Tuesday, June 06, 2006

On Personal Finance | Buying a home: Factors to weigh

Question: I am 26 years old, engaged, and renting an apartment. I wanted to see whether I could afford to buy a home. I make $60,000 a year and have little money for a down payment.

A: Buying a home is a good financial move for the long term, but may not make sense if your life is likely to change a lot in the next few years - if you will start a family and need more space, for instance.

As a renter, you can be pretty sure your housing costs will continue to rise with inflation.

If you buy, you'd still have monthly payments for interest on the mortgage, plus principal, which is a portion of the loan you pay back every month. But these two costs would be fixed for the life of the loan, so you'd avoid the kind of annual increases you're likely to face as a renter.

Of course, as an owner, you also would be paying for homeowner's insurance and property tax, and those are likely to go up with inflation. And you'd shoulder all the maintenance and repair costs that now fall on your landlord.

But if you bought now, it's almost certain you'd pay less for housing in five or 10 years than if you had rented a comparable property. Also, you'd gradually pay off your mortgage, and the home's value is likely to rise over time. So you'd gradually build "equity," which is the difference between the property's value at any given time and the amount you still owe on the loan.

On the other hand, it costs money to sell a property. The commission paid to the real estate agent typically runs to 5 percent or 6 percent of the sales price. Moreover, though home values have gone up a lot in recent years, they do sometimes level off - or even drop, though that's usually temporary.

So there's no guarantee you could buy a home now and sell it in a year or two for enough to pay off your mortgage and cover the sales commission and any other costs related to selling, such as repairs. I'd be very cautious about buying unless I thought I'd keep the property for at least three to five years.

As a rule of thumb, lenders want an applicant's monthly payment for principal, interest, tax and insurance to come to no more than 28 percent of gross income. Also, they don't want your total debt burden - those housing costs plus payments on car and student loans, credit cards and so on - to equal more than 36 percent of gross income.

Assuming you have no debts now and could find a mortgage charging about 6.5 percent, you probably could borrow about $160,000. Obviously, you could borrow more if your fiancee has an income, too, and you buy together.

Typically, home buyers make down payments of 10 percent of the sales price. But some lenders will require only 5 percent; some, even less. And there are many federal and state programs that assist first-time buyers who have trouble making down payments.

To check these, go to the Web site of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, at http://www.hud.gov/buying/index.cfm. The site has a link to the Federal Housing Authority, which offers a loan that requires only a 3 percent down payment. The FHA even has a low-down-payment loan that includes money to repair a fixer-upper.

Also look under "housing" in your phone book's blue pages, which list government agencies. You will find lending programs and home-buying counseling agencies.

The phone book's yellow pages list real estate agents and mortgage brokers who can help you find good mortgage deals. Also shop for mortgages at www.bankrate.com and try keying "zero down payment" into your Web browser. Be careful that a low- or zero-down-payment deal doesn't come with an extra-high interest rate.

In addition, look at for-sale listings in the paper and at www.realtor.com, site of the National Association of Realtors. The site also has a set of calculators for figuring things such as how much you can borrow and whether renting or buying makes the most financial sense.(Jeff Brown)-philly.com

On Personal Finance | Buying a home: Factors to weigh

Question: I am 26 years old, engaged, and renting an apartment. I wanted to see whether I could afford to buy a home. I make $60,000 a year and have little money for a down payment.

A: Buying a home is a good financial move for the long term, but may not make sense if your life is likely to change a lot in the next few years - if you will start a family and need more space, for instance.

As a renter, you can be pretty sure your housing costs will continue to rise with inflation.

If you buy, you'd still have monthly payments for interest on the mortgage, plus principal, which is a portion of the loan you pay back every month. But these two costs would be fixed for the life of the loan, so you'd avoid the kind of annual increases you're likely to face as a renter.

Of course, as an owner, you also would be paying for homeowner's insurance and property tax, and those are likely to go up with inflation. And you'd shoulder all the maintenance and repair costs that now fall on your landlord.

But if you bought now, it's almost certain you'd pay less for housing in five or 10 years than if you had rented a comparable property. Also, you'd gradually pay off your mortgage, and the home's value is likely to rise over time. So you'd gradually build "equity," which is the difference between the property's value at any given time and the amount you still owe on the loan.

On the other hand, it costs money to sell a property. The commission paid to the real estate agent typically runs to 5 percent or 6 percent of the sales price. Moreover, though home values have gone up a lot in recent years, they do sometimes level off - or even drop, though that's usually temporary.

