Viewing by month: November 2011

Don’t discount smaller spaces, simply consider smarter designs

It is no secret that many Australians have long had a love for substantially sized homes, set on considerable blocks of land, with room for all the family.  However, with affordability concerns and a change in preference for inner city living, as well as the physical size of many new developments decreasing, a number of people are being faced with the possibility of living in dwellings of a smaller size.

However, those home buyers and investors who may encounter this prospect need not necessarily fear.  According to Melbourne architect Stuart Harrison, who recently appeared in an article on The Age website, ‘Big ideas for very small spaces’ (November 5, 2011), “it’s not how big a home is that’s important; it’s what you can do with it.”

The article, which was written by Kate Robertson and appeared in the Design & Living blog in the Domain property section, featured an interview with Harrison regarding the release of his new coffee-table book of intelligent housing designs in tight areas entitled Forty-Six Square Metres of Land Doesn’t Normally Become a House. 

In the article, Harrison talks about the benefits of considering living in smaller housing – “More compact housing that’s located near stuff you might need, both your workplace and places of recreation, will help you get to places with less energy and then the housing itself, if it’s smaller, will take less energy to build and, of course, need less energy to heat, cool and maintain.”

I encourage you to read the blog article, which contains further detail about the types of properties featured in Stuart Harrison’s new book, as well as his views on the importance of design and use of space when it comes to housing. 

For more information about properties of all sizes that are available in your area, please stop by a CENTURY 21 real estate office to speak with a property professional. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 28/11/2011 at 11:06 AM | Categories:

Keep cooling costs down as temperatures rise

It is no secret that electricity is set to become increasingly expensive for households, and as we enter summer and temperatures rise, the temptation to rely on air-conditioning, and thus use large amounts of energy, is hard to resist. 

According to the Australian Energy Market Commission in its report ‘Future Possible Retail Electricity Price Movements: 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2013’, over 2009/10 to 2012/13, national residential electricity prices are forecast to increase by 30 per cent in nominal terms, equating to an increase of approximately 19 per cent in real terms.   In order to combat such increased expenses, many prospective property purchasers and home owners could benefit from investigating and implementing low-cost solutions to keep a property cool. 

For those who are considering the purchase of a property there are several attributes that you can look for in potential dwellings, which become particularly important when the property is located in an area that experiences high temperatures.  Such aspects include tiled floors, existing window dressings (such as shades and curtains), and the existence of large trees in outdoor areas, offering shade to the property. 

For those existing home owners and investors who are suffering in the heat, there are several cost-effective ways to lessen your reliance on air-conditioning and thus reduce your energy costs.  According to the Victorian Government website Resource Smart, which offers advice for people looking to reduce their environmental impact, there are various inexpensive ways to keep a property cool in summer which include:

• The creation of external shades such as awnings, pergolas and plants
• The use of window dressings such as curtains, blinds and tinting
• Taking care with skylights by covering on hot days
• The use of ceiling and portable fans

To read more about these and other tips about keeping your home cool in summer, I encourage you to visit the Resource Smart website. 

There is no doubt that the temptation to use air-conditioning can be great in summer when temperatures are high.  However as you can see there are many cost-effective ways to chill your home without relying on the use of expensive cooling units.  With energy prices set to rise across the country, prospective buyers and property owners could find that they are able to save money by implementing alternative cooling solutions. 

For more information about properties in your local area please feel free to pop into any one of the hundreds of CENTURY 21 real estate offices around Australia to speak to a property professional. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 28/11/2011 at 11:05 AM | Categories:

Report identifies possible reforms to achieve housing solutions

There has been no shortage of attention paid to the continued residential housing supply and affordability concerns shared by many Australians over the past year.  To this end, the independent body, the Grattan Institute, recently released a report that proposes reforms to potentially address the issues facing the national residential property market, largely focusing on planning at a community level. 

The Grattan Institute’s new report, Getting the housing we want, proposes reforms to change what is built to better match what Australians say they want, while enabling residents to take an active role in shaping their neighbourhoods in partnership with the housing industry and government. 

The report builds on insights gained from a previous Grattan Institute report, The housing we’d choose, which showed that contrary to stereotype, Australians want a mixture of housing choices – not just detached houses. 

Key reforms proposed within the most recent report include:

• The creation of opt-in Neighbourhood Development Corporations that bring together residents, developers and governments to oversee significant development in an area.  These would be independent bodies with real powers over planning and delivery and would enable residents, developers and bodies to plan together and then act. 

• Government encouragement of high-quality smaller developments which make up the bulk of new housing in many established suburbs.

