Thursday, August 26, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 27 August 2010
Daffodil Day Friday 27 August, 2010

If you have a mother, father, sister, brother or best friend, there's every chance your life will be touched by cancer. No matter who you are, Daffodil Day is for you.

It's a day for all of us to give hope for a brighter, cancer-free future for ourselves, and for those we love. Daffodil Day merchandise is on sale throughout August, and you can donate to Daffodil Day at anytime.

Established as an Australia-wide event in 1992, Daffodil Day has become the largest fundraising event of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Cancer Council now raises around $8 million each Daffodil Day, providing vital funds for research, education and support services.

Wattle it will be

Next Wednesday will be the first day of September and the first day of Spring. It's also Wattle Day, when Australians celebrate our national flowering plant and its historic, patriotic and environmental impact on our lives.

The Australian Acacia, commonly known as "wattle", owes its nickname to a building technique that arrived here with convict settlers in 1788.

Ironically, wattle and daub houses were first introduced to Britain by those other colonialists, the Romans. The technique consisted of setting upright posts into the ground, weaving twigs, reeds, or branches between them and plastering the completed framework with mud.

Because the acacia plant was used for the weaving (or "wattling") by the first settlers, it became known as "wattle".

Australia's passion for property continues

Buying a new home is tops on the shopping list for all states except South Australia during this financial year, the latest Homeloans Homebuyer Barometer has revealed.

According to research by Homeloans of more than 2000 respondents from across Australia, buying a new home will be the largest outlay for nearly a quarter of all states surveyed.

A new home was top of the spending list for 29 per cent of NSW respondents, 26 per cent of
Victorian respondents, 23 per cent of Queensland respondents and 26 per cent of Western Australian respondents. Only South Australians showed different spending priorities, where having a holiday held the top spot (22 per cent).

"Findings from the Homeloans Homebuyer Barometer confirm that Australians' passion for property continues to outstrip other major purchases," says Will Keall, Homeloans' national marketing manager.

"Bricks and mortar investment is obviously a permanent fixture on the must-have list of Australians."

Rising interest rates led the list of the greatest financial concerns for the next twelve months, followed by increased living expenses.

Of the different age groups, those aged over 60 (43 per cent) and 50-60 (33 per cent) were most concerned about the cost of living.

For those 25 and younger, rising interest rates far outstripped the cost of living as the greatest worry (31 per cent versus 18 per cent).

The following is a snapshot of how the surveyed states would prefer to spend their money:

After a new home (29 per cent), on the wish list for NSW residents were:

* A holiday (20 per cent)
* Renovations/extensions (17 per cent)
* Other property (14 per cent)
* A new car (13 per cent)
* Shares (5 per cent)


After a new home (26 per cent), on the wish list for VIC residents is:

* A holiday (18 per cent)
* Renovations/extensions (18 per cent)
* A new car (16 per cent)
* Other property (14 per cent)
* Shares (5 per cent)


After a new home (23 per cent), on the wish list for QLD residents are:

* Renovations/extensions (20 per cent)
* A holiday (15 per cent)
* A new car (15 per cent)
* Other property (14 per cent)
* Shares (4 per cent)


After a holiday (22 per cent), on the wish list for SA residents is:

* Home renovations/extensions (20 per cent)
* Buying a new home (18 per cent)
* Other property (11 per cent)
* A new car (10 per cent)
* Shares (7 per cent)


After a new home, on the wish list for WA residents is:

* A holiday (23 per cent)
* Renovations/extensions (20 per cent)
* Other property (16 per cent)
* A new car (14 per cent)
* Shares (3 per cent)

Affordability drops in June Quarter

Interest rate hikes and rising home values sent housing affordability close to a record low in the June 2010 quarter, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) said this week.

The latest HIA-CBA Housing Affordability Report shows affordability deteriorated in most capital cities and regional areas in the three months to June.

The HIA-CBA Housing Affordability Index fell by 6.1 per cent in the June 2010 quarter to be 30.4 per cent lower compared to the same period last year. The Index combines interest rates, household incomes, and home prices to determine affordability conditions.

Affordability declined by 6.5 per cent over the June 2010 quarter across the nation's capital cities and was down by 3.5 per cent in Regional Australia.

The largest falls were recorded in Sydney (down by 9.1 per cent), Regional Victoria (down 9.0 per cent), Regional Tasmania (down 8.8 per cent) and Adelaide (down 8.7 per cent).

Light up your home

Although it's often overlooked, good lighting can make a huge difference to a home. We may spend hours poring over paint charts, but it's actually the light that shows off a space to its best advantage or even makes it useable.

