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 Thu, 11 May 2017
Federal Governments Budget 
Cremorne First National has welcomed the Federal Government's budget, saying it gives the appearance of leaving negative gearing largely unchanged, while focusing its efforts on boosting supply and creating opportunities for young people to enter the market, but that changes to depreciation could have consequences.

‘Negative gearing is the backbone of Australia's property market and provides countless middle-income earners the opportunity to build wealth for the future' said First National Real Estate Cremorne principal Andrew Thomas.

‘The fact that the Government has not significantly changed negative gearing policy demonstrates it understands the potential for adverse impacts, on both the economy and housing market, if it were restricted in some form. However, more detail is needed on changes to tax depreciation to understand the full impact of the budget'.

Incentives in the budget aimed at increasing supply by unlocking Baby Boomer housing are seen as a positive move, with couples aged 65 and over - who have lived in their home for 10 years - being able to take proceeds from the sale of their home and make non-concessional superannuation contributions of up to $300,000 per person, or $600,000 per couple.

‘For many years, Australia's Baby Boomers have benefited from asset growth but selling costs have discouraged them from moving to smaller, more manageable housing' said Andrew..

‘Although concessions to stamp duty have been overlooked, the proposed superannuation contributions changes will enable them to access capital locked up in the home and downsize to smaller, easier to manage properties, while creating opportunities for young people to enter the market and families to upsize.'
 

 Thu, 9 Feb 2017
WHY 2017 IS A GREAT YEAR TO BUY YOUR FIRST HOME 
According to First National Real Estate chief executive Ray Ellis, there's no time like the present if you've been waiting to buy your first home because no matter what you're trying to buy, values in Australia and New Zealand are just going up and up.
‘The median dwelling value in Australia for the end of 2016 was $615,000 - an increase of 10.9 per cent through the year, according to a CoreLogic RP Data report from January 3. New Zealand didn't perform too differently, with the median house value in December 2016 sitting at $627,905, having grown by 12.5 per cent, as stated by QV' said Mr Ellis.
‘As year-on-year increases show, home values aren't indicating that they're about to slow down. That's why buying your first home right now is a great idea, because you'll be striking before homes shoot beyond your budget even more'.
When you own a home, you have the opportunity to make capital gains. As the median value increases in both Australia and New Zealand through 2016 show, capital gains in the space of 12 months can help you to build wealth. In fact, if you own a home for 10 years, the value of your purchase might increase by as much as half a million dollars! You'd have to buy in a suburb that is on the verge of growing, and is highly desirable in terms of proximity to amenities, public transport, schools and major centres - but it is possible.
When you rent in a suburb like that, you get all of the advantages of being close to those sorts of places, but your payments won't be earned back when you leave the home. You'll pay rent over the time you live in the home, and then when you leave, you don't reap the rewards.
‘Of course, renting is a great option for people who can't yet afford a home deposit, but buying one can shore up your financial future' said Mr Ellis.
‘First-home buyers have no experience with the buying process, and many find it a daunting task - going to auctions, making bids, competing with others who potentially have a bigger budget. That's where the friendly team at First National Real Estate can help.
‘We know what you need to do, and we know how to go about it - particularly for first-time buyers. Don't be afraid of making a great decision for your financial future. Get in touch with us today to start your buying journey in 2017 on the right foot'.
 

 Wed, 23 Nov 2016
THINKING OF SELLING? DON’T GET TRUMPED 
If you're thinking of selling but can't decide whether to list with an agent this year or early in the New Year, First National Real Estate Cremorne principal Andrew Thomas says there are some unusual factors to consider as 2016 draws to a close.

‘In my experience, this is the time of year when people who are considering selling start worrying that it's too close to Christmas to list their property for sale,' said Andrew.

‘And of course they're right to be concerned about the slow down in the market that traditionally takes place over the Christmas and New Year period. However, last year we were busy handling buyer enquiry right through the holiday period and, with stock levels far below normal levels nationally, we expect to be even busier this year.'

Typically, home sellers get the best response to their property when there are few other properties for sale to compete with. Buyers are quick to make offers and keen to negotiate acceptable prices because they're keen to secure a new home before listings dry up over the holidays.

Homeowners thinking of selling should definitely be talking to agents now because preparing a home for sale, completing photography, and obtaining the necessary legal documents for an agent to start work all takes time.

‘I'm anticipating increased stock levels in January because it's currently a seller's market and vendors have been holding back throughout 2016. The real estate market is cyclical and we generally see bounces in stock levels after periods of shortages' said Andrew.

‘Another factor that's hard to predict but likely to influence market conditions in 2017 is the “Trump Factor”. We've already seen America's largest non-bank lender start to lift fixed rate mortgages in anticipation of the US turning on the debt tap to fund infrastructure builds. This is likely to drive interest rates up and Australia will not be immune.

‘If interest rates rise, the willingness and ability of buyers to meet homeowners' price expectations will begin to erode. If the number of homes for sale increases, and it typically does in the New Year, market dynamics could shift more in favour of buyers'.

Andrew said that confidence is everything in the real estate marketplace and uncertainty about USA policy under President-elect, Donald Trump, could influence overall market conditions in 2017.
 

 Tue, 27 Sep 2016
CANSTAR BLUE ANNOUNCES FIRST NATIONAL REAL ESTATE AUSTRALIA’S LEADER FOR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION 
Customer satisfaction research and ratings agency, Canstar Blue, has announced First National Real Estate the winner of its 2016 ‘Most Satisfied Customers' award, following customer research about the experience of homeowners, tenants and landlords with Australia's largest real estate brands.

In assessing quality of service delivery nationwide, Canstar Blue focused on a series of measures incorporating agent advice and communication; problem resolution, value for money, marketing, moving services, contract handling and finally, overall satisfaction. First National Real Estate was the only real estate company to achieve 5-star ratings.

‘As members of Australia's largest network of independent agents, First National Real Estate Cremorne is delighted to be recognised as a customer satisfaction leader' said First National Cremorne principal, Andrew Thomas.

‘There can be no greater measure of the success of the client / agent relationship than overall satisfaction. This award represents the fulfillment of our membership's nationwide commitment to ensure we deliver Australia's best real estate sales and property management services'.

Last year, First National Real Estate also received the Canstar Blue award for overall customer satisfaction in New Zealand, thus highlighting the excellence First National agencies provide on both sides of The Tasman.

‘Each and every one of our offices is committed to customer satisfaction so it's no coincidence our network has now won this award in both countries. We see this as proof positive that our culture, training, communication, service and commitment to results sets us apart from our competitors' said Andrew.

‘A critical difference at First National is that our membership requirements relate specifically to service delivery, not generation of fees for our head office. As a cooperative, our agents work together, not against each other, and the Canstar Blue award confirms consumers see the benefits'.

Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, congratulated First National Real Estate on the success, saying: “This is a great result across all customer touch points, suggesting First National is satisfying its customers regardless of their differing professional real estate requirements.

“Good communications and problem resolution are crucial elements of any good real estate service and it is notable that First National was the only one to rate five stars in these areas.”
 

 Thu, 11 Aug 2016
BEST OPPORTUNITY IN YEARS FOR FIRST HOME BUYERS 
It's the best first home buyers' market in Australia for many years and young people should take advantage of it, says First National Real Estate Cremorne principal Andrew Thomas.

With fewer investors in the marketplace than normal and an over-supply of apartments forecast, first homebuyers should take advantage of timing to seek well-priced entry point units and homes in good city fringe and outer metropolitan suburbs.

‘Millennials who think real estate is too expensive would be surprised at what they can afford to buy right now,' said Andrew.

‘With the Reserve Bank dropping official interest rates to 1.5 per cent and fewer investors to lend to, there's considerable pressure on banks to sharpen their pencil with first home buyers'.

‘This is probably the last time the Reserve Bank will cut rates so now is the perfect time to lock in a competitive rate and get on the property ladder'.

First home buyers should find out about any grants or exemptions available in their state, starting by visiting the federal government's First Home Owners Grant website. It provides a comprehensive guideline to the current schemes in place across Australia.

‘There is a very significant window of opportunity that may soon be history so now is the time to make a move.'
 

 Wed, 10 Aug 2016
KEEP ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LAW WITH RENTAL PROPERTY 
It's important to be aware of your tax obligations if you have rental properties, otherwise you could find yourself with a hefty bill, says First National Real Estate Cremorne principal, Andrew Thomas.

‘Owning rental properties comes with its own set of obligations, which you'll need to make sure you meet so everything is above board. Tax issues are one of the biggest areas of concern for landlords, and with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) announcing it's clamping down on malpractice, there's never been a better time to get your affairs in order' said Andrew.

There's no shortage of incentives to buy investment real estate at the moment. Figures from SQM Research show that the national vacancy rate currently stands at 2.4 per cent - a result that's largely been consistent over recent months.

Not only this, rental returns have also been particularly strong across many parts of the country. During the week to June 12, SQM revealed that the cost of renting real estate in Melbourne had increased 3.8 per cent for units and 1.7 per cent for houses.

According to Cremorne First National, one of the areas of tax law you need to be aware of as a landlord is what expenses you can deduct from your final accounts. These expenses are only valid throughout the period when your property was either rented or available for rent.

‘Some of the expenses you can claim for include advertising for tenants, cleaning, phone charges, gardening services and insurance. You should speak to an accountant if you're unsure about whether you can legitimately claim for an expense'.

‘It's not enough to simply tell the ATO you're claiming for a particular expense, as there needs to be paperwork to back this up'.

Providing your records are up to date, you will be able to ensure any capital gains tax you pay is accurate, reducing the likelihood of receiving a hefty tax bill at a later date.
 

 Mon, 19 Oct 2015
FIRST NATIONAL REAL ESTATE SPONSORS AUSTRALIAN LIFESAVERS AGAIN THIS SUMMER 
This summer, First National Real Estate will continue sponsoring athletes to improve their life saving skills through the Summer of Surf ‘First National Real Estate Board Series'.

The Australia-wide real estate network's sponsorship of the ‘First National Real Estate Board Series' will be televised weekly on FOX Sports.

First National says helping lifesavers competitively improve their skill, speed and efficiency can only help reduce the number of drownings on our beaches each summer.

First National Real Estate's Board Series is intended to encourage competition amongst the fittest and most dedicated athletes in the country as they compete for the First National Real Estate sponsored title.

At the conclusion the 2015/16 season, Summer of Surf will give them an overall ranking in Australia. Competitors will have the opportunity to race in 8 rounds of the series, throughout the season, in a bid to accumulate the highest score from their best 4 rounds.

The top 16 competitors will then be invited to the 8th and final round of the series on the 20/21st of February 2016 at Newport beach, where one male and one female athlete will be crowned ‘Summer of Surf First National Board Series Champion'.

Surf Life Saving is an Australian icon and we see lifesavers using prone paddling boards everyday to save lives. It is great to be able to underpin such a worthwhile sport and provide recognition for those who rise to the top.

Summer of Surf managing partner Trent Goulding is very excited about the continuation of First National Real Estate's sponsorship.

We sincerely appreciate First National Real Estate's support in the series for a second year running. Not only does it provide opportunities for young lifesavers to showcase their skills, we are able to entertain a national audience each week on Fox Sports with the aim of inspiring new volunteers to come down and help us keep the beaches safe.
 

 Mon, 29 Jun 2015
RANKED NUMBER ONE IN NATIONAL SURVEY 
An independent, national survey of over 1000 real estate professionals has seen First National Real Estate voted number one for having Australia's ‘happiest principals, agents, property managers and staff'.
Industry professionals rated company culture; agency reputation and business support the three most valuable elements in any real estate business.

Participants in the ‘Employer of Choice' report gave First National Real Estate a score of 4.57 out of 5, placing it ahead of Australia's two largest franchise brands – a crowning achievement for a real estate network built by members over a period of 30+ years!
 

 Thu, 16 Apr 2015
NOW IS THE TIME TO GET A FOOT ON THE PROPERTY LADDER 
First National Real Estate Cremorne says low official cash rates mean a wealth of opportunity for first homebuyers, people who consider themselves long-term renters, and property investors - both residential and commercial.
The Reserve Bank of Australia's official cash rate has a range of effects across the economy, and it definitely lifts the average buyers' property prospects.
‘In February the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to cut the official cash rate (OCR) by 25 basis points, bringing it down to 2.25 per cent. This was the first change in the OCR in almost a year and a half, and it made waves in the property market' said First National Real Estate Cremorne principal, Andrew Thomas.
‘It's important to research the cash rate, whether you're looking to retire or open an investment portfolio. Doing your homework can offer you some insight into how to make the most of the current environment - and alert you to what to do if there's another cut'.
When interest rates go down, it doesn't directly drag the interest rates set by lenders down, however the OCR does guide their direction. Speaking about the February rate cut, CoreLogic RP Data's head of research Tim Lawless said that interest rates following suit took the interest rates to their lowest point since 1968.
‘This means near-unprecedented opportunities for Australians to buy real estate at great value, and people aren't hesitant to take advantage. Demand appears to have been re-energised by less expensive debt' said Andrew.
Separate statistics from CoreLogic RP Data showed that in the lead-up to Easter this year, auctions were breaking new records for volume. This occurred in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney, which is the capital enjoying the strongest auction clearance rates.
‘Evidently, there are a lot of positives flying around for Australian property at the moment. The OCR generally acts as a stimulus for the wider economy, and it appears that at the moment a particular shot in the arm is being given to property' said Andrew.
‘Even though prices across Australia have been generally rising for property, the cash rate situation can actually make it easier for people to buy a home, despite high prices. Also, first homebuyers can still claim the benefits of first homebuyer grants'.
 

 Mon, 9 Mar 2015
NO CONCERNS FOR KIWI BUYERS 
First National Real Estate Cremorne says agents in its national network have received enquiry from New Zealand citizens, concerned that the Government's crackdown on foreign investment in residential real estate could apply to them.
'As the Australian dollar falls, more New Zealand citizens are exploring opportunities to invest in Australian real estate but some are concerned that proposals to increase compliance requirements for foreign investors might affect them as well' said First National Real Estate Cremorne principal, Andrew Thomas.
'It's not surprising that our Kiwi cousins are keen to take advantage of the current strength of their dollar and there is no impediment to them investing here.'
The Government released a consultation paper on 25 February that seeks feedback on its proposal to strengthen Australia's foreign investment framework, particularly in relation to its effects on residential real estate and agriculture. New fees, penalties are proposed as well as prison sentences for those who breach foreign investment rules.
'Australian and New Zealand citizens have long bought property on both sides of the Tasman. The Government's policy is that New Zealand citizens are exempt from applying for Foreign Investment Review Board approval when purchasing Australian residential property' said Andrew.
'Discussion about foreign investment over the past twelve months has centred on compliance and enforcement of existing legislation, not the exclusion of any nationality from buying in Australia.'
Foreign national's interested in investing in Australian residential real estate are advised to visit the Foreign Investment Review Board website - www.firb.gov.au
 

 Fri, 30 Jan 2015
CONSUMER FOCUS DRIVES ONLINE GROWTH 
First National Real Estate has capped a year of revolutionary digital advances with a 350 per cent increase in organic traffic to its national website, a 62 per cent surge in first time customers, a lift in social media customer engagement of 192 per cent, and a national Facebook fan base soon to exceed 70,000.
A combination of strategic alliances, a new national website and an integrated social media strategy has extended the network's leading edge, according to First National Real Estate Cremorne, Principal, Andrew Thomas.
Last February, First National Real Estate led the real estate industry in Australia with the launch of its mobile responsive website' said Andrew.
We addressed the need for customers with smart phones and tablet computers to easily access our website and its property listings, but we also did something no other network had done; we introduced comprehensive content that answers the questions consumers are asking about real estate.
Customers are searching for real estate information and properties for sale or lease in real time; while they're commuting, when they're delayed, and in their spare time. By putting their interests first, answering their questions, and making it even easier to view our listings, unique customer interactions have surged 182 per cent and our property views are running at record highs.'
First National Real Estate says an additional 12,000 first time customers are visiting its national website every month, with its ‘Looking to Rent' advisory resources proving the most popular part of its site. However, consumers are also showing strong interest in information about hobby and lifestyle farms as well as the website's property investment sections.
International visits are also up, with resources about buying property in Australia also attracting a large amount of enquiry from England, the South Pacific, South East Asia, the United States, Canada, India and China.
Social media has played a contributing role in the growth of First National Real Estate's profile, with more than two thirds of the network's membership now directly engaging with customers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, increasingly, Google+.
Social media is now a legitimate customer service channel and our approach is making First National Real Estate Cremorne more accessible to a younger, tech savvy customer base in addition to our traditional customer base' said Andrew.
‘Some people still aren't sure about social media but it has now been with us for 14 years, Facebook for 10 of those, and there are now billions of people who have never lived without it. More than that, the fastest rate of take-up is amongst 45 to 54 year olds.
'Whether you use social media personally or not, it's what's coming over the hill and we believe we must take every step possible to ensure we're using the medium properly to maintain the leading edge in real estate'.
 

 Tue, 2 Dec 2014
Cash rate has been left at record low! 
The official cash rate has been left at a record-low 2.5 per cent for the 16th consecutive month, as most economists had predicted. All 37 experts surveyed by comparison website finder.com.au had forecast that the cash rate would remain unchanged. The Reserve Bank has been facing conflicting pressures – cutting rates to stimulate the economy and lifting rates to cool the housing market.

All but two of the 37 people surveyed said the Reserve Bank would eventually change the cash rate in 2015, with 34 saying the next move would be up and three saying it would be down.
David Scutt from Scutt Partners told finder.com.au that a rate cut was likely to happen in early 2015.
“The Australian dollar remains overvalued, labour market conditions are soft, key commodity export prices have continued to decline and the economy is expected to grow below trend until at least 2016,” he said. “With house price appreciation slowing and targeted macroprudential tools still a strong possibility, if current domestic and international economic conditions remain subdued, the Reserve Bank will have little to prevent them easing early in the new year.”

Source : rpmonline.com.au
 

 Tue, 9 Sep 2014
FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN REAL ESTATE OVERSTATED 
While a great deal has been reported concerning foreign investment in real estate, the reality is that much of this investment is in upper price ranges and capital cities, and is centred around high profile trophy properties according to First National Real Estate Cremorne principal, Andrew Thomas.
‘Understandably, there has been a great deal of media attention devoted to the strong prices being paid for some properties in higher price ranges' said Andrew.
‘The public perception seems to be that Mainland Chinese buyers are investing in Australian property at an alarming rate, to the cost of Australian residents and first home buyers who cannot afford to compete'.
Andrew believes the reality is quite different and that the problem lies firstly with the lack of accurate information concerning foreign investors. With the average property investment approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) being $1.6 million, it's unlikely that many first homebuyers are affected.
‘The FIRB's policies are not the problem, however, FIRB's ability to monitor compliance with its rules and the residency of buyers could be improved. Fortunately, there's a likely solution in eConveyancing' said Andrew.
The First National Real Estate network recently addressed a House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics inquiry into foreign investment in Australian residential real estate.
The national network of over 400 offices presented its experience with foreign investment and suggested that greater regulatory attention is needed. By cross matching data, that could be made available through eConveyancing, and asking a few more questions about residency, the Government would be in a position to better understand whether there is, in fact, an issue with rules being broken.
‘Australia has long depended upon migration and foreign investment. It's vital to a thriving economy in a country with a comparatively small population' said Andrew.
‘We benefit culturally and foreign investment in new developments helps the nation address it's housing supply shortfall, which helps keep dwelling prices and rents realistic'.
 

 Thu, 1 May 2014
TIPS FOR YOUNG COUPLES LOOKING TO BUY 
If you're looking to put your flatting days behind you, buying a home as a young couple is an exciting prospect. However, there are several factors to keep in mind when you decide it's time to buy. From coming up with a deposit to choosing the right area, the buying process can seem complicated at the best of times.

Fortunately, with some careful planning and a sense of reality about what you can afford, you'll be in a much better position to make an offer on that perfect property, says First National Real Estate Cremorne Principal, Andrew Thomas.

'Whether you want to buy a home in six months or three years time, couples first need to save up a significant deposit. 'Depending on the area you choose to buy in and the kind of property you're after, the deposit you need could vary greatly. For this reason, you'll first need to research average house prices in your desired area so you know what figure you're working towards'.

The next most important thing to consider is positioning yourselves to pay off your loan as quickly as possible. A loan to value ratio (LVR) is a figure that's calculated by dividing the amount you're borrowing by the value of the property you want to buy, says the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. This figure plays a vital role in the length of time it will take you to build equity.

'Couples need to borrow whatever their deposit won't cover. So they should aim for a low LVR - ideally less than 80 per cent. Otherwise, they'll almost certainly need Lenders' Mortgage Insurance, which protects only the lender if they default. This is an extra cost that gets added to loan repayments, but doesn't help pay off the loan, so it's important to work on coming up with a deposit of 20 per cent or more to avoid this' says Andrew.

If you're planning on starting a family in the future, you should consider whether the home you're buying now will accommodate your future family or whether you're happy to sell and buy another more suitable property when the time arrives.

'Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms as well as outdoor space. You'll also need to investigate what schools and transport is available in the area. Thinking ahead can eliminate the need to sell a home that you've come to love because it's become unsuitable for your needs' says Andrew.
 

 Wed, 12 Mar 2014
SETTING UP FOR A SUCCESSFUL AUTUMN SALE 
Even as the leaves begin to fall, there is no reason not to put your house on the market this autumn, according to First National Real Estate.
"Traditionally, spring and summer were seen as the peak seasons for real estate activity," said First National Real Estate Cremorne Principal, Andrew Thomas.
"However the strong momentum we've seen throughout spring and summer is anticipated to continue well into autumn, if not right through winter this year. Strong market conditions don't mean that attention to presentation is any less important when selling in autumn though", Andrew said.
"If you're planning to sell this autumn, the key is taking some extra measures to make your house stand out above others on the market, taking into account how cooler weather conditions and the changes in your garden will impact the way your home is viewed".
These should include:
* Curb appeal. Rotting leaves strewn around the front garden and the entrance to the home can decrease its visual appeal during the all-important first impression, Andrew said. Keep your garden and paths swept and tidy, the garden beds well mulched, and add a splash of potted colour from your local nursery. Stay on top of weeds and keep any lawn area mown and edged.
* Let the light in. Schedule inspections for when your home captures the most sun. "A dark house is a turn-off at any time of year and in autumn can make a home seem colder and unwelcoming," Andrew said. "Let as much natural light in as possible, turn on lights during the day and have plenty of accent lights and lamps."
* Atmosphere. Most people keep doors and windows closed during the cooler months, but it's important to keep a house that is on the market well aired. Fresh, brightly coloured flowers always increase appeal and room scents such as vanilla can really make people feel at home" [principal name] said.
* Celebrate autumn. A large bowl of fresh autumn fruit can both celebrate the season and add colour to the kitchen and dining areas.
* Heating. If you have a working fireplace or a gas fire, they will seem very attractive to a potential buyer on a cool autumn day. If you do strike a cold, damp day during your sale, have them turned on or at least have some logs ready in a clean fireplace. "You want potential buyers to have a thorough look at the home and feel comfortable," Andrew said. "They won't do this unless it's warm and inviting."
First National Real Estate acknowledges that some people worry about selling in autumn in case they have difficulty finding a replacement home in winter.
"While there was a marginal decrease in the number of homes for sale nationally in February, low interest rates are keeping the market active and we anticipate a good supply of housing stock as we head into winter" Andrew said.
 

