Thursday, November 4, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 05 November 2010
Viva La Gong Festival 2010

Wollongong's festival of culture and creativity will bring the heart of Wollongong alive with a spectacular street parade, followed by an artistic extravaganza.

Listen to fabulous music, experience exciting performances by local and visiting acts, and enjoy delicious food from around the world in a carnival atmosphere unique to Wollongong.


Interest rates on the move

THE Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) moved this week to head off inflation, deciding to lift the official cash rate by 25 basis points to 4.75 per cent, the first rate rise since May this year.

In a statement announcing the decision, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens made a point that the demand for labour has continued to strengthen and that some further increase is likely over the coming year.

"Given these conditions, the moderation in inflation that has been under way for the past two years is probably now close to ending", Governor Stevens said, adding that inflation is likely to rise over the next few years.

"This outlook, which is largely unchanged from the Bank's earlier forecasts, assumes some tightening in monetary policy", he concluded.

The rate rise means that borrowers with an average mortgage of $300,000 will have to pay an extra $49 a month.

Community spirit is the winner
Public architecture projects demonstrating a winning mix of `community spirit, intensity, humility, beauty and hope for the future' have dominated the nation's top architecture awards for 2010.

From urban design to public, commercial, heritage, interior and sustainable architecture, projects skilfully blending these elements took top honours presented at the 30th Australian Institute of Architects' National Architecture Awards.

A total 33 awards and commendations across 12 categories were awarded to projects in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and offshore in Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Tanzania, Indonesia and India.

Presenting the awards, Jury Chair Melinda Dodson remarked that it has been a contradictory time for architecture, with economic buoyancy followed by economic downturn.

"As architects we're part of a carbon emitting industry, so it's natural that the jury reflected on the future, applied the 'enduring architecture' test, and the essential test of sustainability", Ms Dodson said.

"We were heartened by the many instances of architects demonstrating leadership, advocacy and innovation.

"Projects where a positive transformative act had occurred, resulting in new ideas for the profession and for the community about architecture; architects doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways.

Ms Dodson said that while the 2009 jury worried about a lack of expenditure on public urban design projects, in 2010 the opposite was true.

As a result, the City of Sydney and Australian public emerged as this year's big winners, with five projects commissioned by the council picking up major awards. Surry Hills Library and Community Centre in Sydney by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmt) received a National Award for Public Architecture and a National Award for Sustainable Architecture.

The much used and enjoyed Pirrama Park at Pyrmont Hill by Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects/Aspect Studios/CAB received the Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design, while the equally well-frequented Paddington Reservoir Gardens by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with JMD Design and the City of Sydney received a National Award for Urban Design and National Award for Heritage.

Australia's top award for international architecture, the Jørn Utzøn Award for International Architecture, was awarded to a revolutionary, naturally ventilated 66-storey apartment building in Bangkok, The Met, by Singapore-based practice WOHA.

In total six international projects received Awards and Commendations, including an orphanage in Tanzania, and "extraordinary" house for one of the world's top designers in Japan.

For the first time in the history of the national awards, Australia's most prestigious residential award - the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture - Houses, was presented to a Tasmanian practice and house - the Trial Bay House by Hobart practice HBV Architects. The jury commented that this "exceptional house may be one with such calmness and serenity that it is hard to leave. The remodelling and additions to the Trial Bay House have created such a house."

The Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing was presented to Brisbane-based practice Donovan Hill for the Seaspray Resort and Spa at Zilzie in Queensland. The practice also picked up a National Award for Residential Architecture - Houses for their Z House in Brisbane.

In another win for Tasmania, a National Award for Small Project Architecture was presented to the Strangio House by Maria Gigney Architects, with the jury saying "the creative and sensitive conversion of a 170 year old stone barn into a compact but exciting contemporary residence is a superb example of how to reuse old building stock".

House prices plateau

After a run of increases, house prices in Australia's capital cities remained flat through the September quarter, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Preliminary estimates show the price index for established houses rose 0.1 per cent in the September quarter 2010. This result follows five consecutive quarters of quarterly increases in the eight capital cities index.

Through the year to September quarter 2010, the index has increased 11.5 per cent.

Prices rose in Melbourne (up by 2.7 per cent), Perth (up 0.4 per cent) and Darwin (up 0.3 per cent) and decreased in Sydney (down 0.9 per cent), Brisbane (down 2.1 per cent), Adelaide (-1.4 per cent), Hobart (-1.4 per cent) and Canberra (-0.4 per cent).

Through the year to September quarter 2010, the index increased 11.5 per cent.

Time to go, e-waste

How many old mobile phones, printer cartridges and dead batteries do you have lying around your home or office? Next week could be the perfect time to finally get rid of them, as National Recycling Week (November 8 - 14) has e-waste in its sights.

About 6,000 tonnes of household batteries end up in landfill each year making them one of the most common forms of hazardous waste disposed of by Australian households, according to environment group Planet Ark.

Together with local councils across Australia, Planet Ark are encouraging residents to round up their used and unwanted batteries, printer cartridges and mobile phones and take them to local collection points for recycling.

"As well as eliminating the risk of landfill environmental contamination, recycling electronic products saves resources as many of the heavy metals contained within these items can be recovered and used to make new products."

Residents can find local battery recycling options on their local Council's page of Planet Ark's website - a service which provides reuse, recycling and safe disposal information for more than 32 different materials ranging from aluminium cans to x-ray film.

"Of the 1,400 e-waste recycling enquiries which Planet Ark receives each day, over 800 relate to household batteries, printer cartridges and mobile phones," says Planet Ark's Manager of Recycling Programs, Janet Sparrow.

"We're really pleased to see so many Australians actively searching for e-waste recycling solutions and we encourage residents who are unsure how to recycle their electronic products to visit Recycling Near You."

"Australia Post offers free recycling of printer cartridges and mobile phones through the `Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' and MobileMuster programs," says Sparrow.

"To recycle your used printer cartridges, place them in the `Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' recycling bins located in store. Mobile phones and accessories can be placed in a MobileMuster Reply Paid satchel which residents can collect at the counter and post in any street posting box."

For further information about any of Planet Ark's National Recycling Week initiatives, visit the PlanetArk website or call the National Recycling Hotline on 1300 733 712.

Surfing the net on top of the world

You think it's hard getting customer service to connect your home phone? Try lodging a complaint from Mount Everest.

Once a gruelling trek requiring courage, strength, and a strong resistance to the adverse effects of total isolation, it is now possible to surf the internet and make video calls through a 3G network set up by a Nepalese telecommunications network around Everest base camp.

Even though less than one third of Nepal's population has access to telecommunications services, Ncell, a subset of Swedish owned company TeliaSonera, will provide coverage for climbers and trekkers all the way to the summit of the world's highest mountain, the UK's BBC reported recently.

The company has also reportedly announced that over the next year it would invest more than AU$100m to boost mobile coverage across the country.

Prose by any other name would sell as sweet

It seems bright colours and nonsensical catchphrases are no longer the selling trump cards they once were.

In a throwback to a more elegant and interesting time, an estate agency in the UK has banned "meaningless jargon and clichés", and had its staff undertake a poetry course to bring more inspiration to their sales material, the UK Telegraph reported recently.

The agency has since featured poems, writing and haikus (a Japanese form of poetry) in listings and on their website.

The Telegraph reports that an oceanfront apartment, originally described as "spacious, high quality, and within short walking distance of local shops", re-emerged as:

"The first thing you see is the sea meeting the sky; like old comrades they share a warm embrace. Coats of armour; the cornice lines up. Without feeling lonely, the room has an echo. Ornate surroundings, the fire begs a match."

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