Weekend reads – Must read articles from the last week

There are more interesting articles, commentaries and analyst reports on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month.

Each Saturday morning I like to share some of the ones I’ve read during the week.

The weekend will be over before you know it, so enjoy some weekend reading.

Winter a prime time to sell as spring property market blooms early

Will the property market see an early spring bloom?

This article on Realestate.com.au looks at why winter could be the prime time to sell.

Australia’s peak springtime property market is likely to land early this year as COVID-19 restrictions ease across the country.

The spring season has traditionally been the most effective and popular time to sell homes with the weather warming up and gardens in full bloom. Auction Buy Property Bid Sell House Sale 300x200

But property analysts and real estate agents say this winter could prove a wonder and a prime time to sell as markets start to pick up amid the winding back of government restrictions and newfound certainty amongst both buyers and sellers.

Buyers are back

Nerida Conisbee, chief economist at realestate.com.au, said the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and economic crunch had caused a short supply of stock, but more people were keeping a keen eye on the market and searching realestate.com.au.

COVID-19: Current market update

“We are seeing a definite recovery in the buyer market so buyers are there and are very active on-site, but most importantly, they are also inquiring,” Ms Conisbee said.

“In terms of seller activity, we are starting to see a flattening out of listings in Sydney, so that is good news. Elsewhere it is still well down compared to the same time last year, but it’s definitely moving in the right direction.”

Ms Conisbee said rental markets were also on the improve after a surge in rental listings with the onset of COVID-19, with people moving in with relatives or to house-sharing arrangements. That increase was now petering.

Sales director at Marshall White – Stonnington, John Bongiorno, said “buyers are certainly coming back”.

“They’re not getting carried away by prices or getting carried away by the market or anything, they’re being sensible about what they’re paying,” he added. “I think prices are remaining static at the moment and that’s the way that I think it’ll be for some time.”

Strong search activity hints at early stages of recovery

Latest data on the volume of searches for properties for sale on realestate.com.au shows search activity hit a new record last week, rising by 0.5%.

Want to take advantage

Search activity is now up 37.7% year-on-year and is 62.6% higher than the low in March. It has now grown for nine consecutive weeks, but the rate of growth is slowing.

Ms Conisbee said renewed interest was indicative of the early stages of a recovery, but warned some parts of the market would take longer to recover than others.

“If you have a look at a house in a nice area that’s got good amenity, that’s probably going to hold up OK, whereas if you go to high development areas, particularly those located close to universities that may rely on foreign students or rely on investors, they’re the areas that will struggle,” she said.

“We’re seeing this big surge in first home buyer activity, but investor activity just hasn’t returned and is seeing very low volumes of inquiry.”

Early spring rush could be on the horizon

Mr Bongiorno said he’s expecting “a very different winter” this year as demand continues to move upwards.

“We’ve seen demand increase week-on-week since Easter and there have been a number of examples of expressions of interest and even private sales that have exceeded market expectations,” he said. “It’s giving vendors more confidence.

“July is traditionally our quietest month of the year next to January but we believe this July will be quite busy because Victorians who usually go up to Queensland will be around, and we’re actually booking quite a number of auctions in July, we’ve already exceeded our auction numbers for July over the last five years.”

Bronte Manuel, director of residential sales at Toop & Toop agency in Adelaide, predicted a premature spring rush. He said while stocks were low, there was a strong appetite to buy. Houses In The Clear Sky

Mr Manuel said despite restrictions of 10 people at an open for inspection at a time in South Australia, Toop & Toop attendances had increased by 20% a week.

“I had an auction in West Croydon on the weekend. Before COVID-19 the price was $614,000. We had a lot of interest and 30 odd bids and sold it for $628,000 so we’ve come out of a good market, gone into COVID and we’ve trumped that price,” he said.

Andrew Chamberlain, managing director of Canberra agency Blackshaw, said the market was moving.

“The market is coming out of its winter hiatus,” Mr Chamberlain said.

“The underlying strength in the market is as strong as I’ve seen it. We finished May with 6.3 registered bidders on average for the month and that’s the highest it’s ever been.

“There’s been a hesitation to list (properties for sale). I’m in no doubt there are people who would have been in the market to buy whose circumstances have changed and they are no longer buyers.

