Sydney Inner west apartments: 17/1 Barr street, Camperdown

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FOR SALE: 17/1 Barr street Camperdown, Sydney

Apartment 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car

Built 1920s; converted 2007

Size 96 sqm

Strata levies $640.65 per quarter

This apartment is a warehouse conversion with a blend of industrial and contemporary feel such as exposed beams, double-height ceilings, timber floors and glass doors to the balcony. Living areas, kitchen and dining downstairs is open plan whilst both bedrooms have built-ins, the main bedroom with an ensuite. It has acceess to a communal rooftop swimming pool.

Location wise, it is very close to Parramatta road and is directly opposite Sydney University.

The asking price for this apartment was $695,000 and was sold in August 2009 for $685,000.

Camperdown apartments median private treaty price is $455,000.

Source: Australian Property Monitors, 1800 817 616, homepriceguide.com.au

Melbourne tipped to take over Sydney as Australia’s no. 1 city

Going Nowhere report - 3-speed economy 1

Melbourne is going through a property boom at the moment where house prices have surged 27% over the last 12 months. It is the fastest growing city in Australia and is expected to overtake Sydney as Australia’s largest city within three decades because Victoria is building new homes at twice the rate of New South Wales and is attracting immigrants in record numbers. Victoria’s population recorded an increase of 112,000 in the year to March 2009 and assuming Melbourne has kept its share of growth rate, the city is expanding at a rate of 90,000 people a year or more than 1,700 a week.

In a study report entitled “Going Nowhere” prepared by forecaster BIS Shrapnel for the Urban Taskforce developers’ lobby, the findings show evidence of a “3-speed” economy within Australia over the last 10 years:

  • resources boom powering Western Australia and Queensland away from the rest of the states
  • previously slow-growing Victoria and South Australia recording strong growth
  • complacent New South Wales slipping into a laggard status

The Victorian state government has established the Growth Areas Authority with a broad and facilitative role to create greater certainty, faster decisions and better coordination between all parties involved in planning and development of Melbourne’s growth areas.

The Growth Areas Authority was established in 2006 and reports to the Minister for Planning as part of the Victorian Government’s plan for outer urban development. The Growth Areas Authority has been appointed by the Minister for Planning to oversee planning and development in Melbourne’s five growth areas:

This augurs well for leading home builders in Melbourne where competition is keen in Melbourne’s new growth areas above. These home builders offer a wide range of stand alone homes, house and land packages with flexible floor plans to suit the needs of different markets. Some of the leading home builders in Victoria include the following:

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How to secure a rental property

Ray White, Epping

Ray White real estate agents in Epping, Sydney

Vacancy rates for rental properties in major capital cities across Australia are at all-time lows, some even going below 1% of available rental properties in the market.

There have been horror stories that renters in certain areas have just submitted application forms without even inspecting the property having more than 10 previous applications rejected. Due to the acute shortage in popular areas, some renters are taking more proactive steps to ensure their application gets the attention of the agents. Here are some top tips to make your application stand out from the crowd:

1. Prepare a cover letter. Submitting an application for rental is somewhat like an application for a job interview. You want to take a professional approach and this involves highlighting your greatest attributes. You need to have a good understand of what landlords wants – rent on time, every time and due care and maintenance of their property. Show the following in your letter:

  • Your enthusiasm – say why you like the property. Agents and landlords know that renters who value the rented premises tend to take better care of it. If you decide to stay for longer than the usual 6 or 12-month lease, it is advisable to state your intentions as landlords generally prefer good tenants with a long term lease.
  • Your rental history – if you have been renting for awhile, you should be able to provide a brief of your renting history, that you have always made payments on time.

2. References. These are important documents because it establishes your rental history and lend assurance to the agent and landlord that you are bona fide and can at least demonstrate an advantage over first-time renters.

3. Deposit and rental ledger. In a tight rental market, you have to be very quick if you have decided on the rental property you want. Be prepared to pay the required rent in advance and / or bond money to secure the premises. If you have been a good payer, obtain a copy of the rental ledger from your agent. This is one of the most powerful document that you can present which landlords regard very highly in their list of priorities.

4. Proof of employment. A letter of employment from your employer, pay-slips and bank statements are documents which shows agents and landlords that you are stable and can demonstrate income-earning capabilities.

