Smaller banks press assault on Big Four banking advantages in mortgage market
Active mortgage lending by the big four banks has drawn a continuous howl from smaller lenders who claim the rules set them at a structural disadvantage. Now they’ve submitted a brief arguing that the practice results in an economic efficiency problem for the nation -- 9 per cent of GDP spent on financial services – and a bias toward mortgage lending and away from small business lending that puts the economy at risk. Small banks are seen as riskier, and have to three times more capital on hand than big banks. Perversely, this allows bigger banks to lend with less reserve … even though the country would have to bail them out if they failed. Read the full story here.

And more protests – of real estate agents underquoting properties
John Keating, former chairman of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria's ethics committee, has begun circulating an online petition with property investment advisers in Victoria and New South Wales to ban price baiting potential buyers with underquotes. Keating and his group call for government to “compel a vendor’s reserve price to be declared in writing across all marketing materials (print and electronic) from the commencement of the marketing campaign.” Some real estate agents may be on the other side of this argument … but they’re keeping their head down for now. Read the full story here.

You want to charge what to insure this place?
Climate change may start to factor into more real estate investment decisions, given the effects of extreme weather on insurance premiums. A report from the institute and Choice. “Buyer Beware: Home Insurance, Extreme Weather and Climate Change,” tells homeowners that premiums may double and property values may drop by 20 per cent within the lifespan of an average mortgage, with a 10-fold variation in insurance prices in high-risk areas. Read the full story here.

Young tenants make Sydney fertile ground to plant new apartments
When young people buy, they’re increasingly buying units in Sydney. ABS census figures show an increase in owner occupiers from 39 to 42 per cent, despite an overall decrease in home ownership. That’s contributed to an 18 per cent rise in Sydney unit prices are over the last two years. BIS Shrapnel forecasts approvals for another 20,000 units of high-density dwelling space a year for the next five years. Read the full story here.

Fun auction of the week: a bidding war over a Melbourne brothel
The renovated double-terrace, six-bedroom brothel just off Smith St in Fitzroy may sell for as much as $1.95 million … though the competition is stiff. The property hit the market on May 26, drawing interest both from people looking to renovate it into a single-family home and those from the industry. Read the full story here.

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