Thursday, July 29, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 30 July 2010
Quote of the week......

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. - Anais Nin, 1903-1977

1.
Are Australian house prices overvalued?

Simply comparing house prices to income is not the way to measure affordability, according to research from the Economics and Market Research group of the ANZ Bank. As Mark Twain said it, "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated".

The latest ANZ Australian Housing Update questions international comparisons of house-price-to-income ratios, which have been widely used to suggest that Australian house prices are significantly overvalued.

ANZ's Head of Property and Financial System Research Paul Braddick suggests that these analyses are not only dangerously simplistic but explicitly ignore a key component of the housing affordability equation - interest rates.

"These arguments centre around the concept of `mean reversion' i.e. elevated house price to income ratios must revert to their long term historical average for `affordability' to be `sustainable'", Baddick says.

"However, as a measure of housing affordability, house price to income ratios are very misleading as they completely ignore interest rates.

"Ultimately, housing affordability comes down to debt servicing costs of which interest rates are a key driver."

The report shows that mortgage interest rates in Australia in the 1980s averaged around 14%, however, since 2000 the average has been close to 7%.

"This reduction in mortgage interest rates has effectively been capitalised into house prices", Braddick says.

"Housing affordability and the sustainability (or otherwise) of current house price levels are extremely complex issues and drawing conclusions from simplistic aggregate metrics such as house price to income ratios is very unwise", he concludes.

2.
Trees to the power of three

Three trees are all that's needed to offset the average size home's annual lighting output, according to new information from Planet Ark.

At today's National Tree Day launch, the environmental organisation revealed its aim for this year's event is to plant a million new native trees and shrubs.

Planet Ark, in conjunction with Toyota is calling on all Australian families to give back to the environment and offset a year of their home's average lighting needs by getting involved in National Tree Day on Sunday 1 August.

"A million trees are capable of absorbing the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are generated from the annual lighting needs of approximately 348,000 households, which is equivalent to a city the size of Adelaide," says Planet Ark spokeswoman Rebecca Gilling.

"By getting involved in National Tree Day and planting a tree for yourself, one for your children and one for our country, not only are you helping grow Australia's tree population, you'll be reversing the environmental impact of your home's annual lighting needs."

As Australia's biggest community tree planting event, National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day are responsible for planting 15 million native trees and shrubs by approximately two million volunteers over the years.

"Over its lifetime a single tree will absorb over 268 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions", said Toyota's Senior Executive of Sales and Marketing, Dave Buttner.

"The average Australian home's annual lighting needs will emit 770 kilograms of greenhouse gases.

"So get involved this National Tree Day and help create a cleaner and healthier environmental for the next generation", he urged.

Find your nearest tree planting event at http://treeday.planetark.org/find-a-site or call 1300 88 5000.

3.
Green Star buildings 'explode'

Australia's first carbon neutral office building, Grocon's Pixel building, has been awarded the highest Green Star score ever, with a perfect score of 100, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) announced this week.

The Green Star environmental rating system was launched in 2003, with the first Green Star rating being awarded in 2005 to 8 Brindabella Circuit at the Canberra Airport.

Announcing the certification, Chief Executive of the GBCA, Romilly Madew said that since 2005, Green Star has grown exponentially, with interest in building ratings 'exploding' in every state and territory.

"We now have 3.57 million square metres of Green Star certified office, retail, education and residential space nationwide," Ms Madew said.

"That the Pixel building is our 250th certification is particularly significant, as five years ago many in the industry thought a 6 Star Green Star rating was unachievable.

"Today, not only are we seeing more and more 6 Star certifications across a range of building types, but we have a building that has achieved a perfect score of 100."

Under the Green Star rating system 75 points is the benchmark for 6 Star Green Star rating. The Pixel building was awarded a perfect 100-point score, and gained an extra five points for innovation.

"The Pixel building is a clear example of the shift within the property and construction sector.

"Today, we've moved beyond the recognition that buildings are merely resource consumers, and are now working on ways to ensure buildings can be producers of resources," Ms Madew concluded.

4.
Land sales drop

Sales of residential land sales fell for a second consecutive quarter in March 2010, according to the latest residential land report from the Housing Industry association and property information and analytics provider rpdata.com.

The HIA-rpdata.com Residential Land Report shows the volume of land sales fell in the March 2010 quarter to a level 40 per cent lower than in the March quarter last year.

Meanwhile, the weighted median land value for Australia held steady in the first quarter of 2010 (-0.1 per cent), for annual growth of 6.9 per cent.

Sydney remains the most expensive residential land market in the nation with a median value of $305,000.

Outside the capital cities, the Sunshine Coast in Queensland remains the most expensive land market with a median value of $260,000.

There are twelve markets across Australia where median land value sits at or below the $100,000 mark. The most affordable market is the Mallee region of Victoria ($72,000), followed by Murray Lands ($77,000) and the South East ($80,000) in South Australia, East Gippsland in Victoria ($80,000), and the Murrumbidgee region in New South Wales ($83,000).

Rpdata.com national research director Tim Lawless, suggests the consecutive quarterly declines in land sales reflect the price sensitivity in the residential market.

"The interest rate rise in March, which followed monthly increases over the December quarter last year certainly dampened market conditions, particularly amongst the first home buyer and low income segments of the market."

"The continued weakness in vacant land sales is a bit of a worry considering the ongoing demand for housing remains high.

"The low volumes of land sales suggest continued price sensitivity from the market and further housing pressures ahead."

Mr Lawless doesn't expect any material improvement in land sales over the June quarter.

"Considering the rate rises in April and May, lower consumer confidence, and lower housing finance commitments over the June quarter, we don't expect any real improvements in the vacant land figures soon".

5.
Fuel fit for a king

While we've found household uses for our waste in composting and grey water systems, across the pond some royal horses are turning their waste into light and heat.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman has announced that manure from the 170 horses in the King's Troop would be made into pellets to generate bio-fuel, the BBC reported recently.

Both the manure and bedding from the stables will be used to generate the sustainable fuel, which the regiment will use when it moves to its new headquarters next year.

6.
Washed and watered

Plants are perhaps the only things we like to have growing in our bathrooms, but they have trouble sometimes when we forget to water them. Luckily, Montreal-based Gau Designs have devised a way to ensure your bathroom botanicals never go un-watered again.

The Zen Garden Sink comprises a polished concrete basin with a small channel leading off to the side where a plant is growing, so every time you wash your hands, runoff water drips along the sloped groove and nourishes your plant.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 23 July 2010
Stressdown Day - Friday July 23

Today is Lifeline's National Fundraising day, Stress Down Day. It's easy, wear your slippers or dress up or down!

