Category Archives: House and Land Packages

The Multiples are still Sky High

Post war and right up until the early 2000’s, the old fashioned Dad at work and Mum at home raising the children worked a treat.  I am not commenting on the social status of women or starting any such argument.  I am talking AFFORDABILITY!

The “Average House” which used to be say, a cottage of about 1400 square feet, 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen/dining and lounge room, with a carport or garage on just under a quarter acre, could be had for 3 times the gross annual income of the primary (and often, ONLY) wage earner.

This “multiple” persisted for more than 60 years until the whole thing went nuts.

The first house my father bought cost $10,000 when his annual salary was a smidgen over $3,000.  The first house and land that I bought and built cost me $75,000 when my annual salary was about $25,000.  The next house I built was a lot bigger, at 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms with a double garage on a fairly pricey piece of land.  The “multiple” went to 3.6 for that one, but that was to be expected.

Today, for a modest house of about 1,500 sq ft, typically with a single garage and a carport, 2 bathrooms but on a postage stamp piece of land (no value there folks!) the multiple in the majority of markets lies between 7 and 10.  In other words from seriously unaffordable to economic suicide.

Record low interest rates and “Honeymoon” deals have placed hundreds of thousands of people at risk of bankruptcy and homelessness.  The overall economic fallout from such a disaster, and it will happen, will be incalculable.  The media is full of people with “other interests at heart” who comment.  Why ask a major developer who has 5,000 apartments coming on to the market if he thinks the market is overheated, and due for a cliff like correction?  Is he going to answer YES and put people off buying?  Hell No.

Or other commentators who have hundreds of thousands of Bank shares in their superannuation portfolios…  are they going to tell the truth and watch their Bank shares tank?  Hell No.

Go out into the market and SEE for yourself what is happening.  I sold a number of 50 square metre studio units in 2004 and 2005 for $209,000 and $219,000.  12 and 13 years later they just changed hands for $159,000.

A large 2 story house I helped friends sell in 2007 for $650,000, had a minimum of $150,000 spent by the new owners on pool, gazebo, extensive landscaping and upgrades to 3 bathrooms and the kitchen.  Sold for  $795,000 this year.  That is a LOSS over 10 years of at least $60,000 in stamp duty, legal and agents fees, not to forget interest on loans, rates and insurance.

I do not care what you read elsewhere.  If you are in real estate now, get out while you can…

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His only crime? Getting Caught

Thank you Australian Financial Review for this article – 07 July 2016 – A former Aussie Home Loan broker would go to jail for up to a year after admitting he submitted fake home loan applications to Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking Group at least 18 times.

Aussie Home Loan mortgage broker Madhvan Nair admitted on Thursday making 18 loan applications totalling $5.6 million between 2012 and 2014 which had false borrower employment documents.

Of the 18 loan applications, 12 were approved by the banks, which resulted in home loans worth $3.7 million.

Mr Nair pocketed $10,000 in commission and cash payments for making the false loan applications.

I have said for a long time that this is an epidemic. A dark undercurrent of lies and deception that is NOT being thoroughly investigated by the lenders despite the fact that they KNOW its an epidemic!

These practices are silently contributing to the severity of the ultimate correction that is now long overdue.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Sydney Morning Herald today – all credit to them for this article – thanks ladies and gentlemen….

I continue to argue to all who’ll listen, that this rate cut is just fuel to a fire that will burn a lot of people when it finally rages out of control.  What is not reported is the high number of people who are diving into this super heated market who are not sophisticated investors. I recently chatted with a young couple at a Cafe who I overheard talking about buying a house.  Their SOLE source of advice – their blue collar, working class parents who owned precisely ONE HOUSE between them, bought 20 years ago!  And of course their “friendly” Broker who had given some really awful advice, far outside his legal ability to do so.  I left them pretty sure they were going to buy a nasty house in a nasty street and a nasty suburb for a “top of the market” price and rue the day they did.  This scenario is repeated hundreds of times a day all over the country.

