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The recent interest rate rises have prompted property owners to shop around for the best mortgage deal, with the number of borrowers refinancing growing by 6% between December 2007 and January this year, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Over the past three months, refinancing has risen almost 22% to an eight-year high.
A record number of borrowers refinanced loans in January to free up spending power, and no doubt the rate hikes in February and March prompted even more borrowers to make a beeline for the banks to negotiate the best possible deals.
The recent sharp declines on the share market are also causing more investors to shift their attention to property, and there are compelling fundamentals to suggest that property will be more in vogue with investors throughout 2008, despite rising interest rates.
Reported b y Commsec, the value of new housing finance commitments rose by 3.7% to $23.2bn in January – the biggest gain in seven months – while investment loans rose by 8.3%, and owner-occupied loans rose 1.7%.
The number of new owner-occupier housing loans rose by 2.3% in January, but was largely influenced by more people refinancing loans.
The proportion of first homebuyers declined to 18% from 18.4% while the average loan fell by $4,500 to $233,900.
Bank dominance of the mortgage market is at a level not seen in over 12 years, with Westpac recently having purchased the RAMS portfolio. This will no doubt be the first of many as non-bank financial institutions increasingly struggle to maintain their share of the mortgage pie.
Few places on Earth have a carbon footprint to match that of Mosman, one of Sydney’s wealthiest enclaves. But now its civic leaders are going green.
Mosman, on the North Shore of Sydney, encompasses some of the city’s most spectacular real estate, palatial houses with swimming pools and wonderful views of the water, along with scenic beaches, coves and peninsulas.
The municipality, also has the dubious distinction of having one of the country’s biggest “ecological footprints”. And since Australians are near the top of the global league table for per capita carbon emissions, that means that Mosmanites are among the most destructive people on the planet.
Some time ago, Mosman outed itself, with the local council revealing that the average footprint of each resident was a massive 14.7 hectares, almost twice the Australian average, and more than six times the global average of 2.3 hectares.
If everyone in the world had a lifestyle similar to that of Mosman residents, a study shows, seven extra Earths would be required to provide the resources. And if the resources to support them had to be found locally, only 58 people would be able to live in Mosman. In fact, the population is 28,000.
So the mayor, Denise Wilton, determined to restore Mosman’s good name, lobbied the Nature Conservation Council, a state environment body, to pick the municipality as the site of a “community climate challenge”, inviting residents to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions drastically.
Ms Wilton was successful, and the challenge was officially launched yesterday. Nearly 150 households have signed up, and the goal is to recruit 1,000 for the three-month pilot programme.
Those who agree will get a kit outlining ways they can green their homes and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. They will be set specific goals, and stars will be awarded for ecologically sound behaviour. Limiting a shower to four minutes, for instance, or using a ceiling fan instead of air-conditioning, will earn one star. Parents who walk their children to school instead of driving them in gas-guzzling cars will earn three stars. So will executives who hold video-conferences rather than flying to other cities for meetings.
Four stars – the maximum – will be awarded for such activities as arranging a walking “school bus” with other parents. Raising funds to install solar panels at a local school will also earn four stars.
The municipality saw off stiff competition from 14 other Sydney councils to be nominated as the venue for the climate challenge, which will be run in conjunction with the Nature Conservation Council, with state government funding.
Visit the Nature Conservation Council to see how you can save energy in your home, and in the process save money and help save the planet.
The last few days have made painfully clear that even a fantasy land like the Las Vegas Strip exists in the real world. And the troubles with the real estate market and credit crunch seem to be imperilling a significant amount of the next wave of Las Vegas development.
So, even conservative estimates have about 20,000 new rooms set to open by 2010. Locals are counting on those rooms to generate the jobs to keep the local economy humming and especially to salvage the devastated residential real estate market.
In any other city people might worry: Will more tourists arrive in Vegas to fill all those new rooms and pay for all those new jobs and justify all this construction?
While Las Vegas may have some short-term economic issues, locals long ago stopped sweating that big issue. It seems no matter how many hotel rooms get built on the Strip, more tourists come to play here.
Maybe this is evidence that if you think you’ve got it bad…!
