High density rollout for Showground, Bella Vista and Kellyville station precincts!

An artist impression of Showground Plaza.

APARTMENT blocks up to 20 storeys high will be built near rail stations in The Hills under updated plans for the region.

On Sunday, the State Government released detailed proposals for the Showground, Bella Vista and Kellyville station precincts.

The latest proposals build on initial plans released by the Government in 2013 for higher density development along the $8.3bn Sydney Metro Northwest rail line.

At Bella Vista and Showground, the proposal is to allow buildings up to 20 storeys high closest to stations.

Kellyville Plaza at Kellyville Station.

At Kellyville, there are plans for towers up to 15 storeys, while there would also be eight-storey and six-storey apartment blocks located further from the station.

Other initiatives in the proposals include a possible new primary school at Bella Vista, and a commitment to “investigate” a new high school to be built at Castle Hill, Showground station or Bella Vista.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the NSW Government’s plans for the precincts include about 13,500 homes and 14,000 jobs.

“Our plans will support these precincts to become vibrant new towns, with new homes close to jobs, parks, shops and restaurants,” Mr Stokes said.

The train line is expected to be up and running by 2019, while the housing targets released for the region extend to 2036.

“The opportunity to provide residential growth for new, vibrant communities, together with a world-class public transport system, is a first for the northwestern Sydney region,” Castle Hill state MP Ray Williams said in a release.

Draft plans will be on exhibition until February 28.

Bella Vista – Riparian Corridor

Showground Station Precinct

The area around Showground station is set to become a bustling cultural precinct with high and low-rise apartment buildings, new shops, indoor sports grounds and job opportunities.

An ambitious 20-year plan unveiled by the NSW Government on Sunday also includes the train station precincts of Bella Vista and Kellyville.

A new town centre is planned for the Showground precinct in Castle Hill, connecting the new station to Castle Hill Showground, which will be retained and upgraded to include a community centre, indoor sports grounds and skate park.

Residential apartments will be located above town centre retail and commercial buildings with maximum heights up to 20 storeys.

A sub precinct is planned for nearby Carrington Rd, which will be a mixed use area of commercial and residential developments with heights ranging from 16 storeys on the northern side of the road and 12 storeys immediately to the south, reducing to six storeys further from the station.

Detached houses and townhouses up to three storeys will be built in the southeastern portion of the precinct around Dawes Ave, Chapman Ave and Fishburn Cresent.

The existing light industrial and bulky goods precinct on Victoria Ave will be retained and enhanced to allow a broader range of commercial uses including offices and business premises up to six storeys.

According to the proposal, the precinct could provide 5000 new dwellings and 2300 new jobs over the next 20 years.

“Focusing the supply of new homes closest to the station means that more residents will be able to benefit from the convenience of being so close to the railway station as well as local shops, cafes and other services,” the plan says.

“The precinct is also being planned so that getting around on foot, bike and public transport will be realistic and viable modes of travel.”

Artist impression of Showground station.

The latest plan is a departure from the Hills Shire Council’s rail corridor strategy, endorsed last month, which uses dwellings per hectare rather than building heights to guide development.

Mayor Michelle Byrne said she would be looking closely at the Government’s strategy to see whether local infrastructure would be able to cope with increased development.

“We think we got it right in the Hill’s Corridor Strategy, we think the densities in our strategy we can actually service,” she said.

“At this point I’m not convinced we can service the densities proposed in the Government’s plan, but we will be looking very closely at them over the next few months.

“We need to consider that in the light of the fact this is the Garden Shire and the character we’re trying to promote in the shire.”

The precinct plan also proposes new and upgraded intersections including traffic signals at Carrington Rd and Middleton Ave, and Carrington Rd and Doran Drive intersections.

Other works to be investigated include widening Showground Rd to four lanes and extending Carrington Rd between Victoria Ave and Windsor Rd to provide for buses, pedestrians and cyclists only.

A range of public open spaces are proposed including new sporting fields at Castle Hill Showground and expanding Chapman Avenue Reserve.

10 Options if Your Property Doesn’t Sell

9CA1PUEtAuthor: Peter Boehm
Source: Onthehouse.com.au

Unfortunately, not all properties sell the first time they’re listed for sale, even in a hot market. Those that do sell can go pretty quickly, while those that don’t can languish on the “for sale” register of selling agents for some time.

