Simple Ideas to Boost Your Home’s Value

Taking care of basic maintenance tasks before you sell your home is a no-brainier, but a quick and not-too-costly renovation can add a lot of appeal for potential buyers, and may boost the final sale price.

Ideas to Boost Your Home’s Value

Basics first

Fix those little faults that you no longer notice – leaky taps, rusty gutters, broken window catches.  They can make a huge difference to a buyer’s perception of value.

Landscape the garden

A well-kept garden can create a low-maintenance feel before buyers even step inside.

Bring the outside in

Opening living areas to the garden can be as simple as adding big bi-fold doors that create an inviting sense of flexibility.

Take the inside out

A barbecue area, deck, pergola or even a plunge pool all invite buyers to imagine their future lifestyle in your home.

Light and bright

Brightening dark areas boosts a home’s appeal. Therefore, you can install skylights quite economically, and swap solid doors in dark areas for glass-panelled ones.

Fresh paint makes a home look ready to live in. Think carefully about colours, and maybe seek some interior design advice – although neutral colours present some people with a blank canvas, to others those spaces just seem bland

A solid footing

New carpets make a home feel new. Again, think carefully about colour. Look under the carpet – those timber floors will be lovely when sanded and sealed.

Green it

Installing solar panels or a solar hot water system can add value for potential buyers, who will see future energy cost savings.

Bathroom fix

A brand-new bathroom can cost a lot. Instead, think of replacing shower curtains with clear glass screens and installing new taps, a water-saving cistern, and even a new toilet seat. Replace small tiles with big ones, and clean/renew the grout.

Add storage

Buyers are looking for places to store their stuff – cupboards in the garage and in neutral spaces such as hallways, or a butler’s pantry in the kitchen is great too.

Some simple and affordable renovation moves can make your home more desirable to buyers, potentially adding to the final sale price.

Source: Simply Living Winter 2018, Allan Faint at the Home Finance Centre of Australia.

Budget Breakdown: Implications for Property Buyers and Sellers

How will 2018’s Budget affect the national property market? For buyers and sellers alike, we take a look at what you need to know.

The 2017 Budget had a strong focus on housing supply and affordability. This year, housing took a back seat with no new, direct measures for first home buyers or renters. However, some of the changes will likely have an indirect effect on both the residential and commercial sectors.

Implications for Property Buyers and Sellers

Stable interest rates

Home buyers can take comfort from the fact that the Budget isn’t likely to put immediate pressure on interest rates. President of the Real Estate Institute of Australia Malcolm Gunning says: “This expected interest rate stability comes at a time when housing prices in some of our major cities are showing signs of easing, leading to improved affordability for first home buyers.”

No change to negative gearing

The government’s decision to leave negative gearing alone brought sighs of relief from the real estate and development industries. Gunning described this as an ideal outcome for the housing market1, considering the stringent changes introduced last year to quell investor

“[It was] pleasing to see that the government recognizes the important role the current taxation arrangements for negative gearing and capital gains tax play in increasing supply, keeping rents affordable and easing the burden on social housing by leaving these unchanged,” he said.

More land for home building

The budget did commit to establishing a $1 billion National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation and to release more land suitable for housing.

As well as unlocking some Commonwealth land for development, the government has taken steps to discourage investors from holding on to land3 that could be used for new homes. From July 2019, investors will no longer be able to claim expenses such as council rates and maintenance costs for vacant land that could be used for housing or other development. The aim is to reduce so-called ‘land banking’, a process that allows investors to hold on to land in the hope that its value will rise while simultaneously enjoying tax benefits granted on the basis that the land would be used for homes or commercial buildings. Under the new rules, the deductions will only apply once a property has been constructed on the land and is available for rent.

Easier access to cheaper housing

Housing is cheaper outside the major cities but lack of access can make it an unrealistic option, particularly for those who work in commercial centres. The government’s allocation of billions of dollars in transport infrastructure upgrades3 could help resolve this problem over the longer term.

Projects designed to attract home buyers into less expensive areas include upgrades to roads on the Gold Coast, the North South Rail Link in Western Sydney, the Melbourne Airport Rail Link and continuing upgrades to the Bruce Highway in Queensland. Nationally, there are also plans to reduce the congestion4 that can make a daily commute from the suburbs so frustrating.

Helping Australians age at home

In last year’s Budget, the government introduced the Downsize Contribution so that, from July 1 this year, homeowners over 65 will be able to invest up to $300,000 from the proceeds of the sale of their family home into their superannuation fund5. Along with a higher income in retirement, the move could also be seen as encouragement for singles and couples to sell, freeing up more family homes.

There was some speculation that in this year’s Budget the government would use changes to capital gains charges for sellers as further motivation to downsize but, instead, it introduced a measure designed to help retirees stay where they are6.

Now every homeowner over the age of 65 has the option of taking out a reverse mortgage worth up to $11,799 a year for the rest of their lives. A reverse mortgage is effectively a loan that allows homeowners to access the equity they have built up in their home without selling their property. The loan is usually repaid when the house is eventually sold and there are limits in place to prevent people from owing more than their property is worth.

