Created with Sketch.
FLAT CHAT WRAP
33 minutes | Jun 15, 2021
Podcast: Work cut out for property commissioner
We’re looking at some big news this week on the podcast and wondering what it all means. NSW Fair Trading has announced that they will be appointing a properties commissioner - like building commissioner David Chandler, only maybe without the fear factor – to help regulate all the professions involved in looking after buying, selling, renting and managing properties. What might those professions be? The inaugural appointees of Fair Trading’s Property Services Expert Panel provides a clue. The invitees included strata managers, real estate agents, building facilities managers, real estate trainers and employers, livestock and property agents, business brokers, short-term rental managers, someone from the Wool And Pastoral Agency and a representative of private landlords. LISTEN HERE Everybody and his or her brother or sister – except apartment owners and tenants. But hey, what would we know about buying and selling, let alone letting and renting property? You can see the full list, with the lucky participants named, if not shamed, here. By the way, a couple of times in the podcast we refer to the strata managers’ organisation SCA as Strata Community Australia. That’s their old name. The A now stands for Association, and has ever since they pulled New Zealand into their orbit. Anyway, the big questions are, what is this new Property Commissioner going to do and how are they going to do it? Will they be kicking butt and taking names, a la David Chandler? Or will they follow the established Fair Trading protocol of a light tap on the wrist and a quiet word with miscreants? Will they be looking at under-quoting, misrepresentation of properties, excessively long contracts, systematically waived cooling-off periods, gazumping, embedded networks, endemic dishonesty and general incompetence? Having kicked those topics around, we turn to security in strata buildings and a free webinar scheduled for June 30 (not this week, as I briefly thought). There’s a lot in this week’s podcast so it runs a little longer. Enjoy. TRANSCRIPT IN FULL Jimmy 0:00So, you're back from Arnhem Land? Sue 0:02I am. It was so nice and warm up there. It's freezing down here again. Jimmy 0:07Yeah, we had a really cold day during the week. We've got a lot to talk about, because last week, there were a couple of big announcements from Fair Trading New South Wales and, the property market seems to have gone completely nuts. Sue 0:21Oh, it really is mad. I mean, it may not be hot weather, but it's certainly a hot market. Jimmy 0:28I'm Jimmy Thomson. I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 0:33And I'm Sue Williams. I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 0:36And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. So, for the past year, we've been talking about the Building Commissioner, David Chandler, and the difference he seems to be making in apartment buildings; getting them built. But, last week, the Fair Trading minister (or whatever they call themselves now; the Better Regulation and Shorter Titles. I think that's what the ministry is called). They announced there's going to be a properties commissioner. Sue 1:20This is something that the Real Estate Institute was really pushing for, wasn't it? Jimmy 1:24Well, they were. I wonder if that's one of these 'be careful what you wish for' things, because if this guy turns out to be anything like David Chandler… I'm saying it's a guy; it could very easily be a woman. I wonder if they're going to shake things up more than the real estate industry suspects. I mean, why would they be keen to have a commissioner? Sue 1:45Well, I think in the same way that SCA, the Strata Community Australia, are really keen to have tighter regulations for strata managers. They want to clean up their industry. To make sure it's really respected and operates well and it has no charlatans in there. Jimmy 2:02This kind of goes back about a month or...
21 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Podcast: Boom town and band-aids for buildings
This week in the podcast Sue Williams is in Darwin on an assignment, and finds that not only is Darwin the hottest city in Australia temperature-wise (probably … apart from Alice … and maybe Coober Pedy) it has the hottest property market with house prices going up an astonishing amount and apartments not far behind. Then we delve into the woes of the Toplace developers – or maybe their off-the-plan purchasers – as defects are found, repairs that might be fine but look suspiciously like band-aid fixes are revealed, and court cases are publicised. LISTEN HERE [powerplay] Is there a solution to the whole developer and defects conundrum? Sue reminds me that I am going to be MC-ing a Strata Matters owners day for the Owners Corporation Network (OCN) supported by City of Sydney, at which Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson will give the keynote address and Building Commissioner David Chandler and other Fair Trading bigwigs will be in attendance. It should be a terrific day - all I have to do is remember which of them I have insulted over the past couple of years and how deeply I'll need to apologise. There are more details on the seminar here. And finally we reflect on our newsletter piece from last week on lift notices warning against throwing things off balconies, and follow a link sent by a reader to a story from Scotland about what must be the worst case of “things thrown off a building” we’ve encountered. Actually, it’s a bit mad and quite poignant really, and you can read about it HERE. Oh, and FYI, "aufguss" (see notice above) is a kind of herbal infusion they put in saunas to aid relaxation and health. TRANSCRIPT IN FULL Jimmy 0:00 Things are a bit strange in the Flat Chat Wrap makeshift studio today; my usual partner in crime, Sue Williams isn't here. In fact, she's in Darwin and we'll be talking to her later, about why that city in the Northern Territory, is the boomtown of Australia when it comes to property. We're also going to be talking about a developer who is responsible for more than 1000 apartments, either newly built or in the process of being built, who's suddenly come under a very bright spotlight. A microscope, you might say, and people have been complaining about the build quality in their blocks. I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review and this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] Jimmy As I said just a few moments ago, Sue isn't here with us today in person. She's up in Darwin and I caught up with her before she disappeared into Arnhem Land on her assignment. If there is a deterioration in sound, the fact that we're talking via zoom should explain most of why things sound a little different this week. Here's Sue. Hi, Sue! Sue 1:35 Hi Jimmy! Jimmy 1:36 You're in Darwin? Sue 1:37 Yes, I am. I came up here today. I'm up here doing a story and gosh, it's so hot! It's fantastic! Jimmy 1:46 Alright, so talking about hot, Darwin is the property boomtown of Australia at the moment. Sue 1:53 Yeah, it's kind of like the epicenter really, especially for apartments, which is nice, because I remember a few years ago, apartment prices in Darwin, absolutely crashed through the floor. A friend of ours bought an apartment up here and thought it would be a fantastic investment and in fact, it turned out to be one of the worst things he'd ever bought, but had he hung on; over the last year, apartments have done incredibly well up here. Jimmy 2:18 But you know, that was during the GFC and everybody suffered to some extent, but Darwin suffered especially badly. They seem to be affected up there, to some extent, the same way that they are in WA, with the boom and bust, with their mines and whatnot. Sue 2:35 Yeah, because they're so dependent on resources, so it depends so much on resource prices. I think in Darwin more recently,
26 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Podcast: GOMO, strata facts and sea changes
This week on the podcast we look GOMO, specifically grief over missing out on your dream home. It’s the other side of FOMO, where fear of missing out has you plunging headlong into what might be unwise purchases and contracts. When it comes to houses, it can feel more like a seduction and betrayal when you’ve been encouraged to imagine living there for years of domestic bliss, then the faithless vendor goes and sells it to someone else, just because they have more money. You can get a taste of Sue’s original article on GOMO (© Sue Williams) for Domain here. LISTEN HERE Then we chat about sea changers and tree changers, why people are fleeing our city centres and where they are going. And try to explain exactly how we came to ignore our own advice about diligently doing your homework before purchasing a flat, especially off the plan, and plunged into buying one in Kiama. We talk about how newcomers to strata often don’t have a clue about their rights and responsibilities and how an Owners Corporation Network and City of Sydney webinar is setting out to resolve that issue. And we discuss the benefits of having electronic notice boards in our lifts (not so much those highlighted in this week’s newsletter). That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap. TRANSCRIPTION IN FULL Jimmy 0:00 A couple of years ago, you invented an acronym, which was GOMO. What does that stand for, Sue? Sue 0:06 That's right. It was a variation of FOMO; you know, fear of missing out. I was doing a story about grief, when you do actually miss out and so I called it 'grief over missing out.' It never really caught on, GOMO, but in fact, I was asked the other day to write another story about GOMO! And, I was delighted, because maybe this time, it will stick. Jimmy 0:27 So, we'll be talking about GOMO; what else have we got? Sue 0:32 The move of lots of people towards coastal regions in Australia (and also regional areas as well), post-COVID and the newest recruits to that trend. Jimmy 0:43 Right. And, we're going to be talking about your rights and responsibilities when you move into an apartment block and how you can get some advice on that. I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 0:59 And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 1:02 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] Jimmy So Sue, you've been writing about GOMO; 'grief over missing out?' Sue 1:22 Yes, because the housing market at the moment is so tough and the apartment market is similarly tough. I mean, in some areas, it's a little bit soft, particularly in Melbourne CBD. It's kind of quite easy to buy an apartment there and the prices haven't gone up at all and in certain areas (well, very few areas of Sydney is the same). Harris Park out west, has actually shown a drop in apartment prices, but everywhere else, apartments are doing incredibly well. There's a huge demand; an excess of demand over supply. A lot of people are going to auctions or trying to buy apartments that are actually for sale, and a lot of them are missing out and time and time again. Jimmy 2:07 I thought apartment prices were going down and rents were going down? Sue 2:12 Rents have gone down but they're coming back up again. Apartment prices in most areas are quite strong. They're just soft in some areas; the CBD's of most cities (certainly Melbourne and Sydney), but in lots of other areas, apartments are doing pretty well and there is still a shortage of apartments in many areas. There's an excess (Docklands), or Green Square over in Sydney, but in most areas, it's quite patchy and demand is much greater than supply, so lots of people are missing out, a lot. Jimmy 2:46 So, people are going into the areas that people really want to go into and there's just not enough supply? Sue 2:53 That's right. A friend of mine is trying to buy an apartment;...