Did you know 9 out of 10 Australians are stressed? Lifeline answers over 1200 calls a day, 365 days a year from Australians experiencing stress, anxiety, bullying, loneliness and depression. Up to 50 of these calls are from people at high risk of suicide - so many calls are literally lifesaving. We need donations to answer more calls, so THROW us a lifeline and help save lives. Just jump onto our website www.stressdown.org.au and make a donation today! You never know, you might just need to make a call one day.

What Stress Does to Your Body....some interesting facts

Head - Issues with mood, anger, depression, irritability, sadness and a lack of energy, swings in appetite, concentration problems, sleeping issues, headaches and pain, mental health issues, like anxiety disorder and panic attacks.

Skin - Skin problems like acne

Joints and Muscles - Aches and pains, tension, lowered done density

Heart - Increased blood pressure, increased heart beat, high cholesterol and instances of heart attack

Stomach - Stomach cramps, reflux and nausea and weight fluctuations

Pancreas - Diabetes

Intestines - Digestive issues like Irritable Bowl Syndrome, diarrhoea and constipation

Reproductive system - Reduced sex drive, lower sperm production (for men) and increased pain during periods (for women)

Immune System - Reducted ability to battle and recover from illness

1.
Making pay while the sun shines

More Australians are installing solar panel systems thanks to generous financial incentives, but you could be waiting some time for your investment to pay off, according to consumer advocate group Choice.

Choice recently asked the Alternative Technology Association to calculate approximate "payback times" for a 1.5kW solar system in each state. The verdict is anything from five to forty-five years, depending on where you live.

"Several companies advertise payback times of two to three years for small systems, but such claims are misleading as they ignore a number of potential costs and changes," says Choice spokesman Brad Schmitt.

"For example, no allowance is made for the decline of a panel's output over time or the likely need that at some stage key equipment such as the system's inverter will need replacing."

Choice found NSW and the ACT have the shortest pay-back times (5-6 years), largely due to a "gross" feed-in tariff incentive where households are paid for all the electricity their panels produce, irrespective of their domestic power consumption.

In the other states and territories, "net" feed-in tariffs apply where you're only paid for surplus electricity fed into the grid after domestic use is subtracted.

Under the Federal Government's Solar Credits Scheme, eligible households also receive rebates for Renewable Energy Certificates (REC).

"On the basis households are currently paid five times the REC market price, you can receive as much as $6500 in sunny locations such as Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney or around $5460 in Hobart and Melbourne," says Schmitt.

"When you add that to the less generous tariff system that applies outside NSW and the ACT, the payback time for Tasmania is estimated to be as long as 45 years."

Choice warns that while the NSW scheme is the most generous, there's uncertainty around how long these incentives will last.

2.
Building work adds value

The value of homes built or renovated in the March 2010 quarter continued its upward trek, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The seasonally adjusted March quarter estimate of the value of total building work done rose 5.2 per cent, to $20,055.3m, following a rise of 4.7 per cent in the December 2009 quarter.

Of this, the value of new residential building work done rose 1.6 per cent to $9,116.4m, due mainly to a boost in the apartment sector.

Work done on new houses fell 0.4 per cent to $6,309.3m, while new `other residential' building rose 6.6 per cent to $2,807.1m.

Alterations and additions rose 2.5 per cent to $1,621.6m.

In the March quarter 2010, the seasonally adjusted estimate of the value of total building work done rose in states and territories other than Queensland (down 0.9 per cent) and the Northern Territory (down 0.4 per cent). The largest rises were in Tasmania (12.6 per cent) and New South Wales (9.9 per cent).

In seasonally adjusted terms, the estimate of the value of new residential building commenced in the March quarter rose 1.0 per cent to $9,652.0m. Again this was due to improvements in the apartment sector.

New house commencements fell 2.0 per cent, to $6,804.3m, and new other residential building rose 8.9 per cent to $2,847.7m.

Alterations and additions fell 9.2 per cent to $1,568.3m.

3.
If only we'd organised insurance...
"If only we'd organised insurance..." - a phrase too often muttered by grief-stricken property owners as they sort through the rubble of what was their precious home and facing the daunting task of rebuilding from scratch.

Although it is tempting to cut corners (especially for first home buyers), scrimping on insurance can end up costing you a fortune. Use a reputable insurance broker, or obtain various quotes and compare the exclusions, extensions, excesses and maximum payouts to find the best deal.

Prevention, as they say, is always better than the cure - the installation of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, dead bolts, security alarms and doors should be considered as ways to decrease your risks and lower your insurance premiums.

Many lending institutions will not finalise your home loan without proof of building insurance on the property. Check with your insurance broker or company if insurance cover is required between exchange of contracts and settlement of the property purchase.

There are different types of building (and contents) insurance - `Replacement' is the most common policy and covers you for the full cost of rebuilding your home to its original condition, and generally includes extras such as demolition costs, architects fees, and temporary accommodation costs.

Here are a list of several standard insurance products and what they cover...

Homeowner's insurance

A standard homeowner's insurance policy protects a home owner (and in some circumstances your lender) from financial losses in the event of burglary, fire and certain other types of damage to your property or belongings. These policies also include liability coverage, which insures against legal liability if someone is injured on your property.

Flood insurance

Many property owners don't realise that damage from floods isn't always covered under a typical insurance policy. Separate flood hazard insurance can be purchased through most insurance companies. If your property is located in a flood-prone zone, your lender will probably require you to obtain a flood insurance policy.

Mortgage insurance

Mortgage insurance protects a bank or lender from financial loss if a property owner defaults on a mortgage and the property is sold to repay the loan. If a deposit is less than 20 percent of the total purchase price of the property, typically the lender may require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance may not be required for a mortgage with a higher deposit because the lender normally expects to be able sell the property for more than the loan balance if the borrower defaults on the mortgage.

Mortgage protection and disability or unemployment insurance

Often confused with mortgage insurance, mortgage life insurance pays the outstanding balance owed on a mortgage if the borrower dies. Mortgage disability and unemployment policies pay a set number of mortgage payments (usually six or 12) if a borrower becomes disabled or involuntarily loses their job.

Personal property contents insurance

Personal property insurance guards against the theft, damage or loss of household contents separately from real property. Coverage is available for renters and individual property owners, as well as for people who are moving or storing household goods in a self-storage facility.