 Wed, 19 Feb 2014
SOCIAL MOBILE CUSTOMERS ARE THE FOCUS  
Australian real estate brands must innovate, engage, and inform to attract new customers in the crowded social/mobile digital space. Those that can reach consumers with customer focused websites that work on smartphones, iPads and desktop computers will re-shape the industry and its direction, according to First National Real Estate Cremorne Principal, Andrew Thomas.
"We know that customers have lots of questions about real estate at the different stages of their lives. From young people looking to rent through to retirees, we help first home buyers, investors, families running out of space, people dealing with unexpected challenges, and customers with a huge range of different goals and ambitions. People have plenty of questions and they're looking for answers" said Andrew.
"First National Real Estate is the only Australian network to think outside the box and address what customers really want, which is much more than just property search websites. The central focus of our new national website is to answer common questions, offer tips and suggest options that empower consumers and demystify the real estate process".
Australians now search for real estate information using smartphones and tablet computers while commuting, at work, during lunch, and even on the couch at night. Tenants, buyers and sellers want to see property videos, find answers to questions, share information through social media and take more control of the real estate process.
More than 65 per cent of people looking for property are using their smartphone or tablet computer so video marketing is also of growing importance. Anecdotal evidence already suggests that properties marketed with video sell faster and are perceived to be of higher value.
"Nobody wants to read from their smartphone's small screen so the FNTV section of our website introduces video property search, video market updates, video tips and a wide range of other useful video resources and advice that's easily accessible and attractively presented" said Andrew.
First National is an Australian-grown cooperative network that has approximately 400 offices across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. The brand is socialising its entire business and actively engages with customers through a variety of social media platforms. Its strategy has delivered the network's members a 76 per cent increase in local consumer reach in the past six months and Facebook 'fans' have increased by close to 40 per cent, across the group.
"By providing easily accessible information, advice and social media content that consumers value, then allowing customers to ask questions and provide feedback online, we're changing the way in which we engage with local communities and breaking new ground in a sometimes conservative industry" said Andrew.
 

 Thu, 6 Feb 2014
INVESTORS FAILING TO MAXIMISE RETURNS 
Many people choose to invest in property because it is a great tactic to build wealth and secure their futures financially. However, too many investors are failing to maximise the returns on their properties because they skip some of the fundamentals, according to First National Real Estate Cremorne Principal, Andrew Thomas.
"If you're looking for strategies to get the most out of your rental property, there are four key things you should be prepared to do", Andrew said.
"The first is to hire a professional property manager, particularly if you don't have time to study and stay up to date with the legislation that governs your state. The pace of change in a landlord's obligations can be overwhelming and the consequences of mistakes can be devastating."
Managing your own rental property can be a difficult task, especially if you have a large portfolio. Even if you want to manage a property nearby to where you live, it can lift a considerable weight to hire a property manager for properties you have that are farther afield.
"The second most important thing is to review your rent. It may be years since you last reviewed the price you're charging for your rental property and the market can change quite often. Fluctuations in vacancy rates and median rents can all impact on how much you can charge for your property, and you may end up charging too little", said Andrew.
Reviewing rent on a regular basis helps assure a rental property is properly positioned to meet the market. Investors should compare their rental properties with other similar rentals, or obtain a rent appraisal from an agent.
"Thirdly, it's vital to regularly refresh your rental property. The key to ensuring your rental property remains tenanted is to keep it in good condition. By staying on top of maintenance issues and refreshing the interior, your investment can be kept looking great, and producing a solid yield for much longer", said Andrew.
At regular intervals, investors should give their rental property a fresh coat of paint, have the carpets cleaned and the garden reworked. This helps keep a property competitive in the rental marketplace, makes it look more appealing, and helps attract tenants who care.
According to Andrew, another important step is to obtain a tax depreciation schedule for your property from an appropriately qualified tax specialist.
"A tax depreciation schedule helps assure that you are maximising the tax efficiency of your investment property and everybody should do that. The improvement to your rental yield is usually much more than the cost of the report. In fact, some property tax depreciation specialists make such guarantees" said Andrew.
 

 Tue, 4 Feb 2014
Interest Rate on hold 
The Reserve Bank has as expected decided to again leave official interest rates on hold at its first meeting for 2014. Rates have now been steady since the decision by the Bank in August last year to cut rates to a 60 year low of 2.5 percent.

Recent economic data however remains mixed with the Bank likely to remain on the sidelines until a clear trend in economic activity emerges - particularly in regard to unemployment.

Employment growth remains weak particularly in New South Wales and Victoria with unemployment rates expected rise in those states over the near-term.

Inflation is also on the rise again which will be exacerbated by a lower dollar which is expected to continue its recent downward trajectory, particularly as the US economy strengthens.

Low interest rates continue to have a stimulatory effect on the housing market. Home building approvals increased over November although much of the rise was again for apartments in Sydney and Melbourne.

Increased competition for market share between banks continues to push down already low mortgage rates with home buyer activity strengthening as a consequence. All capital city markets reported a rise in median house prices over the December quarter for the first time in four years with prices growth in the Sydney market approaching record levels.

"The Reserve Bank has as expected decided to leave interest rates on hold at its first meeting for 2014. Recent economic data remains conflicting for interest rate policy with weak employment growth offset by a falling dollar and rising inflation. The Bank will also be aware of strengthening housing market activity, particularly in Sydney where prices growth has approached record levels.

Rising unemployment will be the catalyst for any future cut in interest rates although this is unlikely in the near-term as the bank awaits a clearer picture of the nature of current and prospective economic activity as relevant data emerges", says Dr Andrew Wilson Senior Economist for Australian Property Monitors.
Source: Domain announcements
 

 Thu, 12 Dec 2013
November rental yields wrap up 
While market sentiment has now demonstrably lifted and house prices growth has accelerated, rental yields are eroding.

The National Australia Bank Quarterly Residential Property Survey shows rents increased just 0.2% in the third quarter of 2013.

Rents fell in WA (-1%) as well as in SA/NT (-0.3%). However, in NSW, rents increased (0.9%) and QLD and Vic saw increases of (0.7%) and (0.3%) respectively.

Although rents increased in NSW overall, Sydney houses haven't seen increases in nearly a year. Yet apartment rents have jumped (1.1%) in the past 3 months.

Australian Property Monitors says a preference for apartments in Sydney is becoming an established trend.

This is driven by affordability barriers with houses, and, an increased pool of housing rental vacancies as investors put their newly purchased properties up for rent.

QLD and NSW are expected to be the standouts for income growth in the next 1-2 years, with returns weakest in SA/NT.



Issued by: First National Real Estate
 

 Wed, 30 Oct 2013
FIRST NATIONAL ACCEPTING DONATIONS IN SUPPORT OF PEOPLE AFFECTED BY NSW BUSHFIRES  
Cremorne First National Real Estate, through the First National Foundation, has called for all Australians to donate to assist people who have been directly affected by the New South Wales bushfires.

"This week we expected to be assisting Australian Red Cross to raise awareness of the importance of preparation through Disaster Preparedness Week. We did not expect to be responding to the immediate needs created by the New South Wales' bushfire crisis" Cremorne First National, Principal Andrew Thomas said.

"People across New South Wales are suffering untold losses including their homes, pets, livestock, sentimental and personal effects, and in some cases, their livelihoods as well".

"Our network's members are assisting all real estate agencies operating in the Blue Mountains region to re-house people who have lost their homes in these terrible circumstances".

"At times like these, when communities are threatened by natural disasters, we redouble our fundraising efforts through the Foundation, which donates to the Australian Red Cross and its assistance to Australians in disaster preparation, response and recovery," Andrew Thomas said.

"Even as New South Wales faces one of the worst starts to the fire season in decades, the money we have raised in the past is still being used to assist those areas affected by some of the most devastating disasters in Australia's history.

"Many of these people are the ones that we have helped to purchase their homes, or move into a new one and we feel their need as much as if it were our own".

This week, First National Real Estate will provide updates via its Facebook page facebook.com/firstnationalrealestate about ways in which people can make cash donations, or donate items such as blankets, clothing, packaged food or anything to assist bushfire victims.



Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate


For further information contact: Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National Real Estate on
02 9904 1234.

 

 Thu, 3 Oct 2013
APARTMENTS VS HOUSES – WHICH IS BETTER? 
With the growing need for medium density housing and the increasing popularity of apartments, Cremorne First National Real Estate Principal, Andrew Thomas does a reality check and takes a look at the pro's and con's of both living options.
"Experts are saying apartment living is soon set to outpace the Great Australian Dream of the quarter acre block," Andrew Thomas said.
"While affordability and ongoing low supply are the main driving factors behind this trend, there are other considerations that come into play as well.
"More women in the workforce, longer working hours and a sizeable shift in demographics, are all forces to be reckoned with when considering lifestyle options for today and into the future."
According to Andrew, the 'apartment generation' will age and their family situations and lifestyle preferences will change, but traditional housing will remain a viable choice for Australians for many years to come.
"The choice of whether to live in an apartment or a house, complete with a yard, will come down to whether you are looking to live in a property or rent. Then it is about you or your tenants' lifecycle stages and financial means," Andrew Thomas said.
"The baby boomer generation are holding onto their homes longer at the moment, but eventually they will need to either downsize or seek other forms of retirement and aged care living, freeing up their homes for future generations.
"However, it may be a case that by then the "apartment generation will be used to living in apartments and even though they are ready to raise a family, they believe they can do so in the more affordable apartment option.
"Not to mention the fact that their weekends will be free of mowing lawns, fixing fences or gardening.
"On the other hand, they may still see a strong need for having a yard where their children can run around, or a house which offers greater space in general."
Andrew says investors also need to be considered when looking at apartments vs houses.
"People looking to invest need to consider where the greatest returns on their capital will come from," Andrew Thomas said.
"The will take into account short term yields and returns as well as long term capital gains and growth, and both apartments and houses have much to offer here.
"Plus, much will depend on what local, state and federal governments do in terms of policy and regulations.
"Currently, there is a long list of higher density governance issues which need to be resolved, such as assistance programs for emergency and disaster victims, initiatives for environmental programmes, insurance packages and environmentally sustainable design principles, to name a few.
"But whether you choose a house or an apartment, to live in or as an investment, it is important to get the right advice about the area from locals with knowledge and experience. Houses and apartments are both viable depending on personal preferences and individual circumstances. The final choice needs to deliver the right results and outcomes for the buyer."


Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate

For further information contact: Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234
 

 Thu, 3 Oct 2013
APARTMENTS VS HOUSES – WHICH IS BETTER? 
With the growing need for medium density housing and the increasing popularity of apartments, Cremorne First National Real Estate Principal, Andrew Thomas does a reality check and takes a look at the pro's and con's of both living options.
"Experts are saying apartment living is soon set to outpace the Great Australian Dream of the quarter acre block," Andrew Thomas said.
"While affordability and ongoing low supply are the main driving factors behind this trend, there are other considerations that come into play as well.
"More women in the workforce, longer working hours and a sizeable shift in demographics, are all forces to be reckoned with when considering lifestyle options for today and into the future."
According to Andrew, the 'apartment generation' will age and their family situations and lifestyle preferences will change, but traditional housing will remain a viable choice for Australians for many years to come.
"The choice of whether to live in an apartment or a house, complete with a yard, will come down to whether you are looking to live in a property or rent. Then it is about you or your tenants' lifecycle stages and financial means," Andrew Thomas said.
"The baby boomer generation are holding onto their homes longer at the moment, but eventually they will need to either downsize or seek other forms of retirement and aged care living, freeing up their homes for future generations.
"However, it may be a case that by then the "apartment generation will be used to living in apartments and even though they are ready to raise a family, they believe they can do so in the more affordable apartment option.
"Not to mention the fact that their weekends will be free of mowing lawns, fixing fences or gardening.
"On the other hand, they may still see a strong need for having a yard where their children can run around, or a house which offers greater space in general."
Andrew says investors also need to be considered when looking at apartments vs houses.
"People looking to invest need to consider where the greatest returns on their capital will come from," Andrew Thomas said.
"The will take into account short term yields and returns as well as long term capital gains and growth, and both apartments and houses have much to offer here.
"Plus, much will depend on what local, state and federal governments do in terms of policy and regulations.
"Currently, there is a long list of higher density governance issues which need to be resolved, such as assistance programs for emergency and disaster victims, initiatives for environmental programmes, insurance packages and environmentally sustainable design principles, to name a few.
"But whether you choose a house or an apartment, to live in or as an investment, it is important to get the right advice about the area from locals with knowledge and experience. Houses and apartments are both viable depending on personal preferences and individual circumstances. The final choice needs to deliver the right results and outcomes for the buyer."


Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate

For further information contact: Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234
 

 Thu, 19 Sep 2013
BUY AND SELL IN A BALANCED PROPERTY MARKET 
As property markets across the country become more balanced, and spring is off to a good start, both buyers and sellers are set to be winners if they follow some simple rules of engagement says Cremorne First National Principal, Andrew Thomas.
"The latest industry figures show the number of homes for sale is now more aligned with buyer demand, creating a balanced market in most states of Australia," Andrew Thomas said.
"Naturally, for those wanting to sell a home or purchase one, they will still be seeking the best deal they can get.
"While a balanced market heralds good news for sellers, as competition increases somewhat amongst home buyers, it also means there is less room to negotiate on price."
Andrew says this increased competition means information becomes king in the negotiation process.
"Home buyers need to arm themselves with as much research and information as they can, so they are fully informed of local trends and similar property sales in the areas where they want to buy," Andrew said.
"It's also advantageous to get advice from their local real estate agent, especially one they feel comfortable with and trust.
"We are there to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome, whether they are buying or selling a home."
Andrew Thomas advises that home buyers should also set themselves a clear budget, secure conditional pre-approval financing and monitor wider market intelligence.
"Combining these factors will keep them ahead of competing buyers by giving them the confidence to act decisively when they find the home of their dreams," Andrew said.
For sellers, Andrew says the key is meeting market expectations by setting realistic prices.
"Too often, sellers see headlines about rising prices but don't take account of what the local market is doing. They then set a price way above what buyers will pay, which only serves to frighten them away," Andrew Thomas said.
"While supply is still relatively short, and will continue to be so for some time, there is still strong competition for quality properties that come onto the market."
Andrew Thomas says the best advice for home sellers is to secure the services of a reputable, trustworthy real estate agent who will guide them through the process, including what price to set and how best to prepare their property for sale.
"A common mistake for sellers is to not prepare their property effectively. Sometimes it's simply a case of de-cluttering your home and giving it a spring clean, or it may involve repainting and fixing cracks in walls, ceilings, pathways and driveways.
"It rarely involves a complete makeover, but if that is what it takes to maximise value, then sellers should do it as it may add thousands of dollars to the eventual sale price by generating greater competition amongst prospective buyers"

Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate
for further information contact: Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National Real Estate on 02 9904 1234
 

 Tue, 10 Sep 2013
GET AGENTS WORKING FOR YOU 
First National Real Estate Chief Executive, Mr Ray Ellis says home owners and buyers often fail to tap into the in-depth local knowledge, technology resources and experience that real estate agents have readily available at their finger tips.
"The internet allows people to think they can do everything themselves and so they do not ask enough of their agents when looking to buy, sell or rent real estate, either as a home, office or industrial property," Mr Ellis said.
"Our network spends a lot of time, energy and effort developing systems, technology and training and our agents use these tools to their advantage. The combination of agents' skills and technology means we can help a buyer, seller, tenant or landlord to access information on suitable properties, or find the perfect match quickly and easily, yet so few vendors or purchasers ask agents if they use such systems before hiring their agent.
"When they do, the results speak for themselves.
"One of our offices recently sold a home just 16 minutes after it was listed using our buyer matching system. Another recorded 3197 buyer views across 6 websites, generating 16 direct enquiries and 9 inspections in a recent social media campaign, resulting in multiple offers being received for the one property."
First National Real Estate is renowned for its technology-based systems that make the process of finding, buying, selling and renting properties to be simple, convenient and stress-free.
"As one of the largest, if not the largest investment in your life, buying and selling property can be fraught with many pitfalls, but using the right agent can make it quite enjoyable, and even possibly exciting," Mr Ellis said.
"Our systems mean people are notified immediately when a property, or buyer, suitable to their needs becomes available.
"But the onus is on the members of the public, whether they are a buyer, seller, tenant or landlord. They need to contact the relevant agent in their area, be fully armed with a well informed wish list, outline what it is they are looking for, be realistic in their expectations and they will ultimately benefit from the relationship."
Mr Ellis said property investors should also consider agents for renting and leasing properties, whether they are commercial, industrial or residential.
"Our agents are well versed in property across all sectors, and they have a range of systems and processes that support their property management portfolios," Mr Ellis said.
"But whatever your property needs are, search for an agent who combines systems and technology with traditional people skills and choose one that goes to great lengths to communicate frequently and unobtrusively with their clients.
"We disseminate regular updates by text or email, keep clients informed of the latest listings and vacancies and ensure control is placed in their hands at all times.
"Our systems provide our customers with a genuine advantage and have improved the efficiency with which we promote, sell and rent property."

Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate 02 9904 1234



For further information contact: Stewart Bunn, National Communications Manager
First National Real Estate, on 0413 624 317
 

 Wed, 21 Aug 2013
LISTINGS, NOT ELECTIONS, DAMPENING PROPERTY 

The number of properties being listed on the market is the issue at hand for the property market, not the upcoming election says Cremorne First National Real Estate, Principal, Andrew Thomas.
"Much has been reported lately about the impact of elections on the property market, but low stock volumes are dampening activity across the board," Andrew said.
"There is as much evidence to support the belief that elections slow both the property market and prices growth as there is to say that they stimulate activity and generate growth, depending on which research you want to consider.
"Regardless of which party is triumphant in the election, the market will react accordingly and eventually level out.
"But, there has been, and continues to be, a chronic shortage of supply, with properties selling almost as soon as they are listed.
"Cashed up buyers and pent up demand, coupled with the market bottoming out should see increased activity in the field, but there are so few properties being listed for sale or auction that even for those in a position to buy, there isn't much stock available."
"I believe it is up to our political leaders to do their part in ensuring Australia's property market continues to strengthen, becoming more resilient to global and domestic influences.
"Whichever party is in power, leading up to or after the election, the property market still requires grants and incentives to be nationally coordinated. Plus, it's vital these are aimed at both established and new homes so the construction industry is supported and affordability is further improved at every level," Andrew Thomas said.
"Conditions are optimal with historically low interest rates, excellent affordability and improved consumer sentiment - the only thing missing is a product."
Andrew said that "because property is a key economic driver, it is imperative it be given appropriate support at all levels. Buyers and vendors also need to do their bit by becoming more realistic and adjusting their price expectations".
"There is a great deal of pent up demand out there at the moment, with buyers waiting for prices to get lower, but until they start being active again, sellers are also holding off putting their properties on the market, so the cycle never ends.
"Something has to give, and while the government is a good place to start, the election is not the answer. An active market is the only way to achieve prices that have been market determined, and this will only be done when everyone works together and does their bit."
- copy ends -

Issued by: First National Real Estate

For further information contact: Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234.

 

 Tue, 6 Aug 2013
INVEST IN FORWARD PROPERTY TAX PLANNING 
Investment property owners should ensure they keep proper accounting records and plan ahead for next year's tax return, Cremorne First National Principal, Andrew Thomas says.
"The recent targeting of property investors by the ATO caught many investors unawares and came too late for them to address any concerns the Office may have had in last financial year's return," Andrew said.
"The ATO wrote to more than 110,000 rental property owners towards the end of the 2012/13 financial year, offering advice on what their entitlements and obligations were, but if they had failed to keep the appropriate records and accounts, there was little they could do at that point.
"Which is why it is important they receive this advice now, at the beginning of the financial year, so they fully understand what they need to capitalise on their investment and maximise their returns."
According to tax depreciation expert, Mr Bradley Beer from BMT Tax Depreciation, 80 per cent of property investors fail to take full advantage of the tax benefits of owning an investment property.
"Many investors don't realise that regardless of whether they have spent any money on their property, the wear and tear on their asset and its fixtures, can be offset against any income they earn from the property," Mr Beer said.
"Property depreciation is a non-cash deduction available to income producing properties and can be claimed on both positively geared and negatively geared properties."
Tax benefits associated with negative gearing can sometimes be equivalent to 60 per cent of the total purchase price of a property.
"Even decorative garden sculptures, common areas in an apartment building, tree houses or recreational facilities may be legitimately claimed," Mr Beer said.
Other costs that the ATO allows to be deducted include interest costs, maintenance expenses and holding costs such as building insurance and rates.
Andrew Thomas said establishing a Depreciation Schedule from the outset ensures all expenses and items are deducted to their full capacity."
"Investors always look for the greatest return on their investment, and the best place to start is by securing the services and advice of a professional," Andrew said.
"First National agents have the local knowledge and experience, supported by our leading edge technologies, to ensure they provide the right and most appropriate advice on property and property management.
"We also have access to a range of experts associated with property management, such as BMT, so clients can enjoy all the benefits of property ownership.
"The constantly changing ATO rules make it essential for investors to use competent depreciation companies, to undertake an onsite inspection of their property. Desktop estimates will no longer suffice."

Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate

For further information contact: Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234.



 

 Tue, 25 Jun 2013
ATO Targeting Rental Owners 
The Australian Taxation Office is targeting more than 110,000 rental property owners who have been identified through last year's tax returns as making incorrect claims.

A team within the office known as ''the doctors'' is using sophisticated analytical techniques, including data mining, to identify unusual patterns of claims. It is also targeting work-related expenses.

Rental property deductions have surged in recent years as investors prefer bricks and mortar to shares.

For the 2010-11 year, the latest for which data is available, almost $39 billion was claimed by landlords in deductions, an 18 per cent rise on the previous financial year. Investors are taking advantage of negative gearing, where the interest costs on the loan used to buy the property, and other costs, are greater than the rental income. The shortfall reduces the investor's income on which income tax is paid.
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Almost 1.3 million people own at least one investment property. About two-thirds of those with rental income reported a loss on the investment.

The assistant commissioner of client services and assistance at the ATO, Graham Whyte, said expenses can be claimed only for the portion of the year where the property is rented or available for rent. Expenses that cannot be claimed include those incurred while the owner is occupying the property.

