Self-investing in Australian Property

Now that Pop-Star is in the seriously old age group, and has his home on the market to fund a move to a retirement village, he has had cause to think more deeply about Australia’s property market.

He has recently found blogging on topics of financial and community interest to be an all-absorbing interest but one that risks him becoming more of a bore than he was.

He feels for many Australians who have lost large and some massive amounts of money they had set aside for their retirement. To their consternation they usually have no redress, and receive little or no help from regulatory authorities.

Some lose money when the stock-market crashes, but larger losses often result from investing in adviser recommended, highly geared property development failures. He has long wondered why more Australians don’t invest directly in property themselves, and avoid the high charges of developers and the associated risks. No doubt it is because they lack  knowledge of the property market, and may not receive good advice about how to go about it.

Pop-Star vividly remembers a simple commonsense piece of advice from one of his surgical mentors. It is advice of which many are ignorant or chose not to heed.  “When you have a problem, get the best advice and management you possibly can. If still in doubt, get a second opinion. Back your own judgment only when it is well-based”.

Family reunions, and renewed contacts with friends, is one of the joys of Christmas. It is also amazing what you can learn from your children, and grandchildren too – when they are around. From his daughter-in-law Pop-Star has learned that there are financial organizations specializing in providing the best advice for those able and willing to invest for themselves in the property market. She works for one such company based in Melbourne. It is known as Empower Wealth,  and was founded by Ben Kingsley.  The link below is to an article he has written on realestate.com.au  Excellent advice. Do read it.

http://www.realestate.com.au/blog/top-5-tips-for-new-investors/

Buying property can be one of the best ways to invest your money and build wealth. Yet new investors often feel overwhelmed at the thought of taking the plunge into property.

Disclaimer:

Pop-Star has no personal involvement with Empower Wealth, and has no ability in property investment.

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Mount Barker’s Laratinga Wetlands

Over 150 water bird species visit the award-winning Laratinga wetlands.

http://www.adelaidehills.org.au/attractions/our-favourites/laratinga-wetlands

At an awards ceremony in Melbourne on Friday 3rd June 2011, the District Council of Mount Barker was judged the overall winner of the Best Specific Environmental Initiative category of the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award for Laratinga Wetland.

Named after the Peramangk peoples name for the Mount Barker creek, Laratinga Wetland has taken several years to resemble a natural ecosystem. Landscaping design with the use of indigenous plant species has encouraged birds to utilise the wetland. Migrating birds utilise the safe island habitats. A food forest for Cockatoos has encouraged Cockatoos including the Yellow Tail Black Cockatoo back to the area.

For stunning pictures of Mount Barker’s wetlands, click on this link.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x6ab73a7e232e001f:0xf03365545ba43e0!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e1!4shttps://ssl.panoramio.com/photo/10533610!5slaratinga+wetlands+-+Google+Search&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiO4fD02PPJAhUnJKYKHe2RAgIQoioIdDAN

Pop-Star’s house in Dalmeny Park, Mount Barker is just 1.5kms from these wetlands, and a similar distance from the interchange exit being built on the South Eastern Freeway, 35 km from Adelaide.

150 metres from his house is a storage tank and pumping station for the wetland effluent, set on the highest point of the surrounding terrain.   A nearby plaque commemorates its opening in 2005 by the then Minister for the Environment Mr John Hill.

 

Christmas Time is here again! Happy Christmas Ryan and Amy! and Ollie!!

I’m  one and a bit years from receiving my OBE (over bloody eighty) award so I’m getting close to those pearly gates,  and expecting some entry barriers. . What was my password??

havens door - photobucket com

 

Is Christmas a foretaste of what it might be like up there??

I love bonding with family on Christmas Day!

This is how father and son kept in touch after last year’s Christmas dinner. . Riveting stuff!!

 

A time for kissies and cuddles! This is Amy being taken for a free ride by our eldest grandson Ryan Harker.

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Amy’s latest pet is Oliver, her golliwog dog with ginger eyebrow’s and moustache.

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Ryan prefers this prickly little customer!

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Ryan has a surprise embrace by Amy’s affectionate skeleton. Amy is studying Medicine.

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Ryan and Amy send their customary Maori-emulating Christmas greetings to all their loved ones! They are off to see you all with Amy the careful driver.

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I can scarcely recall life back then but this is how our Susan, Alison and baby Paul were once a few Christmases ago! Like nearly 50!

Happy Christmas to all our friends, and to our enemies too!!

Children PNG

Pop-Star sells up

Reverse Home Loans for Seniors, to stay in their own home

We will undoubtedly hear more of a financial strategy that has been given prominence in recent years, and was in the news again this week. It enables pensioners to borrow against their home, and is known as a reverse mortgage. Most seniors are still wary of putting their home in jeopardy, despite financial institutions packaging them to avoid risk to clients’ ownership.

Their wariness is justified. Saving to own a home is a financially sound strategy because inflation works in the owners’ favour, gains are not subject to capital gains tax, it is not included in the asset test for the pension, and the value of the asset compounds each year. Furthermore there is an immediate and continuing benefit in not having to pay rent whereas money in  superannuation is locked away until retirement age, soon to be 70 years of age. Superannuation benefits are also eroded by inflation, and are greatly reduced in market collapses such as occurred in the 2008 global financial crisis.

Pros and cons of reverse mortgages

Borrowing against home equity, when unable to afford to pay off the debt, soon  sacrifices these benefits, as the debt compounds. Some retirees do not necessarily mind. They are happy to continue to spend what they have while they can, seeing no point in leaving an inheritance for their children. They reckon they have paid their taxes, and the state should look after them when their money is gone.

