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.

Australians reckon it’s the best time to buy a home in years

Despite headline after headline claiming fears and crashes – it would seem not everyone sees the current property market in a negative way.

An article on Business Insider looks at why some Aussie’s think it’s the best time to buy a home in years.

Australians, collectively, think now is the best time to buy a home in over three years, encouraged by lower prices, especially in Sydney and Melbourne.

The ‘time to buy a dwelling’ index in the Westpac-MI Australian Consumer Sentiment report surged by 11.8% in November, leaving the index up a mammoth 16.7% on the level of a year earlier.

It now sits at the highest level since March 2015, led by a sharp increase in sentiment among those respondents in New South Wales, where home prices have fallen the fastest over the past 12 months.

Westpac Bank

“Consumers in New South Wales showed a particularly strong gain with a 26% jump taking the state index to a five-year high,” said Bill Evans, Chief Economist at Westpac.

Evans says this suggests recent declines have started to “generate some interest from buyers”. Sydney Market Down

Even with the burst of buying enthusiasm in New South Wales in the latest survey, Evans says sentiment towards buying still remains just below the long-run average.

So confidence has improved, albeit from very low levels.

In Victoria, home to the second-fastest falls in home prices this year, sentiment towards buying a home also increased, albeit by a far smaller margin.

“Victoria, where prices have recently shown significant weakness, improved only modestly by 3.3%,” Evans said.

Given that falling home prices in both states have started to attract buying interest, expectations for further price declines in these locations could see buyer sentiment improve even further in the months ahead. 


Evans said the separate ‘House Price Expectations Index’ fell by 2.3% to 99 in the latest survey, equaling the weakest result ever seen since the question was first asked in May 2009.

“The state detail continues to show particularly weak reads in New South Wales and Victoria, both hitting new lows in November with Victoria’s index down 25% over the last three months alone,” he said.

“The house price corrections underway in Sydney and Melbourne now look to be firmly embedded in consumer expectations.”

So even with expectations for further declines — a view that mirrors forecasts from the vast majority of economists — an increasing number of Australians think now is a pretty good time to buy. Sydney+suburbs

Of course, while sentiment towards buying a property has improved sharply, the main factor that any prospective buyers have to contend with at present is the ability to secure finance, at least for those who are looking to buy their first home or upgrade from their existing property, or for those carrying already high levels of debt.

More broadly, Westpac said its headline consumer sentiment index rose by 2.8% to 104.3 in November, the 12th consecutive month where optimists outnumbered pessimists in the survey.

“While confidence may still not be particularly strong, there has been a clear improvement over 2018,” Evans said, adding the improvement in the latest survey was largely driven by an “exceptional rise in longer-term expectations” for the economy.

“The ‘economic outlook over the next five years’ subindex jumped 9.7% in November to reverse most of the sharp drop seen over the previous three months,” he said.

Read the full article here

Lowest vacancies since early 2014

Results show vacancy rates continue to slip.

This Blog by Pete Wargent looks at what’s going on.

Rentals tighten

It’s still early days, but the first indications that the dramatic clampdown on lending to investors is leading to tightening rental markets are surfacing. For Rent

Nationally the vacancy rate for residential properties fell to just 2 per cent in October, the lowest level in more than 4½ years, according to SQM Research.

Since many apartments were bought off the plan in Sydney and Melbourne many of the most impacted markets will initially include the smaller capital cities and regional centres.

While Sydney’s vacancies remained at 2.8 per cent or ~19,450 rentals in October, Hobart has crashed to just 0.3 per cent or 78 rentals, which is a full blown rental crisis playing out in real time.

Canberra isn’t too far behind on that curve, declining from 2½ per cent in 2014 to just 0.6 per cent, with vacancies declining again to 387 rental properties (remember many prominent commentators said that land tax ‘in theory’ would have no impact on the ACT rental market):

Sqm1 (1)

Interestingly, now many commentators are saying that the proposed negative gearing changes will have ‘no impact’ on rental markets too…but that’s a whole other story.

