Global Property Guide - News and Discussions
UK home prices rise in March
Home prices in the United Kingdom exceeded forecasts in March, posting a 2.7% increase compared to the 1.9% recorded in February, the Office of National Statistics said.
The ONS said in spite the fall in Northern Island, home prices grew higher during the month and even surpassed economists' expectations of a 2.3% increase.
In Britain, the average price for a home stood at £235,000 ($357,000/?278,000) in March.
House prices rose by 0.4% between February and March, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to the ONS.
In capital London, average prices rose 7.6% on year to £398,000. In the South East, prices rose 3.3% above the national average. National prices, excluding the regions, rose by 0.6% in March, according to the ONS.
In Northern Ireland and Scotland, prices dropped by 2% and 1.7%, respectively.
First-time buyers paid more as home prices rose 1.3% year-on-year in March, while existing-owners' prices surged by 3.2%. New-home prices increased by 1% and prices for pre-owned homes were up 2.8%.
Mortgage has been made more available by Chancellor George Osborne's £3.5bn financial help for homebuyers aside from a credit easing programme announced earlier.
Mortgage lender Halifax and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said in separate surveys that property prices rose in April, suggesting a recovery in the property market.
Foreign property investments boost Spanish economy
The popularity of Spain amongst foreign property investors looks set to once again be invaluable to the country's economy.
In a week which has revealed that tourists' spending in Spain for March was up 13.7 per cent on the same month last year, there's also been positive news on the international property investment front.
While the Bank of Spain has released figures showing that property investment from international markets grew by 17 per cent in 2012, we've also learned that new residency visas will become available for foreign investors in Spanish property, should a new law be passed in July.
The law would give non-EU citizens automatic residency in Spain, provided they invest more than ?500,000 in Spanish property, and sets out a clear message that Spain recognises how invaluable foreign investment is to its economy.
The impact of the scheme on the country's economy would be one of great significance, with predictions that foreign investment - particularly from Asia - would increase tenfold. Indeed, coupled with the rising numbers of Chinese tourists holidaying in Spain, it's predicted that Chinese buyers alone would pour up to ?100 million into the country's property market.
Interestingly, British expats are no longer at the top of the table for foreign investors buying second homes in Spain's Costa del Sol region - an area renowned for its strong British ties.
Britons have been the country's biggest property investors (and tourist imports) for years, but in this particular instance have been knocked off the top spot by Russian and Scandinavian investors who, together, now make up 45 per cent of property sales on Spain's south coast.
Russians being increasingly prominent in Spain is nothing particularly new, as more and more are travelling to Spain for their holidays each year. However, the increase in Russian investors is said to be down to a rise in the Russian middle-class and improving transport links between the two countries.
Marbella, in keeping with its popularity as a tourist destination, is said to be one of the most popular areas for foreign nationals buying property in Spain.
One Spanish estate agent, Lucas Fox, recently revealed that as much as 80 per cent of their property sales in 2012 were sold to non-Spanish clients, with Asian investors said to be particularly keen in Barcelona and Ibiza.
How to invest in vacation rental properties
Renting out vacation property can be a fun way to supplement your income and provide a fun experience to others on vacation.
To buy and rent out vacation property you must first lay out your plan of action, anticipating variables along the way. Let's look at some ways to make the most out of your vacation rental property investment.
Secure a loan
If you are going to need a loan, the best place to start would be the internet, to use one of the hundreds of mortgage calculators available and calculate how much banks will lend you.
The world of lending has changed substantially in the recent years, due to the financial crisis. The ridiculously lax lending standards have since been replaced by more stringent requirements for applicants.
Your monthly outlay for cars and houses can now go no higher than 36% of your income, and in most cases you need a 20% down payment.
Keeping these things in mind, one must realize that the actual profit to be had is generally small at first. Of course anything done right can turn into a nice payday, but your best bet is to start small and if your ambitions allow, work your way up.
Once you secure a loan, the next thing you need to factor in is the extra costs.
Extra costs to take note of
At the very minimum you will have to cover insurance, maintenance, utilities, and taxes.
If you don't live with commuting distance to the property, you may want to hire a property manager or a caretaker.
Educate yourself as to what it takes to keep a home in that area in good condition.
Mountain and beach homes may suffer weather damage and need frequent repairs. When figuring the costs, always prepare for worst case scenario and slightly inflate the prices, so if disaster does strike, you and your wallet will be prepared.
One useful tip I can give to prospective renters is to buy a house that's already been built, as opposed to buying land and building your own.
Building your own home will bring along a plethora of new obstacles and challenges that you may not be ready for. It may be an option if you have experience in the game.