Landlord Protection Insurance

This insurance protects against malicious damage caused by a tenant, damage to fittings and fixtures within the property, default of rent, legal expenses and public liability. The annual premium for landlord protection insurance is fully tax deductible for owners of investment property.

We suggest you consult a fully-accredited insurance provider for advice on the products that are most suitable for your circumstances.

4.
Eave it in the design plan
Once a defining feature of Australian homes, the over-hanging eave may again have its day in the sun, according to leading architectural firm Archicentre.

Brad Cook, West Australian State Manager of Archicentre said that by including the traditional over-hanging eave in their designs for building or renovations, homeowners could increase the water-harvesting potential of their roofs by 20 per cent. There is also the added benefit of having shade over windows and walls in summer to conserve power.

Mr Cook said a new report by Australia's major water utilities estimating that demand for water will increase by almost 1 trillion litres by 2056 (based on a population of 31 million) should be a catalyst for a major re-think in relation to roof design on new home building in Australia.

"The roofs of Australia's 7.2 million homes represent the biggest major urban dam potential in Australia with water being able to be captured where it can be used without expensive infrastructure," he said.

Historically the eave was a fundamental part of Australian homes; however, in the last decade its removal for fashion and mock building design has seen the building of hundreds of thousands of homes poorly equipped to cope with climate change demands such as increasing temperatures, Mr Cook noted.

"We believe the water crisis will see governments in the future consider legislation which will make it compulsory for people to install rain water tanks, water efficient shower heads and dual flush toilets," Mr Cook said.

"Home buyers requesting Archicentre pre-purchase inspections have increasingly indicated an interest in the environmental aspects of properties including rain water tanks and solar heating.

"The future increasing costs of power and water will also be a driving market force to support government policy of the introduction of national binding building codes," he concluded.

5.
Real Estate Glossary: Conveyancy

"Conveyancing" is the legal process of transferring the ownership (or title) of a property from one party to another, usually in exchange for an agreed amount of money.

Conveyancing is normally performed by a solicitor or specialist conveyancer and includes a review of the contract, to make sure it is legally correct and to undertake any legal or ownership searches which may be required.

6.
Loving the backseat

Unless you're James Bond or a millionaire, acquiring an Aston Martin DB6 is not likely to be on your to-do list. There is, however, a less expensive way to enjoy the comforts of the back seat, except you won't be able to take it for a spin.

Aston Martin Heritage Designs have crafted a replica of the DB6's rear seats with intricate attention to detail, with silver birch finish and red leather upholstery (but if red's not the colour for you, the limited edition pieces are available in customised colours to suit any d├ęcor setting). Head-rests are sold separately, and expensively.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 16 July 2010
Regrets...'I have a few...too few to mention'

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." (Mark Twain)

1.
Lending turns up again
Housing finance commitments rose in May, finally breaking a run of seven consecutive falls, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The total number of dwellings financed for owner occupiers, seasonally adjusted, rose by 1.9 per cent in May, to be down 24.4 per cent on May last year.

The number of loans for the purchase of new dwellings rose by 4.7 per cent in May, while loans for the construction of dwellings fell by 2.2 per cent in May.

The number of loans for the purchase of established dwellings rose by 2.3 in May, to be down 26.1 per cent on the same time last year.

On the other hand, the value of lending to finance the purchase of investment housing rose by 2.5 per cent in May, to be up 17.3 per cent on a year ago.

The building industry was pleased to see that the value of lending to finance construction of dwellings for rent or resale rose by 28.1 per cent in May, to be up 5.6 per cent on a year ago.

Peter Jones, Chief Economist for peak building and construction organisation Master Builders Australia, said that a period of stable interest rates is critical for the housing market in order to engender confidence and encourage up-graders, investors and first home buyers.

"Loans for the building or purchase of new dwellings are beginning to flatten out after the correction seen during the past four or five months, and remain well up on the low point in late 2008", Mr Jones said.

"Although there is a solid pipeline of new building work yet to be done, Australia needs a major phase of residential building to go anywhere near to meeting the housing needs of the population", he added.

2.
Construction dips

The national construction industry contracted in June following three consecutive months of growth, according to the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction Index (Australian PCI®).

A fall in new orders, employment and deliveries, largely due to a dip in house building, saw the Index fall 6.8 points to 46.4 (readings below 50 indicate a contraction in activity).

Across construction, the house building activity sub-index dropped 13.9 points after ten straight months of growth while the apartment building sub-index contracted for the second consecutive month. This was largely due to ongoing tight credit conditions and subdued demand.

The apartment sector sub-index dropped 2.0 points to 44.0.

In contrast, engineering construction was back in positive territory in June and commercial construction also strengthened.

AIG Director Public Policy, Dr. Peter Burn, commented that the sharp fall in recorded activity in the housebuilding sub-sector comes after almost a year of expansion.

"While the result in the housing sub-sector relates only to a single month, it could reflect the delayed impact of the withdrawal of the extra first home owner's grant and the cumulative impact of the run of interest rate increases from last October", Dr Burn said.

"The housing outcome together with the continuing weakness of the apartment sector reinforces other signs of flat household spending."

3.
We're still not locking in
Despite the cost difference between fixed and variable interest rates dropping, June saw a higher percentage of Australians turning their backs on locking in their home loan rate.

According to the latest loan approval data from mortgage broker Mortgage Choice, only 2.6 per cent of new borrowers chose a fixed interest rate for their home loan. This compares to 3.3 per cent in May and 1.8 per cent in April.

Mortgage Choice senior corporate affairs manager, Kristy Sheppard said that many people in the industry were expecting a rise in fixed rate demand last month but it hasn't happened with their customers.

"Instead we've seen this product's popularity reduce by one fifth", Ms Sheppard said.

"Further, our June data shows fixed rate loans have represented less than 5 per cent of all new approvals for the past 10 months and less than 10 per cent of approvals for two years now."

She noted that it was interesting to see the proportion of fixed loans to new borrowers dropped in all states apart from Western Australia, which was a complete reversal of last month's trend.

"So, although we've seen a swift rise in rates from October through to March and the cost of fixing a loan continues to decrease, demand for variable interest rates remains at near-record highs", Ms Sheppard said.

"Perhaps the price tag is still too high when potential borrowers weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of fixed versus variable.

"Or perhaps whispers of a much steadier cash rate are seeping through and wielding influence over borrowers' decision processes."

Standard variable loan demand reached 50.1 per cent of June loan approvals, which was an increase on 47.8 per cent in the month prior and the highest level reached since October 2008.

