‘Bills included’: Tent in Sydney backyard advertised for $130 a week

Sydney rents rise at fastest rate since 2011 in ‘worrying’ trendMore ‘rent bidding’ apps to launch in Australia as rental revolution looms’Startling’ study shows long-term tenants going to extremes to make ends meet

Renters might be used to forking out big bucks to live in inner-city Sydney, but their resolve was seriously put to the test on Wednesday when a tent in a Sydenham backyard was advertised for rent at $130 a week.

Don’t worry, Sydneysiders still have some sense of a fair deal and outrage quickly ensued.

The ad, which was swiftly shared on platforms such as Reddit, stated a $200 bond would also be required and noted potential housemates would have to help keep the house clean and do the washing up.

“Includes all bills and $100/week of communal food that you can add to at your leisure,” the post stated.

“We are also part of a vege (sic) box collective.”

“You would have to be quite clean and taken on responsibilities for cleaning in the house…”

Unfortunately for the person who posted the ad, rather than being inundated with requests to move in, Facebook users quickly slammed the entrepreneurial scheme.

The ‘property’ was also advertised on Airbnb at $36 a night with positive reviews, one noting that the hosts were so friendly the guests had extended their trip from two nights to a week. That listing was also taken down on Wednesday.

It’s not the first time a Sydneysider has tried to make the most of unused spaces. A man living in the nearby inner west suburb of Newtown paid $215 a week to rent a balcony back in 2013.

And it’s not too surprising with Sydney’s median house rent now at $550 a week, and units sitting at $530 a week.

The tent’s listing on Airbnb.

In the 12 months to March, Sydney’s median asking house rent increased by $25, or 4.8 per cent, the biggest annual hike in five years.

Just under 2230 properties in the Sydney and Illawarra area are affordable for people on a minimum wage, according to a recent Anglicare report. That’s about 15 per cent of properties, compared to 17.7 per cent a year ago.

A recently released study found 42 per cent of long-term renters surveyed were struggling due to a shortage of funds, and one fifth had sought assistance from parents or friends.

There are also concerns that the launch of two rent-bidding apps, Life Offer and Rentberry, will exacerbate the situation. I mean, I’d pay $130 to live in a tent in Coogee – but Sydenham?? Flat out ridiculous.??? Jules LeFevre (@jules_lefevre) May 10, 2017

Read More

Balancing comfort and style in a family home

Leaf through any home decor magazine, scroll through home real estate sites, or perhaps an Instagram account of an interior designer and it’s likely you’ll see immaculate spaces, free of clutter, where every piece is well thought out and in its place. Walk into any family home in real life and it’s quite often the opposite. Can you have a home that is both stylish and comfortable? Or do you have to sacrifice one for the other?

Richard Misso, from interior design company The Stylesmiths, knows how to balance style, comfort and functionality.

“Understanding how a family lives helps us respond with well thought out design solutions that satisfy our clients’ comfort needs,” he says.

“We try to find out if they like to lay across the sofa or sit upright, do they like to elevate their feet? Do they require back support? Do the kids like to sit on the floor? Do they require an adult zone that reflects calm and peace?”

The Stylesmiths recently helped transform an original 1940s dark and disjointed home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs into a family home for four with plenty of space and style.

“There was a strict budget in place with a brief to be very functional yet look good,” says Misso. “In keeping with a beachside feel, everything was kept light and bright in the interior with a bold exterior, navy contrasted crisply with white trims. The neutral palette of concrete floors and blonde timbers could then lend itself to pops of colour through artwork and furniture.

“Subtle features throughout included handmade ceramic tiles to the kitchen splashback and feature pendant lighting to the kitchen and master bedroom.”

The Stylesmiths captured the essence of laid back beachside chic that responded to the young family’s needs and style.

It’s about the details, both overt and covert. A balance between the two makes for a successful interior and cohesive home,” says Misso.

“Hidden or secondary details bring all the elements together connecting the furnishings, paint, surfaces, artwork and lighting; a good example of hidden details is good lighting versus harsh lighting.”

Of course, it’s not just the look at the interior design stage. A home’s functionality, style and comfort have to be considered in the very early stages of planning, and for the home-dweller it might not be immediately obvious what these designs are.

Japanese developers Sekisui House are designing homes with smart floor plans that cater to families.

“We consider how people move about the house,” says Takao Sawai, head of corporate marketing, Australia. “And position particular areas in close proximity to each other to provide comfort and convenience for residents.”

If you’ve just parked your car in the garage after shopping for groceries, for example, their homes provide direct access to the pantry to get everything inside with minimal fuss.

“It’s those sort of little ideas that make a big difference,” says Sawai.

Their way of looking at the housing affordability issue is that you don’t need to sacrifice comfort and design with a smaller floor plan; instead, it can be used to maximum efficiency.

An example is the inclusion of study zones within a central location in the home, instead of being tucked away in a back room.

“A feature of our study nooks is a lower wall height that encourages closeness with children, it provides more family time,” says Sawai.

The company’s development and research team continually measure feedback from their customers to ensure future designs continue to evolve.