Also, if you want to build your own home, your budget is going to have to be substantially larger than if you were to buy one.
Get a local real estate agent
A good real estate agent is invaluable to anybody buying property. Real estate agents usually have knowledge of the area and may know lots of little useful things about the area like community events that are held, or even hidden bonds.
A good agent will also help you with direction and any driving problems that may come up such as parking or rough conditions.
Set a marketing plan
You must make sure your property is appealing to potential customers. You will want plenty of things to do, like high speed internet, cable TV, nice TV's, maybe a video game system or two.
It depends on what age group you are catering to, but either way your house should be directly on the beach, not somewhere near it, and it should have plenty of bedding for large groups to use.
It helps if your house is within walking distance of the nearest town, or at least the nearest store is.
One more thing you should do is visit your potential property in each of the four seasons, to get a feel for any seasonal problems or occurrences that may come up.
The roads may be impassable during the winter, or you may have an algae problem in the water near your beach house in the spring. You never know what can come up so once again, it's always best to be prepared as possible.
House prices: Can commuting times raise or drag prices down?
Research carried out at Victoria University shows that the commuting distance from Wellington City influences house prices in the region.
Dr Toby Daglish, Research Director at the New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation (ISCR), says a recent study into decisions made by Wellington commuters shows that travel times have a significant effect on house prices in Wellington and Lower Hutt.
"Taking into account factors such as the size of a house and its age, we found that an extra minute by public transport to Cuba Mall reduced the value of a house by $6,700. So a house that was 10 minutes further from town was $67,000 cheaper, all other things being equal," says Dr Daglish.
The research focuses on commuting decisions made by Wellingtonians, the intensity of car ownership and how these factors impact on house prices. It is a collaborative project between Drs Toby Daglish, Yigit Saglam and Mairead de Roiste.
The project has benefited from the employment of a Summer Scholarship student jointly funded by Victoria University and Wellington City Council.
Dr. Daglish says researchers used data from the NZ Household Travel Survey, which is prepared by the Ministry of Transport (MoT), to gauge nationwide decisions about car ownership and transport modes.
The data analyses where people live, where they work and how they commute between work and home locations. It explores which characteristics make a commuter more likely to choose a particular commuting mode and level of car ownership.
"Our model provides some insight into the types of things that could stimulate a change in how people commute, such as the drop needed in public transport prices and/or commute times in order for commuters to stop driving to work," Dr. Daglish adds.
Japan property tax breaks: Good and bad points for buyers, developers
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe introduced a variety of monetary policies to keep the economy running this past year promoting better conditions for the country's real estate market.
One of these monetary policies should benefit the property industry of Japan struggling to create demand, arrest the high vacancy rates and caving property market prices.
Japan has announced to raise the amount of residential mortgage tax credit from 2014 through 2018. This new measure aims to offset the increase in the consumption tax rate in April 2014 and an extension of the previous tax credit scheme given since 2009.
Analysts, however, are quick to point out the tax breaks promoted by the Japanese government have good and bad points for property developers, buyers and investors in the country.
Since the residential market plunge in 2009, Japan's real estate market had only shown signs of life by the end of 2011 to 2012.
Part of the credit could be given to the tax breaks magnified by the Japanese government to boost demand in mid-2009.
Mortgage tax credit: Who gets to benefit?
Although rentals are not covered, mortgage tax credit in Japan is calculated on an outstanding mortgage balance.
The mortgage must be longer than 10 years and made for the purpose of building or buying an owner-occupied home.
Did the new tax credit created demand or did it at least encourage people to buy?
According to a study made by the Deutsche Bank's real estate investment arm, RREEF, in a January 2013 report, the mortgage tax credits benefits for buyers were short-lived. Property developers, on the other hand, were the beneficiaries.
"This house price escalation in 2010-2012 paralleled the more generous mortgage tax credits. Despite the price increase, the contract rate rose at the same time due to the ample tax incentive package. About 90% of house buyers said they were motivated to purchase because of the generous tax credit," the RREEF report points out.
This evidence supports the idea that tax credits contributed to housing demand, at least in the short term.
"However, developers raised condo prices by an amount roughly equivalent to the tax credit increase. This means that buyers did not necessarily benefit from the increased tax credits because the price was raised almost by the same amount for the respective years of the incentive programme. Developers, however, benefitted from the increased tax credits as well as the elevated contract rate," according to RREEF findings.
Philippine luxury properties lure China, HK investors
Properties in the Philippines are still considered undervalued compared to that of other Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia and Thailand.
