Thursday, December 2, 2010

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 03 December 2010
Lucky Bear's Christmas Party 2010

If you go down to Crown St Mall on Saturday 4th December you're in for a big surprise!

The Leukaemia Foundation will be holding Lucky Bear's Christmas Party at the Amphitheatre Stage on Saturday the 4th December at 10am in support of patients affected by blood cancers.

A bounce in the step

Approvals to build new homes bounced back last month after a six-month slump, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The total number of dwellings approved, seasonally adjusted, rose 9.3 per cent in October 2010, due largely to a surge (14.0 per cent) in New South Wales.

Victoria (4.6 per cent), South Australia (6.1 per cent) and Western Australia (2.3 per cent) recorded an increase in dwelling approvals in October, while Queensland reported fewer dwelling approvals (-0.7 per cent) in seasonally adjusted terms.

Private sector houses approved rose 1.5 per cent with rises in New South Wales (3.5 per cent), Victoria (3.1 per cent) and Western Australia (2.4 per cent). The number of approvals for private sector houses fell in Queensland (down by 8.1 per cent) and South Australia (down 2.1 per cent).

The value of total building approved rose 4.1 per cent in October in seasonally adjusted terms. The value of total residential building rose by 8.2 per cent while non-residential building fell by -3.8 per cent.

The housing industry welcomed the news with reservations.

Master Builders Australia Chief Economist Peter Jones said that a sustained recovery in approvals is needed over the next few months to ensure the upswing in residential building activity gathers momentum.

"A long and strong residential building upturn is desperately needed given that we have been underbuilding in Australia over the past six or seven years", Mr Jones said.

"Even if approvals were to bounce back to an annualised rate of 170,000, the level of building would still be well below what is required to make inroads into the supply shortage."

Mr Jones commented that government policy, together with lenders' reluctance to offer credit, is constraining the ability of housing supply to meet demand and that without reform, the problem of housing affordability will only get worse.

"With the credit squeeze still operative banks should do more to help investor-driven activity thereby ensuring a recovery in approvals of units and apartments.

"Reputable commentators, including the Reserve Bank Governor have stated that unless there is urgent reform to address bottlenecks, the strong supply response needed to meet demand will not eventuate", he said.

"Master Builders supports many of the findings of the Henry Tax Review on housing affordability and will continue to push for the need to address inefficient developer charges, land release regulations and the approvals process as part of reforms to remove impediments affecting the supply of housing."

New home sales warm upSales of new homes lifted slightly in October, according to a survey of Australia's major residential builders.

The latest HIA/Jeld-Wen New Home Sales Report shows that the number of new homes sold increased by 2.4 per cent in October 2010 following a downwardly revised 1.7 per cent decline in the month of September.

Detached house sales increased by 3 per cent in October while multi-unit sales fell by 2.6 per cent.

Over the three months to October new home sales fell by 9 per cent to be 17 per cent lower when compared to the same three-month period in 2009. Sales of detached houses were down 10 per cent while sales of multi-units rose by 1 per cent.

In the month of October 2010, detached new house sales increased by 5.9 per cent in Victoria, 7.4 per cent in Queensland and 0.9 per cent in Western Australia, although sales volumes fell in all three of these markets over the three month period to October.

Sales fell by 6.1 per cent in New South Wales and by 1.3 per cent in South Australia in October.

At home on the range

Developers have long understood the value of building a residential community around a particular lifestyle, such as golf estates, marinas or even sustainable living. Now, a group in the Florida, US county of Palm Beach has found a niche market by offering luxury `farm' houses to horse lovers.

According to the promotional material, the `lavish estate homes' in the Equus development are `complimented by a 7,000 square-foot clubhouse and 34-acre Equestrian Centre offering private lessons for riders of all skill levels, boarding facilities, turnout paddocks and miles of meandering riding trails.'

For those less inclined to work with horses, there is `a fully-equipped state-of-the-art fitness centre, two tennis courts, an incredible resort-style swimming pool and five miles of well-lit paths throughout the community lined with lush loggias perfect for walking or jogging'.

Playing with the big boys
Building societies and credit unions have shown strength, resilience and competitiveness over the past year, according to research released this week by advisory services firm KPMG.

KPMG's Building Societies and Credit Unions 2010 survey shows that building societies' underlying profitability increased by 34.1 per cent while that of the credit unions (`the mutuals') grew 37.3 per cent.

The growth reflects asset growth, increases in capital and slightly improved interest margins, continued low bad debts and the absence of significant one-off costs associated with the GFC.

Building societies' assets grew 6.0 per cent (2009:1.8 per cent) to $29.1 billion and credit unions' assets 6.1 per cent to $47.0 billion, reflecting a resilient housing market in Australia and the strong bond these organisations have with their members. Capital levels also increased with capital adequacy ratio for building societies increasing to 15.0 per cent and credit unions to 17.7 per cent.

KPMG banking partner Martin McGrath remarked that this highlights the strength of their balance sheets and provides a basis for ongoing growth and profitability.

"The mutuals have a special bond with their members and this has served them well throughout the GFC and beyond", McGrath said.

"They offer healthy competition against other lenders in the highly competitive home mortgage and retail deposit markets.

"They go into the next year well-positioned for further growth", he concluded.

Operating costs for building societies increased slightly (1.8 per cent) and for credit unions total operating costs increased 8.1 per cent.

`Til death do we part

As time goes by, some carpets thin out, and some hairlines recede. In both cases, a popular choice is to freshen up the look with an imported cover.

Playfully celebrating one aspect of aging often left unmentioned, Israeli designer Meirav Barzilay's Comb Over allows you to cover your floor, head and body.

The rug is made of varied lengths of grey felt strips, sprawling out from one end. The piece can be styled to cover the length of the rug, wrapped up around you as a makeshift blanket, or bunched up to be used as a headrest.

Eight little mansions all in a row

They may not have the big front and back yards of their suburban counterparts, yet most terrace houses offer a unique, cosy lifestyle that is particularly attractive.

If you landed a place in Cornwall Terrace in London's Regent's Park, however, you'd barely notice the wall-to-wall neighbours - and if you did, you could just complain to your on-hand staff in their on-site 2-bedroom living quarters.

The row of eight double-fronted terraced mansions has just hit the market for a collective AU$650M, making it the world's most expensive row of terrace houses, the UK Telegraph reported recently. Belonging to British nobility for 150 years prior to their makeover, each of the mansions ranges from 8,000 to 14,000 square feet, with five to seven bedrooms in each.

The master bedrooms are the size of an average apartment, while each property features its own spa, gym, hydraulic elevator, audio/visual and lighting systems that are controlled by an iPad. The largest offers a ballroom and swimming pool complex - perhaps that's where they'll hold the neighbourhood Christmas gathering?

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