete has had its fair share of tough times, and not many opt for the rigid and cold-to-touch material when planning walls for their new home. But a new range of concrete has a lighter approach to banish it from the shadows.

Litracon - light transmitting concrete - is filled with optical fibres that run from one end of the poured concrete slab to the other, effectively transmitting colours and light with a natural, soft silhouette appearance. The fibres can transmit light to over 50 feet and only make up a small percentage of each piece so do not significantly affect the structural capabilities.

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