Thus, of late Philippine real estate had drawn more property buyers from China and Hong Kong, who would want to capitalise on this considerable scope for capital growth, notes property developer Mr. Marco Biggiogero, who invested in a new residential resort development in Boracay Island, 345 kilometres, south of Manila.
'The Philippines is currently priced significantly below Thailand and Indonesia so there is considerable scope for capital growth. This represents great value,' he tells the South China Morning Post
Mr. Biggiogero is explaining the recent growth among Chinese mainland and Hong Kong investors drawn to Philippine properties especially those in prominent addresses in the Makati business district.
Luxurious residential properties in Makati City led by the newly constructed Raffles Residences built by Ayala Land Inc. were gobbled up by Hong Kong and other mainland Chinese investors, according to Colliers International Philippines associate director Mr. Julius Guevarra.
The Global Property Guide Research notes that that aside from the stringent property measures in China and Hong Kong, Philippine real estate presents better yields for rental properties hitting within the range 6 to 8% a year, while prices are on a gradual growth based mainly on inflation and not on market speculation.
The Philippines is one of the few countries in Asia with decent economic growth amidst stable economic fundamentals such as very low interest rates.
Instead of imposing capital controls, the central bank of the Philippines went for low interest rates in deterring inflows.
"We plan to reference real-estate exposure to adjusted capital of banks," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Central bank governor Amando Tetangco says in an emailed statement to Bloomberg.
Italian holiday home shows fractional ownership works
Everyone daydreams at some point of owning a home abroad - perhaps some run-down farmhouse in the middle of a vineyard that they can lovingly restore and turn into their perfect holiday home in the sunshine.
Indeed the latest research report from HomeAway.co.uk / Savills International has shown that for increasing numbers, the daydream has become a reality with the number of UK households owning overseas property rising from less than 200,000 to well over 450,000 in the decade from 2000 to 2010. In addition, it is estimated that 1.3 million British nationals could live overseas by 2025.
For interior designer Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs and her husband Michael Hobbs, who together with their family run Appassionata, the dream became reality back in 2007 when they moved to Italy to renovate a ramshackle farmhouse in the pretty hilltop village of Montefiore dell'Aso. Situated in the Le Marche region, described recently by The Guardian as 'a gorgeous and affordable region to explore,' the Estate Giacomo Leopardi offered Dawn and Michael everything they were searching for.
'We wanted a serious project - something that would inspire us while allowing us to work closely with local Italian craftsmen. Estate Giacomo Leopardi was perfect. We have been able to turn the crumbling buildings into two stunning houses, while ensuring that original rustic features were retained,' explains Dawn.
When Appassionata arrived, the farmhouse and outbuildings were derelict and unloved but Dawn recalls she instantly had 'the feeling' and knew that the estate was perfect. The first of the two houses (Casa Giacomo) was a new build on the site of a former pig sty, using traditional Italian building methods and materials, including old bricks, stone and terracotta roof and floor tiles.
Casa Leopardi was renovated from the dilapidated 150 year old farmhouse. The original house had a typical rural Italian property setup, with living accommodation upstairs and open plan animal quarters on the ground floor, which provided the perfect place for Dawn to stable her horses for the first year before Casa Leopardi's renovation began.
The outer walls of the farmhouse remain and many of the original materials were rescued and used elsewhere in the house. Although the original windows and shutters were beyond saving, a local joiner was able to replicate them for the finished house. Dawn, who never throws anything away, has stored the remains and will one day turn them into cupboards.
Appassionata's sympathetic restoration has ensured that an abundance of original features have been retained. Casa Leopardi showcases many traditional aspects of Italian design, including brick archways, Venetian plaster, beamed and vaulted ceilings and terracotta tiled
floors. The kitchen was designed and hand-built specifically for the house and opens out onto a delightful shaded terrace, which is perfect for alfresco dining while gazing out towards the sea.
The upper floors of Casa Leopardi have been turned into five en-suite double bedrooms. Three have French doors leading onto spacious outdoor terraces, while one of the bathrooms features a corner fireplace and free-standing bath. Appassionata has been careful to ensure a balance of traditional and modern touches. Thus while Casa Leopardi reflects the very essence of rural Italian living, it also has a small gym, fully equipped utility room and its own private pool.
Now that the renovation work is complete, Appassionata is selling shares through fractional ownership, allowing others to be a part of the dream Italian lifestyle. All shares in Casa Giacomo have already been snapped up and only a few shares in Casa Leopardi remain available, such has been the popularity of the restoration work.
One of the most time-consuming and expensive tasks of the whole project was the landscaping. Sloping farmland and a neglected 35-year-old vineyard were slowly transformed into gardens, rockeries, terraces, steps, swimming pools and a tennis court. The estate also now includes a lavender plantation, truffle orchard, replanted vineyards and olive groves, the produce of which is shared by the houses' fractional owners.