24 minutes | May 25, 2021
Podcast: Insurances soar and balcony barbecues
We admit we can get a little city-centric here at Flat Chat so last weekend it was good to get out of the urban jungle and find out what’s happening elsewhere. And the news is that Newcastle is booming, beach holiday homes are bouncing back and the roads are almost as crazy as they were pre-covid. Back in what passes for the real world, in this week’s Flat Chat we talk about how construction insurance premiums for low rise buildings and renovations are getting out of control, based on this story. LISTEN HERE And we chat about the pretty disappointing investment on affordable housing announced by the government, as covered in this story in the Guardian. We also discuss Sue’s major piece in Domain about why apartments may be better for families than you think. We have an edited extract HERE. And we talk about whether charcoal barbecues can be allowed on balconies. That’s kicked off in the Forum again, HERE. All in all, a pretty varied and wide-ranging podcast. Enjoy. TRANSCRIPT IN FULL Jimmy 0:00 We just got back from Newcastle. Well, not Newcastle (although we've been to Newcastle); up to Forster and... Sue 0:06 The mid North Coast and then Newcastle and then Lake Macquarie. Just having a bit of an explore, really. Jimmy 0:13 Newcastle is going gangbusters on apartments; the skyline is full of cranes. Most prices are higher than the cranes are! Sue 0:22 Yeah and apartment prices are getting pretty expensive as well. Some of those new ones, off the plan; I mean, the architects have won prizes for the designs and the prices really reflect that. Jimmy 0:33 Right, okay, but we're not going to be talking about that in this show. We've got so many other things to talk about. We're going to talk about building insurance. We're going to talk about barbecues on balconies. We're going to be talking about affordable housing and families; are apartments appropriate for families, or even better than houses? Is that possible? I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 1:00 And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 1:03 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. Did you see that story about insurance premiums for new buildings? Sue 1:25 Yes, that they've gone up five times in the last few years. Jimmy 1:28 And, do you know what it's all about? Sue 1:31 I get so confused about home warranty insurance in apartments. It just seems so complicated. Jimmy 1:36 So basically, that's because with any apartment block over three storeys high, the builder doesn't need to take out building warranty insurance. Sue 1:46 Right, so our insurance though (for the people in those blocks), is just going sky-high, it seems. Jimmy 1:52 Well, the ones who will be buying properties that are covered by building warranty insurance, are finding (and there was a report earlier, and we mentioned it on the podcast), that the fund for these insurance claims was $700 million in debt and so they're trying to claw that back by increasing the premiums. But, it's a very strange system. That insurance only kicks in if you have building defects and it's within the first six years and the developer is either dead or has gone out of business. So, it's very limited and narrow, but everybody's got to pay the insurance premiums. Sue 2:37 Okay, because I guess if there are defects, and if a builder has gone out of business, then people can be up for millions of dollars in costs, I suppose. That's why maybe premiums are going to be so high? Jimmy 2:50 Well, exactly, because what it comes back to is buildings being badly-constructed and that's what the much-mentioned David Chandler is trying to deal with and is doing so with some effect. But, it still leaves this $700 million hole. So what it means is yet again, we are paying for all the mistakes that have been made o...
28 minutes | May 18, 2021
Podcast: Sirius, sunset clawbacks and feral cats
There is no building in Sydney that has polarised opinions more than the Sirius apartments on Circular Quay – unless you include the Opera House, its architectural antithesis across the bay. After years of controversy, plans have been revealed and expressions of interest sought in what will be a revolutionary revamp of the former housing commission apartment block. You can read more about it the multi-million-dollar project here - and see a slideshow of the proposed revanp - but, naturally we also have our two cents worth here in the pod. LISTEN HERE After that, we talk about the developer who was the first to fall foul of the Sunset Clawbacks law – which we personally helped bring into being – and who has now gone bust (pause to be mentally carried shoulder-high around the room). You can read more about that HERE. And we follow up some fairly heated discussions on the Forum about feeding stray cats with news from the Guardian Online about how Chicago is putting 1,000 feral felines to work. Also from Chicago, there’s this amazing video about how a cat has survived a leap from the fifth floor of a burning building. As we say on the pod, don’t mess with Chicago cats … TRANSCRIPT IN FULL Jimmy 0:00 Okay, we have a lot to get through today. We've got the sale of the Sirius; we've got a developer who has gone out of business. We've got cats! Sue 0:12 Great! Jimmy 0:14 So, we'd better get on with it. I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 0:19 And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 0:22 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] So, there seems to be a bit of a stoush about the Sirius building. Sue 0:45 The Sirius building, I think, has been in the news for a long, long time. I mean, they've been lots and lots of fights over it in the past, over the heritage listing of the building. Lots of people love the building, because I think it's a fantastic example, of 70s brutalist architecture. Jimmy 1:00 So, for anybody who's not familiar with it (and we'll probably put a picture on the website), but if you're not familiar with it, it's the one as you're coming over the Harbour Bridge towards the city from North Sydney, it's on the left, and it looks like a stack of Lego blocks. Sue 1:21 I guess it does! It's on Cumberland Street and it just can't be missed, really. As I said, some people think it's a great icon of brutalist architecture, which is increasingly rare these days. Jimmy 1:32 Well, for the good reason that they keep knocking it down because it's ugly. Sue 1:35 Well, other people will think that the building is a really ugly eyesore. A lot of people thought the building should be demolished. Other people felt that the building should be retained, because it was built for public housing. About 200 people originally and they felt that they should be allowed to stay there. Jimmy 1:53 With the best views of the Opera House you'll ever see. Sue 1:57 Yes and other people felt that, well, they just didn't deserve it really, I suppose and that rich people are the ones who could afford to live in such a fabulous harborside location and should be allowed to do so. Jimmy 2:11 Is it as polarizing and divisive? Is it a case of maybe saying this was terrific that for 40 years, Housing Commission tenants could live there with these fabulous views, but Sydney has moved on. The money from the sale of that building (which is allegedly going to be put into public housing), can be put to much better use and house more people. Sue 2:37 But where is that public housing? It's probably way out in the suburbs and personally, I think it's wrong to keep cities just for rich people. Cities should have a really vibrant, demographic; a huge diversity. That's what makes it culturally rich and if it just ends up (the inne...
