Home' Domain South Coast Register : December 9th 2009 Contents 4 - Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Domain.com.au supplement to the SOUTH COAST REGISTER
Q Our tiny terrace is like living inside Spanx
underwear -- it's supposed to stay streamlined
but we bulge out the edges.We need
Architect Ellen Woolley has glorious, well-
thought-out ways of har vesting more space in
small areas. She suggests creating flexible spaces
that can perform more than one task, for
example a dressing room-cum-librar y or a
kitchen-cum-dining room. "Borrow from other
spaces by installing walls that don't go full height
or having walls that slide away," she said. "And
when you renovate and put your stuff in storage,
just leave it there -- we all have too much stuff."
. Is now a good time to renovate?
Not bad, not bad at all. Renovation costs are
still flat in Sydney, according to Archicentre's
Angus Kell. Other par ts of the countr y, like
Queensland and countr y NSW, have a veritable
feast of available trades and builders ready and
wanting to work, which means it's much easier
to get quotes and work done than this time a
few year s ago.The Housing Industry Association
also reckons now is a great time, with demand
for housing low and plenty of workers keen to
keep busy and earn money.
. I find myself lingering in Howards Storage
World longer than I should, hoping to discover
the right storage for my house.
Storage options are like handbags: many
options but which is the most useful and
beautiful? You can choose between open storage
(shelves, tabletops, bookshelves) or hideaway
storage (cupboards, customised cabinets and
built-in wardrobes). Most regular human beings
need storage with door s on the front to conceal
mess, which in my house tends to resemble a
tragedy larger than Afghanistan. Oprah's storage
guru recommends labelling all shelves so you
know where to return items (though he would
say that because Dymo paid him to come to
Australia). I have, however, tried the labelling
technique and find it works well with children
under the age of 10. Now if only Howards
Storage World would invent storage that
automatically makes household members put
things back ...
. We need another bedroom but can't afford a
massive renovation.What can we do?
. Ground-floor and upper-storey extensions
are the most expensive building work you can
do, so it makes sense to avoid it if you can. If your
home has enough space in the roof cavity, you
could go for a roof-space conversion. Attic
ladder s can dust-proof a ceiling space and you
can install a pull-down ladder from about $8000.
A full conver sion with staircase and windows will
cost more like $80,000 so if you have a teenager
you can hide in the attic, then it's a cheap option.
A small detached studio in the backyard is also
an option if you have good access for builder s
and enough space. NSW planning laws are
about to allow small granny flats to be built on
blocks of land at least 450sqm without having to
seek council approval. Check out the Affordable
Rental Housing plans at planning.nsw.gov.au.
more space to add. C'mon, how do I make
it feel bigger?
. Ellen Woolley says never let small spaces get
in the way of grand ideas. She suggests making
the doorway or entrance to the studio either
under sized or over sized. Natural light is another
way to extend the sense of space -- can you
install sheer cur tains? Or, place a mirror on
the wall opposite the window to illuminate
IF I HEAR the proper ty cliche of
"location, location, location" one
more time, I'm going to shove
someone's real estate sign right up
their smart suit.
That cliche is as annoying as "great
oppor tunity to add value"
(TRANSLATION: spend heaps of
money renovating) or "wonderful
chance to invest" (TRANSLATION:
you won't want to live here but some
other sucker will rent it from you).
The real reason "location, location,
location" makes me so crazy is
because it is fr ustratingly, universally
tr ue. No matter which street, state or
suburb a proper ty is in, the best
located proper ty always wins.
As a proper ty writer, I find this a little
boring and predictable. I love stories
about areas that star t out as slums
but miraculously turn into sought
after locales.When Toorak or
Vaucluse mansions break yet another
predictable proper ty record, I find
Well-located proper ties attract
premium capital growth and the best
rental returns because demand
remains strong, regardless of market
conditions. And let's face it, most
people are sheep and we all like to
live in the "best" areas.
We all have wants, prejudices, price-
restrictions and the power to decide
which proper ty locations we wish to
we are familiar with.
But now that the population is
growing so fast -- we added another
half a million people in the year to
March 2009 -- quality locations could
become even more popular (and
pricey), forcing us to seek similarly
located proper ties that smidge
fur ther away.
