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THIS WEEK’S ARTICLES: Rainforest Living in Queensland; Raffles Residences Manila; Swarovski Bathroom Faucets; Chinese Property Taxes; US interest rates; Australian Banks on the Assault; The Malibu Home of Sting; The Rotating Bath Tub; The W New York…

We bring you the last installment for 2008 of our look at luxury property, design and concepts from Australia and around the world.  Your support throughout the year has made the MTLH blog the most viewed of its kind in Australia and contributed to Marquette Turner Luxury Homes being named as The World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old.  Not bad in just a year, and 2009 promises to be even bigger and better.  Thank you!

Please enjoy this week’s articles, or as always you can stay here and read the MTLH blog.

We wish you a fantastic & safe festive period.

Michael Marquette & Simon Turner

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FINAL THOUGHT

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey

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Further to our recent report of the NSW tax hikes to hit the property industry, now it’s been revealed that Queensland Premier Anna Bligh plans to impose a special tax on landholdings worth more than $5 million.

Under the property tax surcharge, part of a series of measures introduced as the QLD Government attempts to plug a $4.3 billon hole in the state’s budget over the next four years, landholders who own parcels of land will pay a 0.5% surcharge from 2009-10.

Sure to hit property developers hard at a time when the industry can least afford it, the decision will also likely cost 3500 jobs. It is important to recognize that the property sector employs one in seven workers in Queensland.

On top of the property tax surcharge, the Bligh Government has also raised vehicle registration costs by an average of 6.5% and delayed the abolition of transfer duty on core business assets by 18 months.

Whilst we are in no way suggesting that the Queensland Government shares similar brain cell(s) or genes than the hapless NSW government, what is concerning is the tendency of Australia’s fiscal “experts”, it would appear, to resort to anything but measures that stimulate and encourage innovation businesses and in turn the economy. Surely reducing land tax – a policy long championed by Australia’s real estate industry – would be a better option to stimulate the sector and economy.

Michael Marquette, Co-President of Marquette Turner Luxury Homes, states “Are the states tightening their belts, penalizing businesses and therefore consumers with the hope that the Federal Government will deal with the aftermath? Whatever it is, the economic credentials of those that run our States and Territories should be seriously scrutinized.”

Isn’t the relative basket case that is NSW – Australia’s most populous State – a good enough example of what not to do?

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on the Economy; or the NSW State Government; or the real estate industry

The world’s most expensive location for prime real estate behind Monaco, Central London has seen luxury home values fall for an eighth month. Such locales include Mayfair, St John’s Wood, Regent’s Park, Kensington, Notting Hill, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Belgravia and the South Bank neighborhoods of London.

As recently reported by Bloomberg, in November the approximate average value of a house or apartment in the city’s nine most expensive neighborhoods fell 3.6 percent from October, according to an index compiled by Knight Frank. This represents the second largest drop since the index started in 1976. Furthermore, the figures show that property values declined 14 percent since the previous year.

Why is this? Quite simply, vendors are not holding out for emotional prices and are accepting that price reductions have to occur for a sale to be achieved.

Prime Central London real estate has taken longer to register declines seen elsewhere in London because of a standoff between sellers and buyers over price. That ended in September, when the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. caused demand to collapse from those employed in financial services, traditionally the mainstay of demand for expensive homes.

Unsurprisingly, the worst banking crisis seen since the First World War has translated into job cuts and reduced bonuses, and in London it’s likely to get worse before it gets better, with as many as 62,000 finance-related jobs forecast to be lost in London by the end of next year.

Interestingly, the properties least affected by the fall in values are those worth more than five million pounds. With the pound sliding it becomes more attractive to wealthy overseas buyers (yes, they still exist) and given the uniqueness of many of the properties in this category, and how infrequently they come onto the market, they still are highly sought after.

Appreciating that for a buyer with US Dollars, a 15 percent property valuation drop equates to a 35 percent slide when exchange rates are taken into consideration, property in excess of five million pounds is great buying.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read more articles on Luxury Homes; or London; or Credit Crunch

This fantastic two-storey Victorian terrace will be auctioned by Marquette Turner Luxury Homes on Saturday 13th December at 3pm, on site, with bidding to start at $1 million.

Occupying a prized and central position, this impeccably presented home at 40 Adelaide Street, Woollahra is nestled in a row of charming terraces and offers exceptional convenience to Bondi Junction’s shopping and transport hub, along with beautiful Cooper Park.

Exuding a warm and inviting ambiance, this home combines wonderful character features with all the required comforts for modern living. The home enjoys a 2B zoning which allows for the operation of a home office, such as a dentist, doctors surgery, psychologist and psychiatrist rooms and offers many other professional options.