Michael Marquette of Marquette Turner writes in his Special Report: The biggest post – war crisis that Australia has faced is almost upon us. We have all heard about the aging population and the need for Superannuation to lessen the burden on taxpayers for pensions and other welfare payments. The terrifying statistic that very few people know is that close to 40% of the Australian workforce will reach retirement age in the next 3-5 years.
Unemployment levels in Australia are already extremely low so where are we going to find the people necessary to fill the positions vacated by our retirees? The Australian birth rate is still not even close to the level required to keep up with the pace that baby boomers will leave the workforce.
When put into context the ramifications are enormous. From a skills perspective Australia is struggling to keep up with current requirements and we are already looking abroad for those with the skills needed to keep our economy moving. The Sydney real estate market is very reliant on immigration to maintain demand, thus prices – but where does this leave the rest of the country? The fact is that most immigrants to Australia choose to settle in or around Sydney and as more and more skilled workers are required from overseas the general trend toward increased housing demand in Sydney should continue. Two areas of concern when looking at the effect of the massive reduction of the size of the workforce in this country:
1) How much money will be taken out of Managed Funds for Superannuation payments?
2) Have we adequately planned for infrastructure like rail and roads to attract migrants to areas outside of Sydney?
A massive reduction in the amount held in Managed Funds could have an enormous impact on the stock market as money is withdrawn by the institutional investors. This could have an enormous impact on the capacity of companies already struggling with the skills shortage to continue growing domestically. We may find that Australian companies look at basing themselves abroad to take advantage of lower costs, increased market size and increased labour force.
I have mentioned in previous Marquette Turner e-magazines that Regional cities like Newcastle and Wollongong have been largely ignored. Neither have truly International Airports, nor do they have “Bullet Trains” to connect them to Sydney. How attractive will these cities be to skilled migrants or Australian Companies looking to invest? The simple answer to this is that Regional Australia will suffer greatly due to the neglect of successive Governments.
With the credit crunch making it harder for people to obtain credit to purchase property, retirees reducing the amount in managed funds and the total size of the workforce the outlook is extremely worrying for Australia. How to maintain demand for property and thus maintain pricing in Regional areas is just one of the questions yet to answered. Local Government can only do so much – we need a unified strategy from the Federal and State Governments and we need it now before it’s too late.
Possibly the most ambitious of Dubai’s land reclamation projects, The World is an archipelago of 300 islands laid out to represent countries of the world.
The first developed island is owned by Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher. The $7 million piece of land was gifted to him by Dubai’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and is located in the Arctic (although I’m sure he would have preferred Germany).
There’s various rumours of who owns the other islands, including reports that Rod Stewart spent $33 million to buy mini-Britain.
The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2008, and over in what looks like it might be Spain, we see a boat “spraying” sand to create the island.
Engraving or marking your property leaves no doubt as to its ownership.
Not only does it deter others from taking your property because of the difficulties involved in “offloading” identifiable property, it also helps police to recover and return items which may have been stolen.
Neighbourhood Watch suggest you should keep an inventory of all your property. Record serial numbers, makes and models, and when your inventory is complete, keep the list in a safe place.
Items most often stolen which should be included in a personal inventory include:
Televisions; Video and DVD equipment; Binoculars; Radios and stereos; Microwaves; Cameras; Kitchen appliances; Clothing; Furniture; Sporting goods; Musical equipment; Computer equipment; Firearms; Clocks; Power tools; Lawn mowers; Trailers; Chainsaws; Garden tools; Bicycles; Welders; Rotary hoes and slashers; Tool boxes.
In the car:
Radios and CD players; Two-way radios; Speakers; Mag wheels; Tools and tool boxes; Batteries
Free engravers are available for loan from your local police station or Neighbourhood Watch area co-ordinator. Always seek operating advice before using the engraver, as some items are not suitable for marking by electric engraver.
Mosman Council on Sydney’s North Shore has been ranked the slowest in the New South Wales for processing development applications.
A new report card released by the Planning Department shows it took the council an average of 174 days to determine applications in 2006-2007.
Holroyd Council, in Sydney’s west, came in second and Ashfield, in the inner west, was third.