So there's no guarantee you could buy a home now and sell it in a year or two for enough to pay off your mortgage and cover the sales commission and any other costs related to selling, such as repairs. I'd be very cautious about buying unless I thought I'd keep the property for at least three to five years.

As a rule of thumb, lenders want an applicant's monthly payment for principal, interest, tax and insurance to come to no more than 28 percent of gross income. Also, they don't want your total debt burden - those housing costs plus payments on car and student loans, credit cards and so on - to equal more than 36 percent of gross income.

Assuming you have no debts now and could find a mortgage charging about 6.5 percent, you probably could borrow about $160,000. Obviously, you could borrow more if your fiancee has an income, too, and you buy together.

Typically, home buyers make down payments of 10 percent of the sales price. But some lenders will require only 5 percent; some, even less. And there are many federal and state programs that assist first-time buyers who have trouble making down payments.

To check these, go to the Web site of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, at http://www.hud.gov/buying/index.cfm. The site has a link to the Federal Housing Authority, which offers a loan that requires only a 3 percent down payment. The FHA even has a low-down-payment loan that includes money to repair a fixer-upper.

Also look under "housing" in your phone book's blue pages, which list government agencies. You will find lending programs and home-buying counseling agencies.

The phone book's yellow pages list real estate agents and mortgage brokers who can help you find good mortgage deals. Also shop for mortgages at www.bankrate.com and try keying "zero down payment" into your Web browser. Be careful that a low- or zero-down-payment deal doesn't come with an extra-high interest rate.

In addition, look at for-sale listings in the paper and at www.realtor.com, site of the National Association of Realtors. The site also has a set of calculators for figuring things such as how much you can borrow and whether renting or buying makes the most financial sense.(Jeff Brown)-philly.com

Blaze forces hotel evacuation

ABOUT 20 people have been evacuated after a fire in a western Sydney hotel.

The NSW Fire Brigades received a triple-0 call when the blaze broke out in a hotel on Victoria Road, Parramatta, just after 11pm (AEST) last night, a fire spokesman said.

Twenty firefighters from four brigades found smoke coming from the office on the second floor of the two storey building.

About 20 people were evacuated as the crews fought the blaze.

The fire was contained, with no injuries reported, but the office and an adjoining hallway were severely damaged.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Source and more: news.com.au

Modern-day 'pirate' sent to the brig

A MODERN-day pirate who sailed to Tasmania aboard a $350,000 luxury yacht that he had stolen has been jailed for at least nine months.

David James Appleby, 41, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of theft and five firearms offences. The thefts relate to about $680,000 of property stolen over almost 11 years.

Appleby's booty from the spree included a $42,000 Mazda MX6 car stolen in 1994, driven for 1½ days and then stored in a factory, a $25,000 caravan, a $63,000 cruise boat and trailer, a $45,000 Bobcat and $70,000 Land Rover Discovery. The spree culminated in Appleby, of Patterson Lakes in Victoria, stealing the 13.4m yacht Premier Cru from Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron on January 31, 2005.

Premier Cru was co-owned by liquor baron Philip Murphy and friend Rob Hampson.

The County Court was told Appleby had been suffering from bipolar disorder for eight or nine years but that it was misdiagnosed as depression. Anti-depressant medication only exacerbated his condition, the court heard.

Judge Leo Hart said yesterday he accepted Appleby's actions were impulsive and that he was seriously psychiatrically disturbed when he stole the yacht.

Judge Hart said that, given the medical and psychiatric evidence, he accepted it was more likely Appleby's crimes were influenced by his mental condition than by greed. Appleby, an experienced sailor, got in an inflatable dinghy with his dog and paddled out to the luxury yacht, hot-wiring it and motoring out into Bass Strait.

He said in his police interview that it was a spur-of-the-moment decision when he was depressed and contemplating suicide.

About 12 hours into the voyage, Appleby ran out of fuel. He later turned himself in to police. (Shelley Hodgson)/news.com.au/

Networks Announces Offer to Acquire Trax Retail Solutions

OTTAWA, ON, June 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - March Networks(TM) (TSX:MN; AIM:MNW), a leading provider of Internet Protocol (IP)-based digital video surveillance solutions, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of Trax Retail Solutions, Inc. and its affiliated company. Scottsdale, Arizona based Trax is a leading provider of enterprise software for loss prevention, store operations control and profit optimization solutions within the retail sector.
The agreement calls for the payment by March Networks of cash and common shares for a total purchase price of approximately $7.5 million USD plus an earn-out component. Under terms of the agreement, March Networks will pay$5.0 million USD in cash and have the option of paying the remaining amount in cash or common shares. The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of June 2006.
March Networks plans on maintaining a presence in Scottsdale and retaining many of the approximately 50 Trax employees.