If you’re thinking about buying, selling or taking out a reverse mortgage in 2018 or 2019, you might want to talk to your mortgage broker about the recent Budget and how it could affect you personally.

Source:  Simply Living Winter 2018, Allan Faint of Home Finance Centre of Australia

Refinancing Could Save You Thousands – and Give You Greater Flexibility

Reducing the interest you pay on your mortgage could help you save thousands of dollars in interest over the period of your loan. As there’s plenty of competition in the home loan sector, it could be worth looking around for a lower rate.

What is refinancing?

Refinancing is the process of replacing an existing loan with a new one. When it comes to home loans, it means your existing home loan is paid off and replaced with a new one.  This is different from a second mortgage, where you draw on the equity you have built up in your home.

How can it help me save?

If you were paying 5.37per cent interest on a principal and interest home loan of $600,000 for a 25 year term. Your monthly principal and interest payments per month will total $3,648.00. If you swapped to a mortgage at a lesser rate of 5.24 per cent, however, you’d pay just $3,602 a month. Over 25 years, that saving each month would add up to $13,800 in total savings.

Another savings option when refinancing is to choose a loan with a lower interest rate but continue with the same monthly payments as you were making on the higher rate. This approach will see you pay less interest and pay your mortgage off faster.

Alternatively, refinancing can help save money by consolidating debt from high-interest credit cards or personal loans into a single home loan with a lower rate of interest.

Features to consider

Most mortgages offer a number of features and benefits. If you’re considering refinancing, it’s a good idea to think about which features are important to you before starting a search for a lower interest rate.

  • Variable rate or fixed rate. A fixed rate gives you more certainty over the longer term. A variable rate fluctuates with the market, so you’ll save when it’s down but there’s always a risk it will rise. (In January 1990, for example, the Australian home loan interest rate reached an all-time high of 17.5 per cent.)
  • Offset account. Cash in hand can be offset against your loan balance until you need to spend it, potentially saving interest.
  • A line of credit. If you have a lot of equity in your home, a lender might be prepared to offer you a relatively inexpensive line of credit secured against the property.
  • Repayment flexibility. Repaying a loan fortnightly rather than monthly can make it easier to fit in your budgeting plans.
  • Early payout. You may want the option of paying a loan out early with minimal penalty.

Weighing up the costs

There can be costs associated with refinancing and it’s important to factor these into your decision-making. For example, if you took out your loan before 30 June 2011, the lender might be able to charge you an exit fee for terminating the loan ahead of schedule. If yours is a fixed-rate mortgage, you might have to pay a break fee.

For a new mortgage, you may have to pay an establishment fee and the ongoing administration fees could be higher than you’re currently paying. And if your loan has to redraw facilities, there may be a charge each time you take money out of your account.

Do the math’s

You can use an online mortgage calculator to work out what repayments will be for different loan amounts at different interest rates.

You can also compare fees and charges to ensure they won’t offset any savings in interest over the life of a loan. The Australian Security & Investment Commission’s Money Smart website has a useful mortgage switching calculator that can help you assess overall costs.

A broker can help

Refinancing can be a serious financial decision with a number of variables to consider. A good broker can help establish the type of loan that may work best for you, how much you can borrow and any extra features you want.

They can then gather information from many different lenders and help assess the costs and benefits associated with each loan.

As well as doing the legwork for you, they can guide you through the refinancing process and apply their knowledge and understanding of mortgages to help you achieve the best outcome if you decide to go ahead.

Source:  Simply Living Winter 2018, Allan Faint at Home Finance Centre of Australia

Buying Property with Other People: Mine, Yours or Ours?

When people buy property together, particularly if it’s with a partner or spouse, they often register the title in both people’s names – especially if they’re going to live in the property.

But other arrangements are possible, several friends might opt to own individual shares in a property, for example, or a couple might choose to have only one of their names on an investment property title. The following information provides you with a good starting point to help you on your way. Also tax legislation and other Australian laws governing property ownership and investment are complex, so seek proper legal and financial advice before entering into any arrangement.

Arrangements when Buying Property with Others

Joint-ownership titles

The two main types of joint-ownership titles in Australia are joint tenancy and tenancy in common.

Joint tenants own the whole property together. If one of them dies, ownership passes to the surviving tenant or tenants, you can’t sell or transfer your ‘share’ in a joint tenancy. This is the most common arrangement when a couple owns a family home.

Tenants in common own individual shares in a property, and those shares do not have to be equal. Shares in a common tenancy can be transferred to someone else. When one tenant dies, their shares pass to their heirs if they have a will.

Legal liabilities

Tenancy in common is a useful arrangement when a group of people want to buy property together. Each tenant can own a share proportionate to how much money they’ve contributed, and can sell or otherwise dispose of their share as they wish (unless the tenants have entered into a prior agreement that prohibits this).

Tenants in common can take out individual loans to finance the purchase of their share of a property, with each tenant repaying their own loan. However, tenants in common are “jointly and severally” responsible for all the loans – if one tenant falls behind in their payments, the other tenants are responsible for those payments. You should also be aware that a lender could force the sale of the property to recover money owed by one tenant.