One of the key reasons for the popularity of standard over basic variable loans is the
plethora of quality `professional packages' on offer with these products, which attract customers with benefits such as rate discounts, `Gold' credit cards and other special features.

Other key home loan choice trends for the first month of winter were:

- Basic variable: fell to 41.9 per cent from 43.5 per cent.

- Line of credit (often popular with investors): fell to 5.3 per cent of approvals from 5.4 per cent.

- Bridging (for those selling property while purchasing another): remained well below 1 per cent.

4.
Rental property deductions

It's tax time and the Tax Office has warned that it is focusing on rental property deductions again this year and wants to ensure people understand how to declare rental income and claim deductions correctly.

Some common mistakes made by rental property owners include:

* incorrectly claiming property improvements as repairs when they are actually capital costs, like remodelling a bathroom or replacing a stove
* claiming construction costs as decline in value instead of capital works
* overstating rental deductions by incorrectly apportioning the interest on a loan between a rental property and private use, and
* making incorrect claims for a property that is not genuinely available for rent, or where a property has been available for rent for only part of the year.

You may be able to claim an immediate deduction in the year you incur rental expenses for things like advertising for tenants, building insurance, or for repairing windows, appliances or other fittings damaged while the property was rented.

However, some expenses like renovation costs are claimed over a number of income years.

Generally you can't claim rental deductions for private or capital expenses, such as:

* the cost of buying or selling your rental property, like the cost to purchase the property, conveyancing costs and advertising expenses
* expenses not actually incurred by you, like water or electricity charges paid by your tenants, and
* expenses that aren't related to the rental of the property, like expenses connected to your own use of a holiday home that you rent out for part of the year.

You will need to apportion your expenses if:

* your property is available for rent for only part of the year
* only part of the property is used to earn rent, or
* you rent your property at non-commercial rates.

Record keeping

Keeping good tax records is not only helpful when completing your tax return but is necessary if the Tax Office asks you to provide evidence of your claims later on.

Generally you need to keep records for five years. You should keep records of:

* any receipts you have received, such as rent
* any expenses relating to rental deductions you have claimed, such as repairs or maintenance, and
* when you acquired or disposed of the property.

For capital gains and capital losses you need to keep records for at least five years after
the CGT event.

If you're not sure, it is better to keep too many records than not enough.

The Tax Office has several publications available to help you understand your tax obligations in regards to your rental property, including Rental properties and Guide to capital gains tax.

These guides are available from the Tax Office website www.ato.gov.au or by calling 1300 720 092.

5.
Sand in your bed

The sandcastles we built as children may have been big enough to fit our imaginations inside, but afforded little more space than that. For those young at heart, a discount hotel provider with imagination has commissioned the world's first Sand Castle Hotel.

Constructed by a British sculptor (and a few helpers) using approximately 1000 tonnes of sand, the hotel built on a UK beach is 15sqm and 4m high. Guests can stay the night in an open-air room with a sand bed for around AU$24, or bask in the sun while listening to the tide.

The best part is, you're not likely to have your fun wrecked by a lead-footed bully.

6.
Ghost chairs

Through the ages, people have reported sightings of eerie mists, strange lights and shapeless forms around their homes. A design firm has now developed a way to summon ghostly spectres into your home with a chair close at hand, should you need to sit down.

Design Drift has used laser technology to group millions of tiny air bubbles inside the clear plexiglass chairs, meaning that only the ghostly apparition-like shapes inside are visible when light is reflected off the structure.

epro Newsletter from Jason Capelo

In This Issue...
Contact Us

Jason Capelo

Phone: 61 2 42295344
Fax: 61 2 42297202

98 Market Street
Wollongong NSW 2500

Another happy client





Just wanted to send you an email now that the land has gone to exchange and thank you for all your help you have given us to get the property.

We have been looking for the right property for quiet a while now and we have come across many real-estate agents. Our past experience with agents has not been great, we have found that many agents conduct has deterred us from some properties. Been our first purchase we wanted to make sure that we were making the right decision, however many agents saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of us because we were new to the game.

From the very beginning you impressed us by the manner you conducted yourself in. We found you to be very helpful, upfront and honest, which has lead to a smooth transaction.

In the future if we are looking at buying or selling we know who to contact:) Keep up the good work Jason, us first home buyers need a few good agents out there that will help us not try and pull the wool over our eyes.

Premier Address

Lot 106 William James Dve Mt Kembla

$595,000

Agent on-site Sat 17/7/10

11 till 1140

Large semi rural block of 2557sqm

Set amongst quality & prestige homes

North aspect with panoramic mountain views

Enjoy the tranquiltyof Mount Kembla

Friday 16 July 2010
To rent or buy…
In the news this week, we weigh up both sides of the question; home lending gets a boost; and taking the comforts of home to a different plane…
1.
22 Secrets to discovering your dream and living it


One of the most important rules of happiness in life is to do what you love. But discovering that dream job and what you are meant to do in life isn't always so easy.


1.What are your hobbies? This doesn't just mean stamp collecting -- it means anything you do with your spare time. That could be collecting comic books, reading about history, programming Linux utilities, writing on your blog, writing poetry, cooking, whatever. As it's clear that this is how you like to spend your time, and that you're willing to do these things without pay, it's very possible that these are your passions. Give each of your hobbies some thought, and think about whether they're things you love to do, and that you'd love to do for a living.


2.What are your talents? It's been said that we each have at least one gift we've been given, and that the true purpose of our lives is discovering that gift, and sharing it with the world. There is much truth in that statement, and an important part of this process is discovering your gift. What are you good at? What talents do you have? What have you shown an aptitude for in your current and previous jobs, in school, in your personal life? Anything goes here.


3.Who do you like to work with? A dream job includes not only what you want to do, but who you are doing it with. You should truly enjoy working with these people. In this step, you can name specific people you love working with, or types of people (creative types, programmers, entrepreneurs, blue collar, etc.). Use your ideas here to help you envision your dream job (more on that below).


4.What do you like to work with? The tools of the job are very important. If you love working with computers (even a specific type of computer), that's a clue to your dream job. If you love working with clay, or paper, or people, or clothes, that's a clue. If you like working with a hammer, or a piano, you're off to a great start in discovering your dream.


5.What environment do you enjoy working in? An office, a college, a classroom, a construction site, the ocean, the forest? Where you work is also an important factor in your dream job.