Let us not forget the dodgy companies who still prey on people’s fear and greed to “stitch them up” into overpriced negatively geared properties with “rent guarantees” and other incentives paid for out of their overpriced purchase.

And, of course, our crazy overseas buyers who, in many cases, just want their money out of their “old” country and into the supposedly “safe haven” of Australia.  These people are losing all sense of propriety and in certain sectors of the market are causing chaos.  This chaos filters down and sideways into other sectors, fuelling speculation, rumour and fear that others may miss out on an endless bull run, and greed for the capital gain that, in my not-so-humble opinion, will never eventuate – or if it f does, will be short lived….

Sydney Morning Herald, today —- A deteriorating economic outlook sparked the latest interest rate cut, but the Reserve Bank remains concerned about the continued strength of house prices and investor activity in some pockets of the housing market.

The minutes of the RBA’s February meeting, released on Tuesday, show the board decided to cut Australia’s cash rate to a new record low of 2.25 per cent after new figures revealed the economy wasn’t doing as well as was previously expected.

But the bank also remained concerned about the continued strength of the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets.

“Housing price inflation had moderated from the rapid rates seen in late 2013, but remained high and in Sydney and Melbourne had been well above the growth rate of household income,” the RBA said.

The RBA said growth of investor credit had continued to increase “at a noticeably faster rate” than owner-occupier housing credit.

And a range of indicators suggested further growth of dwelling investment in the near term, the bank said.

The RBA said it would keep a close eye on developments in the housing market, as well as the impact of moves late last year by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, designed to temper investor activity.

“Given the large increases in housing prices in some cities and ongoing strength in lending to investors in housing assets, members also agreed that developments in the housing market would bear careful monitoring,” the RBA said.

“They noted that it would be important to assess the effects of the measures designed to reinforce sound residential mortgage lending practices announced by APRA in December.”

Despite the housing concerns, the RBA said it decided to cut the cash rate after indicators of economic growth began to look weaker than it previously expected them to be.

Economic growth was expected to pick up later than the RBA expected, while unemployment looked set to peak higher than originally forecast.

The central bank also took another swipe at the Australian dollar, repeating its familiar line that “a lower exchange rate was likely to be needed to achieve balanced growth in the economy”.

The RBA said it had considered acting at the March meeting instead but decided to cut in February, giving the opportunity for more detailed communication of its decision in the quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy, released three days after the February 3 meeting.

“On the basis of their assessment of current conditions and taking into account the revised forecasts, the board judged that a further reduction in the cash rate would be appropriate to provide additional support to demand,” the minutes said.

END OF ARTICLE

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PERFECT STORM BREWING – 03 APRIL 2014

It’s all adding up….well, for me anyway, so let’s see how this pans out.

Retail stores are closing at an alarming rate in the USA and Europe, and yes, here in Australia.  My local large shopping centre has just had 5% of tenancies “walk” at the end of their leases, with strong suggestions from people I know who are “in business” but only just, in the same centre, that up to 10% of the tenancies could walk in coming months.  Unlike 2005 for instance, there aren’t 40 people waiting in the wings to get into this centre.  There is no-one.  No registers of interest, no active list, reserve list or any kind of list.

Large shopping centres are dinosaurs and some people just won’t admit it.  Ridiculous rents forcing retailers to charge equally ridiculous prices and therefore having no chance against online retailers with cheap-as-chips warehouse rent in the middle-of-nowhere.

There are otherwise intelligent people (I think) spending nearly AUD$700 million on rebuilding and revitalising another massive local shopping/destination centre.  The reasons they cite to try and justify their decision are plain ridiculous – the place will be an albino pachydermata.

If shopping centre owners drop their rents to a level where traditional retailers can once again run a half decent business, capital values will plummet.  Flow on to smaller commercial and industrial properties is sure. Lack of return, loss of jobs and its not hard to see residential housing taking a dive as well.  Don’t think so?