Established home prices in Gladstone, Queensland

58 Penda Avenue Gladstone 1

FOR SALE: 58 Penda Avenue, Gladstone, Queensland

Based on my research of over 35 established homes currently listed for sale in Gladstone, Queensland, an average 4 bedroom 2 bathroom 2 carspace home with a land size of approximately 700 sqm has an asking price of approximately $370,000. This study does not include new house and land packages which are currently on the market, houses with larger than average land size of over 900sqm. This asking price is within the average of median house prices of $374,000 based on 14 suburbs within Gladstone.

Generally, most houses are well presented, have large backyards and are located on within a 5km radius of Gladstone.

58 Penda Avenue above is a well-presented 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom and 1 car space home with a good size outdoor entertainment area and backyard.  It has a total land size of 660 sqm and overlooks serene bushland. It is for sale with an asking price of $392,000 through Judith Dunstan of Remax Gold.

Download an independent Special Report on Gladstone.

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Reasons for 6th interest rate increase since October 2009

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20-year interest rate trend in Australia

The Reserve Bank of Australia has increased interest rates by 25 basis points today for the sixth time since October 2009’s 49-year low of 3%, bringing the cash rate to 4.5%. The RBA cited increasing demand from the reviving mining boom as being one of the reasons for the rate increase. On a broader note, the increase was mainly due to signs of a strengthening domestic economy, falling unemployment rate and price increases. Property prices increased by 20% in Australian capital cities in the year to March 2010, the biggest jump in 20 years according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics report on 3 May 2010.

Credit for housing has been expanding at “a solid pace”, even though new housing loan approvals have decreased over the last 5 months as the effects of the sharp interest rate rises took effect and the First Home Owner’s Grant tailed off.

“Nonetheless, at this point the market for established dwellings is still characterised by considerable buoyancy, with prices continuing to increase over recent months”. the central bank said.

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How to choose the right builder for your dream home

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Home renovations, extensions and improvements have pre-occupied many Australians who choose to embark on the work for various reasons – improve their lifestyle, family planning, make money and create value for their real estate investments.

Building a new home involves an extensive list of professionals and tradesmen, the most important one of which is the builder. Some key issues to consider in choosing the right builder include:

1. Seek recommendations

If friends have previously used a builder, then the best approach would be to discuss with the friend and be able to see for yourself the quality of the build and feedback. Most architects and project managers will also be able to recommend good builders as it forms part of their everyday work in dealing with builders and tradespeople.superstock_1042r-9822b.medium

2. The builder is a registered practitioner

In order to carry out building works, the builder must have all the required insurance during the construction phase until the occupancy certificate is issued. A builder who is not licensed or registered will not be able to obtain the relevant public liability,  WorkCare and completion guarantee insurance. Completion guarantee insurance is required by the building surveyor before a building permit can be issued to commence construction. Builders are also required to provide the statutory six-and-a-half-year structural guarantee insurance on all domestic building works. You can check if the builder is licensed under the Department of Fair Trading website.

3. Credit check and solvency

There have been many cases where the builder becomes insolvent during a project, leaving the entire construction site unattended and incomplete. This has disastrous consequences in terms of legal implications, public safety and continuity of project not to mention financial stress on holding costs. Credit checks on builders can be obtained from credit reporting agencies such as Veda Advantage and Dun & Bradstreet.

4. Previous building experience on similar work

Some builders specialise in certain type of building work and it is important to ensure the builder is capable of effectively carrying out the proposed project. Check out the builder’s previous projects to ascertain build quality and speak to their previous clients to obtain written references and feedback on cost competitiveness, timeliness and service.

The building  / construction contract

There are essentially 2 types of domestic / residential building contracts provided by:DBI_Image_2

a) Master Builders Association (MBA)

b) Housing Industry Association (HIA)

The building contract is one of the most important documents in the construction and development of a property. The contract generally sets out the key terms and conditions, among other things, the obligations, rights and remedies for all parties involved. It is always advisable to have the building contract verified and advised upon by a solicitor who has extensive experience in property law and conveyancing in this area of specialty.

