Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The South West Growth Centre has had 3 Precincts rezoned as of Friday 15 March 2013 . These apply to Camden LGA as follows:

  • Growth Centre Precincts rezoned

    25 March, 2013
    The South West Growth Centre has had 3 Precincts rezoned as of Friday 15 March  2013 .  These apply to Camden LGA as follows:
    Austral Leppington North Precincts
    The Austral Leppington North Precinct Planning Package takes effect from Friday 15 March with the gazettal (notification) of the State Environmental Planning Policy.  Austral Precinct is located within the Liverpool LGA.  Leppington North Precinct is located partly within Camden and Liverpool LGAs.
    The finalised Precinct Planning package for the Austral & Leppington North Precincts, which consists of the Indicative Layout Plan,  technical studies and reports is available on the Department's website:     (the website needs to be corrected to show it is a gazetted precinct plan).
    Work is underway to finalise the Section 94 Contributions Plan for Leppington North.
    For the Development Control Plan (DCP) to take effect an advertisement needs to go into the local papers notifying the public that the DCP commences operation.  The DPI has advised that it is intended for the DCP to take effect from Wednesday 27 March (subject to confirmation).  The DCP will then be uploaded to websites.
    This rezoning establishes the planning framework for the Leppington Major Centre, the majority of which is located within the Camden LGA.  This Centre will be the primary focus for employment, retailing, entertainment and community services in  the South West Growth Centre.  It will progressively become a major centre as established in the State Government’s Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036.  The centre will be focused on the rail station which will reinforce its role as a regional employment hub.
    Leppington North Precinct is the first of Camden's Growth Centre Precinct where significant land fragmentation (multiple land owners) will be confronted as part of the development roll-out.  Land fragmentation is likely to mean that the development roll-out will be particularly intensive for Council to manage.  It is also anticipated that Council will need to deliver more infrastructure and public facilities compared to say, Oran Park, where lead developers have agreed with Council that they will deliver the majority of these things.
    East Leppington Precinct
    The East Leppington Precinct Planning  Package has also been gazetted today, as it relates to Camden and Campbelltown Local Government Areas.
    The full suite of documents can also be found on the Department of Planning's website.
    This rezoning establishes the planning framework for the  East Leppington Precinct , the majority of which is located within the Campbelltown  LGA
    Within the Camden LGA, there will be approximately 600 dwellings, open space network, conservation of a significant stand of Cumberland Plain Woodland, Drainage facilities and the widening of Camden Valley Way and St Andrews Road.
    The landholding within Camden is controlled by 2 landholders who are expected to work together in the rollout of the Precinct.  Due to the LGA boundary, there will be a need to continue to work closely with Campbelltown Council in the development phase of the Precinct.
    Zoning and related mapping information
    The zoning and related mapping information is available on IFM titled Camden Growth Centres SEPP 15-3-13.  This information should be relied upon for staff use only.  Can you please advise LIS if you need this layer added to your IFM view.  

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Call options over land are well understood commercially but the legal effect of the documents is the subject of controversy and clear drafting is crucial.

Click to ask the author from Corrs Chambers Westgarth a question

Australia: Call Option Nominations - Poor Drafting Can Hurt

27 February 2013
Article by Gary Chiert

Call options over land are well understood commercially but the legal effect of the documents is the subject of controversy and clear drafting is crucial.
This is not just a theoretical issue. Of particular significance is the flexible mechanism by which a nominee can be appointed to exercise an option. Drafting impacts whether a nominee is duly appointed and in what capacity the nominee acts, namely: as principal or agent.
Unclear drafting can also have adverse stamp duty consequences, as emphasised by the decision of Gzell J in CTI Joint Venture Company Pty Ltd v. Chief Commissioner of State Revenue [2013] NSWSC 20. The case involved the appointment of a nominee under a call option over land in New South Wales.
Nomination provisions have a number of commercial advantages. For example:
  • There may be advantages in a particular company or trustee in a corporate group owning the relevant land, but there is insufficient time to decide on this before the option is granted. In some cases it may be advantageous to use a special purpose vehicle that has not yet been incorporated or established at the time the option is granted. These challenges are characteristic of tight commercial time-frames.
  • A grantee may have entered into the option to develop the land but wishes to take the opportunity to get value for an option in the money without having to take on any development risk.
  • The grantee may be in financial distress and must get value for the option either to pay its debts or because it is no longer viable for the grantee to purchase the land.
The ability to nominate another entity to exercise an option provides a practical and flexible solution. It is therefore important from the grantee's perspective to have a nomination mechanic. The challenge is in determining how the nomination provision should be drafted.
Also, the drafting of the nomination provision is not the end of the matter. If a grantee decides to appoint a nominee, the circumstances and drafting of any arrangement between the grantee and nominee may also trigger a stamp duty liability.
Relevantly, the key stamp duty drafting issues for options over land in New South Wales are as follows:
Transaction Duty drafting questions
Grant Is the option drafted as a conditional contract for sale?
Is the option drafted as an irrevocable offer?
Nomination if there is no put option Is the nomination under the option an assignment or novation?
Is the arrangement between the grantee and nominee an assignment of the option?
Nomination if there is also a put option in place Generally dutiable – both on the option and the market value of the land
There is a clear intention in the duties legislation in New South Wales to charge duty on a nomination under a call option if there is also a put option in place. The opportunity for drafting is key in where there is only a call option.
In the CTI Joint Venture Company case, the Court had to decide whether a nomination was an assignment or novation of the option. If it was an assignment of the option it was liable to transfer duty (the top marginal rate is 5.5%). The issue was not academic because it was apparent that the option had value – the nomination fee was in the order of $60 million. The taxpayer won that case, but the Court had to undertake an arduous and detailed review of the documents because there was no clear statement on either the nature of the option or the character of the nomination.
The option is not the only document that needs to be considered to determine whether duty is payable. The drafting of any agreement between the grantee and nominee is also key. This is because, even if the nomination provisions in the option indicate a novation, any documents entered into between the grantee and nominee may constitute an assignment of the option. For example, if the grantee and nominee enter into an agreement to assign the option to, as well as nominate the nominee then duty will be payable.
In light of the above, the drafting of an option and nomination documents should address clearly:
  • whether the option is an irrevocable offer and to whom that offer is made. An offer can be made to a single person or to a number or class of persons. Whether an offer is made to a single person or a number of persons impacts on the nature of a nomination under the option;
  • the character of the nomination in the option and nomination documents. Are they to be assignments, novations or an acceptance by the nominee of an offer to it; and
  • the character of any agreement between the grantee and the nominee. If the agreement assigns the option then duty will be payable.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Australia: Beware stamp duty traps when transferring economic benefits