Read the full article here

Bucking the trend: Why all eyes are on Brisbane’s prestige property market right now

It looks like all roads are leading to the sunny state

But why?

This article from Domain.com.au looks at what has made Brisbane’s property market such an attraction.

There’s one city on the lips of anyone who has anything to do with prestige property right now, and that’s Brisbane.

“Everyone is talking about Brisbane at the moment,” says Deborah Cullen, head of prestige residential at Knight Frank Australia, a company that moved to the city just six months ago as a result of the demand for top homes from clients in Sydney and Melbourne. Brisbane Market Up

“You get such great value for your money there and can buy quality property that would cost you twice, or three times, as much if you bought them elsewhere.

So many people, and businesses, are moving to Brisbane, and it’s a really, really strong prestige market now.”

While figures from the Domain Group show Brisbane as the best performing capital city in Australia, with 1.2 per cent house price growth over the last year compared to falls of 6.5 per cent in Sydney and 3.2 per cent in Melbourne, its top 10 per cent tier of stock is also performing robustly.

“It doesn’t have the double-digit growth from 2016 any more, but prices are still growing significantly,” says Domain data scientist Dr Nicola Powell.

“House prices at the top end are performing much better than those at the lower end of the market.

“We’re seeing houses in some of the most expensive suburbs seeing good growth.

Hamilton, for instance, with a median of $1.4 million is up 21.2 per cent over the year, Ascot with a $1.59 million median has grown by 9.7 per cent and New Farm prices have risen by 81.1 per cent over the past five years.” Brisbane

New Farm neighbour Teneriffe, for which there have been too few house transactions over the past 12 months for a reliable figure, is also surging ahead, says McGrath New Farm agent Henry Hodge.

“People are always wanting to buy quality in Brisbane’s prestige areas.

There’s so much confidence around, and we’ve just had one of our biggest months in the last 15.”

Ray White New Farm has also been enjoying stellar results in prestige property.

“We’ve had a number of record sales in the $7 million to $10 million range in areas with big allotments of land like Clayfield, and waterfront New Farm,” says agent Christine Rudolph.

“We’re seeing a lot of local entrepreneurial wealth and aspirational buyer, as well as expat buyers, all attracted by the lifestyle, liveability, affordably good-quality schools and the stability of the real estate market.”

Read the full article here

Do you call that a cut?

In the past week the NSW government announced it will be cutting stamp duty from From July 1, 2019.

In this article for Switzer, John McGrath looks at what this means for the property market.

Last week we were given the news that NSW will begin indexing stamp duty brackets to inflation or CPI (the consumer price index) to make transactional costs “fairer” and combat bracket creep due to rising property prices.

Whilst indexing stamp duty makes sense, it’s also about 30 years too late.  recession-australia-note-money-economy-squeeze-tighten-save-saving-budget-cut

Buyers today are paying about 10 times what the previous generation paid in relative dollars.

This is the first change to stamp duty arrangements since 1986, when the median house price in Sydney was just $100,000.

Today, we’re close to $1 million.

This state government and several before them haven’t moved on this issue for one reason only – stamp duty is simply a big revenue raiser.

Indexing the brackets is really just a token gesture.

The immediate effect is a $500 saving and while something is better than nothing, it’s impact on everyday Australians ability to buy a home or move will be negligible.

There are many people out there living in unsuitable accommodation because they simply don’t have the budget to cover the huge stamp duty impost.

If you want to buy a fairly modest home within 20km of Sydney’s CBD you’re looking at between $900,000 and $1,200,000.

That’s around $40,000 in stamp duty that is ripped up for nothing. Tax

This is the main reason the big cities of Australia have become unaffordable for many.

It’s not overseas buyers, as was suggested during the boom.

It’s the cost of transferring from one home to the next.

Today, someone wanting to upgrade from a house worth $1,000,000 to one worth $1,250,000 will have to pay around $80,000 in stamp duty, selling and legal fees.

