Monday, 9 June 2014

Which is better: Melbourne or Sydney?

The age old question is whether Sydney or Melbourne is a better city to live in.  There is always huge rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne.  Sydney has a reputation for being cutting edge, showy, spectacular while Melbourne is more conservative, quieter and gently refined. In  1877 Marcus Clarke sealed the perceptions of the two cities when he referred to Sydney as ‘fashionable and luxurious’  and Melbourne as the ‘intellectual capital’.  Hmmm, I am not so sure it is as easy as that! Take the fashion industry for example. When Uniqlo and H&M made Melbourne their Australian centre which succinctly underlined the notion that Melbourne is the nation’s fashion capital with its designers hitting the world stage and Victorians spending much more on fashion generally than the population in NSW. Conservative Melbourne, it seems, also has more flexible shopping hours than Sydney so that the retail experience is available more easily. Beyond fashion look at architecture: Sydney’s architecture tends to the conservative while Melbourne’s architecture is definitely ‘out there’ as Federation Square shows us clearly. Then there is sport. Both cities are sport mad and have wonderful sporting venues. Melbourne’s MCG is without doubt the jewel in Australia’s sporting venue crown but there is also the amazing tennis centre which hosts world’s best tennis at the end of January and turns Melbourne into an amazing carnival. But wait a moment, what about eating? Sydney definitely has the most spectacular fine dining restaurants in Australia. Melbourne probably has some of the most interesting and inspired medium priced menus. Terry Durack, the The Sydney Morning Herald's chief restaurant critic recently summed up the dining options as that Sydney has the glamour, the seafood, the sunshine, the modernity; but Melbourne has the detail, the laneways, the coffee and the rich interior life.,'' Durack says. ''Melbourne's long-established food culture makes its diners more discerning, and the more demanding you are as a diner, the better you make your restaurants.'' Melbourne is a frequent winner of the most liveable city because of the ease of doing almost everything. A strong consideration! Then again, don’t forget the weather! Sydney’s weather is probably the best in Australia. The weather is amazing all year around and if you love an outdoor lifestyle then you are certainly better in Sydney. If you like rugging up during winter in a cosy café in a little laneway, then Melbourne would be far better. Spectacular beaches: Sydney is an out an out winner! Spectacular fireworks, carnivals: Sydney! Spectacular iconic landmarks: Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Spectacular, amazing places to visit with wonderful awe inspiring views: Sydney. Incredible journey to work: Sydney ferries! It is so hard to be objective when deciding which is ‘better’: if your dream is to have an early morning surf, a ferry ride to work and to spend the evening at a café under the stars then Sydney is your place but if your ideal is general liveability all the time then Melbourne is much more your scene. Both places are pretty amazing so whichever one you end up in is a pretty good choice!!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

House Auctions: why they are popular and what some Australian states are doing about underquoting

Auctions: some love them, others hate them and they are always controversial. For real estate agents auctions are a great way of driving potential buyers towards a set date with set open for inspections and the vendor usually paying for greater advertising fees and potentially display furniture because they feel as if they are very ‘public’ in the lead up to the auction date. This assists the effort going into making the sale. Usually the real estate agency gets lots of free publicity from the campaign as well. For properties which are very desirable there is a chance that an auction campaign can drive the price up also as buyers compete with each other. In Victoria, auctions also offer no cooling off period: the auction is final! The thought of higher prices is what drives a vendor to auction and the thought of a bargain is what makes it appealing to buyers!

If you are thinking of buying your new home at auction please do your homework. Underquoting is rampant so before you pay for a building or pest inspection and fall in love with the home make sure that you are not being misled. Agents will often advertise the home at a lower price than it will be likely to sell for in order to drive interest and demand. By inflaming desire they guarantee a larger crowd on auction day and each under bidder, even though their bidding ceiling is low, plays a part in driving the price up. Find out what other homes have sold for in the area, compare the land size and check out the contract as well.

In Queensland there are currently some auction reforms which are being pushed which may also come into play in other states. The Queensland Government would like to see an end to underquoting and is planning to ban price guides at auctions. Real estate agents are worried that this will impact the effectiveness of auctions. In South Australia the auction system advertises the higher of what the agent feels the house is worth and what the owner wants to sell for and keeps the reserve price at no more than 10% above that.

The strongest advice for anyone thinking of buying at an auction is to attend plenty of them especially in your preferred purchase area.