One person’s name on the title

When you’re buying an investment property with a spouse or partner, there could be tax and other advantages to putting the title in only one person’s name.

Capital gains tax is payable when you sell a property that is not your family home, such as an investment property. Tax on capital gains is calculated as part of your annual income in the year the gain is realised. If the property is in the name of the partner who has low or no income, less tax could be payable than if the income from the capital gain was shared with the partner with a higher income.

Future borrowing

If you already have an investment property, a lender will take into account both the income from the property and the loan you’ve taken out to buy it when assessing how much they can lend you.

If you own a share in a property as tenant in common, a lender will count the whole debt on the property as your liability – not just your share of it. This could in turn decrease the amount of money they’re willing to lend you.

Source:  Simply Living Winter 2018, Allan Faint of Home Finance Centre of Australia

How Can We Address Development When We Have 29 Councils?

The failure of our local government authorities to address the issue of amalgamation leaves the Government with little option but to establish three regional planning authorities under the umbrella of the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

Addressing Development to the 29 Councils

How real is it to expect a co-ordinated approach to development when we have 29 councils? It appears that discussions by a number of councils to amalgamate and/or create a more regional approach have evaporated. A greater Hobart council, bringing together larger southern councils would have gone some way towards co-ordinating the multitude of planning issues that need to be addressed.

When the framework for the current planning legislation was established in 1993, it was decided to leave planning with individual councils and give oversight and final approval of the schemes to the State Planning Commission. The role of the commission is to manage and report on changes to planning schemes, review draft management plans, advise and support the planning and local government minister and councils, support strategic planning projects.

The State Planning Commission now oversees the planning schemes of 29 councils. It has divided the state into three regions with Regional Land Use Strategies setting out long term planning goals for these three regions:North-West (Cradle Coast) includes Burnie City, Central Coast, Circular Head, Devonport City, Kentish, King Island, Latrobe, Waratah-Wynyard, and West Coast.

North: Break O’Day, Dorset, Flinders, George Town, Launceston City, Meander Valley, Northern
Midlands, and West Tamar.

South: Brighton, Central Highlands, Clarence City, Derwent Valley, Glamorgan Spring Bay, Glenorchy City, Hobart City, Huon Valley, Kingborough, Sorell, Southern Midlands and Tasman.

For example, a regional plan may indicate how much land needs to be made available for housing, transport and industrial purposes. Each local government planning scheme must be consistent with that Regional Land Use Strategy. Strategies can be amended but it is the minister’s responsibility to keep the three strategies under regular review.

The Challenges

The difficulties with the present system are the lack of a collaborative approach to regional issues across the three tiers of government and lack of co-ordination across each government’s agencies. The legislation is clear that local government planning schemes must be consistent with the regional land use strategies. However, since the gazettal of the southern strategy by minister Bryan Green in 2013, the only action has been some motherhood statements and little action to implement any strategies.

There is little disagreement that regional planning is critical for proper development. Prior to the state election, the Southern Regional Council even released a report on its regional priorities. These included asking for a formalised framework and systematic approach for the maintenance and review of the Southern Tasmanian Regional Land Use Strategy. On southern transport issues the report said an integrated approach looking at car transit, freight movement and public transport including buses, light rail and ferries is needed to fix this problem. It appears little or no planning work has been done on how to actually address this across its 12 councils. As settlements around greater Hobart expand, this problem is only going to increase. It is imperative there is a collaborative approach encompassing all three tiers of government and multiple agencies. This means a Greater Hobart Transport Plan to identify a long-term plan and solutions to fix these bottlenecks.

Despite admissions by the Southern Regional Council Authority changes are needed. There is no easy means of implementing any of these recommendations when 12 councils have to agree.

The failure by councils to co-ordinate and address these issues over the years brings me to the conclusion that the only solution is to transfer all planning authority from 29 local councils to three regional authorities, as we have already done to provide better water and sewerage management.

Source:  John Cleary was a state Liberal minister and MP for Franklin. He introduced the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.

Abolishing Land Tax

A Hodgman Liberal Government will…
Introduce an immediate, fairer Land Tax rebate, cap bills at this year’s level and then progressively cut land tax from 2011‐12 over an eight-year period until it is abolished.

Land Tax is an unfair tax which is a drag on the Tasmanian economy. It affects all Tasmanians, as it is passed on in the services and goods we purchase and the rents that are paid. It stifles investment, costs jobs and has brought some businesses to the brink of failure.

The New Policy for Land Tax

Labor’s recently announced changes have not delivered the abolition of Land Tax that Tasmanians deserve, and they have bungled the implementation by rushing the changes for the purposes of political expediency.

In our alternative budget delivered last year, we were the first party to accept the challenge of addressing Land Tax.

This policy supersedes that policy and improves on Labor’s recently announced changes, as we will immediately introduce a fairer Land Tax rebate, and then from 2011‐12 progressively abolish Land Tax, over eight years.