'The 2012/13 grape harvest has seen the first production from our newly planted vineyards result in 1,600 bottles of wine. As the vines mature we expect the production to rise to some 5,000 bottles per year - plenty to share between just 20 owners,' Michael commented on the horticultural progress.
By offering fractional ownership, Appassionata has allowed a lucky few families to experience rural Italian life in the most luxurious of settings. While a few fractions of Casa Leopardi remain for sale at the special offer price of £175,000, the increasing number of people owning a second home overseas means that those wanting to turn their Italian daydream into a reality will need to move fast indeed
Barbados property, 'pricey' investments bring steady gains
Most of us love our homeland but few of us are not tempted of owning a vacation home abroad, especially when money is not a problem. Of course, temptations are not coming from any home in just any country, so Point2 Homes has searched for you properties for sale in one of the most dreamed-of tourist destinations in The Caribbean - the island of Barbados.
One of the surprises provided by this tourist heaven is that many homes are listed for median prices around $2,000,000, and Point2 Homes data shows that these properties are being spread over more than half of the island. For a quick comparison, consider that homes in the Hamptons (another destination preferred by Americans, especially New Yorkers looking for a second home) sold for median prices lower than $1,000,000 in 2012.
What is the meaning of "pricey" in Barbados?
The island of Barbados is divided into 11 parishes and almost half of them have some impressive home listing prices, making the island one of the most expensive real estate markets in the Caribbean. As for the investors, a recent New York Times article ranks Canadians and Americans as the second and third most important real estate investors in Barbados, while the British are holding the top position.
The most common and expensive types of properties on the market are houses, having an impressive median asking price of $2,032,500 ($520/sqft), although the cited article points out a 15-20% price decrease of home prices after the financial crisis.
Top 3 most expensive Barbados parishes for houses
St. James is the parish having the highest number of listings, distinguished as the most expensive and considered along with St. Peter as part of the "Platinum Coast", the favorite Barbados region for the wealthiest investors.
Property auctions take place and had been a success in Australia because of good market conditions.
Contrary to U.S. property auctions used to dispose of properties in distress, Australia's thrives on an environment of low interest rates and higher property prices.
Property owners in Australia's biggest cities had been drawn to auctions because of these factors.
In Sydney, about two-thirds of homes offered during the public auction in February and March beat figures recorded in two years, data from Australian Property Monitors (APM) indicated.
In Melbourne, the second biggest market for home auctions, the proportion reached 68%--the highest since May 2010, APM said.
Real estate agents at McGrath indicated that the number of auctions in Sydney increased in the first three months of 2013 to 697 compared to the 559 recorded a year ago.
In Canberra and Adelaide, price declines are still occurring during the first quarter, SQM Research Pty managing director Louis Christopher said in an emailed statement.
Suburban homes sell faster in Singapore
Singapore's suburban properties are now the preferred buys of foreigners as a result of the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) imposed by the government two years ago.
According to real estate agents interviewed by the Singapore Straits Times, foreign buyers led by Chinese and Indonesian nationals, have returned to the real estate market in the last six months, but this time their penchant focuses on mass market residential condominiums in suburban locations.
Gone are the days that foreign buyers usually sought high-end properties, an analyst tells Singapore Straits Times, in order to have more room for the 15% levy for their acquisitions.
Data from Singapore's Housing Authority showed that excluding permanent residents, foreign buyers comprised 10.7% of the 4,884 private homes sold during the first quarter of 2013.
This was an improvement of 3.3% compared to the same period in 2012 taken by foreign buyers of the 7,918 units sold.
First-time home buyers
Singapore's first-time home buyers drove the property market into positive territory during the first quarter of 2013 with 2,793 new private homes sold, according to data released by the URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority).
Since property cooling measures were imposed and the global financial crises struck, this is the first time that the URA recorded higher numbers besting the July 2009 record at 2,772 homes sold.
Spain property market sales in coastal areas bounce back
In the Spanish coastal town of Cambrils, province of Tarragona, Catalonia, luxury sports cars with Russian plates are now a common sight parked outside villas and single-storey homes.
Since Spain's property prices crashed in 2008 and so far had hit bottom last year, foreign buyers have once again flocked to Spain's sunny coastal towns like Cambrils.
Russians are among the top property owners in Cambrils, according to a report by Germany's DW Network, thanks to the Spanish government's decision to grant resident permits to home buyers of property worth no less than 160,000 euros.
