house – Michmutters

Owner of seven properties says landlords getting a raw deal

Andrew Duggan owns seven homes, but he wants people to know he’s not a bad bloke.

He’s been flipping properties in Queensland from a home office in Sydney for 25 years and seems acutely familiar with the public perception of landlords.

“Landlords are very unpopular people,” Mr Duggan said.

“There’s the perception of the evil landlord, the cinematic slum lord idea.

“And there’s a perception that landlords are sitting on piles of cash and sitting around on our yachts.

“The reality is whilst we have the titles to these properties, they’re very much mortgaged.”

Man wearing hi-vis shirt mowing the lawn outside.
Landlord Andrew Duggan is considering getting out of the property game.(ABCNews/7.30)

He insisted he was not doing an interview to “cry poor”, but despondently declared “the good times for landlords are over”.

A long-time advocate of buying up real estate, he’s considering selling up and getting out of the property game.

Mr Duggan said the decline of his lucrative portfolio began five years ago when he was locked into an excessive interest rate with a major bank.

But he is also critical of tenancy laws and state-based land taxes.

After years of advocacy from housing organisations, the Victorian, Tasmanian and ACT governments have recently banned landlords from evicting tenants without grounds.

Man trimming a hedge.
Andrew Duggan says he doesn’t want to “profiteer from our tenants.”(ABCNews/7.30)

Queensland, where most of Mr Duggan’s properties are located, also banned the practice, except at the end of a fixed-term rental agreement.

“As far as I can see, landlords have next to no rights and tenants have all the rights. It’s kind of swung a long way in that direction and it’s probably swung too far,” he said.

Mr Duggan said the “default” position of civil courts adjudicating disputes between property owners and their renters was that “the property owner will always lose”.

He said he had increased the rent in at least one of his properties over the last year due to the increase in Queensland’s land tax.

“I’m not a charity, that’s for certain. I think we’re very fair with our tenants. We don’t want to profit from our tenants, but we do want to create an equilibrium between our incomings and outgoings so we’ re not going backwards,” he said.

This couple rent their apartment out for 10 per cent less than it’s worth

A man wearing glasses smiles next to a woman wearing a black top.
“We didn’t want to do what other people had done to us,” landlords Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn say.(ABCNews/7.30)

When Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn bought their own apartment and left the rental market five years ago, the Melbourne-based couple were overwhelmed with relief.

“As tenants [before owning a home] we have been in some situations with great landlords and we’ve been in some situations with terrible landlords,” Mr Shafee said.

“We’ve had uncertain housing in our lives too,” Ms Alcorn added.

With the pair now considering starting a family, they considered their one-bedroom Heidelberg Heights flat too small and have decided to upsize, but said they felt “icky” trying to cash in on the tightening real estate market.

Instead, they’ve offered the property up as an affordable rental and listed it for 10 per cent below what they had been quoted by other agents.

A man wearing a striped scarf standing next to a woman wearing a black top.
Thomas Shafee and Katrina Alcorn felt strongly about keeping their property affordable.(ABCNews/7.30)

“When there is so much pressure with the prices going up and the supply going down it’s really easy for people to be forced into situations where they are taken advantage of, so it’s nice to be able to do something that avoids some of those ethical pitfalls ,” MrShafee said.

“We didn’t want to do what other people had done to us,” Ms Alcorn said.

“That’s one of the reasons we feel really strongly about this.”

Mr Shafee said he and his partner intended to be “ethical” landlords and employ a hands-off approach to their incoming tenant.

“This is not some investment item that we’re talking about, it’s something that someone is going to live in, so it makes a big difference how [the property] is going to be run,” he said.

Mr Shafee and Ms Alcorn are renting the property through HomeGround Real Estate, an agency that offers affordable rentals and donates the profits it makes from management fees to Launch, a community housing organization.

Problem ‘just going to get worse’

woman sitting at a table
Michele Adair says “renters just haven’t been valued.”(ABC News: Tim Fernandez)

Renters’ advocate and chief executive of the NSW Housing Trust Michele Adair said state laws were still skewed in favor of landlords because property in Australia was seen as a means of wealth creation rather than shelter.

“There are lots of really good private landlords [that] provide affordable rental housing, but the problem that we have is that renters just haven’t been valued,” Ms Adair said.

“One in three people rent a home today and probably nine out of ten rents at some stage, yet we have had decades of government policy which just really disregards the rights of tenants and their safety and security.

“We continue to have this myth and fallacy pushed by private interest groups who, as we have seen, just continue to push the wealth creation and profit motive.”

Ms Adair said the so-called “motive” had led to the current rental crisis.

“There is no end in sight and without urgent action by all levels of government. The problem is just going to get worse for the foreseeable future and I’m afraid that means years and not months.”

Watch this story on 7.30 on ABC TV and ABC iview.



Tasmanian property investor drop ‘a worry’ for the rental market, REIT says

There are growing concerns a drop in investors buying into Tasmanian real estate could further shrink the availability of rental properties in the state.

The number of investors purchasing a Tasmanian property in the June quarter fell by 20 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

Out of 1,781 properties sold, just 16 per cent were purchased by investors, with even fewer Hobart properties (12 per cent) purchased as investments.