28 minutes | May 11, 2021
Podcast: Property price panic and dodgy donations
With property prices soaring but houses outstripping apartments, as detailed in this story, we try to make sense of it all. Why is the gap between the cost of houses and apartments growing, even though apartment prices are coming back up to pre-pandemic levels. And will the current apartment glut in Melbourne – with consequential 11 per cent drops in rents – flip to a shortage, soaring sales prices and runaway rents as soon as our borders reopen and short-term rentals are re-listed? Who knows? But we try to make sense of it all. LISTEN HERE Then we visit the vexed question, raised on the Flat Chat Forum, of whether or not it’s legal for your owners corporation or strata committee to make donations to political campaigns or fighting funds – even those related to strata issues. If not, is there any way owners can support campaigns and movements they agree with, but not all of their neighbours do? And then there’s another old chestnut form the forum – does your owners corporation have a duty of care to enforce by-laws? We say yes and explain why. That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap. TRANSCRIPT IN FULL Jimmy 00:00 House prices seem to have gone nuts all of a sudden. Sue 00:03 They certainly have and unit prices are going up as well, but not by as much. Jimmy 00:07 And in some places, are actually going down, I believe. Sue 00:10 Yes. In some places they are going down; in areas where there's an oversupply. Jimmy 00:14 Okay, well, we're going to be talking about that; we're going to be talking about something that's come up on the Flat Chat forum, about whether or not your Owners Corporation can make donations to campaigns. Sue 00:26 That's interesting. Jimmy 00:27 And we'll be talking about an old chestnut, about whether Owners Corporations have a duty to act on their bylaws. I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 00:41 And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain Jimmy 00:43 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. MUSIC Jimmy Okay, Sue, you've been keeping an eye on house prices. Part of your many duties, writing for Domain. Sue 01:06 Yes, that's right. It's been kind of quite hard to keep your eye on them all the time, because they're moving so quickly. Jimmy 01:11 It's kind of surprising, isn't it? That we're, you know, we've just come out of there so we haven't even properly come out of the pandemic. Sue 01:20 But we just seem to be valuing our home so much more now. I mean, most most of us are now working from home a lot more. Time in lockdown has allowed us to look at our houses, and homes and apartments and think, what do we need? We need more space? Are we thinking of relocating? Actually spending a period, thinking about what we want out of life. Jimmy 01:40 And what effect is this having on apartments? Sue 01:43 It's interesting, because house prices, as you so rightly say, have gone up enormously. Apartment prices have generally gone up as well, but by nowhere near as much. So, it does mean with a growing gap between prices; between houses and apartments, more and more people are having to look at buying apartments, when maybe once they would have wanted to go and buy houses. So, there's gonna be a lot more new people moving into apartments, because, you know, it makes financial sense as well. We kind of all really adore the apartment lifestyle. Some of these people have never lived in apartments before, so they're not really in a position to be able to appreciate that. But, they're looking in terms of finances and when you look at the Sydney median house price now, it's hit a new record, $1.31 million, which is incredible. The unit median is now $754,000. So, last year, houses cost, on average 55% more than apartments. This year in Sydney, they cost 74% more than apartments. Jimmy 02:02 Wow!
27 minutes | May 4, 2021
Podcast: Would you roll the dice on a $22m apartment?
If you have a hankering for the high life and have a lazy $22 million lying around, you could score an apartment in the huge Crown tower above James Packer’s (currently non-functioning) casino. If that’s too rich for your blood, how much would you expect to pay for a two-bed, two-bath pad on a lower floor? All is revealed in our Flat Chat Wrap podcast this week. But before we get to that, there’s the small matter of how data mining is going to lead to a trebling of the number of apartment blocks under construction that will fall under the critical glare of NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler. Listen Here As this story explains, Fair Trading is planning to dig into its accumulated data to find out which certifiers have historically signed off on the most problematic buildings, then reverse engineer that to find out which buildings under construction those certifiers are now connected with. That will trigger a visit from someone from the Building Commissioner’s office who will start tapping tiles and probing plaster to see how well or badly this building has been constructed. Then we get to the issue of the high cost of buying into Sydney’s tallest apartment block, the Crown Tower at Barangaroo. Yes, an apartment changed hands for $22m recently but there are others there that are a lot cheaper … okay, a bit cheaper. The we look at the new 899-unit apartment complex proposed for Campbelltown and discuss the issues confronting owners in separate strata schemes that are also part of a larger scheme sharing some facilities. And finally, Jimmy answers a question asked by Sue last week – will the big insurers ever come back and cover the construction of apartment block over three storeys high. That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap. Transcript In Full Jimmy 0:00Big news on the defects front, Sue? Sue 0:02Yes, absolutely. The New South Wales Government is acting to start auditing a lot more buildings than they usually do (and they have been doing over the last six months). Jimmy 0:11Okay, because we saw that report last week about how a huge percentage of defective buildings were certified by like, six different certifiers. Sue 0:23That's right; about a third of risky buildings, by the same six repeat-offending certifiers. Jimmy 0:30We're going to be talking about that; we're going to be talking about a big new development and I'm going to be answering a question that Sue asked last week (and I went off-track, and answered a completely different one). I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 0:50And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 1:09And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] JimmyJust as we were about to sit down and record this podcast, a press release came in from New South Wales Fair Trading, Sue, and it's big news. Sue 1:20That's right. Kevin Anderson, the Minister for Better Regulation, has launched a data-led audit regime to target the state's high-risk building certifiers and triple the number of buildings to come under scrutiny by the building regulator. Jimmy 1:34What sort of numbers are we talking about? Sue 1:36Well, at the moment, there's a pre-occupational certificate audit regime, and they target around 50 site-based audits every six months. But, with this new regime of audits, they're expecting to be able to audit an additional 100 to 150 buildings every six months, which more than triples the regulator's compliance and enforcement efforts on residential apartments. Jimmy 2:00Wow. Sue 2:01So, that's a big jump. Jimmy 2:02It's huge. So, they're basing this on certain new data or analyzing data they already have? Sue 2:11Well, they've got apparently, new digital tools, where they can analyze the data really effectively, because apparently, they've got so much data coming in; they've got something like 170 million lines of data to look at certifi...
