Monthly Archives: July 2019

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First-home buyers provide silver lining as investors retreat

Investor mortgage lending has seen its biggest drop in two years, according to September housing finance data, as investors head for the hills following continued pressure from Australia’s regulator and falling house prices in Sydney.

First-home buyers provide the silver lining in the Bureau of Statistics figures, with the group seeing an opportunity amid the shifting market dynamics and generous stamp duty concessions in NSW and Victoria.

Mortgage lending to investors slumped 6.2 per cent in September, compared with the previous month, while lending to owner-occupiers dropped 2.1 per cent, according to Thursday’s ABS release. The monthly total of new mortgage commitments fell to $32.5 billion from $33.7 billion in August.

Not helping investor sentiment is news Sydney house prices have begun falling and Melbourne growth is easing.

But first-home buyers continue to pin their ears back and wade in as the departure of investor interest provides more room to move.

The number of first-home buyer mortgage commitments as a percentage of total owner occupiers edged 0.2 per cent higher to 17.4 per cent in September – a 4.5 year high.

And the first-home buyer segment has been busily sniffing out bargains, the data show, as they aim to remain below stamp duty concession cut-offs.

The average loan size for first-home buyers during the period fell $6200 to $315,200, while the average loan size for all owner-occupied housing commitments rose $2100 to $371,700.

“A window has opened up,” AMP Capital chief economist and head of investment Shane Oliver told Domain.

“NSW and Victoria have both introduced more attractive stamp duty concessions for first-home buyers ??? that’s the big factor. At the same time, there are fewer investors out there, which has made more room for the first-home buyers.”

The increase in first-home buyer activity doesn’t come without a warning, according to Dr Oliver.

“There’s always the danger these first-home buyers are getting in at the top – just when the investors are nicking off. The first-home buyers could come in and end up holding the parcel, so to speak. But if they’re picking up cheaper properties, at the lower end of the market, it probably offsets that risk a little bit.”

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s move to tighten investor and interest-only lending rules in March of this year appear to be biting, colliding with easing property prices to present a double-whammy for multiple-property owners.

“APRA’s macroprudential policy, aimed at investors and interest-only loans in particular, appears to be having the desired effect of taking some investor demand out of the market,” ANZ economist Daniel Gradwell said.

“While household debt is still growing faster than income, developments such as this allow the regulator and RBA to be patient.”

Tuesday’s Reserve Bank meeting saw the board keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent for a 14th-straight month, with hopes of a cooling property market pinned to the regulator and eyes on weak consumer sentiment.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Chronic fatigue syndrome documentary UNREST to screen in NewcastleWATCH THE TRAILER

UNREST: Jennifer Brea directed a Sundance award-winning documentary about her search for answers while battling chronic fatigue syndrome. The film will screen at the University of Newcastle on November 11.WAYNE Andrews says he is alive, but not living, and the harder he pushes himself, the worse the payback.

The 52-year-old Hunter man hasbattledchronic fatigue syndrome since he was 29.

It had “disintegrated” his first marriage, and left him unable to be the parent he wanted to be.

“It is a very isolating illness,” he said.

“I used to be an extremely fit man, I used to surf every week, bush walk, play tennis, and I can’t do anything now that I used to enjoy. It really is as though I’m stuck in solitary confinement now.”

About 104,000people in Australia suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, a neuroimmune condition marked by symptoms such as “unrelenting exhaustion,” muscle pain, brain function and digestive problems.

Mr Andrews hoped a screening of theSundance award-winning documentary, UNREST, at Newcastle University on Saturday would raise awareness of the debilitating and misunderstood condition.

Local chronic fatigue syndrome researcher, Professor Tim Roberts, will speak about the condition and host a Q&A session at the screening at 5pm on November 11.

The film follows the story of Jennifer Brea, a 28-year-old PhD studentat Harvard who ismonths away from getting married when she gets a mysterious fever that leaves her bedridden, and looking for answers.

Disbelieved by doctors, she turns the camera on herself to find there are millions of people worldwide who are confined to their homes and bedrooms by myalgic encephalomyelitis – commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

“It effects every cell in your entire body,” Mr Andrews said.

“GPs aren’t taught much about this illness, and the really arrogant ones will say this disease doesn’t exist, but that’s because they have no answers.

“When you run out of energy, it’s like your battery has just gone completely flat and you just can’t function.

“There is nothing that I usedto enjoy in my former life that I can do now.”

He would like to see the federal government sink some money into the under-researched illness.

“It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you arealways having to hold back,” he said.

Tomi Juric’s training regime to cope with the Honduras climate

Every day after training during the weeks before he travelled to Honduras, Tomi Juric did something he hated. After every gruelling training session at the foot of the Swiss mountains where the temperature was just a few degrees above freezing, the Socceroos’ striker would sit in a sauna.

For 15 minutes at a time, he would force his body to cope with the hot, humid air while his muscles were on the verge of cramping after tiring sessions with his club, Luzern. As he describes it, stints in the sauna were the best way he could prepare for lasting 90 minutes in the tropical climate of San Pedro Sula.

With Robbie Kruse injured and sent straight to Australia and Tim Cahill still in doubt for the first leg, there’s a strong chance Juric will have to last the entire game in one of the more challenging climates for any footballer, let alone one coming from a late European autumn.

While his teammates were getting changed, Juric stayed in the sauna to help himself adjust as quick as possible for a match that will be played just below 30 degrees and with 82 per cent humidity.

“I’ve been prepping for it as well, doing a lot of heat adjusting in the sauna. It’s just that little bit for that 1 per cent maybe,” he said. “If it helps, it helps, we know it’s going to be humid here. The most important thing is we know what to expect regarding the conditions. We’ll be as prepared as possible for it.”

