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Archive for September, 2019

Why it’s time to ask for a rent reduction

The Reserve Bank says new apartment construction is changing the balance of rental supply and demand. Photo: Dean OslandYou never forget your first time.
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My first – and last, so far – appearance on the ABC’s Media Watch program was in February 2007.

It had been a particularly hot summer. John Howard discovered climate change. And in capital cities across the country, would-be tenants jostled for position at crowded open inspections.

On a quiet news day, just after New Year’s, we splashed the paper with a story of mine with the headline “Through the roof: rents to soar 20%”.

It was, necessarily, a condensed summary of a longer story about how generous new tax breaks on superannuation taxes were tipped to encourage investors to dump investment properties and plough the money into super instead. The Treasurer predicted as much.

The head of the Real Estate Institute of NSW told me landlords would look to increase rents by “as much as 20 per cent” – a figure so fantastical sounding it attracted the attention of Media Watch’s producers, who ran an omnibus story critical in general of the media’s reporting of the national rental squeeze, particularly by media outlets with a financial interest in spruiking property.

Friends chastised me in the pub for giving their landlords ammunition to lift rents.

Turns out, however, the prediction wasn’t too far off in magnitude, if perhaps a little premature.

But by 2007, the new supply had worn off, population growth was surging and interest rates rose to near double digits. According to the rental component of the consumer price index, rents nationally rose by 8.4 per cent in 2008.

But times have changed.

And to prove I am not in the pocket of the real estate lobby, here it is: “Through the floor: rents to slump in 2017”. I won’t be so bold as to offer a numerical prediction. Once burnt, twice shy.

But the slump in rents is upon us. Rents are rising at their slowest annual pace in nearly two decades, according to last week’s Reserve Bank statement on monetary policy, which also notes the value of new building approvals has reached a record share of GDP.

Perth is the epicentre of landlord pain, with slow population growth and the end of the mining boom dampening demand for rental properties.

In other capital cities, particularly in inner Melbourne and Brisbane, booming apartment construction has sparked concern about oversupply and rising settlement failures on off-the-plan developments.

According to the Reserve: “Further increases in housing supply over coming years is expected to result in a protracted period of low rent inflation.”

Indeed, weak rent increases have been a major driver of the recent surprising weakness in general price inflation. According to the Bureau of Statistics, which surveys a national sample of real estate agents about rent increases, rents increased nationally by just 0.7 per cent over the year to the September quarter.

The NSW Tenants’ Union has begun producing a quarterly “Rent tracker” report, based on a survey of rental bonds lodged with Housing NSW which has been running for 26 years.

It finds the average value of rental bonds lodged in Greater Sydney rose 5 per cent last financial year and just 3 per cent in the rest of NSW.

As with all things property, there are a range of data sources for renters looking to compare their rent.

On the lower side of estimates, a “Rental Review” by Core Logic RP Data as at August 31 estimated median weekly rents had fallen half a per cent over the previous year, to be 1.4 per cent lower than their peak in May 2015.

Surveys of advertised rents by Domain Group/n Property Monitors, owned by Fairfax, and SQM Research paint a similar picture of weak rental growth.

“Renters are now in a much better position to negotiate,” according to Core Logic’s head of research, Cameron Kusher: “As long as wages growth continues to stagnate, coupled with historically high levels of new dwelling construction and slowing population growth, landlords won’t have much scope to increase rents.”

Rents are still at historic highs, but the heat is out of the market.

Now is the time to haggle before signing your next lease. And if your landlord comes knocking for a rent rise, feel free to show them this article.

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McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Starbucks, CBA flee Swanston Street ahead of $10.9b Melbourne Metro Rail project

Multiple buildings behind Young & Jackson’s hotel will be demolished to make way for CBD South station. Photo: Andrew De La Rue Starbucks is among retailers who’ll be forced out of their prime, high-trading Swanston Street stores to make way for the Melbourne Metro Rail project. Photo: Andrew De La Rue
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Fast food chains McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, KFC and Starbucks and banking giant CBA will be forced out of their prime, high-trading Swanston Street stores to make way for the government’s $10.9 billion Melbourne Metro Rail project.

