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RATE HOLD ACCOMPANIES STABILISING HOUSING MARKET

Century 21, the largest real estate sales organisation in the Asia Pacific region, believes that yesterday’s decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia to leave the official cash rate on hold will help to create ongoing stability for those Australians considering the purchase of a property.

“At its April meeting the Reserve Bank of Australia elected to keep the official cash rate at 4.25 per cent for the third consecutive month,” said Owner and Chairman of Century 21 Australia, Charles Tarbey.

“This move suggests the Reserve Bank of Australia feels relatively comfortable with current economic conditions for the time being and, at a time of comparatively low interest rates, will encourage many Australians to act on a property purchase.”

The Reserve Bank’s decision follows the recent release of the RP Data-Rismark Hedonic Home Value Index which suggested that the Australian housing market may be showing signs of stabilising, with home values increasing 0.2 per cent in March 2012.

In addition, the Index saw that the market has remained unchanged for the quarter ending 31 March 2012 – the strongest result since March 2011 (which saw a 0.7 per cent rise in values).

“While we must note that much of the improvement seen in the housing market is due in part to the Sydney market which rose 1.1 per cent over the quarter, we are nonetheless seeing signs of a potential stabilisation of home values,” continued Charles Tarbey.

“Other factors such as strengthening auction clearance rates and improving demand from first home buyers are certainly encouraging indicators of both the current state of the national housing market and the potential for continued improvements over the course of 2012,” concluded Charles Tarbey.

Century 21 encourages those potential buyers looking to secure a real estate purchase over the coming months to ensure they have obtained the appropriate professional property and mortgage advice before doing so.

With over 3,000 offices, Century 21 is the largest real estate company in the Asia Pacific region, a region vital to Australia’s continued economic success.

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Criticise your home. Look for its faults, ask your CENTURY 21 agent to give you their honest opinion.

Spring clean your home. Clean the walls, polish the floors, steam clean the carpets, clean out the gutters, etc.

Create a sense of space in your home. Move furniture around if required to allow buyers to walk freely through rooms.

Remove clutter. Clean out wardrobes, drawers and bookcases. Send unwanted items to charity or sell on ebay.

Repair, repaint or replace. Patch any cracks, replace broken glass, repair wood rot and arrange any repairs to be done prior to your open house.

Cater for all tastes. Neutral paint work, carpets and curtains can accommodate most styles. Remove loud wallpaper and controversial artwork.

Tidy up your garden. It’s the first impression a potential buyer gets, so keep the lawn mown at all times and weed the garden.

Maximise light. open curtains and blinds during your open for inspections.

Relax. Give yourself 5 minutes to unwind before your open for inspection – your CENTURY 21 agent will take it from there.

View our SMARTBOOK on Your Guide to Property Presentation.

Update Australia’s inflation rate rose more than expected in the March quarter, increasing the chances of another interest rate hike by the Reserve Bank next week. Fuel, vegetables and pharmaceuticals led rises.

The consumer price index rose by 0.9 per cent in the three months to March, quickening from 0.5 per cent in the December quarter, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. Economists had been expecting a 0.8 per cent gain for the quarter.

From a year earlier, the CPI was up 2.9 per cent, the highest since the final three months of 2008.

”We’re starting the recovery with a much higher rate of inflation and that just bolsters the argument for rates being a little bit higher,” said St George chief economist Justin Smirk.

”It should definitely be a very close call in May.”

The central bank flagged inflationary pressures from the booming commodities sector as a primary reason for lifting its key cash rate to 4.25 per cent from 4 per cent earlier this month. Stronger quarterly inflation data bolsters the case for further interest rate rises in coming months, adding to the five increases since October.

Among the major cities, Melbourne prices rose the most in the three months, jumping 1.3 per cent. Perth followed at 1.1 per cent, while Sydney prices gained 0.8 per cent and those in Brisbane 0.7 per cent, the ABS said.

Among the price increases, fuel costs rose 4.2 per cent in the quarter, while pharmaceuticals jumped 13.3 per cent as a result of a cyclical reduction in the number of consumers who qualify for government assistance in paying for drugs, the ABS said.

Vegetable prices increased 10.3 per cent in the quarter, while electricity increased 5.9 per cent. Hospital and medical services rose 2.9 per cent.

Computer equipment dropped 5.9 per cent in the quarter as a stronger dollar made electronic imports cheaper. Furniture prices also dropped 4.6 per cent and fruit prices fell 5.7 per cent, the ABS said.

‘Uncomfortably high’

”I think inflation continues to run uncomfortably high at this stage in the cycle,” said RBC Capital Markets economist Su-Lin Ong. ”That’s before we head into the next upswing in growth.”