This zoning is extremely sought after in the area and provides an excellent opportunity for commercial level rental returns for astute investors who may also choose to reside in another area of this deceptively large home.

FYI: To see more of the property click on the images above or HERE or contact Michael Marquette on0433 170 170 or via email at michael@marquetteturner.com.au

You can also see other properties to buy from Marquette Turner Luxury Homes.

We can indeed see Russia from where we are, but no, we’re not in Alaska.

This article is actually absolutely nothing to do with Sarah Palin or the recent US Presidential Campaigning.   Marquette Turner Luxury Homes has the privilege of featuring on the front cover of Russia’s leading Luxury Homes magazine, International Residence.

I briefly studied Russian as a language at university and got to try it out on the locals when serving in the military in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan a few years back, however, my translation abilities can’t quite cope with a magazine.

Nonetheless we invite you to visit their website, and indeed browse through the magazine by clicking on the front cover above, or CLICK HERE.

Marquette Turner Luxury Homes is truly establishing itself as THE luxury agency with an International Focus, ably assisted by our colleagues of the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, and we look forward to showcasing some amazing new properties in truly splendid locations in the coming weeks.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Luxury Homes; view Marquette Turner’s listings; and Overseas Investments

A kitchen to dream of, bathrooms that everyone could relax in, abundant storage facilities, four bedrooms, study, plunge pool, formal and informal living areas – what more could you ask for? Walk into this contemporary designed home and you will step into a different world. Space, light, and modern facilities galore.

The kitchen is expansive, giving a fantastic working space for the chef and entertainer. Features include all SMEG appliances – Dishwasher, Stove, Oven and Coffee Maker plus a “Butler’s Kitchen”. This is pure luxury for any entertainer. The Butler’s Kitchen includes full sink facilities, microwave area, preparation area and is adjacent to the large kitchen. You can prepare meals, create a mess, and write messages on the floor to ceiling chalk board.

The formal living area, including living and dining spaces overlook the pool and water features. Furthermore, a Balinese Hut provides tranquility to all who seek to relax in this spacious area. This beautiful setting is aided by the timber floors, enormous glass features and space and simplicity in design.

More information: Learn more about this property by clicking on any of the images above or HERE

CONTACT: Christine Watson on +61 414 352 680 or via email Christine@marquetteturner.com.au or Michael Marquette on +61 433 170 170 or via email Michael@marquetteturner.com.au

FYI: See more Luxury Homes in Australia or from our Global Luxury Search.

This is a question on many people’s lips and our colleague in San Fransisco, Jim Walberg, has some great points worthy of noting.

THE key to our economic recovery is real estate values and consumer confidence. Real estate is the oil that fuels our economic engine. Generally, real estate is having a similar feel that we are seeing in the stock market today. Volatility!

  • New home building starts are down to a trickle
  • Interest rates are GREAT and will get even better in the coming weeks.
  • Rentals are now commanding premium prices.

At some point, consumers will be the driving force that stabilises the real estate market, which will in turn send the message to the markets that the bottom of the market has been found.

In fact, Warren Buffet made a comment recently that when people bail out of the markets because of FEAR, he gets greedy. There are companies valued at 50% of their true value today. Warren Buffet is buying up these values with BILLIONS of dollars today.

Again, we will know the roller coaster ride of the markets is over when real estate hits the bottom and starts to the bounce back up. Pay attention to that event and you may well have timed the market perfectly to participate in some of the best values we will see for years to come.” Wise words indeed. Simon Turner

FYI: Read more articles on Real Estate, Stock Markets, Warren Buffet, and Luxury Homes

There is no doubt that difficult economic times can encourage discussions on a number of topics. Such discussions should be about improving the quality of people’s lives by promoting two mutually beneficial factors:

  • Encouraging fundamental human rights and freedoms
  • Encouraging financial success and overall wealth

Both are achievable when both are actively promoted as harmonious.

Same-sex “marriage” is edging closer in the US with the State of Connecticut deciding to allow same sex marriage in that State. Three US states now permit same sex couples to marry (Connecticut, Massachusetts and California).

There are six world nations that now permit same sex couples to marry and others that allow civil unions or civil partnerships but thus far do not to allow marriage. At this point in time Australia does not allow same sex couples to marry or commit via civil partnerships or civil unions. Importantly the Court in Connecticut rejected civil unions as an unequal, unfair and unacceptable alternative to full marriage.

On November 4, 2008 Californians will vote on whether to respect or nullify thousands of same sex marriages which have occurred in that State since full equality was granted in May.