Click to ask the author from Corrs Chambers Westgarth a question

Australia: Beware stamp duty traps when transferring economic benefits

28 February 2013
Article by Gary Chiert

In most States and Territories stamp duty is usually not payable when the economic benefits associated with land are transferred but there is no transfer of the property itself. 

However, it's not always black and white. 
There are circumstances where a stamp duty liability can be triggered as underscored in a recent case in South Australia.

A transfer of, or declaration of trust over, property is generally liable to stamp duty. However, if parties only intend to transfer the economic benefits of holding property, without transferring the property itself or creating a trust, then duty may not be payable. The key issue is where to draw the line in distinguishing between the two.

The Victorian stamp duty legislation seeks specifically to tax acquisitions of economic benefits: see our article setting out the position in Victoria. This is not generally the case in other States and Territories.
Transfers of economic benefits can take a number of forms. For example, a development fee under a development agreement may include a share of the net proceeds for the ultimate sale of a development or there may be a joint venture in which costs and benefits are shared between a developer and land owner.
A fee for service arrangement is not a transfer of property even if the service fee is calculated by reference to the rent or sale proceeds from the land. The simplest example is a real estate agent who is paid a commission calculated on the purchase price on a sale of land or on a percentage of rent for managing a tenant.
While the real estate agent is receiving part of the economic benefit of the income or proceeds of sale, he or she is not receiving a transfer of the property. This principle can be extended to a developer who is paid a fee calculated by reference to the net proceeds of sale of a property or a number of properties for developing the land.
Care must be taken in formulating arrangements and drafting of documentation if the commercial intention is to transfer economic benefits associated with land but not to transfer the property or create a trust. The arrangements must be contractual only and not deal with interests in property. Two recent cases highlight both the opportunities and challenges and the specific principles which must be taken into account.
The cases sit in contrast to one another. The decision of the South Australian Supreme Court in Pharmos Nominees Pty Ltd v Commissioner of State Taxation [2012] SASCFC 89 emphasises the challenges and risks in transferring economic benefits.

Commercial land was held in a discretionary trust and the parties intended to transfer the economic benefits of the land, but they did so by having the 'purchaser' acquire rights as a beneficiary of a trust, which are more than contractual in nature. The key mechanism was the issue of an 'equity bond' by the trustee to the 'purchaser' as beneficiary giving it rights in priority to all other beneficiaries, to capital and income from the trust property up to a maximum amount. It was difficult to argue that the equity bond was merely contractual because it was a right of a beneficiary as against a trustee – not a contract by a supplier of services and not a loan. There was no service, no interest or any amount repayable.

The arrangement considered by the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Panthers Investment Corporation Pty Ltd v Chief Commissioner of State Revenue [2013] NSWSC 25 was very different. For one thing the Commissioner was arguing that there was no trust created (albeit in the context of resisting the application of a land tax exemption). In essence, the arrangement was a joint venture with a developer involving a sharing of development costs and profit subject to Panthers receiving a credit for an amount equal to the unimproved value of the land. The issue was that Panthers was not the owner of the land but the owners granted to Panthers 'full economic benefits' of the land for the purpose of developing it. This included occupation, possession, rents, profits, obligations and liabilities and the credit for the agreed land value.

However, the key features in the arrangement that negatived any trust were as follows:
  • Panthers was entitled to possession of the land but crucially it had a lease for which rent was payable and did not have to rely on any trust;
  • The economic benefits did not include the rent payable to the land owners; and
  • The agreements had specific provisions negativing any trust and anything other than a contractual relationship.
The key message from these contrasting cases is that the specific nature of the arrangement is critical. Taxpayers should also be mindful of general anti-avoidance provisions and provisions in the Victorian duty legislation specifically targeting economic benefits in relation to land.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Home buyers are bound for Sydney's Botany Bay

Home buyers are bound for Sydney's Botany Bay

Real Estate
A recent report names Botany Bay as Sydney's best suburb to buy a house in the year ahead / File
AUSTRALIANS are once again bound for Botany Bay - 243 years after Captain Cook stepped ashore, shook the sand out of his stockings and straightened his powdered wig.
But on this occasion they will move there of their own free will, with a recent report naming Botany as Sydney's best suburb in which to buy a house in the year ahead.
The research, by PRD Nationwide, followed news Sydney's property market was on track for a full recovery.

It pinpointed the hottest suburbs to buy houses, units and vacant land in 2013, based on pricing, infrastructure and property trends.

Research analyst Oded Reuveni Etzioni said Sydney had one of the most resilient residential property markets in Australia.