Real estate agents interviewed by DW (Duetsche Welle) attest to this latest trend, which could be the biggest break needed by the local property sector after a long period of lull.
Mr. Estevez Saez, a real estate administrator in one of the upscale residential buildings in Cambrils, tells DW that there is now an improvement in sales that in time may boost property prices that declined by 40% to 45% in the last two years.
Real estate agent in Cambrils, Ms Olga Otero notes that the property market of Spain is now moving since the property bubble burst in 2008.
The residency permits granted to Spanish property buyers, more flexible terms from Spanish banks have made a difference to the real estate sector, which could also redound to the construction industry, Ms Otero tells DW, state-run German media network.
DW report points out a 20% increase in sales in coastal properties without citing if these are from subsidised or free market housing sector in Spain.
Global Property Guide Research says in a report from Spain's Ministry of Public Works, that in the first quarter of 2012, property sales was placed at 70,228, of these about 91.2% were in the free market housing sector and the remaining 8.8% were subsidized housing.
Five best markets to sell a home in the U.S.
Sacramento, California. Houses in this city are being snatched up very quickly and it is said that the average listing only lasts around three weeks.
The high demand of these homes has helped to increase the area home prices around 40 percent higher in the past 12 months.
All of the price points are strong and a lot of first time homebuyers have also entered the market.
This frees up sellers of smaller entry level homes and allows them to purchase the more expensive and bigger houses.
The median listing price is Sacramento, California is $279,000, making the city one of the best places in the United States for home sellers.
Oakland, California. Houses put on sale are picked up quickly. In February 2013 the houses that were for sale were only on the market for an average of only two weeks before they were sold, according to data on Realtor.com.
The result of this has been that the houses often attract a variety of offers and end up selling for more than the asking price due to increasing demand.
Majority of investors decide to keep the homes and end up renting them out rather than fixing them up to sell. The median listing price in Oakland stands at $419,000.
Stockton, California is another location that took a huge impact from the housing bust as many people lost their homes due to foreclosure.
However, it is now said that the foreclosure pipeline is drying up according to Leslie Appleton-Young, a chief economist for the California Association of Realtors.
Bank owned properties, however, still account for a bit over more than half of all of the sales. It is a huge improvement from the first few years during the bust when banks accounted for an astounding 80% or more of the housing market.
The change in ownership means that most of the house hunters will not find as many bargains as they did just a few years ago.
The median listing price in Stockton is $185,900. Investors in real estate here should move quick as the markets in California are providing fast opportunities for home selling.
Denver, Colorado's real estate market remained stable during the housing boom and bust that happened a few years ago.
Housing prices were not impacted nearly as much as in other areas and have been on the rise ever since, climbing over 8% within the past 12 months.
Now houses are generally sold within just under a month as the prospect of an oil boom in the area has boosted the demand.
The median listing price in Denver, Colorado is $269,900. Homeowners that stayed afloat during the market turbulence can easily sell their homes in Denver, especially now with demand increasing throughout the Centennial State.
Ireland's economic comeback owed to Google, Paypal, Facebook
Major house price declines have eased in Ireland in 2012, thanks to the increasing demand from tech companies like Google, Linkedin and Facebook, which have set up offices and headquarters in the country.
It was plain attraction to Dublin's tax rates pegged at 12.5%, according to IDA Ireland and reports from Bloomberg Businessweek, compared to that in the UK at 24%, 33% in France and 35% in the U.S.
The development agency IDA Ireland saw the economic benefits of these tech companies led by Google in 2011. Thus, the IDA Ireland came to the aid of other tech companies PayPal, Dropbox, SumUp, and even Yahoo.com to find properties and meet local regulators.
The companies bring in some foreign workers because of the specific language requirements, but their direct and indirect benefits to the micro economies in Dublin from property and let-in businesses, markets and restaurants are definitely being felt.
"These people are spending here. The knock-on ripple effect of them from housing, property, coffee, and lunch is massive for the greater area," Ms Louise Phelan, Paypal's vice president of global operations tells Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview.
It still is a long way to go for Ireland's economy to make a complete turnaround, since the European Union bailout in 2011. Nonetheless, goods and services exports rose 9.1% to ?170.6 billion in 2012 compared to ?156.3 billion reached in 2007.
The EU even expects Ireland to grow 1.1% this year, and the IMF's managing director Christine Lagarde to say that the country is indeed "it's seeing the "first fruits of success."
The Global Property Guide Research reports that in Dublin, Ireland's capital, the residential property price index fell by 2.5% (-3.6% in real terms) in 2012.
In the rest of Ireland(excluding Dublin), property prices dropped 6.1% (-7.3% in real terms) over the same period.
