Thursday, January 20, 2011

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 21 January 2011
Australia Day Celebrations & Illawarra Aquathon

Celebrate Australia Day 2011 in Wollongong!

Australia Day celebrations will be full of staged entertainment, roving entertainment, stalls, amusement rides & a spectacular fireworks display.

More Information

Housing finance posts modest growth
Loans for owner-occupied housing increased in November 2010 for the sixth consecutive month, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The number of commitments (in trend terms) rose for the purchase of established dwellings (1.1 per cent), the purchase of new dwellings (2.3 per cent) and construction of dwellings (0.7 per cent).

In seasonally adjusted terms, the total value of dwelling finance commitments excluding alterations and additions rose 1.2 per cent.

The trend estimate for the value of owner-occupied housing commitments rose 1.1 per cent, while investment housing commitments fell 0.5 per cent.

Seasonally adjusted figures for November show that the total number of owner-occupier loans increased by 3.3 per cent in New South Wales, by 2.2 per cent in Victoria, 1.6 per cent in Queensland, 2.3 per cent in South Australia, 2.2 per cent in Western Australia, 7.4 per cent in the Northern Territory and 3.7 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory. Loans fell by 1.9 per cent in Tasmania.

Land sales hit rock

Land sales volumes are the lowest they have been in a decade and prices are rising, according to the latest residential land report from the Housing Industry Association and analytics provider

The Residential Land Report shows the volume of land sales fell sharply in the September 2010 quarter to be down 57 per cent on the same quarter in 2009.

Meanwhile, the median value of land in Australia grew 2.8 per cent in the September 2010 quarter to $186,629. Over the year to September 2010, the median value is up 5.2 per cent.

Residential land value in capital cities grew 5.3 per cent over the year to the September 2010 quarter while land value for Australia's regional areas grew 4.4 per cent over the same period. senior research analyst Cameron Kusher said that the escalating cost of land was not only impacting the affordability of new homes but also that of existing housing product.

"When the median price of a block of land in Sydney is $269,000 it's easy to see why affordability is spiralling out of control", Mr Kusher said.

"When you add on top of the land cost: professional fees, government charges and the actual cost of constructing a home it's no surprise that many Australians are forced to remain in the rental market, paying off others' mortgages.

"When an adult working full-time is earning an average of $1,310/week ($68,120 pa) and is looking at a median purchase cost for land in a capital city of between $145,000 (Hobart) and $269,000 (Sydney) there is clearly a disconnect.

"People looking to purchase the land on which to build a house are paying between two and four times their annual wage just to secure the land", he concluded.

Wild weather warning: check your policy

As the damages bill from recent extreme weather in Queensland, northern NSW and Victoria reaches billions of dollars and continues to increase, affected householders are left wondering just what their insurance will cover. Was this a flood, or stormwater run-off?

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) this week warned that not all insurance policies will cover policyholders for this type of flood event and that policyholders should contact their insurer for clarification.

"All claims received by the general insurance industry will be assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into account the nature of the damage sustained and the terms and conditions of each insurance policy", ICA Chief Executive Rob Whelan said.

"Flood insurance products are widely available in QLD and have been for a number of years," he added.

A report by consumer advocacy group Choice into home and contents insurance found that while rainwater run off is covered by almost all policies, cover for flash flooding is only offered by around two thirds of policies.

Flooding that occurs when it hasn't rained in your area such as when a river overflows due to heavy rain upstream -- is only covered by about 50 per cent of insurers, the report showed.

Flooding now makes up almost one-third of all insurance pay-outs related to natural disasters, according to the ICA.

Choice found that if you are living in one of 170,000 homes in Australia considered to be in a high flood-risk area you may experience some difficulty getting flood cover and may be charged a surcharge which can range from 30 per cent up to 1000 per cent of your premium.

While many policies do include coverage for rainwater run off, this may not include flash flooding.

It was also found that insurers also use different definitions and exclusions for floods. Some cover you against flash flooding after heavy rain if it was caused by a man-made waterway but not if it was caused by a water catchment system, such as a creek flowing behind your house.

Generally speaking, if your property is located within an area that has been classed as "flood prone", your insurance policy will not cover you for flooding. If your property is not in a flood prone area, you may or may not be covered for `flash' flooding, depending on the insurance policy you hold.

If you're not sure if your property is in a flood prone area, contact your local council.

As always, the golden rule is if you don't know, ask! Phone your insurance company and ask them exactly what you're covered for and under what circumstances.

City of the future

We like to see people who don't just talk the walk, but live it. It seems Masdar is a whole city of people who do just that.

An emerging global hub for renewable energy and clean technologies, the Arabian city offers a fertile environment to inspire innovation, creativity and growth in the areas of future energy and sustainable technologies. Basically, it is the place where best practice in sustainable urban planning and development is being developed, tested and deployed.

Construction of Masdar City began in February 2008, and since then:

  • The residential units use 54 per cent less water and 51 per cent less electricity than the UAE norm
  • Low-carbon concrete design mixes were developed to reduce the carbon footprint
  • The application of active and passive orientation, design and specification has led to a 55 per cent reduction in buildings' external heat gains.
  • Up to 30 per cent of their electricity demand is provided by rooftop photovoltaic panels
  • 75 per cent of the buildings' hot water is provided by rooftop thermal collectors
  • Cutting-edge pilot projects have been implemented in the areas of geothermal energy; solar thermal absorption chillers; greywater treatment; personal rapid transit; smart appliances and smart grid
How to find north

When you're looking for a new home it is important to know how the movement of the sun through the day will affect your living space. If you have an i-Phone, you would probably use its Compass app, but you can also locate north using an analog watch and the sun.

Simply hold your watch parallel to the ground and line up twelve with the sun. Exactly half way between the hour hand and twelve is approximately north. Try it and see! (In the Northern Hemisphere, you would point the hour hand in the direction of the sun.)

Beyond the looking glass

There is often more to life than we see; perhaps that's why we keep looking for it. Catching things from the corner of our eye, allowing our gaze to linger on inanimate objects for longer than perhaps we should, or checking our periphery in the mirror.

Glimpse gives us just that, a glimpse through a door to a room that isn't there. The cleverly designed wall mirror is tall, thin and designed to give the appearance of a slightly opened door, thus creating an eerie peek to a doppelganger of your room through a solid wall.


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