The non-tradeable component, or domestically generated inflation, rose at 1.5 per cent in the March quarter compared to a tradeable component, driven by global markets, which increased at only 0.2 per cent.

”That’s telling you there are price pressures coming through, particularly from the services sector,” she said, adding that next week’s RBA rates decision will be close.

The news propelled the dollar to as high as 92.05 US cents, before it gave back some of the gains. This morning, it was buying 91.54 US cents. A rising dollar suggests investors believe the chance of a rate hike has grown, as higher rates attract international investment.

Prior to today’s inflation data release, financial markets were rating the probability of another quarter-percentage point interest rate rise by the RBA next month as a one-in-four chance, according to Credit Suisse. The probability is now at a one-in-three chance.

According to the RBA’s preferred measures of inflation – the average of its trimmed mean and weighted medians – the rate came in at just over 3 per cent. The RBA aims to keep inflation over the medium term within a 2-3 per cent band.

Dramatically higher resource prices have emboldened the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates for the fifth time in seven months, making it clear there is no end in sight.

The bank’s decision to lift its cash rate from 4 to 4.25 per cent pushes most bank standard variable mortgage rates well above 7 per cent, adding a further $48 to the monthly cost of repaying a $300,000 mortgage and $64 to the cost of repaying a $400,000 mortgage. This brings the total extra costs since October to $187 and $250 a month.

Acknowledging that the process would continue, Treasurer Wayne Swan said the economy was strengthening and the Reserve Bank would ”continue to take its decisions as it assesses economic conditions month by month”.

”I know that’s cold comfort for a lot of families and a lot of people in business,” Mr Swan said. ”But it is a painful and uncomfortable fact that with a strengthening economy, unfortunately we see rates returning to more normal levels.”

The Reserve Bank was heavily influenced by two massive resource deals – BHP’s 55 per cent increase in the price of coking coal sold to Japan and the Brazilian producer Vale’s 90 per cent increase in the price of iron ore sold to China.

It believes that if these price-rises hold or are extended, the economy will be exceptionally strong in the two years ahead and will not need support from below-average interest rates.

”There is barely a word of weakness in the bank’s statement,” said IPAC Securities economist Adam Carr. ”It thinks the housing market is still buoyant and that’s the only sign of weakness in an otherwise bullet-proof economy.

”If the bank isn’t going to pause now, then logically there is little to prevent a May, and even a June, hike. Clearly the risk to this view is more rather than less. The one thing I think we can rule out is sustained pause from here.”

Westpac economist Bill Evans agreed. ”They haven’t finished raising rates. The statement points to concerns with the stimulatory impact of the rising terms of trade overriding any doubts about the housing and consumer sectors.”

Each of the big four banks will lift its mortgage rates by 0.25 points, with most lifting their credit card, business rates and deposit rates as well.

An earlier outsized move by Westpac leaves its standard variable mortgage rate the most expensive at 7.26 per cent and National Australia Bank the only bank below 7 per cent with a rate of 6.99 per cent.

Credit Union Australia remains far cheaper than any of the majors after cutting its rate by 0.25 points late last month. Late yesterday it was considering how to respond to the Reserve Bank’s move, but should it merely pass on the 0.25 point increase as the banks have done, its standard variable mortgage rate will be 6.62 per cent.

Ahead of the banks’ moves Mr Swan warned that any bank that did more than pass on the Reserve Bank increase would be ”arrogant in the extreme” and suffer retribution from customers.

He said that while someone with a $300,000 mortgage would be paying more, they would still be paying $500 less a month than before the Reserve Bank began cutting rates in response to the global financial crisis in late 2008.

Mortgage rates peaked at an average of 9.36 per cent in September 2008 and had reached 8.57 per cent when the Coalition left office in late 2007.

Job advertisement figures released as the Reserve Bank board met showed reliance rising a further 2 per cent in March, with newspaper ads slipping just 1 per cent after climbing a record 13 per cent in February.

Source – The Age

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Take my children’s passion for junk food as an example. New types of bad food constantly tempt those kids – sour lollies that make your eyes water, trans-fat laden donuts that make Homer Simpson look slim or diabetes-inducing soft drinks that make Coke look healthy are all new foods they want to gobble down.

But even as the menu items change, things stay the same – all these foods are bad for them, and the more appalling those foods are for a growing body, the more they want them.

It’s similar for residential property. The market is certainly proving to be resilient but things are changing. Those same trends that drove price growth in the boom period might not be the same trends that drive price growth in the future.