Mauritius residential property buying guide explained
The Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) is a program designed to facilitate the acquisition of residential property by non-citizens in Mauritius. The IRS is basically a project or property development for the construction and sale of luxury residential units to foreigners, which also provides them with a Mauritian Residence permit.
The Integrated Resort Scheme provides:
1. For the development of luxury residential units of international standing on freehold development land of MORE than 10 hectares to be sold at a price exceeding USD 500,000.
2. High class leisure and commercial amenities and facilities intended to enhance the residential units. These may include but not limited to, golf course, marina, nautical and other sport facilities, shopping mall, restaurant and wellness centre.
3. day-to-day management services such as security, maintenance, gardening, solid waste disposal and household services have to be provided to the residents.
4. for a social contribution in terms of social amenities, community development and other facilities for the benefit of the neighbouring community where the IRS project is implemented.
Thus far, althrough starting prices mandated to start at USD 500,000, the average selling price of a IRS has been around USD1.6 million There have been several different 'products' brought to market thus far including but not limited to:
Anahita - South East of the island
Tamarina - South West near the town of Tamarin
Villa Valriche - Far South of the island, Bel Ombre
Club Med Albion - West
Belle Riviere - Far South
Azuri - East Coast - East Coast
La Balise Marina - South West, Black River,
Le Parc de Mont Choisy - North, near Grand Baie
The Villas offered form part of a complex of luxury villas of international standard with high-class facilities and amenities.
The extent of land for each villa shall not exceed 1.25 arpents (0.5276 hectares). The villa can be acquired on the basis of a plan or during the construction phase and may be resold.
Dollar buying binge widens for Philippine residents
Residents of the Philippines have more dollar buying power these days with the new foreign currency transaction rules approved by the country's central bank.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has liberalised rules on foreign currency transactions, which opens doors for locals to buy $120,000 in foreign exchange to pay for property, education, medical treatment abroad and other foreign investments abroad without documentation.
The central bank raised the foreign currency buying ceiling pegged at $60,000 after the developing country received its first ever investment upgrade last month from Fitch Ratings.
The revised central bank policy will temper the rise of local currency which hurts the income of families relying on dollar remittances working overseas and export growth.
Moreover, this would impact on foreign exchange movements especially if it encourages more people to buy foreign exchange for outside use, central bank's Ms Wilhelmina Manalac, managing director at the central bank's Department for International Operations, tells Reuters.
The central bank and other forex analysts polled by Reuters expect the peso to soar further, with the median forecast placed at Php39.45 to the dollar by the end of March 2014.
The latest revision on foreign currency rules in the Philippines will also provide a boost to the Aquino administration's private-public partnerships programme, which seeks to create more infrastructure projects.
Companies and government agencies can proceed with the public-private partnerships without the approval of the central bank within a period of two years or until 28 December 2016.
The revision to the central bank's foreign currency rule will facilitate a local company's dollar purchases from the bank system to pay off unregistered foreign loans for an eight month period, starting May 2013. (In 2011, this was only allowed within 3-months.)
Online property magazine for retirees, retiremove.co.uk launches
A new free-to-use property and lifestyle website called Retiremove.co.uk has been launched for the over 50s.
Jane Slade, the former property editor of the Sunday Express, founded the site as a result of struggling to find up-to-date information and well-researched advice for her mother when she was seeking to downsize from her home on the south coast last year.
Jane also found that many of her friends were in the same position with older parents looking for quality accommodation that would see them through the third stage of their lives; but having nowhere to go to for impartial advice.
It is for them and her own parents that she established www.retiremove.co.uk as a free-to-access helpful haven offering information and case-study based articles on all aspects of retirement living including retirement villages, second homes, moving overseas, choosing a care home and investment property.
Retiremove is also for influencers like doctors, lawyers and religious preachers who want to offer well-informed advice to their clients, patients and parishioners.
'As we are an aging population it is more important than ever that we are well-informed about our options when it comes to how and where we want to live when we retire,' says Retiremove editor Jane Slade.
'Retiremove can be a huge benefit to people as it provides so much useful information in one place accessed by the click of a mouse; and while the special subject is property it covers many other related subjects too.
'I know from helping my own parents that there are so many issues and complexities involved as people get older and that it can be a very depressing exercise trying to fathom what to do. The process can also be incredibly emotional. When I was researching nursing homes for my father after he had become immobile through Parkinson's Disease I nearly gave up until I found one that had a library, conservatory and a bar where he could entertain his friends - I literally cried with joy.'
Retiremove.co.uk helps to cut a swathe through some of the psychological problems older people face too such as loneliness, disability and finding love in later life.