The Tax Office is targeting the work-related expenses of 218,000 building and construction workers, and sales and marketing managers, as June 30 nears. It is writing to them because of rising work-expense claims and a high occurrence of incorrect claims in last year's tax returns.

The main problem with work-related expenses is taxpayers not separating private expenses from legitimate work-related ones. Workers should make claims only where the expenses are incurred to earn an income.

Mr Whyte said about $18 billion of work-related expenses were claimed last financial year.

''The ATO focuses on occupations where the pattern is of large or rising claims, as well as claims that do not fit the pattern of a particular occupation,'' he said.

Work expenses claimed incorrectly in last year's tax returns include sales managers claiming for mobile-phone calls based on the time spent at work, rather than for work-related use.

Courtesy: http://www.smh.com.au/money/tax/crackdown-on-landlords-after-surge-in-claims-20130611-2o26i.html#ixzz2XC2Ar5UE
 

 Tue, 4 Jun 2013
Rates Stay on Hold but Further Rate Cuts Likely  
The Reserve Bank has decided to leave interest rates on hold this month. This follows last month's surprise decision to cut rates to a record low 2.75 percent.

Economic indicators have generally improved over the past month, particularly in regard to unemployment rates. The lower dollar also provides a positive to the Bank although the stockmarket remains volatile despite a better outlook for the international economy.

The state of local economies however remains mixed with a solid New South Wales and an improving Queensland offset by ongoing concerns over Victoria and some recent deterioration in the Western Australian economy.

"A continuing patchy economic performance together with the federal budget forecast of rising unemployment and falling growth translates into a cloudy outlook for the national economy. As a consequence the current bias on short-term interest rate movements remains slightly downwards despite today's decision to leave rates unchanged", says Dr Andrew Wilson Senior Economist for Australian Property Monitors.
"Home buyers thrive on low interest rates but the key to sustained growth in housing markets is a healthy economy and low unemployment".

Courtesy Domain.com.au


 

 Tue, 7 May 2013
Surprise Cut in Interest Rates 
The Reserve Bank surprised today by announcing a cut in the official interest rate by 0.25 percent to a new record low of 2.75 percent. Today's announcement followed three months of rates on hold with the last cut of 0.25 percent in December last year.

Rates have now fallen by a full 2 percent since the beginning of the current easing cycle in November 2011.

Action by the Reserve Bank today indicates concerns by the Bank over the recent performance of the economy, particularly in regard to rising unemployment and declining national income.

Some sections of the Australian economy are clearly still in need of further stimulus with the Reserve Bank choosing to act while inflationary pressures remain benign.

Housing markets however have been a beneficiary of low interest rates this year with forward indicators such as auction clearance rates and housing loans clearly ahead of last year results.

"A further cut in interest rates, when and if passed on by the banks, will provide continued stimulus to strengthening housing markets through autumn and into winter", says Dr Andrew Wilson, Senior Economist for Australian Property Monitors.

"Lower interest rates and rising home buyer confidence are set to continue to generate house price growth although the performance of local economies remains the key as indicated by today's interest rate decision".

Courtesy Domain

 

 Tue, 30 Apr 2013
100% NO VACANCY RATE!!!!! 
We are delighted to announce that we currently have a 100% No Vacancy Rate.
Due to our years of experience and commitment to service, our leasing team has successfully secured a tenant for every current rental property - therefore we are looking for more rental properties to meet the demand from our prospective tenants.
To obtain an obligation free rental appraisal or to discuss our premier management services please contact us on 9904 1234 or email melanie@cremornefn.com.au
 

 Tue, 26 Mar 2013
WHAT DOES AN AGENT HAVE THAT I DON’T? 
Cremorne First National answers one of the most commonly asked questions in the property market – "Why should I use a real estate agent to buy, sell or manage my property?"
The simple answer, according to Cremorne First National Real Estate, Principal, Andrew Thomas, is because it makes financial, legal and common sense to do so.
"Property, whether a home or investment, is a financial investment so it makes sense to use the services of a professional and in this case that is a real estate agent," Andrew Thomas said.
"It may seem tempting for many homeowners to keep commission dollars in their pockets, but in the long run there is greater chance of maximising success and minimising stress if an agent is involved, just as there is if you use a lawyer when going to court."
The key things an agent will bring to the table, says Andrew, include:
* Realistic indications of a property's value or rental return potential
* Expert advice on how best to market and promote a property as well as the best method of sale - private treaty (for sale) or auction
* Vetting potential buyers and tenants to reduce time wasted on unsuitable or untenable prospects
* Access to more potential buyers, sellers and renters via their own databases and networks
* Handling sale and tenancy negotiations and communications for maximum outcomes
* Understanding the difference between emphasising the selling points a buyer is interested in and those that a vendor considers important
* Preparation of documentation related to sale and marketing or tenancy
A good agent will also make sure that a process that can be a stressful and time consuming experience is a lot less pressured and more enjoyable.
Andrew said the greatest risk in retaining the services of a real estate agent is making sure you choose the right one.
"The relationship between an agent and client needs to one of mutual respect, based on loyalty and trust, because real estate transactions can be complicated and success relies largely on the skills of key players such as the agents and the client's willingness to cooperate with their strategy for marketing and during negotiations," Andrew Thomas said.
"Having the right agent on your side can result in thousands of extra dollars in your pocket, so it is worth taking the time and effort to find the one that suits your needs best.
"Good agents will have excellent negotiation skills and be honest about what you are likely to achieve.
"They will set realistic prices and provide advice based on market conditions, and local supply and demand.
"The best agents will have open, regular and transparent lines of communication with their clients.
"Open, honest, two-way communications will ensure a satisfactory experience throughout the buying, selling or renting process.
"Clients need to be able to express their needs, wants and concerns without restriction."
Budget, location, size and style are just a few of the hundreds of factors that are considered for a property transaction. Whether buying selling or renting a property, feedback and direction should be integral to the process.
Licensed real estate agents devote a lot of time and effort to gaining experience, qualifications and active buyer contacts. At Cremorne First National, a great deal of energy and resources is spent on honing and developing agent skills, so they can become specialists in their industry and local real estate markets. Additional systems that actively match buyers and tenants to properties also help assure no opportunities are missed.
- copy ends -

Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate

For further information contact: Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National, on 02 9904 1234.


 

 Thu, 31 Jan 2013
FIRST NATIONAL HAS LANDLORDS COVERED 
Media Release – January 31, 2013

Australians continue to invest in property as a proven path to long-term financial security and the summer months bring increased rental relocation activity, particularly in the early months of the new year. However, many landlords and property investors neglect to protect their valuable asset by taking out appropriate insurance cover.
"It is important for landlords to realise the cover they need should extend beyond the normal building insurance policy, which does not cover things like willful damage to their property, failure to pay rent, or claims made against them by their tenant," Cremorne First National Real Estate, principal Andrew Thomas, said.
"Summer is always a busy time in the rental market as tenants find it more convenient to move at the start of the school year, and, the holiday letting market also produces increased interest.
"Landlord protection policies differ widely, but at Cremorne First National we can help landlords find the right insurance policy for them. Some, for instance, are designed to be used in conjunction with a typical home and contents or strata title policy, while others are more comprehensive. We also help our tenants find contents insurance, which can be challenging for those living in a shared household."
According to industry research, less than half of all self-managing landlords have specific landlord insurance, even though three out of five recognise a bond is not sufficient to cover most incidents with tenants.
Landlords who use real estate agents to manage their relationship with tenants face fewer problems than those who self-manage their investment properties.
"At Cremorne First National we manage properties worth millions of dollars on behalf of clients," Andrew Thomas said.
"We make sure appropriate rental agreements are in place, screen potential tenants and check their references, regularly inspect properties and ensure maximum returns are achieved for each of our rental properties.
"We have leading edge systems and best practice procedures in place to ensure vacant properties are marketed correctly, and maintained in optimal rental condition.
"We can provide clients with documentation to support tax depreciation claims and arrange regular value appraisals and asset management reports to maximise their investment potential.
"In essence, we put you first by making sure you and your investment are properly covered, and, that your tenants are kept happy in a properly maintained home."
Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate

For further information contact:
Andrew Thomas, Principal, 02 9904 1234

 

 Tue, 1 Jan 2013
CREMORNE PROPERTY OUTLOOK, AUGUST 2013 
Please open the attached PDF to read the latest property outlook for Cremorne...

 Thu, 8 Nov 2012
MAKE A SPLASH THIS SUMMER WITH PROPERTY 
Selling a home in summer can be tricky for some but rewarding for many. Cremorne First National Real Estate, Andrew Thomas Principal, says it all comes down to getting the details right.

"Pretty gardens, spectacular views and a well-presented home will only go so far, especially in a market where buyers would rather be relaxing with a cool drink instead of house-hunting in the heat," Andrew said.

"It is essential home sellers price their property correctly, choose the most appropriate sale method and market it appropriately. Real estate agents can make a lot of difference here as they have the necessary knowledge and experience to maximise the value of your property."

Andrew Thomas said, that when it came to pricing the property, home-owners need to consider the market and buying conditions.

"Summer is a time when buyer numbers plateau – particularly during the holiday period - but the current market conditions of low interest rates and affordable prices will prove too tempting for many to pass up," Andrew said.

"So it requires real skill to set the price at a realistic level where both the buyer and seller feel comfortable that they have paid and received a fair price."

One of the biggest dilemmas summer sellers face is whether to go to auction or sell their house through private treaty (for sale). In making this decision, there are a number of factors that should be considered such as location, style of property, level of demand and timing of the sale.

"Private treaty sales offer the advantage of a clearly stated price. This can be powerfully attractive to buyers who sell their property just prior to Christmas and are facing settlement in early January, Andrew Thomas said.

"When you have properly priced your property, these types of buyers can be super motivated to make strong, fair offers, with a minimum of negotiation, but it's essential to have your price right in the first place if you're going to do business.

'On the other hand, auctions allow the market to determine the price and competitive bidding can push the price up. Auction also offers the seller certainty that once the reserve is reached, the property will be sold, and there is no Cooling Off Period so the sale is secure – the buyer can't change their mind. However, the timing of an auction is crucial so it's best to have auction campaigns completed before the holiday period gets underway."

When it comes to auctions, Andrew Thomas said there are two types to be considered: in-room or on-site.

"At an on-site auction, buyers can actually touch and smell what they are buying, which can provide a stronger emotional connection to the property," Andrew said. "Also, there is an argument to be made that suggests when it comes to those final bids, and the buyer is standing in what is to be their new home if they are successful, they are more likely to go that little bit further to secure their new home.

"However, in-room auctions are not affected by the weather or other environmental factors and when the market is running hot, the enthusiasm for other properties offered by auction at the same event can positively influence the bidding on your own property.

According to Andrew Thomas, the soft market of recent times is showing a trend towards private sales over auctions, with sellers more inclined to take that route than what they perceive as the uncertainty of the potential outcome on auction day.

"My advice would be to discuss all the options available with a real estate agent, who will help determine which method of sale best suits your individual circumstances and the likely degree of demand for the type of property you'll be offering the marketplace," Andrew said.

"The agent is there to help weight up the benefits and costs and pro's and con's of each scenario and to support a seller through the sale process. They can only do that if the seller is open and honest about their feelings and share their concerns.

"At First National, we are there to put our clients first, which is why we lead our industry."


Issued by: Cremorne First National Real Estate

For further information contact:
Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National, on 02 9904 1234


 

 Tue, 9 Oct 2012
Rate cut 
The Reserve Bank's surprise cut to official interest rates last week has resulted in a rapid change in buyer sentiment. Auction clearance rates have lifted quickly and members report increased inquiry from investors nationally.
At the same time, reports have emerged suggesting that Australian house prices may climb between 10% and 15% by the end of 2013, due to improved affordability and further rate cuts.
Whichever way you look, conditions are improving and buyer sentiment is lifting. With AMP's Shane Oliver having called the bottom of the market in late September, it won't be more than a few months before a greater majority of buyers sense the shift.
 

 Fri, 24 Aug 2012
Who Determines Land Values? 

Valuers on behalf of the Valuer General undertake ongoing analysis of the NSW property market. Property sales are the most important factor considered by valuers when determining land values as at 1 July each year.
Most land values are determined by private sector valuation firms. These firms are awarded contract following a rigorous tender evaluation process which is overseen by an independent probity officer.
The contract valuers preparing the valuations have a good knowledge of the local area and have access to electronic mapping and information systems. Contract valuers must adhere to strict procedures when determining land values to ensure a consistent approach throughout NSW.
The Valuer General supplies land values to councils to use in the calculation of rates.
The majority of councils receive new land values for rating every three years. The regular issue of land values ensures changes in the local property market are reflected in the councils rates model, helping to ensure fairness and equity for ratepayers.


Article courtesy NSW Valuer General
 

 Fri, 27 Jul 2012
ATO ADVICE FOR PROPERTY INVESTORS 
Rental Property Deductions:
To assist Landlords in preparation for their tax returns the Australian Taxation Office has put together some tips to help property owners correctly claim deductions to maximise the returns on their investment.
What can I claim straight away?
*Interest on a loan to:
Purchase a rental property or purchase land to build a rental property
*Purchase a depreciating asset for the property such as an air conditioner;
*Finance renovations like a deck;
*Cost of repairs and maintenance such as:
Repairs to part of the guttering or windows damaged in a storm;
Maintaining plumbing;
Repairing electrical appliances or machinery.
*Tenancy costs such as:
The cost of preparing a lease agreement with your tenant, and costs associated with evicting a tenant.
*What can I claim over a number of years?
Expenses that can be claimed over a number of years include:
*The cost of depreciating assets ('decline in value' deduction) such as:
stoves;
refrigerator;
kitchen cupboards;
air conditioning;
hot water systems;
*The cost of building construction and structural improvements (capital works deduction) made by you or a previous owner
*Borrowing costs such as:
Stamp duty charged on a mortgage
loan establishment fees,
Title search fees charged by your lender.
If these amounts are less than $100 in total they can be deducted immediately, otherwise they are generally deductible over five years or over the term of the loan, whichever is less.
*What cannot be claimed?
Deductions for rental properties not genuinely available for rent.
Interest on a loan you use to buy a home that you do not use to produce income or from the time you start using the property for private purposes.
Borrowing expenses or interest on the portion of the loan you use for private purposes like buying a new car.
*Travel expenses when the main purpose of the trip is a personal holiday
*Stamp duty charged by your state/territory government on the transfer of the property title or leasehold interest
*Insurance premiums where under the policy your loan will be paid out in the event that you die, become disabled or unemployed, and
*Solicitor fees for the purchase of the property and the preparation of loan documents.
What if I sold a rental property?
You may have a capital gain or loss that you will need to include in your return if you sold a rental property in the 2011-12 financial year unless you acquired it before 20 September 1985.
You can also make a capital gain or loss from some capital improvements made since 20 September 1985 to a property you acquired before that date.
To work out whether you have a capital gain visit www.ato.gov.au/cgt for more information.
More information
The ATO website www.ato.gov.au/rental has information outlining what you can and cannot claim for your rental property.
If you would like to talk to someone at the ATO about tax deductions for rental properties call
13 28 61.
 

 Tue, 29 May 2012
Tax Tips to Avoid Slips by Investors 
Tax time can cause great anxiety for investors who unwittingly make claims they are not entitled to, getting themselves into deep water with the Tax Office. Cremorne First National Real Estate offers these helpful hints to assist property investors to capitalise on their allowable deductions and avoid unwanted interest from the Tax Man.

"Property is an increasingly popular form of wealth creation for many Australians, but often they lack the accounting and financial knowledge to know what it is they are entitled to claim, or how much they can claim and what is not an accepted tax deduction," Andrew Thomas, principal Cremorne First National said.

"The ATO monitors property investor claims and often issue warnings or notices of the types of common mistakes made, so investors should at least visit the ATO website.

"Reports say more than 1.5 million people claim in excess of $24 billion in rental deductions in a year, which explains the ATO's vested interest and continued focus on monitoring rental property deductions."

According to Andrew, the most common mistakes made by property investors include making claims against:

* Immediate initial repairs or capital improvements including structural repairs and improvements which are seen more as capital works deductions such as remodeling a bathroom or building a pergola
* The portion of a loan that is used for both investing and private purposes
* Inspection of a rental property while on holiday in the area, which is the real purpose, and the inspection only incidental
* Expenses relating to the private use of a property such as a holiday home
* A property that is not genuinely available for rent including periods while it is undergoing construction or renovation
* Borrowing expenses in the first year rather than being spread out over the term of the loan or five years, whichever is the lesser of the two.

Andrew Thomas, said investors should seek the services of a qualified professional such as an accountant or financial advisor when looking at preparing their tax return.

"Everyone's personal financial circumstances are different and the tax implications of the individual property investment strategy may differ, so it is important to discuss it with someone who has the necessary expertise and experience," Andrew said.

As an experienced and licensed real estate agent, Andrew Thomas says it is also a good idea to look at using the services of a respected and qualified property manager who will act on your behalf and with your best interests at heart.

"A property manager, such as those with First National, have the requisite forms, processes and systems to effectively manage a property as well as maintain and keep appropriate records for tax and accounting purposes," Andrew said.

"Proper record keeping and tracking is more than half way to ensuring the investment property yields the optimal return."

For further information contact Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234.


 

 Thu, 10 May 2012
DUTY OF ALL TO ABOLISH TAXES 



Media Release – 9 May 2012

In the light of the federal budget, which has just been handed down, Cremorne First National Real Estate principal, Andrew Thomas believes the government should have delivered on the GST promise of abolishing stamp duty and that home buyers should also do their bit to support the Australian property market.

"Australia's soft property market will continue to tread water unless major changes are made. We need more new housing stock to come onto the market, indirect costs to be reduced, inefficient taxes such as stamp duty to be abolished – preferably all three!," Andrew Thomas, said.

"And while HECS-like schemes are commendable for assisting home buyers to pay their stamp duty obligations, it should be a matter of reducing, or better still, getting rid of stamp duty altogether and that falls on everyone's shoulders.

"A struggling property market affects all Australians, as it is a key driver of the nation's economy and represents a burden for all to share. This is why home buyers should do their bit and continue to put pressure on governments to live up to their GST promises."

Andrew Thomas said property taxes are reducing home buyers' ability to purchase new homes, whether they are first home buyers, upgraders, downsizers or investors.

"The real issue for the property market is that buyers aren't buying and part of that reason is the exorbitant extra costs associated with buying a property," Andrew said.

"These extra purchase costs mean it is more cost efficient for home owners to consider renovating or think outside the box and look at dual occupancy type solutions.

"The excessive cost of developing vacant land has stalled the process of newly built home stocks coming onto the market, which is having a devastating impact on the market overall."

Last year, stamp duty accounted for 37% of total property related taxes in Australia and Andrew believes the reliance of Governments on property taxes to boost their coffers should have lessened over time with the introduction of the GST, but the opposite trend seems to be occurring.

"We were promised a reduction in taxes like stamp duty when the GST was introduced. Not only has it stayed, nationally, stamp duty has risen, due mainly to increases in NSW and Victoria according to industry figures," Andrew said.

"And yet, property taxes were cut in WA and NT, and government revenues actually increased.

"What seems to be happening is that stamp duty is putting new homes beyond the reach of many, so fewer homes are selling overall, reducing revenue raised through these taxes to governments," Andrew Thomas said.

"But basic economics is at play here, if the stamp duty was lowered more homes would sell, both home owners and governments would see increased revenue.

"Consideration could also be given to abolishing stamp duty and recouping those lost taxes through a more equitable means where the whole population pays – not just those who have saved for a new home.

"Perhaps we should increase tax paid on luxury items such as tobacco or alcohol, or fast food items."

According to Andrew, making home ownership too taxing is a short-sighted and quick grab for cash by governments and should be 'stamped out' as soon as possible so that everyone can achieve their home ownership goals.

- copy ends –

For further information contact Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234.

 

 Thu, 9 Feb 2012
FIRST NATIONAL SUPPORTS RATES DECISION 




Cremorne First National Real Estate's principal, Andrew Thomas, supports the RBA's decision to keep interest rates on hold, saying stability is what is sought during times of ongoing consumer nervousness and tension.

"The market is tightly wound at the moment, and movement of any kind could unsettle confidence, which is why we believe the decision by the RBA was the right one at this time," Andrew said.

"Our agents have reported drops in listing volumes for the second month in a row, which, in part, reflects home owners waiting for selling conditions to improve before they put their properties on the market but also reflects seasonal factors.

"While the market remains slow in much of Australia, decreases in housing availability will begin to place upward pressure on prices as it increases competition, ultimately reducing the number of days it takes to sell a home."

Andrew Thomas said home buying opportunities, even with the rates remaining steady, were still plentiful as interest rates are still relatively low and home prices are at their most affordable for quite a number of years.

"This all bodes well for a property market looking for signs of stability and recovery" Andrew said.

"Any decreases in rates at this time could have further added to consumer nervousness, which is still suffering from uncertainty around global economies and impacts of rising living costs, especially with the advent of the carbon tax.

"At the same time, an increase now could result in reduced affordability, something first home buyers in particular can ill-afford at a time when some of the government assistance schemes are being cut back or dropped altogether.

Andrew Thomas said he encouraged anyone looking to purchase a home at the moment to negotiate.

"All the Big 4 banks and other mortgage lenders are on record as saying they are willing to discuss rates with home buyers in order to retain their share of the market, so buyers are in a real position of power to make them deliver on their statement," Andrew said.

"A calm approach is exactly what is needed right now to allow the property market to catch its breath and stabilise activity, so it can prepare for the next wave of influencing factors. This falls right into the hands of home buyers who should be able to secure the best deals they have for many years."



For further information contact Andrew Thomas, from Cremorne First National Real Estate
02 9904 1234

 

 Wed, 1 Feb 2012
New rules to protect children in high-rises 
Apartments and multi-storey homes are about to get a little safer for children thanks to a rule change around windows in new buildings.

The Australian Building Codes Board has ruled that all windows in new homes and apartments that are more than two metres off the ground must be either fitted with window locks that stop the window being opened more than 125mm (12.5 cm), or must have reinforced screens to prevent children from falling from a height.

The changes will be included in the National Construction Code from May 2013.

Advertisement: Story continues below The Australian Building Codes Board estimates that owners and builders will choose to fit 80 per cent of windows with locks, and the remaining 20 with reinforced screens. Its research priced window locks from $20 - $70 each, and strong screens from $130 a square metre, putting the average cost of a suitable screen at $130.

Ron De Vere, a project manager with the Australian Building Codes Board, says the decision was made after wide consultation with industry, and with fire authorities across the nation.

De Vere said an economic analysis that took into account the cost of installing locks and screens versus society's cost of treating children who had fallen from windows showed that the broader cost-benefit of the changes was around zero.

However, "the board was swayed by the risk to children and the danger of children falling out of buildings", he says. "It's a bit like the pool safety issue, the child drowning ... the value of a child's life is so crucial."