The progress throughout the United States highlights the “Nazi-like” views of both Republican’s John McCain and Sarah Palin who would even support removing the rights of women to choose to abort a pregnancy, thus denying women the right to choose what to do with their bodies. Women have fought long and hard for these and many other rights, thus any action that removes these is unconscionable and a step backwards.

Together with progressive Australian companies such as Qantas, IBM and the Commonwealth Bank, Marquette Turner Luxury Homes is a very proud advocate for full and equal rights for all people throughout the world and as a company do not allow or support any form of discrimination on any grounds.

In a time when the world economy is faltering, people are starving and wars are being waged in various locations around the globe, the attention of our leaders and would-be leaders should be on improving the basic human rights and quality of life for all people rather than irresponsibly focussing on wedge politics. The anti-Obama movement, seeking to win at any cost, is fundamentally culpable of stoking the fires of divisive, regressive, narrow-mindedness that will never improve living standards and surely we have socially progressed too far to simply accept. The focus must be on improving the lives of all, and helping people to save their homes and securing their financial futures, all principles that go hand-in-hand with encouraging their basic rights as human beings.

Economic success goes hand-in-hand with full and equal rights. Rewarding outcomes can be experienced and benefited by all by recognising such a relationship.

Michael Marquette

When Marquette Turner Luxury Homes began, we were determined that we would regularly donate and lend a significant amount of our revenue to organizations and individuals worldwide.

As a company with a substantial focus in real estate, we deal with transactions involving people’s homes. In the simplest manner, our philanthropic efforts are subsequently focused in assisting and encouraging people in developing nations to nurture their “home“.

Loans That Change Lives

We whole heartedly endorse the work of the organization Kiva, which allows loans to be made to microfinance institutions who help build sustainable businesses that provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate someone in the developing world who needs a loan for their business – like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks.

Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent – and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.

This month we have made loans to the following entrepreneurs: Sok Sareth in Cambodia, Pham Thi Chu in Vietnam, Zulhiya Sadieva in Tajikistan, Sevinj Alekberova in Azerbaijan, Wendy Yamileth Solis Lopez in Nicaragua, and Attiogbe Dokou in Togo, all of whose businesses can be read about on the Kiva website, along with many, many other worthwhile beneficiaries.

It’s finally easy to actually do something about poverty – using Kiva we have every confidence that we’re helping people build sustainable businesses long after our loans are paid back.

Our philanthropy is by no means a cynical strategy to try and earn business, hence our hesitancy in marketing our efforts. What we believe important, however, is to raise awareness of the causes that we are moved by, in the hope that the circumstances of others less fortunate is never far from people’s minds.

Please join us in changing the world – one loan at a time. Learn more about Kiva.

Simon Turner

MORE INFORMATION:
Watch Bill Clinton’s endorsement of Kiva, as part of the efforts of the Clinton Foundation.  You can also read our press release or go straight to the Kiva Organisation’s website.

The global market’s erratic performance over the last week has certainly called into question the financial strategies of many (including, it could be said, of the hapless President George W Bush). Regardless of whether one agrees or not in principle or practice with the Federal bailout in the United States, we should at least begin to see a little more stability.

That’s not to say that all will be bright from hereon in. The market crunch, or more specifically the credit crunch, has seeped into all nations and has affected all manner of finances, including Australia. Confidence has definitely been damaged.

The simple fact is that Australian property prices cannot help but be affected given the high levels of debt in Australian households, and our relatively high interest rates as a ratio of household debt to GDP compared to the US.

Even should interest rates be cut further in Australia, as they likely will, we are simply likely to feel an ease of the stress of mortgage pressure rather than an immediate flock to property: the credit crunch has reduced the amount of credit available, and many people have more than enough debt to suggest they’ll have a proclivity to take on more.

The Land of Opportunity

These are also the times of opportunity. With confidence dented all around and property prices sluggish and unlikely to head in any northerly direction for even close to the next 18 months, there are many good buys on the market now, and many that will come onto the market.

Those buyers that are willing to take a long-term view on property values – as one always should (the “quick-buck strategy” is never one that is risk-free) – as well as applying sensible purchasing decisions based on the amount they can borrow with a comfortable buffer in addition to intrinsic good value – will in a few years be looking back upon these times with great satisfaction.

Not panicking during an alleged crisis, taking smart, confident and unemotional decisions, and investing wisely will mean that property – right now and in future – is logical and rewarding as one can hope to find.

What Will Happen Next?

Expect an interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank next week and more in the following 12 months. Expect housing demand in Australia to remain relatively buoyant given our growing population. Expect an easing Australian economy (together with more manageable inflation) due to weakening demand from China, whose economy is heavily hinged on US demand.

