Category Archives: Existing Homes

CAN’T FIND A STATISTIC EVEN IF YOU WANTED TO!

I thought I’d take a peek at where I rent to see how the rumoured ‘re-sales’ have been going.  You know I couldn’t find the place for love nor money. I searched in every way possible.  Gone. Vanished. Never existed.  Ka-Boom!

Turns out the Valuer General (VG) has our Apartment Complex listed as being in an adjacent street!  No wonder I couldn’t find it!  The very nice lady at VG contacted the local Council and Australia Post, who both confirmed the address I have, and she promised to immediately (if not sooner) amend their records to reflect the change!  Imagine the confusion this has caused lawyers, conveyancers and real estate agents?

Anyway, I managed my good deed for the month and now the records are slowly being updated.  And now I could see exactly what’s been going on and whether buying one of these (rather nice) apartments would have been a good idea…

Good News first.  Apt 7 was bought for $580,000 in Dec 2010 and re-sold for $610,000 in Oct 2012.  A profit?  NOPE.  By the time you add stamp duty and legals to the purchase (lets see, maybe $20,000 (not including Bank Fees if there was a mortgage) and take out Agents fees, legals and perhaps some advertising at the sale end, ( lets say around $16,000) the net result was probably a $6,000.00 to $10,000.00 loss (if lucky).

The other 6 purchases and re-sales within a 3.5 year period yielded losses ranging from a minimum $80,000.00 to a staggering $155,000.00.

I don’t know where this BOOM is happening?  Do you?

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DEATH TRAPS

I’ve written about the dangers of living in a property that’s been used (abused) as a drug lab but there are more subtle dangers out there, just as deadly.  I’ve watched a lot of dodgy builders and renovators over the years create modern day death traps for the buyers and renters of their properties.  These people just don’t care.  Well-meaning renovators care (I guess) but in their ignorance, also create death traps.

And, blokes with their sheds are the worst offenders, especially old blokes who’ve come off farms and retired to the ‘burbs.

Here then, in no particular order, are my things to watch out for.

If there’s been a renovation of a pre-1987 property, asbestos may well have been disturbed.  This nasty substance, if contained and solid, coated in heavy paint is sort of okay to have around (sorry, for me and my child – no asbestos please) but if it’s on the loose, it will kill you.  Not right away, but you, your children and visitors, may just get a dose big enough to ensure you endure a long and painful death sometime down the track. This shitty substance was used in fence panels, roofing, insulation, behind tiles, in old stoves, as lagging around pipes.  I’ve seen in buried in gardens, and also just under the lawn where every time you mow the lawn that cloud of dust is not dirt but ultra-fine asbestos fibres – charming!  If the ceiling space is filled with asbestos insulation that is spalling particles, every time the wind whistles through the roof space, the fibres are pouring into your home and out through the eaves and onto every outdoor surface.  That rippled asbestos fencing that Councils tell you is safe as long as it’s painted, isn’t!  Is the neighbour’s side painted and in excellent, fully sealed condition?  Is your fence absolutely free of chips and scrapes so that no asbestos is getting loose?  How about this then? If you have grass growing up against the fence, what happens every time a whipper snipper cord smashes into it at 300 miles an hour?  No kidding there aren’t asbestos fibres flying everywhere!

Lead.  There is old lead everywhere. New lead is not better for you than old lead – it’s all bad! Again, authorities tell you that old lead based paint is okay as long as it’s sealed and in good condition.  RUBBISH.  Young kids always have their hands on and into everything, followed by those same little hands being thrust into their mouths. (If you suspect you have a lead problem in and around your home, please go and have blood lead level checks done – it’s an easy test, as long as you don’t mind the needle!).  Think about old wood framed windows, painted with lead paint – every time you open and close the window, or it rattles in the wind and rain, where paint rubs on paint, or painted surface against wood or metal runner, lead dust is being liberated.  Lead paint, in fact any paint, can crack and craze and if that’s happening 10 feet above you head, you’re not going to notice it.  Lead dust will fall from those cracks and all over your skin, carpet, furniture, food and glass of water.

The Man Cave, otherwise known as a SHED.  More than likely a toxic waste dump, chock full of carcinogens. Moving on to free range chickens, egg laying and growing your own vegetables. Nothing more satisfying is there?  Or is it?  Could it be incredibly dangerous to your health? The old guy, Farmer Joe, who moved into the house years ago and filled his shed out the back with all sorts of leftovers from the farm.  He also had a range of nasty, polluting hobbies that involved acids, welding, chemicals, weed sprays long since banned and goodness knows what.  He threw waste into the weed strewn fence-lines, poured who-knows-what on the grass and hung up chemical laden clothing in the laundry to “air”, filling the house with fumes from who-knows-what – traces are still clinging to paintwork and window furnishings, not to forget the carpet, all through the house.