Massive interest rate cuts have failed to stem the drop in residential values.  The butchering of statistics continues.  I was recently challenged as to why my view differed from the those reported in the news and delivered startling “real results” to back up my view.  Yet again a number of properties in a suburb were quoted as delivering massive price rises that contributed to the percentage rises being quoted in the news.  Shallow analysis of each of these properties showed that there were, in each and every case, factors that impinged on the price rise and therefore those properties should have been excluded from the ‘results’ for that suburb.  Trouble is, you take those properties out, and the price FALL is dramatic.

Factors that made for selling prices being reported as UP from previous acquisition prices were as I’ve reported before in my blog.  Reconfiguring a home to cater for two families. Significant and costly renovations not taken into account. Rezoning of land adding to it’s base value.  And so on.  And… no IN and OUT costs taken into account to arrive at a nett gain (if any).

Make no mistake that fiscal policy makers are all out of ideas for getting our economy going.  The USA think-tank  has screwed up and nothing is working over there.  I know many people in the USA in business and they tell me it’s rubbish that side of the Pacific, more than a little scary and they’ve little to no confidence.

The USA 30 year mortgage rate when I was there in 2013, was about 3.4%.  A year later and its nudging 4.5%.  If the same rate of rise occurs here (and it will) our rates will jump 30%!  Imagine mortgage repayments for all those silly sods who dived in with their 90% plus loans on minimal deposit using their Mum n Dads place as extra collateral…  Most are paying over $500 a week – that could easily jump to $650 a week – and wipe out their ability to EAT!

An interest rate jump of that magnitude will cause a REAL and long overdue drop in house prices.

CHINA – for a start you can’t believe most of the numbers that come out of ‘Official’ China however the word from people I know who travel regularly to that mysterious land is that things are crap. I’ve heard it said that China is at about 2004/2005 on the Western GFC Clock.  When their house-of-cards comes down it will not be pretty and the flow on will be nasty.

Its all coming to  ahead.  If you have property, sell it NOW and take advantage of the pseudo reports and spin to get some sucker to cough up.  RENT, or take a long holiday.  And buy back in when the dust settles.  Go back in this blog to see just HOW CHEAP housing is in so many desirable areas of the USA – not the ghettos of Detroit but NICE PLACES TO LIVE.

We are waaay to expensive and need a correction… It’s coming…

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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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ACE #4

Aspect, Contour and elevation continues.  I also used to an ACE in the Air Force!  Seriously.  Airspace Coordinating Element. A part of my role as a military air traffic controller was to ensure that Navy, Army, Air Force, “other” forces and units didn’t bomb, strafe or shoot each other, or civilians, out of the sky.  That’s about all I can say about that… Now, back to real estate, and again, in no particular order…

When considering a purchase there are hundreds of things to keep in mind, and I’ve mentioned quite a few already.  The list continues…

Poo.  Or more particularly, things to do with poo.  On your walk, cycle and/or drive around the area you’re thinking about buying in, look for sewerage pumping plant, breather pipes and other sewer infrastructure.  The local Council will also tell you where these things are.  Some of this plant can emit terrible smells either very occasionally, on a regular basis or 24/7.

Continue reading

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ACE #1

ACE (Aspect, Contour and Elevation)…amongst other things!

This post will be broken into 2, 3 or more parts and is a rambling recollection of issues I’ve encountered over the years.

Many of the points I’ll raise are still the cause of much grief as people fail to ask, heed or properly interpret professional advice and rely far too much on advertising, promotional blurb and spin.

Talk to your future neighbours.  Don’t be shy. They know what’s going on.

Continue reading

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BOMBS AWAY!

In the 1980’s I was a Flight Lieutenant air traffic controller at RAAF Base Williamtown, just north of Newcastle, New South Wales. The base was headquarters to Squadrons of Mirage fighters and played host to visits from a number of countries who also, from time to time, brought their fighter jets to engage our Top Guns and use our local air weapons range.

It was a very busy and noisy place.

We used to fly training missions basically Monday to Friday, with civilian movements most of the weekend.

For some time every Friday afternoon the switchboard would put a call through to the Control Tower and a person, who never identified themselves, would ask if we had “definitely finished flying” for the day.  It was a little strange but we thought nothing of it.

Now I can tell you what was really going on… Continue reading

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