Danny Cass, a professor of paediatric surgery at the Children's Hospital Westmead, has welcomed the changes saying the recognition that children could access windows and easily climb or fall out of them was a win for commonsense.

"Before, they thought a kid couldn't climb that high but ... they often pull things up to it, or beds are placed next to it," Cass says.

Just a like a pool safety fence though, children will only be protected when adults remember to lock the windows and check that the reinforced screens are in good order.

The board backed away from an initial proposal to mandate window guards for windows two stories or above in all domestic dwellings.

It also a decided against that a proposal to increase to one metre the minimum floor-to-sill height of openable windows in rooms that are four metres from the ground outside.

The minimum floor-to-sill height will effectively remain at 865mm as the current provisions require a barrier of 865mm be in place to any openable window that is more than four metres from the ground, and it is common practice to place the bottom of the window at that height, using the wall itself to create the barrier.

The floor-to-sill height requirement will remain even where a lockable or removable device or screen is in use – in case the device or screen is inadvertently unlocked or removed. However, the minimum height from ground level at which the window-to-sill or barrier rule comes into play will drop from four metres to two metres after evidence showed serious injury can happen when a child falls from just two metres.

The changes will come into effect from May 2013, a timeframe the board says will allow industry to prepare for the changes.

An average of one child a week is taken to hospital in Australia after falling from a window. According to figures from the Children's Hospital Westmead, 80 per cent of children who have fallen from a window have significant injuries, and four out of five children who fall from windows are aged under five. For information on keeping your kids safe near windows, click here.

Cass says the next challenge is making windows in existing housing and apartment stock safer for children. Cass is part of a working party on child falls at the Children's Hospital Westmead. The group will meet again this month to explore further recommendations for existing properties.


Article courtesy of Domain.com.au

 

 Thu, 8 Dec 2011
RENTING VERSUS BUYING – THE HOUSING DILEMMA 




Media Release – 8 December, 2011


Andrew Thomas principal of Cremorne First National, says current market conditions, coupled with increasing housing affordability, is causing a rental dilemma. Many renters are questioning if now is the time to stretch their budgets and commit to buying their own home.

"With lowering interest rates and falling house prices, home buying is proving almost too attractive for many renters, but serious consideration needs to be given to the person's individual and financial situation to ensure they make the right decision," Andrew said.

"It may appear, on the surface, that purchasing a home may make more economic sense for those doing it tough, where the monthly mortgage is not too far off what they are currently paying for rent, but a closer look may reveal that incidental costs and a small change in circumstances could lead to an untenable situation."

According to Andrew the advantages of each housing option should be weighed against the drawbacks to find the one that best suits their specific needs and situation.

"Renting offers great flexibility with the option to relocate from home to home and area to area, as the need arises, which is not the case with buying a property," Andrew said.

"If finances get tight, or the home situation changes for any reason, it is far harder to just pick up and go if you own your own home.

"Renting is also often a cheaper alternative to buying, especially in the inner city areas particularly favoured by Gen Y-ers who want that urban lifestyle close to where they work."

While vacancy rates continue to be under pressure, the fact remains that renting may still be more affordable, with monthly rental payments usually less than a mortgage repayment for a comparable property and without the other incidental costs which can be incurred as a homeowner.

"One of the greatest financial and stress-free advantages of renting is that property maintenance costs, repairs, rates and insurance bills are the responsibility of the landlord, not the renter," Andrew Thomas said.

Despite these many advantages of renting a property, there are some disadvantages which will make buying preferable, particularly in light of escalating monthly rentals. The most obvious one being when renting, it is not possible to put your personal stamp on a property to suit your individual style and design preferences.

"There is also the inconvenience, and in some cases pressure, of knowing your landlord has the right to inspect their property whenever they wish, with sufficient notice, potentially disturbing the renter's privacy," Andrew said.

"But the biggest disadvantage of renting is that the property can never be paid off by the tenant, making the money lost for good, without any chance of recovering when the property is sold."

Ultimately, this is the biggest difference and that is where advice should be sought to determine the short and long-term impact on personal net wealth and cash flow over a lifetime between renting and buying.

"Usually, the decision will be to purchase a home, but it will come down to making sure people buy well and buy right, at the best time for their own individual circumstances," said Andrew

"This is where we at Cremorne First National can really help. We offer advice and assistance with the necessary knowledge, experience and skills to understand the market, its trends and its weaknesses and opportunities," Andrew Thomas said.

"Despite some government assistance packages for both renters and buyers being abolished or having become obsolete, such as the First Home Owners' Grant Boost and the National Affordability Rental Assistance Scheme, it is important to remember there are still incentives for potential home buyers and renters to take advantage of, including state government financial assistance packages.

"So home buyers and renters need to learn to make the most of the services we have available, to ensure they make the most of their finances over the long term. There are many creative ways in which to save for that first purchase whilst renting and we can help explain all the options available."


For further information contact Andrew Thomas, Cremorne First National 02 9904 1234

 

 Tue, 15 Nov 2011
MAKE PROPERTY INVESTMENT ROCK SOLID 




Real estate offers many benefits for investors, and its continued strong performance has made it the preferred investment option for many Australians. But Andrew Thomas principal of Cremorne First National says it takes more than good luck to maximise your returns from investment properties.

"Property investment is still a popular option, representing a rock solid, secure and long-term method of creating wealth and growing capital," Andrew said.

"In fact, property has delivered an average 12 per cent return for the past 24 years, even before tax and maintenance costs, so its not surprising that a recent survey shows 59 per cent of home buyers and investors plan to purchase an investment property in the next year.

"That's probably because Australian property performed exceptionally well throughout the GFC and still shows great resilience in the face of share market gyrations.

"But for investors to maximise the financial benefits of their property they need to look at their investment as more than just collecting rent or striking a deal on management fees."

According to Andrew Thomas, the crucial component for a successful rental property yield is to appoint a trusted and reliable property manager.

"A good property manager is one that provides expert advice on the opportunities available for them to take advantage of to improve the yield of their property investment portfolios," Andrew said.

"At Cremorne First National, we have an in-depth knowledge of the local market and can assist with the two most important criteria when choosing an investment property – location and quality."

Andrew Thomas said properties located close to transport, schools, place of work, shops and recreational facilities are in greater demand and usually command a higher rental.
However, investors should not be afraid to look beyond inner city properties as lower priced outer suburbs can produce higher yields and frequently enjoy strong demand from prospective tenants.

"It is also wise to maintain your asset in good repair and ensure it is well presented. That way, rent is maximised, vacancy periods reduced and a high standard of tenant is attracted, who will ensure their rent is paid on time.

"Sometimes, simple improvements like a fresh coat of paint in bathrooms and kitchens, or installing new window coverings, can make the world of difference."

As an experienced property manager, supported by rigorous processes and systems, Cremorne First National provides the highest standard of advice to investors, backed by leading edge technologies that match tenants to vacant properties and comprehensive marketing programs.

"Cremorne First National uses the latest technologies and prides itself on getting the best results in the shortest time," Andrew said.

"A professionally prepared tax depreciation schedule can also play an important role in the efficient management of your investment."


For further information contact Andrew Thomas, on 02 9904 1234

 

 Thu, 13 Oct 2011
LOOK BEYOND FEES FOR EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT 
Because of changes to Australian tax law, investors can now borrow for the purposes of property investment and this has resulted in an exponential increase in the amount of property acquired by Self Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSFs). As a result, property managers must be prepared, says First National Real Estate Cremorne's Property Manager, Liza Baghdassarian.

'A recent tax ruling now allows trustees to use money in their fund to renovate property as well. That means property managers need to be equipped to guide landlords who own investments as part of their SMSF toward appropriate, cost effective renovations, using licensed tradespeople. First National Real Estate has taken steps to assure that its property managers are aware of qualified specialists in the industry and can point customers towards a range of providers.'

According to First National, most property investors spend too little time assessing the skills of their property manager and need to look beyond fees when choosing who will manage their investment portfolio.

'Property Managers frequently manage real estate portfolios exceeding the value of most financial advisors yet rarely receive such recognition' says Liza.

'The commitment required to effectively maintain properties, quality client relations, legislative compliance, and, excellence in customer service is sometimes extra-ordinary or even super-human'.

Yet, when choosing a property manager the network indicates that the majority of landlords and investors look only at management fees, thinking that property management represents little more than the collection of rent.

'Investors need to consider the systems and experience behind the agency that they are entrusting the management of their properties to' says Liza.

'Professionally qualified and trained property managers bring so much more to the equation than rent collection. You only need to experience one problem with a tenant to begin to understand the importance of a comprehensive appreciation of the laws governing tenancy. Paying a slightly higher fee for a more professional manager makes a huge difference, even without a problem tenancy.

'And, a good property manager does so much more than protect you from undue anxiety. They offer valuable advice about how to improve rental yields, guidance on when and where to invest and can even point investors towards the right place for advice about tax effective property investment for Self Managed Superannuation Funds' says Liza.

Property investment remains one of the most secure forms of long-term wealth creation and, with current share market volatility as well as concerns about the economies of Europe and the United States, First National anticipates increasing interest in property investment from Australian investors in the next twelve months.

'A climate of stable interest rates and the prospect of perhaps even a reduction in rates in the near future makes bricks and mortar exceptionally attractive' says insert name.

First National Real Estate has over 450 offices throughout Australia and New Zealand.



Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information contact Liza Baghdassarian, Property Manager from First National Real Estate, Cremorne on 02 9904 1234

 

 Fri, 7 Oct 2011
The State of Play 
Amid gloomy economic conditions globally and a generally subdued housing market, First National Real Estate believes encouraging signs have emerged in the Australian housing market.

The September Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment is now at its highest level in two years. The survey that tracks responses on 'whether now is a good time to buy a dwelling' jumped a healthy 15.1% in September, following a gain of 8.1% from August to September.

Anxious households clearly drew comfort from the concrete evidence of an improved outlook for interest rates when major banks lowered fixed-rate mortgage rates in August. Strong recovery in economic growth in the June quarter attracted wide media coverage and this is likely to have also boosted spirits.
First Home Buyers are expected to re-appear towards the end of this year, led by buyers in NSW trying to beat the December 31 deadline for the end of Stamp Duty concessions. One mortgage originator says loan enquiries from FHBs are up 15% nationwide and 30% in NSW last month, on the back of interest rate stability for the past 10 months.
 

 Tue, 4 Oct 2011
INTEREST RATES ON HOLD 
Against the backdrop of concerns over the global economy and weak consumer spending at home, the Reserve Bank opted to keep interest rates on hold today 4.75 per cent.

Many economists have tipped the Reserve Bank will now stay on the interest rate sidelines for at least a year and that if there is any movement, it will be down - but only if there is a sudden major shock to the economic outlook.

This decision will certainly be welcomed by those with a mortgage, says Domain.com.au. "An increase in rates would have added unwelcome pressure for people trying to pay their mortgage. Households are becoming increasingly penny conscious - as can be seen by the recent spike in savings - and it really is true that every dollar counts."

Rates have been on hold since the Reserve Bank surprised borrowers with an increase on Melbourne Cup day last November.

Each 0.25 per cent interest rate rise adds another $60 to the monthly cost of an average Australian mortgage.

The official interest rate is now 4.75 per cent. Mortgage holders on variable interest rates are being charged a standard variable rate of about 7.83 per cent by their lenders.



Article courtesy of Domain.com.au
 

 Fri, 12 Aug 2011
Sharemarket crisis raises hopes for real estate 
The sharemarket crisis will spark a rush of local investment in the Australian real estate sector as people seek stability in bricks and mortar, experts say.
Christopher Joye, founder and managing director of research and investment group Rismark International, said property would be the third most popular investment after cash and bank deposits.

"We know that during large equity market corrections, residential property has proved to be a relatively resilient investment class, and that was the case during 1987, during the 1981 recession, during the 2001 tech-wreck and again during the 2007-08 GFC," Mr Joye said.
"The Australian sharemarket fell 50 per cent in 2007-08, but Australian house prices only fell by 3.8 per cent, so as a store of wealth it has certainly proved to be a safer place to be.
"There is also that visceral attraction to something as tangible as bricks and mortar, that also doesn't seem to be buffeted by global market ructions in the same way as far less tangible shares are."

Real Estate Institute of Australia president Pamela Bennett said it was still a buyers' market, with good stock to choose from.

Moody's senior economist Matt Robinson was nervous about how the market tumble would affect the auction of his four-bedroom terrace house in Surry Hills, in Sydney's inner-city, on Saturday. So he was "extremely happy" when the Bourke Street property, which he bought for $1.7 million in 2009, went under the hammer for $2.01m, making it the most expensive property to be sold at auction in Sydney over the weekend.

Across Sydney, auction clearance rates remained firm at 56.2 per cent over the weekend, up from 53 per cent on the previous week's figures, according to Australian Property Monitors.

 

 Tue, 2 Aug 2011
Cash Rate Remains Unchanged 
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left the cash rate steady at 4.75 per cent at its regular monthly board meeting on Tuesday.
It's good news for mortgage holders today -The move comes on the back of recent comments by the Governor of the Reserve Bank that consumers had become cautious and were spending less and saving more.

"Whether we were going to get a rate rise was a bit touch and go this month," says Domain.com.au property expert Carolyn Boyd. "On one hand inflation came in higher than expected last week, but on the other there's still plenty of uncertainty in the global economy and locally, retailers are complaining of very tough conditions."

Looking over the next year, it is difficult to tell where rates are headed with economists divided about whether they will head up, or down, or remain stable. For mortgage holders, it's always safer to err on the side of caution and assume that rates could go up.
Each 0.25 per cent interest rate rise adds another $60 to the monthly cost of an average Australian mortgage.




Courtesy of Domain.com.au
 

 Tue, 28 Jun 2011
RECYCLE YOUR OLD MOBILES WITH FIRST NATIONAL 








Media Release – 28 June 2011
First National Real Estate Cremorne is calling on local residents to recycle their old mobiles, batteries, accessories and chargers by dropping them off in their local branch.

The First National Real Estate network today announced that customers will be able to drop off their old mobile phones, batteries, accessories and chargers for recycling at their local First National real estate. As an extension to its energy efficiency and sustainability drive, First National has partnered with MobileMuster, the official recycling program of the mobile phone industry to support its Old phones, more trees campaign.

'Old phones, more trees' is a joint initiative between MobileMuster and Landcare Australia, to collect more than 250,000 handsets and plant up to 25,000 seedlings to regenerate Australia's coastline between now and 30 September.

"By collecting and recycling our old phones and those of our local community, we will be helping plant more trees along our coastline and protecting our environment," First National Real Estate Cremorne, Andrew Thomas principal, said.

Andrew said as leaders in the real estate industry, First National Real Estate
Cremorne also wanted to take the lead on matters affecting the community in which we live and work.

"We pride ourselves on giving back to our community and this is just another way for us to do that," Andrew said.

"As a business that is so reliant on both mobile phones and cars, we felt we should do our small part to help reduce our carbon footprint.

According to Rose Read, MobileMuster Manager, Recycling, Australians have about 19 million old and unused mobile phones sitting at home.

"The greenhouse gases that could be avoided if Australians recycled their old, unused phones would be the same as planting 100,000 trees or taking more than 6,000 cars off the road," Ms Read said.

If all the unused or broken mobile phones hidden in desks and drawers across Australia were handed in, including those of Cremorne First Nationals own staff, they could be recycled to produce 185,000 plastic fence posts, enough to build a fence from Melbourne to Sydney.

Since it began in 1999, MobileMuster has collected 806 tonnes of old mobile phones, batteries and accessories, recycling over 90 per cent of the materials in them and keeping these mobiles out of landfill.

To find your nearest First National / MobileMuster collection point for mobile phone recycling go to www.mobilemuster.com.au or call 1300 730 070.


For further information contact Andrew Thomas, Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234, or

Rose Read, Manager Recycling, MobileMuster, on (02) 8920 3555 or 0418 216 364

 

 Wed, 8 Jun 2011
INVESTORS TO GEAR UP FOR TAX TIME 


Tax time is just around the corner, so we've pulled together some tips to help property investors maximise tax deductions on their investment.

Top of the list is organisation and planning. Be diligent in keeping track of what is happening with your investment and its incomings and outgoings. Keep receipts to prove deductions and demonstrate why the expense was incurred – which is key to deriving assessable income.

Prepare a depreciation schedule to claim tax deductions and if possible, have it done by a qualified quantity surveyor, whose costs are also tax deductible.

Carry out property and pest inspections on properties and ensure any work required is carried out before the end of the financial year, which can then be claimed as an investment expense.

Any fixtures and fittings costing less than the specific amount set by the tax office can be claimed as an immediate tax deduction.

Deductions for depreciation on the cost of improvement by a previous owner, provided items are identifiable and itemised in a depreciation schedule, may also be eligible.

Investors should also seek the services of a qualified and trusted financial advisor who may also have some insights into tax advice, including things such as:
- writing off borrowing costs over five years or the term of the loan
- self managed super funds borrowing to invest
- prepaying interest against factors like anticipated future income, interest rates and cash flow impacts.
- copy ends -


TWITTER
Maximise tax deductions on investment properties before end of financial year. Visit firstnationalnews.com for advice.


 

 Wed, 4 May 2011
RBA interest rates 
The Reserve Bank of Australia has left interest rates on hold at their monthly meeting yesterday, sparing borrowers from a jump in repayments for another month at least.
The central bank indicated that the strength of the Australian dollar - if sustained - would start to drag on the economy. These comments helped to nudge the dollar lower on international markets as investors pared back their views that another interest rate rise is imminent.
Yesterday's verdict leaves the RBA's official cash rate at 4.75 per cent, the level reached when the bank last raised rates on November 2 last year.
Source: Domain.com.au
 

 Thu, 17 Mar 2011
Property Drives Property, But Who Drives Property? 






Media Release – 9 March 2011
First National Cremorne Principal Andrew Thomas, believes property representatives should have a greater say in the future of the property market, and ultimately Australia.

"Property is a key driver of Australia's economy, being the 12th largest in the world today. It seems crazy to me that, given its significance, representatives from the industry are being left out of determining what is best for the industry, and by association, this country," Andrew said.

"Real estate and property business owners are in it for the long haul, whereas governments and bureaucrats are only it for as long as they are voted in.

"We are not swayed by whether or not it will be popular with voters, but what is best for the industry long term, to make it sustainable and continue to prop up Australia's economy so we can weather some of the storms we have seen over recent times."

According to the latest statistics available through the Australian Bureau of Statistics and IBIS World, real property, including land and buildings, account for 63.9 per cent of Australia's $10 trillion asset base.

"Industrial and commercial property alone is responsible for 16.2 per cent of this country's national resources, dwellings for 17.3 per cent, housing and other land for 30.4 per cent," Andrew Thomas said.

"Surely this is a big enough piece of the pie to give property market representatives a bigger voice in saying how to carve it up and maximise its value."

According to Andrew, it is the people inside the industry who have the greatest interest in its long term, sustainable growth and value, citing the debacle of the planning process as evidence of how governments can get it so wrong.

"The length of time it takes to go through the planning process actually devalues a property and acts as a disincentive for developers," Andrew said.

"In the end, planning strips value out of a property because of how long it takes and is holding this country back – and that doesn't even take into account the complexities associated with the actual planning rules and regulations."

'When you consider how much real property dominates Australian households' assets and debts, it is still evident that property is a key determinant in Australia's economic future.

"Real property accounts for 62.5 per cent of total Australian household debt and is expected to do so for some time to come," Andrew Thomas said.

"So it makes sense that property experts, and not government bureaucrats, set the direction for property into the future – who knows, perhaps we should even run the country – I mean, Victoria already has a real estate person as Premier."



Issued by: First National Real Estate
Andrew Thomas, Principal, First National Cremorne on 02 9904 1234.

 

 Tue, 1 Feb 2011
INTEREST RATES ON HOLD 
In its first meeting of the year today the Reserve Bank opted to keep rates on hold at 4.75 per cent.

The decision comes on the back of economic data out last week showing inflation was running lower than expected.

"This is a good start to the year for mortgage holders," says Domain.com.au spokesperson Carolyn Boyd. "It's likely there will be rises later in the year, so this presents a window of opportunity for people with housing debt to pay a little extra down."

Each 0.25 per cent interest rate rise adds another $50 to the monthly cost of an average Australian mortgage.

The official interest rate is now 4.75 per cent. Mortgage holders on variable interest rates are being charged a standard variable rate of about 7.83 per cent by their lenders.

Article courtesy of Domain.com.au
 

 Tue, 7 Dec 2010
Working Together for Affordable Homes  
Cremorne First National says the recent interest rate hikes demonstrate the increasing need for Governments and the Big Four Banks to work together to address the key issues of supply and demand and housing affordability.

"There seems to be so much debate going on about the market, but no real communication between the banks and the government, and between them they are the ones with the power to fix the property market problems," Andrew Thomas from Cremorne First National said.

"There is lots of finger pointing going on, but there is not any real discussion about what we can do to fix it."

"At the end of the day it is the home buyers and owners who suffer, while the banks keep making record profits and governments keep their heads in the sand," Andrew said.

"What they should be doing is looking to influence affordability and supply by reducing or abolishing stamp duties, abolishing exit fees, introducing more competition into the banking sector and looking at policies that will stimulate the construction industry.

"Instead, we keep putting up with inaction from the government and greed from the banks."

Andrew said he was particularly unimpressed by banks who deemed it appropriate to increase their standard variable rates by as much as 14 basis points above the RBA increase.

"What is most disconcerting about this is that it seems each of the banks are taking their turn at being the bad guy and being the first to lift their rate higher than the RBA increase," Andrew said.

"As one consumer interest group spokesperson said, if all the banks moved at the same time by the same amount, and this was a horse race, you would have a steward's inquiry."

But not even the prospect of a Senate enquiry into banking competition, or Parliamentary debate on legislation forcing banks to lift rates by no more than the RBA, is enough according to Andew.

"Interest rates on their own are not the problem. We need to have a look at all the factors affecting the property market: planning approvals, interest rates, fees and charges, everything all at once rather than this piecemeal approach," Andrew said.

"New banking policies are called for but so is a national approach to planning, because ultimately it is the "mum and dad" property owners who will suffer the most.

"We need political leaders who have the fortitude and imagination to reform property taxes and the banking sector if there is any hope of addressing affordability issues."



Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information Andrew Thomas, Principal from Cremorne First National Real Estate on 02 9904 1234.

 

 Wed, 3 Nov 2010
Reserve Bank Interest Rate Announcement 
Mortgage holders will have to dig deeper after the Reserve Bank decided this afternoon to lift interest rates by 0.25 per cent. It was a surprise move. Inflation figures out last week were lower than expected and most economists were predicting rates would remain on hold.

The 25 basis point rise takes the official rate to 4.75 per cent and will add about $50 to the monthly cost of an average mortgage.