"The greater Sydney area recorded annual growth in house and unit median price (in 2012) despite a fall in activity and, in particular, an increase in demand for properties toward the bottom end of the market," he said.

"(We expect) small increases in price in 2013 as buyers' cash positions improve. Low interest rates coupled with stable or rising rents will bring more upgraders and investors into the market."
The report found Botany, with a median house price of $842,500, was best placed to perform strongly, while Merrylands and Glenwood also warranted a mention.

"The Botany area is experiencing improving shipping-related infrastructure and a strong residential construction activity," Mr Oded Reuveni Etzioni said

"The suburb's location near Botany Bay and Sydney Airport and its proximity to well-known beaches is attracting residents who seek to balance employment opportunities with lifestyle."
Local McGrath agent Billy Couldwell said people who lived in Botany loved the community feel, while the emergence of cafes and bars further increased demand.

"It is gentrifying and becoming a lot more residential," he said. "It's affordable compared to nearby suburbs and around 50 per cent of the buyers in the area are being priced out of Coogee, Randwick and Maroubra. Anywhere from the $800,000 to $1 million bracket is very strong."
Queen St, in particular, is very popular, with one house snapped up for $910,000 by South Sydney NRL player Jason Clark.

For units, the southern suburb of Mortdale - about 7km from the CBD and with a median price of $415,000 - has emerged as the most likely performer, ahead of the perennial favourite Newtown.
"Mortdale is an established suburb located in the St George region and supported by a regular train service to the city," Mr Reuveni Etzioni said.

The news was welcomed by Paula Parsons, who this week bought a one-bedroom unit in Mortdale as an investment.

She bought the property on Jersey Rd for $325,000 and hopes to get at least $320 a week in rent - a yield of 5 per cent.

"We got a fair price. We live at Oatley, right next door to Mortdale," Ms Parsons said.
"Oatley is very expensive and we actually really like Mortdale too, so it's a win-win."s
The timing was perfect for Ms Parsons, who postponed plans to buy a year earlier and wound up with a better deal.

"I think I got a fair price for what it is," she said. "It's in a really good location, just 700 metres from Mortdale station and also close to Penshurst Station."

Vacant land is a rare commodity in Sydney these days and the PRD Nationwide report names Edmondson Park and North Penrith as hotspots. Initial land in these areas has been snapped up, while thousands have reportedly viewed sites ahead of future releases.

"Edmondson Park has a potential for 6,000 new dwellings," said Mr Reuveni-Etzioni. "Its location in Sydney's south west growth centre ensures that shopping and employment hubs are already designed to support the growing population. A new train station is expected to open in 2016, serviced by the Airport and East Hills and South Lines."

Kellie Unwin, the first purchaser at the Allam Homes Talana Rise development at Edmondson Park, found the site to be perfect for her planned upgrade from a villa to a house.

"I chose to live in Edmondson Park for the central location to the M5, M7 and Hume Highway, as well as the upcoming rail link and town centre," she said. "The surrounding area is already well established with family friendly recreational facilities, schools and a shopping complex just five minutes away."

The top performing suburbs of 2012 were Redfern (inner-east) for houses and Balgowlah (northern beaches) for units, with growth of 13.2 and 13.3 per cent respectively.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Packer palace nearly ready

Packer palace nearly ready

  • House nearing completion
  • Lengthy delays during construction
  • Family due to move in at the end of March

JAMES and Erica Packer won't be the only ones toasting completion of their $45 million mega-mansion.
Some of the residents in Sydney's exclusive Vaucluse are also likely to crack some champagne, with the blue ribbon suburb's Wentworth Rd experiencing much congestion and noise as workers finish the expansive compound after two years of construction.
Traffic controllers have formed a single lane along the street this week to make way for cranes outside the home.
While the banana trees had to be lowered into the front landscape, Confidential understands the current conundrum concerns the cables that heat the house's floors. Workmen have had to dig up the pavement to correct the issue.
The casino tycoon -- who last month listed his Bondi Beach pad for sale at $22 million-plus -- has spared no expense on the Vaucluse abode, which was originally three homes. The final product will feature a wellness centre, sauna, staff quarters, guest accommodation and a 13-car garage.
The Packers -- who have three children, Indigo, 4, Jackson, 2, and six-month-old Emanuelle -- will move in by the end of the month.

The Packer mansion in Sydney's Vaucluse is nearing completion. Picture: Craig Wilson.

Friday, 22 March 2013

How Chinese search for property

The Market

In the past few years Chinese buyers have started to make their presence felt on the global property market, snapping up everything from luxurious trophy homes and vineyards, through to more modest condominiums and investment opportunities. To many Chinese, global property investment is an emerging opportunity which until recently was out of reach.
Second only to the United States in terms of international buying power, Chinese buyers represent a tremendous new market opportunity for property sellers around the world. Yet with opportunity comes new challenges in reaching, communicating and engaging this new market.

Great rise of the Chinese consumer

China boasts some of the wealthiest people on the planet, whose personal fortunes can dwarf treasuries of medium sized countries. However, the true power of the Chinese buyer is represented by over 63 million people whose wealth and incomes provide them with the ability to purchase international property.
Nearly all wealthy Chinese buyers are self-made. Highly entrepreneurial, wealthy Chinese have not inherited their fortunes, as quite frankly, until the last 15 years there was not much to inherit. With such drive and achievement, Chinese buyers want a better life for their families, and value many opportunities the world has to offer.
Lifestyle, emigration, investment and education are common motivations driving Chinese investment in global property.
Property is the investment of choice. It is viewed as a stable investment, which exemplifies wealth and status. The ability to own property within China has only been available for 15 years, and in this time China has experienced a property boom the world has not witnessed before.
Now Chinese buyers have their sights set on international property.