Well-planned lighting can make your home feel cool, warm, cosy or spacious.

The key is to create a flexible scheme that takes you through all the different times of day and activities of your room. At the flick of a switch, you should be able to transform it from a bright, vibrant living space to the setting for a romantic dinner for two.

According to the experts there are three major types of lighting - general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting.

General lighting provides an area with overall illumination and radiates a comfortable level of brightness evenly through a space.

Task lighting, as the name suggests, helps you perform specific tasks such as reading, sewing, cooking, homework, hobbies, games, or working in your home office. It can be provided by recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting, and portable lamps.

Accent lighting adds drama to a room or feature within a room by creating visual interest. As part of a decorating scheme, it is used to spotlight paintings, houseplants, sculptures or other prized possessions, or to highlight the texture of a wall, curtains or outdoor landscaping.

The most important rooms in your house as far as lighting is concerned are the kitchen, home office and bathroom.

Kitchens are functional spaces and therefore should have well-diffused general lighting for moving about the room safely, as well as task lighting on areas which require more illumination, such as the stove top, sink or kitchen table/bench.

In the home office, good general lighting is also a must. Here, task lighting should be used carefully and should be focused on the desk space rather than on the computer screen.

Bathrooms are similar to the kitchen and require a good level of general lighting as well as specific task lights over the sink, shower or bath. Dimmers are perfect in this setting, since the amount of light needed for shaving is considerably more than that required for a relaxed soak in the tub or a middle-of-the-night visit to the loo.

When trying to decide what sort of lighting to install in your home it's a good idea to also take into consideration the colour of your walls and furnishings. Dark colours absorb light and therefore need stronger lighting, while light colour schemes reflect light and do not need intense lighting.

No matter how many lights you install in your home it's a good idea to put them on dimmers. This allows you to create instant ambience by mixing the amount of light you have coming from various rooms.

Of course, if you don't have the budget or freedom to rip out those old fluorescent tubes or pendant lights you hate, simply ignore them and scatter lamps everywhere. Your mood lighting will then be a matter of just how many you turn on at once!

White house with a picket fence

A real-estate developer in the United States has found a way to live like the president without all the hassles of running a country.

He may have been born in Israel, but Fred Milani has lived out an American dream very few get to do - in his own White House. While it is one-third the size of the actual White House in Washington DC, Milani's home in Atlanta still has six bedrooms, seven full baths, six half baths, a banquet room, an outdoor pool and a soaring entryway with a domed ceiling, according to CNN.

The home reportedly also has its own Oval Office with a copy of the desk that George W. Bush used during his tenure as president, a presidential seal on the ceiling and Lincoln Bedroom fully equipped with copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Bill of Rights.

Built in 2002 when Atlanta's real estate market was booming, the monument is now up for sale with an asking price of AU$10.58M. Milani told reporters he doesn't need to sell the house; but if he does then he'll build a congressional building across the street, just for the challenge.

Snapshots of real life

Plants have long been the subject matter of art, whether prose, painting or photography. Designer Jung Hwa Jin has found a way to blend the latter with the subject matter, creating Polaroid-like frames that play house to real-life plants.

The planter is suspended in mid-air by a cord which also powers a small embedded lamp, lighting up the living work of art as it makes its timely journey from seedling to fully grown plant within the picturesque frame.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 20 August 2010
Happy with our lot…
In the news, consumer sentiment rises; first home buyers pick up in QLD, NSW; and a sky-high price for penthouse…
Sentiment stronger than expected

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment rose by 5.4 per cent in August from 113.1 in July to 119.2 in August.

Westpac's Chief Economist, Bill Evans, commented that it is now back to around the level it reached prior to the beginning of the rate hike cycle in September last year.

After tumbling by 15 per cent in the wake of three consecutive rate hikes in March, April and May the Index has now recovered by 17 per cent in the last two months.

"There were many reasons to expect the Index to rise in August although a 5.4 per cent increase following the 11.1 per cent increase last month is much larger than we expected", Evans said.

"Clearly the most important factor was the decision by the Reserve Bank to keep its overnight cash rate steady in August.

"The significance of the rate decision can be seen with the 10.2 per cent increase in the confidence of those folks who hold a mortgage compared to a 0.9 per cent reduction in the confidence of those respondents who wholly own their property."

Evans noted that confidence amongst people who rent was also up by 10.2 per cent so other factors were also at work, such as unemployment figures and petrol prices.

He added that uncertainty over the election result does not appear to be affecting households.
"Sentiment towards housing and purchasing a motor vehicle also firmed", Evans said.

The Index measuring whether now is a good time to purchase a house rose by 9.1 per cent.

