Category: Property Management

First quarter of the year sees home values stabilise

The recent release of the RP Data-Rismark Hedonic Daily Home Value Index results for March showed that national home values rose 0.2 per cent in March 2012 – a potential sign that the Australian housing market is stabilising.  The market has remained unchanged for the quarter ending 31 March 2012; this flat result is the strongest result since March 2011 when values increased by 0.7 per cent.  

According to the managing director of Rismark International, Ben Skilbeck: “While the housing market remains soft, the zero per cent change over the first quarter of 2012 demonstrates that it is consolidating its position following the decline seen in the calendar year 2011.”

Over the month, the resource rich states delivered the strongest gains with Perth rising 1.4 per cent, Darwin up 1.1 per cent and Brisbane increasing by 0.8 per cent.  

The Index saw that the flat result seen over the March quarter was largely driven by the Sydney housing market which achieved the strongest gains over the quarter, with values rising 1.1 per cent.  Values were down across many of the other capital cities with the most significant drop recorded in Adelaide where dwelling values were down 1.5 per cent.  

Rismark’s Ben Skilbeck points out a number of factors that indicate an improvement in housing market conditions may have occurred over the past few months.  

“The ratio of national house prices to household disposable incomes is currently below the decade average.  Additionally, according to the ABS housing finance data, both the value and number of loan approvals for the purchase of established dwellings are at levels not seen since November 2009.  First home buyers as a proportion of home loans approved are back to levels not seen for two years,” said Mr Skilbeck.  

Charles Tarbey, Owner and Chairman of CENTURY 21 Australia said of the results: “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. 

“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 Mr Tarbey.  

For more information about available property purchase opportunities in your area, please contact your local CENTURY 21 agent. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 10/04/2012 at 10:17 AM | Categories: Finance - Property Management - Investors - First Home Buyers - State of the Market -

The benefits of knowing your neighbours

These days, I think it is fair to say that there is less of a neighbourhood culture than there has been in the past.  I suppose this isn’t a surprising progression – people tend to lead busier lives, there are not as many people at home during the day and with the increase in apartment living there is less of that familiarity you get between people seeing each other out on the street on a daily basis. 

While not unexpected I still think it is a bit of a shame that people aren’t as ‘neighbourly’ anymore, as there can be great benefit to knowing and getting along with the people who live around you. 

In the first instance, simply knowing and being able to say a simple hello to neighbours when you see them can often help to make your general lifestyle more pleasant.  You don’t have to have lengthy conversations – even a quick wave and acknowledgement can be a nice way to start your day. 

In more practical terms, having a reasonably good relationship with your neighbours could be advantageous when you go away on holiday.  Your neighbours will usually be happy to keep an eye on your home for you, watching out for any suspicious behaviour.   This presence may help you to feel more comfortable and better able to enjoy yourself while away.

A neighbourly relationship can also be beneficial when it comes to your children, especially if they like to play outside your home or even on the street.  If there are other children who are also playing outside, it can help to have a good relationship with their parents (your neighbours), whereby the responsibility of watching out for any dangers can be shared amongst a group rather than borne by a few different individuals.  

Another area where having established relationships can be of help is when it comes to the dissemination of community news.  Often things will happen in your local area that are not necessarily reported publicly, however still relate to you.  Your neighbours may have knowledge of these events that they will pass on to you in the conversations that you may have as you pass each other by, whether it is when parking your cars, or in a proper catch-up over a cup of coffee.   

When it comes down to it, unless you are living in an area where the rental turnover is very high and people are continuously coming and going, you could be living near the same people for an extended period of time.  Simply taking the time to introduce yourself and establishing a rapport with them could make your home life much easier and enjoyable. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 21/02/2011 at 2:25 PM | Categories: Property Management - Around the house - CENTURY 21 Solutions -

Land Sales Volumes Down, Prices Rise

Those who have read this blog before will know that the continuing issue of housing affordability in Australia, and my concerns/frustrations in response, are not foreign concepts. 

