Australian GDP grew 1.1 per cent in the first three months of the year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics – economists expected a 0.9 per cent rise.  The upside surprise pegs annual growth at 3.5 per cent over the 12 months to March. So what does this mean for housing and mortgages? Since 80 per cent of that growth can be attributed to mining, it means less than one might think. Housing construction is still up 4.7 per cent for the quarter and 8 per cent over the year, but consumer confidence is “volatile”. Read the full story here.

The lessons of regional planning
First Melbourne and now Sydney have decided to shove local councils and city administrations off the deck in favor of regional planning commissions. The two cities have very different visions for growth, though. Plan Melbourne calls for it to overtake Sydney as Australia’s most populous city – aiming for  more density and jobs closer to homes. The audacity of Melbourne’s initiatives – a million new apartments in the city core – calls for a strong planning response by Sydney if it is to retain its top role in Australia’s economic and cultural life. Read the full story here.

Sydney’s Inner West working class no more
Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot in April shows exactly 10 properties in the inner west – of 1022 surveyed – were affordable for those on the minimum wage, and only one would be for families and individuals on income support. The median rent for a property in the inner west is $599. No rental properties in Greater Sydney were considered to be affordable and appropriate for single people on Newstart, Disability Support or Youth Allowance. Read the full story here.

Major new development planned for Byron Bay
Property developers have acquired about 80ha on Byron Bay for a 450 house and land subdivision as well as a 51-lot industrial subdivision. Sydney-based Tower Holdings plans to sell the house and land packages on 600sq m lots for $750,000-$800,000, and those on 450sq m lots for about $595,000. It’s the first development on Byron Bay in a generation. Read the full story here. 

Investors continue to out-step homeowners in mortgage market
AFG said last month set a record for its mortgage investment business, with two out of every five new home loans last month made to investors. It’s closer to 50 per cent in NSW.  Since all of Australia’s lending growth has been in residential real estate – and about 40 percent of that in real estate investment – the weight at AFG shouldn’t be surprising. But reports are starting to emerge of lenders waiving mortgage insurance or offering other perks for suitable loan to value. And developers in Queensland have pushed for legal changes to allow them to collect deposits of up to 20 per cent for off-the-plan sales without buyers being afforded extra rights under an instalment contract. Read the full story here.

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