"It is the seventh increase since September last year and means mortgage holders of average $300,000 loans are now paying about $350 a month extra for their mortgages than they were in the middle of last year," says Domain.com.au blogger and writer Carolyn Boyd. "It is very disappointing news," she says.

Until today's decision, mortgage holders on variable interest rates were paying about 7.3 per cent to their lenders.

After hotting up earlier in the year, calm has descended on the property market and price increases have slowed to a trickle as borrowers worry about the prospect of future rate rises. An influx of properties in spring has also given buyers more choice

Article courtesy of Domain.com.au
 

 Tue, 5 Oct 2010
RATES ON HOLD 
It's good news for mortgage holders today - the Reserve Bank has opted to keep rates on hold.

Although there has been talk of rate rises in recent weeks, the RBA has adopted a wait-and-see approach for another month and left official rates at 4.5 per cent.

"Many people were bracing themselves for bad news today," says Domain.com.au blogger Carolyn Boyd.

Each 0.25 per cent interest rate rise adds another $50 to the monthly cost of an average mortgage. Australian mortgage holders are already paying about $300 more per month in repayments than they were a year ago.

Boyd says there is a chance of one or more interest rate rises before the end of the year. Mortgage holders should prepare now and start paying a little extra off their loans each week or month.

The property market has remained steady in recent weeks and there has been a slower than usual start to the spring selling season. It is expected the property market will remain balanced through spring.



Article couresy of Domain.com.au
 

 Wed, 15 Sep 2010
ELECT FOR A NEW LEASE ON PROPERTY LIFE 





Now is the ideal time for those interested in investing in property to get on the bandwagon, according to Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National.

"Strong rental yields coupled with good buying conditions are creating a perfect market for would-be investors to build their wealth through property," Andrew said.

"Property as an investment is also an excellent vehicle for generating income and capital gains and it is relatively low risk."

Andrew said there are a lot of ways for people to take the first step on the property investment ladder, such as buying with family, friends or work colleagues – it's just a matter of being a little more creative and strategic in their thinking.

"Investors are once again claiming the market space being vacated by first home buyers whose numbers are beginning to level out," Andrew said.

"So, now is the time to capitalize on market conditions before investor activity returns to normal levels and competition begins to heat up again.

"Existing home owners could consider using equity they have in their own home, or other investment properties."

Over the last 12 months, rental yields have strengthened, vacancy rates have remained tight and there is an ongoing supply shortage in the face of strong and growing demand, especially as increasing interest rates erode housing affordability.

"This general trend in the rental market is expected to continue for some time, and certainly for as long as neither party plans to do anything to effectively manage the supply versus demand equation," Andrew said.

"Regardless of the political outcome, property will remain a strong contender for the investment dollar."

Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information contact Andrew Thomas Principal, Cremorne First National 02 9904 1234.


 

 Fri, 13 Aug 2010
Units Outperform Houses 
The results of the RP Data-Rismark Home Value Index for June showed that the unit market has outperformed houses over the last 12 months and during the last five years.

Historically, houses have enjoyed a much more rapid appreciation in value than the growth recorded by units. There are a number of reasons for this more rapid level of growth: greater demand for houses, diminishing availability of development land, higher quality of stock and design available for houses rather than units and the greater Australian dream to own a house rather than a unit, amongst a number of other reasons.

Despite these factors, over the last five years units have recorded average annual value growth of 7.4% compared to 7.1% for houses. However, the results suggest that the superior performance of units compared to houses is quite a new phenomenon as over the last 10 years the average annual value growth of houses (9.9%) has well and truly outperformed units (8.0%).


Article courtesy of RP Data
 

 Wed, 4 Aug 2010
GETTING IT RIGHT 
Commenting on today's announcement by the RBA that it will hold interest rates at 4.5 per cent, Andrew Thomas, Principal of Cremorne First National says there are plenty of opportunities around for home buyers and sellers, given current market conditions, as long as the fundamentals are focused on.

"At times like these, homes that are properly presented, appropriately priced and well marketed will always do well, regardless of what happens with interest rates," Andrew said.

"It's a matter of making sure you get the basic factors right."

When there is relatively high business confidence, strong levels of immigration and low unemployment, the market becomes suitable for buyers. However, those seeking to sell can also make sure they take advantage of these prime conditions.

"In a slower market, there is less pressure on sellers and buyers and during the cooler months, there is less volume of stock around from which buyers can choose, so houses are more likely to sell," Andrew said.

Andrew Thomas said currently there are growing investment returns in the property market, which should prove lucrative for the astute investor.

"Investors, in particular, can benefit greatly from the current market conditions and pick up some terrific properties that offer strong returns," Andrew said.

- copy ends -


Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information contact Andrew Thomas, Principal, Cremorne First National on 02 994 1234.


 

 Wed, 30 Jun 2010
To Fix Or Not To Fix 
As the Reserve Bank eyes the possibility of further rises in interest rates, John Kavanagh examines the pros and cons of fixing a home-loan rate.

Interest rates on a number of fixed-rate home loans are currently lower than the variable rates of about 7.4 per cent that are being offered by many lenders.

With the prospect that interest rates will go higher over the next 18 months, the question of whether to fix all or some of the borrowing should be accorded serious consideration.

With signs of mortgage stress growing, borrowers need to make sure they are taking every opportunity to manage their debt burden efficiently.

Right now the best opportunity may lie in taking advantage of highly competitive fixed rates.

The financial services analyst for Infochoice, David Lalich, says most of the changes are to two- and three-year rates.

The best two-year fixed rates are below 7.2 per cent, which is competitive with a number of lenders' variable rates. The most competitive are RAMS, the Bank of Queensland, HSBC, Nationwide Mortgage and Commonwealth Bank.

Borrowers can have three-year rates below 7.5 per cent from RAMS, Heritage Building Society, Westpac, National Australia Bank, Better Option Home Loans and Greater Building Society.

Fixed-rate loans usually cost more than variable rates because the borrower is paying a premium for certainty.

It is like an insurance policy, whereby the borrower pays the bank for taking over the interest rateAt the moment, that premium is very low, which reduces the chances of becoming locked into a rate that could very well become unattractive a couple of years down the track.

Part of the fixed-or-variable debate has to be a consideration of where interest rates are headed.

The Reserve Bank's decision to hold off on a rate rise this month, combined with concerns that the European sovereign debt crisis is the beginning of GFC II, might lead people to think that the Reserve has taken further rate increases off its agenda.

Bank economists say it would be a mistake to think that way. All of them are forecasting higher rates later this year and throughout 2011.

ANZ forecasts that the official cash rate will rise from its current level of 4.5 per cent to 4.75 per cent in the September quarter and then to 5 per cent by the end of the year.

It expects the Reserve to have pushed cash rates to 5.5 per cent by June next year. Westpac's latest forecast is for the cash rate to hit 5 per cent by the end of the year and to reach 5.5 per cent by September next year.

The Commonwealth Bank is more bearish. It expects the cash rate to be 5 per cent by the end of the year and 6 per cent by the end of 2011.
risk.
Its view is that the strength of the Asian economy is the real determining factor for Australian monetary policy, not what is happening in Europe.

The National Australia Bank has a similar view. It is forecasting a cash rate of 5.25 per cent by the end of the year and 6 per cent by the end of 2011.

Its latest commentary says: "The key driver of our upward forecast is the additional income generated by sharply higher forecasts for the terms of trade - up 18 per cent over 2010. That, in turn, flows over into additional investment, profits and consumption."

Mortgage market data from a number of sources over the past couple of weeks shows an increase in the take-up of fixed-rate home loans.



Article Courtesy of JOHN KAVANAGH
Domain.com.au
 

 Tue, 1 Jun 2010
INTEREST RATES ON HOLD 
The Reserve Bank has opted to hold interest rates steady at its board meeting today.

"This will be welcome news to mortgage holders who have been hit by six rate rises since late last year," says Domain.com.au blogger and property writer Carolyn Boyd. "It will give everyone a bit of breathing space."

Borrowers across the country have been hoping for the good news after being told by the Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, that rates were near normal levels. Each 0.25 per cent interest rate rise adds another $50 to the monthly cost of an average mortgage. Australian mortgage holders are already paying about $300 more per month in repayments than they were in September last year.

Despite Australia facing a desperate shortage of properties, which has been putting pressure on prices, the heat appears to have come out of some of the larger metropolitan markets. The property market is still strong but there is not the frenzy that was around a few months ago. That perhaps shows the rate rises already handed out by the Reserve Bank are starting to bite.




Article courtesy Domain.com.au
 

 Tue, 4 May 2010
Henry Review Positive 
The Property Council of Australia has described
the government's response to the Henry review as
positive for the real estate sector.
PCA chief executive Peter Verwer believes that the Henry report indicates Treasury understood the key issues. ''The government's response, on balance, has been very positive,''
he said. Treasurer Wayne Swan has ruled out a number of the review's recommendations, including changes to concessions on capital gains tax and negative gearing. On the subject of changes to negative gearing, Verwer said ''Swan has rejected that and Henry himself said there were more important things''.
With respect to Henry's recommendation of abolishing stamp duty in favour of a broader land tax base, Mr Swan said he would make further announcements on this in coming months. The review criticised property stamp duty as being
a highly inefficient source of revenue. Deloitte tax partner Max Persson, who specialises in property, said Dr Henry had recommended expanding the land tax base as a replacement
because conveyancing stamp duty was relied on by the states so heavily. This would mean non-taxable landholders such as charities and churches would be taxed on commercially used
land they owned.
Dr Henry suggested that over time, land tax should apply to all land, but Mr Swan said it would not be levied on the family home. ''That would increase the land tax base, which could give the states another source of funding which would
allow them to eliminate conveyancing stamp duties,'' Mr Persson said.
Negative gearing and discounts to capital gains tax, areas where the government rejected any changes, encouraged the construction of housing stock and investment into rental properties. Dr Henry recommended the Coalition of Australian Governments should review other impediments to
construction, such as planning and zoning issues, development approval processes and the use of infrastructure charges to increase housing supply. He highlighted these measures as key
issues to housing affordability.
Mr Verwer says the council would engage with the government to ensure change to inefficient state taxes was part of a second wave of reform. He said a new infrastructure fund, financed
by a tax on mining profits, was also positive for the property industry, as was the increased superannuation guarantee and a reduction in the company tax rate. ''This will help insure that state governments can spend money on infrastructure in a more strategic manner,'' he said. ''By increasing the superannuation guaranteed contributions, it is good for the funds manager and real estate businesses.''
 

 Wed, 7 Apr 2010
Interest Rates Up Again 
Australian mortgage holders will have to dig deeper for their repayments after the Reserve Bank board decided today to lift interest rates by 0.25 per cent.

The increase will be of little surprise to mortgage holders, who have been bracing themselves for a higher interest bill after repeated warnings by the Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, that rates are on their way up. Today's 25 basis point rise takes the official rate to 4.25 per cent.

"This is now the fifth increase since September and means average Australian mortgage holders are now paying about $250 a month extra for their mortgages than they were in the middle of last year," says Domain.com.au blogger and property writer Carolyn Boyd. "The property market has been running hot and the Reserve Bank will be hoping that today's increase will take a little bit of that momentum away"

The rate has many more rises to go before it reaches the most recent peak of 7.25 per cent, which it hit two years ago, in March 2008.

Until today's decision, mortgage holders on variable interest rates were paying about 6.75 per cent to their banks. The rates that borrowers pay to their financial institutions are expected to normalize at about 7.5 per cent to 7.75 per cent by year's end.


Courtesy of Domain.com.au
 

 Thu, 25 Mar 2010
FIRST NATIONAL SAYS NATIONAL PLANNING NEEDED 
Media Release 23 March 2010

First National Real Estate CEO, Ray Ellis, supports the call from the Australian Local Government Association for a national planning authority but says Australia's problems with its planning processes go far beyond the single issue of coastal climate change planning and require a major overhaul.

"It's very myopic to just consider this one issue in isolation of what is happening in other areas of the property market around this country," Mr Ellis said.

"In Queensland, they are working off two year old planning approvals, while NSW planning approvals have dropped dramatically in recent times.

"And, while Victoria has just posted strong planning approval figures for some years, this is a result of a minister wielding a big stick rather than systemic structural changes."

Mr Ellis agreed that the confusion created by inconsistent sea level rise predictions makes planning and development increasingly difficult on coastal regions, but more importantly have the potential to impact negatively on the property market in general.

"Home owners and other property market pundits need certainty around property prices so that they can make decisions based on facts and consistent information," Mr Ellis said.

"It's all well and good to say that the responsibility for planning rests with state and local government, but ultimately, a consistent, unified and national approach needs to be considered in the property market.

"This is unsustainable and I can't think of any other industry that would operate with this level of uncertainty and confusion."

Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information Ray Ellis, CEO, First National Real Estate, on (03) 9418 9129.








 

 Tue, 2 Mar 2010
Interest Rates Up 
The Reserve Bank has lifted its key interest rate for the first time this year, a move likely to unleash another round of mortgage pain on borrowers across the country.

The central bank raised the cash rate by 25 basis points to 4 per cent.

That comes on top of three consecutive months of interest rate rises at the end of 2009.

The widely expected rate rise will add about $46 to the average monthly payment for a typical 25-year, $300,000 mortgage if it is passed on in full by commercial banks.

The move will put pressure on the estimated 250,000 first-home owners who have entered the market in the past 18 months, lured by government grants and 50-year low interest rates.

The Reserve Bank has made it clear in recent months that it would raise its interest rates to more ``normal'' levels as the economy rebounded from last year's slowdown.

Signs of that recovery include a falling jobless rate, rising home prices, and the latest retail sales data - up 1.2 per cent in January to a record $20.15 billion - out earlier today.

The latest official rate rise is aimed at keeping the economy from excessive growth that might spark higher inflation.





Domain.com.au

 

 Tue, 23 Feb 2010
Shortage of Housing Supply 
The recent release of the Government's Intergenerational Report(IGR) highlights the seriousness of the supply issues facing the
Australian property market. With the population predicted to increase to 35.9 million people by 2050, more than 7.1 million new dwellings will be required.
In 2009, just 130,000 new homes were constructed in Australia – the lowest construction rate since 2003. While the Global
Financial Crisis (GFC) certainly restricted activity, a systemic failure by Australian governments to address land supply is the
fundamental problem.
At least 180,000 new dwellings need to be constructed each year for the next forty years to meet the level of demand faced.
At current rates of construction only 5.2 million homes will be built by 2050, a shortfall of nearly 27%.
First National Real Estate called for more land releases in a 10 February media release distributed to national and capital city newspapers, as well as to local regional newspapers through the network's member offices.
'This country is facing one of the worst housing shortages in its history with no foreseeable easing of the situation in the near future' said Chief Executive Ray Ellis.
Mr Ellis made the call following forecasts that Housing Affordability is to decline further as strong demand and the ongoing lack of newly built homes keeps house prices increasing.
'This is in addition to recent ABS figures that show the prices of established houses rose again in the December quarter, in keeping with our own members' experience, as outlined in our recent 2010 Property Outlook' Mr Ellis said.
Commonwealth leadership is required to break through the many supply impediments. Many serious social and economic challenges are faced such as:
* Where will the necessary dwellings be located?
* How will they be adequately serviced by appropriate amenities and infrastructure?
* Will these dwellings be affordable and appropriate for a more environmentally concerned society?
* How will the energy demands of the population be met?
The Federal Government has pledged to link
federal infrastructure funding to state and local
governments for nationally consistent and
appropriate land release and building approvals
processes.
However, land supply issues, high levels of
taxation on new housing at all levels of
government, and a slow and highly constrained
buildings approval process continues to prevent the building industry from providing an adequate level of housing.
Overcoming such structural barriers will require the coordinated effort of all levels of government to ensure shelter is both adequate and affordable for years to come.
 

 Wed, 3 Feb 2010
Rates On Hold 
Australia's borrowers have been given a reprieve, with the Reserve Bank surprising pundits by leaving interest rates on hold - for now.

The RBA left its key cash rate unchanged at 3.75 per cent after its monthly board meeting. The outcome snaps a run of three consecutive monthly increases that began in October, and added as much as $185 to a typical $300,000 home loan.

Even with today's pause, though, analysts expect the central bank will soon resume its series of rate rises as the economy recovers from last year's trough.

Australia was the only rich economy to avoid shrinking last year, with more than 135,000 jobs added in the final four months of last year.

House prices - an issue that the RBA watches closely - are also accelerating, with national costs jumping 5.2 per cent in the final three months of 2009, the fastest pace since 2003.

Still, not all the readings are bullish, including today's NAB monthly business survey which showed a drop in confidence. ANZ survey of job advertisements, out yesterday, also reported a drop last month.



Courtesy Domain.com.au




 

 Wed, 2 Dec 2009
KEEP HOMES SAFE DURING HOLIDAYS 




First National Real Estate has some great advice for those looking to get away for a vacation – make sure you look after your home and leave it well protected and cared for.

"Nobody likes returning home from a relaxing holiday to find dead plants, over-stuffed mail boxes, or even worse, their beloved treasures stolen or broken after a burglary," Andrew Thomas from Cremorne First National Real Estate said.

"Anyone considering heading off for a well-deserved rest should start now to plan some simple, cost effective measures to ensure their peace of mind while they are away."

In Australia, millions of homes are broken into at least once a year and even more are the target of an attempted break-in.

"Unattended homes and cars act as green lights for burglars, which is why it's important to take as many precautions as you can to ensure you don't return from your holiday to find you're a victim of crime," Andrew said.

Security – a top priority

Purchasing light timers is a cheap, fast and easy way to create a home security system. Be sure the timing is staggered so that your lights don't come on at the same time each day. Timers are available from hardware stores and also allow you to switch TVs or radios on at various times during the day.

For those with home security systems, it is still advisable to purchase timers, as well as alert the security company of your absence and expected return date. Park any left-behind vehicles in the driveway to create an illusion of someone being home.

"People can also rely on the tried and true method of relying on your neighbours, family or friends," Andrew said.

"They are often willing to keep an extra watchful eye on your home while you are away and are a great place to leave any spare keys."

Installing a burglar alarm is also a good idea if you have the time and the budget.

"Burglar alarms are still one of the best deterrents as they make it that much more difficult for your home to be accessed," Andrew said.

"But be sure to display notices about the alarm system prominently on the doors and windows."

Locking doors and windows is one area that is often over-looked in a family's rush to be on their way.

"It's always an idea to appoint one person responsible for checking all the locks on doors and windows prior to departure," Andrew said.

"If possible, fit deadlocks to main doors and windows, as again, they are major hurdles for would-be burglars to overcome."

Another good idea is to create a lived in look, easily achieved by leaving a pair of shoes at the back door, water in a pet's bowl or hanging some towels on the washing line.

"Ask a trusted neighbour, family or friend to collect your mail each day, and ask if they would mind regularly adjusting curtains and blinds or parking their car in your driveway or outside your home to suggest activity," Andrew said.

Finally, install sensor lights at all external doorways, which are another inexpensive deterrent as well as being useful throughout the year.

Vital "Others"

Turn off stoves and unplug dishwashers, coffee pots and other small appliances before you leave, as an added safety measure from electrical fires. Also consider unplugging larger appliances like television sets and computers so that potential storms don't cause power surges and start a fire.

Put away and secure items like ladders, tools and gardening implements, as they can assist in forced entries as well as become dangerous items that can cause damage to your home in high wind situations.

If possible, hire someone to care for your lawn, flower beds, vegetable garden and pool for prolonged stays away from your home – even if it's the son or daughter of a friend, neighbour or family member.



Issued by: First National Real Estate

For further information Andrew Thomas, Principal from Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234.




 

 Fri, 20 Nov 2009
First Home Buyers Grant To Be Capped 
The Federal Housing Minister, Tanya Plibersek, announced that each state government could cap the first-home buyer grant – already reduced from $14,000 to $10,500 for existing homes and from $21,000 to $14,000 for new homes from October 1 and set both to fall further to $7000 from January 1.

In NSW, that upper limit will be $750,000, while the halving of stamp duty on any property up to $600,000 will also be wound back at the end of the year.

Despite those retractions of benefits, it's still a good time to enter the housing market, says an economist at Australian Property Monitors, Matthew Bell.

"If first-home buyers are looking to maximise their long-term wealth, they'd definitely be advised to put their money to work on an asset that is likely to rise in value [such as a property]," he says.

"Even through the worst of the global financial crisis, house prices in Australia fell by only minus 4.2 per cent in the year to March 2009 and have already recovered all of those losses.

And with strong population growth and an undersupply of dwellings, property prices long-term still look like a good bet."

Affordable options

SQM Research's Louis Christopher says first-home buyers shouldn't disregard suburbs a bit further out from the city, which are obviously cheaper.

"And it's not true that capital values will increase by more in the inner city," he says.

"A number of those suburbs in the outer ring, in the north-west and west, have outperformed the more prestige ones in terms of capital values.

"Some houses in the more expensive suburbs fell by up to 20 per cent in the downturn."

The median house price in Sydney now sits at $606,000, says an analyst at RP Data, Cameron Kusher.

The median unit price is $457,000. If you want to go really cheap, there's always the outer west. The cheapest median-priced houses are in Willmot in Blacktown, for $202,000.

The cheapest Sydney local government area is Penrith, at $335,000, followed by Blacktown at $340,000 and Liverpool at $379,000.

"It's still the great Australian dream to buy a house as that's the way most of us were brought up," Kusher says.

"But it's important not to overstretch yourself. The number of first-home buyers was down to a quarter of the market in August, compared to a peak in March of over 30 per cent, and that number will now continue to dwindle."

Rising interest rates will play a huge part in that, Bowring says. "If mortgage rates go to 5.6 per cent, then to 7.6 per cent, that puts an extra $800 a month on to a mortgage of $450,000.

That's $200 a week. Most 25-year-olds would be hard-pushed to find that."

Closer to the city

Many first-timers do prefer to be in the city, or not too far out from it.

First-timer Christy Liang, 25, for instance, has just bought her first home in Pyrmont for $1,168,000 through agent Matt Carvalho of BresicWhitney.

"The grant saved me some money for furniture," the PhD student says. "But it does worry me in the long term if interest rates rise, although this is a good property that will keep its value."

Yet not too far from the city, it is still possible to find affordable houses, Bell says.

Within 10 kilometres, he earmarks the inner west's Sydenham, with a median price of $525,000, and St Peters, at $575,000.

Just 10 kilometres out, in the south, there's Rockdale at $550,000 and 10-15 kilometres out there's Macquarie Park at $488,000 and Marsfield at $530,000 in the north; Silverwater in the west is at $456,000.

"You can still find housing under $600,000 in the middle-circle suburbs," Bell says.

Tips from the top for first time buyers

1. Try to save a deposit of 10 per cent before you buy, Aussie Home Loans boss John Symond says. It's always possible to borrow on a deposit of just 5 per cent but more gives you a better safety net. Shop around for the best home loan — and then try to pay it back as soon as possible.

