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Perth tenants should brace themselves as rising house prices, improving economic conditions and more newcomers to the state combine to force up rents this year, a leading property researcher says.

The latest rental report by Australian Property Monitors shows asking rents in Perth have increased in the first three months of the year.

The median weekly asking rent for houses in the metropolitan area is now $370, a $10 increase on the previous quarter and the first rise in more than a year, while units increased $8, to $358.

But with rising house prices, increased rents have not led to increased yields. The gross yield for houses is now 4.06 per cent, while units are yielding 4.62 per cent.

That leaves Perth ahead of only Melbourne among all state capitals.

APM economist Matthew Bell said he expected Perth rentals to increase a further $10 a quarter for the rest of the year, with a strong resources sector and population growth the driving factors.

But this was unlikely to be fast enough to maintain yields, which would drop slightly as house prices rose further. The median Perth house price is believed to have passed $500,000.

Really, the outlook for both rents and house prices is pretty strong,” he said.

“Yields will probably soften again, but historically they are at pretty good levels.”

Houses were usually bought by investors for capital growth, with units offering better yields, Mr Bell said.

Meanwhile, the Urban Development Institute of Australia said its own research showed a six-month delay in planning approval could add 7 per cent to the price of an average block in the metropolitan area.

UDIA WA chief executive Debra Goostrey said developers were doing what they could to ensure “affordable” land was being made available during a time of increasing prices.

“We also need the support of a fast and efficient planning approvals process to avoid costs associated with delays,” she said.

Her comments follow those last week by property researcher Terry Ryder, who said claims of housing shortages were a beat-up by property industry lobby groups.

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Homeowners face finding another $50 a month to pay the mortgage, with the Reserve Bank tipped to lift official interest rates again today as it battles to dampen house prices and keep inflation pressures at bay.

A quarter percentage point rise this afternoon would mean official rates would have climbed 1.25 percentage points since October, adding more than $240 to the monthly repayments on a $300,000 mortgage.

It would be the biggest run of increases in a 12-month period since the Reserve took the official cash rate from 5 per cent to 6.25 per cent between November 1999 and August 2000.

But the decision could be a close call, with signs of softness in the retail and building sectors lifting expectations the Reserve may wait at least another month before moving in the week before Treasurer Wayne Swan hands down the Federal Budget.

At least mortgage holders may be saved from a “super-sized” lift to their repayments, with the NAB yesterday saying it would not increase its rates more than any move in the official cash rate. Its recent policy of matching rate rises had led to more customers.

That prompted Mr Swan to challenge other major banks to follow NAB’s lead.

TD Securities senior strategist Annette Beacher expects the Reserve board to hold rates today.

But Macquarie Bank rate strategist Rory Robertson said the chance of a rate rise was about 80 per cent.

“Interest rates here remain unusually low, our jobs market is strengthening, China and bulk-commodity prices are booming, so, too, local home prices, and the world’s biggest economy increasingly is getting back on its feet,” he said.

A new survey from Dun and Bradstreet of business executives out today shows sales, growth, employment and capital investment expectations all rising. 

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says WA needs more migrants amid claims hundreds of thousands of extra workers are necessary over the next decade to thwart a labour crisis.

Speaking at a Perth business breakfast hosted by _The West Australian _and Murdoch University, Ms Gillard said both interstate and international migration was needed to help fill future job vacancies.

It comes as employer groups warn labour shortages are set to hit within months.

Ms Gillard said WA also needed to better utilise its youth market, which was suffering a 10 per cent unemployment rate.

She blamed the labour problem partly on the booming resources sector which was drawing workers, infrastructure and services away from rest of the economy.

“That’s why we need to properly analyse and assess all claims about the West’s needs in the decade or so ahead, including claims about the need to attract hundreds of thousands of new workers,” she said.

“There’s no doubt more interstate and overseas migrants will be needed, but we need to look also at how we can achieve better results with the assets that are already available and underused.

“With a youth unemployment rate of almost 10 per cent, there is more work to be done to create the pathways that will give these kids a future.”

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry said labour shortages would hit in the second half of this year, with WA needing an extra 400,000 workers in the decade from 2007. Based on current population trends, there would be 150,000 shortfall.

CCI supports strong migration to alleviate the skills shortage, which threatened to curb WA’s economic growth during the last boom.

The WA Group Training Scheme, which last year sacked some apprentices because of reduced work, said there had been a quick economic turnaround and expectations of boom-level demand this year.

Ms Gillard said an expanded training initiative announced yesterday, creating 11,000 advanced level training places nationally, would help address some of the skills shortage.

Ms Gillard, who heads to the Pilbara today to inspect the $43 billion Gorgon project, warned unions not to engage in unlawful industrial action, singling out the construction union’s Kevin Reynolds and Joe McDonald. “We have got no tolerance for people who seek to break the rules and I am well aware there is a concern in this State over the propensity of some individuals to believe they are beyond the law,” she said.