We will:

  1. Introduce a new, fairer Land Tax rebate this financial year for ALL landowners with land valued at more than $350,000. Unlike Labor, the rebate will not just be for businesses ‐ it will be for every Tasmanian who has paid Land Tax on property valued at more than $350,000 in 2009‐10.
  2. Cap the Land Tax revenue collected by Government in 2009‐10 after the effect of the rebate has been allowed for.
  3. Freeze Land Tax bills in 2010‐11 at adjusted 2009‐10 levels, removing the need for future valuations to occur while introducing concessions for shack owners, first home builders and microbusinesses.
  4. Cut Land Tax by 5% in 2011‐12 and by 10% in 2012‐13.
  5. Keep cutting Land Tax every year until it is completely abolished over eight years from 2011‐12, pumping $24 million back into the Tasmanian economy over the next four years alone.

What the Liberals will do:

1.  A new, fair Land Tax rebate

Under Labor, only businesses are entitled to the rebate.

Their policy immediately gives money back to some, while not giving money back to others like self‐funded retirees and people who earn their income by renting properties.

Labor’s initial 17 page application form has been replaced by a new 15 page version which is still time consuming, costly, and may result in some small businesses missing out on the rebate altogether because the onerous process is a disincentive to landlords to claim the rebate.

The simplest and fairest way to fix this farce is to extend the rebate to all taxpayers who have paid Land Tax on property valued at over $350,000; and that is what a Hodgman Liberal Government will do.

This will mean that there will be no lengthy forms, no onerous conditions, no hours spent slaving over paperwork.

Under the Liberals, the rebate will be available to all Land Tax payers with property valued at more than $350,000 so that Tasmanians will effectively only pay a maximum of 1.5% per cent Land Tax on land valued at above $350,000.

The concessions already announced for shack owners, micro‐businesses and first home builders will start on 1 July 2010, in the same way it would under Labor.

2.  Cap and cut

A Hodgman Liberal Government will abolish Land Tax. Starting on 1 July 2010, we will put into place our plan to cap Land Tax, then progressively cut it. No more surprise increases in Land Tax. No more guessing about whether a new valuation will put you out of business or force you to sell your family shack. In fact, by cutting Land Tax, a Hodgman Liberal Government will pump nearly $24 million back into the economy over the next four years.

All of the recently announced changes to Land Tax will be honoured by a Hodgman Liberal Government. Next year, all Land Tax payers will begin to benefit from our plan to abolish Land Tax as a result of having their bills frozen at adjusted 2009‐10 levels – including those with property valued at less than $350,000.

This means no further increases, which means every taxpayer will save in 2010‐11. This is the starting point for our cap and cut policy. Every year after that Land Tax will be cut, meaning that over the eight years from 2011‐12, Land Tax will be abolished.

There will be no more revaluations. No more shock Land Tax bills in the mail. In fact, from 1 July 2010, Land Tax bills will only go down, until they are eventually gone for good.

  • Land Tax will be capped at the adjusted level of your 2009‐10 bill;
  • Because we are capping Land Tax, property revaluations for Land Tax purposes will not be needed;
  • Land Tax bills will then be reduced from 2011‐12 every year for eight years until Land Tax is abolished;
  • This means that Land Tax payers will receive a reduction of between 15% and 40% during the first term of a Hodgman Liberal Government;
  • Under Labor, Land Tax bills will continue to go up;
  • All Land Tax payers, whether they be a small business, big business, investors, shack owners or first home builders will benefit under the cap and cut plan;
  • New land entering the system will be taxed at the same rate as similarly valued land.

Why this policy is needed:

Land Tax has progressively become more and more of a burden for Tasmanians. It is unacceptable that just one Labor Government tax could damage a number of businesses in Tasmania, drive away investment, cause families to sell their shacks and compromise their way of life and restrict the economy from reaching its full potential.

In the last 12 months alone, 8,100 jobs have disappeared in Tasmania. Our unemployment rate has gone from 4.4% to 5.5% and our economy ‐ far from being the best in the country ‐ desperately needs a shot in the arm.

Abolishing Land Tax will go a long way to helping the economy recover. It will encourage people to invest in Tasmania. Moreover, it will give businesses the certainty and financial incentive they need to expand and employ more people. Aso, it will help self-funded retirees keep their head above water. Furthermore, it will provide relief to the mum and dad investors who entered the property market as a way of providing a better future for their families.

Best of all, over the next four financial years, it will allow $24 million to be re‐invested into the Tasmanian economy – and that’s just the start. Over time, Tasmanians won’t have to pay any Land Tax at all.

After more than 11 years of Labor:

In 1997‐98, Tasmanians paid $25.9 million in Land Tax. In 2009‐10, the Government collected $94 million – a staggering 263 per cent increase. This is money that could be used to boost the Tasmanian economy. This is money that could be used by Tasmanians to invest in their families, their small businesses or the economy in general.

More than that, the Labor Government’s approach to Land Tax has been a massive drag on employment, business, and the economy. Land Tax was introduced to make sure land was being developed. However, under Labor, they have turned it into an impost on the community and a way to prop up their big spending ways.

Only a Hodgman Liberal Government will be able to manage the economy so that this unfair tax can be capped and cut, and eventually abolished.