Last year there were numerous publications considering the situation;  September saw the release of the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s Deposit Power Housing Affordability Report, which recorded the sixth consecutive quarterly decline in housing affordability in Australia.  Prior to that, the Housing Industry Association and the Commonwealth Bank jointly released their Housing Affordability Report in August, which found that housing affordabilities were at record lows around Australia. 

Following the release of both of these reports, I commented on the necessity of government action to develop a strategy to at least make some inroads into the situation. 

And with the recent release of the September 2010 Quarterly Land Report by HIA and RP Data, I find myself writing about the issue again.  The report found that land sales volumes were at their lowest point in a decade, while land values had increased. 

These figures don’t really surprise me – it takes a lot to build a property.  With the costs of the land itself, your legal requirements, council approvals, designing your home, and the supplies and labour needed to construct it, starting from scratch can be a tremendously expensive exercise.  And if land prices rise, this may not be a viable option for many potential home owners. 

So they are then left with the option of buying an established property, thereby adding to the housing shortage we already face, as opposed to lessening the pressure. 

With Australia already looking at a substantial housing shortage (JP Morgan estimated the shortage to be around 180,000 homes in its Economic Research and Global Data Watch 2010 report, while the Federal Government’s Housing Supply Council 2010 Report suggested the shortage was closer to around 200,000 houses), it is imperative that sufficient land is released to address the growing demand for housing. 

Essentially, governments at all levels need to recognise the growing housing affordability crisis facing Australians and formulate solutions to take action.  For example, the rezoning of more areas to increase medium density housing may be a way to help overcome the shortage. 

Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, it will be Australians that suffer from this housing situation, especially first home buyers.  If land is too expensive, sadly it will usually just lead to more expensive homes for consumers. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 31/01/2011 at 9:57 AM | Categories: Property Management - Investors -

Ensure your holiday home pays its way all year round

I always find summer time, especially the Christmas and New Year period (in the Southern Hemisphere), to be quite an interesting time for real estate.  Many people take time off work and while some go on extended overseas trips, lots simply spend a week or two in a rented house near a beach or other location away from home. 

The pairing of good weather (hopefully) and beautiful scenery with some much needed relaxation can often see holidayers start to contemplate the idea of owning a holiday home themselves.  

So what do prospective purchasers need to look for in a property intended primarily for vacation use, and how do you ensure you get the most from your investment outside the summer months? I read a great article the other week on the Domain website by David Adams entitled ‘Maximum pay-off for minimum outlay’ which I thought summarised very well the aspects of holiday properties that are important in determining rental returns and what investors should consider. 

A big part of the success of a holiday home in the rental market is the number of people that the property can easily sleep.  The installation of bunk beds, beds with trundle beds, and queen beds can ensure that a house is both couple-friendly while sleeping a large number of guests.  With some smart configuring, a house with as little as three bedrooms can then become attractive to families or groups of friends who wish to go on holidays together, who are then able to save on accommodation costs by hiring one house. 

Outdoor entertaining areas were also flagged by the article as an aspect that can increase the rental income from a holiday home, both in summer and during the colder winter months as well.  The inclusion of a barbecue, large outdoor setting and potentially even outdoor heaters can help to heighten your property’s attractiveness to holiday renters. 

If purchasing a holiday home that requires renovation, or even just a little bit of a sprucing up, remember that this is not your primary residence and you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on it. 

There are definitely ways to give a property a make-over without having to go overboard.  According to the article, a fresh coat of paint and a carpet cleaning can often be enough to substantially improve the presentation of your holiday home.  When painting, remember that large groups of people may be staying in your house – the use of lighter and more neutral colours can help to increase the property’s feeling of space, often making for a more enjoyable experience for renters. 

So if you think you may be in the market for a holiday home, remember that this is not your main residence and you may need to consider different requirements than you would with a normal home.  Such contemplation will help to ensure that as well as a holiday home, you will have a viable investment option both within and outside of the summer months. 

4 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 24/01/2011 at 2:43 PM | Categories: Property Management - CENTURY 21 Solutions -

Using Property Data to your Advantage

And we’re off! I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and New Years and for those people who took time off work – had a nice, relaxing break.  2010 has now officially passed, and the team at CENTURY 21 Australia are gearing up for what we believe will be a very busy year for real estate in 2011. 

