Thursday, January 27, 2011

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 28 January 2011
Honey, I shrunk the yard ... but it's still the great outdoors

THE Australian backyard is an ingrained part of our culture. We cling to our patch of earth: in the green and terracotta suburbs, the dirt-brown bush and the bluestone bricks of the city.

Read the full article

Less work on housing

The value of work done on building new homes dropped in the September quarter last year, according to figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

It is, nevertheless, an improvement on work done a year ago.

New residential building work done fell by 6.3 per cent to $9,917.2m in the September 2010 quarter, driven by a 9 per cent drop in detached houses. Work completed on major alterations and additions turned in a flat result over the same period.

In the September 2010 quarter, seasonally adjusted new residential building work done fell by 0.9 per cent in New South Wales, 4.8 per cent in Victoria, 16.5 per cent in Queensland, 1 per cent in South Australia and 1.8 per cent in Western Australia.

New residential work done was effectively flat in Tasmania and rose by 14.4 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory. In original terms new residential work done fell by 13.1 per cent in the Northern Territory to be down by 15 per cent when compared to the September 2009 quarter.

Over the year to September quarter 2010, the (seasonally adjusted) value of work done on new residential building rose 5.9 per cent and 8.0 per cent on alterations and additions.

Not happy, planners

Australia has been found sadly lacking in affordable housing by an international survey that annually assesses housing affordability in 325 urban markets around the world.

The 7th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey found that Australia is the "most severely unaffordable country" and Sydney is the second least affordable city.

For housing markets to rate as "affordable", housing should not exceed three times gross annual household income (the Median Multiple).

Housing markets are rated as "affordable" at or below 3 times gross annual household income (Median Multiple), "moderately unaffordable" at or below 4 times income, "seriously unaffordable" at or below 5 times income and above 5, rated "severely unaffordable".

Hong Kong was found to have the most unaffordable housing of the 325 urban markets surveyed, with prices at 11.4 times household income, followed by Sydney at 9.6 and Vancouver at 9.5.

Of the countries surveyed, Australia (32 urban markets) has the most intense housing stress with housing prices at 6.1 times household incomes, followed by New Zealand (8) at 5.3 times, United Kingdom (33) at 5.2, Ireland (4) at 4.0, Canada (35) 3.4 and the United States (211) with overall the most affordable housing at 3.0 times gross annual household incomes.

27 of the 32 Australian housing markets are severely unaffordable, with the remaining 5 seriously unaffordable.

Survey author Hugh Pavletich of Performance Urban Planning said that wherever the "affordability threshold" is breached, it indicates local political impediments to the provision of affordable housing that need to be dealt with.

"For metropolitan areas to rate as "affordable" and ensure that housing bubbles are not triggered, housing prices should not exceed 3.0 times gross annual household earnings", Pavlevitch said.

"To allow this to occur, new starter housing of an acceptable quality to the purchasers, with associated commercial and industrial development, must be allowed to be provided on the urban fringes at 2.5 times the gross annual median household income of that urban market."

He added that the critically important Development Ratios for the cost of this new fringe starter housing should be 17-23% serviced lot, with the balance being the actual housing construction.

"The fringe is the only supply/inflation vent of an urban market", Pavlevitch concluded.

Green tax breaks a winner

The Australian Government's new Tax Breaks for Green Buildings program will improve the energy efficiency of buildings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the nation's shift to sustainability, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) said this week.

GBCA Executive Director, Robin Mellon welcomed the incentive to retrofit existing buildings, saying that buildings are one of the fastest, most cost-effective and most attainable opportunities for climate change abatement and mitigation.

The Australian Government has released a consultation paper calling for industry feedback on the proposed scheme. From 1 July 2011, it is proposed that businesses that invest in eligible assets or capital works to improve the energy efficiency of their existing buildings would be eligible to apply for a one-off bonus tax deduction of 50 percent of the cost of these improvements.

"It's also vital that federal and state governments widen their focus beyond energy efficiency", Mr Mellon said.

"Sustainability is about more than just energy efficiency, and encompasses greenhouse gas emissions, water, waste, indoor environment quality and many other factors", he added.

The GBCA is currently developing a Green Star rating tool that can assess the sustainability of existing buildings, including management, transport, indoor environment quality, land use and ecology, emissions, materials and innovation. The tool is expected to be launched in 2012.

Five ideas for a summer makeover

Whether you are planning to sell your house or just want to give it a fresh look, there is no doubting the power of a "lick of paint", so we've found five quick makeovers you can do before the end of summer.

According the Paint Quality Institute (PQI), applying a little top-quality acrylic water-based paint can transform your home quickly and easily without costing the earth.

"Paint is an easy way to transform the exterior of your home,' said Mike Beresford, manager of PQI.

"All it takes is a bit of imagination and you can have a lot of fun while value-adding."

Here are five suggestions from the Paint Institute for a `quick fix' makeover that will change the look and feel of your house in no time at all.

Idea #1: Paint an accent wall

Consider painting just one wall or section of a wall in a different colour. An accent wall
will add visual interest without the expense of a full repaint.

Idea #2: Paint the fence

A fence is a little like the picture frame around a painting. If it is old and decrepit or the wrong colour it can detract from the visual presentation. Painting your fence in a colour that complements your home adds to the overall presentation.

Idea #3: Paint window frames and trim

Another option is to leave the external wall colour but paint your window frames and trim in a different, contrasting colour. This can produce a dramatic change to the look of your home, especially if the walls are painted in a neutral colour.

Idea #4: Paint the front door

First impressions are lasting impressions! A fresh coat of paint to the front door will make a favourable impression on your visitors and is a great investment if you are thinking of selling!

Idea #5: Paint architectural details

Even if you don't have to paint your home's exterior for maintenance, painting just the architectural details can improve its appearance. Painting shutters, pergolas, veranda trim and posts in colours that contrast with the walls is an inexpensive way to give your home a lift.

Whichever exterior home painting project you choose, Mike Beresford suggests it pays to choose top quality, acrylic water-based paints made by a reputable manufacturer.

"These paints have superior `hiding' capability, they are moisture and mildew resistant, are often self priming and offer tremendous durability, so your paint job will continue to look great for years to come," he says.

For more ideas on painting, check out the PQI websites at

What a rubbish hotel

What's the trashiest hotel you've ever stayed at? Here's one that can probably top it, and all in the name of raising environmental awareness.

Made with twelve tonnes of trash taken from beaches around Europe, the Corona Extra Save the Beach Hotel opened its doors in Madrid recently, for a short time only.

The hotel could be visited every day between 11 am and 7 pm, and ten people selected by a raffle were accommodated each night in the five double rooms of the hotel. Not exactly a luxury hotel, but it did offer a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, drawing attention to what our holidays could be like in the future if we do not take care of our beaches and continue to discard thousands of tonnes of trash each year.

Positively glowing

Human eyes are adept at adjusting to dark surroundings, but even the smallest amount of light in the dark can make a world of difference.

When it comes to navigating our own house we sometimes lose our bearings with the lights out, and that's designer Jeong-Sun Park's Knob Light's time to shine. The light bulb-come-door-knob has an inbuilt generator that stores energy as the door is used throughout the day, leaving it luminous in the dark.

Apart from saving a potential bump in the night and providing direction in the case of an emergency, the knob can also serve as a nightlight in children's rooms.

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