If you want to have your Farm declared “organic” and “pesticide free” it is a very long and arduous process.  there are no rules really for putting up a Chook Pen, or digging up your back yard and throwing some seedlings in the ground and yet, people do, often encouraged by the dozens of Home Maker Shows on TV.

Well, here’s Gordon’s Caveat!  STOP.  Do NOT do any of this unless and until you’ve had the soil tested.  There are laboratories that do this kind of thing and you’d be mad to eat lettuce grown in a garden bed full of toxic waste – Imagine feeding your innocently home-grown produce to your children and have them develop some nasty, life threatening illness?  You’d never forgive yourself.

Be careful.  Be aware. Do your homework.  Seek professional advice and DO NOT PROCEED until the road ahead is clear.

 

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MARKET INTELLIGENCE – SURVEY

Oh dear.  People DO get excited about buying land to build on, or an existing house to renovate or move straight into.  They engage a law firm or conveyancer to assist them with the settlement process.  Searches are done to make sure its not flood prone, going to have a free-way or railway line built next door, is set for full or partial resumption or major power-lines nearby now or in the future.

When I was actively selling I’d always advise buyers to obtain a boundary survey even if the property was brand new. Not one of the hundreds of buyers I’ve advised over the years has ever spent the $700.00 – $1,200.00 to obtain a brand new, sparkling boundary survey. Continue reading

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MARKET UPDATE – 06 JUNE 2013

G’Day again and thanks for dropping by.

I’ve taken a peek at a particular street where I marketed and sold a LOT of homes in 2002-2004.

When the market was crazy I was personally selling 2 houses a month in this one street.  In the last two years there have been just 12 sales.

Bought March 2008 for $469,000.00 sold Dec 2012 for $415,000.00.  That’s a loss of $80,000 on the surface but I know they put a very expensive block wall around the back yard, renovated the kitchen, re painted and re carpeted. Mmmmm – they ‘probably’  flushed $120,000.00

Bought August 2006 for $410,000.00. Sold late 2012 for $450,000.00 WHOO HOO – a profit!  Sorry, NO. The stamp duty and legals going in and the real estate agent and other fees going out mean that for SIX years of blood sweat and tears it returned them ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Bought late 2005 for $395,00.00.  Sold late 2012 for $465,000.00  MORE CHEERING I hear! BONG, CLANG, SMASH…  Not if you put an extension on the house, re paint inside and out, new expensive window finishings, new carpet and tiles. Take out stamp duty, legals, agents fees and we have another LOSER.

Bought September 2003 for $310,000.00 and SOLD late 2010 for $450,000.00.  THE ONLY WINNER here.  Good timing.  However, the sale was made by a very dodgy marketing company that took them to the cleaners on fees and questionable marketing expenses but they still did OK.  Or did they?  It cost them $340,000.00 to get in – they “owned” together with the Bank for SEVEN YEARS where they had a series of really bad Property Managers who put terrible tenants in place.  They paid out a fortune in routine and extraordinary maintenance and had to refurbish the gardens three times at huge expense as packs of large dogs had ripped it to shreds. They were charged more than $30,000.00 in sale fees so they netted about $80,000.00 less capital gains tax. Depending on their personal tax circumstances they ‘made’ about $7,000.00a year for all that grief and heartache.

The new owners are also far from happy.  They are from interstate and were also duped by the same dodgy marketers.  They could have bought the IDENTICAL house about ten doors down for $380,000.00.

Turning to the beaches here – WHAT BEACHES?  If we get a couple of bad winter storms where the surf gets much bigger than 6 feet, we will start to see swimming pools and possibly $5 million+ homes and apartments fall into the ocean.  I am not kidding.   Google “Beach Erosion Gold Coast Queensland Australia” and see for yourself.

Later!

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MARKET UPDATE – 31 MARCH 2013 (SENTIMENT IS THE DRIVER)

When you absolutely “know” your job or business is safe and stable, then and only then do you stick your neck out, borrow against future income or profits and maybe splurge some.  This is sentiment and you can throw as many figures around, bend and twist them as much as you like, put spin here and there but deep down, if the people ain’t happy it just doesn’t stack up.

The Spin Gurus would have us all believe that things are “just dandy” sometimes by jamming it down our throats that we are far better off than say….mmmm…Cypress!  But, you numpties, we aren’t Cypress, or Greece, or Spain, we’re ORSTRAYLIAH!

The sentiment out there is very, very conservative and in many areas, frightened and afraid would be a better descriptor.

Why would I say that you ask?  Well, it’s borne out by new figures (again, if you can believe “figures” but in this case it’s fairly bloody obvious) that show that mortgage holders are building in bigger and bigger “buffers” in case they lose their job, have reduced hours of work or their business fall on (even more) hard times. We are collectively AUD$160 BILLION ahead on our mortgages apparently. And some AUD$30 BILLION of that stuffing has come post GFC.

