Archive for January, 2012
The arrival of 50 new low-floor trams in Melbourne later this year will improve public transport right across the city, according to premier Ted Baillieu and state transport minister Terry Mulder.
The new E-class trams, which are currently under construction at Dandenong, will each have the capacity to transport more than 200 passengers – and some could be on the line before the end of the year.
Baillieu stated: "The new trams will have a low floor to provide easier access at tram stops, and slip-resistant floors and air-conditioning to improve passenger comfort and safety."
He added that the trams will play an essential role in improving accessibility for passengers right across the city.
In preparation for the new low-floor trams, Southbank Depot is undergoing a $24 million makeover, which will provide new infrastructure facilities for Yarra Trams.
As proximity to public transportation is one of the key things tenants consider when choosing a prospective rental property, the new trams may be warmly welcomed by those with a Melbourne investment property.
Mulder stated: "Melbourne's tram network is the world's largest, with about 182 million passenger trips now made on our trams each year. We are committed to upgrading both the network and trams to improve accessibility."
Posted by Sara Pritchard
Improved parking for cyclists – especially as pupils gear up to go back to school – will continue to boost the popularity of two-wheeled transport in Sydney, according to the city's lord mayor.
Speaking last week (January 24), Clover Moore revealed that a number of city schools have installed free bike racks over the summer break as part of a council initiative to get kids out and about on their bikes.
School administrators note that since cycleways such as the Bourke Street path opened, the number of students arriving at school on two wheels has increased substantially.
"Cycling is much more accessible now. Our school is situated on the bike lane and a lot of our students also live on the bike lanes, so they can ride straight from home. A lot of families are getting rid of their cars and the parents are riding to work, so they want their kids to ride to school," said Peter Johnston, principal of Bourke Street Public School.
His school is one of four educational establishments that will see a combined total of 14 bike racks installed this month. Some $20,000 in funding from the council's bike parking initiative has been set aside to fund the scheme.
As plans for Sydney's inner city bike network continue to progress, Moore anticipates that even more Sydneysiders of all ages will take to their bikes.
This, she added, is a change that can have benefits for the entire community.
"Students riding or walking to school means less cars on the road in the morning peak, reducing congestion and improving safety on the roads around schools," Moore explained.
She added that any Sydney resident or business interested in supporting cycling in their local area can request bike parking.
These requests, she explained, can be made via the City of Sydney website
Locations close to to cycle paths may be an important factor for anyone considering a Sydney property investment, as good transport links are often appealing to prospective tenants.
Buyers may also want to investigate whether any new off-the-plan properties they are considering have been constructed with cyclists in mind – perhaps with communal bike racks or a safe storage space where riders can keep their gear.
New cycleways are just one of many strategies the City of Sydney is employing to ease traffic on its busy roads. A proposed light rail connection on George Street is another option that has been explored in recent months.
Anyone planning a Brisbane property investment may wish to take note of a free service operated by the city council.
Although extensive rebuilding efforts have revitalised the city and contributed to the recovery of the Brisbane property market after last January's devastating floods, prospective buyers should still be aware of their flood risk.
The new brisbanecity.mobi app allows users to obtain a free Flood Flag Map and Floodwise Property Report, and has been optimised for all mobile handsets that are internet-enabled.
In addition to flood mapping service, the app represents a convenient way for Brisbane residents to get in touch about community issues such as road conditions and potholes.
The brisbanecity.mobi app is also packed with useful information about life in the city, which could make it particularly useful for new residents.
This includes everything from library services and events guides to traffic reports, arts venues and even waste collection dates and times.
Recent research published last month by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland revealed that townhouses are proving to be an increasingly popular choice for renters, investors and property buyers.
Figures from the September quarter of 2011 indicate that 20 per cent of all unit sales were townhouses, with the Brisbane suburbs of Eight Mile Plains and Runcorn cited as particularly popular destinations.
Posted by Tyler Wyndham
Residents in the Melbourne area of Frankston will benefit from improved public transport links, the Victoria government announced last week.
The Robinsons Road bridge, which passes over the Peninsula Link freeway, means improved safety for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists who live in and travel through the area, according to Edward O'Donohue.
