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.

First-home buyer representation hits five-year high in latest ABS lending data

As the year kicks off – things seem to be looking up for first home buyer.

According to an article on Domain.com.au data for first home buyers shows a 5 year high.

First-home buyers have again lifted their claim on new mortgage lending in Australia, according to official data, with experts calling 2018 the year of the first-home buyer comeback. 34079710_l

The number of loans written to first-home buyers, as a percentage of total owner-occupied loans, rose to 18 per cent in November 2017 from 17.6 per cent in the previous month, ABS housing finance data show.

The last time the figures were at 18 per cent or above was 2012 – although that figure was still a long way off May 2009 when first-home buyers made up 31.4 per cent of all new mortgages.

The figures also show policy measures aimed at dissuading property investors continued to bite in November, with a seasonally adjusted 1.5 per cent gain in finance to investors in the month but an 8.3 per cent fall year-on-year.

Open home

Overall housing finance commitments were up 2.1 per cent in November and average loan sizes for both owner occupiers and first-home buyers rose – $11,000 and $3000, respectively. 


Chief economist at Market Economics Stephen Koukoulas said a softer national market, low interest rates and better buying conditions were coming together to help many young buyers into the market.

“Opportunities for first-home buyers are certainly improving,” he said, but warned the figures may not continue to rise, but rather track sideways from current highs.

“Once you’ve already had a decent pick-up it’s hard for it to keep growing.”

“Maybe there will be more of a consolidation of these higher levels rather than extra growth.”

Since the state governments stamp duty discounts were introduced in July 2017, the number of monthly first-home buyer approvals is now up more than 60 per cent in New South Wales, and nearly 50 per cent in Victoria, according to ANZ researchers, which other experts say shows “now is a great time for first-home buyers”.

Read the full article here

Jaws off the floor

What’s really ahead for Queensland’s dwelling results?

This Blog by Pete Wargent shows the statistics behind the results.

A better balance  apartment

After a record surge in apartment construction, by the end of September the number of attached dwellings commenced in Queensland was into an 18-month decline.

This has been Queensland’s largest ever apartment construction boom, surpassing even the post-recession surge of the 1990s.

Housing starts have now clearly switched over to detached houses in the Sunshine State, as shown in the latest available figures released last week.


At the peak of the construction boom Queensland was commencing a new dwelling for every extra 1.2 persons in the state, as population growth slowed after the resources boom.

Read the full article here

Australian household confidence just took a hit for the first time in 2018

While the new year usually brings out more optimist, it would seem that consumer confidence has taken a different direction.

An article on Business Insiderlook at the statistics to suggest that  consumer confidence has taken  quite a hit.

Australian consumer confidence just fell back to earth with a thud, falling sharply from a four-year high the previous week.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian consumer confidence index declined by 3.3% to a reading of 119.4. graph of the housing

The decline was driven by a particularly steep decline in sentiment towards current household finances, which fell by 9.1%.

“The sharp fall in sentiment around households’ current finances may reflect a jump in petrol prices across Melbourne and Brisbane amidst an environment of low wage growth, said David Plank, ANZ’s Head of Australian Economics.

Views toward both current and future economic conditions dimmed compared to last week’s sunny outlook, falling by 3.6% and 1.3% respectively.

However, taking a step back from the weekly volatility, the measure still sits well above its long-term average of 112.9.

Must read articles

Westpac’s monthly measure of consumer confidence is also sitting a multi-year highs.

Looking at the measure more broadly, Plank attributed last week’s fall to higher utility costs and perhaps a dose of the blues as Australians return to work from the summer break.

“Talk of electricity blackouts and a proposed rail strike in Sydney may have weighed on overall sentiment. It is also possible that the New Year return to work was a factor for some,” Plank said.

Read the full article here

What’s next for Sydney in 2018?

What’s in store for the Sydney property market in 2018?

In this article for Switzer, John McGrath looks at what we can expect.

The new year will bring further change to our big markets – none more so than Sydney.  Sydney property market

People are no longer asking “when will the boom be over” as it’s very clear the Sydney market is cooling.

The most common question now is “how far will prices fall”?

My suggestion is to remove that question from your psyche.

Prices will do what they always do at this stage in the cycle – they’ll be up some months, down in others and overall we’ll be looking at a fairly flat year for growth and that’s exactly what Australia’s biggest marketplace needs.

For those of you who like numbers, the final stats for 2017 are in.

Over the year, Sydney house prices grew by 2.1% and apartment prices rose by 5.4%, according to CoreLogic.

That’s a big change from 2016 when house prices rose 16.7% and apartments 9.6%. Sydney suburbs

No two ways about it – Sydney is cooling.

But after a 75% growth in property values, should you really be worrying about whether prices in your area fall (or rise) a few percent this year?

There will be no crash – that’s for sure.

Sydney has too many strong fundamentals keeping a floor under the market, such as undersupply and population growth.