6.When have you been happiest? Think back throughout all the previous times of your life, from childhood through adolescence, school, different jobs, different areas, different hobbies. Think about the happiest times of your life, and what you were doing, who you were doing it with, and where you were doing it. You may have dismissed some of these things for various reasons, but remembering that you were extremely happy during those times can make you realize why you were happy.


7.Try online tools. There are some great tools online for helping you find your purpose. Here are just a few :



-43 Things: A great way to see what goals others have, to list your own goals, to talk to others about common goals, to get ideas and inspiration. Also see their article, How to Choose Achievable Goals.



-Dreamminder. A site where you write down your dream, and it will send it to you at some point in the future. Use their dream wizard to discover your dream. Read the dreams of others to get inspired.



-One Question: Take a test with questions to figure out your one purpose in life. With articles to help as well.



8.List your top 5 passions. Now that you've given various factors some thought, and tried some online tools, make a short list of your top 5 passions. If you don't have 5, list as many as you have. Then compare your top 5 passions, and rank them from top to bottom. This will be the starting point your guide to making your dream a reality.


9.How can you turn your passions into your work? Of the top 2-3 passions on your short list, can any of them be turned into your life's work? What professions use those passions as a mainstay of their work? How would you get into those professions, and do you think you would love what you do if you did them?


10.Create a clear vision. Clarity of vision is the key to achieving your dream once you've discovered it. Take some time to think about exactly what your dream is, what your dream job would be, how you see yourself doing it, where you are, what you're surrounded by, who you're working with, what tools you're using, the benefits to you and others. Write it down, and try to make it as clear as possible. You should be able to visualize this dream in your head. The more real it seems in your mind, the more likely it is that it will become reality.


11.Create a roadmap. Once you've clearly pictured your destination, what's left is creating a map for getting to that destination. Try backwards planning: what's the last step you'd have to do before attaining your goal? What would the last step be before that step? Keep going backwards until you get to the first step. Then focus all your efforts on that first step.


12.Brainstorm. Sometimes there are more than one road to get to a destination. Brainstorm a bunch of ideas for getting there, a bunch of actions you can take to move yourself closer to your destination. Then put them together into your roadmap. Even if you don't have a complete roadmap, having a clearly defined destination, and taking the first step, are enough to get you started.



13.Do research. Learn as much as you can about your dream. Check out some books from the library, do some web surfing, talk to others who are knowledgeable. Become an expert on the topic.


14.How are others doing it? Find others who are living your dream. Read about them, write to them, meet with them. Find out what steps they took to get there, what's required, how they did it. Then use that information for your roadmap.


15.Practice, practice. While you're taking your steps to realizing your dream, practice your passion as much as possible. Practice, of course, makes perfect ... and you want to be as good at what you want to do as humanly possible. This isn't an easy step, but it's worth it.


16.Get inspired. Find others who are trying to achieve the same dream, see what obstacles they've face and how they've overcome them. Put up photos from magazines to inspire you. Read motivational quotes. If you're inspired, you will have the energy needed to get there.


17.Get motivated. Along those lines, find motivation to keep you on your path. Motivation and focus are the keys to achieving any goal. What are your motivations? Making a public commitment, setting up rewards, inspiring yourself, tracking your progress, and joining a support group or finding a partner are great ways to motivate yourself.


18.Simplify: one purpose. Once you've defined your dream, focus on it completely. That means you need to put any other goals on the backburner for now, and have only one purpose in your life. Later, you can focus on other goals, but if you have multiple goals, you will become distracted and lose purpose. Focus. Simplify your life so that you are keeping your focus on that one thing.



19.Use a mantra. A great way to keep yourself focused is to use Guy Kawasaki's idea of creating a mantra instead of a mission statement. Boil your goal down to a few words. Guys' mantra: empower entrepreneurs. What's yours? Once you've defined your mantra, print it out, post it up, and say it several times a day.


20.Set aside time each day. You will not go anywhere if you don't devote time to your dream. Set aside an hour (or at least 30 minutes) each day for working towards your dream. If you can do more, great, but one step at a time is all it takes. Set aside time either in the morning, or in the evening, or some time when you know you will do it every day. Make it a habit, and you will succeed.


21.Pretend you can't fail. Imagine that you cannot fail, that you may slip up and fall, but that you will get up and learn from that fall. Take away all fear of risk and loss, and believe in your success. Now act as if you cannot fail. And by acting so, you will make it happen.


22.Live as you want to be remembered. How do you want to be remembered when you die? This is a common method for deciding how to live your life. If you want to remembered for realizing your dream, then don't start on it when it's too late. Start on it now. Live your life so that your dream actually comes true.

2.
Longer to find deposit

It is now taking more than four years for first home buyers to save for a house deposit, according to a new report.

The second annual Bankwest "First Time Home Buyer Report" shows that housing affordability has continued to worsen over the past year, with first home buyers needing 4.5 years to save for a house deposit, up from 3.7 years.

It is now taking more than four years for first home buyers to save for a house deposit, according to a new report.

The second annual Bankwest "First Time Home Buyer Report" shows that housing affordability has continued to worsen over the past year, with first home buyers needing 4.5 years to save for a
house deposit, up from 3.7 years.

The report also found thousands of young Australians have been forced to rent or live at home with their parents for an extra ten months as they pull together a house deposit.

The research shows a first time buyer couple needs to raise an $85,800 deposit to purchase the median house, and $76,900 to buy a median unit.

There are 26 Local Government Areas (LGAs) - in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth - where it would take a first home buyer couple on average earnings more than a decade to save a house deposit.

Bankwest Retail Chief Executive, Vittoria Shortt said this was the stark reality of a strong Australian property sector.

"Increasingly we are seeing an entrenched two-speed market emerging with property owners on one side and a growing army of first home buyers seemingly locked out on the other," Ms Shortt said.

She added that first time buyers now need on average four-and-a-half-years to save a conservative 20 per cent house deposit. This drops to four years for first time unit buyers.

3.
Booster shot for housing finance

The number of loans taken out by homeowners and investors to buy homes rose in May, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Loans for the purchase of new dwellings grew by 4.7 per cent in May; however, the number of loans for construction fell by 2.2 per cent. Overall, loans for new housing dropped by 0.2 per cent to be 20 per cent lower than six months ago.

The number of loans taken out by homeowners and investors to buy homes rose in May, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Loans for the purchase of new dwellings grew by 4.7 per cent in May; however, the number of loans for construction fell by 2.2 per cent. Overall, loans for new housing dropped by 0.2 per cent to be 20 per cent lower than six months ago.

