52 Grace street, Melton South, Melbourne

52 Grace street, Melton South, Melbourne 1

FOR SALE: 52 Grace street, Melton South, Melbourne

Asking price: $275,000

3 Bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1 car space

Located in the heart of Melton South, this property is within walking distance to  public transport and the local shopping precinct.

The property comprise of 3 bedrooms with built-in wardrobes, oversized single carport and a large backyard.

Agent: Kylie Doig, Cooper Real Estate. Phone 03 9747 9111 Mobile 0408 430 825

Dee Why Hotel – bar and restaurant at your doorstep

Dee Why Hotel

Dee Why Hotel's new bar and restaurant

Located in the brand new Dee Why Grand mixed-used development, Dee Why Hotel is now a fully refurbished and upgraded bar and restaurant from its former glory days at the corner of Pittwater road and Sturdee Parade.

Beef burger at Dee Why Hotel

Beef burger at Dee Why Hotel

Complete with pokies machines, pool tables and big screen TVs, private rooms and more casual dining, the decor is cosy with dark wood timber and modern subdued lighting.

Dee Why Grand residents will be feted with delectable brasserie fare where the bar and restaurant are open till late with live music performances on selected evenings.

There are certainly no more excuses for drinking and driving since it is within 30 metres from the brand new apartment complexes.

Dee Why Hotel in its former glory

BEFORE: Dee Why Hotel in its former glory

Dee Why Grand

AFTER: Dee Why Grand - set to transform Dee Why's business facade

Related posts:

Top investment strategies for Sydney’s growing urban trend

Din Tai Fung restaurant at World Square in Sydney

Din Tai Fung restaurant at World Square in George Street, Sydney

“The mother of all evil is speculation” – Gordon Gekko, Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps

As major capital cities in Australia become ever more densely populated, many urban dwellers find they are spending more time in traffic jams, hustling for car space in shopping malls, prefer to eat home rather than battle a restaurant crowd and buy groceries at odd hours to beat the weekend rush.

Being time poor, many residents are now choosing to live close to or even right where these amenities and public conveniences are located. In recognition of this growing trend and preference of urban residents, many property developers are now constructing residential projects known as “integrated developments” or “mixed use development” – apartment units that come with all the modern conveniences such as reverse cycle air-conditioning, gymnasium, swimming pool, security, concierge, secure parking AND the added convenience of retail shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, banks, post office and yes, a big Coles or Woolworths all conveniently located within the same development.

The obvious appeal of this type of development is the absolute convenience for time poor residents where saving a half hour hunting for a car park just to bank a cheque is proving irresistible.

You can post a letter in an instant and treat Coles, the local butcher and green grocer as your private fresh food pantry that is accessible at any time of the day. Don’t feel like cooking tonight? Catch an elevator from your apartment and walk into an endless array of food outlets and restaurants.

Brand new Dee Why Hotel at Dee Why Grand - why drink and drive when you can walk 30 metres home to your apartment

Strategies to investing in mixed use developments

Before rushing into the next mixed use development even if it appeals to your specific needs, I would suggest doing research in the following specific order:

1. Understand the entire demographics of the suburb where the mixed use project is located

2. What is the reputation and experience of the developer?

3. Are there local attraction apart from the mixed use development itself?

4. The composition of the mixed use development

5. The type, position and floorplan of the apartment

6. Does the apartment have a secured car space and external storage?

7. The price of the apartment

Lets examine each element in turn:

1. Understand the entire demographics of the suburb

An understanding of demographics include the profile of current and would-be residents. Will this project appeal to families, young executive market or will it likely attract the entire population of students from a nearby university? This issue is important because it determines and may eventually dictate rental and capital growth trends of the project and in some cases the entire suburb. Some apartment developments which are close to the CBDs attract a very high majority of transient occupants.

Although it may prove difficult to predict occupant profile, using a good dose of common sense such as observing the profile of existing residents, the type of commercial businesses in the area, local attractions such as parks, beaches and prestige schools will provide an indication of the type of resident that would be attracted to living in the area. Other important factors will include the history of the suburb – does it have a strong capital growth record and attractive rental market for investors?

Stockland Group's The Village in Balgowlah, Sydney

Stockland Group's The Village apartments and shopping centre in Balgowlah, Sydney

It should also be observed that some suburbs may have a chequered past where there is a history of crime, lower-end businesses and “old and tired” housing. A landmark project can have incredible transformation powers to completely gentrify the entire area, fuelling the onset of new cafes, restaurants, trendy shops and attracting a whole new generation of investors, residents and visitors. Therefore, a savvy investment strategy can include trying to determine the effects of a mixed use development on an existing suburb which may be lacking in a local attraction or amenity. Getting in early can eventually mean having the benefit of both upside in capital growth and strong rental demand.