As with overall confidence, much of the negativity about housing and cars which built up in the wake of the recent series of rate hikes has dissipated.

"All components of the Consumer Sentiment Index increased in August. The assessment of family finances versus a year ago rose a further 5.7 per cent after rebounding sharply in July from a June slump.

Expectations for family finances over the next 12 months also posted a solid 6.1 per cent rise.

Sentiment on the economic outlook - which has been notably stronger than views on family finances in recent months - also improved in August with an 8.6 per cent rise in expectations for the next 12 months probably reflecting the reduced threat of follow-on interest rate rises this year.

"Most notably, consumers' opinions on "whether now is a good time to buy major household items" also posted a solid 3.5 per cent rise with this component index now at its highest level since July 2007", Evans said.

The report concluded with a prediction that the Board of the Reserve Bank is likely to leave rates unchanged when it next meets on September 7.

Mortgage sales down

Sales of new mortgages dropped almost ten per cent in July, despite a lift in some states in the number of first home buyers, mortgage broker AFG said this week.

The AFG Mortgage Index published this week shows that sales of new mortgages fell by 9.1 per cent in July 2010 from the previous month and 15.1 per cent compared to July 2009.

The slowing trend for mortgage sales has been consistent across most states although Victoria held up strongly until July, when sales there also dipped by 10 per cent.

AFG General Manager Sales & Operations Mark Hewitt attributed the July figures to seasonal factors, such as the announcement of the federal election, school holidays during the first two weeks and a wet, cold winter in Eastern States.

"That said, we did see a pick up in activity towards the end of the month, and we expect stronger figures as we move into spring", Hewitt remarked.

A surprise in the monthly data was the increase in first home buyer activity, which rose to 11.1 per cent of all mortgage sales nationally compared to 9.5 per cent in June.

The volume of mortgages arranged for first home buyers increased by 6.25 per cent from $192 million in June to $204 million, with large jumps recorded for QLD (23 per cent up from $30 million in June to $37 million in July) and NSW (9.8 per cent up from $61 million in June to $67 million in July).

First home buying activity rose slightly in WA ($43 million in June to $45 million in July), but declined in South Australia ($6.1 million in June to $5.4 million in July) and Victoria ($51 million in June to $47 million in July).

Hewitt commented that the increase in first home buyer activity confirms reports elsewhere that while mid-to-upper levels of property markets are slowing down, there is still an appetite for property around and below $500k.

Stop ants in their tracks

Ants marching in lines through the house have long been welcomed as a sign of rain, as long as it is just an occasional visit. However, an infestation of ants can be a sign of potential structural damage to your house, as well as being a constant nuisance.

If you are averse to using chemical sprays and poisons to deter the critters, let's try some age-old remedies. Old Wives' Tale #714 says that ants will not cross a line of chalk, so you could try laying down some guidelines using a stick of chalk from the local newsagent.

If that doesn't have the desired effect, Old Wives' Tale #715 suggests wiping surfaces with oil from the Pennyroyal plant. Pennyroyal is a mint, which can be grown in a shady spot by the back door so that there are always leaves to crush when needed.

Banking on the mobile

Do you use your mobile phone to make bank transactions? There has been a dramatic rise globally in the use of mobile applications over the past two years, but using mobile phones for making financial transactions lags other uses, according to KPMG.

KPMG's global survey, Consumers and Convergence IV, revealed that in Australia, 19 per cent of mobile phone owners use their phone for banking. Forty-three per cent of respondents in Asia Pacific (ASPAC) say they make mobile banking transactions at least once a month, compared to 30 percent globally.

One reason KPMG suggests for the result in Australia may be the lack of awareness of mobile banking offerings. Forty per cent of Australian respondents did not know whether their bank offered mobile banking compared to only 10 per cent in ASPAC and 24 per cent globally.

Peter Russell, KPMG Financial Services Partner said that Australian banks have tended to let consumers find their own mobile banking solutions from the general marketplace.

"As Australian banks are rushing to develop and improve applications for smart phones and the Apple iPad tablet this gap will narrow very quickly", Russell said.

Australia also lagged ASPAC and global respondents when it came to the level of comfort in using their mobile phone for financial transactions. Twenty one per cent of Australians are comfortable with mobile banking compared to 40 per cent in ASPAC and 34 per cent globally.

Furthermore, 70 per cent of Australians have never done any banking on a mobile device compared with 55 per cent globally and 38 per cent in ASPAC.

Eighty-seven per cent of the Australian respondents had never made an investment transaction, such as selling a stock or bond, over their mobile compared with 53 per cent for ASPAC and 71 per cent globally.