“There’s a lot of nice architecture in the world but is it really useable?” he says.

“We are not a company that designs just for aesthetics or just for functionality. We combine lifestyle, safety, style and comfort; somewhere you might want to live for life.”

Read More

In Her Time on trial in Doomben 10,000 for longer interstate campaign

BEN Smith believes In Her Time’s hit’n’run shot at the Doomben 10,000 will point to alot more than just her next Brisbane carnival target.

PRIMED: Josh Parr, driving In Her Time to victory in the Millie Fox Stakes at Rosehill, will ride her on Saturday. Picture: bradleyphotos南京夜网南京桑拿

The Newcastle trainer’s stable star will resume in the $700,000 group 1 over 1200 metres on Saturday, and the race will double as a trial of her travelling capabilities.

The four-year-old mare has notraced outside of Sydney and the Central Coast and Smith was keen to “test the waters”. In Her Time made the float trip to Queensland on Wednesday night and she was returning home after the race despite plans to run her again north of the border.

“She’s never had to travel before so we’re going up and back for this one to see if she can handle it and see if she’s up to group 1 level,” Smith said. “That will decide where we go.If she runs really well, we’ll look at the [$1.5 million] Stradbrokeand if not we’ll go to the [$200,000] Dane Ripper [both June 10 at Eagle Farm].

“We’re also looking at it as a guide to whether we take her to Melbourne for races in the spring and what we do in the autumn.”

In Her Time won back-to-back group 2 races –the Breeders Classic and Millie Fox Stakes –in February beforefifth on group 1 debut in the Coolmore Classic.

She won a trial at Wyong on May 1 but will hit the Doomben 10,000 first-up from a two-month let-up. Smith said a more patient approach, compared to his early days with the horse, paid off last preparation.

“She seems to race pretty well fresh,” Smith said of the winner of five from 11 starts.

“We’ve learned to space her runs. We’ve spelled her a couple of times, and we’ve tried a couple of places, but shenever spells well.We’re going to have to handpick her races, poke along and keep her fresh and happy.”

In Her Time, with Josh Parr again on board, will startfrom barrier 12of 14 on Saturday. Smith hoped the draw meant hissuccessful front-runner, a $21 shot with TAB Fixed Odds on Friday,could find cover.

“I don’t think it will bother her too much,” Smithsaid of the wide barrier. “There’s obviously speed inside us and it will probably just allow us to do our own thing.She’s good out of the gates and can put herself into a race. She can sit just off them.

“Redzel and Russian Revolution are going to go quite hard, and there are your backmarkers, so it looks like we should be able to put ourselves where we want.Josh has ridden her different ways in trials as well and she’s shown she’s adaptable.

“She’s keen in her work and Josh was very happy with heron Tuesday.She’s taken great improvement from her trial. We’ve got to test the waters at some point and this is a good test for her.”

Smith was also keen to see In Her Time perform again at group 1 level after a luckless effort inthe Coolmore.

“It was a solid run but we were a bit disappointed,” he said.

“If we’d been able to get out when Josh wanted her to, we would have finished much closer.

“She had the wind taken out of her, trying to get out around the 600 and the 450 again. That’s when they started to quicken, and it’s hard in any race to get going again from that.But she held on well, I thought.

“Stretching out to 1500, she needed everything to go right.”

He was confident of a better display with In Her Time dropping back in distance.

Read More

Budget housing affordability measures a ‘help’ to East Maitland first home buyers, but calls for reduction in stamp duty.

Every bit helps.

That was the verdictfrom Hunter first home buyers on Wednesday, as they welcomednews they will be able to access tax breaks to help them save for a deposit.

SAVINGS MOUNTAIN: East Maitland couple Codie Ellicott and Tae Rowsell are struggling to meet the costs of a first home deposit. They say it will be ‘tricky’, even with the tax breaks announced in the budget. Picture: Perry Duffin

But forCodie Ellicott and Tae Rowsell, pulling together the funds to buy in their hometown of East Maitland remainsa daunting prospect.

“I’ve been working full time for three years and my partner for six or seven years,” Ms Ellicott said. “We’ve been saving throughout, but it’s really hard…the investors can usually offer a higher bid than you.”

Under changes announced in the federal budget, from July first home buyers will be able to salary sacrifice up to $30,000 into super for a deposit.

They will be able to withdraw the money from July 2018.

Retirees will be able to divert up to $300,000 from the sale of their family home to superannuation, encouraging them to downsize. Those incentives will come into effect from July 2018.

Agent Chad Dunn of Century 21 Novocastrian said the changes could result in “decent” savings for young buyers, particularly those in the highest marginal tax bracket.

He predicted there could be a short-term cooling in the market while they took advantage of the changes.

“I had 50 groups through a home on Saturday and easily half of those were first home buyers,” he said.

“I think you will see first home buyers go out of the market and stockpile more funds through this system, and probably come back next year.”

Mr Dunn said the changes for retirees could be a “gamechanger”by bringing a surgeof new stock to the market. But he believes it would have been preferableto introduce the changes immediately, rather than waiting for 12 months.

