Thursday, July 1, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 02 July 2010
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are.

After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, when we are able to go on a nice vacation or when we retire.

The truth is there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with ... and remember that time waits for no one.

There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. So work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt and dance like no one's watching.

So far so good

New home building has undergone a major recovery but will need to keep improving, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) said this week.

The association's quarterly National Outlook Report shows that housing starts are forecast to increase by 20 per cent in 2010 to a level of 165,940, before falling back by 3 per cent in 2011.

On a financial year basis, the number of housing starts is forecast to increase by 22 per cent in 2009/10 and 2 per cent in 2010/11 to reach a level of 162,600. Starts are forecast to be flat in 2011/12.

HIA Chief Economist Dr Harley Dale said that Australia needs to build over 190,000 dwellings in 2010 alone to meet underlying demand.

"And over the next ten years we need to build 420,000 dwellings more than we built over the last decade", Dale said.

"Meanwhile the renovations sector is looking healthier with three consecutive quarters of growth through to March this year.

"Total renovations hit a new quarterly record in March 2010", he added.

Improving labour market conditions and existing home price gains are forecast to see the total worth of the renovations sector increase by 7 per cent in 2009/10.

"Growth of 4 per cent is forecast in each of the subsequent two years, taking renovations activity to a worth of $36.4 billion in 2011/12", Dale said.

"The recovery in the renovations sector includes signs of growth in major alterations and additions which encompasses structural extensions, an important component of the overall housing industry", he concluded.

House prices up but slowing

After rising almost one-fifth in a year, house prices started to level off in growth again in the first quarter of 2010, the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) said this week.

The latest REIA Mortgage Choice Real Estate Market Facts publication shows that the March quarter saw the Australian weighted average median house price increase by 0.8 per cent to $518,624.

This in turn means that prices have increased 18.7 per cent over the year.

"This is the highest annual increase since September 2003", REIA President David Airey said.

The report also shows that in the first quarter of 2010, the number of loans to first home buyers decreased dramatically, as did the total number of housing loans.

According to Kristy Sheppard, Senior Corporate Affairs Manager, Mortgage Choice, the first quarter of 2010 brought with it near-record auction clearance rates but a decline in housing finance demand, which indicated that more experienced buyers with equity at their disposal were re-entering the market as first homebuyer activity slowed significantly.

Median house prices recorded increases in most Australian capital cities property markets over the March quarter, with the exception of Melbourne and Canberra. Sydney, Darwin and Melbourne have the highest median house prices while the lowest are in Hobart, Adelaide and Brisbane.

Adelaide house prices reported the highest increase during the quarter while Hobart set the record for the year. The median house price in Adelaide increased 4.5 per cent compared to the previous quarter while the median price for Hobart increased 20.8 per cent over the year.

"We need to keep in mind that the March quarter 2010 has not shown the impact of all the recent interest rate increases, we will have to wait until the June quarter to see the full effect this has had on the property market", Mr Airey concluded.

Develop your urban green thumb
Fresh home-grown fruit, veggies and herbs are not only good for you, but can work magic in a home cooked meal - and save money. However, if you call a suburban block or inner city apartment home, you may think you don't have the space or the right conditions - but with a little knowhow, your kitchen garden could be sprouting in no time.

First, look at your space:

What spare outside room is available? A corner in a yard or balcony is often enough, as your garden can be established in a long narrow trough, or in pots layered on a stand. Your space will determine how much you can have growing at any time, just as the weather conditions will determine what you can grow.

Small pots will require more watering, and do not allow plants much room for putting down strong roots; try using a few big deep tubs or large pots to hold multiple plants (be sure to find out which plants live well together first).

Some plants such as tomatoes and lettuces thrive against a sunny wall, whereas others such as parsley and mint can be grown in limited sunlight. If there are no naturally shady spots on your balcony, consider creating one using mesh netting or an umbrella.