But it is also for people who want to grow old disgracefully and to discover that ageing is not all downhill; the Mick Jagger generation is now 70 plus and there are all those baby boomers who want a different retirement from their parents.
And with more and more silver surfers discovering the joys of the Internet an easy-to-navigate website means it is accessible to everyone 24 hours a day.
Retiremove is updated daily so users are the first to know about new property launches, exclusive deals and analysis from industry experts.
Retiremove employs top-flight journalists and experts to provide up-to-the-minute information, exclusive tips and lots more photographic imagery than newspapers and magazines can provide.
A wide spectrum of lifestyle issues are also featured including finance, gardening, travel and technology - not to mention a What's On page of upcoming events and free ticket offers.
Student property investment: Beware of the pitfalls and hype
There has been a tremendous amount of interest in U.K student property investment over the past 18 months. Is there a solid grounding behind the hype and what are the potential pitfalls to watch out for?
The positive market fundamentals of the student property market as quoted by Knight Frank point out that student property investment was the best performing property investment in 2012 and that rental income is increasing by 5% per annum.
These are, however, macro fundamentals that are covering the whole sector; a lot of developers could be jumping on the band wagon and launching promising new developments but will they actually deliver when we scratch below the surface?
How can a property investor make a good investment? What are the items one could look out for to safeguard ones investment?
Supply and Demand
Investors are drawn to the big University Cities, like Liverpool, with a student population of 55,000 one would automatically expect demand to be good. Surprisingly, there are supply side issues that one may easily overlook.
Liverpool Town council have been unrelentingly passing planning permission for student accommodation. The Liverpool Echo newspaper states that over 5000 student new student beds have been approved for development over the past year.
Although demand is high, the flood of new student properties coming onto the market could have a dampening effect on rental yield as landlords have to decrease their rent in order to obtain tenants.
Changes in legislation present opportunities. 'The Article Four ruling which has been adopted by Nottingham, Leicester and Southampton town council is particularly interesting to investors' says Arran Kerkvliet (MD) of One Touch Property Investment.
The Article Four direction effectively limits supply by restricting the provision of planning permission for student accommodation. In a bid to maintain the number of family homes, local councils have made it a requirement that planning permission to be obtained from conversion of a single family home to a residence to be used for more than three unrelated occupants.
Where supply of new student accommodation is being restricted, there is increased likeliness of your student property being rented and solid rental income for the future.
In some smaller towns like Chester and Canterbury, planning permission is very limited because of the shortage of available land within the centre of these historic cathedral and market towns. Purpose built student property village in Canterbury will meet the future requirements of the growing demand. The current university accommodation in Canterbury only provides for 22% of the students population.
The old adage, location, location, location can never be ignored when it comes to property. The convenience of location is one of the most important factors for students because the cost of an additional bus fare and an extra 20 minute lie in are high on the student list of priorities.
'Students are highly sophisticated consumers and they are particularly aware of branding in other areas of their life.
Branding for accommodation could serve to give a higher level of customer penetration.
Just like hotels, branding would also give instant recognition which would create product differentiation around varying price points, which we believe would only enhance the chances of achieving full occupancy with greater lettings velocity.
Having an established nationwide student property provider like CRM students or Derwent Student Homes is most certainly a benefit. A number of developers have set up their own student management companies with no experience of the student lettings market.
The student lettings market is highly competitive. There is a very short period of three months between July and September where students typically decide on which residence will be their home for the next year. It is therefore crucial that your lettings management team is ahead of the game, if not, the results could be quite catastrophic, meaning that you would have an extended vacancy period.
A lot of student property investors have found comfort in an extended rental guarantee period. The typical rental guarantee offered on the first student accommodation investments was just one year.
By now student property investments have rental guarantee periods that extend to as long as five years.
The peace of mind that comes from having a guarantee of a net income between 8% and 10% is often offset by the fact that if the developer will keep rental income increases during the next five years.
The full maintenance and lettings costs have been included in the Net rental income figure; which makes the developer liable for any repairs and upkeep of communal areas. The buyer would only have to cover the replacement cost of furniture within the studio.
How safe is my money?
The majority of student accommodation investments are for purchases of off plan property purchases. Up to 50% of the property price is required as an exchange deposit; some of the developers have full access to these funds after exchange of contracts takes place. This leaves some element of development risk upon the buyer.
'We have sourced student property developments where your deposits are protected because funds are only released to builders for the actual works they have completed,' One Touch Property Investment director Arran Kerkvliet says.
On the whole the student property market remains buoyant. The rental income returns outperform the majority of residential investments. With the right help you can navigate through the obstacles and reap excellent rewards with a fairly low level of investment.