“But it’s more the case where it seems to have affected the actions of sellers and that’s why we have very healthy market conditions.

“I don’t see us having an overcorrection in terms of such a large increase of properties coming onto the market where it overwhelms the current demand, but certainly anyone putting their property on the market is almost guaranteed to be met with a high degree of inquiry.”

Read the full article here

GDP heads into the abyss…

What does the recession really mean?

This Blog by Pete Wargen looks at the statistics.

Recession all but locked in

GDP growth was estimated at a seasonally adjusted -0.3 per cent for Q1, leading to the inevitably mind-numbing ‘recession we had to have’ headlines.

Over the year GDP growth slowed to +1.4 per cent.

Q1 could yet be revised up, of course – especially the very significant negative drag from inventories – and therefore the technical definition of a recession may yet be avoided.

However, given that GDP growth in Q2 will clearly be severely negative this is largely semantics.


Nominal GDP growth over the year is floundering again.

Read the full article here

Home values fall slightly in May amid COVID-19 crisis, new figures show

It looks like home values have fallen in May.

This article from Domain.com.au explains how coronavirus has impacted the results.

Property values across Australia have fallen for the first time since June last year, as the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic take a toll on sales.

But Australia’s property market may be in for a softer landing than projected, with the latest CoreLogic Home Value Index, released on Monday, showing the combined value of houses and apartments dropped only 0.4 per cent last month to a national median price of $557,818. Value

CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said: “Considering the weak economic conditions associated with the pandemic, a fall of less than half a per cent in housing values over the month shows the market has remained resilient to a material correction.

“With restrictive policies being progressively lifted or relaxed, the downwards trajectory of housing values could be milder than first expected.”

Values fell across five of the eight capital cities in May, dropping 0.9 per cent in Melbourne to a median of $686,798, 0.4 per cent in Sydney to $885,159 and 0.1 per cent in Brisbane to $508,386.

Values also dropped 0.6 per cent in Perth to $443,669 and 1.6 per cent in Darwin to 393,939, however they were up in Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart, which had the largest gain at 0.8 per cent.

May dwelling values

CoreLogic head of Australian research Eliza Owen said the fact the falls were only minimal was encouraging.

May had been a more positive month for the real estate industry than expected, given almost 600,000 Australians had lost their jobs in April and many more had seen their work hours reduced, she said.

“Even with some cities increasing over the month, it’s clear the momentum has slowed across the capitals,” she said.

“Even though values did fall, they fell by less than half a per cent. Overall this suggests some stability in the housing market.” Value

Home values across regional Australia remained flat over the month, at a median of $397,388, however Ms Owen said these markets typically saw a lag in price movements.

She expected they would see more downward price pressure in the coming months.

“What we’re seeing in the listings data is that not many people are selling because not many people have to sell as a result of the banks offering mortgage pauses,” she said.

“This has left property prices more resilient to the property downturn.”

September would be a real test for the market, Ms Owen said, as that was when many mortgage holidays and Job Keeper support payments were due to run out, although she said offers by the banks for buyers to switch to or extend interest-only mortgage payments could provide a buffer.

There were still pressure points in the market, though.

Ms Owen noted the drop-off in overseas migration had left Melbourne’s housing market, which recovered from the previous downturn faster than Sydney, particularly exposed.

It was the first capital to see values falls, recording a drop of 0.3 per cent in April, and the only capital to record a decline over the three months to May, with the median dropping 0.8 per cent.

Read the full article here

HomeBuilder Scheme Explained: How to access $25,000 for home renovations

What does the 25k HomeBuilder scheme really mean?

An article from 9news.com.au breaks down all the most commonly asked questions.

The Federal Government has announced a sweeping $680 million HomeBuilder program to stimulate work for trades and construction in the wake of COVID-19.

Under the program, property owners will be able to access a tax-free grant of $25,000 to help build or substantially renovate their home.

But it’s not clear cut. New Home Construction Framing

The scheme isn’t a free-for-all cash grab and there are conditions.

Here are all your questions surrounding the HomeBuilder scheme answered:

What is the new HomeBuilder Scheme?

It’s a one-off, tax-free payment of $25,000 from the government to property owners.