22 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
Podcast: Horror of our $700 million defects hole
There’s a horror story, a happy ending and a bit of housekeeping in this week’s podcats. The horror is the $714 million owed by Home Building Compensation for all the insurable building defects in Australian homes. And that is money that we, the taxpayers, will eventually have to pay It was all revealed in this story in the Sun-Herald which made us think, if that’s the level of defects in homes than can be insured – anything three storeys or under or any work costing $20,000 or over – how may defects are there in the high-rises that CAN’T be insured? Listen Here The happy ending comes courtesy of Waverley Bowling Club in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs – a struggling sports facility that was at various times going to be two 45-metre high rises plus a training ground for Easts rugby league club, and then an aged care home with attached child care facility. As outlined in this story, Easts, the Waverley club and developers Mirvac have, as this story relates, come up with a plan to build 55 luxury apartments for over-55s, plus two world class bowling greens and a café restaurant. By the way, in the podcast I refer to the bowls as bowling balls. They’re not balls, they're bowls. I apologise. Finally we chat briefly about why we’ve (ever so slightly) changed the look of the Flat Cat website. I’ve never been a huge fan of form over function and we needed people to be able to access the latest Forum topics high on the front page. So it looks a little busier but we think it still works. What do you reckon? You’ll find a full explanation pus an email address where you can send your complaints or kudos, HERE. TRANSCRIPTION IN FULL Jimmy 00:00 So, your friend David Chandler, has interfered with the completion of our renovation; did you know that? Sue 00:06 No! Jimmy 00:07 We were supposed to be getting a silicone guy come in on Saturday, and he couldn't, because there was a building they're working on that the Commissioner had been through and insisted that all the bathrooms had to be 're-caulked', as they call it. Sue 00:25 Oh, gosh! David didn't let me know that! Jimmy 00:29 So basically, there were panic stations. Sue 00:32 So, that's the reason I still can't have a shower in my fabulous new renovated bathroom? Jimmy 00:37 Yeah, David Chandler. Sue 00:38 Bloody hell! Jimmy 00:40 We will be talking about, not renovations, but rectification of defects in a minute, and we're going to talk about a rescue plan for the Waverley Bowling Club, which is going to result in 55 luxury apartments for over 55's, and we're going to talk about the redesign of the Flat Chat website. It's not redesigned; it's a bit of a tweak, that's all. I will explain what we've been up to. I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 01:13 And I'm Sue Williams. I write about property for Domain, Jimmy 01:16 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. That was a huge story in the Sun-Herald at the weekend, about the amount that's having to be paid in home building compensation. Sue 01:41 That's right. I didn't quite understand it, though... I wanted you to explain it to me, because builders pay for home building compensation. Jimmy 01:51 HBC, yeah. Sue 01:52 But, then they pass the cost on to homebuyers? Jimmy 01:55 Yes. Sue 01:55 How does that work out? Can you explain to me? Jimmy 01:58 Okay, well, first of all, it's only for buildings that are under four storeys. Sue 02:04 Right. Buildings over that can't get any insurance whatsoever, which is ridiculous. Jimmy 02:09 That's because in 2010, the insurers (the private insurers) said, 'look, all these buildings are being built, that are being self-certified. It's just too big a risk. We're out of here. It's going to cost us our industry, if we insure buildings that we know are going to be shoddily built.
28 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
Podcast: Another U-Turn as Airbnb history repeats
Apologies for subjecting you to another short-term letting vent, but after last week's state government schemozzle when the new holiday rental regulations were announced, then shelved, we thought we’d better have a look at what was going on. And it turns out it was a case of history repeating itself. Remember a couple of years ago when the then Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and former Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean were about to announce new NSW short-term letting regulations that would basically have handed the whole box and dice to Airbnb-style hosts on a plate? The microphones were plugged in, the TV cameras lights were at full dazzle, and then right at the last minute a couple of Government MPs realised that residential rentals across the state were about to be handed wholesale to a bunch of American “disruptors” with few if any comeback or restraints. Listen Here Suddenly it was mikes off, lights out and “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. Well, something similar happened last week, only the announcement of what would probably have been the toughest short-term letting regulations in Australia was made and then three days later they were shelved until November What happened? Surely it wasn't just that holiday rental giants Stayz and apartment owner advocates OCN both complained bitterly, was it? Listen to the podcast for our somewhat cynical insight into the whole farrago. Also we look at Mascot Towers, two years down the track, the massive financial losses apartment owners face and what we think the government should do. And Sue visits West Australia where property is going through the roof in a state that almost defines the phrase "boom and bust". That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap. Transcript in full Jimmy 0:00 Wow, what a week; double whammy! No sooner had we published last week's podcast, all about the new Airbnb or short-term letting regulations, then the government did a U -turn. Sue 0:14 Yeah, they were obviously listening to you, Jimmy and thought, 'wow, we realize there's so many problems with it.' Jimmy 0:20 Then I've looked on the internet and discovered that you couldn't actually hear the podcast anyway. We had about 11 listeners and then you were away; you were in Perth? Sue 0:31 Yes, I was. Jimmy 0:32 So, I couldn't re-record. Sue 0:34 But you managed to sort it out. Jimmy 0:35 Kind of, yes and here we are today. We're going to talk about why we think the government changed its mind. We're going to talk about Mascot Towers; the latest on that. And, we're going to talk about a massive projected increase in house prices in WA. Sue 0:53 A sign of my dedication, going over there to check it out for you. Jimmy 0:56 Absolutely, going round all the real estate agent windows, taking notes. I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 1:08 And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 1:11 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. So, that was a pretty sudden turnaround by the government on short-term letting. I mean, they released it on Friday afternoon, a week ago. 'Take the trash out day' (they call it on the West Wing here, where you get rid of all the stories that you don't want to have too much coverage in the weekend papers, in the hope that they'll all be forgotten about, come Monday). The Owners Corporation Network got really upset about some of the provisions. The Stayz people (I think they're owned by Expedia), got very, very, very upset and Airbnb stayed very, very, very quiet. Sue 2:07 Who knows what they think? Jimmy 2:08 I think we know what they think. Then suddenly, the planning minister came out and said in the interest of conciliation and fairness and giving everyone a chance to adjust to the plans, they were putting them off until November. Sue 2:22
26 minutes | Apr 17, 2021
Podcast: Airbnb update as holiday let regs put on ice
Sometimes you can be just too efficient. There we were with the NSW government's proposed regulations on short-term letting hot off the printer, plus industry responses and reactions from apartment owners ... then the Government panicked in the face of widespread complaints from all directions and put them on hold. Just as well this week’s podcast also deals with those other perennial issues in strata – parking and defects. However, our chat about the now-shelved short-term rentals code of conduct and related regulations - which seem to have annoyed just about everyone on all sides - is still relevant because these issues aren't going to go away, even if the solutions are seen to be more of a problem than the problem. As detailed here, Planning NSW had done a magnificent job in uniting both pro and anti-holiday letting bodies … if only in everyone being cheesed off with the state’s planners. The changes have been delayed until November 1 to "give everyone a chance to adjust." Have a listen and see what we need but aren't going to get until November at the soonest. And see if you can tell which policies will survive six months of pressure from Airbnb and Stayz. Oh, and apologies to anyone who tried to listen to the podcast but couldn't. Not our fault - there was just some glitch somewhere in the internet. I suspect the Russians, but it's all been fixed now (fingers crossed). Listen Here Then we move on to the prospective property purchaser who found that there’s nothing she or Building Commissioner David Chandler can do about an allegedly defective building that probably should never have had a certificate of occupation issued – certainly not on the basis of the certification signed by an unlicensed and unqualified tradie. In Maryam Behrouz’s case, the building has been certified for occupation, the developer denies the claims of serious defects and she either has to complete the purchase or walk away from her $65,000 deposit. In Mr Chandler’s situation, this all happened before he was given the power to block certification and as a result, he says, it’s not in his domain. Fair Trading – the department in charge of builders, tradies, strata and certifiers – typically, says it has nothing to do with the problem as it’s “contractual”. Some things never change. And finally, we float the idea of providing a service that can move illegally parked cars without towing them. Have a look at the video along with this story and see what you think. That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap. Transcript in full Jimmy 00:00 We had a bit of a podder's nightmare this week. We prepared our episode for this week's podcast, all about the new Airbnb or short term letting laws and regulations and what we thought was good and what we thought was not so good. And we got it all packaged up and ready to go out. And late on Tuesday night after the podcast had gone out, the government changed its mind in the face of some fairly hostile criticism and decided to postpone everything until November. Now that left us with our podcast having gone out to the world, and us commenting on something that's still gonna happen, it's just not going to happen very soon or in the form that possibly we had thought it would. Anyway that I think it's still a worthwhile discussion. The rules are on the table, they're going to be pulled apart and put back together again, and they may end up being pretty much as they are in this discussion. We're also talking about that terrible situation where the young woman had put in a deposit for an apartment and then discovered that not only were there defects but that also the certification was extremely suspect. And we're going to talk about an interesting way of moving cars without towing them when they're parked in the wrong part of your car park. I will as usual be talking to Sue Williams, and I am as usual, Jimmy Thomson,
26 minutes | Apr 6, 2021
Podcast: Rental as anything and defects d’oh!
This week, having survived a computer crisis on the home office front, we delve deeper into the differences between the way renters are treated in Victoria and NSW. In the same week that Victoria’s new rental laws come in, curbing “no reason” evictions of tenants, NSW Fair Trading confirms that they will be reinstated as soon as the post-Covid period is over in September. So why should property owners not have the right to end their tenancy leases when they want to? Why should they need to prove that their reasons are valid, such as showing that they have permission to undertake renovations, or that they have signed a contract to sell the property? Jimmy puts up a strong argument that many landlords in Australia owe a debt to the community as a whole and that involves treating tenants fairly and decently. You can find the details of the NSW transitional measures for renters and landlord HERE and the Victorian regulations HERE. Listen Here Then we move on to the “brave” developer who, according to a story in a recent Sunday Telegraph, complained about building commissioner David Chandler closing down one of his apartment block building sites because of defects that were being built into the structure – faults that the eventual purchasers would probably end up paying to fix. According to a story in the Sunday Telegraph last week, Omar Abdul-Rahman, director of OandE Developments, had a litany of building defect complaints raised against him, or companies of which he was a director, dating back to 2017. He complained that he had never been on a building site where Australian Building Standards were resolutely adhered to. Maybe so, but if he wasn’t on David Chandler’s radar before, he certainly will be now Finally, we move on to an idea being floated – not for the first time – that voting at strata AGMs should be compulsory, as it is at every other level of the democratic process. Jimmy argues that if strata really is the fourth level of government, then it should have the same compulsion to vote as in national, state and council elections. Sue argues that it’s up to strata schemes to engage their owners more effectively and if they can’t do that, then why should owners turn out for dreary nights at AGMs when either nothing happens or nasty personal disputes are played out in public. That’s all (and more) in this week’s podcast. Transcript Under Construction
24 minutes | Mar 30, 2021
Podcast: Meditations on a block of Wellness
In what turned out to be a fairly hectic week we hit a very welcome speedbump in the form of enforced rest and relaxation at a new apartment block launch, of all places. The apartment block was Portman on the Park in Sydney’s Green Square where Mirvac launched their latest concept with an evening of meditation, massage and mineral water. You can hear all about that and what’s so different about this project on the podcast where we also caught up with architects Tina Engelen who co-designed another iconic, environmentally conscious block, the Altair in Sydney's Kings Cross. Listen Here So what has changed in her view of her job in the 20-plus years since the Altair was built? A lot but she still constructs great big wide buildings that are really a series of independent towers stacked side by side. You’ll hear Tina and her collaborator Will Fung talk about the challenges of creating more intimate areas in massive buildings too. You can find out more about the Portman on the Park here. Then we move on to the NSW government’s Real Estate Experts panel which has been set up to make the industry more responsive to the needs of their consumers (it says here). Great idea – shame they didn’t include any consumer groups around the table. Look forward to more reports on people telling us what they think we should have rather than us telling them what we need. Next, it's the NSW state government’s invisible blacklist for short-term holiday letting miscreants. Plus, why, unlike in Victoria, landlords don’t need a reason to terminate rental agreements. And finally, there’s a tribute to Barry Dickson, who was the real Darryl Kerrigan of The Castle, holding out in his little bungalow on a corner as high-rises went up all around him. That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap. Transcript in Full Jimmy 00:00 It's been a busy week in strata-land. Sue 00:02 Yes! Jimmy 00:03 Well, we were at what is possibly the most relaxing launch of a new apartment building, ever. Sue 00:10 That's true… Jimmy 00:12 And, all sorts of announcements from the government, so we'd better get cracking! I'm Jimmy Thomson; I edit the Flat Chat website and write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 00:23 And I’m Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 00:27 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] Jimmy 00:47 We were at a very relaxing launch (it was kind of weird, to be honest), at the Mirvac Portman on the Park building. Sue 00:55 It's centered around wellness; everything's very healthy and sustainable and green. The building's meant to make you happy and relaxed, so they tried to make us happy and relaxed at the launch. Jimmy 01:15 Well yes, to give us a sense of what it might be to live there, because they’ve got a building in George St (an office building), which has a ‘WELL’ rating, and they want that to be the first apartment building in Australia to have a WELL rating, so I had a quick look at what gets you a WELL rating. Sue 01:35 What does? Jimmy 01:36 Clean water, clean air and good light, so basically anything that helps you to be physically and mentally healthy, is going to get you those things. We had a water sampling… Sue 01:50 A water tasting, and because I don't drink, I thought I’d be really good at the water tasting, but in fact I was rubbish. Jimmy 02:02 Almost got them all exactly wrong! We had very nice food; very healthy food and then we were all taken into a darkened room and we had to meditate. Sue 02:13 We had a guided meditation… Jimmy 02:18 Which I found quite stressful. Sue 02:21 Because you had to breathe at the same time. There was a special length of breath that you had to have, which was a bit beyond me. Jimmy 02:24 ‘Hold your breath for eight seconds.’ Sue 02:30 That's not relaxing at all! Jimmy 02:32
25 minutes | Mar 23, 2021
Podcast: Life savings lost thanks to dodgy dealing
In this week’s Flat Chat Wrap we discuss the awful story about the young woman who put her life savings into a deposit on a flat in a block that’s turned out not only to be riddled with defects, but was certified by an unlicensed tradie and subsequently OK’d by the local council. Now she faces the very real choice between losing her $60k+ deposit or finalising the purchase of a flat she knows is seriously defective and with no legal approvals. Listen here Then there’s the local council that’s telling developers they can build higher if they don’t install gas but do put solar panels on the roof to supply 40 percent of the block’s electricity needs. This is a clear example of a council taking positive action on climate change – and if you wonder if that’s an over-reach, ask the people being rescued from floods right now. But can electricity ever be as good as gas for cooking? One celebrity chef thinks so. We also hear about government plans to make it harder for developers to build “affordable” new generation boarding houses. Why would they make it harder? Because developers are getting planning concessions and then charging top dollar for the bed-sits. Wow! Developers taking advantage of planning concessions to make some extra dosh? Who’da thunk it? And finally, there’s the couple who were so worried about the potential noise from proposed renovations in the apartment block next to their luxury beach-side home, that they bought the whole block. Is it so they can, if they want, shut the renos down? Or do they just want to be able to choose their neighbours? That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap. Transcript In Full Jimmy 00:00 They say it never rains, but it pours. It's certainly pouring outside at the moment, and it's been raining stories on your computer, Sue Williams? Sue 00:09 It sure has. Jimmy 00:10 We have a lot to get through today. We've got a story about a woman who's going to lose a deposit on her apartment because somebody certified it, who wasn't entitled to certify it. We've got a story about a developer, building apartments with no gas for cooking. We've got a story about developers wanting to develop… what do you call them? Sue 00:20 New generation boarding houses. Jimmy 00:24 New generation boarding houses, and the couple who have bought the apartment block next door, so that it doesn't get renovated and disturb their peace and quiet. If only we had that much money! I'm Jimmy Thomson. I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 00:58 And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 01:01 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. Okay, Sue, a terrible story about somebody who put a deposit down on a flat and discovered that the apartment had been certified by somebody who was not in fact, a certifier? Sue 01:33 Yeah, I think he was an unlicensed tradie, wasn’t he? He was a bricklayer or something like that, who no longer had a license. Jimmy 01:43 So, he just signed off on this certification, and so that meant that the council gave them a certificate of occupancy; is that correct? Sue 01:49 That's right, even though they discovered there were considerable non-compliance’s in the building. There were huge faults in the building, but poor Marianne has no option really, but to carry on with her purchase, because otherwise she's going to lose her deposit. Jimmy 02:07 I mean, what's the point of having certification, if anybody can come along and certify, and there's no comeback? The council just goes, ‘oh, yes, certified.’ Then you say, ‘well, the certifier shouldn't have certified it,’ and the council say, ‘yeah, there's all these compliance issues, but we're going to allow it to go through.’ Where is the consumer protection? Sue 02:26 Yep, it's a ridiculous system; private certification always has been.
21 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
Podcast: Virtual commutes are transports of delight
Are you over working from home? Does your formerly perfectly adequate apartment now seem seem tiny. Is your kitchen table too high and your laptop screen too small? Are you one of those people who gets up and dresses as if they were going to the office – then just goes to the spare room? Or do you take personal pride in how much of the day you can spend in your pyjamas? Importantly, and are you missing those moments of splendid isolation on your bike, bus or train that transport you mentally into work mode as your body is moved from home to the workplace. As this story from the Guardian shows, some frustrated commuters are prepared to fake it if they can’t actually make it. As pressure quietly mounts to get more people back to the office, there are still plenty of us who don’t have that choice and may even miss the journey to and from work more than the experience of being in an office. Listen Here Enter, the Virtual Commute championed by Microsoft (who else?), it allows you to make that mental transition into your working day while your body stays exactly where it is. We’re talking about that, and other coping strategies, on this week’s podcast. Also, we’ll be looking at how the lure of free money may be helping some people overcome their concerns about the state of the apartment building industry. And, on that topic, we revisit the “worst block in NSW” that prompted Building Commissioner David Chandler to be given his sweeping powers to shut down building sites and demand repairs for badly consturcted high-rises. All, and more, in this week's Flat Chat wrap. Transcript in full Jimmy 00:00 When was the last time you worked in an office? Sue 00:03 Gosh, about 20 years ago, I think. Jimmy 00:09 I occasionally have to, for special projects. I have to go and spend time in an office and I'm really, really bad at it. Sue 00:18 Absolutely. I sometimes have to go into an office, and it takes me ages to work out what to wear. I'm just completely out of practice. Jimmy 00:25 I'm thinking more in terms of people coming up to you and saying, ‘oh, how was your weekend?’ My instinctive response is, ‘what is it to you? I'm trying to work here,’ which is not the appropriate response. There are some people who, apparently, can't wait to get back to the office, who have been working from home. We'll be talking about that and we'll be talking about the end of the Home Builder grant, which is ending in just a couple of weeks. I'm Jimmy Thomson, I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 00:59 And I'm Sue Williams. I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 01:02 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] Jimmy 01:15 There's a big push on, to get people to go back to work in their offices. Mainly, I think, from the little cafes around office blocks in the city. Sue 01:32 That's very expensive real estate, those commercial offices. They're designed to foster the cultural capital of companies and provide good workspaces for people. As you said in the intro, we've worked from home for a long time, so we've got a good desk, we've got good chairs; we've got space. We've got office cats. We've got everything, really, but a lot of people are working in their bedroom or their kitchen, on dining room tables, which are the wrong height, and they're getting back injuries. It's not really very good for them. While productivity soared at first, they've noticed that productivity is now flagging a little bit Jimmy 02:13 I saw a politician saying that, and it made me wonder, has anybody done any test; any checks, or any measures on this? Or, is this just a grumpy old politician saying everybody should be back in the office? This is a politician in Canberra, saying that all the civil servants should be back in their offices, rather than sitting at home in their pajamas. Sue 02:38
28 minutes | Mar 9, 2021
Podcast: Dogs banned but NCAT says OK to cats
There’s a few differences in this week’s podcast from previous editions. For a start, Sue is on the other end of a Zoom call as she takes advantage of easing travel restrictions to get out and promote her new book … and finds herself attacked by birds on the Gold Coast. Having survived that, we discuss the latest twist in the pets saga as celebrity dog owners are told they are living in a cats-only block (maybe that's why they call it NCAT). And the Tribunal Member decrees the recent Court of Appeals ruling that blanket pet bans are invalid is irrelevant. Isn't banning dogs but allowing cats discriminatory? Who are we to judge? Listen Here Then, another change is that we have short audio grabs from interesting people, rather than long interviews. And we have several of them. Sue joins Building Commissioner David Chandler on a development and sees for herself the galvanising effect this force of nature – ok, force of structure – has on the developers, architects engineers and builders when he sweeps into a building site. And you’ll never guess the one thing he always heads for, photographs and then confronts the developer with. Finally, Jimmy visits a new apartment that’s been tiled with “micro-recycled” product made from old clothes and glass. That’s all in this weeks’ Flat Chat Wrap. Transcript in full Jimmy 00:00 Well, this is a bit strange. I'm sitting looking at an empty chair, and that's because my normal sparring partner and co-host is not here. She's on the Gold Coast, and that's because now that all the travel restrictions are lifted, she can do her book tour, promoting her new book. In real life; in person. She doesn't have to do it on Zoom, which is ironic, because now she has to do this podcast on Zoom. We'll be talking to her later, about things like the new twist in the pet laws, her visit to a site with Building Commissioner David Chandler, and a new product that I went to investigate in an apartment block, which is a tile made out of old glass and old clothes. I'm Jimmy Thomson, and this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] Jimmy Sue, what are you doing in the Gold Coast? Sue 01:23 I'm being attacked by birds at the moment. I'm just in the Gold Coast doing a talk about the history of the beginnings of colonial Sydney. Jimmy 01:31 Why would you be doing that? Sue 01:35 It’s related to my book, an historical novel, called Elizabeth & Elizabeth, about Elizabeth MacArthur and Elizabeth Macquarie in the early days of the colony. The book is apparently going extremely well, so I'm doing a little mini-tour. I've done a few Zoom talks and meetings; you know, talks in front of lots of different people, and this is my first one in person. So, with the borders open, they're doing it here. Jimmy 02:01 Which means you have to talk to me via Zoom. Sue 02:06 Yes, that’s right, but never mind. The sound is okay. Jimmy 02:09 It's not bad. You're sounding better than me; I don't know how that works. This whole thing with pets, has reared up again. Sue 02:19 Yeah, and in quite a bizarre way. It always seems to be, you just never can quite predict it, really. We've had the big fight about allowing pets into buildings. Then we've had the Court of Appeals saying, well, no, blanket bans on pets aren't allowed and now we had a couple who had a dog. They went into a building that didn't allow dogs. Kind of a little bit like Jo Cooper at Horizon (which started this whole fuss off), and they were told no, they had to get rid of their dog. So, they went to NCAT, saying, ‘well, the Court of Appeal has said blanket bans are unconscionable.’ Then NCAT came back with a very interesting ruling, because that building didn't actually have a blanket ban on pets. It only had a blanket ban on dogs. It actually allowed cats and fish, so he said the ruling wasn't relevant. Incredible, really, the twists and turns of this whole saga.
22 minutes | Mar 2, 2021
Podcast: Why we’re turning to ‘new terraces’
What do you do when you want the shared responsibility of strata but don’t particularly want to live with people above and below you? You buy or rent a townhouse, which is the fancy-pants modern name for what we used to call terraces. It seems that while pre-sales and construction of apartments are going down, sales of townhouses are on the way up and in this week’s podcast, we discuss why that might be. Listen Here Then we turn our gazes south to Victoria where their new strata laws have just passed. OK, they won’t come into force until December, but we ask if they are blazing a trail for NSW strata laws to follow. And we preview Sue’s trip to the front line – well, a new apartment block under construction – with Building Commissioner David Chandler. Will she need body armour? Will he? It’s all in the Flat Chat Wrap. Transcript in full Jimmy 00:00 So, it seems that people are buying fewer apartments, but more townhouses. Sue 0:07 Oh, like strata townhouses? Jimmy 00:10 Yep, most townhouses are strata these days, even in Randwick, where they tried to make everybody have company title. Sue 00:18 Right. Jimmy 00:20 There's that, and there's big changes to the law in Victoria, so we'll be talking about that. I'm Jimmy Thomson. I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 00:31 And I'm Sue Williams. I write about property for Domain. Jimmy 00:35 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] Jimmy Okay, Sue, there's new figures from a company run by your old sparring partner, Dr. Andrew Wilson. Jimmy What they've indicated is that the government has been pumping money into the building sector; most of that money is going into stand-alone houses. The number of purchases (or the builds starting), for apartments has actually plummeted. It's going right down, but going down by less, is townhouses. You look at the graph (and the graph is on the Flat Chat website)…I'd say in about six months, it could actually meet; the number of townhouses, and the number of apartments are going to be about the same, which shows a big shift in people's thinking about how they want to live. They want to live in strata, because of the benefits of that, but they don't want to necessarily live in apartments. Why is that? Sue 01:57 I wonder if that's the influence of the downsizers on the market. A lot of older people are a bit more nervous about moving into apartments, if they've never lived in them before. They're a bit anxious about having to deal with an owner’s corporation or a body corporate. I was talking to someone the other day from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. They were saying that, often older people were a bit nervous about moving into apartments, if they've never lived in them before, because they're nervous about who their neighbors might be, and whether there's going to be a noise above them, or next to them or below them. They can't quite get their head around the fact that (hopefully), apartments are built to be almost soundproof, but you know, I grew up in a terrace house… We heard everything our neighbors said; both sides of us and it wasn't such a big deal really. You just kind of got used to it. Well, I didn’t know anything different when I was a kid. Jimmy 03:03 That’s the key; you know, if you've lived in a house where you're separate; even these big McMansions are exactly one meter apart, or whatever it is. You're not going to hear your neighbor so much, except when they go out into the backyard. Sue 03:18 I'm arguing you often do, and there's less you can do about it, when you're living in a house. If the house isn't so well-built, you're always going to hear your neighbors from next door if you’re in a terrace. We know somebody who lives in a terrace and has terrible trouble with neighbors’ noise and that’s in Kirribilli in the lower North Shore of Sydney.
26 minutes | Feb 23, 2021
Podcast: Pets (again!) with James Valentine
Every so often – about once a month – I get invited on to James Valentine’s Afternoons on ABC 702. Last week the topic was pets in apartments – partly because that was all anyone was talking about. So we had a couple of people ringing up with their pet questions and complaints, all of which has indirectly added to a pet-heavy Flat Chat website this week. And that was exacerbated by my response to a question about whether or not there was a guide to the best dogs for apartments. Listen Here “Oh, yes,” I blithely replied. “You’ll find it on the website.” I wasn’t sure where but I knew it would be there … except it wasn’t. I don’t know how I managed to convince myself that I’d already done this, but I did and I hadn’t. Which is why I spent my weekend digging through and collating the opinions of half a dozen websites purporting to offer the definitive list of the best dogs for units. If you are interested, you can find that info here. Otherwise, if you missed the session on Afternoons, sit back and enjoy our chat from last week which we hope was entertaining and informative. Transcript in full Jimmy 00:00 Every so often (I won't say regularly, because it's anything but regular), but just about once a month, I get invited onto James Valentine's Afternoons on ABC 702 radio. Last week, James asked me on to talk about pets, because everybody's talking about pets. Nobody's talking about anything else except pets at the moment. I thought that would make a very good podcast. I'm Jimmy Thomson. This is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] James 00:55 Hello, Canberra, hello, Sydney, hello, Newcastle. Three of the great cities of this nation, combined together with one radio show. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. For those in Canberra who haven't encountered Jimmy Thomson, let me set the scene for you. Jimmy Thomson (for longer than even he cares to remember and for longer than most people can), has been looking at the strata rules of largely, New South Wales and the ACT. Now, you might think to yourself, ‘wow, he sounds like an interesting fellow,’ and this is the odd thing about Jimmy Thomson… He makes it very interesting. As more and more Australians (in all those cities I'm describing), end up living in apartments and strata and townhouses and the like; more of us have got to get our head across what that means and what some of the issues are. Jimmy runs a website called www.flat-chat.com.au He's also written for the Domain and the Herald for many years on these issues. You can follow up on anything we're talking about today by going to www.flat-chat.com.au and you can look at the debates they've had and the issues that have been there. We found it very, very helpful (and many have, listening to this), to get Jimmy in to talk through changes as they're coming along. Now, we decided to have something of a Flat Chat special today, because Jimmy and I were linked in to a discussion on Twitter, about an assistant dog. Jimmy, g’day! Jimmy 02:27 Good afternoon. James 02:31 Good afternoon. Nice to have you have you along, as always. Look, I'm so annoyed. I can't believe that our building manager is having another go at removing Buddy from the building; Buddy being a dog. We've got the Assistant dog jacket and approval. This person has now gone to their employer and they've sent a letter, because now the building manager is saying ‘oh, the dog is overweight; the dog is over a weight limit. The dog is too big for the building.’ The building manager hates dogs, and it's making it so difficult to deal with this. This is an Assistance dog. These are these marvelous dogs that will be trained in all sorts of ways to help people with all kinds of disabilities, mental health issues, and all the rest. It is absolutely fantastic thing. If there's one dog you might want in your apartment building, it would be an assistance dog. It'll be really great; it will be well-trained and would a...
23 minutes | Feb 16, 2021
Podcast: New pet laws and defining ‘reasonable’
In this week’s podcast we give the NSW Parliament’s deliberations on it’s new strata pet laws a kick along. As reported here, the Lower House has taken a good six months to deal with a procedural Bill that would have promoted sustainability and tidied up several odd loopholes in strata law. However, it was tagged with an amendment that would have meant pets could only be excluded from apartments if it was detrimental to the animal. Listen Here The amended Bill, which was approved by the Upper House with its Animal Justice Party alteration, had zero chance of being approved by the Legislative Assembly. Right or wrong, the majority Coalition government was simply not going to approve open slather for pet owners in strata. So Sydney MP Alex Greenwich stepped in and wrangled a compromise that basically says pets could not “unreasonably” be refused domicile in apartment blocks while getting a commitment to a parliamentary report on what “reasonable” actually means. And that’s where we hop in with our ten cents worth on the podcast. Rental as anything Elsewhere in the pod, in light of the tax and planning breaks now on offer from the NSW government, we discuss the rise and rise of build-to-rent apartment blocks – there are 40 “in the pipeline” according to real estate marketing giant CBRE. But will they be snazzy upmarket facilities-filled developments like Mirvac’s Liv Indigo? Or will they be cheap and cheerless, renters-only versions of the cram-em-in, stack-em-high chicken coops beloved of some well-known developers? Time will tell. Commish kicks butt Finally Sue chats about her recent conversation with Building Commissioner David Chandler. Six months into his much-hyped crackdown on dodgy developers, is he making a difference, especially with regard to confidence in our high-rise buildings? We dig around for evidence. Zany Zoom calls And keeping things upbeat, Jimmy points us to these two videos. The first, is balm to the soul of any strata chair or secretary who’s had to deal with unruly members at an online committee meeting. If you are one of the few people on the planet who hasn't already seen this, it made a global viral video heroine of Council Clerk Jackie Weaver and her ruthless handling of obstreperous members of Handforth Parish Council in England. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB3P_0GAi0I And on a lighter note, there’s the lawyer who appeared on a Zoom video as a cute little talking kitten. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcnnI6HD6DU Almost as amusing in the video from Texas is the warning in the top left corner that recording the meeting was an offence. Well, that really worked. But maybe if we all had to adopt animal alter egos, online strata meetings would be a lot less fractious and a lot more fun. Enjoy the podcast and let us know what you think of the new format on email@example.com. Transcript In Full Jimmy 00:00 Big news on the pet front this week in strata. Sue 00:04 Yes! it's all happening, isn’t it? Jimmy 00:04 We've got ‘build to rent’ to talk about and you've been chatting to Building Commissioner, David Chandler? Sue 00:14 Yes, that's right. Jimmy 00:15 Is he making a difference; let's find out, later on. I'm Jimmy Thomson. I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 00:24 And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain with the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age. Jimmy 00:29 This is the Flat Chat Wrap. Well, let's get straight into it. The New South Wales lower house (which is actually the most important bit of Parliament), last week debated an amendment to their sustainability strata bill. Sue 01:01 That was the one where there was an amendment put on by the Animal Justice Party, wasn't it? Jimmy 01:05 Yes. This was originally a bill that was all about fixing up loose ends.
20 minutes | Feb 9, 2021
Podcast: Bad landlords and skinny buildings
The Flat Chat wrap this week is taken up with three main topics. The first is a petition to parliament to create a blacklist of bad landlords … launched by someone who is a landlord herself. Victoria is about to get one next month and it seems only fair that, if NSW tenants can be put on a blacklist that makes it harder for them to get rentals, then bad landlords should also be named and shamed in the hope they sharpen up their ideas to get good renters. You can find links to the petition here. Listen Here Our second topic is the “skyscratcher” hotel planned for Pitt St, Sydney. In the podcast we erroneously reference the architects’ (Durbach Block Jaggers) website as the home of some caustic comments. In fact, we were thinking of the excellent Dezeen online architecture and design magazine (from which we pilfered the illustrations on this page). Check it out if you are at all interested in innovative building design. And by the way, some reader comments on that site say the plan was just a kite-flying attempt to get publicity and that development application to City of Sydney had been withdrawn after objections from neighbours. That doesn’t seem to be the case if you look at the detailed application documents HERE on the City of Sydney website. If you’re excited by innovative high-rise architecture (even though it’s an hotel) have a look at Dezeen for more detail. And finally we found the pet-friendliest apartment block in Sydney which has its own cat café. However, we’ve also found another one in Surry Hills called Catmosphere which offers cat yoga (among other things) for feline-deprived locals. It’s bookings only so don’t just turn up or the fur will fly. Transcript in full. Jimmy 00:00 Bad landlords and skinny buildings; that's what we're going to be talking about today. That new building in Sydney, they’re describing it as a sky-scratcher, because it's too thin to be called a skyscraper. Sue 00:17 Hmm, interesting! Jimmy 00:19 I think they're splitting hairs there. They are our main topics of conversation and a move to have a blacklist of bad landlords. I’m Jimmy Thomson; I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review. Sue 00:32 And I'm Sue Williams and I write about property for Domain with the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. Jimmy 00:37 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. [MUSIC] Sue, you've been talking to somebody about a blacklist for landlords? Sue 00:58 Yes. They had a really bad experience renting property, and they're actually also a landlord themselves, so they know what they're talking about. They had a bad experience; lots of things went wrong. Repairs, problems, and the landlord's mother used to visit their home without giving notice and all that kind of thing. They went to Fair Trading, then they went to NCAT and got an order against their landlord. They feel that there are lots of lousy landlords out there, and they deserve to be highlighted so that when you go to rent an apartment or a house, you actually know… Jimmy 01:36 What their track record is. Sue 01:39 Yeah. Whether they have good tenant references; whether they've had rulings against them in NCAT in the past. Whether they've got a bad reputation or whether they're a great landlord. Jimmy 01:49 Well, a blacklist is not going to list people who are great landlords, so that's a kind of separate thing, isn't it? Sue 01:56 Sure, okay. I think you’re splitting hairs, now Jimmy! Jimmy 02:00 We've got a blacklist for tenants, right? Sue 02:02 Yes, that's right, and that's a privately-run blacklist. I think that's quite difficult; it's very hard to get off of once you're on there. Jimmy 02:09 Yeah. Sue 02:10 There should be an equivalent for bad landlords. Jimmy 02:13 So, you get on the tenant’s blacklist by defaulting on your rent; damaging property. First of all,
23 minutes | Feb 1, 2021
Podcast: Unit prices stall and ropey reno regs
Hi, did you miss us? We took a little break last month but we are back with our new, improved Flat Chat Wrap podcast. We – Sue Williams and JimmyT – are now working on the basis that less is more. We are still going to talk about the apartment living issues of the day, large and small, to keep you informed and amused. But we’re going to put a clock on it so while our thoughts may occasionally wander down the odd tangent, our chat will never meander. We’re aiming for somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes per episode which is just long enough for a decent coffee break or a short commute. Listen Here Do let us know what you think and please, by all means, feel free to suggest topics we could discuss. It’s always good to get fresh ideas. This week we talk about the growing disparity between the median prices of apartments compared to houses and why this is happening. And you can also read more about that HERE. Jimmy will be talking about the window-sized hole he found in strata renovation regulations and how Fair Trading dodged the opportunity to fix it. You can also read more about that HERE. And Sue explores the world of community and neighbourhood Facebook pages while Jimmy dreams of a Mexican restaurant called Three Chihuahuas. On with the show (we did say it was going to be short and sweet). Transcript in Full Jimmy 00:00 And we're back. And in case you thought you dropped into the podcast halfway through, we're back from a little break we took over the holidays, to give you the Flat Chat Wrap again. Hello, Sue. Sue 00:11 Hi, Jimmy, nice to be back! Jimmy 00:13 Happy New Year. Sue 00:13 And the same to you. Jimmy 00:15 Today we're going to be talking about a flaw I found in the New South Wales strata regulations, and you've got something about apartment sales? Sue 00:26 That's right. There's a huge report on apartment and house prices this week by Domain. Jimmy 00:33 And there's a new piece of hardware being used for the Flat Chat Wrap now; it's a clock. We're gonna try and keep it tight. People seem to like podcasts that last less than half an hour, so we'll keep it tight, keep it snappy, keep it going. Keep it light, keep it funny, keep it short, keep it sweet. I'm Jimmy Thomson. I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review and edit the Flat Chat website. Sue 01:02 And I'm Sue Williams, a property writer with Domain. Jimmy 01:05 And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. Growing gap in house and unit prices Jimmy Sue, there's been a big report about the difference between apartment prices and house prices. Sue 01:28 The latest Domain house report came out last week, and it showed house prices surging remarkably all around the country, but unit prices either rising a little bit or even falling in some areas. The gap between house prices and unit prices has now reached a record 66%. So, the median house price is 66% more than the median unit price, which is the biggest gap they’ve ever had. Jimmy 01:57 Why is this happening? Sue 01:58 Dr. Nicola Powell, the research analyst with Domain, says it's for a number of reasons. Investor activity is down, and investors mostly buy apartments. Because rents are down and the number of tenants are down as well, because we don't have overseas students coming in. We don't have people migrating here and they usually go and live in apartments as well. People are moving to regional areas and coastal areas, because they want more space. Or, they're moving out of apartments, because they want more space in a house as well. And they want to be able to work from home, so they need a study. Jimmy 02:34 There's a COVID effect, and there's people working from home. Sue 02:39 Big COVID effect, yeah. There was a really big move towards apartments, but it seems that COVID has kind of slowed that down,
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021