Over the 3 months to May 2010 total number of housing loans dropped by 26.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2009. Loans for first home buyers were down by 56 per cent, while trade-up buyer loans fell by 10 per cent.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) estimates that the underlying demand for housing in 2010 is currently 190,000 dwellings per year.

HIA Chief Executive - Association, Graham Wolfe, warned this week, however, that housing starts in 2010 are forecast to total only 165,940.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the total number of owner-occupier loans in May 2010 increased 2.3 per cent in New South Wales, 0.4 per cent in Victoria, 3.8 per cent in Queensland, 1.9 per cent in South Australia, 0.3 per cent in Tasmania, and 7.7 per cent in the Northern Territory.

Total owner-occupier loans fell by 3.8 per cent in Western Australia and by 2.4 per cent in the ACT.

4.
Put herbs to work in your garden

Growing herbs makes sense in so many ways. They smell good, taste (possibly) even better, are incredibly easy to grow, and although a herb garden may be a relatively small landscaping addition, studies have shown that well maintained and landscaped gardens can increase your home's value considerably.

Herbs can be grown in gardens, pots, tubs, in full shade or sun so are easy plants for any conditions. It is simply a matter of choosing the right ones for your situation and needs.
Many, such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, lemon grass and wormwood, require very little water.

Growing herbs makes sense in so many ways. They smell good, taste (possibly) even better, are incredibly easy to grow, and although a herb garden may be a relatively small landscaping addition, studies have shown that well maintained and landscaped gardens can increase your home's value considerably.

Herbs can be grown in gardens, pots, tubs, in full shade or sun so are easy plants for any conditions. It is simply a matter of choosing the right ones for your situation and needs.

Many, such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, lemon grass and wormwood, require very little water.

In fact, they not only thrive in dry conditions but are more effective and stronger when their essential oils are not diluted by over-watering.

Lemon grass is a fragrant alternative to other decorative grasses which have become popular with landscapers in the past few years. It grows in clumps so will not spread too far, but is easy to propagate and just needs regular clipping to flourish (pop the clippings into a pot of hot water for a refreshing tea).

Unlike many other plants, the foliage of herbs is always fragrant. Who can walk past a row of lavender bushes along a path without touching them to release the perfume? Other herbs that can be grown as aromatic shrubs or small trees include the ever-popular rosemary or the pungent lemon verbena, both of which can be used in teas and cooking.

For visual contrast in the garden, try planting a few silver-leaved wormwood or southernwood bushes. These plants are drought-resistant and require very little attention, except for regular pruning to make them flourish. When it is time to trim them, dry the leaves well and place them (with some of your lavender) in bags in drawers or cupboards to keep away moths.

If you want to grow herbs for cooking, eating or drinking, there are a few easy essentials, such as mint, parsley, basil, chives and thyme. These will grow happily in the garden or pots on a balcony - the main thing is to have them in easy reach of the kitchen.

Some, such as parsley or the mint family, prefer shade and lots of water, while others thrive in hot, dry conditions. It is best to experiment - the plants will soon let you know if they are not happy where you've put them.

Other culinary herbs such as coriander are notoriously difficult to grow consistently and tend to `go to seed' quickly. To grow these successfully, try putting them in a place where they can drop their seeds and grow again - after a while you will find you have a constant supply.

Many nurseries now stock perennial strains of the more popular annuals like basil and coriander. They tend to be hardier, woody shrubs but will grow all year round as long as the flowers are cut back when they appear.

For those more serious gardeners amongst us, herbs are often used as `companion' plants, as their essential oils repel insects and encourage growth in certain plants.

Basil grown amongst tomatoes makes them healthy and increases yield; pyrethrum, garlic and chives defend roses from aphids; marigolds are said to kill root nematodes in the soil. Fennel, pennyroyal and chamomile can all be used to deter flies, mosquitoes and ants.

Whether you just have a few culinary herbs near the kitchen window, some shrubs near the front door for perfume, or decide to cultivate a traditional herb garden, you'll find they are relatively low maintenance. Most require little more than to be used constantly, as they will all flourish when cut back.

Remember when you cut them back, that most of your herbs can be dried for use in fragrant sachets, teas, or as seasonings year round. Hang them up or place them on paper in a warm dry room out of the sun and wind until they are brittle and completely dry. Then put them into bags to hang in your closets, or store them in airtight jars until you are ready to use them in the kitchen.

5.
Is it time to leave the rental roundabout?

Rising rents and lack of available rental properties is a cause of concern for many Australians. Could buying a home instead provide a solution? It may not be as difficult as it seems.

Buying your own home requires careful thought and planning, covering a wide range of aspects including what, where, how and how much? When considering the option of buying versus renting, there are a lot of issues to take into account.

Rising rents and lack of available rental properties is a cause of concern for many Australians. Could buying a home instead provide a solution? It may not be as difficult as it seems.

Buying your own home requires careful thought and planning, covering a wide range of aspects including what, where, how and how much? When considering the option of buying versus renting, there are a lot of issues to take into account.

Mortgage broker Mortgage Choice discusses the rent-versus-buy equation.

Company spokesperson Kristy Sheppard says that, with housing affordability concerns rising, it is no surprise many renters turn their back on home ownership.

"However, those who are determined to achieve their goal and know they need to be dedicated to the cause over a period of time often find it is attainable", she adds.

"Owning a home is not, and was never, a matter of instant gratification. It's a serious commitment.

"Tenants who are keen to escape the rental roundabout need to contemplate their future wants and resist temptation to live only in `the now'. With the housing undersupply issue looking to continue while population growth and rents rise, rental vacancy rates fall and housing prices trend upwards, some may find that now is a good time to set a property purchase plan in action.

"The median asking rent in the March quarter for a residential dwelling other than a house - such as flats, units, town houses, etc. - in Canberra, Australia's most expensive capital city was $445 per week or $1,928 a month*. For Sydney it was $1,777 per month and for Darwin it was $1,681. Brisbane and Perth stood at $1,517, while Melbourne was at $1,473 and Hobart was at $1,170. The average Adelaide `other dwelling' rented for $1,127 per month.

"In comparison, a 30-year $300,000 home loan at 7% is $1,996 per month in repayments.

"Of course, ownership costs such as land tax/strata fees, council rates, maintenance and water consumption need to be taken into consideration, but the similarity in cost between monthly rent and loan repayments within some areas is encouraging for potential buyers.

"Today, lenders have much tighter home loan approval assessment criteria but there is still a broad range of options available. For example, more buyers are taking up family equity loans.