• The forming of a new Small Redevelopment Housing Code to establish clear standards for housing of two storeys and under which (depending on lot size) contains between two and 10 dwellings; these dwellings would get planning approval within 15 days if the Code’s standards were met. 

“Our cities are at a critical point in their development,” said Grattan Institute Cities Program Director, Jane-Frances Kelly on release of the report. 

“We need a fresh start that helps Australians get the housing they want and gives residents a say in the future of their neighbourhoods and cities.”

The report certainly raises interesting points and sheds light on some various possibilities available for Australia to improve the national housing situation by focusing on planning at a very local level.  For more detail about the contents of the report it can be viewed at the Grattan Institute’s website.   

To speak to an experienced property professional about residential property in your local area, please feel free to stop by one of the hundreds of CENTURY 21 Australia real estate offices around the country. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 22/11/2011 at 9:04 AM | Categories:

Residential property market shows early signs of recovery with home loan approvals up in September

The national residential property market received some good news recently, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ release of its Housing Finance data for September 2011.  These figures showed a lift in the number of home loans approved across the country over the month, which could potentially indicate a strengthening of the housing market. 

According to figures released by the ABS, September saw the total number of owner occupied housing commitments increase by 2.2 per cent (seasonally adjusted). 

In response to the lift in approvals, CENTURY 21 Owner and Chairman, Charles Tarbey, said that the increase was pleasing to see, particularly given that concerns for global markets heightened over the course of September.  He pointed out that such concerns saw many prospective buyers hesitant to make a property purchase. 

While Charles noted that the data needed to be viewed with caution, he was also hopeful that the upwards trend in loan approvals would continue over the remaining moths of the year, with the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to cut rates in November potentially helping buyers to regain confidence about making a real estate decision. 

The ABS data showed a rise in finance acquired by first home buyers – the number of first home buyer commitments as a proportion of total owner occupied housing finance commitments rose to 16.4 per cent (September) from 15.4 per cent (August). 

While the value of dwelling commitments increased by 1.0 per cent (seasonally adjusted), the ABS reported that the average loan size for all owner occupied housing commitments fell by $5,400. 

There are certainly a number of factors that may continue to hold buyers back from making a property purchase decision – according to Charles these include uncertainty surrounding Europe’s financial markets and affordability concerns.

However with the prospect of rates moving south once again, along with the preference of many to have their property transactions done and dusted before Christmas, Charles feels that there is certainly a chance that we could see some recovery in the housing market before the year is out.  

For those people considering a purchase and who are in a position to buy, there could well be some value in exploring the new housing finance options on offer as a result of the November reduction in interest rates – prospective borrowers may find that more suitable products for their circumstances have now become available. 

For more information about the residential property market in your local area please feel free to stop by one of the hundreds of CENTURY 21 Australia real estate offices around the country to speak with an experienced property professional. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 22/11/2011 at 9:04 AM | Categories:

SA Government establishes urban development authority to oversee projects

Given the ongoing demand for residential property that Australia will likely face over coming years, it is excellent to see the progress being made in some areas of the country towards achieving not just the construction of new projects, but the redevelopment of otherwise unutilised residential space.

Promise for such progress was seen in South Australia recently, where the state’s Premier, Jay Weatherill, announced the establishment of a new urban development authority which will oversee all urban renewal projects from their outset. 

The new body will bring together the agencies responsible for land and housing development, and will work in conjunction with local communities to reinvent the cities, suburbs and towns of South Australia.

In announcing the authority, Jay Weatherill said that the Government had very high expectations for urban renewal projects and as such it was crucial that such efforts are properly co-ordinated from the outset.  According to Mr Weatherill, a single body which will have responsibility for all urban renewable projects across Adelaide is the best way to achieve such an aim.

“Our great ambition is to provide a housing system where people can afford to buy or rent in their own community and this new authority is the best way for Government to facilitate this,” said Mr Weatherill.

A taskforce is currently working on machinery of Government changes to provide the best model for the new authority.  

I commend South Australia on taking steps forward to make the planning and implementation of urban renewal projects easier and more efficient with the announcement of this urban development authority.  Ideally this endeavour will allow the Government to work with local communities to ensure that the potential inherent in the redevelopment of previously unused spaces is maximised, hopefully revitalising the state and improving levels of housing affordability. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 14/11/2011 at 4:41 PM | Categories:

Australia’s best architectural projects

Being in the real estate industry, I often find myself in conversations with people discussing their homes, investment properties, renovations and the like.  People like to get an idea about popular renovating trends and the best ways to add value to their properties, and frequently ask me about what I’m seeing with regards to the CENTURY 21 properties that are being purchased and sold. 