Planning Minister Frank Sartor says the report reinforces the need to cut the processing time to 10 days.
Mr Sartor says proposed planning reforms will significantly speed up the approval time for homeowners wanting to carry out renovations.
As well as his residential home, former Coalition Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and his wife own a vineyard.
Former employment and workplace relations minister Joe Hockey, and his wife Melissa Babbage, live in their home in Hunters Hill, but together also own a Canberra property in the exclusive suburb of Forrest, as well as investment properties in Sydney and Queensland.
Mr Hockey is not the only MP with an impressive real estate portfolio – Opposition frontbencher Bronwyn Bishop lives in Newport most of the time, except during parliamentary sitting weeks when she resides at her Canberra home in the upmarket suburb of Barton.
Ms Bishop also owns investment properties in Lyons, also in the ACT, and in the fashionable inner Sydney suburb of Potts Point.
Opposition treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull, who is worth about $125 million, holds shares in a raft of companies, as well as real estate in Point Piper, Rose Bay and Canberra.
In the pecuniary interests tabled last week, Mr Turnbull revealed he owns a number of assets worth more than $7500, including “boats, artwork, books, furniture, life insurance policies”.
His wife Lucy Turnbull also owns an investment property in Paddington.
Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson owns just one property – his home in St Ives – but his deputy Julie Bishop is a real estate mogul by comparison.
Like Dr Nelson, Ms Bishop is another Coalition frontbencher who has taken a massive pay cut.
But it’s tempered by the fact she owns antiques, shares in Telstra and properties in Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT.
West Australian MP Michael Keenan – a frontbencher for the first time in the Coalition – holds an enormous portfolio of shares, plus his home in Scarborough, WA, two investment properties in Canberra and a parcel of land, also an investment.
Leader of the National Party Warren Truss also owns two residences, one in his home state of Queensland and the other in Canberra, as well as farm land.
Here are 10 tips to avoid defaulting on your mortgage, and ultimately preventing repossession and foreclosure.
1. Don’t ignore the problem. The further behind you become, the harder it will be to reinstate your loan and the more likely that you will lose your home. If you are behind on your mortgage payments or have received notice that you are behind in payments, you need to contact your lender quickly and ask to speak with a loss mitigator. Typically, your lender will mail you a “loan workout” package. This package contains information, forms and instructions. If you want to be considered for assistance you must complete the forms fully and truthfully and return them to your lender quickly. Your lender will review the complete package before talking about a solution with you.
2. A smart simultaneous step is to contact a nonprofit counseling agency that may be aware of programs that could help you, may have personal knowledge of your lender’s flexibility in terms of available options, and may know the best person to contact with your lender. Time is of the essence, so don’t let this step slow the process more than a few days.
3. At the same time, find out what your home is worth so you will know how much equity you have (or if it’s worth less than the mortgage balance). If you have sufficient equity, selling the home if necessary may not be the worst idea if home values are dropping: better to sell it than to lose it!
4. Avoid fee-based for-profit mortgage prevention companies or counseling agencies – many are rip-offs that provide few if any meaningful services for distressed homeowners, and you can get quality counseling for free. Also be wary of investors who advertise offers of immediate cash for your home. Many of them are also unethical or outright crooks, seeking to strip home equity through a variety of techniques. If any firm claims they can stop your foreclosure immediately if you sign a document appointing them to act on your behalf, you may well be signing over the title to your property. Never sign any legal document without reading and understanding all the terms and getting professional advice. Such scams should be reported to the ACCC.
5. Know your mortgage rights. Find your loan documents and read them so you know what your lender may do if you can’t make your payments. Learn about the foreclosure laws and timeframes involved.
6. Foreclosures are expensive for lenders, so they are usually willing to listen to reasonable ideas that can reduce their potential losses, such as restructuring the loan at lower rates or accepting a “short sale,” which occurs when the lender agrees to let the owner sell the home for less than the mortgage balance, and agrees to forgive the shortfall and not downgrade the homeowner’s credit. Your willingness to cooperate is a negotiating tool if your suggestions are likely to be less expensive than a foreclosure action.