"This is a strategic acquisition for March Networks. The industry's leading provider of digital video solutions combined with the leader in retail loss prevention, risk management, and business optimization software will make for an extremely compelling offer for progressive retailers looking to improve their bottom line," said Peter Strom, President and CEO of March Networks. "The acquisition of Trax is an important step towards our goal of becoming the world leader in video-based business optimization solutions.

Shrinkage (inventory loss primarily caused by theft) is a significant problem for retailers throughout the world. Market research estimates that $46 billion USD is lost annually in the United States because of shrinkage. In Europe, the estimated annual cost of shrinkage is 24 billion euros. Through a sophisticated offering of business intelligence software, Trax leads customers to improved in-store practices that help reduce shrinkage and result in better loss prevention and higher profitability.

"Through the integration of March Networks' visual intelligence solutions and Trax SmartStore retail business intelligence platform, March Networks will be offering customers a new paradigm in intelligent management of retail operations to support loss prevention activities, enhanced operational decision making, and greater profitability," said Tony Jenkins, Vice President of Global Marketing at March Networks.

For fiscal year 2007, March Networks expects that the Trax acquisition will contribute less than 5% of the total revenue of the Company and will be slightly dilutive to net earnings, excluding the impact of the amortization of acquired assets. March Networks management will discuss further details of the transaction on June 8, 2006 during the Company's fourth quarter and fiscal year 2006 financial results conference call.

Solutions from March Networks and Trax will be on display during the NRF Loss Prevention Conference and Exhibition (booth No. 231) in Minneapolis from June 6-7, 2006. An overview presentation of the joint March Networks and Trax solution is available at www.marchnetworks.com/news/marchnetworkstrax1.pdf.

About March Networks

March Networks(TM) (TSX:MN; AIM:MNW) is a leading provider of innovative IP-based video applications used for security surveillance and monitoring. Our software and hardware solutions allow businesses to increase operational efficiencies, address risk, and manage assets with an integrated set of video-based intelligence tools that support enhanced decision-making. Today, we are ISO 9001:2000 certified and serve the needs of leading banks, retail organizations and transportation authorities in more than 40 countries throughout the world. For more information, please visit www.marchnetworks.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release contains certain forward-looking information which is based on the Company's current expectations and assumptions that are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict and that may be beyond March Networks' control. The Company's expectations and assumptions include certain assumptions of future business following the consummation of the acquisition, March Networks' ability to achieve the expected synergies as a result of the acquisition, the strengthening of March Networks' position in the retail vertical market as a result of the acquisition and the expected timing of the closing of the acquisition by the end of June, 2006. Actual results could differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements due to risk factors such as (1) the integration of the TRAX business and employees into March Networks and the achievement of expected synergies, (2) the accuracy of the Company's forecasting of acquisition- related restructuring costs, allocation of the purchase price to intellectual property, goodwill and other acquisition related inventory, and other asset adjustments, (3) the ability of March Networks' to compete successfully in a highly competitive and rapidly changing retail marketplace, and (4) the ability of March Networks' to retain key employees of the acquired business. These and other risks and factors are identified in March Networks' public filings with regulatory authorities in Canada. March Networks assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements as a result of new information or future events. (biz.yahoo.com)

British Embassy to acquire Fort Bonifacio property

The British Embassy will purchase a 1.2-hectare property in McKinley Hill, a township project of Megaworld Corp. in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Megaworld said the company signed an agreement with the British Embassy but declined to give details. A source said the embassy planned to construct a new building on the property.

The Makati-based embassy will be one of the first institutions to move to McKinley Hill, a 50-hectare mixed-use township catering to an international clientele.

Megaworld earlier said Enderun Colleges Inc. would build its second campus on a 17,000-sqm site at McKinley Hill’s educational center.

Megaworld is also in talks with foreign investors to build international schools at McKinley Hill as the company pushes a “live-work-play” concept for the property, which will be divided into residential, office, retail and educational/institutional blocks.

The first residential phase, called McKinley Hill Village, is a residential lot project geared for the high-end market. The project so far has sold 75 percent of the 482 lots put up for sale.

McKinley Hill’s residential block will feature garden villas housed in four-story condominium clusters. Megaworld will launch a new residential project called McKinley Hill Mansions, a medium-rise community that will comprise two residential phases with a total of 336 condominium units.