For those who are interested in the most impressive, innovative designs, I refer them to the different award programs for architectural projects from all around the world. These can help to give some guidance to renovators and builders about what leaders are incorporating into modern housing and perhaps provide inspiration for their own projects.   

One such program is the Australian Institute of Architects National Architecture Awards which were held in Canberra recently.  To accompany the awards, as well as to celebrate the best of contemporary Australian architecture, the Institute has launched a new book called INSPIRE which includes Australia’s 149 state and territory and 34 national award winning architecture projects.

INSPIRE features superb colour images of each project by Australia’s top architectural photographers, personal anecdotes from architects and building sketches.  It is the second book in a series of the 10 annual, limited edition books to be published from 2010 to 2011. 

A limited print run of 3,000 books will be published for the 2011 edition of INSPIRE.  Those renovators/home builders seeking inspiration for their own projects can pick up a copy of the book from specialist bookstores from mid-November, or they can be ordered through Architext at

To speak to a property professional about how you can add value to your property, please feel free to stop by any of the hundreds of CENTURY 21 real estate offices around the country. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 14/11/2011 at 4:40 PM | Categories:

Lowered inflation paves way for rate cut

Last week saw the Australian Bureau of Statistics release the Consumer Price Index for the September 2011 quarter.  In good news for home owners and prospective borrowers, the measure, which serves as the official inflation data referred to by the Reserve Bank of Australia when setting the official cash rate, was unexpectedly low. 

The September quarter saw the CPI rise by 0.6 per cent, down from the 0.9 per cent rise seen in the June quarter 2011.  Over the year to September 2011 the CPI rose 3.5 per cent, while the year to June 2011 saw it rise by 3.6 per cent. 

According to the ABS, price increases were largest for electricity, international holiday travel and accommodation, rents, water and sewerage, and property rates and charges.  These were balanced most significantly by a decline in the prices of pharmaceutical products, audio, visual and computing equipment, automotive fuel, vegetables, motor vehicles and fruit. 

Such a decline in inflation may be the green light the Reserve Bank needs to lower the official cash rate when it meets this week.  While there are many other factors that also need to be taken into account, it seems that a number of experts are in agreement that this is indeed what the RBA Board will elect to do, given that this measure now sees inflation fall healthily within the lower bracket of the RBA’s target range of 2 to 3 per cent. 

A rate cut, potentially from 4.75 per cent to 4.5 per cent, would no doubt bring relief to many home owners, reducing their monthly interest payments.  It would also likely see increased interest in the residential property market from buyers, buoyed by the downward movement in rates.

Home owners and prospective borrowers must remember, however, that relief hinges on a, whether the RBA moves to cut rates which is remains uncertain, and b, whether the banks pass on the lower rates to their customers. 

All in all this week is set to be a very interesting one for the property market.  And with the RBA set to meet on Melbourne Cup day, I’m sure that the outcome of the horse race is not the only news that many Australians will be waiting for.  Having said this, I wish everyone the best of luck – I hope you picked a winner!


0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 02/11/2011 at 9:24 AM | Categories:

Time for Australian property owners to get serious about energy efficiency

There’s no doubt that energy costs represent a significant expense for Australian households.  And with already expensive energy prices looking to rise substantially over the next few years, as well as an impending carbon price, it seems that there is no better (or more prudent) time for property owners to assess the ways that household energy consumption can be reduced. 

CENTURY 21 Chairman and Owner, Charles Tarbey, recently said that there is a high likelihood that the coming years will see Australian households pay larger amounts for their energy.  With this in mind, he commented that the property owners who can proactively put energy reduction measures in place now will be able to mitigate any price increases in the future. 

Home owners should also note his additional comment that energy efficiency measures can also increase the value of a property – giving owners added incentive to review all options available for a particular property. 

With advancing technologies as well as the benefits that can be achieved as a result of simple mindset modifications, home owners can now choose from a variety of measures to reduce their at-home energy consumption and increase levels of energy efficiency.  Such options range from low-cost behavioural changes to more capital significant solutions such as solar PVC. 

And as Charles Tarbey rightly points out, even actions as simple as converting to more energy efficient light bulbs and educating family members to turn off lights and televisions when not in use can have a substantial impact on costs. 

When going through the process of exploring household energy efficiency options, home owners would certainly be wise to seek the appropriate professional advice.

For more information about the value that increasing a property’s levels of energy efficiency can add to your home, please don’t hesitate to visit one of the hundreds of CENTURY 21 real estate offices around Australia to talk to an experienced property professional. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 02/11/2011 at 9:23 AM | Categories: