Today in property: Homeowner protections coming, low interest hangovers, Mum and Dad Bank crackdown

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

Apartment development critics making hay out of Mascot Towers


The NSW government has vowed to push through legislation offering enhanced protection to homeowners by the end of the year, in the wake of evacuation of the damaged Mascot Towers building over the weekend.


This preceded advice to residents last night that they'd need to raise a fresh fund of $1 million to pay for urgent repairs to the building. As it turns out, these same residents voted a year ago to take Aland Developments and Bayside Council to court over damage caused by their adjacent residential project, which they had originally objected to on the basis of its close proximity to the existing structure.


This event, the second mass-evacuation due to building defects in a Sydney residential tower in six months, has given a platform to critics of building standards in general and developers in particular. It's handed a second wind to Opal Tower residents to talk publicly about the impact of the Christmas 2018 discovery of structural defects to their homes. The chair of Owners Corporation Network, Stephen Goddard has an opinion piece in today's Herald saying "80 per cent of all new residential strata schemes are constructed with defects."


Whether that's true or not matters less than the fact that he's been given the opportunity to present it as fact, in a politically-charged environment where talkback radio, major news networks and social media are universally panning Sydney apartment development standards.


Slipping south to Melbourne, the issue isn't quality of builder. CoreLogic has released figures showing that the proportion of off-the-plan settlement valuations that were 10 per cent lower than the contract price was sitting at one in five in April - compared to one in 10 a year ago. Colin Sacks of forsalebyowner has said requests from off-the-plan buyers have spiked as people try to get out of their contracts.


Little wonder the availability of off-the-plan buyer incentives on offer at the moment. This article catalogs some of the better offers, delivered by developers who are doing everything they can to keep the purchase prices steady so as not to devalue their stock.


It's NSW Budget day.


NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet will deliver the state budget today. Like other states, NSW has suffered from an $8 billion drop in stamp duty revenues that it'll struggle to recover through other means, beyond mooted asset sales.


Word is, there's an $802 million surplus to be announced today. Record highs in infrastructure spending and further write-downs on stamp duty will partly be funded by "back office" cost-cutting - including public service job cuts and reduction of expenditure on consultants and advertising.


Expect lots of strong words about how NSW has weathered the housing downturn storm, and further investment in infrastructure. Given Moody's released figures yesterday showing mortgage delinquency rates are rising, it'll be interesting to see how this fits the narrative.


ANZ, Westpac say "I told you so".


A fortnight after being criticised for not passing on the full Reserve Bank rate cut, ANZ and Westpac's decision is today being lauded as the smart move. They copped a lot of political and public sass, but as it turns out, that move meant they could afford not to slug savers with the full cut.


Robert Gottliebsen is pointing his blunderbuss at Canberra today, saying current fiscal policy is going to harm the growing ranks of ageing Australians who rely in interest from savings. It seems the Reserve Bank can't win; it's cutting interest rates to try and boost employment but, with rates already at historical lows, the critics are saying it's a zero-sum game.


Bank of Mum and Dad in the spotlight


Speaking of savers, Australia's largest deposit lender to first home buyers, the Bank of Mum and Dad is in NAB's sights. NAB is leading the charge to introduce new controls for loan guarantors including increased scrutiny during the application process, and more checks including requirements that guarantors show evidence of legal advice. Australia's other major banks and a raft of second-tier lenders are introducing similar measures.