Around 20% to 30% of properties fail to find a buyer. Whatever the reasons for this are, sellers have to prepare themselves for the possibility that their sales campaign may be unsuccessful. Just in case this happens to you, here are my 10 tips to help you plan your next steps…

1. Review Your Price Strategy

This should be one of the first things you consider. You need to make sure your for sale price is a true reflection of your property’s value and prevailing market sentiment.

There’s no point sticking to an unrealistic value that’s way out of kilter with the market – this in itself could be the reason your property hasn’t sold. Sure, you want to get the highest price possible for your home, but price is something the market will determine. And remember, the longer your property is on the market the harder it becomes to get any benefits from re-advertising at a lower price as buyers may have moved on and market conditions may have turned against you.

The key point here is to do your research. Visit Onthehouse.com.au and check out comparable properties and the prices they sold for, and get a free property profile report on your property to get an indication of what your property might be worth.

Price is a sensitive issue and you need to be mindful of the psychology of selling. For instance, you are likely to get more interest if your property is priced at $499,000 rather than $501,000. Also don’t forget to take into account seasonal factors and where we are at in the property price cycle when setting your price expec

Related Article: How to Set Your Property’s Selling Price

2. Assess Your Selling Agent

Your selling agent is working for you so you should ensure you’re getting the level of service you expect and are paying for. There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your agent know if you’re not happy or you are concerned about progress – sooner rather than later.

For instance, don’t leave it until after the auction to let them know you have been having concerns because by then it is be too late.

The key, of course, is to do your homework on the selling agent before you appoint them. Check them out online, get references and trust your gut. If things don’t work out, find someone else if you plan to keep your property on the market after an unsuccessful auction or a prolonged private sales campaign.

3. Revisit Your Advertising Campaign

Your selling agent should be able to tell you how many online views of your property took place and how many inspections occurred. Ideally, this should be compared to expected numbers in each category to help measure the effectiveness of the campaign – and it will also help you identify any gaps in your campaign.

Pictures are a powerful online selling tool, so you should also review whether the ones chosen for your property show it in its best light and highlight its best features. In particular, your pictures should promote the aspects of your property that will be attractive to your target market.

Additionally, take a look at the property description to make sure the words used are enticing and creative, as well as accurate and truthful. The effective combination of pictures, content and online position and exposure in relevant local newspapers and publications should combine to form a powerful marketing platform. If it hasn’t, your selling agent has some explaining to do.

4. Give Your Property a Face-Lift

Ideally, you would have addressed key make-over issues and opportunities before putting your property on the market, but during the course of the campaign a good selling agent will encourage feedback from potential buyers. This feedback can point to issues that have not been previously considered and those that could be barriers or turn-offs to a successful sale.

Good curb appeal is very important to buyers, as is having a property that is neat, tidy and doesn’t require too much maintenance or repair work. Remember, you don’t want any issues or problems evident in your photos – these should show the property in in best light and, hopefully, in pristine condition.

You might also consider staging future open for inspections. That is, bringing in some hire furniture to help show your property off. It might cost a bit extra, but it may pay for itself many times over if it helps secure the sale.

A big plus in giving your property a cost effective make-over is that it not only helps meet the market in terms of expectations but may also encourage previous viewers to come back for a second look – this could lead to a sale without the need for a full-blown marketing campaign.

Related Article: 10 Easy Renovations That Instantly Increase Value

5. Withdraw the Property

This is not an especially palatable option but in some cases it may be necessary, especially if your property has been on the market for some time. The problem with properties that have been on market for a while is that buyers tend to avoid them, or, if they show interest, try to negotiate down the price in the hope you may be desperate to sell.

The magic number seems to be around 90 days on the market. If your property hasn’t sold by then you probably won’t get the price you want from the current cohort of buyers. You might be better off taking your property off the market for a few months and waiting for new buyers to make an appearance. In the meantime, you can sort out any issues or problems and start your new campaign afresh.

6. Postpone the Sale

You could have your timing wrong and now is not the right time to sell. To help you determine whether this might be the case, there are two key factors to consider – seasonal and where we’re at in the property cycle.