Fast-growing market

Chinese buyers spent US$28.7 billion on overseas residential property in 2011, and the Global Chinese Real Estate Congress is projecting sales to reach US$50 billion in 2012.
Industry analysts such as Hurun make the observation those Chinese buyers already investing internationally are the early adopters rather than the mainstream rich. Over the next five years, the mainstream rich will enter the market creating a new wave of global property investment.
For property sellers, now is the time to start building your brand presence and market your listings to this lucrative market. Already Australia has witnessed 840% growth in Chinese buyers over the last three years, and the UK has experienced over 500% growth. France, Malaysia, Cyprus, Costa Rica, New Zealand are each experiencing a new wave of interest in the second half of 2012.

How Chinese search for property

Chinese are active internet users and within three years the Chinese language will take over from English as the most widely used language on the internet. Today, China has 540 million online users, with over 90 million searching for property online each month.
Like their western counterparts, a Chinese buyer’s property search is dominated by the internet. For international purchases, Chinese buyers will conduct as much research as possible about a property listing, the company selling the property, the country property laws, immigration requirements, education standards, and many other personal criteria each individual may have.
They favour famous brands (Chinese or western), or companies that can display their professionalism and good reputation. Most will confer with family members both offline and online via Chinese social media, and naturally information not in Chinese is difficult to consider.
Some Chinese buyers will establish early contact about a property, whilst others will take the time to research your company before making contact. For many Chinese, they often wait for their China travel visa approval and will call about the listing from the airport.
To tap in to this lucrative market, you need early preparation, put your brand and listings in the right language, and benefit from the consumer reach of

Chinese property buyer facts

  • 63.1 million Chinese have the wealth to invest in overseas property.
  • 90 million Chinese search for property online.
  • Less than 1% of mainland Chinese can read English.
  • China’s property boom has gone international, with strong demand for property in Australia, UK, USA, Canada, Singapore, France, Germany, Cyprus, Malaysia, Thailand, and many more.
  • 61% pay in cash.
  • Over 60% of China’s wealthy are engaged in overseas investment or immigration.
  • 85% of China’s wealthy want to educate their children overseas.
  • BLOCKED: Sites not hosted in China are either blocked or experience excessively slow load times.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

NEW laws in Australia and overseas may potentially boost local housing markets with Chinese

NEW laws in Australia and overseas may potentially boost local housing markets, with Chinese investors given more incentive to look down under for their next property purchase.

This month, the Chinese government announced a proposal to step up the enforcement of capital gains tax on home sale profits and also to increase deposit sizes for those buying second properties.

       Squeezed Asian buyers look abroad

Rounds of property cooling measures in Hong Kong, mainland China and Singapore in recent months are persuading buyers to invest in overseas properties, especially the UK, the South China Morning Post reports.
According to Colliers International, compared to the same period in 2012, there was a 20% increase in inquiries from Hong Kong and Singapore from January to early March while transactions rose at a similar pace as well.
Student apartments in London, priced as low as £43,000, are now also being offered in China and Hong Kong to cater for smaller investors and capture the growing appetite among overseas investors.
Read more on (“Squeezed Asian buyers look abroad”, 13 March 2013).

“Turning the screws on property speculation appears to be aimed at limiting a potential asset bubble in China,” said Angus Raine, CEO of Raine & Horne.

”The upshot is that Chinese nationals could look to foreign property markets, which will surely mean more money flowing into Australian real estate.”
Chinese investors have shown interest in the Sydney and Melbourne property markets for some time and this was highlighted by the rush of purchases made during the relaxation of foreign investment laws in the aftermath of the GFC.
Now, with the recent introduction in Australia of the ‘Significant Investor Visa’, which allows migrant visas to be fast tracked if they pour more than $5 million into approved local investments, another ‘perfect storm’ scenario has been created. A number of Sydney markets are already reporting increased inquiries.
“We have received significant interest from Chinese buyers,” said Barry Goldman of Raine and Horne Double Bay.
“The laws will surely mean more money finding its way into the eastern suburbs.”
Meanwhile, agents in areas traditionally popular with Chinese buyers, such as the prestigious north shore, expect the flood gates to open even further.
“Around 30 per cent of our Chinese buyers are overseas investors, so we expect that any restrictions on real estate in China will flow through to our markets,” said Hugh Macfarlan of Raine and Horne Chatswood.

Australia: Top 12 pitfalls in buying property 'off the plan'

Click to ask the author from Stacks/The Law Firm a question

Australia: Top 12 pitfalls in buying property 'off the plan'

12 March 2013
Article by John Kettle
More and more people are buying apartments or retirement village homes 'off the plan', meaning they sign a contract to buy an apartment that is yet to be built.
There are many advantages to doing this such as securing a brand new property at current prices that should grow in value over the years it takes to put up the building.
You usually only have to pay 5 to 10% deposit to secure a property off the plan, giving you time to save money while the building goes up. You don't pay the full amount until the building is finished. There may also be tax advantages and stamp duty discounts.
But there are also many pitfalls to buying off the plan and you need to be aware of them before you decide to go ahead.
John Kettle, a property law specialist at Stacks/The Law Firm, advises 12 things to look out for:
  1. Don't be seduced by glitzy artists impressions or models of the finished building - check details such as building materials, bathroom and kitchen fittings, cupboards, floor finishes, size of elevators, balconies, parking, gardens, communal space - keep all marketing material and take pictures of display homes and models.
  2. Don't forget laundry and drying facilities. Many do.
  3. Check the developer has a good record of delivering what is promised in the plan. Inspect other projects they've done.
  4. Can your apartment's view or sunlight be blocked by a future building? Visit the site and have a good look around.
  5. Check size of rooms, corridors, ceiling height, storage space.
  6. If you've ticked off all these, you have to make sure that is what you get. It's vital your contract is watertight. Many contracts protect the vendor such as no guarantee for quality of the finished building. Some buyers found developers made significant changes such as adding levels or cutting open space. Does the plan have council approval? It's wise to have experienced legal advice before signing any 'off the plan' purchases to protect yourself.
  7. Make sure you'll get your money back if the developer goes bust or doesn't finish the job.
  8. The Sunset Date - how long does builder have to complete the project and what happens if extra time is needed?
  9. Get your own independent legal advice, not one suggested by the agent or developer.
  10. How much are proposed strata levies? Check any long-term deals for management?
  11. Check bylaws - it might ban pets or access to certain areas.
  12. Check security, fire safety, broadband, TV cabling, noise insulation, utility costs and environmental controls.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