7. Insolvency or Bankruptcy is an option, particularly if your lender is inflexible or your mortgage is on a second home or a rental property.
8. Even if you are current on your mortgage payments but have a fixed loan, thoroughly review your mortgage documents, even if your reset date is many months in the future. Check the reset interest rate or formula for determining the rate and any future rate resets, and see if there are mortgage prepayment penalties.
9. If you think you could have trouble keeping up with the new payments on variable mortgage, consider refinancing into a fixed rate mortgage if possible. Some lenders may be willing to forgive all or part of a prepayment penalty if that payment presents a problem and you qualify for their fixed rate product.
10. Don’t assume that you are immune to a foreclosure in the future. Don’t assume that a mortgage lender’s underwriting process will assure that you’ll not be approved for an unaffordable mortgage in the future. When lenders discovered that they could package and very profitably sell risky loans to investors, they became was less focused on responsible underwriting because they weren’t at risk if they sold the loans. Sound underwriting practices began to deteriorate, eventually causing the current mortgage meltdown. This could happen again.
Here’s some wisdom of Omar Periu, one of the world’s best known motivational speakers, here he gives ten ways that he keeps himself motivated which Marquette Turner recommends following:
- Condition your mind. Train yourself to think positive thoughts.
- Condition your body. It takes physical energy to take action.
- Avoid negative people. Don’t take anything that they say seriously.
- Always remain flexible. No plan should be cast in concrete.
- Act with a higher purpose. If it doesn’t serve your goal, it’s wasted effort.
- Take responsibility for your own results. Don’t credit luck, good or bad.
- Stretch past your limits on a daily basis. That’s how you grow and evolve.
- Don’t wait for perfection; do it now! Perfection’s the enemy of good enough.
- Be careful of what you eat. It takes physical energy to succeed.
- Hang around motivated people. The positive energy will rub off on you.
I know this stuff works from own my personal experience. After I came up with this list I began to read the list to myself at the beginning of each workday. For an entire week, I made a point of referring back to them every time I had a lull in my work schedule. By the end of the week, they were influencing my thinking so much that I felt like a new person.
Motivation is the ultimate root of success.
To be successful it is important to learn to physically relax.
Take time off each week. Only work five or six days per week, and then rest on day seven. Studies have shown you are more productive in the five or six days you work if you take one or two days off completely, rather than working seven days straight.
On your day off, don’t use the time to catch up on work. Simply relax, spend time with family, friends, watch television, exercise, do nothing that requires any mental effort on your part. Ensure you close down for at least one full day per week, you will benefit from it enormously.
Have you lost your sex drive? Maybe your job is to blame. The National Sleep Foundation in Washington, in a poll released this month, cites prolonged workdays—including time spent working from home—for causing employees to “fall asleep or feel sleepy at work, drive [while] drowsy and lose interest in sex.” The organization says people are working longer hours, including average workdays of 9.5 hours, topped with an additional 4.5 hours each week working at home. More than one-fourth (28 percent) say lack of sleep interferes with their daily activities.
Deprived of sleep, nearly 30 percent are nodding off on the job, while 36 percent say they have fallen into slumber behind the wheel of a car. More than one-quarter say they drive drowsy during the workday and 12 percent said they have been tardy to work due to lack of sleep. Nearly one in five employees “have sex less often or have lost interest in sex” because they are too sleepy.
For the most part, employees are muddling through. Nearly two-thirds are “very likely to just accept their sleepiness and keep going.” Another 32 percent fuel their bodies and brains with caffeinated beverages. More than half (54 percent) rely on the weekends to try to catch up on lost sleep.
Kitchens are being integrated into living areas. Rather than using one dominant surface, grey, black, dark timber or veneer is teamed with a contrasting shade or texture, including gloss or dark mirror glass, to simulate the feel of a living room. The preparation area might be stainless steel with an integrated sink and the central bench elongated for dining.
Upmarket kitchens have a second pantry – effectively a mini kitchen – so that preparation is out of sight. The pantry houses the dishwasher, coffee machine, kettle, toaster, microwave and big sink, with a smaller sink in the main kitchen.