The state's parliamentary secretary for transport hailed the project for making the community safer – news that anyone planning a Melbourne property investment may do well to bear in mind.
He said: "It's not just motorists celebrating the opening of the Robinsons Road bridge – new traffic signals installed will provide a safe crossing for Bayside Christian College students and walkers and cyclists taking advantage of the new Peninsula Link Trail."
In Sydney, lord mayor Clover Moore has remarked in recent weeks that with the opening of new dedicated cycling paths – including the Bourke Street Cycleway – more residents are opting to ride to work rather than take their cars.
Ensuring transport is safe for pedestrians can boost the appeal of any neighbourhood, as prospective residents and tenants will have more choices when it comes to their commute.
Posted by Sara Pritchard
By 2030, the population of Sydney's Oxford Street Village could grow to 18,900 – up from the current figure of 17,300, according to the City of Sydney.
The area is part of the local authority's 2030 in Your Village scheme, which sets out plans to foster "a stronger sense of place and community" while preserving the character and future visions of a number of targeted communities in the NSW capital city.
Sydney City Council has also published information about the make-up of the community that could prove useful to those considering a Sydney property investment.
As Australia's heartland for the lesbian, gay, trangender and transsexual communities, Oxford Street Village is known as one of the nation's most diverse and accepting areas.
It is home to a popular market at Taylor Square and average wealth in the area is on the rise. On the whole, higher education is valued in the community – an estimated 30 per cent of its residents have a bachelor degree or higher.
As part of the City of Sydney's plans to preserve the Oxford Street Village for future generations, it has pledged to take action to preserve heritage buildings in the area, as well as parks and green spaces.
Other plans – which may be attractive to prospective tenants who are newcomers to the city – may include improved transport links. These, according to the local council, are likely to feature light rail, which will provide a more efficient way of reaching the CBD and the eastern suburbs.
Public art and walking trails will be used to foster a spirit of community, while revitalisation efforts will focus on improving the Oxford Street Village precinct to better support local businesses.
New projects, including community gardens and mentorship schemes, may also encourage residents to get to know one another.
Community workshops will be hosted in March for local residents to discuss the city's preliminary plans for the Oxford Street Village, as well as nine other neighbourhoods targeted in the 2030 in Your Village scheme.
These include communities at Glebe Point Road, Redfern Street, Green Square and City South, Harris Street and the CBD and harbour precincts.
Draft plans for each village group will be made available online before a series of discussion workshops are held from the end of February to early April.
Posted by Grace Neale
Residents of New South Wales are increasingly looking to good-quality, high-density housing as an alternative to the "traditional quarter-acre block", according to the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales.
The organisation released a media statement following the announcement that the NSW government intends to review and potentially simplify the state's strata title laws, which are among the oldest in the world.
An online consultation into the current strata laws has been announced by minister for fair trading Anthony Roberts and will run until the end of next month.
The consultation, which is hosted by Global Access Partners (GAP), will also examine issues surrounding community schemes in the state and members of the public are encouraged to contribute via the GAP open forum website.
According to the REINSW, it is time for the existing laws "to be reviewed and tested to determine if they satisfy community expectations and requirements".
The laws, it noted, should include provisions for the use of modern technology which could allow strata members to attend meetings without being physically present.
They should also account for lifestyle changes – particularly the "cultural shift" in Australians' preferences for accommodation that has occurred during the last half-century.
The institute also highlighted the need for a system that allows for simplified budgeting and for efficient and cost-effective management of strata-related disputes as and when they arise.
Strata laws, according to the REINSW, should always protect the property owner and purchaser – and provide maintenance for buildings over time.
Any change to the strata laws in NSW could affect individuals with a Sydney investment property – and it will be interesting to see if legislation is changed in the coming weeks and months.
The REINSW published its strata law review just days after noting that December rental vacancies rates for Sydney showed slight improvement compared with November's figures.
However, experts note that the slight easing of rental vacancies is likely to be short-lived, as historically, this is a seasonal variation observed at this time of year.