Megaworld is also looking at British companies engaged in business process outsourcing and Information Technology-enabled services as prospective locators that will be entitled to various tax incentives at the McKinley Hill Cyberpark.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority last year declared the 35-hectare office block a special economic zone. The property will provide a total of 200,000 square meters of high-tech office space for BPO and information technology companies.(Jenniffer B. Austria)
Source:manilastandardtoday.com

Sotheby’s International Realty

KZN South Coast toll road to impact property market

If the proposed South Coast toll road - running between East London and the South Coast of Durban - goes ahead, now’s the time to invest as property prices are bound to sky rocket.

If the proposed South Coast toll road - running between East London and the South Coast of Durban - goes ahead, now’s the time to invest as property prices are bound to sky rocket.

Gerrit Venter of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Margate says, “There are plans in the pipeline for a new toll road between East London and the South Coast – if this goes ahead it will mean more through-traffic for the area which will boost the local economy, drawing increased number of holiday makers as well as developers.

“At present those who travel to the Eastern Cape from up country usually go via Bloem as this has always been the most direct route. The new road will definitely encourage holiday makers to take a more scenic, coastal route instead.

“It is a matter of time before the area undergoes a complete make over.

“Currently, property in the area costs 10 -15% less than that along the North Coast and, as a result the South Coast provides an excellent place of entry for first time homebuyers. Although the area is in need of rejuvenation the amount of commercial investment is sure to impact on its popularity and improve infrastructure.”

Venter says although they aren’t common it is possible to still find 2-3 bedroomed homes with distant sea views for as little as R300 000 in Ramsgate and Margate, along the South Coast of KZN.

“Those who buy these properties as investments to let are generally able to make rental returns of around R2500/ month - which usually starts to cover bond repayments around 2-3 years after purchase. This is unheard of in the majority of seaside towns in SA.”

For more information contact Gerrit Venter of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty on 082 566 6512.

- ENDS
ISSUED BY: LANGE STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
ON BEHALF OF: SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY ®
For further information please contact Barak Geffen at Sotheby's International Realty South Africa on 082 600 8522 or Robyn Creer at Lange on (021) 448 7407

Source:www.eprop.co.za

Indian Property Foreign Funds flocking

A flood of foreign property investors want to rebuild India.

Typical is Barclays Capital, whose New York realty managers recently flew their private jet over potentially Asia's busiest building site.

"I've just moved apartment in New York and the prices here are no different," said one manager, casting a disbelieving eye over Mumbai's Nariman Point, described this week as among the world's 10 most expensive office locations. Mention Indian property these days and what follows is usually a tense question: "Is property India's next dotcom?" It feels that way.

As with dotcoms, everyone seems to be chasing property, though, given the paucity of official data and few benchmarks, no one can agree on valuations.

That said, investors are hardly holding back. Since rules were introduced in 2005 allowing foreign venture capital funds to invest, foreign realty funds have flooded into India, committing $4 billion as they desperately try to make up for lost ground by grabbing a share of the country's next big infrastructure play.

Yet, as in the dotcom years, nervousness is evident. In a few weeks, this industry of overwhelm-- ingly privately-owned Indian developers will welcome a possible defining moment. DLF, the Delhi-based builder founded by an Indian army officer, will launch the country's first property initial public offering.

Observers say DLF, which is sitting on a massive land-bank of 3,500 acres, has steered away from traditional dynamics used to value property assets.

The result is a jaw-breaking valuation of $25 billion, making it India's biggest company by market capitalisation, vaulting Reliance Industries, Hindustan Lever and Infosys Technologies.

DLF will sell a 10 per cent stake on the heels of a 15 per cent claw-back on Indian share markets after a month of great volatility.

Will DLF experience the same fate as Air Deccan, the low-cost carrier in another sunrise industry, whose IPO flopped last week?

Probably not. That's because conservative property market executives have another reason to be nervous. So called "desperate money" managed by hedge investors, who lost out in DLF's pre-IPO placement with foreign funds, seem so determined to gain a bit of India's biggest property sale they will probably ensure the issue's success, in spite of continuing market weakness.

That will please smaller developers, whose governance-shallow industry could do with the validation.

Hedge investors, people in the industry say, have been impatient to grab a bit of the property story because of pressure from expatriate Indian contributors to their funds to "catch up" on the India opportunity; such investors believe they missed out on the first phase of seed opportunities in telecommunications and technology.