China’s Greenland Group to Build Sydney’s Tallest Residential Tower

China’s Greenland Group to Build Sydney’s Tallest Residential Tower

sydney CBD
Sydney’s CBD (image via Tribune International)
As Sydneysiders embrace the benefits of a high-density city, leading Chinese developer Greenland Group has secured the site to develop Sydney’s tallest residential tower.
The $600 million tower will be Greenland Group’s first Australian project and will stand at 240 metres, surpassing the 230-metre height of Sydney’s Meriton Apartments at World Square.
Greenland Group Proposed Sydney Tower
Greenland Group’s Proposed Sydney Tower (image via Property Observer)
Greenland Group is one of the largest developing enterprises in Shanghai with construction projects covering over 65 cities in 24 provinces of China. With a skyscraper focus, three of their projects are listed among Top 10 tallest buildings all over the world.
The Sydney tower will take up half a city block at 115 Bathurst Street on the former Sydney Water Board site asthe sprawling city of Sydney’s needs to embrace sustainable high-density living according to Retail Property Association of Canada former CEO Michael Brooks.
Brooks spoke at the recent UrbanGrowth NSW conference voicing his concerns of real estate affordability in Sydney.
“Your houses are too expensive because people do not have that choice, because you do not have that density,” he said. “You do not have enough medium or high rise. You need product in the $250,000 range. “You need to get that to market. I do not care if it takes 80-storey buildings, do it.”
In speaking at the conference, Brooks pointed to the benefits of property ownership.
“People want to own their own home, they want to paint their bedrooms purple and hang pictures on the wall, they want to choose their own counter tops and have their own appliances,” he said.
Brooks noted that Sydney’s rising population is similar to that of Toronto, noting that the Canadian city – with a population of six million -  is investing in smart urban planning to brace for an increase to 11.5 million by 2031. Forecasted growth for Sydney stands at a growth in population of 1.1 million to 5.3 million in 2031.
Asian investors in particular have seen extensive opportunity in luxury residential and hotel developments in Australia’s urban property market specifically in the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney.
“Australia has not seen such a wave of offshore-driven development since the Japanese-led hotel, office and retail boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s,” said Kevin Stanley, former Australasian research director at global real estate group CBRE and now an adviser in real estate and urban planning. “In 55 separate projects, more than 21,000 dwellings are in feasibility and early planning through to marketing, pre-sales and construction. Site acquisitions have totalled $1 billion, and development and construction will reach more than $9 billion for projects being facilitated or financed by offshore developers.”
Suzhou Centre Tower
Greenland Group Suzhou Centre Tower (image via inhabitat)
In a report Stanley wrote for The Property Observer, he stated that In Australia, Chinese developers have invested at least $350 million in sites nationally and are proposing projects so far of at least $1.6 billion.
Stage one of construction of Greenland Group’s tower has been approved to begin building 400 apartments over 60 levels and 11 basement levels of car parking.
The tower will have three street frontages and be located in the vicinity of Sydney’s Chinatown and Haymarket district. The area is currently being transformed to an active residential precinct with Lend Lease reshaping the Sydney Exhibition Centre and Entertainment spaces.
High Density Living
High Density Living (image via Sustainable Cities Collective)
Greenland Group competed with renowned Australian property developer Harry Oscar to develop the heritage site with the tower estimated to generate more than $500 million in apartment sales.
There is currently another building at the site at 339 Pitt Street that Greenland Group is considering for a $75 million hotel development.
By Angela Fedele

Monday, 18 March 2013

NSW Badgerys Creek residents Sitting on a gold mine

Sitting on a gold mine

Harry Green
Badgerys Creek residents Harry and Brigette Green. Pic: Justin Lloyd
IT'S been a 42-year wait but the decision to rezone Badgerys Creek land in Sydney's west would be like winning the lottery for Harry and Brigette Green.
The couple, in their 60s, bought their 11-acre property for $12,000 in 1970.
But with the land around what could be Sydney's second airport due to be rezoned from residential to industrial, the Greens said their home would be worth millions.
"It's been a waiting game for 40 years, this airport,'' Mr Green said.
That will make up for the $250,000 they lost when they sold their other Badgerys Creek property 20 years ago.
"Nobody wanted to buy in this area after everyone heard about the plans for the airport,'' he said.
The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday the planning department was moving ahead with the controversial rezoning, which stands to make businessman Ron Medich and his developer brother Roy up to $400 million.
Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said he did not know who owned land and the decision was about getting western Sydney moving: "Rezoning for employment lands adjacent to the land reserved 20 years ago for a possible airport would work well for western and southwestern Sydney, irrespective of whether or not the federal government ever decides to proceed with the development of an airport.''
Chris Brown, an aviation capacity taskforce member, said the land could be rezoned industrial and still allow a second airport.