Pertinent terms and conditions of a building contract include the following key issues:

a) Cost of construction (ie the contract price you will pay the builder) and the manner in which progress payments will be made. In general, progress payments are broken up into 6 stages and the percentages of each stage must be clearly stated:

i) Initial deposit to confirm acceptance of the building contract and for the builder to commence construction work;

ii) Payment at the end of the base stage;

iii) Payment at the end of the frame stage;

iv) Payment at the end of the lock-up stage;

v) Payment at the end of the fixing stage;

vi) Final payment upon completion of the project and issuance of occupancy certificate.

b) Detailed scope of work for each stage of the construction process

c) Timeline which sets out the, commencement date, estimated deadline and milestones for each stage of the construction phase and the final completion date

d) Sets out detailed recourse / remedies in the event there is a dispute between the owner / developer with the builder

e) Provisions that all building and construction works are in accordance with relevant building guidelines, rules and regulations

f) Specifies that work carried out is in compliance with the building specifications, architect drawings and cost calculations.

g) Specific details of all parties, location and title details – name and address of the property and the registered owner, name and address of the builder, description of the property and its title details.

h) Allowance for prime cost items – this allowance is for items, fixtures and fittings which have yet to be chosen by the owner whereby a pricing has not been determined.

i) Allowance for unsuitable weather, public holidays and other unforeseen events.

4 Austin Place, Melton South

4 Austin Place Melton South 1

Town house at 4 Austin Place, Melton South

Melton is located 42km northwest of Melbourne CBD via the M8 Western Freeway.

4 Austin Place is a development located located approximately 1.5 km from the Melton train station and 2 km to all the conveniences of the commercial and retail precinct along High street in Melton. It consists of 16 units of 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom and single car space town houses. The built-up and land area for each unit is approximately 165 sqm and 275 sqm respectively.

Most of the town houses at 4 Austin Place are now for sale at $289,000 per unit.

Melton was recently noted through research by Tim Lawless, Director of Property Research at RP Data as being one of the most affordable suburbs in Melbourne.

How to avoid buying a dud apartment

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Sign of trouble ~ Sub-letting and unprofessional advertising practices by owners and tenants at Regis Tower in Pitt street, Sydney

When buying an apartment, the same principles and good common sense apply and these include the usual location analysis, good public transport and amenities, attractive floor-plans and unique points of differences, modern conveniences such as reverse cycle air-conditioning, gas cooking and lock-up storage.

However, you would be wise to understand and investigate some issues which are beyond the mere asking price and physical appearance of the property:

1. Understand the ratio of tenants vs owner-occupiers of the apartment block.

Some apartment blocks have an extremely high percentage of tenants, that is, mostly investors as opposed to owner-occupiers. In such cases, there is usually less control in terms of occupants abiding by-laws and regulations. Owners have less control over the quality of occupants / tenants and the performance of the strata manager. Tenants are also less likely to care for and maintain the premises the same way that owners do. When this happens, the building will “degenerate’ quickly as it will develop a bad reputation and stigma. Investors will avoid the building and in the long run, the apartments within the building will all suffer from poor capital growth. At best, it will have fairly consistent rental yield if it is located close to the CBD but it will attract low quality tenants.

2. Check the previous minutes of strata meetings

Minutes of strata meetings will usually reveal the history of how well an apartment block is managed. It will show the actions and tasks which were undertaken to resolve problems, adverse events such as looming capital repair bills, insurance claims outstanding, squabbles between owners and messy legal proceedings.

3. Strata levies and sinking fund

The age of the building, facilities such as lifts, swimming pool, gymnasium, concierge, security and compound  maintenance are the big ticket items which determines strata levies to a large extent. Comparisons of strata levies can be made with similar apartment blocks to determine the efficiency and effectiveness the performance of the strata manager and how active the Owners’ Corporation are in the affairs of the maintaining the property in a good state of repair.

Sinking funds are monies set aside to fund future repairs and maintenance of the building which are of a capital nature such as any structural additions, repairs and new facilities. There are laws and regulations governing the administration of sinking funds to ensure fund adequacy through regular and progressive payments so that owners are not caught with significant future shortfalls. Ascertain the level of sinking fund to ensure it is adequate and you will not be liable for large increases in the future should the fund be inadequate.

4. Local agent feedback

Local agents in the suburb will usually have the lion share of managing apartments in the suburb and usually have information which will help in your research. Visit and talk to these agents to find out how many apartments they are managing within the block, tenant profile, turnover, history of rental rates and reviews, historical apartment prices trends and other general information on the suburb.

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