Seasonal factors – the most popular time to sell is during spring and summer because, among other things, gardens tend to be in bloom, the weather shows off the property in the best light and there are more family viewings – especially during the school holidays. On the other hand, autumn and winter can be good times to sell because there are fewer properties on the market and therefore less competition.

Property cycle factors – property values move in cycles –upturn/boom, downturn/stagnation (or deflation if the market goes really pear-shaped). The trick is to sell while prices are increasing and before the market peaks because during this period potential buyers will see upside potential in property values.

It might be that you are selling in summer, whereas an autumn sale might be the better option. Or the market has bottomed and is approaching a period of growth. Whatever the reason, it’s important to get your timing right and this is where seeking the advice of a local selling agent can be helpful. You may be able to sell your property at the price you want simply be waiting a bit until market conditions are in your favour.

7. Listen to the Market

There is a big difference between listening and hearing. Hearing is about taking in what is being said but not doing anything about it, whereas listening is acknowledging what you’re being told and responding appropriately.

Hopefully you’ve asked for advice from friends, family and your selling agent about why your property has not sold, but unless you do something about it nothing is going to change. Change can be difficult to implement if there is a strong emotional connection to the property – because it can be hard to erase your family’s history (e.g. repainting your kids bedroom) and hard to say goodbye.

It’s important to be objective and have your eye clearly on the end game – a successful sale. So take a deep breath and take on board what the market is telling you.

8. Rent Your Home

This is not exactly a solution to the selling problem but it may help deal with some of the reasons for selling – such as situations where you may need to vacate your property for the short or medium term. Examples could include when you’re relocating for a job, family matters or because you’ve outgrown your home.

The idea behind renting is that you’ll generate sufficient income to help meet mortgage repayments and help ease the financial burden if you plan to rent or buy somewhere else. Of course you’ll have to do your sums to make sure it stacks up financially, not to mention being prepared to take on the responsibilities and obligations of being a landlord, but it might help get you over the immediate hurdle of not being able to sell your property.

9. Refinance

If you are selling because of financial reasons, then refinancing and perhaps some form of debt consolidation may be a viable option. Again, you’ll have to do your sums and make sure you would be financially better off in doing this, but getting a cheaper and more flexible home loan could make a big difference to your family finances. It may also help buy some time so you can put your property back on the market down the track. Just remember to seek independent advice and work collaboratively with your financial adviser and selling agent.

10. Stay Positive

It goes without saying that an unsuccessful sales campaign can be emotionally draining and financially disappointing (since you have forked out for legal and advertising costs and possibly the cost of an auctioneer).

Therefore, it’s very important to stay focused and positive, and not allow any disappointments to cloud your judgement or objective decision making. Don’t rush into further action – take your time and reflect. You need to give yourself every opportunity to sell your property at the price you want and this may take a little more time and need a new strategy. Staying positive is an important part of that strategy.

125 foreign real estate buyers use tax office amnesty to declare ownership

Australian Tax Office tells Guardian Australia it is also investigating 500 potential breaches of foreign investment laws!

The Australian Tax Office is encouraging foreign investors to ‘take advantage of reduced penalties’ of the amnesty which ends on 30 November.
The Australian Tax Office is encouraging foreign investors to ‘take advantage of reduced penalties’ of the amnesty which ends on 30 November.

One hundred and twenty-five foreign investors have taken up an amnesty offer from the Australian Tax Office to declare their ownership of real estate, according to documents obtained by Guardian Australia from a freedom of information request.

The 125 investors have moved ahead of the deadline expiring on 30 November, the documents show.

“Across our foreign real estate investment investigation program, we have already identified possible breaches and we have about 500 cases on hand, with about 400 of those coming from community disclosures,” she said.

“In terms of real estate, we are investigating properties located across all states and territories – while there are no specific trends, the majority of cases are related to properties in metropolitan areas.”

The ATO was unable to provide a more detailed breakdown in order to “maintain confidentiality of taxpayer information”, but there was evidence to suggest some professions involved in land purchases may be assisting in some breaches.

“In our investigations across Australia we are seeing a range of properties, from apartments, to suburban houses, to waterfront properties worth tens of millions,” she said.