One in six off-the-plan apartments in Sydney are snapped up by mainland Chinese investors.

As many as one in six off-the-plan apartments in Sydney are snapped up by mainland Chinese investors.

James Sialepis, national director of sales for Meriton, said 15 per cent of all sales in projects such as VSQ North 

and EON in Zetland 


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Were going to mainland Chinese investors who face tough property investment restrictions in their own country. He said Meriton used marketing companies in China.

Frasers Property, which is developing the Central Park apartments on Broadway, confirmed the majority of their off-the-plan sales were to Asians.

Andrew Taylor runs the Shanghai-based real estate portal, which directly markets Australian property to Chinese investors. He said the current interest was "just the tip of the iceberg''.

Michael Yang, the founder of, which means ``collect property'' in Mandarin, said Chinese investors could no longer buy a second property in China without incurring massive taxes.

Real estate is a huge deal on the Chinese web, with major web companies like Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Sina (NASDAQ:SINA) seeing their property portals as key traffic drivers. But China’s (NYSE:SFUN)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Xi Jinping named president of China

Xi Jinping named president of China

defiantly worth watching

What Do We Know About Xi Jinping?

With a leadership change in China imminent, what do we really know about the man who is widely expected to take over the ruling Communist Party? The WSJ's Jeremy Page tells us what differences to expect and what Xi Jinping needs to do to steer China through the next decade.

Updated Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:38pm AEDT
Xi Jinping has been formally elected as the new president of China.
At the end of last year, Mr Xi took over as head of the Communist Party but today he officially became the head of government.
The vote at the annual National People's Congress drew only one "no" vote amongst nearly 3,000 delegates.
"I announce comrade Xi Jinping is selected as president of the People's Republic of China," said Liu Yunshan, a top official of the ruling party who chaired the electoral session at the National People's Congress in Beijing.
After the result was announced Mr Xi, 59, took a bow and shook hands with the man he was replacing, Hu Jintao.
As the son of a revolutionary hero, Mr Xi is seen as already having more authority than his predecessor.
Mr Xi is the son of one of China's most esteemed generals and known as a "princeling", the name given to relations of China's first generation of Communist leaders, who grew up immersed in the ruling party's upper echelons.
But analysts are divided on whether this might make it more or less likely that he will instigate crucial reforms while in office.
Mr Xi formally takes the reins of the world's second-largest economy with Li Keqiang, who is due to be anointed as premier on Friday, marking the final step in the nation's once-in-a-decade power handover.
Since he took the top Communist post in November, Mr Xi has pledged to preserve the ruling party's supremacy, as well as improve livelihoods, implement economic reforms, and crack down on corruption.
Officially, Mr Xi is being elected for a five-year term, but barring extraordinary events he will hold the position for a decade.
"In recent memory there is no comparable figure who has such power in his hand [so quickly]," said Willy Lam, a politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Li Yuanchao, a member of the Communist Party's Politburo but not among its top seven-member standing committee and a figure seen as having reformist leanings, was selected as vice-president, Mr Liu said.
China's vice-presidency is a largely symbolic post, although it does carry a diplomatic role.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Here are the 5 BIG GAME CHANGERS for agents & sellers in 2013

Leading Real Estate Agents NSW

  • Bresic Whitney Estate Agents 97
  • Century 21 Cordeau Marshall 68
  • Elders Real Estate Enfield 62
  • Louis Carr Real Estate West Pennant Hills 72
  • McGrath 773
  • McGrath Edgecliff 491
  • P McGrath 86
  • Robinson Property - Newcastle 90
  • Starr Partners (Merrylands) 95
  • Tracy Yap Realty 82
Based on property sales for the last 12 months.

from John himself

Here are the 5 BIG GAME CHANGERS for agents & sellers in 2013. 

If you want to sell exceptionally well, read on. If not, ignore this post!

1. The Internet has now obliterated print – the game has been won. 
Here are some stats you may be interested in...92% of buyers use the www as their primary buying search tool. 

31% of people only go as far as page two of search results. 
66% of people overlook properties with no price guide. 
So get to the top of the portal results & have a price guide if you want to sell well.

2. Online video is replacing static content. 
RE searches on YouTube grew by 150% over the past 12 months. 
Look to have your property showcased online with video if possible.

3. Buyers from China are now the emerging new market. 
Make sure your agent has a strategy to access this group of potential buyers as it’s growing exponentially.

4. SMSF are also a rapidly rising as a brand new buying group. 
Investors were 48% of the approved home loans in January (AFG) & SMSF are making up a very large percentage of investors.

5. Price Guides are now almost mandatory in my opinion for every listing including Auctions. 
If you don’t use a Price Guide you are losing between 50%-66% of your buyers so why would you?

10 Ways (you may not have thought of) to Choose the Best Agent

1. Ask someone you know who is looking to buy in your area – who provides the best service & follows them up consistently & enthusiastically.

2. Search their listings on & – where are they positioned – only 35% of buyers look past the first page of the search results!

3. Call them after hours & if you don’t reach them see how long it takes for them to call you back (I encourage our agents to turn off their phones at family time but it’s vital to get back to people promptly).

4. Visit their office & scope out their desk – do they look like a world class sales professional?

5. Ask them if they will reduce their fees – those that cave in are poor negotiators with little confidence – good agents know their worth & protect their own fees (if they can’t protect their fees how can they protect your price).