TOTAL COST: $24 million over 4 years*

*After savings measures, such as reducing the need for increased funding for the Valuer‐General, are taken into account.

Comparison of land tax bills under the Liberals and Labor


Tasmanian Liberals, Will Hodgman MP

Financial Disincentives and Lack of Appropriate Housing Thwarting Senior Downsizing

Seniors wanting to downsize their homes are being stopped by financial disincentives and a lack of age-appropriate housing, research from the national seniors productive ageing centre has found.

Around 30 per cent of seniors surveyed were considering downsizing, which, on a national scale, equated to one million people, according to Mary Wood, executive director of the Retirement Living Council, “but many are unable to due to barriers put in place by governments”.

Downsizing has the benefits of reduced energy consumption, lower maintenance, more equity for health costs and a more efficient use of housing stock.

While the major barrier to moving cited in the survey was the effort involved, next on the list were stamp duty, then inclusions of the proceeds from the sale of seniors’ homes in the Age Pension Assets Test, as well as a lack of available age appropriate housing.

Of people considering moving to a smaller residence, the most common reasons reported in the survey were not being physically able to maintain the home and the cost of maintaining the home or yard.

“we encourage the federal government to remove penalties on age pensioners who wish to downsize and support the desire of many seniors to live independently in smaller home built for their needs. The grab-rails on wall and other mobility-enhancing features” Ms Wood said.

“Removing disincentives would reduce the number of senior Australians who feel “trapped” in an unsuitable home which reduces their quality of life”

A recent Productivity Commission report on preparing for an ageing Australia agreed that stamp duty was a major disincentive for downsizing housing.

“The Henry Tax review found stamp duties were [particularly inefficient taxes and should be replaced by other taxation measures. Doing so would lessen disincentives for people to downsize their housing as they are”, the report stated

Ageing population intensifying the issue

The results from the survey are worrying, as Australia is dealing with an ageing population. The number of people aged 75 or more years is expected to rise by four million between 2012 to 2060, increasing from about 6.4 to 14.4 per cent of the population. Currently 27 per cent of people aged 70 years and over live alone.

“Policy interventions to reduce financial barriers, such as the pensioner Duty Concession Scheme in the Australian Capital Territory and the pilot scheme proposed by the Labor Government in 2013, may help encourage downsizing but, given the range of factors that influence people to downsize, these would be most effective if coordinated with other incentives such as housing that is suitable in terms of accessibility, size, affordability and location and incentives to promote independent living “the survey report stated”.

Strong preference to stay in big homes
National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill said while there were barriers to downsizing, the results showed most seniors had a strong preference to rain in larger homes.

“policymakers talk of seniors downsizing and freeing up family-sized home but it seems older Australians aren’t so keen to do so” Mr O’Neill Said

“considering the lack of policy incentives to downsize and the strong emotional attachment all Australians have to their family home, these finding are hardly surprising.”

He said policy interventions to reduce financial barriers and a commitment to address the lack of age-appropriate housing in Australia could increase the incentive to downsize, however.


Cameron Jewell

Smarter Small Home

When 30-year veteran of the property and real estate industry Kevin Doodney thought about the housing affordability problem in Australia, he knew there had to be a solution. The Smarter Small Home™ is the affordable concept home that was the result of his vision – and chutzpah.

The Rich History of Smarter Small Home

While Doodney was the catalyst for the project, the result is the product of an entire team. Spearheading the design smarts was designer Brett Black low. Doodney and Black low had met 15 years before and had since collaborated on a number of projects.

The pair agreed that their goal was to build an affordable home, defined as one costing around $300,000 for house and land package. With land often representing at least half the total cost of a home and land package, they knew a small lot size was crucial. They decided on a lot size of 10 meters by 30 meters; the challenge then was to design a livable, sustainable and affordable home on it.

The Smarter Small Home was the result.

The Smarter Small Home Characteristics


It’s livable because the double-story construction minimizes the building footprint without sacrificing inside living area and leaving a sizable yard for outdoor entertaining and activities. Inside, no space is wasted and many do ‘double duty’.


The Smarter Small Home is also sustainable – it has a 5.5-star energy rating, uses a range of low-embodied-energy materials and smart power-saving devices to minimize homeowners’ running costs.

In addition, James Hardie asked Climate Friendly* to measure the carbon footprint of The Smarter Small Home. It found that significantly less CO2 was used to manufacture the materials used in the home, as well as to actually construct it, than that in a traditionally built home. Climate Friendly also found that the energy intensity was much lower than in a traditionally built home.

Very affordable

However, there are other homes that are livable and sustainable. The heart of the Smarter Small Home is its affordability. Here are the key ingredients to cost-effective construction that The Smarter Small Home embodies.

Design to fit, not cut to fit

Black low went looking for a number of key economical materials first, and then designed the structure of the house and floor plate around them. “Typically no-one approaches it like that. The builder or designer comes up with a floor plan and then he works out how to make it stand up,” Black low says.

Black low feels this is a recipe for adding all sorts of costs that aren’t immediately obvious into a building because the designer or builder has to make the structure work. His approach means the design of rooms, heights and walls are to the size of materials available and any off cuts that are generated are re-used elsewhere in the design. This also helps minimize waste.