For one reason or another, people often find themselves making ‘life’ decisions around New Years.   I think it ties into the idea of resolution-making - the start of another year represents a watershed and people are determined to finally go after what they may have been planning for awhile. 

Selling a property and moving into a new type of home (e.g. downsizing from a house to an apartment) or different area (e.g. leaving the suburbs and relocating to an inner city setting) quite often arise as some of these resolutions. 

With the thought that many people may be thinking of moving at the moment, I thought I would use this blog to talk about how both buyers and sellers can make the various types of property data work to their advantage. 

In my view property data is a significantly underused tool; when employed it can give people delving into the property market some great insights into timing, locations and other important notions.  I have a feeling that many people don’t quite know how to find nor decipher the available data and thus shy away from it, not realising the benefits that it could afford them. 

The first step is to know what types of data are available – and realise that it’s not all just about sale prices.  Bodies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as well as specific property data companies such as RP Data, release information covering many topics, such as the number of listings at the moment at one time, the level of housing finance being sought after and granted, the number of houses selling at auction, just to name a few.  

The trick to being smart about using data is to develop an understanding of how the relationships work between different variables.  For instance, if auction clearance rates are down but sales rates are constant, this doesn’t mean that properties are not selling but it may indicate that properties are being passed in at auction with a sale privately negotiated after the fact. 

Both buyers and sellers can then take this information to uncover opportunities.  For sellers – if you can see that the market is not supporting auctions at a particular time, perhaps make plans to prepare for private sales negotiations.  For buyers – take advantage of the lower competition at the auction and be immediately ready to begin discussions with the vendor and agent as soon as the property is passed in. 

Other types of property data such as median price and growth rates will give you an indication as to how much you should be looking to sell for, or pay, as well as which areas are either heating up or slowing down. 

 If you are interested in using property data to your advantage, then I think it definitely pays to stay abreast of the news over a substantial period leading up to when you are looking to buy or sell.  Many property journalists will take straight statistics and figures and highlight the greater meaning – reading such stories will help you to develop an understanding about what the figures indicate and how this can help you with your property plans.   

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 10/01/2011 at 9:56 AM | Categories: Buying - Property Management - Investors -

Security when 'Home Swapping'

I’ve been hearing increasing stories of people I know going on holidays through a home exchange program – that is, as opposed to staying in a hotel or serviced apartment, you stay in somebody else’s home, and they stay in yours. 

I think the concept is a great idea, allowing you to stay in beautiful accommodation both around Australia and overseas for a fraction of what you would pay for a hotel.  It is crucial however that proper precautions are taken to protect both your own personal security as well as your home.

According to home swapping website,, good communication is essential for any home swap arrangement to work well.  Before any firm agreements are made, talking to possible exchange partners via methods such as the telephone, Skype and email will help you to get familiar with each other and feel more comfortable about sharing your homes.  This contact can also be used to share photos and ask any questions you may have.   

If after some correspondence you feel something with the other party is remiss and are uncomfortable with having them in your home, you are under no obligation to go ahead with the exchange arrangement. 

It is also important to ask for referrals from any prior exchange arrangements your exchange partners may have had. 

It goes without saying that any valuable jewellery and objects should be locked away while the exchange is taking place.  It may also be worthwhile to secure any personal documents and files and to restrict access to confidential computer files. 

To prevent any damage to your appliances or electronic equipment, be sure to leave a detailed set of instructions for anything complicated.   Make sure you clear a section in wardrobes and drawers that will be utilised, to avoid your clothes getting mixed up with your visitors’. 

Many home exchange companies will get the respective parties to sign a contract, agreeing to various conditions for the period.  Take care to read any such agreement that you sign and be sure to hold up your end of the bargain.

Home exchanges can be an excellent way to travel, often helping you to save money, see a place from a different perspective and perhaps even form lifelong international friendships.  The process can be pleasant and stress-free as long as just a few precautions are taken.  

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 18/10/2010 at 9:38 AM | Categories: Property Management -