6. Ask them for the last 5 sales in the area like yours & quiz them on the detail – this knowledge is vital.

7. Ask them what is their negotiation strategy to maximise price – isn’t that what you’re paying them for?

8. Ask them for 3 improvements you can undertake or styling you can do to increase your price – can they value add?

9. Ask them is if you can speak to 3 owners of recent properties they have tried to sell but not sold – if they speak well of them then you know you’re on the right track.

10. Visit them at an open house before they know you’re thinking of selling – notice how they treat buyers & if they follow you up.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Aussie Home Loan’s John Symond used a tax-free $58m windfall to build his Sydney mansion

Aussie Home Loan’s John Symond used a tax-free $58m windfall to build his Sydney mansion

Aussie Home Loan’s John Symond used a tax-free $58m windfall to build his Sydney mansion, according to information filed before the Supreme Court this week as part of an ongoing dispute between the industry bigwig and law firm Gadens. But Symond denies media reports this could constitute tax evasion.

In an exclusive interview with Australian Broker, Fiona Hamann, senior manager, public relations at Aussie, says Symond commenced legal action in the NSW Supreme Court in 2008, claiming damages for allegedly negligent tax advice provided by Gadens Lawyers and Abbott Tout Lawyers over the course of several years.

He is seeking damages of approximately $13m plus costs.

Symond reportedly used the money, garnered from Aussie Home Loans between 2003-2006, before being audited in February, 2007.

However, Hamann says media reports released this morning failed to include key information. For instance, it is understood that Symond received an official letter from the tax office in 2007, clearing him of any wrongdoing.

Sitting on the Harbour foreshore, Mr Symond's Point Piper project has captivated Sydney's imagination since 2000, when the first DA was lodged.

The tax officer found no wrongdoing by John Symond, which I did try to tell [media representatives]…There was a fairly crucial part that [media] didn’t mention, which was that there has been absolutely no finding of dishonesty or tax evasion.”

News Ltd reports that it wasn’t until after the ATO audited Symond in early 2007 that he paid tax on the $58m as part of a settlement of the dispute in which he agreed to pay a $568,450 penalty and $5.7m in back taxes.

Gadens claims Symond was aware his senior finance executives and lawyers had arranged a restructure of Aussie Home Loans so he could “draw money from the new holding company tax-free".
Symond says he never would have agreed to the controversial financial structure if he’d been told he was at risk of a tax audit.

In documents filed with the court and published by News Ltd, Symond claims he told his executives, David Makinson and Rob Wannan, "I can't risk any problems with the ATO. The last thing I want is for the media or the public to think I'm some kind of tax cheat."

Symond's claim against Abbott Tout settled before trial on confidential terms. The hearing of the claim as against Gadens continues.

ed to pay a $568,450 penalty and $5.7m in back taxes.

That interest has evolved into obsession as the enormous home-for-one has taken shape.
Located on almost half a hectare of prime harbourfront land, the Wingadal Place address comprises four terraced stories laid diagonally across 2685sq m of land.

The block has 75m of absolute water frontage.

The home – comprising a total 2200sq m floor space, boasts six bedrooms – five of which are on the third floor. All have ensuites.

A second guest bedroom with adjoining suite is on the top floor.

The kitchen is on the ground floor, which is where Aussie John will do much of his entertaining.
Here also is the larger of the two pools – the second is on the top floor – along with a family room/entertainment area, a gymnasium and what's described in the development application as "associated facilities" but may indicate the presence of a panic room.
According to an insider who walked through the home before it was finished, the ground floor could accommodate 400 people.

Another source close to the construction said that door and windows alone would have set Mr Symond back well over $1 million.

The main living areas, both formal and informal, are on level two.
This is where guests can relax in the smoking room while cine-files enjoy the home theatre, described as a "screening room".
There is also an elevator, not the sort of feature Mr Symond's dietician would recommend as he passes the halfway mark in his efforts to shed 40kg.

Entry to Point Piper's newest mega mansion is via the fourth floor, which as well as housing guest accommodation, contains a library and cloakroom.
A garage capable of accommodating eight cars is also situated at the top of the property.
To build his home, Mr Symond first had to excavate 6400 cubic metres of material which at one point was going to take 2000 trips by 15-tonne trucks along the exclusive Wiluna Rd.
In the end, much of the material was removed by barge.

The extraordinary property is surrounded by balconies, not surprising given its outlook across to the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge but Aussie John hasn't neglected those who might take the time to lower their eyes, dropping a bundle on landscaping.

Dream come true
Value: About $50m
View: Priceless
Land area: 2685sqm
Floors: 2200sqm
Yards: 860sqm
Waterfront: 75m
Bedrooms: Six
Pools: Two
Garage: 10 cars
Staff quarters
Smoking room
Home theatre
Balconies: On all levels.
Plant room
Gardens: Kentia and cabbage tree palms, Chinese elms, wisteria-covered pergolas

Read more about john

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Noosa to have own council back

Noosa to have own council back 

Free Noosa supporters vowed to hoist the old council flag over theTewantin council chambers again, while the Sunshine Coast's mayor says the region will continue to thrive despite the split.NOOSA is set to have its own council again with almost 80% of residents backing the campaign against amalgamation.
With more a half of the vote counted, about 80% were in support of the split.
Elsewhere in the state, there was also support for the old Douglas, Mareeba, and Livingston areas to have smaller, more personalised councils. But the votes were closer with about a 60 to 40 split.
In a final post on the Free Noosa site, former Noosa mayor Noel Playford said the old Noosa Council flag was a potent symbol for what locals had been fighting for.
"We can all see it, proudly held aloft, in a small ceremony at the Tewantin Council chambers in Pelican Street at 6.30 on Saturday night.
 "This will be the start of a celebration across Noosa shire that's been five years coming.

