Some love affairs end in tears. Other times, a relationship sours so gradually that when the final parting comes, it is a relief for all involved. And so it is with Australians’ love affair with property.
A decade ago, dinner parties and barbeques were dominated by talk of house prices and property investments. Televisions blared with renovations shows in which miracles were performed on derelict bungalows and hey presto, the house sells for double its original value.
Even today, there is no shortage of property spruikers out there to claim the next boom in property prices is about to get underway. Surveys pinpoint the suburbs in which it is cheaper to buy than rent. Yes, but only if you assume current variable mortgage rates, which at 5 or 6 per cent are historically low. To say claim housing affordability has dramatically improved is kind of like saying today is stinking hot, so winter will never happen again.
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As most people enjoy the cheer of Christmas and all its festivities, a grandmother and mother to a disabled son languish in jail. The mother is unable to care for her vulnerable family or enjoy the season that is supposed to be filled with cheer.
Sixty-five year old Tim Sakmony’s story is a sad reflection of the Cambodian government’s continued program of forced evictions. For speaking out about the impending loss of her home and her subsequent fears for her disabled child, she has been forced into silence, through what Amnesty International believes are trumped up charges.
Bulldozing slums is nothing new in Cambodia and the Australian government was at one stage dragged into this shocking practice of human rights abuse during the construction of the Australian embassy in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.
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A Chinese house that was standing somewhat defiantly in the middle of a new main road has finally been demolished. The house’s owner had told the press that he had just finished building the home. Resident Zhang Ling originally said: “They didn’t offer us enough compensation to leave, so we’re staying.”
Not anymore. Times like these that whole “red tape” thing doesn’t look too bad.
It’s Monday! What’s on your mind, folks?
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New figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show an 8 per cent increase in the homelessness rate on 2006 figures, a fact that should be a matter of concern for all Australians. The figures demonstrate that there is still a lot of work to be done to address homelessness and that far too many Australians are being pushed to the margins of society; struggling to find a way out and rebuild their lives.
The figures show that 105,237 people in Australia are experiencing homelessness, with 60 per cent of those under the age of 35. In NSW, the results showed that there were 28,190 people experiencing homelessness up by 21 per cent on 2006 figures.
Perhaps surprising to many people is that 41 per cent of these are women, 13 per cent are under the age of 12 and 56 per cent are under the age of 35.
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What if I told you there was a way to make housing more affordable, cut congestion on our roads, lower unemployment, boost productivity and stimulate economic activity?
Would you do it?
‘No’, is the answer if you are federal assistant Treasurer David Bradbury.Mr Bradbury thinks a proposal by state treasurers to abolish their stamp duties on property sales in return for a bigger slice of federal government revenue is ridiculous and ham-fisted.
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Darryl Kerrigan may have famously asked “what is it with wogs and cash?” He could’ve just as easily asked “what is it with wogs and property?”
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria has completed research that proves what many ethnic types have known for years; that us wogs do better in the property game than your typical Aussie. If ‘The Castle’ was real and not just the greatest Australian film ever made, Farouk would by now own half the street and his kids would be well on their way to building their own property portfolios.
REIV analysis of Census data shows that many migrants to this country have better home ownership rates than those who were born and bred here. Indeed Australians don’t even break into the top 30 in home ownership rates in their own country!
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This week marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of Anti-Poverty Week. It is a timely opportunity to think about what experiencing poverty means in Australia in 2012 and more importantly, what can be done to address it.
Australia is undoubtedly doing very well on most economic and social indicators. We have had largely uninterrupted economic growth for the last 20 years, survived the GFC without too much pain, unemployment remains very low and high school completion rates are the highest they have ever been.
You could be forgiven for thinking that poverty is not an issue that should concern us greatly.
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In the hours before the recent long weekend, when most people’s thoughts turned to families, holidays and grand finals, Labor’s political spin machine was still running on high rotation.
And it appears that even the bipartisan goal to close the gap on indigenous disadvantage by providing clean and safe housing for indigenous Australians is not immune to Labor’s political tactics.
On Friday, 28 September, Minister Jenny Macklin wrote to Queensland Housing Minister Bruce Flegg in response to Mr Flegg’s correspondence regarding the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing; a seemingly routine matter.