People are pulling their heads in like a bunch of turtles.  Still going to coffee shops in droves to spend $5.00 and chat about their woes, but try being a mid-range luxury goods seller, or any kind of retailer nowadays – it’s nasty out there.

The Reserve Bank has come out and added to the statistics by saying that borrowers are more than 20 MONTHS ahead in principal and interest repayments, and that our previous dangerously high level of personal debt had come down sharply.

However, there is the other end of the market where folks are struggling to meet repayments.  I chatted with some people in the money world before Easter and was interesting to hear their real life, real time stories.  Lenders are bending over backwards to ensure the least number of people get into a default situation.  And they’re not doing it out of the kindness of their heart either.

We discussed the local area and narrowed our focus to a few streets that I’m really familiar with. This area was targeted by certain people and was heavily promoted and sold in the lead up to the GFC.  People who bought for investment purposes are keeping their heads above water as interest rates have dropped and rents have skyrocketed. Cash flow is manageable.  Poor buggers who bought to live in are screwed.  Why?  Dodgy loan applications, low start subsidised, interest only loans that have suddenly reverted to principal and interest at  a rate quite a bit higher than market… real life scenarios quoted to me saw young couples’ repayments jump by $1,200 a month.  That takes a lot of food off the table, and if you earn between $40,000.00 and $80,000.00 a year, could knock $22,000.00 a year off your gross pay!

No wonder this group are hurting and scared. And to make it worse, they’re trapped.

House bought in lead up to GFC for $495,000.00.  Loan $450,000.00.  Amount paid off loan – pennies!  Last sale in the street of identical house and land – $430,000.00 less Agents and lawyer’s fees and charges leaves say $415,000.00 means you still owe the Bank $35,000.00 and nothing to show for it…

I’ll keep running around like Chicken Little and I’ll keep saying that Aussie house prices are STILL way too high and a correction to “affordable levels” is still well overdue.

More next time…

 

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DRUG HOUSES

I’ve written previously about the dangers inherent in buying and renting homes that may have been used in the illegal production of street drugs.

The number of homes, units, apartments and lodgings used for these nasty activities is increasing.  There is no Legislation in place for the reporting by Police, other government departments, real estate agents, landlords or sellers to new owners and occupiers as to whether a place has been so used or abused.

Continue reading

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MARKET – 09 DECEMBER 2012

A house nearby just sold after being on the market for months, for a loss of more than $100,000.00 after 7 years of “ownership” or really having a putrid relationship with a bank who “allowed” the poor “owners” to occupy the property.  I know a little of this place and its distraught former owners.

Their total out of pocket expenses in bank interest, rates, building (not including contents) insurance and repairs over the 7 years amounted to roughly $215,000.00

Continue reading

PROVENCE, S’IL VOUS PLAIT?

Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azure?  or Providence Rhode Island?

Neither!  Provenance… which is from the French provenir, “to come from”.  The word refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of a historical object, but I like to think it can be applied to residential housing of any age.  Allow me to explain how proper “provenance” can add tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the final selling price of your home.

Continue reading

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UPSIDE DOWN – THE MARKET – 28 NOVEMBER 2012

You just have to laugh at the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) this morning with their article headlined Sydney housing most affordable since 2009

It quotes the “Housing Industry Association-Commonwealth Bank housing affordability index” as revealing “…the city’s housing is now more reasonably priced, relative to incomes, than at any time in the past decade.”

Where this report really drops itself in the can is with the following statement…”A year ago it took two average full-time wages to affordably service a mortgage for a median priced Sydney house, but that has dipped to 1.84 average full-time wages.”  What on earth does “affordably service” mean?  After you’ve paid the mortgage you can have an overseas holiday every year, send two kids to private school and go out to posh restaurants twice a week or, its baked beans, no holidays and we can’t afford to have kids?  What a load of rubbish…

Continue reading

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ICARUS

When you aspire to bigger and better things be careful what you wish for. Your state of wealth is subject to the phrase “this too shall pass” meaning I guess…an ability over time to make the happy man sad and the sad man happy.

Be too aspirational and buy what can only be described as a ridiculous house for $7.34 million in early 2007 – pay an estimated $400,000.00 in stamp duty and other costs to find yourself in a SEVEN AND THREE QUARTER MILLION DOLLAR HOLE.

Along comes the Grim Reaper of the late noughties, the GFC and it all goes pear-shaped. No-one wants your ridiculous house and even when it’s sold, the Contract falls over.

Once the receivers, agents and others involved in the eventual DISTRESSED SALE take their cut, you’re left with perhaps $2.8 million.  I’m not privy to the size of the mortgage but I doubt from what I’ve heard that $2.8 million even comes close.

IN 5 YEARS THE SILLY HOUSE HAS LOST YOU SOME $75,000.00 A MONTH!

HOUSE PRICES DO NOT ALWAYS GO UP IN A STRAIGHT LINE…

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