The same might be said of the global realty funds launched in India by, among others, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, helped by the easy global liquidity of the past four years that has sent capital in search of higher returns in riskier markets. Many of these funds want, but will not get because of regulations, the relatively easy option of yield income from rented properties; what may be less appealing is to take on the "development" risk of green-field projects, implying a long investment cycle with assets that are illiquid but which may benefit from capital appreciation.

The risk of developing alone is, for sure, immense in a market with a panoply of perilous regulations, whose net effect is to insert vast artificial filters that reduce the supply of land. All of which is "like dancing on a minefield", says one Mumbai developer.
Source and more detail....www.gulfnews.com

Mezzanine on : B&B

IN the wake of the Westpoint disaster and the troubled float of Trafalgar Corporate, Babcock & Brown has launched a mezzanine-style land fund.

It will form joint ventures with private developers on housing projects with more than $1 billion in projected sales revenue. Babcock & Brown will raise $175 million, mainly in the retail market, to invest in its Residential Land Partners fund.

The fund will on-lend capital to development partners - including BMD Urbex, Metricon, Winten Property and Citta Property - taking a second mortgage security on the land. One property fund manager said that while the Babcock vehicle was a "clever securitisation" of developers' residential trading stock, for the fund investors it was "like participating in mezzanine finance". He said the third party developers retained title to, and control of, the projects and BBRLP investors were just "along for the ride".

"This vehicle is not adding any value. (It is) just a financier with a participating coupon.

"If residential land prices go down, you are on the hook."

Perth-based developer Westpoint collapsed owing over $300 million to thousands of investors in its unsecured "promissory note" investments, which were mezzanine finance products.

Meanwhile, Sydney-based developer Trafalgar Corporate suffered a big blow in January when it was forced to write down the value of the Tallwoods residential development on the NSW mid-north Coast, barely six months after it floated last July. Tallwoods was bought for $37.6 million in the float, but was written down to $26.75 million. Trafalgar shares slid from the issue price of $3 and closed yesterday at $2.04.

BBRLP chief executive Michael Balkin said the fund had a conservative nature and was "nothing like Westpoint", with only a "very limited mezzanine component".

Babcock said investors in the fund would be taking a structured equity position but conceded they would not have title to the land. He said the initial 10 east coast properties, in which the fund would invest $203 million, had been conservatively valued by Jones Lang LaSalle at $218.5 million "as is" in March 2006.

Mr Balkin said the JLL valuation translated to an adjusted net tangible asset backing of $1.03 for every security issued at $1.

Mr Balkin said the property cycle was "closer to the bottom than it is to the top" and it was a good time to launch the fund.

"The heat is well and truly out of the NSW and Victorian markets," he said. "Vendors are far more reasonable." (theaustralian.news.com.au)

MPs for home information packs (HIPs)

Conservative shadow housing minister Michael Gove says the delay is necessary "to protect the stability of the housing market".

In an early day motion signed by 43 other MPs, Mr Gove warns that home information packs will add up to £1,000 to the cost of buying an average home, while duplicating the ongoing need for a valuation or structural survey. The move has been welcomed by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), which described the motion as a "step in the right direction".

The packs, which will become compulsory for anyone selling a house from June 1st 2007, will also discourage people from putting their homes on the market, Mr Gove argues. All homeowners wanting to sell their home will have to pay up to £1,000 for a pack, which will contain information on their property including a home condition report, prior to putting it onto the market.

According to the government, the introduction of home information packs will help to reduce the £1 million wasted every day by sales falling through by providing information up front to buyers on the condition of the home they wish to buy.

But MPs, including two respected Labour backbenchers, believe the government will benefit from "a potential £110 million VAT windfall from the packs" and that the home condition register, on which the condition of each home will be recorded, "could be used to conduct a council tax revaluation by stealth".

A dry-run involving 45 organisations to road-test home information packs is currently underway, while more than 4,000 people have begun training to become home inspectors. inspectors will be needed to carry out the estimated volume of home condition reports, and MPs cite this as another reason to delay or cancel home information packs.

Charles Smailes, president of the NAEA, said: "We have always supported any improvement to the home buying and selling process, however, we have major concerns about the home information pack's ability to do this in its current form." He added: "The effect of removing first day marketing rights and the fact that a valuation or structural survey may still be required in addition to the pack are just some of the issues we would like the government to address. The introduction of HIPs is likely to have a huge effect on the market and we believe there is still a lot of work to be done."