I’d advise home owners to direct their attention elsewhere.

Forget about what prices are doing and the tiny changes month to month that create those gloomy headlines when markets begin to cool.

Look for the opportunity in today’s market.

Here’s how I see it: Sydney Suburb Russell Lee

  • If you’re a home owner, the biggest opportunity lies in debt management. Are you getting the best deal on your home loan?  Is it time to look at fixing given fixed rates are lower  than variable in many cases at the moment?  Can you afford to pay down some debt while interest rates are so low? Or do today’s rates combined with new equity give you the chance to renovate and improve your home?
  • If you’re a buyer, take advantage of extra choice in the market and less competition. Do your research and buy the highest quality home you can within your budget. Buyers waiting for prices to come back may be chasing a rainbow.  By all means watch the market – especially the number of homes for sale as this could have a real impact on the price you pay but don’t get too caught up in trying to Sydney Eastern Suburbs Elevated Viewbuy “at the right time”
  • If you’re a seller, you might get a slightly better price selling earlier in the year as the market is likely to cool further. Big picture – the timing of your sale shouldn’t be the major consideration right now. Look to sell when you’re ready. Talk to the most experienced, professional agents in your area and ask them about their recent results and what they’re doing differently to combat the change in market conditions. The best agents will already have a strategy in place

Read the full article here

18 Realistic Ways To Become A Happier, More Chill Person In 2018

Would you like to be a little happier in 2018?

Who wouldn’t really…

This article from The Huffington Post has come up with 18 ways to get you smiling more often this year.

From current events ― including political turmoil and high-profile allegations of sexual misconduct in several industries ― to regular life stressors, it’s been a loooong 365 days.

If you’re overthinking everything and stressed beyond measure, you’re certainly not alone. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Say goodbye to 2017 ― and some of the negative emotions that came with it ― by adopting a few of these expert- and research-backed habits in the new year.

They certainly won’t solve everything, but they’ll help make you feel a little calmer and happier in the moment. Baby steps, right?

1. Take news breaks  Coffee 791439 1920

Research shows that negative news can poorly affect your mental health.

Simply put, it’s absolutely essential to take time away from the barrage of bad news stories.

2. Say ‘no’ more often

Make 2018 the year you admit to yourself that you can’t do it all ― and embrace it.

Saying “yes” to every offer, even the ones you really don’t want to agree to, can have long-term consequences.

3. Use social media to your advantage

Research shows that excessive social media use can be bad for your mental health, and it’s necessary to take a break from your newsfeed.

4. Indulge in a new show Adult 1869430 1920

Try watching something funny (studies show laughter really is the best medicine) whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed.

5. Get active

There’s no substitute for exercise.

Research shows that regular movement can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

6. Lend your time to a cause you care about

Therapists say more of their patients reported feeling helpless after the 2016 election, and the stress surrounding the political climate has only increased.

7. Learn to cook something new  Cooking 1940689 1920

When I feel stressed or distressed by the negative, unhappy news and/or politics, I go to the grocery store, buy food that I enjoy and I head home and make dinner,” Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, previously told HuffPost.

8. Spend money on experiences

Research shows that memories, not material possessions, make us happier when it comes to spending disposable income.

9. And learn to budget everywhere else

No surprise here: Data suggests finances are one of the biggest stressors for Americans.

10. Give journaling a try Journal 791286 1920 (1)

Writing can help clear your mind, said Amy Poon, a psychiatrist at Stanford Health Care.

11. Adopt a positive mantra

Celebrities like Oprah swear by sticking to a mantra, which may give you a little boost when you need it.

12. Make a goal rather than a resolution

Smaller goals may be more attainable than an overall, lofty aim.

Pick a few things you want to achieve this year, then be real with yourself about the progress, Poon advised.

13. Turn your bed into a sanctuary bedroom

By now you know that sleep is vital to happiness and overall functioning.

But do you ever think about where you’re sleeping and how you treat that space?

14. Set boundaries with your loved ones

When it comes to family, it can be hard to assert yourself and communicate your needs ― especially when tough topics come up, like politics or your dating life.

15. Tackle your imposter syndrome head-on Positive Thinking Road Sign.jpg

The idea that you’re “not good enough” can be largely fabricated by your own mind.

16. Reframe your negative thoughts

“What if the country falls apart?” “What if I get laid off from my job?”

Worrying about the state of the world or your life is natural, but there’s a point where it becomes unhealthy.

17. Learn to recognize toxic personalities in your life

Your squad has a profound impact on how you feel.

Research shows stress is contagious ― and so is happines.

18. Put yourself first Relaxation 1967892 1920

It’s a fact of life that you can’t please everyone.

The one person you can make happy, however?


Vow to look inward in the coming year if you’re always putting others’ feelings above your own, Poon said.

Read the full article here

Weekend video: Are You Smarter Than Average?


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