Mr Reynolds said he was not surprised at being singled out by Ms Gillard over unlawful industrial action, claiming the pair had an adverse relationship. He said migration should be a back-up with the focus on training. 

Ms Gillard said an expanded training initiative announced yesterday, creating 11,000 advanced level training places nationally, would help address some of the skills shortage.

Ms Gillard, who heads to the Pilbara today to inspect the $43 billion Gorgon project, warned unions not to engage in unlawful industrial action, singling out the construction union’s Kevin Reynolds and Joe McDonald. “We have got no tolerance for people who seek to break the rules and I am well aware there is a concern in this State over the propensity of some individuals to believe they are beyond the law,” she said.

Mr Reynolds said he was not surprised at being singled out by Ms Gillard over unlawful industrial action, claiming the pair had an adverse relationship. He said migration should be a back-up with the focus on training.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens has signalled interest rates are on their way back up with mortgage rates likely to edge up between half and a full percentage point.

Giving evidence to the House of Representatives economics committee in Canberra, Mr Stevens said the RBA’s focus continued to be on what mortgage rates were offered by commercial banks rather than on the Reserve’s official cash rate.

He said given the commercial banks had lifted rates over and above what the RBA had done, there was still about a half and a full percentage point to go before mortgage rates were back to what the Reserve would consider close to their long term average.

“There’s a little distance to go yet before I think you could characterise the setting of interest rates as normal or average,” he said.

The RBA surprised markets by leaving official rates on hold at its February meeting.

Mr Stevens said on top of the Reserve’s own lift in official rates, the commercial banks actions had effectively delivered three and a half interest rate rises to mortgages cases, and in the case of Westpac customers, four rate hikes.

He said one of the advantages of lifting rates as the RBA did in the last three months of 2009 was that it could hold rates in February and get a clearer picture of how the economy was travelling.

“You get that luxury when you can wait a little a bit further down the line,” he said.

Mr Stevens said Australia had performed much better than even the RBA had expected out of the global recession.

But he warned that meant the economy was now heading into an upswing stronger than otherwise would have been the case.

“With the economy having had only a mild downturn with begin the upswing with less spare capacity than would typically be the case after a recession,” he said.

“There’s less scope for robust demand growth without inflation starting to rise again down the track.

“Monetary policy must be careful not to overstay a very expansionary setting.”

Mr Stevens said the resources sector in particular was looking to grow quickly, with the terms of trade likely to head back to the record highs seen in 2008 this year.

He also highlighted the strength of Australia’s sovereign debt position, hosing down fears the country was carrying too much debt.

“Australia’s position is by any measure very strong indeed,” he said.

The governor also played down fears raised by Opposition finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce that Australia could default on its debts.

Mr Stevens said Australia had never defaulted before and there were no signs it would now.

“I very much doubt there ever will be,” he said. 

“Monetary policy must be careful not to overstay a very expansionary setting.”

Mr Stevens said the resources sector in particular was looking to grow quickly, with the terms of trade likely to head back to the record highs seen in 2008 this year.

He also highlighted the strength of Australia’s sovereign debt position, hosing down fears the country was carrying too much debt.

“Australia’s position is by any measure very strong indeed,” he said.

The governor also played down fears raised by Opposition finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce that Australia could default on its debts.

Mr Stevens said Australia had never defaulted before and there were no signs it would now.

“I very much doubt there ever will be,” he said.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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THIS North Beach property could confirm whether Perth’s struggling real estate market has turned the corner.  home in nb

Real estate experts say that during the height of WA’s property boom the 1346sqm ocean-front house on West Coast Drive would have fetched more than $5 million.

It is for auction on Saturday and the selling price will be a strong indication of whether property prices, especially for top-end homes, have started to recover.

Nexus sales consultant Peter Berridge, who specialises in the North Beach area, said the property would have been highly sought after during the 2006-07 housing boom.

“It’s a nice elevated lot, with a nice frontage. It’s got everything going for it,” Mr Berridge said.

“I don’t think it would be an over-exaggeration to think it might have sold for in excess of $5 million (back then). We were going through an era where it didn’t seem to matter what you paid for it, you were always going to make a packet until the proverbial hit the fan.”

Mr Berridge said he believed values had dropped about 40 per cent since the property peak.

“The last sale was 341 West Coast Drive in Trigg that sold for $2.2 million and it was a very choice piece of land _ something like that could have possibly pulled $4 million in 2007 and I can mention lesser blocks that sold for more than $4 million,” he said.