The payment is to help build or substantially renovate homes.

In theory, this will radically boost the number of jobs available for tradies who are suffering in the wake of COVID-19 as renovation numbers drop.

Chnel 9 Graph

Who is eligible for the new HomeBuilder Scheme?

Let’s break it down one-by-one, as this can get a little confusing. It’s probably best to go down this checklist, and if you answer “yes” to each, then you are eligible.

– You must be an owner-occupier. This means you must live in the property you intend to apply for the grant for.

– You must be over the age of 18.

– You must be an Australian citizen. Olympus Digital Camera

– If you are single, you must have earn less than $125,000 per annum (this is based off your 2018 to 2019 tax return).

– If you are a couple, you must earn less than $200,000 per annum (same tax return test).

Staying with me? Strap in – because it gets a little more confusing.

To be eligible for the grant, you must:

– Enter into a building contract between June 4, 2020 and December 31, 2020. It’s only available for the latter half of this year.

– If you are using the grant to build a new home as your main residence, the value of that property including land must not exceed $750,000.

– If you are using the grant to renovate your existing home, the renovation contract must be valued between $150,000 and $750,000 and the value of your home prior to renovations must not be worth more than $1.5 million.

This is big money. Are homeowners allowed to access the grant to renovate their investment property?

No. Investment properties do not count. You must be the owner-occupier.

Can I use the HomeBuilder grant to build a swimming pool?construction repair maintenance

No. Strangely, the only renovations that are eligible for the grant are those that improve the accessibility, liveability and safety of your property.

This means pools, tennis courts and sheds are not applicable.

Is the HomeBuilder grant just for first home buyers?

No. It is for any property owner provided they meet the eligibility requirements above.

How do you apply for the HomeBuilder grant?

Here’s where it gets even more confusing.

Applications for the grant will be handled via the relevant State or Territory revenue office in which you live.

Not every State or Territory Government has signed the National Partnership Agreement yet, but applications will be backdated to June 4, 2020 so you won’t miss out.

Read the full article here


Are you a coffee lover?

How well do you really know your coffee?

Take the quiz from  espressocoffeeguide.com to find out.

Take the Coffee Challenge!

Fun questions to test your knowledge of coffee. Easily share to Facebook + Twitter by highlighting the text.

1. How did the term cappuccino originate?A. From the habit of the Capuchin friar.

B. It is the French term for “foam on coffee.”

C. It is Italian for “frothy coffee drink.”

D. It was a term invented by a coffee company.

Answer: A. The Capuchin friar’s habit resembles the peak of foam atop the popular espresso drink we now call a cappuccino. The Capuchin Order of Friars was instrumental in returning Catholicism to Reformation Europe in the 16th century. Their name Capuchin derived from their long, pointed cowls, or cappuccinos, that were a part of their habit. The color of the cappuccino beverage also resembles the color of the Capuchin friars’ habit.


2. About how many espresso beans are required to make one espresso?A. 22

B. 42

C. 60

  1. 80

Answer: B. It takes about 42 espresso coffee beans to produce a single shot of espresso.

3. About how many coffee beans does it take to produce one pound of roasted coffee?A. 1,000

B. 2,000

C. 3,000

D. 4,000

Answer: D. About 4,000 coffee beans are required to produce one pound of roasted coffee.

4. About how many coffee beans are in one 132-pound sack of coffee?A. 90,000

B. 300,000

C. 600,000

D. 900,000

Answer: C. There are about 600,000 coffee beans in a 132-pound sack of coffee beans.

Coffee 2538290 1920

5. How long does it take for a coffee tree to reach maturity?A. 8 years

B. 2 years

C. 5 years

  1. 3 years

Answer: C. A coffee tree typically reaches maturity in about 5 years.

6. How many pounds of coffee beans will a typical coffee tree produce in an annual crop?A. 5 pounds

B. 1/2-pound

C. 2 pounds

D. 1 pound

Answer: D. A coffee plant typically yields about one pound of coffee each year.

7. How long will a coffee plant typically produce coffee if it is well cared for?A. More than 10 years

B. More than 15 years

C. More than 25 years

D. More than 35 years

Answer: C. Both Arabica and Robusta coffee plants will produce coffee beans for more than 25 years if they are well taken care of.