Mr Russell suggested that these numbers are not surprising given the maturity of mobile phone transaction activity.

"We predict growth in investment transactions as business conditions improve and the functionality of mobile applications to conduct transactions improves", he said.

"It is clear that mobile phone users have concerns over security and privacy with 59 percent of our Australian respondents sharing this concern," said Mr Russell.

The survey covered 5,627 consumers in 22 countries. Australia had 301 respondents to the survey, which was conducted in the Australian Autumn, 2010.

A copy of the report is available on the KPMG website.

Penthouse takes it to new heights

A penthouse in one of London's most sought-after locations has well and truly raised the bar, after fetching a record-breaking AU$244.5M.

Offering two floors with bullet-proof windows, six-bedrooms, a panic room and breathtaking views, the apartment at One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge has taken the title of the most expensive property in Britain, trumping the $200.1M paid for a flat in 2008, the UK Telegraph reported recently.

The new owners can also look forward to 24-hour room service from a neighbouring hotel, and feel safe knowing they're being looked after by security guards trained by the SAS.

The lighter side of science

You no longer need a lab coat, formulae to cure disease or plans to create your own Frankenstein monster to have ominous science beakers glowing around your home.

Inspired by the equipment so synonymous with experimental laboratories, designer Benjamin Hubert has created a set of three lamps made from hand-blown glass in the shapes of science beakers, in forms that hang from the ceiling, rest on a table or on the floor.

The beakers are lit from within by bulbs, held in place with authentic cork stoppers and a power cord that looks more like a tube leading off to another bizarre concoction.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 13 August 2010
Quote of the Week.....

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.
Anthony Robbins

Housing commitments trend down

Australian Bureau of Statistics Housing Finance figures for June show, in trend terms, the number of commitments for owner occupied homes fell 0.8 per cent, compared to the previous month.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the number of commitments decreased 3.9 per cent.

Except for the purchase of new dwellings, the decreases in lending were across established and construction of new dwellings and across all states and territories, expect Tasmania.

Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) President, David Airey pointed out that, in trend terms, this is the twelfth consecutive month of falls of housing finance.

"This is getting close to the highest recorded number of consecutive declines since the thirteen months from April 1994 to April 1995", Airey said.

In trend terms, the value of owner occupied housing commitments fell 0.7 per cent, while investment housing commitments increased 0.4 per cent in June 2010 compared with May 2010, following an increase of 0.6 per cent in May 2010.

Increases were recorded in commitments for the purchase of dwellings by individuals for rent or resale (up $31m, 0.5 per cent) and commitments for the construction of dwellings for rent or resale (up $16m, 3.4 per cent). Commitments for the purchase of dwellings by others for rent or resale fell (down $14m, 1.9 per cent).

House prices rising - or not?

Capital city house prices rose again in the June quarter, according to official figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The price index for established houses for the weighted average of the eight capital cities increased 3.1 per cent in the June quarter 2010, bringing the annual increase to 18.4 per cent.

Yet the RP Data-Rismark Hedonic Home Value Index, also released this week, shows that capital city dwelling values were down 0.7 per cent in month of June with no growth over June quarter. (The discrepancy may be because the index looks at units and town houses etc in cities and regional areas as well as houses and provides seasonally-adjusted results).

According to the Index, Australian dwelling values remained flat over the June quarter with effectively no growth (+0.1 per cent in seasonally-adjusted terms). This represents a deceleration in the quarterly rate of increase in home values.

Since the start of 2009, the average quarterly capital growth realised by dwellings located in Australia's capital cities has been 3.0 per cent (seasonally-adjusted).

The second quarter housing market freeze has been evident in both the capital city and 'Rest-of-State` markets, which account for about 40 per cent of all homes by number.

The RP Data-Rismark 'Rest-of-State` Hedonic Index, which it developed for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), registered virtually no capital growth in the June quarter (up 0.3 per cent seasonally-adjusted) and a very modest 5.2 per cent rise over the year to June 2010. This is less than half the 10.5 per cent annual growth recorded in Australia's capital cities in the 12 months to end June.

The soft-landing in Australia's housing market has been pervasive across all price bands. The cheapest 20 per cent of suburbs, middle 60 per cent of suburbs, and most expensive 20 per cent of suburbs (ranked by price) all fell in value in the month of June. The slow-down has been led by homes in the luxury markets, which have declined in value by 1.9 per cent since March 2010.

Managing Director of Rismark International Christopher Joye said that over time, house prices track purchasing power quite closely.

"Disposable household incomes were only projected to rise by about 5 per cent in 2010", Joye said.