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On any weekend in one of Australia’s cities, in what has become something of a ritualistic right of passage for aspiring home-owners, crowds of eagle-eyed punters gather on suburban curb sides hoping to secure themselves a slice of residential security, or at least to get a whiff of which way the fickle winds of the housing market are blowing.
As it happened last weekend I had the disconcerting experience of stumbling into just such an auction for an apartment in the building in which I live. In fact, it was for the apartment next door to mine in the Melbourne bay side area of St Kilda.
St Kilda is a suburb to which I hadn’t expected to return. I first moved here when I was a teenager finishing high school and juggling a fairly hedonistic lifestyle.
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It’s odd, and sad, that Australia has urban housing prices comparable to New York and London. The squeeze is on for inner urban land, partly because Australians no longer found new cities. We are said to be the world’s most urbanised large country; 89 per cent of us, and that percentage is increasing, live in cities.
Throw in rapid population growth, and we are at great risk of increasing the pressure on our already sky-high land prices.
Sydney now ranks second only to Hong Kong as the most unaffordable housing market in the English-speaking world, with Melbourne just three places behind. The high immigration that holds down wages also escalates house prices, creating a mortgage trap. It also makes us a less equal society. *
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I’m a little worried that Australians might be experiencing a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. We’ve been held hostage to high housing costs for so long that we’ve learnt it seems, to love them. We hear cheers every time house prices rise, and don’t stop to think what spending $500 a week on rent might do to the household budget.
I’m guilty of it myself. A few weeks ago when I saw a report by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council that showed over half of low income renters in Sydney were in housing stress I was hardly surprised. But when did it become normal to accept that people on low incomes should have to give up going to the dentist, cut back on kids school trips or skip meals, just to live in our cities?
Rents in every capital city are chewing up more household income than ever. The 2011 Census showed that between 2006 and 2011 the median rent in Sydney rose by 42 per cent, while household income rose by just 23 per cent, and for every city it’s a similar story.
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Where would you go if you had to sleep rough? Would you sleep in a cemetery, a doorway, a drain, an abandoned building?
People who work with the homeless see and hear some amazing, dark stories – one of the oddest they tell is that desperate people have been known to sleep in cemeteries, even climbing into graves to find shelter and safety.
An Adelaide homeless man was found living in a drain a few years back – they worked out he’d been there for six years.
Each night in Australia 105,000 people are homeless, including 7,500 families. Each June leading Australian CEOs and business leaders sleep rough for one night in support of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
Contrary to common perceptions about homelessness, 44 per cent of homeless people are women, many of these accompanied by children. It is a shocking fact that more than 12,000 Australian children under the age of 12 are experiencing some form of homelessness. A further 22,000 young people aged 12 to 18 are homeless, most of them estranged from their families. That’s more than 34,000 kids without a place they can call home.
Speaking at the recent launch of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout 2012, Dr John Falzon, St Vincent de Paul Society CEO, National Council said: “Children who are homeless are more likely to become homeless later in life and raise families who, in turn, also become homeless. You can guess why we haven’t solved the problem.”
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What most Australians want out of a house: a big backyard, enough bedrooms for everyone, not too far from work. If you’re a miner though, you want your house to be as close to a hole in the ground as possible.
Our sister-site news.com.au reported late last week that renting a shack in a mining town costs just as much as renting a mansion in Vaucluse, near Sydney Harbour.
Here’s a Monday question for you: do you rent or buy? How are you dealing with the housing market at the moment? Are you stressed or cruising along?
And hey, what’s on your mind today?
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Yesterday’s 0.25 per cent cut in interest rates has been framed in today’s press as great news for people with existing mortgages and those seeking to enter the property market.
Fair enough. On the face of it, it is good news. Repayments on the average 25 year home $300,000 loan will be $50 less this month, thanks to the jolly fellows in red and white fleecy suits at the RBA. But it’s even better news for wealthy property owners and real estate agents, who are both set to reap the rewards of an impending buying frenzy.
No issue in Australian life is framed in a more upside-down, nonsensical way than the issue of property prices. The more the market heats up, the more we sing and dance and rejoice. That, despite “housing affordability” continuing to be the greatest misnomer in Australian life since the show Australia’s Got Talent.