Top Ryde City Apartments and Top Ryde City Shopping Centre, Sydney

2. Reputation and experience of the developer

The skills and experience of the developer is paramount for mixed use projects because it is more than merely building a few hundred dwellings to cater for housing needs. The developer must have the skills and experience to do extensive research in understanding supply and demand statistics of the location and suburb, local council requirements and likelihood of approval, traffic logistics and investor profile.

It is wise to check and examine similar projects undertaken by the developer, the location of these projects, the quality of its finishings, the on-going effectiveness of its management of the apartment complex, their occupant profile and whether these projects were successful and well-received in general.

Pacific Square, Maroubra junction, Sydney

Apartments at Pacific Square Shopping Centre has transformed Maroubra junction, Sydney

3. Local attraction apart from the integrated development itself

It is important the mixed use development has its own appeal and self-sufficiency. This factor is important where the is a genuine lack of amenities and local attraction as mentioned-above where this single development may (or may not!) spark the entire gentrification process. However, if the project is located in an area where there are other attractions such as beaches, cafes, restaurants, parklands, schools, hospitals and shopping malls, these local attractions will also help in making the integrated development more appealing.

Dee Why Hotel in its former glory

BEFORE: Dee Why Hotel in its former glory

Personally, I tend to look for the single-most important influence of the suburb. For example, if the development is close to beaches, then it must cater to the profile of locals and those who want to live the beach and surf culture. Developments which are close to CBDs must have good public transport links to cater for people who are attracted to living closer to their workplaces.

Dee Why Grand, northern beaches Sydney

AFTER: Dee Why Grand - set to transform Dee Why's business and commercial precinct along Pittwater Road

4. The composition of the mixed use development

Having identified the mixed use development to invest, it is important to understand the following information:

  • How many residential apartments in the entire development in total?
  • How many blocks of apartments in total?
  • What is the ratio of 1, 2, 3 bedroom apartments and penthouses in the entire development?
  • How many retail shops and commercial outlets in the development and the type of businesses?

The information above will provide an indication of the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the development, that is to gauge both occupant profile and living density of the development. Smaller developments can have less than 100 apartments while larger ones can have up to 500 apartments. More importantly, it is also to estimate dwelling supply in addition to existing housing in the suburb when the project is eventually completed.

Rhodes Shopping Centre

Global ICON - IKEA has put Rhodes firmly on Sydney's map

Some new skyscraper projects in Melbourne’s CBD consists of a majority of studio and 1 bedroom apartments. These projects will appeal to younger occupants and a more limited market.

Having decided on the mixed use development, the type of retail and commercial businesses are the most important factors in determining its success because they will not only cater for the residents of the development but also to the public. Strong brands such as Coles, Woolworths, Harris Farm, Telstra, Optus, Westpac, Commonweath Bank to name a few not only indicate confidence in the development from corporations which would have done its research before signing on multi-million dollar leases but also a sign the developer has effectively done its due diligence. Retail and commercial tenancies provide a strong indication of the level and type of public appeal for the entire development.

5. The type, position and floorplan of the apartment

Type of apartment

Due to rising construction and marketing costs among other things, new apartments in general are becoming smaller in living areas. Depending on whether one is buying as an investment or owner-occupier, choosing whether to invest in a 1,2,3 bedroom or penthouse apartment is important. Smaller apartments are easier to rent than 3 bedroom apartments and penthouses which are more likely to appeal to owner-occupiers.

Position of apartment

The position and aspect of an apartment in relation to others in the development is of paramount importance. Fronting a busy and noisy street or facing serene district views, having the favour north-east aspect, quiet courtyard and high-rise living all have different appeal and price factors.

Floorplan of apartmentApartment floor plan

Apart from size, good floor plan takes into account good use of space and design which all contributes to the comfort and convenience of occupants. Generally, it is good to stick to conventional layouts and to avoid unusual and impractical shapes.

6. Does the apartment have a secured car space and external storage?

Some one bedroom apartments in newer developments do not come with a secure car space. Depending on the location of the project, one may be able to get away with tenants who are indifferent of a car space. Personally, I never invest in apartments that do not have car spaces irrespective of how much it has been discounted. External storage is a great facility to avoid clutter in increasingly smaller apartments, especially those in the CBD areas.

7. The price of the apartment

Many investors look at the price of the property and make decisions based on this criteria. To me, price is the least important and should only be considered when all the other boxes above have been ticked off. In short, if criteria 1 to  6 are unsatisfactory, there is no point in even considering the property no matter how reasonable price may appear. A “cheap” price to me signals danger and there may be hidden flaws that is not immediately obvious. Even before researching on price, investors should understand the largest single on-going cost of the chosen apartment – strata levies. Mixed use developments with its array of added conveniences and facilities may attract higher maintenance and administrative levies and these should all be considered and factored into the asking price.