UK property market shows more promise
After the economic downturn of 2008, the London Property market appears to be prosperous despite the UKs economic difficulties.
Good levels of growth have been recorded in all types of property across the capital with London house prices now being above their 2007 peak.
This growth is not exclusively linked to the Prime London market but with all London property.
There is more good news for London property as the number of affordable housing across the capital is set to increase significantly over the next few years, further extending the opportunities of ownership of London property to more people.
Generally speaking, the UK has been hit hard with the current economic climate with levels of employment and economic growth grinding to a halt.
UK house prices
House prices have not been unaffected by this downturn with the average UK home now worth £164,430, nearly £20,00 lower than the October 2007 peak of £186,043.
House prices in London, however, are an exception to these trends with the average house price now at £306,919.
Healthy levels of employment and the funding for lending scheme has kept demand for sales property in London high, consequently leading to the above average house prices.
Experiences unique to London have helped to retain healthy property prices across the capital.
After hosting the Olympic Games of 2012, London has seen the creation of new property-buying opportunities and new hot spots as a direct result from cultural and employment shifts created by the London Olympic Games.
Transport developments within London, particularly the development of the cross rail, due to be operating by 2017 has generated more investment and growth which has further helped to retain above average property prices in London.
Prime London properties
At the top end of the London property market, prime London property has received an unprecedented two and a half years of steady growth.
This continuous growth is partly due to the economic climate which has resulted in the world's wealthiest individuals transferring their assets from stocks and shares into real estate.
Since then the demand for prime London property has been strong with interest coming from wealthy Londoners and foreign investors.
For properties worth 5 million or more which has now become known as the 'super prime' market, value growth is now 3.5% above peak. This growth is not only limited to Central London as the outer prime markets of South West London such as Richmond, Putney, and Wandsworth have started to catch up with the centre.
This growth is not only limited to residential property, but commercial property is also experiencing changes and growth across the capital.
Significant redevelopments are happening in the 'midtown' area between the West End and City as many run down commercial properties are being transformed into desirable office space.
Affordable London property
Growth in the London property market is not only limited to Prime London property as the number of affordable housing in London has doubled in less than a year.
Boosting the capitals construction industry and creating thousands of jobs, London's Mayor Boris Johnson plans to deliver up to 100,000 affordable homes for Londoners over two Mayoral terms.
This massive project is already well under way with 10,092 homes already being constructed. To further support middle income earners onto the London property ladder, a minimum of £750 million has been secured to help boost new build construction.
China property sales to drop 50%
China's real estate sales are foreseen skidding by as much as 50 per cent from last month, as a result of new cooling measures announced by city and municipal governments in the last two weeks.
Analysts predict this scenario after the announcement of the cities of Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Hefei, Guangzhuo, Tianjin, and Shenzhen came out with new property cooling measures to meet the central government's deadline.
Key cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing, which had drawn immigrants from other provinces and townships for work, had tougher property rules, according to Zhang Dawei, research director at property agent Centaline Property Agency's mainland division.
In spite the existing property measures, there was a buying frenzy in March. In Beijing, sales of second-hand homes rose 332 % month-on-month selling 43,780 units more, 5i5j Real Estate said in a report.
In 100 major Chinese cities, average home prices have risen 1.06% month-on- month in March, placing the growth for 10 consecutive months data from the China Index Academy said had indicated.
Real estate agents said home prices are seen stabilising in a month or so with the detailed measures put in place.
Summary of New Property Measures:
-- Beijing and Shanghai to impose a 20% capital gains tax on second-hand homes.
-- Guangzhou will implement a 20% tax on capital gains from property sales
-- Shenzhen has yet to explain how the 20% tax will be imposed on property
Sources: Reuters, South China Morning Post
Australia real estate post record low prices
Australia has the most affordable prices since the 2009 global financial crisis hit economies world-wide.
A report by the HIA-CBA Housing Affordability Index had shown that based on data gathered since 2009 on mortgage costs, home prices and corresponding household income, conditions had been favourable to potential home buyers.
The string of factors that include rising wages, interest rate cuts, and slow home price growth had increased affordability levels in Australia by 5.5% in Q4 2012, an 18% increase y-o-y.
Melbourne recorded a 4.1% growth in prices in Q4 and 25% since the market's peak in December 2010. In Sydney, price levels rose 5.3%--the most expensive. While Hobart is the most affordable.
Mr. Shane Garrett, HIA's senior economist, notes that affordability would even be more favourable for consumers and buyers if the lenders passed on the rates fully.
Mr. Garrett points out that in spite the relative affordability of some homes, sales activity had not fully picked up.