Thursday, May 12, 2011

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 13 May 2011
Delicious at the desk

Sometimes, the reasoning behind trading sandwiches in the school playground hits too close to home.

How many days at work can you eat the same boring lunch? Sure, ham on white bread is easy, but is "easy" what you want for lunch every day? And that frozen tray you march to the microwave. Whether it is "lean" or not can be debated, but it really isn't anything resembling "cuisine".

Here are some tips to spicing up a bagged lunch. Follow them, and you won't trade your sandwich with anyone.

Read the article

Apartments lift approvals
Approvals for new home building rose by almost a quarter in March 2011, led by a hefty jump in apartments, according to data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Total residential building approvals increased by 9.1 per cent in March 2011 although they were down by 8.9 per cent over the quarter, due to low numbers in the first two months of the year.

There was a significant rise in approvals in the highly volatile private sector `other dwellings' segment, which were up by 26.1 per cent in March. Approvals for detached dwellings fell 1.3 per cent in the month.

Victoria recorded a considerable jump of 26.8 per cent rise in the number of approvals (seasonally adjusted), while increases were recorded in NSW (up by 8.5 per cent), Western Australia (up 3.4 per cent) and Tasmania (5.8 per cent).

Queensland and South Australia reported a decrease in approvals in March 2011, dropping by 15.0 and 22.5 per cent respectively. In trend terms approvals in the ACT were up by 0.3 per cent and Northern Territory approvals were up by 3.2 per cent.

Total approvals in the three months to March 2011 were 15.8 per cent lower than in the corresponding period a year earlier.

Women are thriftier homeowners

Australian women may still be less likely to own property than men, but they will do whatever it takes to keep paying their mortgage, according to a new survey released this week by the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA).

Women homeowners are significantly more likely to start taking their lunch to work after an interest rate hike than their male counterparts (56.1 vs. 46 per cent), the MFAA-Commonwealth Bank Home Finance Index survey found. Likewise, women who feel the burden of rate rises are much more likely to buy food in bulk or from cheaper sources than males (50.6 vs. 38.9 per cent),

MFAA chief executive Phil Naylor remarked that the results show just how personal a mortgage can be.

"Mortgages are not one-size-fits-all", he said.

Naylor said that while women did not have as much borrowings as men (they are far less likely to own both their own residence and an investment property) they were more focused once they did have a mortgage.

For instance, women mortgage borrowers were more likely to sell unused household goods than men after a rate-rise (30.5 vs. 22.6 per cent).

Mr Naylor said the HFI survey revealed some interesting differences between the genders when it came to mortgage finance, for instance women were significantly more realistic about the impact of economic events on household finances.

Women were less likely than men to say an interest rate rise had `little impact' on their household (21.4 vs. 28 per cent) and they were also less likely to say that rising petrol prices had little impact on their household (23.2 vs. 32.1 per cent).

The survey also found that women were also more optimistic about interest rates, with less of them (43.3 per cent) predicting interest rates will rise by 0.5 in the next year, than men (51.2 per cent). At the same time, they were more likely than men to consider that they will never buy property (43.1 vs. 25.8 per cent).

Women also expected higher standards of customer service when it came to their home loan, the survey found. Women borrowers were more likely to have experienced problems with a loan account and then had communication problems when they dealt with it, than males did (53.1 vs. 27.3 per cent); women borrowers were also significantly more likely to be unhappy with the overall customer service than men (51 vs. 30.3 per cent).

Mr Naylor said the female concern about customer service and being able to communicate about their mortgage perhaps explained why women borrowers, more than men, were more likely to go to a mortgage broker to find the right loan for their circumstances.

Home alone again!
Having burglars stop by isn't something we would usually laugh about, unless it's in the movie Home Alone, which brought an inspired sense of humour to the topic. Now the house in which all those hijinks went down has been put up for sale.

The blockbuster movie featured Macaulay Culkin as a young child who was inadvertently left at home when the family left for the Christmas holidays, and who then had to face up to some pretty inept burglars with toy-infused booby-traps and a wicked sense of humour.

The 1920s' mansion on Chicago's North Shore in which a lot of the movie was filmed is now on the market for AU$2.25 million, the UK Daily Mail reports. The three-storey home is described as having plenty of nooks and crannies in which to hide and no need for a security system - the new owners can just watch the movie again for a few pointers.

Values soften, rents up

Australia's capital city home values barely changed in March, but generally softened over the quarter, according to the latest RP Data-Rismark Home Value Index.

In contrast to these results, weekly rental rates are up 4.6 per cent over the last six months.

The Index shows that capital city dwelling values were flat in the month of March (down by just 0.2% seasonally adjusted). However, over the March quarter capital city home values dropped by 2.1 per cent.

Over the twelve months ending March 2011, Australian capital city dwelling values were broadly unchanged (-0.6 per cent).

According to RP Data research director Tim Lawless, while residential property owners may not have seen any capital growth over the past 12 months, many are realising robust increases in rental yields.

"In contrast to the fall in home values, gross rental yields have been improving with apartments and houses now delivering a gross return of 4.9 per cent and 4.2 per cent, respectively, in March 2011 according to RP Data-Rismark's estimates," Mr Lawless said.

In the non-capital city regions the story has been similar. In the year to end March 2011, `Rest of State' house values were relatively unchanged (-0.5 per cent). However, the March quarter was a weaker one, with house values declining by -1.8 per cent.

At the end of the March quarter, in the capital cities the national median dwelling price was $455,000. For all regions across Australia, the national median dwelling price substantially lower at $410,000.

The moderation in Australian housing valuations is likely to be warmly welcomed by prospective home buyers, particularly first timers who have been confronted with affordability barriers, Mr Lawless remarked.

He added that the tightness in the rental market combined with flat to negative change in home values is providing a boost to rental yields.

"Based on the RP Data-Rismark Total Return Index, we estimate that weekly asking rents are up 4.6 per cent over the last six months.

"While the highest yields are found in the Darwin apartment market (5.7 per cent), apartments in Hobart (5.4 per cent), Canberra (5.4 per cent), Brisbane (5.2 per cent) and Sydney (5.1 per cent) also offer attractive yields," Mr Lawless said.

He concluded by saying that key leading indicators point towards a sedate capital growth environment for the remainder of the year.

Courteous curtains

We love windows because they allow the flow of light and air into our homes, however in many cases they also let in outside noises.

Birds and small children may delight, but for those of us who live near airports, construction sites or busy roads, noise can be unbearable at times, so curtains that allow light in but block sound out are truly great news for the aurally afflicted.

Swiss researchers at Empa have developed lightweight, translucent curtain materials, which not only absorb five times more sound than regular curtains, they actually improve the acoustics within the room.

Check smoke alarms

Winter is the time of year when accidents caused by heaters or open fires can destroy homes or even result in the death of householders.

So, before the cold sets in, check smoke alarms to ensure they're in good condition and are working properly. State laws now decree that all homes must have smoke alarms installed, but they won't work with flat batteries!

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