To assess reasonableness of price, I generally use dollar per square metre of living spaces (internal living area plus balconies, courtyards etc but excluding car spaces and external storage) as a guide for comparison between apartments. Try and work out this measure for different suburbs to get a feel of how much an apartment cost, remembering that price is only relative whereas the dollar per square metre is a more absolute measure.

Some of the newer developments in Sydney’s CBD are asking for up to $10,000 per square metre while developments in suburbs which are further away but remain popular have significantly lower prices.

Like this article?  Check out these related posts:

Note: All views, comments and opinions in this article are general in nature and do not constitute legal, investment or financial advice.

Contact us should you need to discuss our licensed buyer’s advocate services.

Sydney’s undervalued suburb

39 Boronia street, Granville, Sydney

FOR SALE at $440,000: 39 Boronia street, Granville, Sydney

Located west of Sydney’s CBD, Granville’s median house price of $390,000* is relatively inexpensive for a location that is within the 20km benchmark from the CBD.

Property prices in the suburb has been growing at an average of 7.2% over the last 10 years with approximately 45% of all dwellings within the suburb designated as rentals. The median weekly rent of $380 gives investors a respectable return of 5% per annum.

Investors or home buyers alike would be wise to consider:

  • Locations within walking distance to parklands such as Granville Park, Mona Park, retail shops, restaurants and Granville or Clyde train stations.
  • Older properties on larger blocks of land with potential for future upgrade.

Why I like this suburb

  • A mere 3km to heart of Parramatta metropolis in Sydney’s west.
  • Convenience of retail, commercial facilities, cafe and restaurants.
  • Good public transport facilities with Granville and Clyde train stations located within the heart of the suburb.
  • Potential upside for capital growth over the next 5 – 10 years as overcrowded areas in the inner west begin to move further west of Sydney.

*Source: RP Data – median price for 12 months to May 2010

Spring 2010 ~ Property Update & Investment Strategies for 2011

Spring time ~ children playing at Watsons Bay, Sydney

Spring time ~ children playing at Watsons Bay, Sydney

July  – September 2010 update

The spring season is well underway in Australia and whilst this has always been a good season for buying and selling property, this year’s spring season has started off slow for 3 main reasons:

  • Uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the 21 August 2010 Federal elections
  • Very strong price growth over 2009 and 2010 which is now starting to slow as a result of 6 interest rate rises over the last 12 months
  • Uncertainty over the weak US economy and how it may affect the Australian economy

It is therefore not suprising to hear and read of many mixed messages in the media as to where property markets are trending over the next few months. Generally, the sellers’ market (more buyers than sellers) of the last 18 months have been gradually shifting to a buyers’ market (more sellers than buyers) recently. There have been more properties on the market for longer periods with auction clearance rates across major capital cities coming off their record highs in recent months. There is also a sense of apprehension from investors as to the sustainability of strong price growth and whether a property bubble is brewing in the Australian markets.

The World and Australian economies at a glance

The US economy is still extremely weak and fragile where 40 million Americans are now deemed to be living in poverty and unemployment is at a rate of 10%. One in every five properties in the US has negative equity, that is, its value is less than the amount being owed to a financial institution. Major economies in Europe such as Germany, UK, France and Italy are still struggling amidst the European crisis which are crippling countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

In contrast, Australia was the only country in the developed world (apart from Poland) to have avoided a recession in 2009 / 2010 where GDP growth has been strong. Unemployment are at record lows of 5% and inflation is within the 2 – 3% comfort level of the Reserve Bank.

Where are interest rates heading over the next 3 years?

Despite the six interest rate increases of 25 basis points each over the past year, Australia’s current cash rate of 4.5% is still below a 15-year average. This may indicate that interest rates still have an upside due to the strong local economy and is widely anticipated to increase by between 2 – 3% over the next 3 years, bringing the standard variable home loan rate to around 9 – 10% by 2012 and 2013.

It should be noted that although interest rates are projected to further increase over the next few years, this projected increase by the RBA is anticipated to be gradual to avoid any unnecessary “shocks” to the economy.

How does this projected 9 – 10% compare to those of the late 80’s and early 90’s when interest rates were between 18 –  21%?

Interest rates should be analysed against inflation rates to compare its intended effects over two different periods. During the record high interest rates in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the CPI which is the key indicator for inflation was close to 10%. Therefore, the projected increase in interest rates over the next 3 years can be loosely equated to a similar situation in the 90’s although the main difference is that Australia was in a recession during the early 90’s whilst the current economy is anticipated to remain resilient over next few years.