“That’s a worry,” the president of the Real Institute of Tasmania, Michael Walsh, said.

He fears properties being sold could be removed from an already tight rental market that has a current statewide vacancy rate of about 1 per cent.

“That’s probably a big discussion to be had on the implications for the rental market,” he said.

Mr Walsh said 30 per cent of buyers needed to be investors to properly support the private rental market.

“We just don’t have the private investment right now that tries to keep pace with that demand. Where people live is anyone’s guess,” he said.

Supply of affordable rentals ‘falling for over a decade’

Mary Bennett from Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Center said the drop in investment was concerning if it meant properties were leaving the long-term rental market and not being replaced by new supply.



Democrats, GOP in dead heat in generic congressional ballot: poll

Democrats and Republicans are locked in a statistical dead heat as the parties race to gain seats in Congress months before the midterm elections, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill.

Voters are split 50-50 when asked if they would vote for a Democratic or Republican candidate for Congress today. That’s a switch from May, when the same Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey showed the GOP was leading 51 percent to 49 percent.

The midterm elections are shaping up to be a close call as Republicans campaign on high inflation and a probable recession while Democrats seek to go on offense over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and GOP opposition to climate change legislation and gun control.

Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, said Republicans are losing ground they once held with swing voters — including moderate Democrats and independents who might vote for them.

“Despite poor ratings for the administration and big concerns about inflation, the Republican Party is still seen as too far to the right for these moderate Democrats and so they have not closed the sale on the midterms,” Penn said.

The president’s party generally loses seats in the House during their first midterm election, which has led many pundits to predict the House will flip to the GOP. Republicans need to pick up only a few seats to take the majority.

The Senate is a different situation, as a number of the competitive races are being held in states won by President Biden in 2020.

The most closely watched races include Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Republicans are seeking to hold seats, and Arizona and Georgia, where Democratic incumbents are seeking full terms. Biden won all four of those states in the 2020 election.

Amid polarized times, neither political party is seen as highly favorable. About 48 percent of voters approve of the Republican Party, according to the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, while 43 percent of voters approve of the Democratic Party.

The issue most expected to dominate the elections this year is inflation, a top concern for 36 percent of Democratic voters and 49 percent of GOP voters, the poll shows.

The second-most pressing issue is abortion rights, a major concern after the US Supreme Court eliminated what had been a 50-year constitutional right to abortion.

About 26 percent of voters are concerned about abortion access. Democrats, at 20 percent, are far more likely than Republicans, at 8 percent, to be concerned about abortion rights.

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey was conducted from July 27 to July 28 among 1,885 registered voters.

The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.



Calls for better government assistance amid booming rental market

Leading housing experts have called for a major overhaul of the government’s rent assistance program, describing the payments to low-income households as “inadequate” while rental costs continue to skyrocket.

An analysis of the scheme by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) also found households which were not in rental stress were still receiving payments, while people living in hugely expensive areas were not getting enough.

AHURI managing director Michael Fotheringham said the key issue with the government’s rental assistance was that the payments rose with overall inflation and were not directly linked to rising rental costs or geographic rental trends.

“One of the challenges is that it is not targeted to renters in any way,” Mr Fotheringham said.

“Someone in inner-Sydney has the same amount [of support] as someone in Hobart or Perth.”

His analysis of the system found that the new government could save money if it targeted low-income households in areas where rents had risen significantly.

“Some of the households receiving it are not in rental stress. They are relatively low income but paying relatively low rent as well,” he said.

‘I had nowhere else to go’

A woman wearing a blue jacket.
Andrea Ferris says she gets $47 a fortnight in rental assistance.(ABC News: Eddy Gill)

Single mother Andrea Ferris said rent assistance “barely covers milk and bread” for the week and she was barely able to survive as rents increased.

Rents in Ms Ferris’s hometown, the Gold Coast, have increased 21 per cent in the past year.

With vacancies across the country at record lows, she was forced to settle for a three-bedroom house well out of her budget.

“I had nowhere else to go. It was looking pretty scary, I was looking at moving into a friend’s room with the kids,” she said.

“We came three weeks from homelessness.

“I don’t buy fruit and vegetables. The doctor said my iron is low and asked me if I eat red meat and I said, ‘I don’t. I can’t afford it.'”



Australian house prices fall at ‘fastest rate’ since 2008 financial crisis

House prices in Australia are dropping at their fastest pace since the global financial crisis — and market conditions are “likely to worsen” as interest rates continue to rise, according to property analytics firm CoreLogic.

The latest data shows that the nation’s median property value has dropped by 2 per cent since the beginning of May, to $747,182 (a figure which includes houses and apartments).

“Although the housing market is only three months into a decline … the rate of decline is comparable with the onset of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2008, and the sharp downswing of the early 1980s,” said CoreLogic’s research director Tim Lawless.

But he noted that, on average, prices had jumped 28.6 per cent from mid-2020 (the low point of the housing market during the COVID-19 pandemic) to April 2022 (when national prices hit their peak).

