Thursday, March 3, 2011

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 04 March 2011
Gen-Y make push to save for a home

YOUNG people are making a big push to save for a home loan deposit, a decision that will potentially enliven a much depleted first home buyer market, a new survey suggests.
Mortgage broker Loan Market says first home buyers have "dropped like flies" since the federal government dumped its more generous first home owners grant at the end of 2009.

Read the article

Interest rates on hold

There was good news again this week for borrowers, with the Reserve Bank's announcement that it has again left the official cash rate unchanged at 4.75 per cent.

In a statement announcing the decision, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens said that inflation is currently consistent with the medium-term objective of monetary policy, having declined significantly from its peak in 2008.

Governor Stevens added that the Bank expects that over the year ahead inflation will continue to be consistent with the 2-3 per cent target.

Economists are interpreting this to mean that interest rates are unlikely to rise in the next few months.

Planning holes for the bunnies

Inconsistencies in the way all levels of government plan and zone land use then assess development proposals, has been identified in a draft report released this week by the Productivity Commission.

In Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Planning, Zoning and Development Assessments -- a report commissioned by COAG (Council of Australian Governments)-- the Commission examines the regulatory frameworks of each jurisdiction, the processes for supply of land, the bases for assessing developer contributions, compliance costs for business and competition issues arising from planning decision-making. Governance of the various planning systems and matters of transparency and accountability are also explored.

Commissioner Louise Sylvan remarked that by its very nature, the task of planning and zoning land to enable those uses that will optimise the welfare of communities and the nation is complicated.

"However, this complexity can be managed better and deliver better outcomes", she said.

The report identifies numerous leading practices that can contribute to smoother processes and improved outcomes, such as:

- putting the focus of effort into the strategic planning level, including a strong engagement of the community and resolving conflicting objectives at this level of city planning
- ensuring that local plans are more quickly brought up to date with the strategic city plans
- applying consistent and efficient criteria to determine the level of contributions of developers to infrastructure costs
- ensuring that certain practices, such as considering a new entrant's effects on existing businesses, are being eliminated as an appropriate planning consideration
- creating disincentives for appealing against developments by those seeking to delay or prevent potential competitors entering
- completing structure planning of rezoned greenfield/brownfield areas before development commences
- implementing electronic development assessments and impact-based assessment tracks.

Although each jurisdiction is home to at least one leading practice, the report concludes there are opportunities for all jurisdictions to improve the way they conduct planning, zoning and development assessment in order to reduce burdens on business, costs to the community, increase competition and improve the liveability of cities.

The Property Council of Australia and the Residential Development Council welcomed the report, saying it shines the light on much-needed reform.

Peter Verwer, Chief Executive of the Property Council of Australia commented that it provides `incontrovertible proof that Australia's current planning systems are muddled, complex and inefficient'.

"Modernising these systems will lift economic growth and improve people's lives", Mr Verwer said.

"The report also highlights the breakdown in governance that results from overlapping planning fiefdoms and guilds", he noted.

The Commission seeks comment on the draft report before finalising its report at the end of April.

Where are the kids?

Driveways are one of the most dangerous areas around the home, Kidsafe warned this week following the death of another toddler in Melbourne.

On average, one child is killed on a driveway every month in Australia, according to Dr Mark Stokes, President of Kidsafe Victoria.

"Tragically these deaths usually involve a parent or friend of the family", Dr Stokes said.

"Most of the driveway cases involved young toddlers who have positioned themselves close by a stationary vehicle.

"These children were old enough to be mobile, but too small to be easily visible from the driving position when close to the vehicle."

Dr Stokes said that research has shown most of the accidents occurred at or near the child's home, where both the parent and the child may have felt that the child was safe.

"Importantly, in almost all driveway run-over incidents, there was no clear separation between the driveway and the rest of the yard or play area," he added.

Kidsafe offers these simple precautions which can be taken to avoid driveway tragedies:

* Always supervise your children whenever a car is being moved - hold their hands or keep them close;
* If you are the only adult at home, safely restrain children in the vehicle while you move it;
* Discourage children from using the driveway as a play area and make access to the driveway from the house difficult for a child by using doors, gates and fences with childproof locks.
* Install a reversing camera or sensor to assist with detection of children or objects behind the car.

New homes down

Residential building activity continued to slow in the December quarter of 2010, according to data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Construction work done on new homes fell by 1.1 per cent in the December 2010 quarter, although with robust figures for the March 2010 and June 2010 quarters the total residential work done in 2010 is up by 7.9 per cent on the preceding calendar year.

New residential building work done fell by 1.7 per cent in the December 2010 quarter, following the 5.2 per cent decline in the September 2010 quarter. On a more positive note, work done on major alterations and additions is growing, turning in a 2.5 per cent increase for the December 2010 quarter to be up by 6.3 per cent over 2010.

In the December 2010 quarter, seasonally adjusted new residential work done rose by 3.3 per cent in Victoria, 0.9 per cent in South Australia and 0.2 per cent in Western Australia but fell by 3.5 per cent in NSW, 6.7 per cent in Queensland, 5.1 per cent in Tasmania and 10.3 per cent in the ACT.

In original terms new residential work done in the Northern Territory in the December 2010 quarter fell by 5.2 per cent when compared to the December quarter of 2009.

Get a grip

Without diligence and a regular tidy-up, any table can quickly become an elephant graveyard. With papers, plates and other everyday items in place of elephant bones, of course.

In homage to the things that stick around, and perhaps poking a little fun at how we could all afford to be a little more flexible and accommodating with the way we handle things, design group Anima Causa has released the Inflow Table.

Made of approximately 1,000 metres of elastic string wrapped tightly around a metal frame, the table offers a surface that separates and holds onto anything you place within its grip. At least it skips the pretence that the table isn't a place to leave junk.

Such a flirt

It seems that Athens is the "most flirtatious city" of the modern world, according to a new study released this week by an online social networking website.

Athens topped a "World Flirtation League," which ranked cities by the number of online flirtations initiated per month by the average user in each city on the Badoo website.

The average Badoo user in Athens initiated 25.7 online flirtations per month - over twice as many as in Rio (12.4) Warsaw (12.1) or Prague (12.6) and far more than in Paris (20.7), London (19.0), Berlin (17.7) or New York (16.1) in the study of nearly 200 cities across the world.

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