“Some of these investigations are indicating the involvement of third parties. We are looking closely at agents, accountants, lawyers and financial advisers who may be facilitating illegal property purchases.”

The federal government has flagged a series of changes to foreign investment laws, which aim to improve reporting of foreign investment and increase penalties for breaches. Under foreign investment laws, foreign buyers must seek approval for certain types of real estate purchases in Australia.

The ATO will also oversee the implementation of a national register for foreign investments in agricultural, commercial and residential properties.

It has also been encouraging foreign investors who have not previously disclosedtheir property interests under a “reduced penalty” scheme that could allow them to avoid criminal penalties and get 12 months to divest their assets.

The documents released under freedom of information laws are the disclosures made by foreign investors of residential property across the country but have been heavily redacted.

The ATO declined to release details of the identities of those who took up the amnesty offer citing the broad secrecy laws for tax information which it said made the data “protected information”.I

The ATO also disclosed it had not yet produced a database to implement the national register.

Guardian Australia also asked for the current version of the databases used for the register of residential and agricultural land, but the ATO said the databases did not exist.

In relation to the agricultural land database a tax office freedom of information officer said: “The FIRB [Foreign Investment Review Board] team advised that they had received some information regarding relevant agricultural land purchases but the data from this information has not been incorporated into any specific database such as Excel at this stage. I am also advised that the database document is expected to be prepared within the short-term timeframe.”

A request for the residential land register produced a similar response. The ATO FOI officer wrote: “As per the government announcement, the residential land register initiative is not due to be delivered until 1 July 2016. I was also advised that given the extended lead time until its launch date there has been no commencement of the building of the database for this register.”

The ATO spokeswoman urged foreign investors to come forward before 30 November “to take advantage of reduced penalties and disclose any breaches of the rules for residential real estate purchases”.

Prices Tipped To Rise Further


A survey by the NSW division of the Australian Property Institute in October asked a range of valuers, funds managers, property analysts and financiers how long the upward trend in prices in Sydney and Melbourne would last.

For Sydney, 44% thought it would run another six months, while 33% expected another year.

For Melbourne, 50% expected the rises to go for another six months and 33% said a full year.

The survey also canvassed opinions on whether the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane markets were “in a bubble”, leaving the respondents to decide for themselves how to define a bubble.

For Brisbane, 70% thought the market was neither in, nor entering, a bubble – while half the Sydney respondents thought the market was not in a bubble.

Sydney posts second straight monthly stock surge: SQM Research


Sydney posts second straight monthly stock surge: SQM Research

The level of listed properties nationwide increased 7.3% in October when compared to September with Sydney posting a second straight monthly surge in listings, according to SQM Research.

SQM Research state Sydney residential property listings increased 22.5% during October to 28,827 listings. Managing director Louis Christopher said sale listings for Sydney are up 11.6% from this time last year, indicating that the number of property sellers in the residential market has increased.

“Year-on-year results indicate that Melbourne and to a lesser extent Hobarexperienced excessive yearly falls,” he said.

“Melbourne recorded the biggest yearly change, with listings falling by 9.6%, reducing the number of properties for sale to 39,909. Hobart also recorded yearly falls with records indicating a yearly change of 8.1%.

“More and more vendors are now struggling to sell in Sydney as buyers become cautious in their bidding compared to earlier this year. I think for now this is set to continue through to Christmas.

“While listings in Sydney surged, asking prices for Sydney dwellings remained unchanged over October, with houses recording a median asking price of $1,143,000, while the median asking price for units is $639,600, according to SQM Research, a rise of just 0.6% for the month.”

Click to enlarge


Click to enlarge


Price growth to decline by up to 15%

photoA new report has added to speculation that Australia’s housing market is due for an imminent decline – but it could be far worse.

Sydney capital gains have been forecast to slow dramatically this financial year, and prices are expected to go backwards in 2016-17 and 2017-18, according to a new QBE housing outlook prepared by BIS Shrapnel – but an underlying housing shortage is set to soften the blow.

The report forecast that median house price growth will slow from 22.3 per cent in 2014-15 to 7.3 per cent in 2015-16 – and that prices will then fall 2.7 per cent in 2016-17 and another 2.3 per cent in 2017-18.