These allow a borrower to retain sole ownership while having the financial assistance of a family member acting as a loan guarantor by offering their property as security.

"The trend of purchasing property with another via co-ownership is another option that helps borrowers enter the market sooner than expected.

"A reputable mortgage broker can help would-be buyers explore a wide variety of lenders and loan options and give guidance on the entire process of becoming a mortgage holder.

"If the thought of paying your own mortgage instead of your landlord's is appealing, then save hard, get professional assistance, make the commitment and stick to it!"

*REIA Market Facts Report March quarter 2010

6.
What's buried out back

You may laugh at the thought of a friend or family member heading out into the backyard with a metal detector, but you never know what treasures may be lying around.

After traipsing through a field with a metal detector, a UK man has found a stash of over 52,000 Roman coins in a field, the BBC reported recently.

When the detector made an irregular noise, the man dug 35cm into the earth to find one tiny bronze coin, leading to a further discovery of more than 52,000 - one of the biggest coin finds in Britain.

7.
On a different plane, entirely

It's not often you get a good night's sleep on a plane, but Jumbo Stay has big plans to change that with a decommissioned Boeing 747-200 jumbo jet, a grassy hill near Sweden's Stockholm airport, and 25 comfortable rooms.

The recycled hulk now offers accommodation for one to three adults in each quarter, with a dormitory option available for backpackers and traveling groups, all with separate shower and toilet facilities. There's also a luxury suite where the cockpit used to be, offering panoramic views of the airport.

epro Newsletter from Danny O'Neill

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Contact Us

Danny O'Neill

Phone: 61 2 42295344
Fax: 61 2 42297202

98 Market Street
Wollongong NSW 2500

email us

 
QUOTE..........

 

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

~Mother Teresa~


 
INTERESTING FACTS !!!

1. Studies show that if a cat falls off the seventh floor of a building it has about thirty percent less chance of surviving than a cat that falls off the twentieth floor. It supposedly takes about eight floors for the cat to realize what is occurring, relax and correct itself.


2. Sylvia Miles had the shortest performance ever nominated for an Oscar with "Midnight Cowboy." Her entire role lasted only six minutes.


3. The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the "American Pie." (Thus the name of the Don McLean song.)


4. The average bank teller loses about $250 every year.


5. The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.


6. The band Duran Duran got their name from an astronaut in the 1968 Jane Fonda movie "Barbarella.


7. The blesbok, a South African antelope, is almost the same color as grapejuice.


8. The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year.


9. The Boston University Bridge (on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts) is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train driving under a car driving under an airplane.


10. The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "Its A Wonderful Life".

 
My Little Man.....

 JAI ASHTON O'NEILL

 
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Friday 16 July 2010
To rent or buy…
In the news this week, we weigh up both sides of the question; home lending gets a boost; and taking the comforts of home to a different plane...
1.
21 ITEMS OF GOOD ADVICE.....

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.
FIVE.. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye..
SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.
EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
NINE.... Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.
TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.
TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.
THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'
FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.
SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.
EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
TWENTY- ONE. Spend some time alone.

2.
Longer to find deposit

It is now taking more than four years for first home buyers to save for a house deposit, according to a new report.

The second annual Bankwest "First Time Home Buyer Report" shows that housing affordability has continued to worsen over the past year, with first home buyers needing 4.5 years to save for a house deposit, up from 3.7 years.

It is now taking more than four years for first home buyers to save for a house deposit, according to a new report.

The second annual Bankwest "First Time Home Buyer Report" shows that housing affordability has continued to worsen over the past year, with first home buyers needing 4.5 years to save for a
house deposit, up from 3.7 years.

The report also found thousands of young Australians have been forced to rent or live at home with their parents for an extra ten months as they pull together a house deposit.

The research shows a first time buyer couple needs to raise an $85,800 deposit to purchase the median house, and $76,900 to buy a median unit.

There are 26 Local Government Areas (LGAs) - in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth - where it would take a first home buyer couple on average earnings more than a decade to save a house deposit.

Bankwest Retail Chief Executive, Vittoria Shortt said this was the stark reality of a strong Australian property sector.

"Increasingly we are seeing an entrenched two-speed market emerging with property owners on one side and a growing army of first home buyers seemingly locked out on the other," Ms Shortt said.

She added that first time buyers now need on average four-and-a-half-years to save a conservative 20 per cent house deposit. This drops to four years for first time unit buyers.

3.
Booster shot for housing finance

The number of loans taken out by homeowners and investors to buy homes rose in May, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Loans for the purchase of new dwellings grew by 4.7 per cent in May; however, the number of loans for construction fell by 2.2 per cent. Overall, loans for new housing dropped by 0.2 per cent to be 20 per cent lower than six months ago.

The number of loans taken out by homeowners and investors to buy homes rose in May, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Loans for the purchase of new dwellings grew by 4.7 per cent in May; however, the number of loans for construction fell by 2.2 per cent. Overall, loans for new housing dropped by 0.2 per cent to be 20 per cent lower than six months ago.

Over the 3 months to May 2010 total number of housing loans dropped by 26.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2009. Loans for first home buyers were down by 56 per cent, while trade-up buyer loans fell by 10 per cent.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) estimates that the underlying demand for housing in 2010 is currently 190,000 dwellings per year.

HIA Chief Executive - Association, Graham Wolfe, warned this week, however, that housing starts in 2010 are forecast to total only 165,940.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the total number of owner-occupier loans in May 2010 increased 2.3 per cent in New South Wales, 0.4 per cent in Victoria, 3.8 per cent in Queensland, 1.9 per cent in South Australia, 0.3 per cent in Tasmania, and 7.7 per cent in the Northern Territory.

Total owner-occupier loans fell by 3.8 per cent in Western Australia and by 2.4 per cent in the ACT.

4.
Put herbs to work in your garden

Growing herbs makes sense in so many ways.  They smell good, taste (possibly) even better, are incredibly easy to grow, and although a herb garden may be a relatively small landscaping addition, studies have shown that well maintained and landscaped gardens can increase your home's value considerably.

Herbs can be grown in gardens, pots, tubs, in full shade or sun so are easy plants for any conditions.  It is simply a matter of choosing the right ones for your situation and needs.
Many, such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, lemon grass and wormwood, require very little water. 

Growing herbs makes sense in so many ways.  They smell good, taste (possibly) even better, are incredibly easy to grow, and although a herb garden may be a relatively small landscaping addition, studies have shown that well maintained and landscaped gardens can increase your home's value considerably.