Labour MP Dr Phyllis Starkey has tabled a counter motion welcoming the introduction of the packs, claiming they "will alleviate the high level of transaction failure in the UK property market".

Dr Starkey argues that the packs will ensure that information on the condition of a home is only paid for once – by the seller – rather than by multiple prospective buyers.

Caroline Dyson of law firm Bewins agrees. She said: "Currently, £1 million a day is wasted on failed transactions as buyers often spend hundreds of pounds on valuations, legal advice and searches in transactions that ultimately break down. By providing key information at the beginning of the process, home information packs will prevent waste and significantly cut the number of sales that fall through."

For more information on home information packs, go to: www.homeinformationpacks.gov.uk
Source: www.aboutproperty.co.uk

Your Protecting Property

While you're planning your summer vacation, a burglar could be plotting how to break into your home.Summer is the busy season for home break-ins. But studies show up to 90 percent could have been prevented if people had made their homes more secure. Do you know what home invaders sees when they look at your house? Officer Greg Schmit says there's a different answer for every address. SFPD Officer Greg Schmit says, "If they want to get in, they certainly can. But we're going to make it as difficult as possible."

The Sioux Falls police department offers to evaluate residents' homes for security risks. Officer Schmit is going to look atone house for us. He starts with the basics. Schmit says, "Those doors should be metal, fiberglass or solid wood."

But unless more is done to the door, a burglar can break through.

Schmit says, "They kick the door, basically pulls or cracks the door frame and the door is able to be opened."

Schmit says that's because the screws holding the door plate on are too short to be very effective.

He says, "Replace those small screws with longer screws which they drive in and you'll be in the frame of the door."

While a dead-bolt is a good idea, it needs to be at least an inch long to keep your lock secure.

Schmit says, "Without a rule you can go from the tip of your index finger to the first knuckle and that's pretty close to an inch so we're right in that inch area."

Other security risks are easy to overlook, like a set of keys hanging right next to the door.

Schmit says, "I would guess this fits the car in the garage so that makes it really easy for someone to grab a car as they go out the driveway."

And speaking of the garage, Schmit finds a problem with this house he says is common. The door to the garage is more vulnerable than others.

He says, "This door should also have a deadbolt just like the interior doors of your house."
He also takes a look at the windows.

Schmit says, "What we do is shake the window, see if it moves. These little locks seems like they do an OK job but if one gets pliers or a screwdriver or something in between the frame then these little plastic locks don't really hold that much. That's why we suggested putting a piece of wood dowel, something that will fit into a track so if someone tries to pry it it won't move this way."

And he says don't assume second story windows are always secure.

He says, "National statistics tell us anything less than 18 feet is accessible and by that they mean using a tree, maybe getting up on a roof of a garage or something like that."

Schmit also finds a problem with this sliding glass door leading into the home.

He says, "The locking system that comes with these doors isn't exactly made to be a secure setting." So he says use a wood dowel or piece of pipe in the door. And don't forget to keep the area around a spot like this well-lit.

Schmit says, "We like to see motion lights as much as possible especially on the backside of the home."

Outside, there can be other security risks. A home's landscaping can provide a natural hiding place for an invader.

Schmit says, "People let things get overgrown and don't trim them so they cover windows, basement windows, they make natural ladders to roofs, things like that."

Rocks in the yard can also be used by a burglar.

Schmit explains, "By taking windows out, things like that."

Plus, your pet can add protection...and it doesn't exactly have to be a guard dog. Invaders don't want to deal with any animals that can attract attention.

Schmit says, "They hear pets, dogs barking, there's a chance they won't go into the house."

But Schmit says the most basic way to keep a burglar away is by just keeping doors and windows locked, taking away the easiest opportunities to enter your house. He says, "If they have to work hard at getting in they're probably not going to do that, they're going to look elsewhere." If you'd like the Sioux Falls police to evaluate your home, contact their community services division at 367-7230. (keloland.com)

Your Protecting Property

While you're planning your summer vacation, a burglar could be plotting how to break into your home.Summer is the busy season for home break-ins. But studies show up to 90 percent could have been prevented if people had made their homes more secure. Do you know what home invaders sees when they look at your house? Officer Greg Schmit says there's a different answer for every address. SFPD Officer Greg Schmit says, "If they want to get in, they certainly can. But we're going to make it as difficult as possible."

The Sioux Falls police department offers to evaluate residents' homes for security risks. Officer Schmit is going to look atone house for us. He starts with the basics. Schmit says, "Those doors should be metal, fiberglass or solid wood."

But unless more is done to the door, a burglar can break through.