2. It's great also to have saved up six months' worth of repayments, to cover you for any emergency, mortgage broker Justin Doobov says.

3. Do your sums on an interest rate of 7-8 per cent, RP Data analyst Cameron Kusher says. And factor in the possibilities of having a child and wanting to give up work, or losing your job, warns Doobov.

A two-bedroom property also gives you the option of taking in a lodger to help share the mortgage if you have problems.

4. Don't buy the first place you see, Symond says. There are so many research tools now available, information and pricing guides on the internet and there's no excuse for not asking questions.

Make sure it'll hold, or increase, its value for a resale or have rental potential.

5. Consider buying an apartment, with a median $149,000 cheaper than a house, Kusher urges. You can always build up your equity in that and move to a house later. Or how about a rundown house that you can fix up yourself? But beware of money pits, the renovators' delight.

6. Choose a property close to a train station, buses, main roads or motorways and good-quality amenities, is Kusher's advice.

7. Think about not only what will suit you now but also what will suit you in five years, Symond says.

8. Take your time — and keep an eye open for mortgagee sale bargains, financial planner Andrew Bowring says.

9. If you're forced, by price, to buy in the outer ring but want to live in the city, there's nothing to stop you renting out your place and renting something for yourself closer in, advises Doobov. There could be tax benefits for investment properties.

10. And, once you've bought, don't start furnishing it extravagantly, especially not on credit, Doobov says. That can become a big money trap.


 

 Tue, 27 Oct 2009
Affordability Slides while Confidence Glides 
Housing affordability has declined for the second straight quarter as house prices recover from the modest falls of the past 18 months in combination with rising interest rates and strong consumer sentiment. That's good news for home owners and not so good news for those trying to break into the market as government stimulus phases out.
With auction clearance rates generally accepted as the barometer of market health, the Australian property market appears poised, as suggested in First National's 2009 Property Outlook, for continued growth. More than 70 per cent of auctions have sold under the hammer in the past 15 weeks, according to RP Data.
In a significant sign of strength, just as auction volumes are ramping up (1,670 auctions scheduled nationally last weekend) so too are
the clearance rates. Clearly, vendor and market expectations are aligned and, despite rising interest rates, Australians remain confident.
Despite a housing affordability slip of 3.3 per cent in the September quarter, Australians still view interest rates as historically low and,
with an improved employment environment as well as encouraging economic data, seem to recognise that affordability is still better than that of the past decade.
Credible economic commentary has now shifting to the view that Australia is coming out of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) but anecdotal reports indicate consumers are still experiencing delays arranging mortgages with many providers. A snapshot of the brave new Australian banking world perhaps reveals why. Like a storm passing through a caravan park, the GFC has reshaped the
Australian home loan environment.
* RAMS is now owned by Westpac
* Wizard is now owned by Aussie
* Aussie is now 33% owned by CBA
* St George is now owned by Westpac
* CBA now owns Bankwest
* The 'Big 4' banks now write over 92% of our home loans compared to 60% before the GFC
* The margin between the RBA cash rate and the variable rate available to bank customers is now approximately 2.1% compared to approximately 1.1% before the GFC.
* NAB has purchased approximately 35% of all mortgage broking groups
* Most lenders now require borrowers to contribute 10% of the property value compared to 5% (or even 0%) before the GFC.
The one element of banking that has weathered the storm with characteristic resilience is the profits generated by the 'Big 4'. Profits
and extraordinary revenue margins have combined with increased market share to deliver total profits of $15.8 billion for the sector,
despite the increase in bad debts.
* CBA - $4.4 billion * NAB - $3.7 billion
* WBC - $4.5 billion * ANZ - $3.3 billion
With chronic new housing stock shortages and little prospect of a near term solution, affordability – while still at ten year highs –
seems back on a slippery slope. Predictions are for two 25 basis point increases before year end. And, while one bank attempts to appear generous by reducing its fees, the almost doubling of the margin between the RBA's cash rate and variable rates available to real world consumers reveals that the overall operating model remains unchanged – profits before people!
 

 Tue, 22 Sep 2009
PROPERTY RECOVERY IN BANKS’ HANDS 
As the First Home Owners' boost starts to phase out, First National Real Estate says the banks will determine whether the current property market revival will be sustained for any length of time.

"We expect there to be a drop off in first home buyer activity once the Federal Government initiatives come to an end," Principal of Cremorne First National, Andrew Thomas said.

"But, there is also the potential for the middle market, which is already showing encouraging signs of recovery, to be reignited, effectively making up any drop off.

"With prices stabilising and consumer confidence high, the only thing that could stop the recovery continuing and strengthening, would be the banks increasing their variable rates either with, or ahead of, the Reserve Bank increasing their rates."

In August, banks were quick to raise the fixed rates ahead of the Reserve Bank's announcement it would hold interest rates until at least early in 2010. But as pressure mounts on governments to rein in their support of the banks, there is speculation the banks will increase their rates early to offset any potentially negative impact from this move.

If first home buyers stop buying, there is potential for the emerging property recovery to stop or even reverse unless other market segments are stimulated.

"There are signs throughout our network that second and third home buyers, including investors, are taking advantage of current conditions, helping push prices up as they go," Andrew said.

"But, the threat of rising interest rates may impact on this promising trend."

Since the grant and boost were introduced in September last year, more than 59,000 Australians have taken advantage of the highest levels of housing affordability, since 2002.

For eligible first home buyers entering into contracts between 1 October 2009 and 31 December 2009, the first home buyers boost will be reduced from $14,000 for existing homes and $21,000 for new properties to $3,500 and $7,000 respectively.

"However, state-based initiatives and assistance packages are still available for home buyers and we would encourage purchasers to seek the services of a reputable agent to help them maximise any assistance available through these state-based schemes. It is also important to talk to as many lenders as possible, to show the banks that they cannot take home owners for granted," Andrew Thomas said.

Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information Andrew Thomas, Principal from Cremorne First National Real Estate, on 02 9904 1234

 

 Tue, 28 Jul 2009
INVEST IN SOME ADVICE SAYS FIRST NATIONAL 
As investors return to the property market, Cremorne First National Real Estate, Principal, Andrew Thomas, says wise investing which maximises returns on investment requires research and patience as well as expert advice.

"The property market has turned a corner and for as long as property remains undervalued and offers strong yields, it will continue to outperform many, if not most, other asset classes, making it an attractive option for investors," Andrew, said.

"The key is to buy well by talking to people who know the industry and the Lower North Shore area, and to make sure the property is the right one and is being bought at the right time.

"Property can yield great returns when it is bought as part of a long term investment strategy and residential property is the highest performing asset class over the last two decades, returning nearly 12 per cent in the 20 years to September 2008.

"Current property conditions came about as a result of an almost perfect storm for investors which has produced low prices, rates at their lowest levels for decades and affordability at its best for more than a decade."

Andrew Thomas advised investors to take their time and make sure the right location has been selected by considering factors which will impact price growth in each area, such as demand and supply.

"Across Australia there is a shortage of supply and that is no different for the Lower North Shore region.

"This is keeping vacancy rates low which is then driving very strong rental growth."

Another tip is not to overcapitalize when trying to rent or sell the investment property.

"An investor can make their property look more upmarket without spending a fortune by giving the property a fresh coat of paint and fixing up unsightly cracks for a smooth, pristine look and finish," Andrew Thomas said.

"They can also obtain other tips about presentation on the firstnational.com.au website."

But the best piece of advice offered is to build a relationship with a local real estate agent who has vast experience and information on the property industry as well as property values in the region, trends and local knowledge.

"First National Real Estate agents have first hand in-depth experience of what is going on in that area," Andrew said.

"In addition, as a network we use the latest technology and innovations to keep clients informed about what is happening in local areas, including a website that allows the user to search for a property anywhere in Australia.

"We have products that have the ability to generate meaningful market intelligence reports, communicate more effectively with client databases and streamline property management processes for improved efficiency.


Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information Andrew Thomas, Principal from Cremorne First National Real Estate, on
02 9904 1234



 

 Wed, 8 Jul 2009
RBA Leaves Interest Rates 
After a meeting of the central bank's board, the RBA left its cash rate at 3 per cent, a 49-year low - the same rate that has applied since its last cut in April in response to a slowdown in the economy.

The RBA has slashed 425 basis points from interest rates since September in an effort to shield Australia from the worst effects of the global recession.

When it announced its ''no-change'' decision on rates today, the RBA board was probably encouraged by tentative signs of a pick-up in domestic demand in recent weeks.

Retail sales grew more than expected in May, revealing shoppers' willingness to spend a chunk of the Federal Government's latest round of stimulus payments. The spending boost has in turn helped keep the Australian economy expanding - unlike almost every other developed nation.

Also, an index of the performance of the services sector, the largest part of the Australian economy, expanded in May for the first time in 15 months, according to a report out last week.

Investors and analysts predict official interest rates will reverse course within a year, with markets pricing in a half-percentage point increase to 3.5 per cent by July 2010.


Author: Chris Zappone
Date: July 7, 2009
Article courtesy Domain.com.au

 

 Fri, 19 Jun 2009
Both Vendors & Buyers Prove To Be Confident Consumers 
The release of recent excellent consumer confidence figures confirms what real estate agents across the country have been seeing for months according to First National Real Estate. "We have been saying for the last few months that we believe the Australian market has turned the corner, and this latest surge in consumer confidence proves we were right" said First National Real Estate CEO Ray Ellis.

Released last week, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment recorded its largest jump in 22 years. First National Real Estate is Australia's largest independent real estate network with more than 500 members throughout Australia as well as New Zealand and are firmly of the opinion that property has been leading this positive sentiment. "It does not matter if you are buying or selling, when housing affordability is this good, everyone wins and everyone feels confident. The market is always about confidence" says Mr Ellis. "The latest BIS Shrapnel research that suggests up to a 19% increase in house prices by 2012, indicates this confidence should continue into the future".

First National Real Estate first noticed the turn around towards the end of last year but since then have seen quite spectacular results for the beginning of the year, with some members recording record clearance rates. This national sentiment has also been seen locally. "Certainly the First Homebuyers' Grant helped" said Andrew Thomas, Principal from Cremorne First National Real Estate, "but now we are beginning to see movement in every part of the market. That is clearly about confidence."

"Vendors feel they can now confidently set a price and certainly our members have always found that a well informed vendor can set a realistic price and get the result they want. We have been able to help many people sell their homes to first home buyers and then successfully trade up into a property that would have been unrealistic last year" said Andrew.

Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information contact Andrew Thomas from Cremorne First National 02 9904 1234.

 

 Tue, 2 Jun 2009
END OF YEAR SIGNALS END OF HOME OWNING OPPORTUNITIES 
First home buyers and investors should purchase before the end of the financial year to maximize the opportunities that have been created for them, according to the local First National Real Estate office.

"Property will just keep on improving and first home buyers wanting to secure their own property shouldn't put it off, or they risk missing out on an opportunity that may not be seen again for another 40 years," Mr Ellis said.

"The economic tide has started to turn and Australians are currently enjoying the most affordable housing levels for almost half a century, up a whopping 32%, and interest rates are at an historic low.

"But these advantageous conditions may not continue for much longer as we operate in a very volatile industry and things are prone to change at any time, especially given the current rates of uptake for the first home buyers grant boost, increasing building activity and the return of investor confidence."

According to recent ABS statistics, Australians are taking up the first home buyer grant at a rate of more than 12,500 a month, builders have reported signs of more second and third home buyers and investment loans rose to 4.7% in March.

"Investors coming back into the market may be a stabilising factor in house prices and potentially even signal an increase, which is not good news for those still waiting for bargains," Andrew Thomas from Cremorne First National said.

"The key to home ownership success lies in confidence, the confidence to put your property on the market, to build that home you have always dreamed of or to purchase your ideal property investment.

"While we have seen some movement in our area from first home buyer grants, there are still buyers waiting for more encouraging news on the side of the economy.

"But already there is strong sentiment that the global financial system is starting to pick up and we have experienced a significant shift in investor sentiment.

"Economic data is improving every day and we are edging closer to a full recovery. While that's great news for our economy, it doesn't bode too well for first home buyers and investors who are seeking more for their money.

"The end of the financial year may well be the end of financial gains if first home buyers and property investors put off their decision any longer" said Andrew.



Issued by: First National Real Estate
For further information contact Andrew Thomas, Cremorne First National. 029904 1234.

 

 Fri, 15 May 2009
Boost Scheme to Continue 
The Federal Government announced that the current First Home Owners Boost scheme will continue in its current format until October 1, 2009. This means that those buying existing homes will receive $14,000 and those buying new homes $21,000.

Adjustments to the scheme from October 1, 2009 will see the First Home Owners Boost scheme halved. Which means those buying existing homes will receive $10,500 and those buying new homes $14,000.

As of December 1, 2009 the First Home Owners Boost scheme will cease and the existing $7,000 grant will continue to be available to all first home buyers.

Economist for Australian Property Monitors, Matthew Bell comments, "This decision will continue the stimulus to both the housing construction and development sector, as well as the sales activity at the more affordable end of the property market.

First Home Buyers now have some extra time to consider their potential purchase of a home to take advantage of the Boost. As always, first home buyers should carefully take into account their ability to meet mortgage payments in the future when interest rates inevitably rise, as well as their employment situation in a tough economy.

The gradual removal of the boost should minimise any price falls in the more affordable end of the market associated with the end of the Boost, and continue to stimulate sales activity in the generally slower winter market."

Domain.com.au
 

 Wed, 6 May 2009
Reserve Bank Interest Rate Announcement 
The Reserve Bank (RBA) has decided not to cut interest rates leaving the official cash rate at 3.00%.
The official cash rate remains unchanged at the current level in response to signs of a stabilising world economy. However, the RBA remains vigilant, maintaining enough scope on rates to manoeuvre in anticipation of forecast rising unemployment later in the year. Any future action will also need to factor the reluctance of the major banks to pass on rate cuts in full to mortgage holders.
Despite the caution, the May budget is expected to deliver further stimulus to the economy and resilient housing activity presents opportunities for home buyers and investors to take advantage of record low interest rates, strong rental yields and median prices well below the peak of 2004.


Source Domain.com.au
 

 Tue, 7 Apr 2009
Reserve Bank Announces Interest Rate Cut 
The Reserve Bank (RBA) has cut interest rates by 0.25 of a percent (25 basis points) taking the official cash rate to a historic low of 3.00%.
Domain.com.au spokesperson Anthony Ishac comments, "The RBA has responded to deteriorating market conditions with a conservative 25 basis point cut, bringing the cash rate down to a 49 year low. The areas of most concern are worsening retail sales and rising unemployment. Despite this action, the major banks have already signalled that this and any future cuts may not be passed on in full to mortgage holders".


Domain.

 

 Wed, 4 Mar 2009
Prestige end of market takes a hit 
Sydney's prestige property markets, which are usually associated with water frontage, magnificent views or urban acreage, were once thought to be safe havens during an economic downturn. The argument was that the absolute scarcity of these properties would protect their values from falling significantly, while the more common generic housing would suffer losses due to its abundance in the suburbs. The theory held true until recently when a series of events conspired against the premium sector of the market. These ranged from margin calls becoming commonplace, share portfolios toppling and almost halving in value, company profits hitting rock bottom, and executive bonuses being much lower than expected.
The result has been that owners who enjoyed the benefits of very high incomes, where there was plenty to go around for luxury homes and holiday havens, now cannot continue to service such high levels of debt. Further compounding the situation is the fact that demand for expensive homes has virtually come to a halt in some areas.

In Sydney, the median price of the city's top 10 percent of properties has fallen by almost 20 percent, from $1.6million in December 2007 to $1.29million in December last year. The magnitude of the fall has not been as great in the other capital cities, however the trend is certainly national.

In contrast, first-home buyers are very active at the affordable end of the market. Houses priced about $350,000 have fallen in value between 1 percent and 2 percent over the 2008 calendar year - a pretty good performance when compared with the top end of the market.

The more affordable end of the market is likely to see some positive growth during the first half of 2009 as first home buyers compete for strategically located stock within their budget.

The outlook is not as positive for wealthy property owners. Without any real improvements in business conditions in sight, it is likely that demand for prestige homes will remain relatively low. This segment of the market is forecast to be one of the weakest (along with tourism-driven markets) during 2009.
Before there are any improvements in the premium end of the market, we will need to see a return to stronger economic conditions and a boost in business confidence.

Source : The Sun-Herald
 

 Wed, 4 Feb 2009
Interest Rates Cut 
Today's cut will save a mortgagee with a typical 30-year, $300,000 home loan about $170 in monthly repayments if the lender passes on the full amount. Over the life of the loan, the savings will total about $61,272.

''There was a significant deterioration in world economic conditions late in 2008,'' said RBA Governor Glenn Stevens in a statement accompanying the cut. ''The effects on household and business confidence of the financial turmoil following Lehman's collapse, and continuing strains on major financial institutions, saw a significant downturn in demand around the world.''

The RBA has now lopped four full percentage points off its cash rate since it changed tack and began cutting rates last September. The cash rate has not been this low since 1960, according to Bloomberg data.

The rate reduction comes hours after the Federal Government announced a $42 billion stimulus plan aimed at keeping the economy out of a recession. The spending includes some $12.7 billion in cash payments and $28 billion on new infrastructure projects including roads and schools.

"What they have done is certainly enough, put together with the fiscal package,'' said Michael Blythe, chief economist for the Commonwealth Bank. ''Policy setting in Australia is very stimulative, although we are quite likely to see rates lower'' in the first half of 2009.''

Double boost

The central bank said it had taken into account the additional government spending.

''The combination of expansionary monetary and fiscal policies now in place will help to cushion the Australian economy from the contractionary forces coming from abroad,'' the RBA said in its statement.

Today's RBA cut matched market expectations.

The Australian dollar initially jumped, rising from 63.5 US cents to 64 US cents after the RBA move. The benchmark ASX200 share index was recently 1.2% up for the day, easing from 1.4% higher shortly before the RBA release.

More cuts to come

The fact the RBA assessed the likely impact of today's stimulus package indicates the bank may have been considering a bigger cut, said JP Morgan economist Helen Kevans.

Ms Kevan expects another 50 basis point cut when the RBA board next meets in March to complete the central bank's current easing cycle.

Today's RBA's rate cut follows the Federal Government's revision of growth forecasts for the economy. The Rudd Government expects Australia's growth to slow to 1% this fiscal year to 0.75% next year - one of the few economies to continue to expand.

The RBA said Australia remains relatively strong.

''Australia's financial system remains in a strong condition and large interest rate reductions over recent months have been passed through in substantial measure to end borrowers,'' the RBA's Stevens said.

''Nonetheless, the combination of last year's financial turmoil, a severe global downturn and substantial falls in commodity prices has had a significant dampening effect on confidence, and therefore on prospects for growth in demand.''

The Reserve Bank indicated it had more scope for cutting rates as inflation eases.

''Inflation has begun to moderate and, given recent developments, it is likely to continue to decline,'' the RBA's statement said.

Consumer prices fell by 0.3% in the December quarter, its first reduction since 1997, according to statistics released last week.

Three-year bond futures fell 0.085 points to 97.035, while 10-year bond futures shed 0.045 points to 95.870.

Article Courtesy Domain.com.au 4/2/09
 

 Sat, 13 Dec 2008
Make Sure Your Home is Secure 
If you're heading off soon for a well-deserved summer holiday, First National Real Estate recommends you plan some simple and cost effective security measures to make sure your home and property stay safe while you're away.

In Australia, around a quarter of a million households are victims of at least one break-in a year, according to the latest figures available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and even more are the target of an attempted break-in.

"Many people leave their homes and often their cars unattended when they head off on their annual holidays and it can be a green light for burglars," said Andrew Thomas of Cremorne First National. "It's important to take as many precautions as you can to ensure you don't return from your holiday to find you're a victim of crime."

Home security tips from Cremorne First National Real Estate include:
· Security alarm. If you have the time – and the budget – before you go away, install a burglar alarm. This is still the best deterrent. For most burglars, an alarm simply makes your home too difficult to try and enter. Be sure to display notices about the alarm system prominently at doors and windows.
· Lock all doors and windows. It sounds obvious, but people in a rush to head off can easily forget to close a window or secure a door. If possible, fit deadlocks to main doors and windows, as again these are a major hurdle for a would-be burglar.
· Create a lived in look. While away, make sure your home still looks "lived in". Leave a pair of shoes at the back door, water in the dog's bowl and hang some towels on the washing line. Make sure a trusted neighbour or family member collects mail and regularly adjusts curtains and blinds. If possible, ask a friend or neighbor to regularly park in your driveway or outside your home, to suggest activity.
· Set timers. Timers are available from hardware stores and allow you to switch your TV or radio on at various times during the day and some lights on at night. Tune your radio to a talkback station so there's the sound of many different voices. If someone is snooping around, it will make it harder for them to know if someone is inside the house.
· Sensor lights. These are anther inexpensive deterrent that are useful throughout the year. Install them at all external doorways.
· Secure the shed and garage. Put away and secure items like ladders, tools and gardening implements as these can assist in forced entry and make sure the garage is locked. Store away any valuable outdoor items, such as bicycles and the barbecue.
· Turn down the phone. An endlessly ringing phone can be a give-away that there's no-one home. Turn down the volume, and make sure the voice message gives no clue that you've gone on holidays.
· Spare keys. These should be left only with a trusted family member, friend or neighbour. Don't keep them under a flower pot or a door mat. A burglar will easily find them.

Our 550 offices around Australasia have helped people buy or sell thousands of homes around the country this year. We'd like to think that by taking some simple precautions, all homes will stay safe during the summer holiday season."
 

 Mon, 1 Dec 2008
Rate cut due tomorrow 
The Reserve Bank board will cut at least three-quarters of a percentage point from interest rates when it meets again tomorrow December 2, and may even cut by a full point. They opted for the bigger cut to bring about "a further meaningful reduction in rates paid by borrowers and assist confidence among consumers and businesses". The aim is to bring rates "quickly to a neutral position". Should economic conditions deteriorate further, and especially if the United States is declared in recession during the next fortnight, a bigger cut of a full percentage point is likely.
A cut of one percentage point, if fully passed on, would reduce the standard bank variable mortgage rate from about 7.7% to 6.7%, cutting repayments on a $300,000 mortgage by an extra $200 a month. Monthly repayments would have dropped $570 from when mortgage rates were at their peak at 9.6% in August.
 

 Wed, 5 Nov 2008
Rates cut to 5.25% 
Rates cut to 5.25%

The Reserve Bank cut its key interest rate for the third month in a row as it attempts to prevent Australia's economy stalling.

The central bank trimmed three-quarters of a percentage point - or 75 basis points - off its key cash rate, reducing it to 5.25%, the lowest level since December 2003.

For a typical 25-year, $250,000 home loan, today's cut if passed on in full by lenders will save the borrower $112.63 a month in payments or some $33,791 over the life of the loan.

