Major buyers' agent accuses foreign investors of corrupting Australian real estate market

David Morrell of buyers' agency Morrell & Koren says his clients are being forced out of the high-end market by foreign investors who purchase premium property illegally. Morrell submitted complaints to a parliamentary inquiry into foreign investment in residential real estate, claiming that local real estate agents and lawyers had conspired to help foreign nationals subvert the law and buy large amounts of high-value property, driving prices up by as much as 30 per cent. The charge galvanized Morrell's targets; senior real estate agents quickly denied the claim as soon as it emerged. John McGrath said he was unaware of such practices, describing the accusation as carrying “racist overtones” while Ray Ellis, of First National Real Estate said it was hysteria. “There is no evidence in any shape or form to support these allegations. The strength of property market is what is driving the very good prices being achieved.” Read the full story here.

Real estate superagent charged after police find drug stash in his Brizzie beachhouse

Ryan McCann, 36, has been touted as selling $40 million in homes in a year. But on Sunday night he found himself speaking with police after a “protracted” drug investigation led detectives to a stash of “ice” in the walls of his Brisbane waterfront home. McCann is now facing 34 charges. LJ Hooker hailed his move to the firm as an “instant success” in 2007, and notes that he has consistently ranked in the top 15 agents in Australia based on settled sales. (His sales page is offline now.) Read the full story here.

European Central Bank comments responsible for mortgage rate cuts in Australia

When European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said he would “use all the available instruments” to stabilize prices late last month, Australian bankers started cutting loan rates mere days later. Draghi's comment sent relative yields on Australian financial debt to seven-year lows. Such is the interconnected nature of modern finance and the dependency of Australia's Big Four banks on access to cheap capital overseas. The Reserve Bank of Australia meets today. Virtually no economists have predicted that the bank will make major course changes before the end of the year. But the increasing reliance of mortgage lenders on foreign finance has begun to draw notice, as has the increasing portion of lending done to property investors and not to personal home buyers or businesses. Read the full story here.

Lower North Shore unit prices rising on a tide of investor interest and downsizing

RP Data reveals that the average number days a Mosman apartment stays on the market has dropped to 50 from 73 last year. Cremorne Point units take more than three weeks less to sell than they did last year. Real estate directors note a “massive movement” in the $700,000 to $1 million apartment market there, due to low interest rates, investor demand and downsizing adult couples. As an example, an 18-apartment Laurier development in Cremorne sold in two weeks. “We are seeing genuine frustration from buyers at the shortage of properties on the market this year. … People are stretching in order to purchase.” Read the full story here.