The business behemoths will join a growing exodus of key retailers abandoning the city’s main shopping core, Swanston Street, ahead of years of disruption expected from work on the project’s centrepiece tunnel and two city stations.

Metro authorities are negotiating the compulsory acquisition of four Swanston Street properties between Young & Jackson’s Hotel on Flinders Street and the Nicholas Building on the corner of Flinders Lane.

All four buildings – along with the Port Phillip Arcade behind – will be razed to make way for the rail project’s CBD South station.

Plans for the new city tunnel have already seen a number of retailers take flight, looking for other locations nearby to set up shop.

Men’s clothing store Tarocash, shoe retailer Foot Locker and Brunetti’s Cafe are in negotiations, or have announced, new trading locations.

Starbucks is being forced to move from a site at the base of Westin Hotel at the rear of City Square due to looming construction that will see City Square overtaken as a staging base for much of the tunnel project.

The nine-kilometre twin tunnel will have five underground stations – Domain, CBD South, CBD North, Parkville and Arden – expected to take half a decade to complete before they become operational in 2026.

McDonald’s owns the three-storey building at 9-11 Swanston Street and will be hard pressed to find a store in an equally prominent location to replace what has been a jewel in its trading crown.

McDonald’s confirmed it was approached by the Metro Rail authorities and were “working through the process”, a spokeswoman said. “We are keen to maintain a presence it the area,” she said.

Hungry Jacks is believed close to sealing a deal to replace one of the two trading locations it will lose on Swanston Street, but would not comment.

As well as being required to move from a two-level building at 15-19 Swanston, it is also being forced to vacate its store at the northern end of the strip on the corner of La Trobe Street, which will be demolished to make way for CBD North station.

Colliers International retail director Cam Taranto said the rail project was pushing retailers to open shops in other high-traffic locations such as Elizabeth and Bourke streets.

Another agent, Jarrod Herscu, said other retailers were taking advantage of the perceived disruption to secure better, long-term deals. Rozzi’s Italian Canteen recently leased an entire building at 157 Swanston at below market rates, Mr Herscu said.

Metro Rail confirmed it was in discussions with building owners.

The compulsory acquisition process was likely to be triggered early next year once planning approvals were received, a spokesman said.

Some CBD roads – including sections of Franklin and A’Beckett streets – will be permanently closed once tunnel work is underway.

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Scotland’s Chinan coach Matt Taylor wants team to get in face of Wallabies

Edinburgh: There is an n coach within the Scotland rugby setup who wants his team to get in the face of the Wallabies in order to disrupt the attacking rhythm they boasted against Wales last week.
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Matt Taylor, the former Queensland Reds defence coach, is now Scotland’s assistant and has been giving his players the inside lowdown ahead of a World Cup quarter-final rematch on Saturday at Murrayfield.

Taylor was there that day at Twickenham when Bernard Foley broke Scottish hearts with a penalty in the final minute to help the Wallabies clinch a miraculous 35-34 win.

Because of his n connection, despite being in the other coaching box, Taylor felt sorry for one Wallaby in particular on that day.

“James Slipper was the one who gave that intercept try,” said Taylor, referencing the moment Scotland drew level in the 74th minute before edging ahead with a conversion.

“At the time I was so happy for us as a group because I was thinking with four minutes to go that we had a good chance of winning. From a personal level, I probably felt for him a little bit because I know him pretty well and to give that pass [would have been hard].

“It’s always a funny one against . A lot of my family, who are Scottish, will all be going for Scotland. There’s a number of them at home who are quite proud ns as well. So it’s always a funny Test match but I’m really looking forward to the occasion.”

Taylor has done his homework on how to shut down the likes of in-form n backs Bernard Foley, Israel Folau and Dane Haylett-Petty, particularly given Scotland had the benefit of not playing on the weekend.