Quite simply, so long as share market’s are unappealing, property investment will remain ever the attractive option.

With the average value of homes in Australia having increased by approximately 150 per cent since the millennium began, this well earned increase will generally be retained, and further goes to highlight the intrinsic opportunity that wise, long-term property investment provides.

Simon Turner

IMPORTANT: If you are finding it difficult to cope financially, read our article on Coping with Financial Stress

It’s amazing what can change in quick time. The stock market is continuing to fall and the consequences are far from known. It’s difficult to say when it will stop after the Dow Jones suffered its biggest single day loss in history this week. Institutional investors are selling, preferring to hold cash and wait to buy back in at the right time. The big question is “when will be the right time”?

Other investment options will of course be considered and the Australian property market is looking very good. As interest rates decrease and the stability of the property market is considered it is hard not to argue that Australian property will be on the radar of investors both private and institutional domestically and abroad.

With job losses abroad it is highly likely that some Australian expats will be out of work and heading back to Australia to find a new home. With a stable economy, monetary policy looking favourable and investors searching for a safe haven property in Australia is sure to figure well. This will be welcome news for all property owners and is possible due to the health of the domestic financial sector.

View the property’s currently on the market with Marquette Turner Luxury Homes or get in touch with us and inform of us what you’re looking for.

Michael Marquette

For the week ending 21 September 2008, here are Australia’s latest auction clearance rates for the major capital cities.

Source: RP Data

Simon Turner

Marquette Turner’s real estate radar® hones-in on property news to keep your finger on the pulse, and with interest rate cuts on the cards, our news couldn’t be more timely!

A report conducted by the Real Estate Institute of Australia in June 2008 has showed that housing affordability has fallen across every Australian State and Territory for the first time since March 2004.

The figures, which consider both rental and home loan affordability, shows that:

  • New South Wales as the least affordable Australian State in which to own a home
  • Home loan holders in New South Wales are having to use 42.6% of their income to meet payments
  • The average monthly loan repayment has risen 7.5% in the last quarter to $2301.
  • Tenant’s have had to face tightening vacancy rates
  • Tenant’s are having to use 25% of their income (up 0.3% from the final quarter) to meet their rental payments.
  • Tasmania is the least affordable State in which to rent, with 29.2% of the median family income having to be used to pay the rent.

What Next?

After nine months lows in the housing market, there are signs that the Australian mood is settling.

Housing Industry Association data shows that:

  • New home sales rebounded by 4% in June
  • Unit sales increased by 15.5%.
  • Detached house sales increased by 2.6%

Whilst auction clearance rates remain jittery, Marquette Turner Luxury Homes continues to maintain that the choice of auction’s when selling property at this time is more of a gamble than it is a strategy. In terms of consumer interest in real estate, however, we have noticed a jump in the level of inquiries in the last week or so.

Looking ahead for the rest of the year, a typically more effervescent period for property sales anyway, a combination of easing inflationary pressures and interest rate cuts should certainly put a spring in the step of many Australians.

Simon Turner

The Reserve Bank of Australia will hold what could be a historic meeting tomorrow, Tuesday 2 September 2008. Should they decide to lower interest rates, it will be the first time in seven years that the cash rate has fallen after 12 successive rate rises.

Most economists are suggesting there will be a cut by 25 basis points, however, the most bullish are even suggesting 50 basis points for the current cash rate of 7.25%.

This will come as a welcome sigh of relief, and indeed follows the trend of Australia’s mortgage lenders who have in the last few weeks been cutting their fixed rate loans.

The Convenient Truth

So why is this? Without getting too analytical, there are many factors that are leading to such a situation:

Global conditions have snuck up upon the Australian economy probably a little more readily than the RBA expected, which will allow it to loosen its grip on monetary policy somewhat: cutting interest rates therefore mitigates the impact of a deteriorating global economy.

Simon Turner

For the week ending 17 August 2008.

Source: RP Data

Property owners are choosing to list earlier this year in the run up to Spring.  Many are searching for answers after being on the market for months without success and others are hurting under the pressure of high interest rates and the ever increasing cost of living.

The decrease in the value of the Australian dollar seems to have caught many experts by surprise. Our dependence on imported oil places us in an interesting position. Further drops in the value of the Australian dollar, coupled with an increase in oil prices would put enormous pressure on inflation. It appears, however, that our prayers for interest rate relief are about to be answered but only by a quarter of one percent (25 basis points).