According to Landgate, North Beach has enjoyed solid property value growth in the past decade.
It recorded a 19.4 per cent average annual growth rate in the 10 years to December 2008. It also recorded strong growth last year and was among the Perth metropolitan area’s Top 10 performing suburbs, with a 17.7 per cent jump in median house prices.

But during this period it recorded a low volume of sales activity, with just 19 homes sold.
This could have skewered the statistics.

“There’s no doubt that the market for premium coastal property has come back since the height of 2007,” Real Estate Institute of WA president Rob Druitt said.

“Indications are that the first signs of recovery are starting to come through now, so there’s certainly a unique opportunity for buyers who are (looking) in that market,” he said.

Mr Druitt said it has been a bottom-up recovery, so if the top end was reasonably priced and sold, it could give a good indication that Perth’s entire property market had seen the worst.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left interest rates on hold at 3 percent as predicted.                                                 reserve_bank_400

A  survey by AAP had expected the RBA to leave the cash rate at the lowest since 1960.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said last weekend that it was obvious that rates will rise, while Minister for Financial Services, Chris Bowen, warned yesterday that rates can’t stay low forever.

Some economists believe the first rate rise could come this year, but the general view is that rates will remain on hold until the middle of next year.

In a statement released after the announcement, governor Glenn Stevens said the risk of “severe contraction” in the Australian economy had abated.

“Economic conditions in Australia have been stronger than expected a few months ago, with both consumer spending and exports notable for their resilience,” the statement says.

“Measures of confidence have recovered a good deal of ground.”

The statement adds: “The board’s judgment is that the present accommodative setting of monetary policy is appropriate given the economy’s circumstances.

“The board will continue to monitor how economic and financial conditions unfold and how they impinge on prospects for sustainable growth in economic activity and achieving the inflation target.”

 

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THE education export industry has to find a new way to prosper now that the government has made it harder for would-be migrants to use study as a route to permanent residency, social researcher Bob Birrell says.

In the Monash University journal People and Place, Dr Birrell said the industry, whose phenomenal growth had been helped by foreign students seeking permanent residency as skilled migrants, had reached a crossroads.

Dr Birrell is co-director of Monash’s Centre for Population and Urban Research, People and Place’s publisher.

He said a change to the skilled migration rules in December last year, coupled with other reforms, would put permanent residency beyond the reach of many former overseas students with poor English, little work experience and low-value qualifications in hospitality and cooking.

“Those providers who have built their business around marketing a credential that will lead to permanent residence must refocus their business,” he said. “They need to sell credentials that overseas students believe they can take back to their country of origin with profit.”

But Dennis Murray, executive director of the International Education Association of Australia, said the new rules would have little effect on universities although they would cut growth in hospitality courses. “We don’t see a wholesale collapse of the industry, which is what Bob would like to see,” he said.

Dr Birrell argued the appeal of permanent residency and lax rules for skilled migration delivered strong growth in business and information technology courses at universities in the early 2000s and even more dramatic growth since 2005 in hospitality, cooking and hairdressing courses at private colleges and TAFE institutes.

But the education business had come to distort the migration program, producing graduates ill-equipped or uninterested in the jobs they were supposedly trained for. Dr Birrell said the government took a stand, culminating in the tough new rules of December last year, but the surge in student numbers had carried through into the first few months of this year, for which there was official data.

“My expectation would be that the enrolments in the hospitality area will decline significantly once the message gets back via the recruitment network to the countries of origin,” he said.

Dr Birrell said higher education also would lose fee income because graduates in accounting, a field that had enjoyed strong growth, had to have better English or take on an extra year of professional training.

But he said the government needed to back its tough policy changes with a clearer message to the industry. Instead, it had allowed more than 40,000 former students to stay on temporary and bridging visas, even though most had little chance of securing permanent residency. Most had taken up temporary visas created to soften the blow of September 2007 reforms aimed at the poor English and poor employment prospects of former students.

Dr Birrell said another, sizeable group had found a loophole. In the year to May the Department of Immigration and Citizenship had allowed 15,417 former students to apply for permanent residency as skilled migrants, despite their lacking occupations on the tough new critical skills list ushered in last December. The department had put off the processing of applications by those lacking critical skills, meaning these students remained on bridging visas.

The department’s decision to accept these applications, and the $2105 fee, was “contentious and unwise” because it suggested these students eventually might win permanent residency despite not meeting the tight new rules.

“I think there’s something of a battle going on within government as to which should be given priority: the maintenance of the (overseas student) industry on the one hand and dealing with the immigration problems generated by it on the other,” Dr Birrell said.

An Immigration Department spokesman said the government was pursuing a more carefully targeted migration program, given the difficult economic times.

“Australia is giving priority to those people sponsored by employers or on the critical skills list, thus ensuring the nation gets people with the skills the economy and employers need,” he said.

Source  :  www.theaustralian.news.com.au

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