Black low feels this is a recipe for adding all sorts of costs that aren’t immediately obvious into a building because the designer or builder has to make the structure work. His approach means the design of rooms, heights and walls are to the size of materials available and any off cuts that are generated are re-used elsewhere in the design. This also helps minimize waste.

Minimize installation steps, and multiple trades Often, time is money, which means maximizing the speed of
construction. A key way to achieve this is to select products that can be installed and simply finished; ones that involve the least number of construction layers.

For example, Black low chose an all-in-one Bondor® sandwich panel for the roof, which meant the roof was fully installed in half a day. “One product turns up to site,” he says. “When it’s finished, we have our roof structure, insulation, sheeting, ceiling structure and finished ceiling. Instead of having a scaffold up for two or three weeks, it’s all done in half a day.”

The sub-floor is another area where layers were reduced. Twenty-two steel screw-in piers were used instead of brick piers and joists or the traditional slab on ground. “While screw-in piers have been around for ages, hardly anyone uses them,” Black low says. “The beauty of them is that we don’t have to come out and make a flat area and we don’t have to dig or pour footings and box up the slab. We just screw these things into the ground, we put the posts on that afternoon, and on day two we start installing the floor framing.”

“Many of James Hardie’s products are sheet products and so a carpenter can cover an area of three square meters in 10 minutes. So we’ve chosen products that cover a big bit of area when they go on,” Black low says. After installation, they usually just need to be painted.

Choose highly flexible cladding to maximize repeatability

A key driver of the affordability of development versus that of a single home is building the exact same floor plan. “When we’re doing this we want to make the outside of these homes look as different as possible, while still being essentially the same,” says Black low.

“The thing I’d say about these [James Hardie®] products is that you can give me one standard flat sheet like HardieFlex™, and I can give you five or six different finishes. It can be done without texturing or anything like that, but through using vertical or horizontal battens, or smooth ones or really protruding ones. These products just have a bucket load of flexibility at a really affordable price,” he says.

After researching exterior cladding materials, Black low and the team concluded that there is “nothing that can touch a few of the James Hardie products price-wise”.

The Small Smarter Home™ Case Book by James Hardie

Hobart Nosedives to Australia’s Least Affordable Capital to Rent

Media Release by Brotherhood of St Laurence, Shelter, SGS, Community Sector Banking… with income growth failing to meet soaring prices

Hobart has nosedived to become Australia’s least affordable capital city to rent, with income growth failing to meet soaring rents, according to the May Rental Affordability Index (RAI).The RAI is a price index for housing rental markets released biannually by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics & Planning. It’s an indicator of rental affordability relative to household incomes.

With an RAI of 102 in the December quarter, greater Hobart is now the least affordable capital city in Australia – knocking Sydney from its perch. Rents in Hobart are now unaffordable to even average income households.

“The latest Rental Affordability Index shows the rental crisis continues. Financial stress, overcrowding and insecurity are the everyday reality of working families,” Ellen Witte, Partner at SGS Economics and Planning said.

“The results for Hobart are a real wake-up call,” Witte said. “There has been a single-minded focus on population growth, but a complete lack of vision of where this growth needs to go and how all households are going to be accommodated. Renting households, many of them working families, are now paying the price.”

Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer at National Shelter said that while there has been some slight improvement in some capitals, the situation has not improved at all for low income households.

“For Households below the median income rental affordability remains a real problem while for households on moderate and low wages and benefits we have a genuine crisis in rental affordability,” Pisarski said. “The situation in Hobart is alarming with Hobart overtaking Sydney as the least affordable place to rent in the country.”

“The latest RAI shows the serious need for a state and national housing plan – without action, lower income earners will be forced from our cities and capitals like Sydney will lose vital workers, like those in hospitality,” said Andrew Cairns, CEO of Community Sector Banking.

Conny Lenneberg, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, said the data reflected the struggles of low income renters the Brotherhood worked with in outer suburbs of major cities and regional areas.

This is the first release of the Rental Affordability Index since the Brotherhood of St Laurence joined SGS Economics & Planning, National Shelter and Community Sector Banking as a sponsor.

“This study shows the depths of the housing crisis facing Australian renters on low incomes,” Lenneberg said. “People are facing deep challenges securing affordable housing in the private rental market, pushed further and further away from the areas from where the jobs are located.’’

“For some vulnerable people who are unemployed, the combination of very low rates of Newstart – as little as $38.98 a day for a single unemployed person – and rising rents for even modest accommodation, is proving unbearable. The consequence is that people are being pushed into homelessness.”

The decline in affordability is being driven by low incomes and a lack of rental housing. In Tasmania, household incomes are significantly lower than the national average, while rents are comparable to mainland averages.

The average household in Hobart faces rents at 29% of total income, putting it on the verge of housing stress – when it becomes difficult to afford essentials, like food and healthcare.

And the problem is spreading – areas such as Margate and Sorell are also now unaffordable to median households.

The situation is most dire for those on lower incomes.

A single pensioner faces severely unaffordable rents at 44% of income, while pensioner couples faces rents at 32% of income, which is deemed unaffordable.