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Lies, damn lies and statistics. Without denigrating the excellent, proactive work by the Herald Sun in commissioning NATSEM research showing Australian households are $23 better off per day than five years ago, this figure is a load of horse manure.
Every Australian knows it, not least Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, whose only common ground is the belief that Australians are doing it tougher than ever. Which we mostly are.
There is of course a legitimate line that many Australians delight in casting themselves as perennial battlers, even as they purchase ever bigger, flatter TVs and ever larger homes. Rampant consumerism can never be discounted in any measure of our material wellbeing. But as NATSEM’s figures show, it’s the essentials that are rising in cost, not the expendibles.
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Returning home for summer is a continuing novelty for me. This may be explained in part by the fact the Melburnian summer exists only in myth, much like the unicorn or Dennis Lillee.
Compared to the glorious and endless parade of 35-degree days in Perth, the southern capital is a pale and moody slouch. Yes, it may be the cultural, sporting, and nightlife epicentre of the nation, but not even Events Victoria could poach a decent summer.
Rain outside of winter does not make for happy tidings. As Thom Yorke croaked: “everything in its right place”. And that means, Melbourne, keep the damp in July and open up the summer goody bag sometime around December.
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When it comes to waste and mismanagement, Julia Gillard’s Building the Education Revolution debacle is recognised as the gold standard, but it has a new challenger in the form of the Labor government’s Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP).
However, federal Labor – like its state Labor counterparts who gave themselves glowing reports for their management of the BER – has insulted our intelligence by their boasts in early January that it has exceeded its 2010 targets for building houses in remote Indigenous communities.
The reality is the government has blown the same amount of taxpayers’ money on administration costs and inflated salaries for consultants under SIHIP as the disastrous schools halls project, in relative terms.
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Home ownership is central to the great Australian dream. A home is not only a means of shelter, but the crucible from which personal development, family relations and community bonds spring forth. For many Australians, it is a tangible way in which they can share in the wealth of the nation.
A decade ago, social researcher, Jeanne Strachan, reflected on an emerging concern about housing: “Young couples today are the first generation since the war to face the reality that they often can’t obtain, even with two full-time workers in the house, what their own parents saw as a fair and reasonable reward for their hard work.”
Strachan observed a growing sense of pessimism about home ownership: “Many young couples have an ingrained belief that it is not ‘right’ to raise children in a rented home. They make a very strong emotional link between the goals of parenthood and home ownership. They recognise that before the birth of their first child they will bath have to work to fulfil their home ownership dream.”
As you get older and more cynical it gets harder for governments’ mendacity to surprise you. But yesterday the Rudd regime announced a plan so creepy and ill-thought out that it made me want to vomit.
Responding to concerns over skyrocketing house prices which are - in my opinion - primarily a result of its own immigration policy and its refusal to do anything about the rort that is negative gearing, the government annouced it was reversing its 2008 decision to liberalise the rules for foreigners who want to buy property in Australia.
Those rules had been relaxed during the GFC panic and had - allegedy - led to an influx of foreign buyers to Australia, driving up house prices and forcing decent Australians to sleep eight a room in conditions not seen since the dark days of the 1930s. Or something.
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If you attend an auction in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, the chances are that the winning bidder will be a foreign buyer. In recent months, Australians have become increasingly frustrated that they are being outbid for residential properties.
Young people wanting to establish a home have found that the expected prices are being pushed higher and higher.
This is having a flow-on effect through the property market as potential buyers shift their attention to other suburbs. The consequence is a further escalation in prices. Most young buyers are being pushed further and further towards the outskirts of the metropolitan area.
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To own your own home is the dream of many. I never noticed it as much until I arrived to Australia almost 7 years ago.
People younger than myself had already purchased their first homes; some even had additional investment properties. I was shocked; I couldn’t understand how they managed to achieve it.
In Ireland then, no one I knew in my age bracket owned their own home, instead we all rented and spent most of our disposable income on entertaining and holidays in Europe.
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There were lots of memorable lines in Tony Abbott’s first press conference as Liberal leader yesterday but there was one you can expect to hear repeatedly ahead of the next election, whenever that might be.
``Each and every interest rate rise over the next 12 months is due to the irresponsible spending spree of the Rudd government,’’ he said.
There you have it. Kevin Rudd is going to be made to own each and every 25 basis point rise in interest rates between now and the next election - including the latest one yesterday.
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