This has prevented many Australians from doing what prior generations have done, which is gradually improving their homes so at some point in the future, the family home becomes an additional superannuation asset for downsizers at a certain time in their life.

The average length of time that Australians stay put in their homes is consistently rising and stamp duty is a big factor in this.

Many home owners reason that the cost of renovating and extending where they are now – if this is possible, is cheaper and more convenient than buying a new home.

Read the full article here

Numerology & what it means for your house

What’s the real meaning behind your house number?

An article from Realestate.com.au looks the idea of numerology and its meaning for your house.

Have you ever wondered if your house number means anything or if you have one of those lucky house numbers that buyers go nuts over? Front Door 3564497 1920

If you’re a superstitious type – or believe the meaning of your house number and your address can in fact change the energy within your home – then you may be interested to know.

Don’t care for superstitions? If you’re an investor, knowing the lucky house numbers certain buyers love and hate could help you target the right market when you rent your property.

Selling up? If you’re lucky number three, then your property could be worth more to the right buyer.

Working out your ‘number’

Brisbane psychic, numerologist and palm reader Sarah Yip says to work out the numerological number of your house, add its numbers until you arrive at a single digit.

For example, if your house number is 66, then its numerological number is 3 (6+6=12; 1+2=3). If you live at 34/7 add 3+4+7=14; 1+4=5.

To work out the numerological number of your house, add its numbers until you arrive at a single digit.

What your house number means

House number meanings are so varied and intriguing; having just a little insight into them could open you up to a whole new way of thinking.

Number 19 for example is said to be good for new beginnings, while number one is known for its leadership qualities.

Some sources say it’s important to avoid interpreting the meaning of your house number directly as this could impact your decisions.

Meanwhile other people will purely select their homes based on numerology and whether their address boasts a lucky house number.

House number 15

House number meanings are varied and intriguing. Picture: Getty

Here, Sarah reveals the numerological meanings behind numbers one to nine.


Pros: Promotes independence and great for people looking for a fresh start.

Cons: “You will be constantly busy. I often see number one houses up for rent as not everyone can cope with their fast pace, or in some cases, exposed location,” Sarah says.


Pros: “Encourages intimacy, creativity and patience. Live here if you want peace and quiet.”

Cons: You’ll become too passive if you’re shy or indecisive, Sarah says.


Pros: Ideal for gatherings, raising children and open communication. Three is a lucky number.

Cons: Not the cleanest house, or the best for discipline. Gossip can backfire in a number three house.


Pros: Somewhere you can feel safe and secure; it encourages commitment.

Cons: Can make you more inflexible and conservative.


Pros: Amazing for travellers, night owls, gypsies and forever-young types, Sarah says.

Cons: “I see these houses up for rent more than any other house number – they are better for extroverts.”

House number 5

Houses with this numerological number are better for extroverts, says Sarah. Picture: Supplied


Pros: Often beautiful, excellent for families, pets and home businesses. A nest.

Cons: You might worry about appearances living here. Gardens require more upkeep.

House number 6

Be warned: Your garden might require more upkeep. Picture: Supplied


Pros: Excellent for nature-lovers and those who need personal space. “These houses are often set back from the road or have plenty of tree cover,” Sarah says.

Cons: “Seven is the hermit energy, so don’t live here if you hate being single.”

Read more: Feng shui basics for your home


Pros: This is the money number in China and associated with good returns over the long-term.

Cons: “You can’t cut corners in a number eight house. It is shaped like an infinity symbol showing what goes around comes around.” You must look after this house and not scrimp on insurance, Sarah warns.

Lucky House number 8

For those seeking a lucky house number, number eight has your name all over it. Picture: Getty


Pros: Everyone feels welcome making these homes great for international residents and/or mixed families.

Cons: Guests get so cosy that they leave things behind. “You’ll need to have regular garage sales,” Sarah advises.

Read the full article here

Weekend reads: Riddles and short puzzles to test your logic


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