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What’s it really like living in the Noosa neighbourhood that The Circle is based on?

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Sometimes it takes a TV show to put a place on the map. Sylvania Waters is a case in point; suddenly everyone was talking about living in a canal estate in ‘The Shire’. And in the 70s, there wasn’t a kid alive who watched Skippy, that didn’t want a tour of ‘Waratah Park’ in Terry Hills.

Will The Circle do the same for Noosa?

The Circle is the brainchild of Felix Williamson, who also worked on Domain’s Avalon Now series. It’s a razor-sharp observational comedy, following the lives of two cosmopolitan couples from Melbourne and Sydney who have made the sea-change to Noosa.

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The leaf-blowing neighbour living in The Circle. Photo: Supplied

But it’s The Circle‘s fictional locals who steal the show, especially Felix Williamson as Lesley, the sexually ambiguous New Zealander, and his partner Tonni (Rebecca Gibney). Chris Hayward is brilliantly cast as Gordon, a bloke who is always armed with a leaf blower. While Richard Roxburgh is fabulously gauche as wealthy South African alpha-male, Julius Du Toit.

While Hibiscus Circle featured in the series may be a fictional street, there’s little doubt it’s based on the real-life Witta Circle, Noosa’s most exclusive address, and surrounded by waterfront views.

And while The Circle pokes fun at Noosa’s fitness fanatics, lurid sarongs, lack of nightlife and monoculture, what’s living in the Circle really like?

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It’s been a busy year for Noosa property. Photo: Supplied

Most of the series was shot in the house of writer/director Felix Williamson’s mother-in-law, who lives in Witta Circle.

“I’m very familiar with the whole area,” Williamson says. “My parents have a home in Sunshine Beach, and I have a number of relatives living up there, including my brother Rory.”

Rory says a whole new market is emerging in Noosa, comprising 35 to 45-year-olds who work as web designers and copywriters from Sydney and Melbourne who have cashed in their city apartments to work remotely.

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A house on Witta Circle designed by Brisbane-based architect Andrew Le. Photo: Supplied

When it comes to Witta Circle, he says it’s well out of his price range, but would make for an idyllic lifestyle. “There’s little jetties with boats, and it’s close to Hastings Street. It’s pretty nice,” he says. “A lot of the owners are cashed-up New Zealanders, like the character Felix portrays in the show … he hit the nail on the head there.”

One of the other periphery characters in the show is Gordon, a neighbour and avid user of the leaf blower. Turns out you’ll find plenty of types like Gordon in Noosa, too.

“I drove around Witta Circle last week and spotted a bloke with a leaf blower. He looked exactly like the one in the series,” said a Noosa agent who didn’t want to be named.

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Noosa, from the air.

And he’s not the only one. Veronica and Peter moved into Witta Circle in 1970s. For the past 43 years, the Circle has been home. “We love it here and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” says Veronica.

“Do we have a leaf blower? Yes, and so does the lady next door,” admits Veronica.

Witta Circle comprises 16 internal blocks, and 30 blocks on the water. The dry blocks are around 900 square metres, while the waterfronts are 600 square metres.

Veronica and Peter purchased two dry -internal- blocks there for $10,000 each in 1974. Nowadays a dry block would fetch upwards of $2.3 million.

The property price record for Noosa Sound was set in Witta Circle, with No. 25 going for a tidy $8.25 million in 2009. Waterfront land alone is just a snip under the $4 million mark.

Their son, 42-year-old PJ, a Noosa real estate agent, said Witta Circle was a tight-knit community as he was growing up.

“There were about 30 kids in Witta Circle and we’d play together after school, riding our pushbikes to the end of Noosa Sound, having tinny races around the island, diving off the bridge, or swimming across the estuary to swing on the Tarzan ropes on the other side.”

“Everyone knew each other back then. Now it’s like one big holiday resort and a lot of the houses are empty, or rented during the holidays. My parents are two of the only original residents left there.

“The only problem now is that on weekends it’s a car park. People drive over to Witta Circle to park and go to the beach. Luckily, dad doesn’t mind, because he rides a motor scooter everywhere.”

Veronica says the biggest change she has seen over the years is the loss of permanent residents. “I like the idea of having a neighbour where I can pop in and have a cup of tea.”

The advent of holiday homes on Witta Circle has seen some impressive builds. Architects such as Ken Robertson, Tim Ditchfield, Noel Robinson, and Kidd and Co have all created a distinctive “Noosa style” on the island.