Australia's population growth is the
talk of the international community,
with this countr y's population
predicted to be one of the fastest
growing industrialised nations in the
world, according to the Population
Interestingly, proper ty economist
Jason Anderson from forecaster BIS
Shrapnel, says it won't be proper ty
prices that will grow on the back of
booming population growth so much
"Most immigrants will not be prepared
to pay the price premium of the inner
ring and I think values will be stronger
in the middle and outer ring suburbs of
capital cities," he said. "It's rents that will
grow rather than prices."
Anderson is forecasting Sydney rents
to rise by between 8 and 10 per cent
next year, with Melbourne and
Brisbane rentals growing by 6 per cent.
That also means more of us may star t
searching fur ther afield for affordable
proper ties. And if Ander son's right,
this could happen in the suburbs
fur ther away from our inner city
suburbs, where prices, space and land
are that bit more attractive.
But what makes one real estate
location better than another?
PROXIMITY TO EMPLOYMENT:
Employment oppor tunities are the
prime location driver s in proper ty,
which is why places like the Nor thern
Territory and Western Australia have
been growing so strongly in both
price and population. Being near
economic and employment
oppor tunities is the prime driver of
proper ty prices and rents. After all,
how else can proper ty prices rise if
people aren't earning better incomes
to pay for them?
People rarely make proper ty choices
based merely on the four walls of the
actual house. In fact, the schools,
roads, parks, cafes and shops around
those four walls are usually more
impor tant than the house itself,
hence the value of location.You see,
proper ty values are rarely about the
bricks, timber and materials of the
home but more about the land value
of the location.That's why
apar tments in the inner city can be
wor th more than a house on a
quar ter acre block fur ther away
from the city - the apar tment
attracts a location premium that the
The lifestyle you live is the most
impor tant determinant of location - if
you're single and work in the city then
a home close to work, friends,
restaurants and going out is probably
impor tant. If you have small kids, the
suburbs might be calling your name
and you probably want something
close to work and schools. If it's a
seachange you're after, then being
close to the beach or the bush might
be more your thing.
Equally, there are a whole bunch of
things people never want a proper ty
to be close to - things like nuclear
waste dumps, power lines, busy
roads and even police stations (we
all want the police to protect us, but
not all of us like them around the
corner from home).
There's now a refined search tool on
Domain.com.au that allows buyers
and renters to find the best located
proper ties online.While you can still
search like a luddite if you choose,
you can actually set up a Radar search
to seek out the best located
proper ties according to your
per sonal criteria.
If it's restaurants you want to be close
to, you can ask for proper ties within
500m of restaurants. If it's train
stations, then you can set up that
search, too. Oh, and if you want to be
away from those r ubbish dumps, you
can key that in too.
Easy! Well, it would be ... if we weren't
all so obsessed with living in the same
great locations as everyone else.
Talking property with domain.com.au
Will a booming population mean
another proper ty boom?
THE average size of new mor tgages hit a record in
November despite sales of overall home loans
falling for the second straight month.
Mor tgage broker AFG said last week that an average
home loan brokered in Australia was $367,000 in
November, a rise of 6.4 per cent since May.
AFG's Mor tgage Index's said average mor tgage
sizes have grown 12.1 per cent in Victoria since
May and up 10.7 per cent in NSW, but only by
three per cent in Western Australia and steady
However, overall sales of mor tgages fell for the
second consecutive month in a row during
November, down 8.36 per cent to 6,541.
AFG general manager of sales and operations,
Mark Hewitt, said confidence in the mor tgage
market was brittle following the interest rates
rises by the Reser ve Bank of Australia (RBA)
' 'Larger average mor tgages and greater activity
by investors are usually the signs of a confident
market,' ' Mr Hewitt said in a statement. ' 'But
confidence is fragile.
' 'October and November are seasonally strong
months in the calendar, but we've seen two straight
months of decline.' '
The central bank raised the overnight cash rate by
25 basis points to 3.75 per cent on Tuesday,
following similar moves in October and November.
' 'In our view the RBA has gone too far in ratcheting
rates back up again,' ' Mr Hewitt said.
' 'Yesterday's unprecedented third monthly rise will
do nothing to encourage ordinary families back
into the proper ty market.' '
The propor tion of property investors with new
mor tgages hit a 2009 high of 33.8 per cent in
November, yet fewer first home buyer s were
entering the residential market with a share of
13.7 per cent of new loans arranged in the month.
Mor tgage size swells to new high
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