"The Boronia Keysii shrub was thought to be extinct, until it was discovered in 1971 by that legend of Noosa conservation, Arthur Harrold, in the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park.
"The Key's Boronia flower is now on the Noosa flag that we will hold proudly on Saturday night, and it will represent a community spirit that the government and the Sunshine Coast Council hoped was extinct.''
The reaction from across the rest of the Coast was not so generous from some.
Some were angry they did not have a say in the decision given the split could cost all ratepayers, according to the regional council.
But the Noosa Greens were full of praise for the restoration of democracy.
"So many people to thank: Noel Playford, Glenn Elmes, Bob Ansett, Tony Wellington, Russell Green, Frank & Jo Ball, Johanne Wright, Jim Berado,'' the Greens tweeted today.


Anti FIFO found the champion they needed in Tony Windsor

Inquiry chair upsets mining industry following 
REGIONAL communities affected by the divisive issue of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) workers may have found the champion they needed in Tony Windsor.
The chairman of the 18-month inquiry into the effects of the growing practice of transporting workers to mining sites rather than housing them locally has come out strongly against allowing the model to be the rule, rather than the exception.
The report upset industry bodies like the Minerals Council of Australia and the Queensland Resources Council from page one with the attention-grabbing title of Cancer of the Bush or Salvation of our Cities.
But his strong stance has drawn praise from those in Moranbah and Mackay who have fought to get the issue on the national agenda for years.
One of the most recognisable campaigners, former chairwoman of the Moranbah Action Group and now Isaac region councillor Kelly Vea Vea, said the committee members were to be congratulated on their strong report but stressed the key was what happened from here.
"Our communities can't afford to see this report gathering dust on the Australian Parliament House bookshelf; the time for action is now and that means federal, state and local action," Cr Vea Vea said.
Isaac Mayor Anne Baker said a case for "strong action" had been made.
"Our community pushed for the establishment of this inquiry, including personally lobbying the Prime Minister Julia Gillard ... when she visited Moranbah in 2011," Cr Baker said.
The Isaac Mayor also said the report should be regarded as the start of a process to address population imbalances and funding challenges.
"I would caution the mining industry and their representative groups not to cry wolf, rush out into the media to defend the industry, or attack the report as a threat to the industry," Cr Baker said.
REDC chief executive officer Narelle Pearse was pleased to see that many of the economic development body's concerns had been acknowledged in the report, including accurate recording of population figures affecting the region and better assessment of the economic impact on services and infrastructure.
"If FIFO workers are not contributing to local government funding, and yet they are using local services, then a change in funding allocations needs to be made," Ms Pearse said.
BMA, who pushed the FIFO debate into overdrive when it proposed to have a 100% FIFO workforce for its Caval Ridge mine, chose not to comment yesterday. A spokesperson said the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) would speak on behalf of all mining companies.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said he found the report "very disappointing" because it did not acknowledge a survey of minerals and energy company workers, which showed that workers wanted options.
He said QRC would strongly oppose some of the inquiry's recommendations.
  •  The resource industry contributes $121.5 billion to the economy
  •  It employs 269,300 (May 2012)
  •  There were about 25,035 FIFO workers on-shift in the Bowen Basin in late June 2012
  •  An employee in the industry averages $2269pw, more than double the average
  •  In Moranbah 35% of all patients over one month lived elsewhere
  •  Non-resident patients had risen from 18% in 2007 to 28% in 2011
  •  Though there were opposing views on 12-hour shifts and seven-day rosters, it was found they have a negative effect on residential communities
  •  Though small businesses can't always benefit, one Mackay butcher has been supplying a mine camp for more than 10 years

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Wandoan coal mine may not go ahead

Wandoan coal mine may not go ahead

8 March, 2013  
Wandoan coal mine may not go ahead
Doubts have been raised over the future development of a coal mine near Wandoan on Queensland’s Western Down’s region.

Xstrata is proposing to develop the largest open-cut coal mine in the Southern Hemisphere, but is yet to make a final investment decision, the ABC reported.

The $7 billion project north-west of Toowoomba would mine 30 million tonnes of coal per year over three decades.
However doubts have been cast over whether the project will go head, with Glencore chief  Ivan Glasenberg telling investors yesterday he was in favour of less risky investment decisions.

Glencore is set to merge with Xstrata in April in a $US34 billion all-share acquisition deal.
"We prefer to distance ourselves from greenfield projects which create more risks," Glasenberg said.
Last week Glasenberg schooled miners on the theory of supply and demand, saying the industry had been saturated with new mines that lead to a surplus in metals and shrinking profits.

“We've always been wanting to keep building and keep putting the cash which we generate into new assets. That's what we've got to stop doing as a mining industry. We've got to learn about demand and supply,” he said.

Glasenberg argued that stalling the development of new mines will help prolong higher commodity prices.
“Now we have a new generation of CEOs. I hope CEOs have learnt their lesson. They built, they didn't get the returns for their shareholders. It's time to stop building.”

The controversial Wandoan mine has seen Xstrata face court battles from five local farming families and a judicial review of the Minister for Environment Andrew Powell’s decision to grant an environmental authority will take place.

The families have resisted selling their properties which lie either inside or on the outskirts of the project’s boundaries.

John Erbacher has been fighting the mine for five years and says the proceedings are about more than staying on the family farm, the ABC reported.

They are concerned about the security of groundwater on their properties, the Chronicle reported.

"I've got to be able to look my grand kids in the eye and say I tried to protect the underground water," he said.
Last year the farmers were unsuccessful when they challenged the project in the Land Court.
A date for the Supreme Court hearing is yet to be set.

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