Secondly, consider what you'd like to grow:

Thyme and chillies can add a simple unique twist to a meal and survive happily on a hot exposed deck, while bay leaves, turmeric, lemongrass and citrus trees can handle the heat but will need more attention and watering. Most garden centres offer a variety of seedlings for lettuces, baby spinach and rocket, which can be picked at random to add flavour to most meals.

Add a handful of herbs and some fresh Roma or Cherry tomatoes and you have a delicious instant salad.

Last, consider conditions and mulching:

While most herbs, fruits and vegetables will be able to handle the heat, be sure you know how much water (and even shade) they will need, especially as the days get hotter. Most commercial potting mixes contain moisture beads, but you could add more for particularly thirsty plants (such as mint or parsley). Throw some mulch on top of the soil to prevent drying out and to shade roots from the heat.

A small compost bin is a handy way to recycle non-oily scraps - throw in anything from egg-shells to bread, tea bags, fruit peels or even the lint from the dryer. If you have space outside, you may even consider a worm farm for recycling food scraps and garden waste and to provide a constant source of nutrient-rich fertiliser. A worm farm will struggle in the heat, so you'll need to keep it out of direct sunlight, in a place where the air can circulate around it.

With a little planning and care, you could be eating your own produce in no time. If you are unsure what plants will suit your conditions, talk to your local nursery.

What puts buyers off your home?

How much do you suppose a pile of crunchy dead bugs on a windowsill will affect the selling price of a $500,000 home? How about a life-size skeleton hanging in the closet, or an open coffin in the basement with a dummy vampire inside? Or an overly-ripe kitty litter box under the kitchen table?

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) - an industry body in the United States - conducted an online survey of their members to rate the things they found most annoying when showing a home to prospective buyers.

The results of the survey are revealing, surprising, and sometimes downright weird.

Here are the top twelve things the agents reported as most off-putting when showing a home:

* Broken door locks preventing access to the house.
* Pet deposits in the back yard or dirty cat boxes.
* Missing light bulbs.
* Sellers that ask you to remove shoes and then have wet carpet or dirty floors.
* Having loose stairs or missing banisters.
* Low hanging dining room light fixtures in a vacant home.
* Closet doors that fall off or are not adjusted properly.
* Going into a vacant home and hearing animals in the walls.
* Dangerous toys left out.
* Dead cars in the driveway or yard.
* Political signs.
* Dead birds or animals in or around the home.

Silliness aside, there is an important lesson here for home sellers to have a good look around your house to make sure that things you tend to overlook may not be a distraction or distasteful to prospective buyers. Imagine you are a stranger, or take a friend or relative for a walk through - they will often notice things you don't (such as cobwebs, pet smells, or an overgrown garden).

ATM for billionaires

How is it that we can get gold leafing, yet still can't grow a gold tree in the backyard? While a money-tree and golden-egg-laying goose may be far on the mythical horizon, a real-life hole in the wall that dispenses gold bars is just beyond ours.

If it were going to be anywhere, surely Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace Hotel is the place - boasting to be the most luxurious hotel in the United Arab Emirates, the elite hotel has raised the bar by installing a gold-dispensing ATM.

According to the UK Telegraph, the machine is coated with a thin layer of gold and offers customers 320 items to choose from, ranging from gold bars that can weigh up to 10 grams, to customised gold coins. A computer system updates every 10 minutes to keep the price in check with international markets.

Thief in the light

Recent experiments by scientists in the US and Japan have opened up the possibility of using plant life as living solar cells. In response to these developments, UK inventor/designer Mike Thompson has designed Latro: an Algae Powered Lamp.

Latro (latin for thief) incorporates the natural energy potential of algae and the functionality of a hanging lamp into its design. Breathing into the handle of the lamp provides the algae with CO2, whilst the side spout allows the addition of water and release of oxygen. When the lamp is placed outside in the daylight, the algae use sunlight to synthesise foods from CO2 and water. A light sensor monitors the light intensity, only permitting the leeching of electrons when the lux level passes the threshold - avoiding algae malnourishment. Energy is then stored in a battery to be used when the sun goes down.

Owners of Latro are required to treat the algae like a pet - feeding and caring for the algae will reward them with light.

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