Regional Australia had an even bigger surge, with prices up 41.1 per cent in two years — as smaller towns outside the capital cities experienced a huge influx of city-dwellers seeking better lifestyles (as working remotely became the new normal).

“In Sydney, where the downturn has been particularly accelerated, we are seeing the sharpest value falls in almost 40 years.”

A table showing that Australia's median property price dropped 1.3 per cent in July 2022 to $747,812.
Property prices in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart fell sharply in July.(CoreLogic)

The median price in Australia’s most expensive city fell by 2.2 per cent in July (taking its quarterly loss to 4.7 per cent). Despite that, an average house in Sydney still costs around $1.35 million, while an average unit may fetch about $806,000.

Melbourne and Hobart also recorded steep falls, with prices in both cities down 1.5 per cent last month, while Canberra prices dropped 1.1 per cent.

Prices in Brisbane and regional Australia fell 0.8 per cent (their first monthly decline since August 2020).

At the other end of the spectrum, Darwin, Adelaide and Perth were the only capitals where prices actually went up in July (by between 0.2 and 0.4 per cent). However, it has been a sharp slowdown since May, when the Reserve Bank began to aggressively lift the cash rate from its record low levels.

short and sharp

“I think this downturn will be similar to the global financial crisis in that it will be quite short and sharp,” Mr Lawless told ABC News.

Australia’s median property price fell by around 8.5 per cent over an 11-month period during the GFC, according to CoreLogic.

Line graph showing Adelaide property prices jumped 3.6 per cent in the past three months, while Sydney prices fell 4.7 per cent.
Adelaide property prices jumped 3.6pc in the past three months.(CoreLogic)

Mr Lawless said the property downturn is “accelerating”, and that he would not be surprised if “the current decline gets worse than what we saw during the GFC”.

He noted the main difference is that governments and central banks are currently determined to withdraw trillions of dollars worth of stimulus, in a desperate bid to lower inflation (instead of pumping it into the global economy, liked they did after the 2008 crisis).

Many analysts are predicting Australian property prices, on average, will fall between 10 and 20 per cent (from peak to trough) — with the two most expensive cities Sydney and Melbourne likely to suffer the biggest declines.

But even if the worse case scenario eventuates, it will not drastically improve housing affordability.

“If we saw say, a 15 per cent drop in national housing values, it would take prices back to where they were in about April 2021.”

How quickly (and by how much) prices fall will depend on how aggressively the RBA decides to lift its cash rate target in the next few months.

Graph showing that house rents have risen sharply in every capital city, with Brisbane jumping 13.6 per cent in the past year.
Brisbane and Adelaide tenants are experiencing the sharpest rent increases.(CoreLogic)

Since May, the RBA has lifted its cash rate target from 0.1 to 1.35 per cent.

If the central bank delivers another double-sized rate hike on Tuesday (0.5 percentage points), as widely expected, that would bring the new cash rate up to 1.85 per cent.

Buyers’ market and surging rents

“The market has moved to being very much more in favor of buyers over sellers now, especially in markets like Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Lawless said.

“Buyers are getting back in the driver’s seat. They have more choice, and there’s less urgency.

“But for sellers, it means they need to be much more realistic about their pricing expectations, and they should expect there’s going to be more negotiation.”



Out-of-control car crashes into front yard of Flinders Park home, leaving path of destruction

South Australia Police are investigating an incident at Flinders Park last night where a car crashed into the front yard of a home, causing significant damage.

Sylvia and Giovanni — who did not want to provide their surname — said the car crashed into the yard of their Collingwood Avenue home about 7.15pm.

“I just heard this almighty bang, and it sounded almost like a bomb,” Giovanni said.

The car crashed into brick walls, a Stobie pole and two parked cars.

Giovanni said that, if the car had not hit the fence, it would have gone through their front windows.

“If you look at the marks on the road from the car, the trajectory, it would have been into our bedroom or lounge. [We’re] just lucky,” he said.

A woman in a dressing gown stands in front of her house with her arms folded
The crash caused significant damage to the front yard of Sylvia’s Flinders Park home. (abcnews)

Sylvia said the driver of the car was knocked unconscious.

“I rang up the police straight away … I saw the air bags and I saw two car seats at the back, children’s car seats, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I hope there’s no children in there’,” she said .

“I pushed the air bags away and no children but the driver was unconscious.”

A neighbor checked the man’s pulse while Sylvia was on the phone to the police.

“Then five minutes, he came to … and the next thing he pushed us and he just ran, he just bolted down the street, he was bleeding,” Sylvia said.

“There’s a young lad that chased after him around the corner. He should have gone in the Commonwealth Games, I said to him — and her ran in thongs — I don’t know how he did it.”

A damaged car sits in the front yard of a suburban house.
The driver was knocked unconscious but when he came to, he allegedly bolted down the street. (abcnews)

A 46-year-old man from Flinders Park was later taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with minor injuries.

Two cars had to be towed away and SA Power Networks had to attend to fix the Stobie pole, which had been badly damaged.

“It was just scary, the noise. We didn’t know what it was. My heart went out and you just don’t know, split second somebody could have been killed,” Sylvia said.

Police investigations are ongoing.