It’s worse for a single person on benefits – they face extremely unaffordable rents at 68% of income, while a single part-time worker parent on benefits faces rents at 42% of income, which is severely unaffordable.

Speaking on what could be done to address the crisis, Witte said, “there are opportunities to further streamline development planning processes, but more importantly to invest in social and affordable housing for workers. The use of instruments like the density bonus and inclusionary zoning needs to be maximised.”

National Shelter are also calling for change. “The data demonstrates the need for national leadership and a national housing strategy. We need to bring the threads of tax reform, incentives to encourage greater investment by institutional finance and states, planning reforms and urban and regional development together to tackle this problem,” Pisarski said.

Affordability better in regional Tasmania but Launceston declines With a RAI of 121, the average household in regional Tasmania faces rent at around 25% of income.

Towns in northern and eastern Tasmania, including Devonport, have relatively acceptable rents compared to regional incomes. However, Launceston has become moderately unaffordable in recent years.

An interactive map of the RAI at the small geographical area level can be found at the following website:

About Community Sector Banking
Community Sector Banking is the not-for-profit banking specialist for more than 13,000 organisations; it’s a joint venture between Bendigo Bank and the Community 21 consortium of not-for-profit organisations, established 15 years ago.

About National Shelter
National Shelter is a peak advocacy group whose mission is to create a “more just housing system, particularly for low-income Australian households.”

About SGS Economics & Planning
SGS Economics & Planning is a leading planning and economics firm whose purpose is to shape policy and investment decisions to achieve sustainable places, communities and economies.

About Brotherhood of St. Laurence
The Brotherhood of St Laurence is a community organisation that works to prevent and alleviate poverty across Australia.

Media Release from Shelter, SGS

Hobart least affordable capital city in Australia, latest Rental Affordability Index confirms

Tasmania’s peak body for housing and homelessness continues to be concerned at the escalating levels of unaffordable rents, highlighted by the latest Rental Affordability Index (RAI) produced by SGS Economics & Planning.

“Rental affordability in Tasmania has fallen to its lowest point since the Index began in 2015. Hobart now outstrips Sydney as the least affordable capital in Australia with Tasmanian incomes failing to keep pace with soaring rental prices. The combination of rising rent and low income growth has created unprecedented hardship for many people seeking to find an affordable home”, Shelter Tas Executive Officer, Pattie Chugg said.

The RAI reveals the reality of renting across Tasmania, as it is the only index of its kind that compares household incomes with the cost of renting. The index is showing an increasing trend of rental stress across the state, where the households on the lowest 40% of incomes pay 30% or more of their income in rent.

“Rents in Tasmania are now on par with the rest of Australia, however average Tasmanian households earn over $300 a week less than mainland households. With over 8,000 low income households already in housing stress, rental unaffordability is now rising up the income ladder, increasingly impacting average working families”, Ellen Witte, Partner at SGS Economics and Planning said.

“The results for Hobart are a real wake-up call. There has been a single-minded focus by State Government on population growth, but a complete lack of vision of where this growth needs to go and how all households are going to be accommodated. Renting households, many of them working families, are now paying the price”, Ms Witte said.

The situation in greater Hobart has deteriorated over the past year, with even the average household now on the brink of housing stress, paying 29% of their income on rent. The problem isn’t confined to Hobart, as the decline in affordability for average households is increasingly felt in both Launceston and regional towns in the South like New Norfolk, Geeveston, Huonville and Cygnet.

“While the impact on average households is concerning, it is masking the grim reality that those on low incomes are facing an increasing risk of homelessness across Tasmania”, Ms Chugg said.

In regional North and North West Tasmania, rental homes in Devonport and Burnie are moderately unaffordable for low income Tasmanians such as single pensioners and single working parents on benefits. Across Tasmania, low income earners are being forced out, further away from jobs with poor transport options, or into severely overcrowded dwellings, entrenching their disadvantage.

“In such a competitive and unaffordable rental market, many low income earners must make impossible choices between essentials such as food and heating or having a home. Single parent working families, young people and aged and disability pensioners are the worst affected, paying up to 80% of their income on rent”, Ms Chugg said.

The lack of affordable and safe housing is the biggest cause of homelessness, and we know that homelessness is increasing. On any given night 1,622 Tasmanians have no place to call home. We know that young people are disproportionately affected by homelessness, making up 52% of homelessness services’ clients. We can and must do better”, Ms Chugg said.

“A strong economy must be built upon foundation of secure homes for all Tasmanians, however the rental affordability crisis is pushing out vital workers like those in tourism and hospitality from areas where they are needed the most. We must also plan ahead for our housing needs with an integrated approach to overall population growth and State economic development”, Ms Witte said.

“There are multiple policy levers at the Government’s disposal to address the housing crisis and work together with the development sector, for instance in regard to build-to-rent. Fact is, increasingly more households rent for the long term, as they can no longer afford to purchase a home, so there is a need to ensure renting is a sustainable, secure and affordable living option”, Ms Witte said.