Herbs can be grown in gardens, pots, tubs, in full shade or sun so are easy plants for any conditions.  It is simply a matter of choosing the right ones for your situation and needs.

Many, such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, lemon grass and wormwood, require very little water. 

In fact, they not only thrive in dry conditions but are more effective and stronger when their essential oils are not diluted by over-watering.

Lemon grass is a fragrant alternative to other decorative grasses which have become popular with landscapers in the past few years.  It grows in clumps so will not spread too far, but is easy to propagate and just needs regular clipping to flourish (pop the clippings into a pot of hot water for a refreshing tea). 

Unlike many other plants, the foliage of herbs is always fragrant. Who can walk past a row of lavender bushes along a path without touching them to release the perfume? Other herbs that can be grown as aromatic shrubs or small trees include the ever-popular rosemary or the pungent lemon verbena, both of which can be used in teas and cooking. 

For visual contrast in the garden, try planting a few silver-leaved wormwood or southernwood bushes.  These plants are drought-resistant and require very little attention, except for regular pruning to make them flourish. When it is time to trim them, dry the leaves well and place them (with some of your lavender) in bags in drawers or cupboards to keep away moths. 

If you want to grow herbs for cooking, eating or drinking, there are a few easy essentials, such as mint, parsley, basil, chives and thyme. These will grow happily in the garden or pots on a balcony - the main thing is to have them in easy reach of the kitchen. 

Some, such as parsley or the mint family, prefer shade and lots of water, while others thrive in hot, dry conditions.  It is best to experiment - the plants will soon let you know if they are not happy where you've put them.

Other culinary herbs such as coriander are notoriously difficult to grow consistently and tend to `go to seed' quickly. To grow these successfully, try putting them in a place where they can drop their seeds and grow again - after a while you will find you have a constant supply.

Many nurseries now stock perennial strains of the more popular annuals like basil and coriander.  They tend to be hardier, woody shrubs but will grow all year round as long as the flowers are cut back when they appear.

For those more serious gardeners amongst us, herbs are often used as `companion' plants, as their essential oils repel insects and encourage growth in certain plants. 

Basil grown amongst tomatoes makes them healthy and increases yield; pyrethrum, garlic and chives defend roses from aphids; marigolds are said to kill root nematodes in the soil. Fennel, pennyroyal and chamomile can all be used to deter flies, mosquitoes and ants.
   
Whether you just have a few culinary herbs near the kitchen window, some shrubs near the front door for perfume, or decide to cultivate a traditional herb garden, you'll find they are relatively low maintenance. Most require little more than to be used constantly, as they will all flourish when cut back.

Remember when you cut them back, that most of your herbs can be dried for use in fragrant sachets, teas, or as seasonings year round. Hang them up or place them on paper in a warm dry room out of the sun and wind until they are brittle and completely dry.  Then put them into bags to hang in your closets, or store them in airtight jars until you are ready to use them in the kitchen.  

5.
Is it time to leave the rental roundabout?

Rising rents and lack of available rental properties is a cause of concern for many Australians. Could buying a home instead provide a solution? It may not be as difficult as it seems.

Buying your own home requires careful thought and planning, covering a wide range of aspects including what, where, how and how much?  When considering the option of buying versus renting, there are a lot of issues to take into account.

Rising rents and lack of available rental properties is a cause of concern for many Australians. Could buying a home instead provide a solution? It may not be as difficult as it seems.

Buying your own home requires careful thought and planning, covering a wide range of aspects including what, where, how and how much?  When considering the option of buying versus renting, there are a lot of issues to take into account.

Mortgage broker Mortgage Choice discusses the rent-versus-buy equation.

Company spokesperson Kristy Sheppard says that, with housing affordability concerns rising, it is no surprise many renters turn their back on home ownership.

"However, those who are determined to achieve their goal and know they need to be dedicated to the cause over a period of time often find it is attainable", she adds.

"Owning a home is not, and was never, a matter of instant gratification. It's a serious commitment.

"Tenants who are keen to escape the rental roundabout need to contemplate their future wants and resist temptation to live only in `the now'. With the housing undersupply issue looking to continue while population growth and rents rise, rental vacancy rates fall and housing prices trend upwards, some may find that now is a good time to set a property purchase plan in action.

"The median asking rent in the March quarter for a residential dwelling other than a house - such as flats, units, town houses, etc. - in Canberra, Australia's most expensive capital city was $445 per week or $1,928 a month*. For Sydney it was $1,777 per month and for Darwin it was $1,681. Brisbane and Perth stood at $1,517, while Melbourne was at $1,473 and Hobart was at $1,170. The average Adelaide `other dwelling' rented for $1,127 per month.

"In comparison, a 30-year $300,000 home loan at 7% is $1,996 per month in repayments.

"Of course, ownership costs such as land tax/strata fees, council rates, maintenance and water consumption need to be taken into consideration, but the similarity in cost between monthly rent and loan repayments within some areas is encouraging for potential buyers.  

"Today, lenders have much tighter home loan approval assessment criteria but there is still a broad range of options available. For example, more buyers are taking up family equity loans.

These allow a borrower to retain sole ownership while having the financial assistance of a family member acting as a loan guarantor by offering their property as security.

"The trend of purchasing property with another via co-ownership is another option that helps borrowers enter the market sooner than expected.

"A reputable mortgage broker can help would-be buyers explore a wide variety of lenders and loan options and give guidance on the entire process of becoming a mortgage holder.

"If the thought of paying your own mortgage instead of your landlord's is appealing, then save hard, get professional assistance, make the commitment and stick to it!"

*REIA Market Facts Report March quarter 2010

6.
What's buried out back

You may laugh at the thought of a friend or family member heading out into the backyard with a metal detector, but you never know what treasures may be lying around.

After traipsing through a field with a metal detector, a UK man has found a stash of over 52,000 Roman coins in a field, the BBC reported recently.

When the detector made an irregular noise, the man dug 35cm into the earth to find one tiny bronze coin, leading to a further discovery of more than 52,000 - one of the biggest coin finds in Britain.

7.
On a different plane, entirely

It's not often you get a good night's sleep on a plane, but Jumbo Stay has big plans to change that with a decommissioned Boeing 747-200 jumbo jet, a grassy hill near Sweden's Stockholm airport, and 25 comfortable rooms.

The recycled hulk now offers accommodation for one to three adults in each quarter, with a dormitory option available for backpackers and traveling groups, all with separate shower and toilet facilities. There's also a luxury suite where the cockpit used to be, offering panoramic views of the airport.