"We've had 4.7 per cent growth in dwelling values in the year-to-date.

"It's sobering to remember here that we have had 17 consecutive monthly increases in Australian capital city home values", he said.

"If the sharemarket rose for 17 months straight and then tapered, people would not think twice. It might be wise to apply the same logic to our housing market."

Refinancers are winners: survey

A large number of Australians have been able to ward off the effect of higher interest rates by refinancing, according to a report released this week by mortgage broker Mortgage Choice.

The Mortgage Choice 2010 Refinancers Survey shows that 68 per cent of recent home loan refinancers saw their interest rate drop upon doing so.

Of these, almost one quarter (23 per cent) were now saving more than $300 per month while close to nine in every 10 (88 per cent) were saving more than $50 per month.

The survey asked a range of questions to 1,028 Australians who refinanced their home loan in the last 12 months, finding the main motivation was to switch to a `cheaper' loan, for 24 per cent of respondents, followed by the need to consolidate debts, for 11 per cent.

Company spokesperson Kristy Sheppard remarked that it was pleasing to find that 46 per cent of respondents did not pay exit fees when refinancing.

Of the rest, 22 per cent paid up to $500, 16 per cent between $500 and $1,000, 11 per cent between $1,000 and $5,000, and 5 per cent incurred over $5,000.

"It is important to note that new laws authorise ASIC to formally investigate any exit fee seen to be `unfair' or `unconscionable'," Ms Sheppard said.

"It is interesting to hear that after respondents researched their options, 26 per cent delayed the refinance due to charges they would have incurred by doing so earlier.

"They weighed up the cost versus benefit of refinancing, which is what any savvy borrower would do before committing to a large financial decision," she added.

"Whether you are a novice or experienced refinancer, it is important to thoroughly investigate your finance options before committing", Ms Sheppard said.

"This timeframe may vary depending on your individual circumstances and needs, hence visiting a reputable mortgage broker with a wide range of lenders on their panel will probably save you time, confusion and money."

What's your colour personality?

Have you walked into a room and just felt `at home'? It's quite possible that is because the colours in the room match your personality.

Ensuring that at least some elements of the room are in colours that fit with your colour personality can help you feel at home in your environment. Without these comfort colours you may always feel a little out of touch, detached or dissatisfied as your personality works hard to try and find things in the environment that resonate with your preferences.

To help you find your colour personality, New Zealand paint manufacturer Resene offers a colour personality test on their website, using concepts developed by Swiss expressionist painter Johannes Itten, who described colour personalities in terms of seasons. For instance, a Spring personality loves daylight and prefers airy homes with lots of windows and natural light; their colours are fresh, bright, clean and warm.

So, before you pick up a brush to give your home a "new lick of paint", take the test and see what will suit you best. And if you live with others, find out what their personalities need, as well.

Resene recommends the following ways to accommodate the personalities of different family members:

Allocate each family member a favourite room, such as their bedroom, and let them select furnishings and colours for that space that suit their colour personality. That way they will feel truly at home in at least one part of the house. Bedrooms are an ideal room for this.

To incorporate the seasons of other family members accessorise the room with one item from each family member's dominant season. For example, to appeal to an Autumn personality in a Spring room you might add an ethnic artefact to reinforce their dominant personality.

Colour personalities do overlap. Look for the common ground and use that as the basis for your colour scheme. For example, Springs and Summers both like curved shapes, Springs and Autumns both like warm palettes, creams, ivories and wooden furniture, Springs and Winters like large windows with simple window treatments and cool palettes, Summers and Autumns like mid-toned woods and share taste in mellow muted colours, while Autumns and Winters enjoy intense dark colours and opt for textures rather than patterns.

Just add air

As Australians become increasingly alert to the importance of using water wisely in the home, CSIRO researchers have found a way to use a third less water when you shower - by adding air.

The scientists have developed a simple `air shower' device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air. The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.

While the concept has been talked about for a while, we're still waiting on a model to be officially released. The nozzle is speculated to cost less than $20, and could be easily installed by householders.

Driving a theme home

Ever notice how true motor enthusiasts struggle to keep the telltale signs of their passion in the garage? For anyone looking to step up their game from having assorted keepsakes, pictures or a few model cars on the shelf, a luxury hotel in Germany has been showcasing the finer points of bringing automobiles into domestic settings.

The V8 Hotel in Stuttgart offers rooms with different motoring themes, such as auto-tuning, motor racing, V8 camp and drive-in cinema, all fitted with high quality materials and original automotive parts.

If you were looking for a chance to revisit the racing car bed you had as a child, sleeping in an historic racing behemoth re-fitted as a comfortable double could be just the ticket.