ABS Figures Show First Home Buyer Market Collapsing

NEW figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show 60,000 fewer first home buyers entered the mortgage market for the year to May.

This reflects a drop of 5000 loans a month, and comes despite the low interest rate environment.

The ABS says rising costs of living, and interest rates, are factors negatively affecting sentiment in the market.

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Ritziest Suburbs Fall Hardest Since GFC Peak: RP Data-Rismark

AFTER what has been a largely bleak economic backdrop, the country’s most affordable suburbs are performing better than its ritziest.

According to research group RP Data-Rismark, exclusive suburbs including Mosman Park in Perth and Hunters Hill in Sydney (pictured, right) have reported drastic median price drops of more than 30 per cent since “the peak”, which it deems to be August 2008 (about six months after when many agents say the downturn started in the large Sydney and Melbourne markets).

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Coalition Leads Investigation Into Recent Offshore Farm Investment

TONY Abbott is leading an investigation into foreign ownership of Australian property particularly farms), after a wave of complaints from agents and farmers that the current rules for offshore investors is resulting in much of the country being sold unbeknownst to the Foreign Investment Review Board.

The federal coalition announced the decision on Thursday (June 20) after calls from the Liberals, Nationals and the Greens for new rules to curb farm purchasers by offshore investors.

The Australian newspaper has recently reported a swag of foreign investors quietly snapping up major Australian properties. Buyers include China’s largest coal producer Shenhua and the Qatar  government.

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Occupancy Levels Dip Across Most Australian States: ABS

NATURAL disasters in key markets, a strong $A encouraging Australians to travel overseas, and prospective visitors seeking cheaper destinations, have contributed to a slowdown in the country’s tourist accommodation sector.

According to new research issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, occupancy in the hotel, motel and serviced apartment sector has dropped in many states, with the lowest rate (51.8 per cent) reported in the Northern Territory.

Tasmania performed best with an occupancy rate of 72.5 per cent in the March quarter. It was followed by the ACT (70.4 per cent) and NSW (67.8 per cent).

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Stockland Pays $22 Million For Three Retirement Villages

STOCKLAND has paid $22 million for three retirement villages.

The complexes were offloaded by Retirement Villages Group (RVG)), a struggling unlisted retirement fund run by the FKP Property Group and Macquarie Bank.

The portfolio acquisition adds 376 to the number of independent units offered by Stockland. Combined with serviced apartments, it now manages a total of 7403 dwellings.

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Major Industrial Leases Signed: Perth, Sydney, Melbourne

THREE major industrial deals have been signed in major Australian cities.

In Perth, K-Craft Builders has agreed to lease 1800 square metres of space previously leased to Alloy Haulage, at 36 Banksia Street in Welshpool. The lease was struck at a gross face rent (pre incentives) of about $93 per square metre.

K-Craft has been headquartered at Welshpool for 30 years, and is expanding. Colliers International brokered the deal.

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Record Number of New Zealanders Move to Australia in May: Statistics NZ

A RECORD number of New Zealanders are moving to Australia.

According to Statistics New Zealand, 3300 New Zealanders moved to Australia in May – and that figure is net (meaning it cancels out those who are relocating the other way).

The Christchurch earthquakes and aftershocks, as well as a weak economy, is driving the trend. Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city and did have a population of 300,000.


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Results of Renters Survey Suggests More Flexibility Required

RENTERS want landlords to pay them greater respect, and they want to be able to customise their homes, according to a recent survey by online group rent.com.au.

The survey also rated as top renter concerns: the ability to own a pet, hang artwork and photos, work on gardens, or enjoy better quality kitchens. Renters also called for home-inspection times that are outside of business hours, and for more time to inspect homes, so as to “get a feel”.

The survey, reported in various press, does not disclose the number of survey respondents. However the issues have presented for decades to landlords.

Interestingly the survey raised an issue of advertised rents often differing from prices given during inspections.

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Despite Warnings, Offshore Investors Continue to Buy Australian Agricultural Land

DESPITE warnings from Queensland independent Bob Katter, overseas investors are continuing to snap up Australian agriculture land.

This time, the Swedish National Pension Fund is teaming with US institutional investor TIAA-CREF, making a commitment to invest more in Australia.

Through its Westchester Group, TIAA-CREF already controls 180,000 hectares of cropping country. The “TIAA” refers to the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, which took an 85 per cent controlling interest in Westchester Group late last year.

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Offshore Developers Leasing Australian Offices

RECRUITMENT firms say foreign developers that have been snapping up Australian assets are actively in the office market for lease.

Groups looking to establish or expand Australian operations include Asian broker and fund manager CLSA, global sovereign funds such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Government of Singapore Corporation and South Korea’s Investment Corporation.