Will the faltering US economy affect Australia?

A$ vs US$ trend

A$ vs US$ trend

The weak US economy may only affect Australia to a small extent over the short term because Australia has significantly reduced its dependency on the US as a major trading partner. Australia’s major trading partners are now the new Asian powerhouse economies of China and India where our mining industries are enjoying record growth due to the seemingly inexhaustible demand for, among other minerals, iron ore and coal. This augurs well for the local economy in the short to medium term as there is no foreseeable major downside apart from China having perceived bubbles within its own economy. The Chinese government has put in monetary and fiscal mechanisms to have a “controlled” slowing down of its economy from the heady 11 – 12% annual GDP growth to a more manageable 8 – 9% annual GDP growth.

Although considered a speculative currency among traders and fund managers, the Australian dollar has also been strengthening on the back of the weak US economy. As at 12pm today, the little Aussie battler has hit a 2-year high and is trading at 95.68 US cents. This strong showing again underlines the strength of the Australian economy and provides confidence to both local and foreign investors as well as international money and equity markets. It has even prompted some analysts to conclude the Australian dollar may be overvalued by up to 27%.

What does this all mean for the Australian property market?

The Australian property markets have had a stellar run over the past 18 months despite the gloom of the Global Financial Crisis where property prices in certain suburbs have climbed a staggering 50%. Here is a recapitulation of 10 hottest locations in Australia over the past 12 months:

Rank Location State Type Growth % Median Price $’000
1 Sunshine VIC Unit 49.86 260
2 Maryborough QLD Unit 49.28 257
3 Woodlands WA Unit 49.11 630
4 Herbert NT House 47.81 540
5 Heddon Greta NSW House 47.71 387
6 Gardenvale VIC Unit 47.54 na
7 Yarram VIC Unit 47.51 na
8 Milton QLD Unit 46.67 594
9 Marulan NSW House 46.40 295
10 Heathcote VIC House 45.87 225

Source: RP Data, May 2010

A further 20 suburbs around Australia recorded growth rates between 40 – 45%. The key question on the minds of investors is whether this kind of growth is sustainable and if not, when will it start to slow? When standard variable rates start to hover around the 9 – 10% region, I believe that’s when the property market will see some level of plateau. However, as it is noted that the projected interest rate increase are gradual over the next few years, there will remain good buying opportunities up to 2013 provided investors and home owners do their research and homework. Let’s take a look at the majors markets:

Sydney property market

Monorail at Darling Harbour, Sydney

Monorail at Darling Harbour, Sydney

The Sydney market had an exceptional year of strong price growth where choice locations among investors and homeowners alike were in the lower north shore, northern beaches, eastern suburbs and inner west. Sound properties located in these areas with good public amenities and transport experienced stong capital growth as well as strong rental demand due to a strong population growth over the year. Although there are signs of weakening, a good observation by John Edwards, CEO of Residex is that units and apartments in selected Sydney suburbs have out-performed houses and landed properties in both rental yields AND capital growth and is expected to continue doing so. This recent phenomena can be attributed to changing demographics such as smaller households, single occupants, growing number of couples delaying starting a family, affordability issues and gentrification of the “old and tired” suburbs such as Redfern, Newtown, Camperdown and Darlinghurst.

As for the immmediate future, I anticipate the controversial New South Wales Labor government to be ousted in the March 2011 elections next year and if so, there should be renewed optimism in a stronger state economy led by a new Liberal State government. Areas which would benefit from this new administration may include those which have been previously neglected by the current Labor government.

Therefore, I foresee good opportunities for strong growth in selected suburbs in New South Wales up to around 2012 – 2013. These suburbs include those which may currently be “undervalued” compared to its surrounding neighbourhood such as Granville in western Sydney, Darlington, Chippendale, Erskineville in the heart of Sydney, Maroubra and Matraville in the eastern suburbs and Dee Why, Freshwater and Brookvale in the northern beaches.

Melbourne property market

Rowers at Melbourne's South Bank

Rowers at Melbourne's South Bank

Melbourne was easily the outstanding property market of all Australian capital cities over the last 18 months where property prices have surged up to 50% in some suburbs. Although Sydney remains Australia’s largest capital city, I believe this strong showing has a lot to do with Melbourne stepping up as a world-class city both in terms of living standards and as a business and commercial precinct. State initiatives such as cajoling Tiger Woods to appear in the Australian Masters golf tournament in November 2009, hosting the annual Australian Open Tennis tournament, the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park are just some of the good work the Victorian government is claiming bragging rights over New South Wales.