Unit median prices are expected to follow a similar trajectory, with growth of 14.6 per cent in FY15 to be followed by growth of 4.8 per cent in FY16, a decline of 2.7 per cent in FY17 and a decline of 3.5 per cent in FY18.

QBE said prices would fall even further if not for a “sizeable and sustained” underlying housing shortage.

Investors have been largely responsible for the Sydney boom, but the regulatory crackdown of the past few months has triggered a rise in investor mortgage rates and helped change the market, according to the report.

“Interest rates are forecast to rise further, and tightening bias by the Reserve Bank during 2016-17 is likely to weigh on affordability and purchaser confidence. Investors are expected to seek higher yields to compensate,” it said.

Meanwhile, Brisbane is predicted to be the standout performer between 2015-16 and 2017-18.

The report has forecast cumulative price growth of 13.2 per cent for houses and 2.3 per cent for units.

Hobart is forecast to experience a 4.9 per cent increase in house prices and a 2.2 per cent decrease in unit prices, while Canberra house prices are expected to rise 3.4 per cent and unit prices fall 2.7 per cent.

Melbourne values will climb 2.8 per cent for houses but fall 4.9 per cent for units.

Adelaide house prices will go up 0.8 per cent, while unit prices will fall 0.8 per cent.

Australia’s two struggling markets will remain depressed between now and FY18, according to the report. Perth is forecast to experience a decline of 2.4 per cent in house prices and five per cent in unit prices, while Darwin is expected to see falls of 2.5 per cent for houses and 5.2 per cent for units.

Australia faces property crash – taking the economy with it – if luck doesn’t hold, Professor Steve Keen


Australia faces property crash - taking the economy with it - if luck doesn't hold, Professor Steve Keen

Australia has set itself up for a classic property crash – and potentially take the economy with it – if our luck doesn’t hold, the expatriate Professor Steve Keen has forecast.

Chinese buyers had given Australia’s debt-booze-addled gamblers a possible out.

“Australians are now gambling on whether the fallout from China’s crash will prick their own bubble, or inflate it once more,” he suggested.

“In everywhere but Australia, I’m famous for predicting the 2008 crash,” the UK based former Sydney professor told his recent Irish audience ahead of a conference next month.

“In Australia, I’m famous for being wrong about house prices – they rose after the crash, when I expected them to fall.”

He says he partly got the cause right, but the direction of the cause wrong with his 2008 forecast.

“As the Irish know only too well, what really causes house prices to rise rapidly is too much mortgage debt, rising too quickly.

“House prices exploded here in the “Celtic Tiger” days, only to collapse when the mortgage bubble burst – bringing the economy down with it,” he wrote in the Irish Independent.

Keen wrote that Australians avoided the nasty hangover “by the classic Antipodean method: they went for the ‘Hair of the Dog’ cure.

“Whereas the rest of the world unwound its mortgage debt, Australians piled into it – first in 2008 when the government turbocharged the market by doubling the grant it gave to first-home buyers, and then since 2012 when falling interest rates encouraged Baby Boomers to throw their so-called retirement savings into the housing market casino.

he said the Australian hangover cure worked, but at the expense of mortgaging Australia to the hilt.

When the crisis hit in 2008, Australian mortgage debt was already higher than in the USA: mortgage debt peaked at 72pc of GDP in America then, but Australia’s level was 10pc higher again.

“Today, mortgage debt in the USA has fallen to 53pc of GDP-what wimps!

“The hard-drinking Australians now have a mortgage debt level of 91pc of GDP and rising.”

“As any fan of the ‘Hair of the Dog’ cure knows, it only works if you keep drinking.

“So can Australians maintain their record for insobriety and keep imbibing from the Bar of the Banks?

Left to their own devices, I have little doubt that my ex-countrymen could keep knocking back the 4X of mortgage debt forever.

But as ‘Hair of the Dog’ devotees also know, one danger of this cure is that the bartender will eventually refuse to serve you.

“And that seems to be happening in Australia now ….with the policeman (the “Australian Prudential Regulation Authority”) finally awoken from his slumber, and is now insisting on less alcohol in the brew-otherwise known as a lower loan to valuation ratio.