The move, announced after today's monthly board meeting by the RBA, exceeded economists' predictions of a 50 basis-points cut.

Today's cut brings the RBA's cuts to 2 percentage points since the central bank reversed course in September, retreating from a 12-year high rate of 7.25%.

The RBA will be hoping that the big commercial banks will repeat last month's feat of passing on all of the official rate cut to borrowers.

Lower lending costs help spur the economy by encouraging more individuals and businesses to purchase houses or make other investments, stoking demand that in turn prompts more orders.

Almost all the latest economic figures point to a sharp slowdown in demand as the effects of the global financial crisis spread to Australia. Falling commodity prices are already dimming the outlook for the mining and export sectors.

Retail sales shrank 1.1% last month from September, the largest drop since April 2005, as consumers start to pull back on spending.

House prices, another measure of the economy's health, fell 1.8% in the September quarter, the sharpest slowdown since the 1970s, according to some reports.

Job ads, one indication of future employment opportunities, also slumped last month and are now about 10% lower than this time last year.


Author: Chris Zappone
Date: November 4, 2008
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald (subscribe)

 

 Tue, 7 Oct 2008
Rates Cut By 1% 
The Reserve Bank slashes its benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points to 6 per cent.

The Reserve Bank has stunned financial markets by announcing a full-percentage point cut - double what analysts had tipped - saying financial markets had taken a "significant turn for the worse.''

Australia's official lending rate was lowered for a second consecutive month, although it is unclear how much of the 100 basis-point cut will be passed on to mortgage-holders and other borrowers as banks struggle to raise funds in overseas money markets.

The Reserve Bank cut its key cash rate from 7% to 6%, double the 50 basis-point cut expected by markets. The move follows a 25 basis-point cut by the RBA in September, lowering the lending rate from a 12-year high.

The RBA said the Australian economy now faced the prospect of slowing growth, while inflation would also subside.

''The recent deterioration in prospects for global growth, together with much more difficult market conditions even for creditworthy borrowers, now present the risk that demand and output could be significantly weaker than earlier expected,'' Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said in an accompanying statement. ''Should that occur, inflation would most likely fall faster than earlier forecast.''

"Overall, my guess remains that the RBA's cash rate is on the way from 7% to 6% to 5% and towards 4%," said Rory Robertson, Macquarie interest-rate strategist, before the RBA announcement. "The RBA seems likely to cut its cash rate all the way back to 4.25% within two years.''

One reason for the steep cuts to come is that clogged credit markets overseas mean that only some of the RBA's rate reductions are likely to be passed on by commercial banks, Mr Robertson said.

Commercial banks announced cuts to their variable home loan rates within minutes of last month's RBA rate move, but the signals this month have suggested consumers and business borrowers are likely to receive only part of today's rate and possibly not for some days.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan have both sought to head off some of the criticism of the banks from any delayed rate cuts on their part, saying it is important the country's banks remain as strong as possible during a period of extreme market turmoil that has already claimed some of the largest US and European banks.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull, however, says that the banks remain highly profitable in a market of shrinking competition and can afford to follow the RBA's rate cuts.

Just prior to today's RBA decision, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 share index was down about 0.5% at 4519 points, clawing back a drop of as much as 3.3% earlier in the day. Overnight, European and US markets plunged on worries that the global economy with wither.

The initial response was for stocks to jump about 2%, to trade 1.4% higher for the day.

The Australian dollar, which has plunged more than 10 US cents in the past couple of trading days, was recently at 70.37 US cents, down from 71.97 just prior to the RBA's shock move.

Author: Chris Zappone
Date: October 7, 2008
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald (subscribe)

 

 Wed, 10 Sep 2008
Chance to slash mortgage 
The Reserve Bank has handed you a huge opportunity. And I mean - at a conservative estimate - tens of thousands of dollars huge.

There were months of media speculation about whether the commercial banks would pass on a Reserve Bank rate cut. When it came, they virtually fell over themselves to do so.

Assuming yours delivered the full 25 basis points, your required repayments will soon drop by about $17 a month for each $100,000 you have borrowed, or $43 for each $250,000.

With cost pressures seeming to grow by the day, that's welcome news. It gets better, though.

The cut takes the Infochoice benchmark variable rate (IBVR) - a weighted average rate that reflects the discounts people commonly receive on the quoted standard variable rate - from 9.3 per cent to 9.05 per cent.

That means you will now pay almost $13,000 less in loan interest over the life of a $250,000 home loan, $25,818 less on a $500,000 loan and $38,726 less on a $750,000 one (25-year term).

But here's where the enormous opportunity lies: if you can manage to leave your repayments at their current level, you will keep from the bank - and for yourself - far more. For example:

* What is now a $43 overpayment on a $250,000 mortgage will save you $17,000 in loan interest.

* What is now an $86 overpayment on a $500,000 mortgage will save you nearly $35,000.

* And what is now a $129 overpayment on a $750,000 mortgage will save you just under $52,000.

In all three cases you will also repay your loan a whole year early.

Bear in mind, too, that this is the effect of maintaining your repayments when there has been just one rate cut. Some economists are predicting more like four in the next year in a bid to stimulate economic growth and buffer Australia from the global credit crisis.

How would a full 1 per cent fall change the figures? If the IBVR moved from 9.3 to 8.3 but you held your repayments steady, you would save $49,408 in interest on a $250,000 loan, $98,305 on a $500,000 loan and $147,773 on a $750,000 loan.

Yes, that much. And remember, it's not cost you one cent beyond what you are used to paying.
The reason keeping your repayments at the same level when rates fall is so powerful is that, immediately, less goes towards interest and therefore more to paying down your principal. The lower the rate drops, the more dramatic the effect.

So maintaining repayments come what may is one of the smartest ways to beat debt. With your mortgage outlay, if at all possible, the only way should be up.

What do you do to make sure you get the savings on offer? Nothing. Unless you say otherwise, your bank is unlikely to reduce the amount it debits for your monthly repayments. They are typically much quicker to adjust direct debits for rate rises because they are out of pocket if they don't.

Of course, for you to get the full benefit of what will now be extra repayments, your bank will need in future to cut its interest rates at pace with the RBA. And with profits squeezed courtesy of the credit crunch, none will commit to that.

Still, every little bit helps.

Author: Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon
Date: September 7, 2008







 

 Mon, 8 Sep 2008
Interest rate cuts to continue 
The Reserve Bank has cut interest rates by 0.25 percent, kicking off what is expected to be a prolonged period of rate reductions. Economists had widely expected the decision, although some had predicted the Reserve Bank would move more aggressively and cut rates by 0.5 percent. However, further cuts remain on the cards with several economists calling for three further cuts in the coming year.
 

 Thu, 17 Jul 2008
Double trouble to hit home in mortgage belt 
Australia's biggest mortgage lender said yesterday it would raise rates by 0.14 percentage points from Monday, and ANZ announced its rate would rise by 0.15 percentage points.

The Commonwealth's rise will add $30 a month to repayments on a $300,000 home loan.

And with the credit crisis flaring again, the bank warned that the 0.51 percentage points it has added to home loan rates - on top of Reserve Bank increases - are only meeting half its higher funding costs.

The bank's "top-up" increases have added more than $100 a month to repayments on the average mortgage. Its rate rise comes in the same week BankWest raised mortgage rates, and a week after St George's 0.2 percentage-point increase.

Commonwealth's standard variable rate of 9.58 per cent is the third highest of the major banks behind St George's 9.67 per cent and ANZ's 9.62 per cent.

But some smaller lenders are charging even more. Citibank's standard variable rate, for example, is 9.79 per cent.

The Commonwealth's group executive for retail banking, Ross McEwan, said the cost of funding was more than 1 per cent higher than it was before August 2007.

The good news for borrowers is that the Reserve Bank is less likely to raise rates again this year if banks do it themselves.

Author: Jacob Saulwick
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald

 

 Fri, 18 Apr 2008
Difficult Market for Renters 
According to a recent article in Domain news renters find themselves in what can be described as the tightest residential rental market for a long time, competition is intense.
The latest statistical release on the residential rental market shows that vacancies are at a 25-year low.
Domain lists some tips that may help you secure the right property.

Firstly, consider your search criteria. Factors include location, features and price. If you can't find exactly what you want, then look in the neighbouring suburb or for a slightly different type of property. Various property websites can help, such as domain.com.au or realestate.com.au. where you can register and list your criteria, you will then be notified immediately when suitable properties are listed.

If you are interested in a property, make sure you have all the information you need to apply for it, such as personal identification, referees and details of prior rentals. Written references, with contact details from previous estate agencies, may help speed up the process.

Application for Tenancy forms can be downloaded from our website under 'forms'. It is important you complete the application form in full. If a landlord has a number of applications, they will often leave the incomplete one at the bottom of the pile.
In this current market it is not uncommon for 10 or more applications to be received.

Don't be afraid to apply for more than one property. However, if you are accepted, immediately withdraw any other applications.

Visiting agencies in the area where you want to live and introducing yourself is a good way to make you stand out from the crowd when you come to make your application.


 

 Wed, 23 Jan 2008
Property a safe bet 
Investors looking for a sound alternative to the stockmarket would be wise to consider residential property according to the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW).
Today's CPI figures showed rents increased by 6.4% in the past year, the fastest annual growth since the early 1990s. This indicates property investors are realising excellent returns on their investment as demand for housing far outpaces supply against a background of soaring demand and limited supply for housing.
"What started on Wall Street and is now spreading internationally is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of the sharemarket," said REINSW President Steve Martin. "It illustrates how factors beyond an investor's control have a severe impact on their share portfolio.
"With property there is far greater control and, after all, everyone has to have a place to live whereas not everyone needs to, or wants to have, a share portfolio."
There has been a rental drought for residential property in much of New South Wales for over a year now. This has affected Sydney in particular, with vacancy rates falling to historically low levels of less than 1%.
"Tenants sorely need property investors to come back into the market and help meet the shortfall in the supply," Mr Martin said. "For investors, the reassuring news is that residential property provides a regular and stable income."
 

 Mon, 19 Nov 2007
Home loan rate set to rise again 
Home loans are set to rise again by another 0.25% over coming months. This is in addition to the latest increase being forced by major banks after the Reserve Bank lifted official cash rates last week.
 

 Fri, 28 Sep 2007
New Tenancy Laws 
Tenants face swift eviction if they fall behind in their rent and many will have to pay water charges currently borne by landlords, under the first big overhaul of NSW's tenancy laws in 20 years.
But tenants' rights will also be boosted. If landlords default on their mortgages and their properties are repossessed, tenants will be guaranteed at least 30 days' notice to move out.
And for the first time, renters who need to move out of a share house or a relationship will be able to be apply to have liability on their part of the lease waived.
The changes are partly about "encouraging investment and people back into the property market", the Fair Trading Minister, Linda Burney, told the Herald.
"Encouraging investors back into the market should help to reduce Sydney's rental squeeze," Ms Burney said. The rental vacancy rate in Sydney is just 1.5 per cent, and this adds to the housing affordability crisis.
The State Government will release its plans for public comment today - after several years of reviews - before introducing legislation early next year.
The tenancy tribunal now confronts more than 20,000 cases involving rent arrears every year, and the Government wants to cut its workload.
Under the changes, tenants who fall behind in rent would have "the onus placed on them to apply to the tribunal" if they wished to contest their eviction - rather than landlords having to justify their case. The tribunal could make a decision on the application swiftly without need for a hearing.
(source SMH)
 

 Mon, 17 Sep 2007
Lack of freestanding houses? 
New freestanding houses are becoming harder to find in NSW, as more people turn to townhouses or apartments.
Only about one detached house is approved for every townhouse, multi-unit or apartment each month, the latest housing approval figures show. In the 1980s, the ratio was three to one.
The ratio of freestanding homes in NSW is the lowest of any state or territory, excluding the ACT. In Queensland there are two detatched houses for every multi-dwelling property approved. In Victoria the number is more than three, and in Western Australia it is six.
Despite NSW housing the largest population, it approves fewer freestanding houses than each of these three states. In Victoria almost twice as many detached homes were approved in July, 2808, compared with 1415.
Last month's rise lifted mortgage rates to their highest level in a decade.
No change is expected this time. National accounts are expected to show a slowing in the pace of economic growth.
 

 Thu, 6 Sep 2007
Interest rate rise 
Surprisingly strong economic growth has increased the chance of another interest rate rise. But the betting on a move before year's end is still less than 50:50 (source: The Age)
 

 Wed, 4 Jul 2007
The State of the Market 
Sydney's property market recovered marginally in 2006 after two difficult years. There was a 0.6 per cent increase in established house prices in the 12 months to December 2006 and the median house price sat at $520,300.
Evidence of a two-tier property market is particularly strong in the harbour city. Blue-ribbon real estate goes from strength to strength well insulated against interest rate rises and buoyed by the strong national economy. Suburbs in the city's south-west, west and north-west struggle to
maintain value amid reports of increasing mortgagee repossession sales.
Overall, Sydney is expected to continue a slow recovery in 2007, experiencing only a very minor increase in prices. There are concerns, however, that the weight of negative sentiment and affordability constraints will see the median house price slip further in the coming 12 to 18 months, hitting $495,000 before beginning a more sustained and solid recovery. With Sydney homes still overvalued by around 5 per cent, it is likely further stabilisation will need to continue. Well-located inner city and prestige harbourside suburbs should continue to outperform the
overall market. Over 1000 homes worth more than $2 million each sold during 2006 and similiar is expected in 2007. Top suburbs such as Point Piper and Darling Point; Palm Beach, Bayview, and Woollahra; and Paddington continued to hold their own. However, increases in sales and prices in
blue-ribbon real estate in areas such as Manly and Double Bay, surprised most economists. Outer western suburbs should also maintain the trend of 2006 and continue to struggle. While many affluent suburbs recorded double digit annual price growth, suburbs such as Campbelltown
and Strathfield saw a drop in value of close to 10 per cent. Other hard-hit suburbs include
Lakemba, Macquarie Fields, Bankstown, Hoxton Park and Rooty Hill.
Unit prices are likely to remain flat although some harbour and beachside suburbs should be clear performers. Good demand should continue for prestige and unique apartments. Unit prices for most suburbs were in negative growth territory in 2006. This may ease as investors begin
to return to the market on the back of good buying opportunities, particularly in the western suburbs, and in the expectation of strongly improving rental returns over the long term. This is a great opportunity for buying investment property, in these regions, in 2007.
For renters, the outlook is grim. With a severe shortage of properties, rents are on the increase – up just over 7 per cent in the 12 months to December 2006 for units, and 6.4 per cent for houses. With a record low vacancy rate of about 1.5 per cent around the state the expectation is that rents will continue to increase in 2007. Some predictions suggesting a 10 to 20 per cent increase in rents for Sydney houses during the year.


 

 Thu, 3 May 2007
Sydney Property Market 
Sydney's property market recovered marginally in 2006 after two difficult years. There was a 0.6 per cent increase in established house prices in the 12 months to December 2006 and the median house price sat at $520,300.
Evidence of a two-tier property market is particularly strong in the harbour city. Blue-ribbon real estate goes from strength to strength well insulated against interest rate rises and buoyed by the strong national economy. Suburbs in the city's south-west, west and north-west struggle to
maintain value amid reports of increasing mortgagee repossession sales.
Overall, Sydney is expected to continue a slow recovery in 2007, experiencing only a very minor increase in prices. There are concerns, however, that the weight of negative sentiment and affordability constraints will see the median house price slip further in the coming 12 to 18 months, hitting $495,000 before beginning a more sustained and solid recovery. With Sydney homes still overvalued by around 5 per cent, it is likely further stabilisation will need to continue. Well-located inner city and prestige harbourside suburbs should continue to outperform the
overall market. Over 1000 homes worth more than $2 million each sold during 2006 and similiar is expected in 2007. Top suburbs such as Point Piper and Darling Point; Palm Beach, Bayview, and Woollahra; and Paddington continued to hold their own. However, increases in sales and prices in
blue-ribbon real estate in areas such as Manly and Double Bay, surprised most economists. Outer western suburbs should also maintain the trend of 2006 and continue to struggle. While many affluent suburbs recorded double digit annual price growth, suburbs such as Campbelltown
and Strathfield saw a drop in value of close to 10 per cent. Other hard-hit suburbs include
Lakemba, Macquarie Fields, Bankstown, Hoxton Park and Rooty Hill.
Unit prices are likely to remain flat although some harbour and beachside suburbs should be clear performers. Good demand should continue for prestige and unique apartments. Unit prices for most suburbs were in negative growth territory in 2006. This may ease as investors begin
to return to the market on the back of good buying opportunities, particularly in the western suburbs, and in the expectation of strongly improving rental returns over the long term. This is a great opportunity for buying investment property, in these regions, in 2007.
For renters, the outlook is grim. With a severe shortage of properties, rents are on the increase – up just over 7 per cent in the 12 months to December 2006 for units, and 6.4 per cent for houses. With a record low vacancy rate of about 1.5 per cent around the state the expectation is that rents will continue to increase in 2007. Some predictions suggesting a 10 to 20 per cent increase in rents for Sydney houses during the year.

 

 Wed, 21 Mar 2007
Sydney Property Market 
Sydney's property market recovered marginally in 2006 after two difficult years. There was a 0.6 per cent increase in established house prices in the 12 months to December 2006 and the median house price sat at $520,300.
Evidence of a two-tier property market is particularly strong in the harbour city. Blue-ribbon real estate goes from strength to strength well insulated against interest rate rises and buoyed by the strong national economy. Suburbs in the city's south-west, west and north-west struggle to
maintain value amid reports of increasing mortgagee repossession sales.
Overall, Sydney is expected to continue a slow recovery in 2007, experiencing only a very minor increase in prices. There are concerns, however, that the weight of negative sentiment and affordability constraints will see the median house price slip further in the coming 12 to 18 months, hitting $495,000 before beginning a more sustained and solid recovery. With Sydney homes still overvalued by around 5 per cent, it is likely further stabilisation will need to continue. Well-located inner city and prestige harbourside suburbs should continue to outperform the
overall market. Over 1000 homes worth more than $2 million each sold during 2006 and similiar is expected in 2007. Top suburbs such as Point Piper and Darling Point; Palm Beach, Bayview, and Woollahra; and Paddington continued to hold their own. However, increases in sales and prices in
blue-ribbon real estate in areas such as Manly and Double Bay, surprised most economists. Outer western suburbs should also maintain the trend of 2006 and continue to struggle. While many affluent suburbs recorded double digit annual price growth, suburbs such as Campbelltown
and Strathfield saw a drop in value of close to 10 per cent. Other hard-hit suburbs include
Lakemba, Macquarie Fields, Bankstown, Hoxton Park and Rooty Hill.
Unit prices are likely to remain flat although some harbour and beachside suburbs should be clear performers. Good demand should continue for prestige and unique apartments. Unit prices for most suburbs were in negative growth territory in 2006. This may ease as investors begin
to return to the market on the back of good buying opportunities, particularly in the western suburbs, and in the expectation of strongly improving rental returns over the long term. This is a great opportunity for buying investment property, in these regions, in 2007.
For renters, the outlook is grim. With a severe shortage of properties, rents are on the increase – up just over 7 per cent in the 12 months to December 2006 for units, and 6.4 per cent for houses. With a record low vacancy rate of about 1.5 per cent around the state the expectation is that rents will continue to increase in 2007. Some predictions suggesting a 10 to 20 per cent increase in rents for Sydney houses during the year.


 

 Sat, 24 Feb 2007
Market Update: Whats ahead for 2007? 
We are now well into 2007. Home owners and investors are looking to the property markets for direction, but are confused by the mixed messages in the press as the market seems to be moving in so many different directions.

You will get a much clearer perspective if you stand back and take a big picture view.

Despite three interest rate increases last year there is still demand from first home buyers and there is particularly strong demand at the upper end of our property markets. At the same time other buyers are being squeezed by the interest rates rises and decreasing affordability.

Our markets are behaving normally – this is all part of the property cycle.

This year our markets will have to contend with a number of factors that will ensure we keep receiving mixed messages.

Just some of what lies ahead this year includes a number of elections, the fear of further interest rate rises and a severe shortage of rental properties in every capital city. Some investors will quit real estate, lured by the stock market and the special concessions for superannuation which ends on June 30 and others will take advantage of the markets by taking a counter cyclical approach.

Over the medium term strongly rising rentals will attract more investors back into our property markets and the housing shortage will encourage builders and developers to boost construction.

The recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show that prices grew in all capital cities other than Sydney over the last 12 months.

The Sydney property market was hit the hardest by the end of the property boom on the east coast of Australia in 2003 and much has been written about how many Sydney property values fell by over 15% since the peak of the boom. In fact it is the only city where there have been significant price reductions in the wake of the boom.

Despite its strong underlying fundamentals such as low supply, low vacancies and better migration numbers, Sydney property prices were virtually unchanged over the last year. At least the figures confirm that the city has arrested its declining market since 2003.

Like other states, Sydney's housing market has been fragmented. The more affluent suburbs have recorded the highest annual growth in the median house prices according to Patrick Bright, director of Property Buyers Agent EPS Property Search. Record house prices were set in 35 Sydney suburbs during 2006, including $22 million for a home in Vaucluse. There were 20 houses sold for $10 million or more in 2006, including two above $20 million.

With record low vacancy rates, strong rental growth and the prospect for capital growth, smart investors will begin searching the market for opportunities later in 2007, looking for a recovery in Sydney in 2008.

Along the way there will be some challenges the market will have to face. NSW is returning some of the worst economic indicators in the nation with modest economic growth now revised down to a mediocre 1.5% and poor unemployment figures. The continual negative press received by what looks like an impotent State Government is not helping perceptions about the economy or the property market.



News item courtesy Domain.com.au


 

 Tue, 16 Jan 2007
Bargains at the bottom of the market 
Bargains at the bottom of the market and more gains at the top. The Sun-Herald's property reporter Michelle Singer previews the year ahead.

"We have seen the worst and that seems to be behind us," says high-profile Sydney real-estate agent John McGrath.

"The market won't go boom overnight but it will start improving. I think it's a good time for buyers to be looking but not panicking."

While the average Sydney property price has remained stagnant for the best part of 12 months, industry experts are unanimous in thinking the market's performance will be reliant on whether or not interest rates rise.

But the bottom line, says the McGrath Estate Agents founder and director, is that buying should be a priority for those weighing up the idea, given that on average Sydney property prices are 8 per cent down on what they were during the 2002-2003 boom.

"In 2006 influential factors on the market included three interest rate rises, a buoyant stockmarket and petrol prices," McGrath says. However, agents, auctioneers, analysts and researchers are predicting a different market in 2007, with buyers returning to the fold.

The top end

The prestigious end of the market didn't suffer during 2006, and it remains the only area to have forged ahead thanks to record-breaking sharemarket returns, large executive bonuses and a widespread lack of stock. In Sydney more than 1000 homes worth more than $2 million each sold last year. Dyson Austen prestige valuers director Simon Feilich says 2007 signals more of the same for blue-ribbon real estate.