Andrew Le is an architect with Brisbane-based Red Door Architecture. One of his more recent projects is a home for the Daffy family in Witta Circle. The five-bedroom concrete and glass house looks out over the estuary to a protected coastal forest. Most of the spaces in the home, including the enormous bathrooms, take full advantage of the water views.

The home’s owner, Troy Duffy, says he used to holiday in Noosa as a teenager, and often wondered who could afford the lovely big houses on Witta Circle. After establishing a successful property development company in Brisbane, Duffy had his answer. He could.

“I was lucky enough to fulfil a dream and buy a block of land on Witta Circle four years ago,” he says. “We love the new house. It’s basically our sanctuary. I drive up with the wife and kids every school holidays; it’s about 90 minutes on the freeway.”

Originally Published: www.domain.com.au

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Opinion

A COLOSSAL RISK: Huge danger sign for housing in Australia

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A COLOSSAL RISK Huge danger sign for housing in Australia
There could be far too many apartments for sale in coming years. Picture: Glenn Hunt/The Australian What does a million dollars buy in Aussie capital cities?

IT COULD be a bad year for housing prices if building approvals are anything to go by. With the housing market teetering on the edge of a serious downturn, apartment developers seem to be having a “last blast”.

Building approvals data released last week shows a serious uptick in the number of homes that were approved. November building approvals were up 0.9 per cent compared to October, and are 8.1 per cent higher than November 2016. The source of the lift is mainly apartments, which rose from already high levels.

Do that many people really want to live in new apartments?

Do that many people really want to live in new apartments?

Do that many people really want to live in new apartments?

The timing of this big push is fascinating because November is exactly when Australian capital city housing prices started falling. Corelogic shows prices fell by 0.1 per cent in that month as Sydney took a sharp downturn. The developers didn’t know in advance that was going to happen, but they might have sensed it. After all, what could drive such a big uptick in building approvals is the sense that it is now or never.

Builders who have just got their approvals will be racing to get their apartment blocks and new developments done before everyone else. Those who finish early can hope to get in before prices really slump. Any who have delays will be worried they’ll end up selling into a soggy, lifeless market.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Markets are supposed to co-ordinate supply and demand. But that’s a hard job when supply takes a long time to come online. If you’re halfway through building a big development when the market falls by 10 per cent, you’re in a bind. The losses involved in finishing the properties and selling them for less than they cost to build will almost certainly be smaller than the losses involved in abandoning the project, so you have to push on to get at least some money back. This is the essence of the boom and bust cycle that characterises property.

If apartments are nearing completion in a market downturn, it can be cheaper to finish and sell quickly rather than abandon the project. Picture: Glenn Hunt/The Australian

If apartments are nearing completion in a market downturn, it can be cheaper to finish and sell quickly rather than abandon the project. Picture: Glenn Hunt/The Australian

Some very large developers might finish properties and then sit on them, hoping the market improves over time, but that’s also a risk. Markets can take a very long time to recover.

SOUTH OF THE MURRAY

The really interesting thing about the November building approvals data is where it was focused. All the increase was focused on Victoria. The average number of building approvals in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia was actually lower than in the previous month, by 2 to 3 per cent. But Victoria saw a whopping 27 per cent rise.

That anomaly becomes especially curious when you consider that Victoria was the market that actually went on to see price appreciation in November (0.5 per cent growth in prices, according to Corelogic). Could it be that developers, sensing Victoria is the only market with price growth left in it, are focusing their attentions there?

It’s curious there’s still many apartments being approved in Victoria, after real estate agent Mariecris Tagala last year claimed more than half of new apartments in Melbourne’s CBD, Docklands, and Southbank have sold at a loss since 2011. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian.

It’s curious there’s still many apartments being approved in Victoria, after real estate agent Mariecris Tagala last year claimed more than half of new apartments in Melbourne’s CBD, Docklands, and Southbank have sold at a loss since 2011. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian.

Another explanation for such a massive jump would be if a single large project came through the pipeline in the month of November. A giant apartment development somewhere in Melbourne, for example. For now, it’s not clear if that’s the case. Whether it is one project or many, the impact on housing markets of a big rush of supply is largely the same – extra supply generally makes prices lower than they would otherwise be.

QUIT WHILE YOU’RE WINNING

Some smart developers have already got out of the property development game, telling the financial press they are sitting out until the market repairs itself. The so-called “pipeline” of new building had been shrinking. The November building approval data shows a different picture. It suggests the pipeline might get fatter again for a little while and there could be one more flurry of cranes going up. The one caveat is this – builders can pay to get a building approval and then not use it. That might be the best case scenario.