In terms of economic management and performance, the Victorian government is also miles ahead of its nearest state rivals. It has recorded the fastest growing population across all of Australia and good properties in established and prestige suburbs in the east will continue to receive strong support from this growth. Skilled immigrants are beginning to call Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia as their new home over the traditional favourite of New South Wales due to better housing affordability, public amenities such as schools, hospitals, child care and transport.

I envisage Melbourne’s population to grow outwards towards the west, south and northern parts from its established inner eastern suburbs over the next 5 to 10 years. There seems to be a fairly large number of new and off-the-plan apartments coming on-stream in and around the CBD areas such as Brunswick, Prahran, South Bank and Richmond to name a few. Personally, I would tend to avoid buying apartments right in the heart of the CBD for a few key reasons:

  • Although new, most of these apartments are relatively small in terms of living areas. A typical 2 bedroom apartment in some of these new projects may only have anywhere between 75 – 85 sqm of total living space and some only come with a single bathroom. Many 1 bedroom apartments in new complexes around the CBD do not come with a car space which is an invaluable feature for city living. This is probably attributed to changing demographics, rising value of real estate around CBD areas as well as construction and marketing costs which render these apartments relatively expensive compared to those slightly further from the city.
  • Off-the-plan projects carry a certain level of risk in terms of expected completion dates, market conditions and valuation upon completion as well as the level and quality of its finishings. These projects have indeed made speculators tidy profits in a booming market where some may even have no intention of settlement but to simply offload upon completion. However, I believe the boom times have since passed. In a climate where the market is anticipated to start slowing, these off-the-plan projects become even riskier and unless you intend to buy as an owner-occupier with the intention of living in the property for the long term, I would avoid getting into these investments.
  • Many new apartment blocks are now being marketed to foreign and overseas investors and in some cases, a very significant majority of eventual occupants will consist of tenants as opposed to owner-occupiers and unless management and body corporate maintenance is effective, these apartment blocks will depreciate more quickly and worse still, develop a stigma of having very transient occupants and affect future capital growth.
  • Due to tighter lending guidelines, major banks now have restrictions of 15% for lending to any one off-the-plan project to limit their exposure to inherent risks. In many cases, pre-approval cannot be given as bank valuations will only be done at the “lock-up” or completion  stage of the project. Even after obtaining finance approval for these project, one may encounter issues with getting the desired  Loan to Value ratio as this is dictated by the bank’s valuation.
  • There appears to be many new projects in various stages of construction and over-supply may be an issue in the future.

Generally, I would consider suburbs which are fairly close to the CBD with good public amenities and transport to be a better option. Having identified these areas, the location within each of these suburbs and in turn the specific street on which to purchase is important. Thereafter, I will consider the type of property and finally its intrinsic price compared to similar properties which have recently sold in the same vicinity.

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

Perth property market

Northbridge's entertainment precinct, Perth

Northbridge's entertainment precinct, Perth

The Western Australian property market saw its heydays in the mid 2000’s amidst the resources boom of the century where property prices tripled and even quadrupled in many suburbs which were previously sleepy hollows. The exploits from the heady days of Alan Bond, Lang Hancock and Robert Holmes a Court to the current mavericks in Fortesque Metal’s Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and Gina Reinhart, has accorded Perth as as Australia’s third largest capital city.

Suburbs within Perth city’s 5km reach such as Leaderville, Shenton Park, Osborne Park, Woodlands, Northbridge, Subiaco, Swanbourne, East Perth, Claremont and Wembley have all cashed in on this once in a life-time property boom. Needless to say that prestige suburbs such as Dalkeith, Peppermint Grove, City Beach, Cottesloe and Mosman Park which enjoy both the Swan river and Indian Ocean views are some of the priciest residential real estate suburbs in the whole of Australia.

However, prices slowed and even tumbled during the height of the GFC where days on the market for many properties were languishing amidst weak demand. The Western Australian economy is forecast to remain slow in recovery as a result of uncertainty surrounding the proposed mining tax and concerns about the global economy. East Perth, Tuart Hill, East Victoria Park and Fremantle all recorded weak price and rental growth and remain as some of the weakest areas in Australia.

Brisbane property market

Brisbane city skyline

Brisbane city skyline

Unlike the Sydney and Melbourne markets, the Queensland property market has generally been flat over the last 18 months. Having said this, almost half of Brisbane’s metropolitan suburbs have experienced negative growth whilst the remaining half have seen some level of activity. There seems to be a lot of high rise apartment blocks coming on-stream within the CBD and this should be a sign of caution for over-supply within the next couple of years. The Brisbane market is fragmented to the extent that investors need to understand which suburbs within the 10km radius of the CBD that is going to experience growth as a result of scarcity, good amenities and strong demand from those which are in areas which could experience an over supply in the coming years.