Schmit says, "They kick the door, basically pulls or cracks the door frame and the door is able to be opened."

Schmit says that's because the screws holding the door plate on are too short to be very effective.

He says, "Replace those small screws with longer screws which they drive in and you'll be in the frame of the door."

While a dead-bolt is a good idea, it needs to be at least an inch long to keep your lock secure.

Schmit says, "Without a rule you can go from the tip of your index finger to the first knuckle and that's pretty close to an inch so we're right in that inch area."

Other security risks are easy to overlook, like a set of keys hanging right next to the door.

Schmit says, "I would guess this fits the car in the garage so that makes it really easy for someone to grab a car as they go out the driveway."

And speaking of the garage, Schmit finds a problem with this house he says is common. The door to the garage is more vulnerable than others.

He says, "This door should also have a deadbolt just like the interior doors of your house."
He also takes a look at the windows.

Schmit says, "What we do is shake the window, see if it moves. These little locks seems like they do an OK job but if one gets pliers or a screwdriver or something in between the frame then these little plastic locks don't really hold that much. That's why we suggested putting a piece of wood dowel, something that will fit into a track so if someone tries to pry it it won't move this way."

And he says don't assume second story windows are always secure.

He says, "National statistics tell us anything less than 18 feet is accessible and by that they mean using a tree, maybe getting up on a roof of a garage or something like that."

Schmit also finds a problem with this sliding glass door leading into the home.

He says, "The locking system that comes with these doors isn't exactly made to be a secure setting." So he says use a wood dowel or piece of pipe in the door. And don't forget to keep the area around a spot like this well-lit.

Schmit says, "We like to see motion lights as much as possible especially on the backside of the home."

Outside, there can be other security risks. A home's landscaping can provide a natural hiding place for an invader.

Schmit says, "People let things get overgrown and don't trim them so they cover windows, basement windows, they make natural ladders to roofs, things like that."

Rocks in the yard can also be used by a burglar.

Schmit explains, "By taking windows out, things like that."

Plus, your pet can add protection...and it doesn't exactly have to be a guard dog. Invaders don't want to deal with any animals that can attract attention.

Schmit says, "They hear pets, dogs barking, there's a chance they won't go into the house."

But Schmit says the most basic way to keep a burglar away is by just keeping doors and windows locked, taking away the easiest opportunities to enter your house. He says, "If they have to work hard at getting in they're probably not going to do that, they're going to look elsewhere." If you'd like the Sioux Falls police to evaluate your home, contact their community services division at 367-7230. (keloland.com)

Babcock & Brown launches property IPO

Investment firm Babcock & Brown expects significant growth opportunities from its latest venture into residential property.

Babcock & Brown today launched an initial public offer for Babcock & Brown Residential Land Partners (BBRLP), aimed at raising $175 million from the issue of 175 million stapled securities at $1.00 each.

Some $155 million of the proceeds will go towards loans to development partners in respect to the residential land assets.

Babcock & Brown said BBRLP would give investors exposure to a diversified portfolio of residential land projects.

BBRLP will initially acquire an interest in 10 projects in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria at various stages of the development process.

Seven of the 10 projects are already under development.

The initial property portfolio has an aggregate yield of about 4,300 lots and was purchased for $203 million.

"Going forward there are expected to be ongoing growth opportunities for BBRLP to expand its portfolio of projects," BBRLP said in a statement.

"Initially, BBRLP's gearing ratio will be well below its target gearing ratio of approximately 50-65 per cent allowing the fund to pursue opportunities as they arise."

BBRLP has secured an option to invest in a residential land portfolio with an investment value of about $50 million.

BBRLP chief executive Michael Balkin said BBRLP would also move into the West Australian market should suitable projects become available.

Mr Balkin said now was a good time to enter the property sector because the heat had gone out of the NSW and Victorian markets.

"Vendors generally in these states are far more reasonable, They've obviously seen the peaks of 2002, 2003 and have realised that it doesn't go on forever," Mr Balkin said.

"We're comfortable with the long-term perspective of the market."

Mr Balkin said that in the short to medium term BBRLP would focus on the Australian residential property market but could not rule out taking an interest in markets overseas in the long term.

BBRLP intends to pay a fixed distribution of 7.5 cents for the year ended June 2007 and 8.25 cents for the year ending June 2008. The distributions are expected to be 40-50 per cent tax-deferred.

BBRLP is forecasting a net profit after tax of $953,000 for the year ending June 30, 2007.