The big question hanging over Australia’s high housing prices is whether a housing downturn can happen without also crashing the economy. A gentle and controlled downturn might be a positive – young people can afford to get into the market more, but people don’t feel like the sky is falling.

But a severe sharp downturn could be different. A giant backlog of supply that could be released into an already weakened market is a concern because it could accelerate a modest slide into a hard one.

Originally Published: sunshinecoastdaily.com.au

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Opinion

Noel Whittaker says don’t get beached by dream purchase

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Noel Whittaker says don't get beached by dream purchase

Before you get too carried away ask yourself the tough questions.

First, “do we keep it for our own use or rent it out?”

If you don’t rent it out, you’ll be tying up a large amount of capital that could almost certainly be used better elsewhere and, if you have children, you’ll find out that you won’t be able to go there as often as you’d planned.

Then you will have to decide between leasing it

out permanently and making it available for holiday letting.

If you go for a permanent tenant you will achieve a regular income but the trade-off is that you cannot go away and use it for the odd weekend.

If you opt for casual letting you will need to provide everything from plates to a washing machine and will have greatly increased wear and tear because of the constant turnover of tenants, few of whom will treat the property kindly.

If you borrow for it, you’ll only be able to claim a tax deduction for the rates, maintenance, interest and other expenses if the property is income- producing.

This means you will have to rent it out.

If you decide to keep

the peak periods such as school holidays for yourself, you’ll be substantially reducing the income because the highest rents are charged in the holiday season.

And if you do use the property yourself, you’ll only be able to claim a percentage of the costs.

For example, if you occupy the property for 13 weeks, leaving it available for the other 39 weeks, you could claim only 39/52 of all expenses.

Then comes the choice between a house and a unit. A house will be great if you want to take the pets away on weekends with you, and as long as you don’t mind maintaining two gardens.

Unfortunately, the cost of a well-located beach house, as well as the accompanying rates and maintenance, is way out of the reach of most of us. To make matters worse the land tax on the property will put you into a higher land tax bracket which could affect your other rental properties.

Originally Published: www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au

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Opinion

Would Australian Households Be Better Off if We Ditch Negative Gearing?

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Would Australian Households Be Better Off if We Ditch Negative Gearing

Economic modelling undertaken by University of Melbourne economists, and presented to the Reserve Bank last month, shows that three-quarters of Australian Households would be better off if negative gearing is abolished.

The study was posted on the Reserve Bank website for public release on Friday.

The paper explores the implications of negative gearing – including a 30 per cent collapse in the supply of rental properties – and found that abolishing negative gearing would lead to an overall welfare gain of 1.5 per cent of GDP.

Negative gearing is a policy that largely benefits landlords, and for the 17 per cent of the Australia population that have property investments – out of which 70 per cent are negatively geared – would be worse off.

The study estimated that thirteen per cent of the population would be directly influenced by the removal of negative gearing, and likely to quit their holdings.

“The housing prices fall because removing negative gearing takes a significant amount of housing investment out of the property market,” the report said.

“Both the proportion of landlords and the amount of resources allocated to housing investment, given by the average expenditure, have fallen significantly after the policy reform.

Importantly, removing negative gearing increases the average homeownership rate of the economy from 66.7 per cent to 72.2 per cent.

The improvement in homeownership was observed most predominantly among poor households, where the fall in house price and the rise in rent reduce the price-to-rent ratio in the economy by 4.2 per cent.

“This has direct implications on housing affordability as the fall in house price lowers both the downpayment requirement for mortgages and the size of mortgages required to purchase a house, making it easier for households to own a home.”

If negative gearing was to be scrapped, the average mortgage size held by homeowners would likely decrease 21 per cent.

“Eliminating negative gearing takes young landlords who were rich enough to meet a downpayment requirement for investment properties away from the market.

“This reconciles a recent trend in the property market that there has been a rise in investment housing debt holdings by young and rich 35 households who would have benefitted the most from negative gearing concessions.

“The aggregate welfare for the economy improves upon the repeal of negative gearing … around 80 per cent of households are better off after the policy reform.”

Australia’s negative gearing regime stands alone against comparable OECD countries. Only New Zealand and Japan allow the unrestricted use of negative gearing losses to offset income from other sources.

The report’s authors, Yunho Cho, Shuyun May Li, and Lawrence Uren said that along with their findings on negative gearing it would also be worth considering some partial restrictions, such as allowing tax deductions for mortgage interest payments only.

Originally Published: www.brisbaneinvestor.com.au

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