For this market, I would generally invest a little further away from the Brisbane CBD to take advantage of potential capital growth in suburbs which have good transport links to the CBD, close to schools, hospitals and shopping as well as properties with the potential to “add-value” from simple renovations to more extensive upgrades.

Rental market

In general, the rental market in major capital cities is expected to be tight due to a growing population and a lack of stock in and around popular suburbs which have good public amenities and transport to the CBDs. The current vacancy rates of between 1 – 3% for each of the major capital cities should only be taken as an indication. Suburbs with local attractions such as the convenience of shopping with commercial centres, parklands, beaches, good schools and good access to the CBDs will continue to attract tenants. Even in this tight market, there are suburbs where vacancy rates are in double digits due to either poor quality offerings and poor location.

Investment strategies

“The mother of all evil is speculation” – Gordon Gekko, Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps

As the market is beginning to slow down, I would, generally, consider the following strategies:

  • Invest in areas where there is a strong demand from both investors and home-owners alike. These areas would invariable be in popular suburbs with good access to public transport and amenities and fairly close to major capital cities.
  • Stay away from off-the-plan projects due to a slowing market and potential uncertainty.
  • Consider properties which have the potential to “add-value” and manufacture equity in addition to potential up-side in capital growth.
  • From a finance perspective, do not overextend and stay within your borrowing and servicing capacity.

Related posts

Albert Wong is economics writer for wealthruproperty.com

Disclaimer: Views, opinions and comments expressed in this article are general in nature and do not constitute investment, legal or financial advice. Readers are advised to seek their own professional advice as and when required.

3 Alfreda Avenue, Rosanna, Melbourne

3 Alfreda Avenue, Rosanna, Melbourne

FOR SALE: 3 Alfreda Avenue, Rosanna, Melbourne

Price guide: $640,000 – $680,000

3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 car space

Located just under 15km north east of the CBD, Rosanna is a leafy suburb within the affluent Lower Plenty region in Melbourne.

The property is near new with good finishes and open plan kitchen fitted with European appliances. The bathrooms and powder room have good finishes, tapware and ducted heating.

The living areas  have polished hardwood and flow-on to an alfresco dining area in the backyard.

Why I like this suburb and property:

  • Conveniently located within 500m off Lower Plenty road which leads into the CBD.
  • Level block of land set in a cul-de-sac end of Alfreda avenue.
  • 600m from Rosanna train line and local village shopping, schools and parklands.
  • 2km from Burgundy street cafe, restaurant and shopping in Heidelberg.

Auction date: 12.00pm Saturday, 16 October 2010

Agent: Paul Carbone of Miles Real Estate. Phone 03 9459 5666 Mobile 0418 541 169

Clever marketing strategies by real estate agents

Tracy Yap Realty's tri-colour pen is a hit with HSC students

I remember years ago when anti-smoking and healthy living were not the forefront of  community concerns, businesses handed out cigarette lighters, ashtrays, whisky short-glasses, wine cooler bags, wine openers and globular brandy glasses with their company name or logo boldly emblazoned. Indeed these were and to some extent, still are clever marketing paraphernalia because they offer some use to the recipient.

Beyond the voluminous fridge magnet calendars and business cards, paper weights and golf balls, some real estate agents provide periodic brochures of their current sales listing to potential clients via mailbox drops. These brochures may be useful if the reader is in the market to buy or sell their property. For the majority, these brochures end up in the bin or worse still, carelessly strewn all over apartment complexes with poor strata management practices. Indeed, mailbox drops which offer products and services such as pizza, take-away Thai, $5 – haircuts, manicures, spas, tax returns, house cleaning, baby-sitting, plumbing, electrician, landscaping, lawn-mowing, pool cleaning, hedge-cutting, tree-lopping and the chance to make $5,000 a week by making a few phone calls are hit and miss strategies where  a rate of more than 1% hit would be deemed a success. These marketing strategies are not only environmentally unfriendly, their returns on valuable business resources are extremely low.

Community participation and support - Epping street Fair

Community participation and support - Epping street Fair

To ensure the biggest bang for their marketing dollar, real estate agents are becoming very savvy in their marketing strategies. One of these strategies is to have a genuine and caring concern for their local community, that is, a supportive and giving attitude to local activities such as charities and sponsorships. Founded by Tracy Yap, Tracy Yap Realty in Epping is one such organisation where environmentally-friendly show bags containing, tri-colour pens, rulers and notepads are handed out during the Epping street Fair which have been found useful by the Sydney’s Children hospital, local schools and students who are sitting for their HSC exams.