LaSalle Investment Management and the US-based pramerica Real Estate Investors are also looking for space, according to the AFR.

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Qatari Government Buys More Rural Australian Property

HASSAD – the agricultural arm of the Qatari government – is in negotiations to buy five properties in western Victoria, in a deal reportedly worth $45 million.

The portfolio will bring the value of Australian assets purchased by the overseas group in the past twelve months to over $100 million.

Hassad is said to be considering purchasing another major property in NSW from one of the Victorian vendors.

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Address and Secrets of Channel Nine’s The Block Revealed in Council Documents

BEHIND the scenes, Channel Nine has been busy lodging applications to effectively rebuild the quartet of neighbouring terraces that are the subject of heavily marketed TV show The Block, which airs from June 20.

Nine agreed to buy the four rundown single-storey homes at 37-43 Cameron Street for $3.6 million soon after they hit the market last year. Settlement occurred in February, at about the same time new planning applications were lodged (and subsequently approved) by the City of Yarra council.

Eleven months ago, the terraces were offered for sale with an adjoining 446 square metre parcel of land (addressed 31 – 35 Cameron Street) which Nine is currently using to store materials and machinery.

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April Building Approvals Rise in Parts, Fall in Parts, Generally Steady Overall

THE Australian Bureau of Statistics today released official building approval numbers.

They show the number of dwellings approved nationally fell by 1.3 per cent in April, after rising 8.6 per cent in March (seasonally adjusted).

Victoria held about steady, while New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania recorded major drops. By comparison, South Australia and Queensland reported notable rises.

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PCA Questions New Australian Population Strategy

A CONTROVERSIAL new population strategy – which sets no population target at all – has concerned peak property bodies.

The Gillard government’s first population strategy, Sustainable Australia, Sustainable Communities, is “political in nature’ according to the Property Council of Australia chief executive Peter Verwer, who added it contained “little more than motherhood statements, previously announced government initiatives and ongoing government programs.”

“This is not a detailed plan for managing population growth and to describe it as a policy or a strategy would be stretching credibility,” Mr Verwer was quoted as saying in The Australian. “We need to grow our population, which needs taxation revenue to fund vital services,” he added.

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Australian Residential Rental Vacancies on the up as Supply of Stock Surges

RENTAL vacancy levels increased last month according to SQM Research.

For the month, there were 6135 more residences listed for rent, bringing the total to 47,787 nationally. Last April the figure was around 37,000.

Melbourne had the highest rental vacancy rate at 2.6 per cent, according to SQM, while Canberra, the nation’s capital, had the lowest amount of rental stock: 0.6 per cent.

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ASIC Orders Banks to Relax Rules That Restricted Older People From Borrowing

IN A positive move for middle-aged and older Australians, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission has ordered banks to relax rules that restricted borrowing capacity.

On April 23 ASIC announced it clarified responsible lending guidelines introduced in January – which inadvertently resulted in banks and non-bank lenders being rejected credit applications from middle aged people without a substantial retirement egg.

ASIC now says lenders must ask more questions to determine whether a middle aged applicant will be able to repay a 25-year owner occupier mortgage loan, if they are due, for example, to retire in the next decade.

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Australian Residential Rents Tipped to Continue to Rise in 2011

RENTS for houses and apartments are expected to rise this year, as a result of accelerated economic activity, housing shortages and a depressed first home buyers market.

Australian Property Monitors, a property analyst, predicts a steep rise in rents this year, following what was a quarter of growth in March 2011.

According to APM, Sydney apartment rents have increased 7.1 per cent in the past twelve months, followed closely by Adelaide and Canberra.

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One in Four Australians Will Not Make Payments if Rates Rise 0.5 Per Cent: Report

A REPORT by finance giant QBE says one in 10 mortgage holders would not be able to make their repayments if interest rates rise by one quarter of a per cent.

This figure rises to one in four Australians, if interest rates were to rise half a per cent.

The report also says 80 per cent of first home buyers said the property market was overvalued, but one in five said they are still likely to make a purchase in the next six months.

The report, by QBE Lenders Mortgage Insurance, says on average 25 per cent of owner occupiers are suffering mortgage stress, with this figure likely to rise in line with future interest rate rises.

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Sydney, Melbourne on the Radar of Major North American Retailers

AUSTRALIA’s almost uninterrupted strong economic run – which has resulted in an almost uninterrupted consumption binge – is piquing the interest of North America’s major retail businesses.

According to a new report by commercial agency CB Richard Ellis, Sydney and Melbourne (image, Brighton bathing boxes, right) have both ranked in the top 10 most attractive destinations for expansion.

The survey samples 323 global retailers, and 209 cities in 73 countries.

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