The interest in plain glass splashbacks is on the wane, with pale glass is being replaced by stronger colours. Patterned wallpaper is also being placed behind glass, using mirror or black glass. Textured splashbacks in oversize tiles reflect textures in doors and drawers.
Steam ovens are nudging microwaves aside, which can come built-in or freestanding. Combi ovens can be used with or without steam. A Gaggenau in-bench steamer costs $3800 and a combi steam oven $4500.
Must-have bench-top appliances are a steamer, gas wok burner and a two-burner induction hob. Extras include a barbecue, deep fryer and a teppanyaki plate. Coffee machines are also increasingly popular.
Another modern component is St George appliances’ Cool Touch technology, which ensures their quadruple-glazed oven doors are always cool.
The outdoor kitchen is the new must-have and almost as glamorous as its indoor counterpart. Defining features include the trusty barbecue, sinks, stainless steel benches, cupboards, drawers, overhanging rails, char grills, wok burners, kegs, wine coolers, deep fryers, fish smokers and pizza ovens. Warmth is added through a patio gas heater, chiminea or brazier.
How about being the definition of “cool” by replacing your refrigerator with a walk-in coolroom.
The coolroom, which some designers say is a growing trend for large families and keen entertainers, will run in an L-shape under the stairs. Most-used items, such as milk and butter, will go in door shelves and the walls will be fitted with pull-out drawers and shelves for everything from wine to fruit and vegetables.
Granite and Carrara marble have to be sealed:
No. The sealer is toxic, shows marks and has to be re-done. Leave them honed and matt and scrub with a cream cleaner and scourer.
Stainless steel looks too commercial.
Who cares It’s practical for hot pots and can be teamed with something organic such as timber to integrate it with the living area.
Reconstituted stone has to be sealed and is hard to clean.
No, it doesn’t – and it scrubs up with cream cleanser. Just don’t put super-hot pots on it.
Laminate doesn’t wear well
Yes, it does if you look after it.
Concrete is the toughest option.
It’s unpredictable. You can’t be sure of the colour, finish or texture and it needs sealing.
Timber doesn’t stand up to wear
Keep it away from water, oil it three times a year and it will last for years.
The beautiful building on Bennelong Point is many things, but not a successful opera house. Half a century after the Danish architect Joern Utzon won the competition to design it, and 35 years after it opened, Sydney is still wrestling with the question of how to make its opera house sound as good as it looks.
Concert halls and opera theatres need different acoustics and different facilities. So the big shell became the concert hall, and opera was relegated to the smaller shell, which had been envisaged mainly as a drama theatre.
Now there are plans to rebuild the opera theatre inside the Opera House to overcome its lack of space and other problems. The plans by Opera Australia call for structural work that is the big item in a makeover mooted to cost as much as $700 million. For that sum, Sydney could build a new opera theatre somewhere else.
Many want a new opera theatre, and have firm ideas on where to put it. Others want to evict symphony concerts from the Opera House and build a concert hall elsewhere. Then opera could be at the heart of the city’s most famous building, and the Sydney Opera House would at last be true to its name.
The architect Ken Woolley has gone one better, with a proposal that would allow the Opera House complex to stage the grandest of grand operas without remaking either the opera theatre or concert hall. His idea is to build a 1800-seat opera theatre next to the Opera House, partly over the harbour and partly into the Botanic Gardens. He says this could be done for $400 million.
Watch the animated feature by clicking on the link below.
Marquette Turner would love to hear what you think about this proposal?
Don’t let circumstances control your behavior
Assess yourself honestly and thoroughly
Learn from failure
Follow your purpose.
This is my condensation of his entries. As with all such lists, easy to say, harder to do — he cites leaders like Lincoln and Gandhi, people who stand out in history for a reason. For the full discussion of these, head to his site. He says he’ll focus on these characteristics for some time to come.
An Israeli diamond billionaire has bought the UK’s most expensive house for $80 million incuding a $100,000 bullet proof front door that has raised its value further.