“Tasmania’s deepening shortage of affordable and social housing has serious implications for the Tasmanian community as a whole as it undermines our economy’s ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce, and directly impacts our community’s health, education and overall wellbeing”, Ms Witte said.

“The benefits of our growing economy must be shared. With the State budget just around the corner, Shelter Tasmania repeats its call for the $60m in stamp duty windfall from the booming property market to be invested in new social housing. Tasmania needs at least 150 new public an community housing dwellings each year, which is the best way to guarantee that housing will stay affordable in the long term”, Ms Chugg said.

About the Rental Affordability Index:
National Shelter, Community Sector Banking, SGS Economics & Planning and Brotherhood of St. Laurence have released the Rental Affordability Index (RAI) biannually since 2015. The RAI is an easy to understand indicator of the price of rents relative to household incomes based on new rental agreements.
An interactive map of the RAI at the small geographical area level can be found at the following website:

About Shelter Tasmania:
Shelter Tasmania is the peak body for housing and homelessness. For further information on Shelter Tasmania’s priorities for the State Budget, please see the submission on our website.

Media Release from Roger Jaensch, Minister for Housing Rental affordability index

There is no doubt that Tasmania’s booming economy has resulted in more people than ever choosing Tasmania as the place to live, work and raise a family.

While this is good news for the state, it has resulted in real challenges for Tasmanians on low incomes seeking to buy or rent a house, which is why we convened the housing summit in March to bring together key stakeholders to identify solutions.

We are currently progressing all the agreed outcomes from the summit with a range of short, medium and long term solutions to ensure every Tasmanian has access to housing they can afford.

We know the best solution to our housing shortage is increased supply, and we are working closely with local government and the housing and property sectors on reforms that aim to deliver more residential land to market faster.

This is in addition to our first Affordable Housing Action Plan that is providing real relief for Tasmanians in need.

So far, it has helped more than 500 new households into affordable, secure and safe homes and is on track to assist 1,600 households into affordable housing by June 2019.

The Tasmanian Government is investing a further $125 million in phase two of the Affordable Housing Action Plan which is expected to provide an additional 1500 new affordable homes for Tasmanians, and assist around 2000 households.

This is on top of other commitments we have made that will increase the number of houses in Tasmania, such as:

  • Extending the first home builders boost;
  • a 50 per cent stamp duty holiday for first home buyers who purchase existing homes up to $400,000; and
  • a three year land tax holiday for all new-build housing available for long term rental

We know there is still plenty more work to be done, and we are getting on with the job of delivering it.

A fact sheet on our actions to address the housing issues can be found here:


Hobart Is The Fastest Selling Capital City Housing Market

The days on market metric provides an indication as to how quickly properties sold by private treaty are likely to sell. The current data at a national and capital city level shows fairly steady days on market however, we are seeing diverging trends across the individual cities.

The Housing Market Forecast

At the end of 2017, properties sold by private treaty across the nation typically took 45 days to sell and across the combined capital cities they took 40 days to sell. Both the capital city and national measure has been reasonably steady over recent months however, the days on the market figure for each region was slightly lower a year earlier. In December 2016 it typically took 44 days to sell a property across the nation and 37 days across the combined capital cities.

The trends are changing quite significantly across the individual capital cities.

The typical home took 42 days to sell in December 2017, up from 34 days a year earlier.  The 42 days it currently takes to sell is the longest time on market since May 2016 and up from its recent low of 29 days in February 2017.

Homes in the city typically take 33 days to sell which is up from 29 days at the end of 2016. The 29 days at the end of 2016 was also a recent low in days on market for the city.

In December 2016 the typical home took 47 days to sell while a year later they were taking 53 days to sell. The days on market figure has been trending higher since reaching a recent low of 43 days in March 2017.

In December 2016 the typical home took 47 days to sell while a year later they were taking 53 days to sell. The days on market figure has been trending higher since reaching a recent low of 43 days in March 2017.

More Updates about Australia’s House Market

There has been a consistent decline in the days on market figure over the past year falling from 58 days to 53 days. After recently peaking at 75 days in August 2017 there has been a sharp fall over recent months.

Properties are currently taking 33 days to sell which is marginally lower than the 34 days a year ago. Homes have been selling quite quickly in Hobart over the past two years as value growth has accelerated.

The days on market figure for the city at 75 days is substantially lower than the 88 days recorded a year earlier and well down on the recent peak of 119 days in March.

At 42 days, properties are taking longer to sell currently than they were a year ago when they took 39 days.

With dwelling values now falling in Sydney and slowing across many cities it is reasonable to expect that over the coming 12 months the number of days it takes to sell a property will trend higher. In particular, this is likely to occur in Sydney (where values are already falling) and Melbourne given that both cities have experienced rapid rates of sale and strong growth in dwelling values over recent years. Vendors in those cities were market conditions are softening will need to be realistic about their pricing expectations; as properties take longer to sell, buyers will be more inclined to negotiate on asking prices and vendors may face higher competition from other properties listed for sale as inventory levels rise.

On the other hand, markets such as Perth, where housing values have been falling, are now showing a reduction in total advertised stock levels and homes are starting to sell in fewer days which should help to dampen further value falls.