Kenn says these moves seem to be have blown the froth off the Australian market.

In the boom days, more than 80pc of properties were sold at auction, and frequently for well over their reserves.

Steve Keen noted the auction clearance rate appears to be heading further south.

“Prices are still rising, but the rate of price increase has slowed.

As fans of rugby will appreciate, Australians can win on luck as well as talent.

“But it’s only luck now that is keeping Australia from tasting the bitter brew that Ireland was forced to sip when the myth of the Celtic Tiger was exposed as a debt-drunkard’s delusion.

“Australia has set itself up for a classic “Marsupial Tiger” crash.

“As the growth rate of mortgage debt slows, the market will come down and potentially take the economy with it.

“But Australians are relying on their other secret weapon: luck.

“Chinese buying of Australian real estate-partly as insurance against things going bad in China, partly to buy blue skies, which can’t be bought in China for love nor money – has given Australia’s debt-booze-addled gamblers a possible way to walk away from it all and appear sober rather than sozzled.

“However, China itself is going through its own property market crash, and there’s no external force that will rescue its speculators from that fate.

“So Australians are now gambling on whether the fallout from China’s crash will prick their own bubble, or inflate it once more.”

Professor Steve Keen is just one of the many big names from the world of economics appearing at Kilkenomics, called Davos with jokes, in two weeks’ time.

Interest rates usually are irrelevant: Terry Ryder


Interest rates usually are irrelevant: Terry Ryder

Media coverage of the Westpac decision to lift mortgage rates 0.2 percentage points has been typically sub-standard.

Many articles, inspired by economists suffering from limelight deficit syndrome, have portrayed this as a death knell for property markets.

As someone who has studied the relationship between interest rates and price movements, I can tell you that this is a not a reasonable conclusion.

Economists and journalists, with their simplistic thought processes, tend to believe that low interest rates = property boom, and rising interest rates = property decline. This contradicts both common sense and historical precedent.

Falling interest rates usually coincide with subdued property markets. The RBA cuts interest rates when the economy is struggling, consumer confidence is low and unemployment is rising – i.e. conditions which are least likely to produce property booms.

This is why most of Australia does not have booming property markets. Only Sydney, which is the centre of the one economy (NSW) that is really pumping, has had a boom. Melbourne, the capital of a state with an okay economy, has displayed some buoyancy but nothing approaching the dizzy heights of Sydney.

Most of the state and territories have struggling economies and their capital city property markets – Perth, Hobart, Canberra, Darwin, Adelaide – have been stuck in neutral or reverse. Years of very low interest rates have been utterly irrelevant in all of these places.

Regional Australia is dotted with markets that have dropped sharply and others that have gone nowhere in terms of price movements. The exceptions are relatively few and most of them are located amid that one strong state economy, New South Wales.

The bottom line is that interest rates usually are irrelevant. Economists appear to think they’re the only thing that matters and the sole determinant of outcomes in real estate. In truth, they have little or no bearing.

Other factors have much greater influence. Sydney had its boom because a change of State Government in 2011 returned sanity and competence to governance, the economy started pumping again and infrastructure spending was revitalised. Money started circulating, businesses started spending, consumers started feeling good about things and the property market, which had been largely dormant for a decade, burst to life.

It would have happened whether the official interest rate was 2%, 4% or 6%.

Conversely, interest rates are most likely to be rising when the national economy is strong, with lots of jobs being created, confidence high and businesses spending big. These are the conditions that drive property booms – and the RBA will lift interest rates to dampen things down.

Often it requires a long period of multiple rises to quell the buoyancy. Therefore, genuine national property booms – unlike what we have at the moment – usually coincide with periods of high or rising rates.

In the late 1980s, interest rates were lifted repeatedly without dampening the boom – and mortgage rates went as high as 17% before the bull run ended.

To suggest that a 0.2 percentage point rise by one lender will kill the (Sydney) boom shows a low level of understanding.

The reality is that the one major boom in the nation, Sydney’s, has been slowly deflating since the start of the year. APRA didn’t need to take action because the market was taking care of the situation without any interference from self-important bureaucrats.

And Westpac’s tiny nudge to interest rates will have no bearing on the situation.