The state has a divided interest. On one hand they wish to cut the sky-rocketing cost of care as the population ages, with fewer workers to support the elderly.  They believe users should pay even if it means tapping into the money tied up in their home. On the other hand the cheapest option for aged care is to reduce accommodation costs by keeping them at home for as long as possible with the support of community services.

The Australian dream of home ownership is still strong, but it is becoming more unrealistic as prices climb. Many elderly Australians, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, have benefitted financially from windfall gains in the value of their homes in recent years making them asset rich but income poor. Reverse mortgages, sensibly structured to avoid forced selling, may be a solution for them, allowing them to pay their rates and continue to live at home.

It is not just the cost of remaining in the family home for the elderly that is limiting. There is the problem of health and physical vigour. Some frail pensioners live in squalor unnecessarily when if they sold their home they would have more than enough to live in comfortable retirement quarters with support when needed.

Pop-Star puts the family home on the market.

Pop-Star and Mrs Pop-Star, both not far off 80, have been mulling over these questions for some time, and a few months ago decided to shift into a retirement village after finding a unit that suited their needs.

Australian retirees have many quality options. Most conform to a high standard, resembling tourist resorts, with recreational and entertaining facilities. The social advantages of communal living, and the safety of a gated compound are other benefits. It is also appealing to know that maintenance will be attended to even when away.

It is helpful if there is a nursing home nearby so that it is easier to visit a partner who has to be admitted. Most facilities provide community care in one’s own unit when required, but this is not always adequate for example should one have a stroke. The village Pop-Star has selected also has a dementia unit.

Points worth considering when making decisions about one’s future. 

Keep your family informed. They may be affected, and could be most helpful.

Many elderly are negative and are adamant they will not move.  They should think of the many positive considerations.

Some units may be too expensive with operators setting prices above what may be realised from selling the family home. Cheaper options could be available.

It is important to read the fine print in contracts, and it may be worth the fee to have a solicitor scan and interpret the documents before signing.

Moving into a retirement village invariably impacts upon one’s financial status. Centrelink will need to be informed, and they can help with financial advice if needed.

 

Best wishes to all retirees in their enjoyment of life be it in their own home, or in a retirement village.

 

“The Georges’ Wife”, by Elizabeth Jolley – A book review.

This is a book review I wrote for Amazon, reproduced for this blog.

Fiction is most compelling when it replicates the intrigues and uncertainties of life. Furthermore the best fiction springs from personal experience. In my opinion this is why Elizabeth Jolley, the author of “The Georges’ Wife” has become recognised as such a fine novelist. She writes fiction that is gripping, credible and relevant.

Even the curious title is deeply thought-provoking. Vera never marries Mr George. The Church Bells of the very last chapter is a school-girl memory of the Sunday morning call to worship, not a belated formal celebration of a durable union between a man and a woman. In what sense could Vera have been wife to Mr George’s attentive sister? The very suggestion outrages conventional morality.

The George duo rescue her from homelessness and penury by granting her a secure position of paid servitude as their maid, denying her the honourable status and authority of wife even when Mr George grasps the opportunity to add sexual benefits to her unwritten job description as maid. He baulks at acknowledging this to his sister, even although she senses the change and is tearful the next morning after they first sleep together.

To what extent does Elizabeth Jolley betray in this book her feelings towards the already married Leonard Jolley to whom she became pregnant as a young trainee nurse during the difficult years of World War II? He was an older man, a sophisticated University graduate whose love of literature and music and similar conservative religious views won her heart. She was his nurse when treated for suspected tuberculosis of the hip but eventually diagnosed as a manifestation of rheumatoid arthritis.

Although charming and kind to her, he proved to be a duplicitous womanizer, a cad. Having had his fun he did not safe-guard her good name and support her adequately when she became pregnant. He brought her shame in the eyes of her Quaker family and nursing friends, ended her training, and forced her to seek menial tasks to survive.

To add insult to injury he self-righteously enlisted her help in not even informing his own family of his indiscretion. When he did act to resolve his dilemma it was deeply hurtful and difficult for his wife, and broke the trust of his doting four-year old daughter Susan. Leonard did secretly marry Elizabeth, and became increasingly dependent on her. They lived first in Scotland and in 1959, they migrated to Perth in Australia. Leonard passed away in 1994 the year after this book was first published in Australia.

Vera never complained of her unmarried lot with Mr George. She was grateful for the security and companionship her unusual liaison provided, but craved more. Undoubtedly it was why she turned to the intellectually stimulating but alarmingly poor friends Noël and Felicity who scavenged their coal supplies from a nearby slag heap, and were grateful when Vera brought them a cucumber she found which had fallen to the road from a passing vehicle. Tragically Noël contracted pulmonary tuberculosis, and passed on the germ to Vera.

To their credit the Georges supported Vera and her two girls during her illness, and afterwards when she studied Medicine, but was it the loving relationship it might have been?

Elizabeth’s own story, hinted at in the reminiscences of Vera, but recorded accurately in Brian Dibble’s detailed biography, is much more riveting for being true. Intelligent, and well-educated, Elizabeth was born of a good German-speaking family with deeply held Pacifist scruples. She felt acutely the cutting reproaches of her efficient but brusque mother while her tolerant and loving father was the inspiration for her own fortitude in coping with her marital difficulties.

I enjoyed reading “The Georges’ Wife” and rate it as the best of her books that I have read thus far.