Bought by Lev Leviev, the seven-bedroom house in the exclusive north London district of Hampstead boasts a $US1.5m stone staircase constructed using 150-year-old carving techniques and an indoor swimming pool with gold-plated mosaic tiles. The Palladian-style home also features a gym, sauna, ballroom and cinema, a private hair salon and a one-ton bathroom basin carved from a single piece of white Iranian onyx.
Once installed in his new home, Mr Leviev will be protected not only by the bullet-proof front door but by 25 security cameras and a high-tech alarm system that can be controlled remotely from a yacht in the Caribbean if necessary. In his front garden is a topiary bush that cost $46,000 to shape, and should he get cold there is a $230,000 hand-carved stone fireplace in the living room.
Estimated to be worth $7.5 billion Mr Leviev, a reclusive billionaire immigrated to Israel from Uzbekistan in 1971 without a penny to his name. Also having homes in Israel, New York and Moscow, he is believed to favor a move to London because of high taxes in Israel.
Three quarters of Australians are worried about their ability to pay their bills, as inflation remains at elevated levels, a survey by a consumer credit check company shows.
A phone poll commissioned by Veda Advantage showed that 75 per cent of respondents had debt repayment anxiety.
Price rises were a concern for 55 per cent of those polled, such as rising food and petrol costs, with one in two complaining about higher food prices.
More expensive health care was a concern for 44 per cent, with climbing mortgage and rent costs an issue for 37 per cent.
The study also found that 1.3 million Australians spend more than half their income on debt repayments, and 1.8 million Australians spend more than 40 per cent of their income on repayments.
The Wanamaker-Munn Mansion in New York City: $US33 million
The Wanamaker-Munn mansion is on East 90th Street, and is for sale for those with the means!
Measuring a whopping 12,200 square feet it was last owned and occupied by Aimee de Heeren, the daughter-in-law to Fernanda W.dH.M and a well known fixture on the international high society scene with important homes New York, Palm Beach, Paris and Biarritz.
The house is extraordinarily wide at 29 feet and the perfectly proportioned public spaces include a ball room sized stair hall, a 720 square foot living room with “staggeringly high” ceilings, a 30 foot long panelled library, a dining room capable of seating well over 20 people comfortably, a huge kitchen with a serving kitchen one floor up and adjacent to the dining room, and a small reception hall off the foyer is perfect for greeting guests not important enough to warrant an invitation to climb the spectacular curving stair case to the second floor.
On the upper floors are five family bedrooms with four full and two half bathrooms. An additional five bedrooms an d two bathrooms for live in staff are located on the sixth floor and behind the kitchen sits a servant’s hall for additional staff. Like a large, elegant Parisian “hotel particulier”, the effect is extremely grand with staggeringly high ceilings and voluminous, highly decorated rooms and 10 period marble fireplaces. Thankfully, the house retains all its original details and truly represents a “moment in time”.
As new home-building figures plummet to their lowest levels since the late 1950s, economists warn that apartments and townhouses will dominate housing in Sydney as we build fewer and fewer freestanding homes.
Melbourne, on the other hand, built 19,100 houses last year, more than three times the detached houses built in Sydney during the same period, according to BIS Shrapnel figures. Brisbane built 11,700 houses.
Sydney is the only city in Australia that builds more apartments than houses – in every other city houses dominate new dwellings
Housing Industry Association report that Sydney’s shift to apartment development has happened as more people prefer to live in the inner city. The other factor was Bob Carr, who said Sydney was effectively shut for business in the 1990s and created a compulsory push towards high density.
Another issue inextricably linked to this issue is Sydney’s infrastructure. As Marquette Turner frequently state, until Sydney corrects its poor infrastructure trend, home ownership – in this case detached dwellings – will become increasingly out of people’s reach.
Since you are now working from home, everyone will expect you to be flexible and available when they need you. Friends may call during business hours, your children may expect you to drive them to a friend’s party, your spouse may expect you to run to the grocery store, and your aunts and uncles may feel that they can call upon you at any time of the day.
Setting expectations of family and friends is extremely important to ensure the smooth running of your home-based business. It is critical they understand that even though you have started working from home, the efforts involved in making it a success are by no means meager or guaranteed. The more serious you are about setting the rules about timings, the faster your friends and family will understand and internalize that you mean business.