A magnum of Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz 2007 from Infinity Property Agents

A magnum of Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz 2007 from Infinity Property Agents

Marketing and business development opportunities arise whenever and wherever we can creatively use our imagination. This imagination should be fuelled by a customer-focused attitude to provide a genuine service and value to our clients. In a competitive business environment today, businesses are increasingly aware of this attitude and have began to engage and involve their business communities in a more holistic and inclusive manner. Being involved in the development of our children and their future, supporting worthy causes such as breast cancer, not-for-profit organisations involved in health, education, social services and environmental issues can only do more good for our communities. Marketing efforts and business resources directed toward these causes can and should expect greater returns.

How to get off the rental rut

Jason Fritsch - First Home Owner at 18 years old

Jason Fritsch - first home owner at 18 years old!

I know of quite a few renters, mostly young X & Y generation youths with good paying jobs who simply can’t put together a deposit towards a first home. They have been renting for years either by themselves or share a house or apartment with friends and split the weekly rent among themselves. Not a bad proposition since it becomes relatively cheaper than being bogged down by a huge mortgage even though it means sacrificing privacy at times. There are both pros and cons with this arrangement and I will start with the good:

Pros of renting vs owning a home

  • The most obvious is not having the burden and responsibility of a mortgage each month and therefore, more disposable income, especially if a few friends share the weekly rent.
  • Long term renters can sometimes negotiate good rental rates from some landlords who value stability over a few extra dollars in rental income.
  • Renters do not need to pay for all the incidental costs that come with owning a home such as water and council rates, insurance, management fees, repairs and maintenance of property.
  • Renters do not need to worry about not being able to find good tenants and having an investment property vacant whilst having to service monthly mortgage payments or having to contend with bad tenants who may trash their property and not pay rent on time or at all.
  • Some renters seek out lifestyle properties as a matter of choice, such as a beachfront mansion or a large home in the country side which they can live in by paying relatively cheaper rent than trying to own such properties themselves.
  • There are also those who own their home but choose to rent to take advantage of tax benefits but these renters are not the focus of this article.
Tenants from hell!!

Tenants from hell - do you really need this??

Now for the bad news:

Cons of renting vs owning a home

  • Long term renters who rent not by choice, are  sometimes resigned to the fact that buying their own home may be out of their reach and see the weekly rent as just another bill they have to pay and become very comfortable with their renting situation. This eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of never having the need to own a home.
  • Generally, property prices trend upwards in the long run and in Australia, the current shortage of housing is seen by many to support long term price growth. This situation may not augur well for renters who do not put home ownership as a priority in their lives.
  • The housing shortage will also drive up rental rates and with a booming population, landlords are currently having the benefit to choose from many tenants applying for the same property to rent.
  • Renting obviously does not accord the same freedom to renters as owning your own home, such as installing fittings and having to abide by maintaining the property in good repair save for reasonable wear and tear.
  • Renting can sometimes be expensive and for some extra dollars, a mortgage may not be that far off for some renters, especially those who share rental premises.

The joy of home ownership

Getting in

To me, the most effective way to get into the property market for aspiring first home owners is to try and save for a deposit either with family help or friends and then, if necessary, buy the first property with friends if they are already renting together. Needless to say, friends who buy property together need to be “on the same page” in terms of personality, goals, financial capacity and long term commitment towards owning. By ditching the rent and sacrificing a little disposable income, it is not unrealistic for a few friends to pool resources and buy their first home.

There are also investors who have gone beyond owning their homes and are now pulling resources to buy lifestyle properties such as beach houses and holiday homes (See article below).

Ownership structure

If first home owners are sharing the burden of buying jointly with friends, the single most important consideration is ownership structure, that is whether the property is to be held as “joint tenants” or “tenants in common” and legislation differs in each state in Australia. The main difference if you own a property as joint tenants, you all own the property in equal shares and if one of the owners die, then their share will automatically pass to the surviving owner/s. Even a will cannot override a joint tenancy. This form of ownership is appropriate with married or long term defacto couples as it is often their wish that if one partner passes away, their share in the property goes to the surviving partner.

If you own a property as tenants in common, you can choose to own the property either in equal or unequal shares eg 50% / 50%, 20% / 80% or 30% / 35% / 35%. If one of the owners die, your will determines who gets your ownership as your proportion does not automatically go to the surviving owners. This form of ownership structure is more appropriate for friends who wish to pool resources, purchase and own property together.

As always, I would advise consulting a legal adviser and accountant to consider all the legal issues before jumping in and buying that first property with friends without fully understanding and being aware of all the legal and financial implications.

Summary

Of course, the pros and cons above are general reasons why some people may choose or not choose to rent. Indeed, I have come across renters who say they are so happy and comfortable with their rented premises, they really do not see any need to ever own their own home.