“Right now we have a really limited amount of stock on the market…those stock levels will certainly change next year when that ruling takes place.”

However according to Mr Dunn, one of the biggest pressures on young buyers was overlooked.

“I still believe stamp duty is tipping the scale,” he said. “They’re missing the third prong.”

Read More

What first home buyers should know before investing in Scott Morrison’s scheme


After missing out on a free education, tax-free property windfalls and the chance to pour tens of thousands of dollars into super almost tax-free, young Australians have finally been thrown a tax break bone.

Sure, it’s more chicken wing than femur. But it’s worth considering for anyone looking to buy a home in coming years.

The First Home Super Saver Scheme unveiled on Tuesday night is expected to deliver first home savers a total tax break of $50 million in the coming financial year, rising to an annual break worth $70 million in four years.

A first home saver who earns $60,000 a year and ploughs $10,000 a year into the scheme for three years will be about $6000 better off than if they’d simply put their money into a bank deposit – the typical first home buyer strategy.

If that doesn’t sound like much moolah to you, you’re probably wasting too much money on smashed avo.

The scheme is unlikely to have a noticeable impact on boosting home ownership rates. By putting more money into borrower’s pockets without also increasing supply, the measure will likely add to home price pressures.

But compared to recent price movements, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

Sydney median dwelling prices jumped $120,000 over the year ended April to $860,000 – a weekly increase of about $2300 a week. Melbourne prices also leapt $100,000 over the year to $650,000 – a little under $2000 a week.

By topping up first time buyer accounts by about $2000 a year, ScoMo’s FHSSS keeps them ahead of the Sydney and Melbourne property markets by about a week.

Still, $6000 is $6000.

So how can first home savers get a bit of that action?

From 1 July 2017, first home savers can instruct their employer to deposit money from their pre-tax income into their super account, where it will be taxed at just 15 per cent instead of the usual marginal tax rates that would apply, currently at 19, 32, 37 and 45 per cent (plus the Medicare levy).

For someone earning between $80,001 and $180,000 on the 37 cent marginal rate, they get a tax saving of 22 cents in the dollar. Instead of pocketing just $6300 in after-tax income from the last $10,000 they earn, they’ll get to keep $8500 and put it into super.


Earnings generated on this money while in the super account will also be taxed at the low rate of 15 per cent, compared to paying the full whack of marginal tax on interest earned on bank savings.

The scheme maxes out at a total of $30,000 in contributions per individual and the maximum that can be salary sacrificed in any year is $15,000.

When the time comes to live out the great Aussie dream and buy a home, savers will pay tax on their withdrawal amount at their marginal rate, less 30 percentage points. For a person on the 37 cent rate, they pay just 7 cents. That’s not quite the tax-free withdrawals enjoyed by over 60s from super, but it ain’t bad.

All up, a person earning $100,000 a year who puts $10,000 a year into the scheme for three years would end up with $24,777 to put towards their home deposit, versus just $18,586 if they put their money in a bank deposit. They’d end up paying an average tax rate of 17 per cent, versus 38 per cent.

On the face of it, that’s worth doing.

But there are several things to consider first.

First, and obviously, you have to have the cash to spare. While for higher income earners, this may be a good forced-savings method, low income earners are less likely to have the spare cash. If they do, however, it will be worthwhile, their contributions being essentially tax-free thanks to the low income super tax offset.

Second, you may not be able to squirrel away as much as you think. Importantly, the usual caps on concessional contributions to super apply. From 1 July this year, that’s a maximum of $25,000 in contributions a year – both voluntary and compulsory – which attract the low tax rates. Anyone earning $106,000 or above will already have compulsory contributions of $10,000 and more a year, meaning they can put in less than the scheme maximum of $15,000 a year.

Another kink is that if you earn more than $250,000 you pay an extra 15 cents on your contributions, bringing tax to 30 cents. I know. Cry me a river.

It’s also important to know that, once in, your money can’t be withdrawn for other purposes. If you do not ever buy a home, the money has to sit there until you reach retirement age. If you do decide to buy, however, you can access the funds after a year.

It’s not entirely clear, however, how this will work.

While super funds hold your money, the scheme is administered by the Tax Office, which must calculate how much you can withdraw. How will this work? Will buyers need to show the ATO proof of purchase before accessing funds? If so, how can they get approved for a loan?

A final kink in the scheme is the fixed rate of return savers will get on their money.

To provide certainty, and to save super funds the hassle of calculating actual individual returns, money put into the scheme will be deemed to have returned 3 per cent plus the 90 day bank bill rate each year. Currently, that’s around 4.78 per cent.

If your super fund returns more than that, that excess will just have to stay in your retirement nest egg.

If your super fund performs worse, or even shrinks, the extra amount needed to pay out the deemed rate will be deducted from your retirement nest egg – possibly at a time of depressed values which is exactly when you should leave the money there to recover.

Investing in shares, which super funds do, is best done over the long run, and savers risk falling foul in the short term.

Overall, however, history suggests savers should enjoy a higher average returns on their money in super than a typical bank deposit rate.

Worth considering.

Read More