"The same drivers will influence the market: a strong equity market, the resources boom, strong company profits, dividends, sharemarket profits and bonuses. All those ingredients will continue to fuel that market," Feilich says.

"Anything near the water - whether the harbour or the beaches - has been strong and we've seen the increase in demand for prestige units that have been exceptionally large in size or are in A-grade positions that can't be replicated."

 

 Wed, 18 Oct 2006
Climate-Proofing the Home Insulates Value While Improving Lifestyle Quality 
Home-owners considering renovations should ensure all alterations and additions incorporate as many sustainable housing features and technologies as possible, according to First National Real Estate NSW.

"We see this as the area where renovations will substantially add value to a home," First National Real Estate national manager marketing communications Stewart Bunn said.

"Homes that are, in effect, climate-proofed through design and energy and water saving technologies are going to have an edge. Buyers are far more aware of environmental impacts and problems and this is beginning to shape the choices some people make about where they will buy a home and what they want to buy."

Although the NSW Government has mandated stringent sustainability targets for new homes and multi-unit residential developments and, since the beginning of October, for major renovations, Mr Bunn said home-owners should thoroughly research how far they can go towards making their home sustainable.

"The Government's Building Sustainability Index mandates practical measures to be incorporated in renovations such as energy efficient lighting, insulation for new floors, ceilings and roof, and solar, heat pump or gas energy for any new hot water system," he said. "These all make very important contributions but home-owners and builders can go much further. Stretching the renovation budget to include even more advanced technologies will add real value to a home as well as contributing to lifestyle quality and significant energy savings for the owner."

In addition to requirements under the Sustainability Index, other features home-owners can consider range from construction materials to advanced water storage and recycling systems.

"It is critical to work with an architect or builder who has a track record in green housing design and construction, as well as consulting with your local council to understand what you are legally able to do in your area," Mr Bunn said.

Advanced sustainability housing features can include:

· Construction materials and insulation. New walls and ceilings must be insulated under the Building Sustainability Index regulations. However, there are alternative materials such as mud bricks and straw bales that can provide both durable and innovative construction and outstanding thermal insulation. "If you are thinking about creating new walls and rooms, research the options that are available, including renewable materials," Mr Bunn said. "They can add design interest and depth while delivering a strong sustainability credential to the home." External blinds, shutters, overhanging eaves, shading and screening that allow in winter sun and provide total shade in summer should also form a key part of insulation planning.
· Wastewater systems. Local regulations regarding the use of household waste water vary, and it is important to talk with your local council, as well as your architect and plumber if want to incorporate a wastewater system into your renovated home. "The NSW Government is looking at options for encouraging more recycling of water from household areas such as the laundry and bathroom," Mr Bunn said. "However, in many areas and particularly in rural and regional NSW, it can already be an important way to provide water for the garden or for flushing toilets. Increasingly advanced systems are now available that can provide basic treatment for some household waste water and all house-holders should look carefully at what the options area."
· Rainwater tanks. Like new wastewater treatment systems, rainwater tanks have come a long way. There are now tanks that can be fitted under verandahs and decking, thin and sleek modular tanks than can be fitted to rear or side walls, virtually disappearing from view, and a range of above and below ground interconnecting tanks that provide very substantial amounts of water. "Depending on your budget it is increasingly possible to effectively drought-proof your home and this can only be regarded as a good investment," Mr Bunn said.
· Features and finishes. "Everything from the paint you use on internal and external walls, to kitchen cabinets and fabrics for carpets and curtains, to how the garden is landscaped can now be measured against sustainable housing criteria," Mr Bunn said. "Do your homework as thoroughly as possible and find the right suppliers and designers to talk to."

First National Real Estate NSW said home-owners should now begin to look at their property as a long term investment for the future in an environmental sense.

"More and more, home buyers will be asking, where was this made? How much water storage is available?, What timbers have been used? What are the heating and cooling requirements?" Mr Bunn said. "Home-owners will need to start installing sustainable designs and technologies to improve the value of their home, as well as to begin enjoying the benefits of eco-housing."

First National Real Estate has 184 offices in NSW and over 450 offices around Australia.

Issued by: First National Real Estate NSW


 

 Fri, 22 Sep 2006
Shortage of Rental Property 
The latest Real Estate Institute of Australia statistics show that rental vacancy rates have fallen in almost all capital cities as renters scramble for accommodation and force up rents.
These lower vacancy rates are due to a severe shortage of rental stock as new investors are currently avoiding the property markets as well as poor housing affordability forcing many would–be home purchasers to turn to the rental markets.
These dual forces have pushed up rentals. This finally delivers good news for landlords, some of whom have had to drop the rentals for their investment properties over the last few years to meet the market.
Leading independent property consultancy Metropole Property Management reports its lowest vacancy rates on record, with a queue of prospective tenants every time a property is open for inspection.
Vacancy rates fell in Sydney by 0.6%; to 2%.
Apartments recorded the strongest growth in the quarter.
With little new investor stock likely to come on the rental market over the next year and affordability unlikey to ease with the prospect of another interest rate increase later in the year, rents in our capital cities are likey to continue rising strongly over the next 2 years.
Melbourne and Sydney rentals are likely to rise by between 6% and 8% for the next two years, while Brisbane rental increases could be stronger – up to 10% over the next 12 months.
 

 Wed, 9 Aug 2006
'Shortage of Rental Stock' 
The latest Real Estate Institute of Australia statistics show that rental vacancy rates have fallen in almost all capital cities as renters scramble for accommodation and force up rents.
These lower vacancy rates are due to a severe shortage of rental stock as new investors are currently avoiding the property markets as well as poor housing affordability forcing many would–be home purchasers to turn to the rental markets.
These dual forces have pushed up rentals. This finally delivers good news for landlords, some of whom have had to drop the rentals for their investment properties over the last few years to meet the market.
Leading independent property consultancy Metropole Property Management reports its lowest vacancy rates on record, with a queue of prospective tenants every time a property is open for inspection.
Vacancy rates fell in Sydney by 0.6%; to 2%.
Apartments recorded the strongest growth in the quarter.
With little new investor stock likely to come on the rental market over the next year and affordability unlikey to ease with the prospect of another interest rate increase later in the year, rents in our capital cities are likey to continue rising strongly over the next 2 years.
Melbourne and Sydney rentals are likely to rise by between 6% and 8% for the next two years, while Brisbane rental increases could be stronger – up to 10% over the next 12 months.

 

 Sat, 1 Jul 2006
'Shortage of Rental Stock' 
The latest Real Estate Institute of Australia statistics show that rental vacancy rates have fallen in almost all capital cities as renters scramble for accommodation and force up rents.
These lower vacancy rates are due to a severe shortage of rental stock as new investors are currently avoiding the property markets as well as poor housing affordability forcing many would–be home purchasers to turn to the rental markets.
These dual forces have pushed up rentals. This finally delivers good news for landlords, some of whom have had to drop the rentals for their investment properties over the last few years to meet the market.
Leading independent property consultancy Metropole Property Management reports its lowest vacancy rates on record, with a queue of prospective tenants every time a property is open for inspection.
Vacancy rates fell in Sydney by 0.6%; to 2%.
Apartments recorded the strongest growth in the quarter.
With little new investor stock likely to come on the rental market over the next year and affordability unlikey to ease with the prospect of another interest rate increase later in the year, rents in our capital cities are likey to continue rising strongly over the next 2 years.
Melbourne and Sydney rentals are likely to rise by between 6% and 8% for the next two years, while Brisbane rental increases could be stronger – up to 10% over the next 12 months.

 

 Thu, 4 May 2006
Interest Rates Increase 
Australia's central bank has raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 5.75 per cent, the first increase in 14 months, in a bid to keep inflation in check.
The move adds $14 a week to the average variable mortgage repayment.
Since many investors had anticipated the rate rise, its impact on markets is likely to be muted, said Westpac chief economist Bill Evans.
But higher interest rates would also encourage a stronger Australian dollar, hurting the already struggling Australian manufacturing sector. A rising dollar makes exports pricier to foreign consumers while imports become more competitive in the domestic market.
Among the world's most actively traded currencies, the Australian dollar is the world's best-performing in the past month, gaining about 6.25 per cent against the US dollar, according to Bloomberg data.
He called the interest rate rise a "double whammy'' on cash strapped consumers, coming to terms with escalating petrol prices.
 

 Wed, 1 Mar 2006
Investment Market Improves 
The abolition of vendor tax in NSW has just begun to make an impact on the cautious investment market.
The lifting of the 2.25 per cent duty in August has sparked buyers and sellers into action and reinvigorated Sydney's softening property market.
Property prices have steadied and with vendors expectations more realistic, now is a good time to get in. Cremorne First National has seen a significant increase in demand for investment properties in the months prior to Christmas and this trend has continued over the past month.
Neutral Bay and Cremorne will always be good investment areas because of the direct transport services into the city and the proximity to the Harbour.
 

 Thu, 24 Nov 2005
'Strengthening Market' 
The NSW Real Estate market was regaining strength and seeing an increased demand for property as housing becomes more affordable.

NSW has returned to a buyers' market, which will continue due to the soft prices generated by the increasing range of property becoming available.

In NSW, the median sale price of a house had declined by 1.7 per cent to $471,000 for the quarter, however sales volumes rose by 19.6 per cent to 21,595 in the same period.

These latest figures show that the state's decision to abolish a vendor tax on investment properties resulted in large numbers of both established home buyers and first home buyers returning to the market.

The direct effect of the vendor tax's abolition has been property investors having the opportunity to sell their asset without penalty and thereby increasing the stock of available of properties on the market.

The vendor tax abolition and the return of the land tax threshold, was having a positive impact on the demand for property.

The NSW Government's unpopular 2.25 per cent tax on the sale of investment properties was scrapped in August.

The Government also reinstated a new tax-free threshold for land tax on investment properties just one year after it was abolished.

The REI report also showed that the most affordable area in Sydney is Campbelltown, while the highest median house price recorded across Sydney in the quarter was in Mosman.

 

 Thu, 17 Nov 2005
Opportunities for Buyers 
A report jointly released by the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) and Mortgage Choice said growth in median house prices for houses and other dwellings had slowed considerably. In the June quarter, Sydney median house prices were $495,000, 3.1 per cent lower than the March quarter and down 3.9 per cent on a year earlier. Sydney prices had flattened in the September quarter of 2004 and were now moving downward, the report said. REIA president Ian Wells said the slowdown in growth began about 18 months ago following the surge in median prices in 2001. "now in most capital cities, growth in median prices for houses and other dwellings has slowed considerably," Mr Wells said. Mortgage Choice National Corporate Affairs manager Warren O'Rourke said the fall in prices presented opportunities for buyers. "it is a buyer's market so potential purchasers should be focused on working their market research into a long-term property investment strategy," Mr O'Rourke said."although capital gains are rising at a slower pace, the right property choice and loan can provide any consumer with good gains over the long term."
The report also said the trend in median prices for other dwellings had been flat in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra since the end of 2003.
 

 Fri, 29 Jul 2005
fundraiser for mosman prep 
cremorne first national are delighted to be offering a commission free sale of residential property, excluding advertising costs to the successful bidder in order to raise funds for Mosman Prep school white boards. If you wish to participate, register your interest on ebay.com.au from 16th August, 2005. Bidding closes midnight 26th August 2005.
conditions:-
vendor will be responsible for advertising and any other associated costs prior to commencement of marketing
valid for residential property in the following suburbs only: 2088, 2089, 2090, 2060, 2061, 2065, 2093 and 2095
non transferable (other than immediate family members)
if you wish to discuss this further, please contact us on 9904 1234.
 

 Thu, 14 Jul 2005
Housing sector to plateau 
The national housing market is expected to continue to plateau in 2005 and will stay at that level as Australia's overall economic prospects remain healthy. And a recent lift in building approvals is unlikely to alter the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) stance on interest rates. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said approvals rose 4.5 per cent to 13,213 units in May, seasonally adjusted, from 12,638 units in April. Citigroup managing director Paul Brennan said the recent rebound in building approvals seemed to be driven by demand from owner-occupiers. "Today's readings on households were stronger than expected, although the data are still consistent with our view that an orderly consolidation in household finances is underway with the RBA staying on hold," Mr Brennan said. National Australia Bank chief markets economist Rob Henderson said the data was an indication of the economy's current modest but healthy condition.
 

 Thu, 2 Jun 2005
house prices to fall? 
Sydney house prices could fall by up to 7 per cent over the next three years because of higher interest rates, economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel has said. That would mean Sydney's June median price of $500,000 would fall to $465,000 by June 2008, BIS said in its latest property report. The forecaster has based its predictions on expectations the standard variable home loan rate will rise to as high as 9 per cent by the second half of next year, from 7.3 per cent now. BIS is out of step with others who believe at most the Reserve Bank of Australia will raise interest rates one more time this year and by only a quarter of a percentage point. They are also less pessimistic about the property market's prospects.
 

 Fri, 20 May 2005
first time buyers 
Three years ago they were waiting on the sidelines, but the president of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, Rowen Kelly, says first-time buyers will dominate the property market this winter. "First-home buyers were among the few winners in last year's State Government mini-budget, with increased levels of exemption from stamp and mortgage duty," Kelly says. "Since then, all the market influences have worked in their favour, creating opportunities for keen buyers." Since State Government incentives increased last year, there has been a 25 per cent increase in market share of first-time buyers in NSW. With steady interest rates expected over the next few months and almost no competition from property investors, Kelly expects the percentage of first-time buyers in the market to increase even further.
 

 Thu, 5 May 2005
Interest rate hold 
Home-owners face no immediate rise in their mortgage repayments after the Reserve Bank kept interest rates at 5.5 per cent. Analysts had expected the Reserve Bank to leave the official interest rate at 5.5 per cent, following relatively benign inflation figures last week and lower than expected producer price index results. Business surveys in recent weeks have also pointed to a slowing economy, while building approval figures showed a 6.8 per cent slump in March. That followed the last interest rate rise. Commsec chief equities economist Craig James said home owners would escape another rate rise for some time. "Homeowners can breathe a sigh of relief and probably for another couple of months," he told Sky News. Despite leaving rates on hold, analysts believe the central bank is likely to lift rates at least once more this year.
 

 Thu, 24 Mar 2005
Interest rates 
Recent interest rate hikes are expected to take their toll on an already flat housing sector with new figures showing an industry plateau, Australia's peak real-estate group said yesterday.
Figures released by the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) showed the quarterly Australian weighted average median house price was $371,853 in the December 2004 quarter.
While this is up from $364,803 in the September quarter and the December 2003 price of $362,734, the median prices for other dwellings - flats, units and townhouses - flattened substantially compared with the high rates of growth experienced in 2003.
 

 Thu, 24 Feb 2005
interest rates to rise 
Home owners received further confirmation that interest rates would rise within months, probably by half a percentage point to take the official rate to 5.75 per cent. The government MP who grilled Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) chief Ian Macfarlane on interest rates warned home owners to brace for a jump in their mortgage repayments.
Bruce Baird, the chairman of the House of Representatives economics committee, said Mr Macfarlane had made it clear rates were on the way up - and soon. "The governor didn't indicate definitely whether they were going up but he certainly gave strong hints," Mr Baird told the Ten Network. "From my point of view, I thought it was likely that it was going to happen, probably small incremental gains." It was possible that Mr Macfarlane was floating the idea as a tactic to rein in inflation, said Mr Baird.
 

 Thu, 10 Feb 2005
Interest rate rise 
the reserve bank has signalled interest rates will soon rise in a hawkish statement on monetary policy today.
the board did express some concern at australia's continuing love affair with debt, with growth in the sector now at 12 per cent.
"nevertheless, the growth of credit to both the household and business sectors remains high, with aggregate credit growth still running at an annual rate of 12 per cent over the six months to december 2004," it said.
"the overall strength in demand for credit, combined with the fact that interest rates remain slightly lower than the average of recent years, continues to suggest that the current policy setting is not inhibiting growth in the economy."
the bank said it expected the current account deficit to hit 6.75 per cent of gdp when the december quarter figures were released on march 1.
 

 Fri, 28 Jan 2005
Investment on the rise 
Investors are returning to the housing market and falling deeper in debt, but the Reserve Bank is still tipped to leave interest rates on hold.
The value of lending to housing investors rebounded by 8 per cent in November to $5.6 billion, more than reversing a 6 per cent slump in October.
It was the largest increase for 13 months. However, investor borrowing was still almost 19 per cent lower than a year earlier, when the market was whipped to frenzied levels by the expectation of strong capital gains, low interest rates and generous tax breaks.
Owner-occupiers are also returning to the market. Their borrowings grew by 4.2 per cent during the month to $7.9 billion.
 

 Mon, 24 Jan 2005
House prices to stabilise in 05 
Price tags on Australian residential properties will stabilise this year, with market watchers saying the days of skyrocketing house prices are well and truly over.
Prices are tipped to ease only modestly this year, far from the hefty days at the height of the property boom in 2001-2003 when prices were up about 20 per cent per annum in Sydney and Melbourne.
"(Overall house prices) will be a little bit down and that is a Sydney and Melbourne phenomenon - the two biggest markets will affect the national figure."
Australian interest rates have remained on hold for over a year at 5.25 per cent after the Reserve Bank of Australia lifted the official cash rate twice at the end of 2003.
Economists say the next rate move will likely be a hike rather than a cut, but are divided about the timing.
BIS Shrapnel senior property analyst Angie Zigomanis said by year end interest rates would start to rise, likely impacting on house prices.
He said inflationary pressures would start creeping through in 2005 and as a result the Reserve Bank would have to start acting.
"There might be a couple of rate rises towards the end of 2005 but by (mid) 2006 the Reserve Bank will be a lot more aggressive in terms of combating inflation," Mr Zigomanis said.
"While prices will be flat or grow mildly (this year), 2006 will potentially see some house price falls."
While the property market may not be as attractive to investors as it once was, most market watchers say there is still money to be made, if you know where to look.
According to the HIA, medium density housing in middle suburbs - areas half way between city fringes and the CBD - offer the best investment and are the most sought after by the cashed-up baby boomers.
Mr Tennent said in 2004 house prices rose about 10 per cent following a 19 per cent rise in 2003, 18 per cent in 2002 and 16 per cent in 2001.
"People tend to think if we don't achieve 20 per cent we have suddenly got a housing crisis," Mr Tennent said.
"If you go up 60 per cent in three years and then you go down by five per cent you are still a net gainer.
"There is (still money to be made) in very select types of property."




 

 Wed, 15 Dec 2004
Housing sector cooling 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released figures showing the value of all loans for homes and units fell to $15.234 billion, reversing September's 1.8 per cent rise.
The fall was driven by an 8.1 per cent slump in finance for dwellings to be rented out or resold.
Mr Costello said investor finance was now down 32 per cent over the year, while loans for owner-occupied dwellings had fallen 7.8 per cent.
"For about the last two years I've been indicating that you shouldn't expect the housing market to continue increasing at the rate that it was, and what's more, if it did continue increasing at that rate that would be unsustainable," he told parliament. "So to see a slowing in relation to housing finance, particularly a slowing in relation to investor finance is something that the government has been looking for. It is not unwelcome. It indicates that there is a slowdown in that sector ... and it shows that one of the hot spots of the economy which we've been warning about for some time is now coming off in an orderly and a measured way, which will provide some durability in the sector over the medium term."
 

 Wed, 8 Dec 2004
Sydney median price change 
Despite the release of figures this week that show the median sale price for a house in Sydney has fallen for the first time in four years, some sellers still have unrealistic expectations, says Rowen Kelly, president of the Real Estate Institute of NSW.

Kelly was commenting on REI figures for the September quarter which report a median house price in Sydney of $500,000, compared with one of $520,000 for the June quarter.

Vendors who haven't adjusted their price expectations to reflect these new market realities are having difficulty selling, he says. "Some sellers are still expecting their property's price to increase at the pace we were experiencing 18 months ago. This is not the case."

One of the reasons for the market slowdown is that speculative investors, who helped push property prices up at such a rapid rate, are no longer participating in the property market. "The buyers looking at the market at present are more likely to be first-home buyers or established home-owners looking to upgrade now the market has stabilised," Kelly says. "These people aren't willing to buy a property above market value."
 

 Wed, 24 Nov 2004
Low jobless rate to lift property sector 
Low unemployment may trigger a surge in the property market, says
Rowen Kelly, president of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, after
figures released this week showed the rate of unemployment had
dipped to 5.3 per cent.

Kelly says with the overall Australian economy enjoying a prolonged period of expansion there has been a corresponding increase in business and consumer confidence, which will flow through to the property market.

"Individual finances are healthy and people are feeling optimistic about their own economic future. This is good news for the property market because property has traditionally been Australia's favourite means of wealth creation," he says.

With property market sentiment improving, Kelly predicts that over the next six months market activity will return to pre-boom levels as both vendors and buyers demonstrate their increased confidence.

"For the first nine months of this year we saw a definite slowdown in sales, with buyers being extremely cautious and many vendors misreading the market and overvaluing their properties," he says. "Between now and the end of next March we are likely to see the market start moving again with more interest from buyers and more properties being sold."

As well as the low unemployment rate and the strong economy, Kelly points to low interest rates and improved incentives for first-home buyers as contributions to increased market confidence.

Further, the Reserve Bank governor, Ian Macfarlane, said this week that any interest rate adjustments might be a year or more away, which, Kelly says, is likely to further fuel buyer interest.

With buyers returning to the market, there has been increased optimism among vendors. "As buyers are becoming more evident so vendors are feeling confident about the market as well," he says.

Although the Sydney market is highly segmented, with some areas likely to perform strongly and others taking longer for activity levels to increase, the overall outlook for the next 12 months is positive.

Kelly says this increased interest from buyers will continue as long as the economy stays strong. "But any property buyer must consider that, like any market, the real estate market runs in cycles, experiences highs and lows and is influenced by a variety of factors including interest rates, migration and the local and global economies."

This column is supplied by the Real Estate Institute of NSW.
 

 Tue, 5 Oct 2004
Home Loan Affordability 
The REIA Home Loan Affordability Report stated that home affordability has slumped to its lowest level since 1990. Despite low interest rates and flat house prices! So this data seems odd in the face of evidence of a slow down in the housing market.
It appears the average homeowner is increasing their mortgage to fund their lifestyle. So at some stage this has to stop, other wise there will be no ability for the community to deal with periodic slow downs in the housing market or the employment market.
 

 Wed, 22 Sep 2004
Confusing Statistics 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics have declared that house prices have experienced a sharp decline, the first price fall in four years. Two days earlier the REI had reported something entirely different. Why are they different? They are different because the ABS figures are an index and the REI figures are a median price. Both get their data from exactly the same source! Meetings are under way shortly for both to agree on the method of statistics and maybe we will see the end to conflicting head lines.