Queensland passed significant legal reform of real estate agent rules last week, deregulating agents’ commissions – there’s no longer a cap on how much an agent can charge. Agents can now negotiate prices with their clients and buyers can waive the five-day cooling off period without hiring a lawyer. Read the full story here.

You’re a real estate agent, not a secret agent: Homeowners spy on their agents during open houses
Once upon a time, a homeowner might set up a tape recorder while they’re out of the house during a showing, to see if their agent was working hard while buyers lob in. But some take it to another level, with spycams feeding a live stream to iPads. Read the full story here.

Housing Industry Association: the housing boom is over
With interest rates as low as anyone thinks they’ll get, “(T)here’s a bit of momentum left in the Sydney market and in the Melbourne market which is your two prominent sources of growth, but I think we’ve seen the biggest run already behind us,” said Chief Economist Harley Dale. Growth will, however continue, just not at the breakneck speed we’ve seen recently. And rates? They’ll start to move upwards mid next year reckons Dale. Read the full story here.

Project to build Aspire tower – potentially the tallest building in Australia – revived out of the blue
The Parramatta City Council received an unsolicited bid from a Hong Kong developer to revive the Aspire  project, a 90-storey residential and hotel development near Sydney. It would be tall enough to cause air traffic issues and the Parramatta council has worried that its scale might fail to attract enough pre-sales for construction to begin. Read the full story here.

S&P warns Australia may lose AAA credit rating without budget cuts
Hockey threatens higher mortgage rates, increased credit card costs and loss of AAA ratings if Labor block the government’s budget. Thus begins in earnest the political back-and-forth over budget cuts, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pressed to outline his own savings or wave through the Coalition’s plan in the Senate. Read the full story here.

Palmer United Party senator-elect Jacqui Lambie: tax the banks, not the public
Lambie says "hitting welfare" should come after taxing more of the big four banks’ $30 billion in annual profit. Legislation increasing bank taxes would contain a provision preventing that tax from being passed on as a cost to consumers, she said. Her plan isn’t PUP policy, but the budget debate may draw from a wide set of sources before it comes to resolution. Read the full story here.
Affordable mortgage cuts under attack
Public comments about a plan to scrap an affordable home loan program in Western Australia have been scathing. The Urban Development Institute of Australia, Real Estate Institute of WA, Committee for Perth, Satterley Property Group, Shelter WA and Tenancy WA all took shots at the move, describing the Keystart program as “invaluable.” Regulators have recommended eliminating the program as exposing the state government to an unacceptable level of risk. Read the full story here.

Luxuries for auction in Beijing: Lamborghinis, diamond jewellery … and penthouses in Melbourne
For the first time, international real estate will be marketed at the high-profile SR Luxfo event in Beijing, according to real estate site Juwai.com. Development and land sites worth between $10 million and $15 million from Melbourne’s west will be under the gavel there. It’s part of a push to link Australian property with luxury brands in the mind of wealthy Chinese consumers. Australia is currently the second most popular property investment country for wealthy Chinese, with the US still in number 1 position. Read the full story here.

Mr Fluffy asbestos fight in Canberra continues
The ACT government rebuffed a request by a tenants group for information under the freedom of information act on homes insulated with Mr Fluffy asbestos. More than 1000 homes that were part of a $100 million asbestos removal program in the late 1980s and early '90s were recently revealed to still contain amosite, which had migrated into wall cavities and subfloors. Read the full story here.

Last 60 blocks in Belconnen suburb of Lawson up for auction
The last single residential blocks in the popular infill suburb are worth $20 million in proceeds to the ACT government. Buyers paid almost $56 million for 124 single blocks in the first release -- 34 per cent over the reserve price on average. The timing may be perfect, given the Government’s proposed budget job cuts in the capital. Read the full story here.

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