Tight rental vacancies are expected to return in early 2012, according to REINSW president Christian Payne, who asserted that demand for rental properties tends to spike at the beginning of a new year.
"The already low levels of available rental properties are likely to be squeezed even further as people return to work," he stated.
Posted by Grace Neale
New economic reports have highlighted the strength of the Queensland economy, according to the state's deputy premier.
Andrew Fraser, who is also the Queensland treasurer, remarked yesterday (January 23) that a recent CommSec report ranked the state as displaying the second-largest level of economic growth in the country.
Another report, published by Deloitte Access Economics, highlighted that Queensland has the highest level of expected growth for the current business year, as well as 2012-13.
But Fraser stressed that more needs to be done to support the housing sector, which was identified by CommSec as a weak area in an otherwise strong economy.
Measures including the Bligh government's extension of the Building Boost scheme have been put into place to support the housing sector – and could support those who are planning a Brisbane property investment.
This move, Fraser said, has been supported by a range of industry groups, including Master Builders, the Housing Industry Association and the Property Council of Australia.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland also welcomed the extension, which will allow home buyers who purchase or build a new home valued at less than $600,000 to receive a $10,000 boost until April 30.
Posted by Tyler Wyndham
It could soon be easier to purchase residential property in Queensland, thanks to a new move announced by state premier Anna Bligh.
The change, which would see only a single contract required for a house to be sold, could take effect as early as next month.
Real estate agents and conveyance lawyers are just two of many groups who would benefit from the reduction in red tape, Bligh stated.
At the moment, several documents are required for each property sale – including pool safety declarations, warning statements, sustainability declarations, information sheets, disclosure statements and, of course, the contract of sale itself.
"We intend to rid the industry of unnecessary complications making it easier to buy and sell a home in Queensland," Bligh said of her plans to streamline the service.
Less paperwork could boost the appeal of Brisbane property investment, as buyers and sellers may find the process considerably simpler.
Another factor that could support investors is the extension of the Queensland Building Boost scheme for another three months.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland's chief executive officer Anton Kardash asserted earlier this month that extending the scheme could benefit hundreds of prospective buyers across the state.
Posted by Tyler Wyndham
Anyone planning an off the plan Melbourne property investment may wish to look to suburbs where the demand for units outpaces the demand for houses.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria has published a number of interesting figures as part of its report on property movements in the December quarter.
It noted three municipalities where demand for units is considerably higher than that of houses. In Yarra, for example, an 11.8 per cent rise in demand for apartments and units was recorded in the last three months of 2011, compared with a 2.4 per cent increase in demand for houses.
A similar situation was recorded in Maribrynong, which saw an 8.2 per cent increase for units while recording a 0.8 per cent fall in houses median.
Houses median was also relatively unchanged in Frankston – recording an increase of 0.1 per cent – while demand for apartments and units was recorded at 6.7 per cent.
Units are particularly popular among working professionals and investors may wish to consider a number of other factors when choosing a buy-to-let property.
These include proximity to good transport links, as well as cafes, restaurants and nightlife.
Posted by Sara Pritchard
Improved affordability thanks to two interest rate cuts in November and December 2011 has contributed to a slight easing of housing conditions for buyers in Victoria in the final three months of last year, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV).
Enzo Raimondo, chief executive of the REIV, asserted that the overall median house price across the state has remained largely unchanged over the past six months, although the number of transactions is "significantly lower" than during the same three-month period in 2010.
In December 2011, the median price for a house totalled $550,000, while the median price for a unit stood at $455,000. These figures represent an increase of 1.9 per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively, when compared with September 2011.
Raimondo highlighted a number of suburbs in Melbourne that have witnessed particular growth in the past three months – a list which may be of interest to anyone planning a Melbourne investment property purchase.
"The strongest growth in demand was found in Kew, Prahran, Kensington, Mornington, Port Melbourne, Balwyn North, Blackburn, Wantirna South, West Footscray and Mount Waverley; however, most of these suburbs recovered ground lost in the September quarter," he stated.
Melbourne's new Docklands development has also attracted attention in recent months, with plans for a new multi-use civic centre and library announced last year.
Posted by Sara Pritchard