He says being aggressive is the way to go against Michael Cheika’s team while also trying to keep their shape in defence or run the risk of being exposed early in the contest.

“We’ll be looking to get up in their faces, do our best to disrupt – and that starts at set-piece,” Taylor said. “Defence starts at set-piece and that filters through. The teams which have shown how to disrupt them [] is to really get up and try and stop that. We as a group need to focus on that.

“The advantage that we’ve had is that for the last week we’ve been totally focused on … we’ve had an extra week’s preparation.”

Taylor plans to catch up with a number of Reds players he mentored when he was there but assured there would be “no talking about tactics or giving away too many secrets”.

Asked whether the World Cup quarter-final last year had been spoken about in preparation for Saturday, Taylor said: “It’s a motivating factor in the sense that if we’d done other things well we could’ve won that game.

“Whenever you play a Test match you’re always highly motivated. We’re at home, we’re in front of a [possible] record crowd, so that’s going to be a great occasion. Whenever you’re playing the top three or four sides in the world you’re always highly motivated to do well.

“On that day, we weren’t good enough and that’s what the history books show.”

Taylor has not ruled out a return to coaching in after the 2019 World Cup when his contract expires but for the time being, Scotland is home.

“I love it here,” Taylor said. “I’ve just signed on for another two years with Scotland and I’m hoping if everything goes well that I get through at least to the World Cup. As a professional coach you’re just always looking to do your best.

“My family’s very settled here, my kids love it here and I love it here but I suppose rugby coaching in any regard, you’re just on to your next contract aren’t you? We’ll see what happens.”

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China vs South Africa Test cricket: Hosts feeling the pinch as Proteas’ confidence soars

Confident South Africa believe they have landed a psychological blow on an n team that coach Darren Lehmann concedes is feeling the pressure from their long run of poor form.
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The days of South African sides freezing in big moments against appear a distant memory. After smashing Steve Smith’s team in a one-day series last month, the Proteas are now one win away from securing their third consecutive series victory on these shores.

The visitors overcame numerous hurdles – not least the loss of Dale Steyn – to win in Perth, leaving the ns in disarray.

The belief in the Proteas’ dressing room is in stark contrast to the uncertainty in the n camp.

‘s most pressing concern is their batting. Their top six were all back in the shed before the second new ball in each innings in Perth.

The biggest question marks hang over Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh. Neither player is guaranteed a spot in the second Test at Hobart.

Joe Burns secured a squad recall with a century two weeks ago but is coming off twin failures, while Callum Ferguson is untried at Test level.

The Proteas struggled on day one against David Warner and Shaun Marsh, who is out of the rest of the series, but did little wrong from there – despite being down to two fit fast men.

“That is the big positive for us. We know if we execute our plans well enough we have a good chance against their top order at the moment,” South Africa coach Russell Domingo said.

The Proteas know from experience what impact a belting on the subcontinent can have. They were well-beaten in India 12 months ago then suffered a rare series loss at home, to England – a scenario that now confronts .

“When you have some players with low confidence and one or two top performers not there it makes things very hard,” Domingo said.

“I’m assuming they might be in the same space at the moment. I don’t know what’s going on in their change room, I don’t know what’s happening in their team but I know we were in that type of position a few months ago and it takes some introspection to get out of that particular phase.”

have now lost six in a row in the Test and ODI arenas to the Proteas, who are without injured captain AB de Villiers.

“There is nothing like confidence in cricket. Having won some games of late against it gives us belief we can beat the side,” Domingo said.

“Like most things in life if you’re confident in your ability to do it more times than not you will get it right.

“It’s no different in cricket. There is a lot of improvement that can still take place.”

While the Proteas are coming off what their coach says is their best Test win in three years, the ns have just three more days to regroup in Hobart.

“[We’ll] try to clear their minds … everyone has pressure when they’re not playing well but also as a player you always have pressure to perform at international level,” Lehmann said.