8. How many cups of coffee are consumed each year in the world?A. 900 million

B. 2 billion

C. 200 billion

  1. 400 billion

Answer: D. About 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year.


9. How many cups of coffee are consumed each day in the United States?A. 400 million

B. 600 million

C. 800 million

  1. 1 billion

Answer: A. The U.S. population consumes about 400 million cups of coffee each day, making it the world’s largest coffee consumer.

10. The United States consumes about what percentage of the world’s coffee?

  1. One tenth
  1. One third
  2. One seventh
  3. One fifth

Answer: D. The United States consumes about one fifth of the world’s coffee.

11. The average United States adult drinks about how many cups of coffee each year?A. 100

B. 250

C. 400

D. 500

Answer: C. The average United States adult drinks about 400 cups of coffee annually.

12. About what percentage of United States adults begin their day with a cup of coffee?

  1. One fourth
  2. One third
  3. One half
  4. Two fifths

Answer: C. About half of United States adults wake up to a cup of coffee.

13. How did the term “Cup of Joe” originate?

  1. It refers to a Navy admiral who banned alcohol aboard Navy ships.
  2. It refers to Joe Folgers, a prominent purveyor of coffee.
  3. It an Americanized version of the term “Cup of Java.”
  4. It comes from jojo, the African word for “bean.”

Answer: A. The term Cup of Joe was coined after Admiral Josephus “Joe” Daniels prohibited alcohol aboard Navy ships and so the men began drinking coffee instead, which they nicknamed Cup of Joe in honor of their Admiral whose actions led to their choice of beverage.


14. Which European country consumes the most coffee?

  1. Italy
  2. France
  3. Norway
  4. Finland

Answer: D. Finland is the top coffee consumer per capita.

15. How many coffee cherry (fruit) are required to produce one pound of roasted coffee?A. 1,200

B. 1,800

C. 2,000

D. 2,500

Answer: C. It takes about 4,000 coffee beans to make one pound of roasted Arabica Coffee, and since there are two beans in each cherry it takes 2,000 cherry (or 1,000 peaberry fruits).

16. What is the caffeine limit in an athlete’s bloodstream in the Olympics, beyond which the athlete will be banned from competing?A. 10 micrograms

B. 12 micrograms

C. 14 micrograms

  1. 20 micrograms

Answer: B. It takes about 5 cups of coffee to reach the 12 microgram level.

17. What is Cowboy coffee?

  1. Ground coffee in a sock cooked in a pot of water on a campfire.
  2. Medium Roast popular in Texas.
  3. Coffee grown in Mexico in an area known for its cowboys.
  4. Ungraded and unsorted coffee, thus possibly containing some defective beans as well as high quality beans.

Answer: A. Cowboys, in the old days, were known to brew their coffee by putting some into a sock and then putting it in cold water and heating it over a campfire, then pouring it into their tin cup.


18. About what percentage of all coffee consumed is instant coffee?

  1. One half
  2. One third
  3. One fifth
  4. One tenth

Answer: D. Just over one tenth of all coffee consumed is instant coffee.

19. What percentage of coffee drinkers prefer their coffee black?

  1. 30%
  2. 40%
  3. 50%
  4. 60%

Answer: B. About 40% of all coffee drinkers like it black.

20. What percentage of United States coffee drinkers add sweetener to their coffee?

  1. One fifth
  2. One fourth
  3. One third
  4. One half

Answer: C. About one third of United States coffee drinkers add sweetener to their coffee.

Read the full article here

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'Weekend reads – Must read articles from the last week' have 2 comments


    February 15, 2020 Jackline

    Hi Michael,

    Love reading your posts, however there is a correction that needs to be made. In the “12 of the Most Unusual and Beautiful Homes in Australia” article, Cliff House is a concept, it doesn’t physically exist at this point in time in Australia. Maybe someone will get inspiration and have the deep pockets to make it a reality. 🙂

    Thank you for your teachings and sharing your knowledge in the property/investing world.

    Kind Regards,



      Michael Yardney

      February 15, 2020 Michael Yardney

      Thanks Jackline – as you know we were just quoting some of the interesting articles we read this week


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