And here’s my take on what we might need to be looking for when it comes to property that is as bulletproof and resilient as it has been in the past.

Most economists admit Australian housing is entering a new cycle, one which will be driven by high population growth and changing demographics of ageing baby boomers, more babies being born and higher immigration (especially from Asian countries).

#1: The Walkabout Factor
Property within walking distance of amenities such as schools, parks and shopping aren’t only more convenient but can be worth more money than homes in neighborhoods where driving is the rule.
An American study has found that in 13 out of 15 real estate markets, homes within an easy walk of facilities have higher values than those reliant on cars – and Australian real estate agents agree it’s likely to be the same here.
As big cities like Brisbane and Sydney become more choked with traffic, the ability to leave a car parked at home and use our own legs to get places becomes more sought after and desirable.
There are environmental and health benefits from living in a place where the car can stay parked, with lower levels of obesity and higher levels of “social capital” in places where the locals walk to streets and connect with each other.

#2: The Work Factor
With petrol prices as up and down as Paris Hilton’s skirt, commuting to work guzzles a greater share of take-home pay.That’s why homes located close to growing new work nodes – which are no longer in the central business districts of large cities – will become more valuable. BIS Shrapnel have discovered that suburbs where middle managers in businesses in outerlying commercial areas are growing in value as more professionals stay away from long commuting times and value time with their family.
Economist Jason Anderson says Sydney suburbs like Marsden Park grew strongly in value while other nearby suburbs languished in price, thanks to managers choosing to buy affordable family homes within an easy commute of new work districts in the north-west.
Studies show that households located in areas far away from work nodes will spend more of their income on petrol and cars than those who live in well-located positions close to employment.
Americans can spend up to 25% of a household’s income if they live in car-dependent suburbs while Europeans spend 9% because they tend to live in properties with easy access to rail and subways.
Study up on your city’s new and emerging commercial districts to see if you can find affordable, well-located family suburbs that could grow on the back of this trend.

#3: The School Factor
With the highest birth rate since 1971, Australia is having a mini baby boom which will see more families flee the inner city to be close to good schools and facilities for their children.
Schools have always been a strong driver of property values, but with more children being born there will be more of a scramble to live close to quality private and public schools – especially those on train lines or with good public transport access. Expect houses that cater for families and located close to parks, hospitals and other amenities besides schools to grow in value.
With the federal government introducing new school reporting systems from next year so parents can compare schools, it will be interesting to keep an eye on the schools that perform well and watch what property in the catchment areas do.

#4: The Green Factor
With energy bills skyrocketing across Australia, buyers will be more conservative about purchasing homes with obsolete energy-guzzling fixtures like electric hot water systems or old air-conditioning systems. Every state in Australia has committed to implementing a star-rating system for homes, so that by 2011 every residential property that is sold will be rated up to six stars for energy consumption.
Climate change, the emissions trading scheme and aging energy infrastructure means industry experts estimate electricity prices to rise by more than 30 per cent in the next three years – possibly even higher after that. Homes that are insulated, small, have energy-efficient appliances and good orientation will be chosen over older homes that require more electricity to remain comfortable.

#5: Bring on the ethnic architecture
Demographer and KPMG partner Bernard Salt believes high levels of Chinese and Indian immigration into Australia will begin to alter the architectural styles of Australian homes.
He says we will see more Asian influences in our homes, such as tiled floors and perhaps multi-family dwellings as Australia’s immigrants build their wealth through property.
Salt says immigrants tend to work hard to accumulate property and after 10 or 20 years will show it off with home improvements and renovations that reflect their cultural diversity.
“We’ll definitely see more mini Taj Mahals around the suburbs,” he says.

What’s your view? Is this all bunkum or will these ideas play a part in shaping the next property boom?

Technology is progressing at such a lightning pace who can keep up? We at Century 21 Wentworth Falls have just finished our first digital magazines and they are ready for viewing. Please feel free to view these magazines and send your comments through so we can improve the content. After all we want to give you what you want, quality photos, copywriting and ease of viewing.

The first, Century 21 Wentworth Falls Information Magazine relates to the selling process of your home along with the history and achievements of our staff and office Century 21 Wentworth Falls.

The second is our Asset Management Kit which is specifically designed for landlords looking for a property management department who will look after their investment portfolio.

The third is our Century 21 Wentworth Falls Property Magazine with all of our homes for sale that can be viewed on our website through the links supplied on the photos.

Click on the following links to view:

Century 21 Wentworth Falls Information Magazine

Century 21 Wentworth Falls Asset Management

Century 21 Wentworth Falls Property Magazine

Just completed our first monthly magazine and would appreciate feedback on content and display.