“If you have a few bad performances there is always someone waiting in the wings. And that’s been the case for 100 years, that’s not going to change.

“We try and pick and stick where we possibly can and encourage the guys … we get in trouble when we don’t pick and stick, we get in trouble when we do pick and stick with you guys.”

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China v South Africa cricket series: No split between Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith, insists Darren Lehmann

Perth: have rallied around struggling spinner Nathan Lyon as it emerged Hobart’s fickle weather could further dampen a summer already spinning out of control.
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Crunched by 177 runs in the series opener in Perth, the ns made their way to Tasmania on Tuesday under increasing pressure and with much to debate.

The make-up of the XI for the second Test, beginning on Saturday, remains unclear, with selectors opting to backflip on their insistence the 12-man squad selected for Perth would remain.

Shaun Marsh will miss the rest of the series because of a fractured little finger on his left hand, and is likely to be replaced by Joe Burns at the top of the order.

But South n batsman Callum Ferguson comes into a 13-man squad, and appears on the cusp of a Test debut, which could come at the expense of Adam Voges, who is nursing a sore hamstring.

Darren Lehmann, a coach and selector, said Ferguson was not in the squad as injury cover for Voges, and could play regardless of whether Voges, under increasing pressure with the bat, took to the field.

“He’s, obviously, a good player, Callum, and knows his game really well. Certainly, over the last three or four years he has been close on various occasions and then had the knee injuries at the wrong time for him,” Lehmann said.

“So, he’ll go really well if he gets his chance. A good young man. Played a lot of cricket and knows his game.”

Having endured their fourth straight heavy Test defeat, and facing a third straight home series loss to the Proteas, the ns are under increasing pressure. Ferguson could even replace under-performing allrounder Mitch Marsh, who has yet to rubber-stamp his spot at No.6, although his bowling in Perth was robust.

“I would say every spot is under pressure. That’s the nature of the beast if you don’t have success. I thought he batted quite well and was a bit unlucky with the decision, but that is part of the game as well,” Lehmann said.

“Getting down to Hobart, (we’ll) have a look at the wicket, we’ll make up the side. Any of the 13 can play in the game. That (Ferguson selection) gives us a middle order (batsman) or an opener.”

Lehmann was also forced to defend the relationship between Lyon and skipper Steve Smith, coming after Smith overlooked his frontline spinner on the crucial morning session on Saturday.

Smith and Lehmann weren’t afraid to express their disappointment publicly about Lyon’s performances during the losing winter tour of Sri Lanka, which appeared to rankle Lyon. Lehmann insisted there were no issues between NSW teammates Lyon and Smith, who are good friends off the field.

“Yeah, they always see eye to eye. He (Lyon) bowled very well in the first innings, got a couple of wickets for us. Then in the second innings the captain went with reverse (swing from the fast bowlers) and that was fine, and Nathan understands that there are no problems,” he said.

“He bowled 10 overs in the middle session and then didn’t bowl, the captain went with the reverse again in the last session. That’s just the nature of the game sometimes. And then he, obviously, bowled a lot (on Sunday) and probably didn’t get the ball in the right areas as much as he would like.

“It didn’t spin, to be perfectly honest, at all really, for the whole game. So, he (Lyon) had a good record down in Hobart last year, had a really good game, so he’s fine. He and the captain get on very well, I expect him to bowl well.”

Lyon posted career-worst figures of 0-146 in the second innings in Perth. He claimed 3-43 in the first innings against the West Indies in Hobart last year.

Heavy rain is predicted for the opening two days in Hobart, meaning ‘s hopes of knotting the series will become even harder. But at least they will know the conditions – the Proteas have never played a Test at Bellerive.

“A bit of an advantage, but we will have to turn it around with the bat, more so than anything else. They outplayed us. They bowled us out with two bowlers and a couple of spinners. We will have to bat a lot better, we know that,” Lehmann said.

“We know the conditions really well so that’s a bonus for us, as you said, Adelaide is the same. Let’s get back to some good cricket in Hobart first and foremost.”

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