The long term forecast appears good with some Banks already cutting fixed term rates which should give buyers some much needed confidence in choosing a home

It appears that our economy is slowing enough to see rates come down even further with signs that the commodity boom may have reached its peak. I believe we can look forward to improved market conditions and increased competition for property in the near future with bricks and mortar becoming the asset class of choice with some excellent buys throughout the country.

Michael Marquette

Auction Clearance rates for the week ending August 10, 2008 continued to show an uncertain market where buyers and vendors are struggling to find common ground. Low price expectations from would-be bargain hunters are making it difficult for many vendors to make decisions on auction day and Luxury property continues to perform poorly at auction.

Properties below $1 million are the best performers at auction right now with Melbourne leading the way with an overall Clearance rate of 55%. Sydney is steady at a clearance rate a little over 43% with Perth performing worst of all Australian Capital cities with a dismal clearance rate of just over 15%.

The figures for the week ending August 17, 2008 will be available shortly and I hope to see an improved result with expectations of an interest rate decrease growing. We eagerly await the announcement from the Reserve Bank.


We at Marquette Turner Luxury Homes have been urging our Luxury clientele to sell by Expressions of Interest and we are experiencing high levels of success.  Whilst this is a strategy less commonly used below $1million, we find that the flexibility it enables for all parties very much assists in the ultimate sale of properties.

This table is compiled with the assistance of RP Data for the week ending August 10, 2008.

Michael Marquette


Are you considering a sea change or thinking about which suburbs are in most demand in Newcastle? If you are this information is essential reading. Earlier in the week I wrote about the massive 85% drop in sales in July this year compared to the same month last year for property in the City of Newcastle.

If the trend continues many real estate agencies will close their doors and many agents will be forced to flee the industry. This staggering decrease in demand has put enormous pressure on pricing in the area and is causing many vendors considerable grief. So the question of where to buy to best protect your investment is more important than ever.

In Sydney we have seen suburbs close to beaches and the Harbour hold their price the best. The outer suburbs, especially in the West have struggled and have significantly dropped in value. It really shows that as demand drops in an area price follows in the same direction.

In Newcastle the Blue Ribbon suburbs of Merewether, Bar Beach, Cooks Hill and The Hill have all suffered from interest rate increases and decreased buyer demand but nowhere near to the extent of rest of the City. Year to date sales in those suburbs are down 32% on the same period last year – not the massive reduction seen in the City as a whole.

These suburbs enjoy close proximity to beaches, Newcastle Harbour, cafes, restaurants and many enjoy spectacular coastal views. Purchasing a home is all about location and the choice of suburb is crucial in protecting your valuable asset. This formula is true for all coastal cities and will help put you in the safest position.

Michael Marquette

Marquette Turner Luxury Homes

Today we released our weekly e-magazine featuring the highlight’s of the past week’s blog articles and insights into the week ahead.

It’s been an enormously busy last couple of weeks for the team at Marquette Turner Luxury Homes. I spoke with the Australian Financial Review recently regarding the likelihood of Australian banks passing on any interest rate cuts from the RBA and I have expanded on my comments to them in my “View from the Bridge” blog.  Additionally, As Australia’s premier luxury agency  we have also listed almost $40 million of Luxury property in only the last 7 days, which may be a sign that vendors are deciding to list a little earlier for Spring this year which will give buyers plenty of choice.

Furthermore, we have almost completed upgrading our website and are proud to be one of the first in Australia to offer Google Street View for each of our property listings, as we continue to focus on our client’s evolving needs.

I hope you enjoy this weeks’ E-Magazine and our ever-popular blog .  Michael Marquette

VIEW HERE

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Home owners and investors have welcomed suggestions that the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut interest rates this year, but will the Banks pass the rate cuts onto borrowers?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told Australians to change banks if they fail to pass on rate reductions. The banks have had no problem increasing rates to levels higher than official rate increases and have even increased rates despite the Reserve Bank keeping them on hold.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review last week I was asked what it would take to restore confidence in the market. I expect buyers to remain cautious until the banks show that any rate reductions will be passed on. I believe a rate cut of around one per cent is needed to restore buyer confidence as I’m hearing increasingly that buyers and vendors are skeptical that banks will pass on the rate cuts. A reduction of 100 basis points will result in the market reacting in a positive way, even half a per cent will be looked cautiously.

So the question is buy now or wait? The answer is simple. There are some fantastic buys in the market at the moment and this will continue for the foreseeable future. As the stock market wobbles, dividends decrease and share prices drop bricks and mortar will become a major focus for many investors.

If you find the right property at the right price and choose the right lender your decision is an easy one to make. My only advice is to ensure sure that you keep your lender honest, and if “changing banks” as PM Rudd suggests, make sure you are aware of all fees and costs that may apply.

Michael Marquette

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