Thursday, September 15, 2011

Latest Property News from Ted Hanson

Friday 16 September 2011
Auction gavel poised above Berkeley school

The possible sale of the abandoned Berkeley South Public School would be a sad occasion for Berkeley mother and a former dux of the school, Phuong Barraclough.

Mrs Barraclough and her three siblings attended the now derelict school as children, and she would have liked her two-year-old daughter, Caitlin, to go there as well.

But the empty classrooms have not seen a student since the end of 2009, when falling enrolments forced the school to close its gates indefinitely.

Read the article

How are Australians spending their money?

Half the money that Australian households spend on goods and services goes on housing, food and transport, according to a major survey released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The latest Household Expenditure Survey (HES) showed the average Australian household spent $1,236 per week on goods and services in 2009-10, an increase of 38 per cent ($343 per week) from the previous 2003-04 survey.

In contrast, prices as measured by the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 19 per cent, indicating a rise in real living standards over the five years.

The largest increases in average weekly household expenditure since 2003-04 were:

  • current housing costs (selected dwelling), up $80 (55 per cent), due in part to increased mortgage interest payments, up $35 (75 per cent) and increased rent payments, up $32 (68 per cent)
  • food and non-alcoholic beverages, up $51 (34 per cent)
  • recreation, up $47 (41 per cent)
  • miscellaneous goods and services, up $37 (46 per cent), partly due to increased spending on education fees for primary and secondary schools, up $10 (107 per cent).

The level of weekly expenditure varied across states and territories. Households in the Australian Capital Territory ($1,536) and the Northern Territory ($1,500) recorded the highest average weekly expenditures.

The lowest average weekly expenditures were in South Australia ($1,044) and Tasmania ($1,064).
The average weekly expenditure of households located in capital cities was $1,310, compared with $1,107 in areas outside of capital cities.

Couple family households with dependent children had much higher average weekly expenditure on goods and services ($1,748) than the national average. Households with one person aged 65 years or over had a much lower weekly expenditure ($446) on average.

Refinancing surges on back of competition

Mortgage sales surged in August as borrowers took advantage of the competitive lending environment to get a better deal on their home loans, mortgage broker AFG said this week.

More than $2.7 billion of mortgages were processed by AFG in August - the highest volume figure since March 2010. Refinancing accounted for 38.2 per cent of all mortgages, with a sharp increase in fixed rate home loans as lenders heavily discounted their rates.

Fixed home loans comprised 9.4 per cent of all loans processed compared to 7.9 per cent in July - the highest level since December 2010.

Mark Hewitt, General Manager of Sales and Operations said that while August figures are typically stronger than previous months, these figures trend well above seasonal expectations.

"Borrower expectations about interest rates shifted significantly during August", Hewitt said.

"We're seeing a lot of refinancing as borrowers take advantage of discounted products, but we'd like to see lenders create more flexible and competitive products for the new home building sector.

"It isn't just consumer confidence that is holding back this sector, it is also the availability of attractive finance options."

Along with refinancing, investment is the strongest sector of the market. New South Wales led the nation with 40.8 per cent of all new home loans for investment purposes. This compares with 38.1 per cent in Victoria, 34.4 per cent in Queensland, 33.5 per cent in South Australia and 33.4 per cent in WA.

First time buyers comprise 13.8 per cent of the market nationally. They are strongest in New South Wales (15.7 per cent) and WA (14.8 per cent) with less activity in Victoria (13.3 per cent), Queensland (13.1 per cent) and South Australia (9.3 per cent).

For the past two months, loan to value ratios (LVRs), the value of loans expressed as a percentage of property values, have moved up from 64.2 per cent to 67.7 per cent nationally, as the proportion of first home buyers entering the market has risen.

Five easy paint pick-me-ups

When time and money are in short supply, it's hard to think about big remodelling projects. But with a little imagination and a small outlay for top quality paint, you can quickly make big changes in the appearance of your home's interior or exterior.

Here are five ways to economically remodel with paint:

Idea #1

Paint just an accent wall. Instead of painting an entire room, consider painting just one wall in a different colour. A so-called accent wall can add visual interest to any space and create an opportunity to introduce another hue into your colour scheme.

Idea #2

Paint the area above (or below) a chair rail. If your home is blessed with chair rails, think about repainting just the wall area above or below the rail. The natural break created by the trim provides a convenient boundary for the new paint colour.

Idea #3

Paint just the interior windows and trim. Another option is to stick with your wall colour, but paint your windows, molding and trim. This can produce dramatic change in almost any room, but especially in those where the walls are painted in a neutral colour like beige or off-white.

Idea #4

Paint the front door. Ask any realtor and he or she will tell you that the front entrance is what creates the first impression about a home. By adding a fresh coat of paint to the door, you can ensure that first impression will be favourable. (Note to those who are selling a home: Repainting the front door may be the best investment you ever make.)

Idea #5

Paint just a few exterior architectural details. Even if you don't have to paint your home exterior for maintenance reasons, you might want to consider painting a few architectural details for appearance sake. Shutters are one possibility. But if you are lucky enough to own a house with some ornamental fretwork, flaunt it by painting the trim in a strong colour that contrasts with the colour of your exterior walls.

What exactly do I own when I buy a unit?

When you buy a unit it is most likely that it is purchased as a "strata titled" property.

This means you own the interior space (including balconies, courtyard, paint and garage) of the unit and share ownership of common areas within the unit block such as hallways, common walls, exterior grounds, pools, tennis courts and other facilities.

Having common ownership usually means you will have to pay a fee, normally quarterly, for the ongoing maintenance of common facilities. Before you buy a unit, make sure you understand what common area or strata levies you will have to pay.

This container takes the cake

When it comes to baked goods, cupcakes could be considered the jack-of-all-trades. Not too heavy, not too light, they're suited to a vast range of situations, and they always get the job done.

Playing off the diverse situations cupcakes accompany, Dutch designer Beerd van Stokkum has created Sweet Cake, a multipurpose container shaped like a giant cupcake wrapper. Made from a thick eco-friendly synthetic material, the wrapper can be used indoors and out, for anything from bathing a child to bedding a pet, potting flowers or acting as an esky - the list goes on. How sweet is that!

Easements are important

If the property you are buying has an easement such as a sewer line which crosses another property, make sure this is recorded on the property's title documents. Check also that there is a provision which allows you to enter onto your neighbour's property if and when you need to repair the easement.

If you are not sure if the property you are buying is affected by an easement, ask your solicitor to check the sales contract.

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