The 26-year-old wasn’t just content on earning a place in the squad for Honduras, nor a starting position in the first 11, but being able to play at his absolute best in taxing conditions. It’s why he continued to lie in a sauna in Honduras, using the facilities at their training ground at Estadio Morazan.

“I just sit in there after training. I try to get a good 10, 15 minutes in. I’m not a big fan of the sauna, I do it because it will help a little bit and just to get the feel of the heat,” Juric said.

“It’s cold in Switzerland now. If I just came in here it would be a bit of a shock to the system. It’s just to keep it on level terms.”

The heat and humidity may have required major adjustment for Juric but he has no concern for the hostile environment inside the Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula. Honduras’ home fans are some of the most passionate in Latin America and the infamous stadium an intimidating cauldron, and that’s exactly what Juric wants.

“I quite enjoy that, these hostile environments. I like playing in these sort of games,” he said. “I did it with the Wanderers where we travelled to some pretty hostile environments.

“When we played in Guangzhou against Evergrande it was one of the big ones in regards of the occasion and what was on the line for them and their fans. I quite enjoy it. I think that will bring the best out of a lot of us.”

That was the least of Juric’s worries upon landing in Honduras to find out his luggage didn’t arrive, meaning he had to train in his running shoes during his first session with the Socceroos.

It wasn’t until Wednesday when Juric could resume full training with his boots after his bag arrived late on Tuesday night.

“I lost my bag – or they lost my bag. It got in last night which is good. I can join into training today which will be good, I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Today will be back to normal [my bag arrived] last night, nothing’s missing, so it’s good.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Former Rooster Connor Watson has trained with the Newcastle Knights for the first time

HAVING A BALL: New signing Connor Watson shows safe hands on his first day of training with the Newcastle Knights. Picture: Marina NeilDURING his formative years, Connor Watson spent his pocket money buying every Newcastle Knights jersey. Now he is going to be paid handsomely to wear one.

After his first training session with Newcastle, the former Sydney Roosters utility back admitted there was something special about realising a childhood ambition.

“The day I started supporting them was the day of the 2001 grand final, when they won,” he recalled. “We were going down on the train and all my family were going for Parramatta and I said, no …I’m going for the Knights, and theyended up winning.

“So I’ve grown up with all the jerseys and everything, so it’s been really cool.

“I’ve always dreamed, since I was a kid, of playing for the Knights. To get the opportunity will be really awesome.”

The 21-year-old dynamo, who has appeared in 38 top-grade games for the Roosters over the past two seasons and was player of the tournament at the 2017 Auckland Nines, has signed a four-year deal with Newcastle.

“There’s a lot of things make up your decision when you sign for a club,” he said.

“There’s all those external things. But for me, it was about where I would be able to take the next step for my career and play my best footy.”

While a host of other big names rejected offers from the three-time wooden spooners, the Central Coast junior welcomed the challenge of helping the Knights to rebuild.

“I’m really excited, to be honest,” he said. “Obviously the Roosters are a great club, always very successful and you’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, they always sign the best players.

“But I think the Knights are really doing some great things here …Icould have stayed at the Roosters and kept playing off the bench, and not playing so many minutes, but for me the biggest thing was about the opportunity here and that’s why I’ve come here.”

Still recovering from a recent tonsillectomy, Watson is virtually certain to start next season asNewcastle’s five-eighth, leaving Brock Lamb and Trent Hodkinson competing for the No.7 jersey.

“There’s no guarantees in rugby league but I’ve just got to train my best and hopefully that’s where I’m playing in round one,” Watsonsaid.

With fellow ex-Roosters Shaun Kenny-Dowall andAidan Guerra also at Newcastle, Watsonsaid he would welcome another former teammate, Mitchell Pearce, if the disgruntled halfback was to seek a release.

“It’d be good,” he said.

“He’s a world-class player, Pearcey. He’s played 12 years of first grade, nearly 250 games, won a comp, played Origin. He’d be an awesome acquisition.”

THE HERALD’S OPINION: The Store facing the wrecking ball

BY approving its own plan to redevelop The Store site as a bus interchange to service the adjacent Newcastle Interchange, Transport for NSW has kicked off the next stage ofthe city’s public transport overhaul.

Despite Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel’s assertion that The Store “doesn’t really stand out as a great piece of architecture”, it has been a Hunter Street landmark for generations, and its survival –even as a facade –would have provided a link between the old and new structures.

But as aReview of Environmental Factors for the bus interchange made clear when put on public display in July, practical considerations rendered its retention unfeasible.As well as real concerns about the condition and stability of The Store, the preferred option for buses turning in and out of the interchange involves an upgraded intersection at Denison Street and Hunter Street, with dual turning lanes requiring “partial removal of The Store facade”.

The multi-level car park facing Stewart Avenue will also come down for the interchange, although plans show the clockwisebus loop at the heart of the design turning back before it reaches the concrete car park, leaving that part of the site available for ground-up future development. Also, the bus loop itself is set well to the rear of the site, leaving most of The Store footprint for similarly ground-up redevelopment.

Indeed, the planning documents state that one of the reasons the loop was configured the way it is was to provide “the opportunity to build over the proposal”.

With zoning approval for 90 metres of height –the city’s tallest –the site provides ample opportunity for a residential tower, or towers, of some consequence. Revitalising Newcastle has already taken the site to the market, and an announcement of a successful proponent is expected early next year.

With two large residential blocks north of the interchange –including the Doma Group’s Bishopsgate – now well under way, there certainly seems to be ample demand for west end apartments.

But first of all, The Store site has to work properly as a bus interchange. Even with apartment towers,the state government’s purchase of the site will only be a positive if the bus interchange –replacing the one at Newcastle station – providesthe “improved customer experience” that Transport for NSW is promising.

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