It brings us back to the question – “Why do I need to buy a property?” Therefore, I would advise any aspiring first home owner to carefully consider this question. Just as how some people choose not to drive, preferring public transport and hence not having the need to own a car at all, one may also find there is absolutely no necessity to buy a property, ever!

Some lucky renters have found their “dream rental property” and have grown to such a level of affinity to consider it their “home” or their “sanctuary”. They are perfectly happy to make  expensive decisions on decoration, furniture and furnishings which they would not otherwise be able to afford if they had to be paying a mortgage. This argument is well and good when it makes tenants as happy as owing their own home. Personally, I see home ownership as one of the most basic of one’s needs and livelihood. In Australia, 70% of people are either home owners or in the process of owning their home through a mortgage. Regardless of social status or background, one needs a roof over one’s head and I suspect that given a choice, the majority of us would choose owning over renting.

For more info and resources, visit our First Home Buyers section.

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How to find a good architect

How to find a good architect 1

Architecture House Design by Mark Canadell Architect

When you are considering building your own home or undertaking major renovations, an architect may be critical to ensure that your project will be completed within your budget and time frame. Many people see an architect as someone who comes up with an initial concept design for a house and a builder would then carry out the construction work.

Depending on the terms of the contract, a good architect invariably involves more than the design and building plans. The key benefits of engaging an architect for your building project or renovations include:

  • Collaborating with the owner throughout the design process – providing guidance and advice on the aesthetics as well as the practical aspects of a design, choosing the different types of building materials and finishes and the level of quality finish according to your budget.
  • Deliberate with council to obtain feedback on compliance with building code and regulations, submit your building plans to council for approval.
  • Project manage the entire building and construction process – advising, supervising and managing the various parties involved such as builders, landscaper, plumbing and electrical works.
  • Provide advice on variations and offer suggestions to ensure efficiency in energy use whilst incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly building principles.
How to find a good architect

Architecture House Design by Mark Canadell Architect

Key process and issues to finding a good architect

  • Search through national bodies such as the Association of Consulting Architects Australia to find a list of architects within your city or state.
  • A good architect / firm of architects should have an informative website to provide clients and prospective clients about the type of work the firm specialises in. Such information would include the size of the firm, number of partners, previous number, size and location of projects undertaken. It is important to ensure the architect has the relevant experience and have undertaken similar projects before in the past.
  • The architect should ideally have previous experience in dealing with the council in which you will be applying to and be able to provide an indication of whether proposed plans have any special conditions or requirements of council and the likelihood of approval.
  • Discuss with a few different architects to gain a feel for the type of experience, work ethics and proposed fees charged. Just like many other professions, an architect’s terms of engagement and professional fees are guided by the standard Architect’s Institute of Australia (AIA) Client Architect agreement. You need to ensure you understand the terms of the agreement and consult a legal adviser if necessary.
  • The architect will need to provide a fee proposal and terms of engagement that is appropriate for your project and should be flexible in tailoring certain issues according to your requirements. He / she should provide an indication of the duration or time line for the entire project so that you have a clear understanding of its costs and completion dates at each stage.
  • It is important that you feel comfortable dealing with your prospective architect from the outset as you will need to be working closely with him / her during the course of the entire project.

When you have finally chosen your preferred architect, you will need to sign the letter of engagement before the architect can commence work on your project. It is very important to be hands-on during the course of the project even though the architect may be acting as the project manager / single point of contact that supervises the entire building and construction team. This is to be absolutely certain the project is going according to schedule and within your budget.

How to find a good architect 2

Architecture House Design by Mark Canadell Architect

3 Rooke street, Hunters Hill, Sydney

3 Rooke Street, Hunters Hill, Sydney

Sold $2,300,000

4 bedroom, 3 bathroom 2 car space

3 Rooke Street Hunters Hill, Sydney 1

Boasting an exclusive address on the leafy and prestigious Hunters Hill peninsula in Sydney, this property is a comfortable stroll to local shops and transport. This home has a prized north-east aspect on 910 sqm of land in a whisper quiet cul-de-sac. Features include:

  • Lofty interiors with split level formal and family living
  • Seamless interiors to outdoor areas with a wrap-around terrance
  • Modern eat-in gas kitchen with European appliances
  • Four good sized bedrooms with built-ins, master with light-filled ensuite
  • Three bathrooms, one with a sauna
  • Separate study with plantation shutters
  • Established and mature gardens with lush lawn and front courtyard
  • Double lock-up garage with internal access and storage
  • Expansive entertainment areas
  • Cul-de-sac location with in-ground swimming pool.

Agent: Tracey Dixon of McGrath. Phone 02 9816 8130 Mobile 0412 443 352

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