The offer, which opens next Tuesday June 13, will comprise a foundation offer, broker firm offer and institutional offer. There is no general public offer.

Babcock & Brown will retain a 10 per cent stake in BBRLP, and its development partners will hold eight per cent.

BBRLP is Babcock and Brown's second public venture into the property market, following the Babcock & Brown Japan Property Trust.

Babcock & Brown shares were four cents higher at $20.68. (heage.com.au)

Tax Proposal Remains at $2.43 for County Property

Blount County Finance Committee members will try next Monday reduce a proposed tax increase and budget for the coming fiscal year. The proposed tax increase would bring in about $12 million more, according to the county Finance Department. At a county Finance Committee meeting Monday evening, commission members weren't optimistic the proposed budget and tax increase would pass the full commission.

``I can't say that they will back that,'' said Bob Kidd, a member of the finance committee. ``It depends on how they feel about the fund balance and funding of the schools.'' The current budget is about $134.3 million. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2006-2007 would be about $146.1 million.

At a public hearing on the budget on Monday, citizens called on commissioners to approve a property tax rate at the state certified rate of $1.93 per $100 of assessed property and not set it at $2.43, which would be a 50-cent increase following recent countywide property reassessments. Families who are already cutting household budgets to pay for higher energy costs would have to make deeper cuts to pay for a property tax increase, according to Linda King.

``They should not have to cut their budgets a second or third time to pay for county waste,'' she said.

Lynn Edmondson said she and her husband live on fixed incomes, and they travel less because of rising fuel costs. She noted that a recent reappraisal raised the value of the couple's home significantly. She said they are facing an additional $200 a year in taxes.

``Gentlemen,'' she said. ``Do not forget your senior citizens.''

Cutting services

Gary Ferguson, Blount County Environmental Health Department director, took to the lectern during the public hearing to seek a clarification in his department's budget and let people know that departments were working to keep costs down.

He offered this solution.

``We can cut services, if that's what the public wants us to do,'' Ferguson said. ``But it seems that's not what the public wants us to do.''

Roy Reagan said he lived on a fixed income and questioned the spending of the Blount County Sheriff's Office and request for additional officers.

After the public hearing ended and the Finance Committee convened, Blount County Sheriff James Berrong and Assistant Chief Deputy Jimmy Long cited statistics showing the growing workload that county officers face. Deputies received 35,000 calls in 2003, and the Sheriff's Office expects that number to exceed 80,000 next year, said Long. Blount County Circuit Court Clerk Tommy Hatcher also took exception to citizen criticism and told commissioners about the department's expenses and court revenues brought in last year.

He said his department has been ``very frugal'' and that his employees work long hours and weekends. Like Berrong, Hatcher said he would need more employees to keep up with the county's growth. After the three-hour meeting, committee members decided to meet again at 5:30 p.m. Monday to possibly reshape the proposed budget before sending it to the full commission for vote. (thedailytimes.com)

Property Dispute of Ex-Motown star

City Councilwoman and former Motown star Martha Reeves has been a strong advocate of stricter housing code enforcement, but a newspaper says it discovered multiple violations at her own properties.

Inspectors found 25 code violations at one two-unit rental property, include two emergency infractions for lack of maintenance of fire doors, The Detroit News reported.

Ten of Reeves' 15 vacant lots are deep in overgrown weeds, grass and trees, the newspaper said, and three contained dumped electronic equipment, clothing, furniture and construction debris.

In a written response, Reeves said she acquired most of the properties "sight unseen" at a state land auction.

"My hope was to help revitalize some of the neighborhoods in Detroit, by building on them, or working with community groups to establish urban greenery areas," she wrote.

Reeves, 64, said she recently hired a new management company and that "improvements are forthcoming."

As part of the Motown group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, she had hits in the 1960s with "Heat Wave," "Dancing in the Street," "Nowhere to Run," "I'm Ready for Love," "Jimmy Mack" and "Honey Chile."

She was elected in November to a four-year term on the nine-member City Council. (mercurynews.com)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Beijing court overturns patent board rule, backs Viagra property rights - report

HONG KONG (XFN-ASIA) - A Chinese court backed patent protection for Pfizer Inc drug Viagra, a potentially landmark case for foreign companies seeking greater protection of intellectual property against the flood of fakes and knock-offs in one of the world's fastest-growing markets, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The verdict, announced by a Beijing court Friday afternoon, overturns a ruling by the country's patent review board, the report published today said.

In July 2004, the board sided with a group of about a dozen Chinese generic-drug makers that had banded together to challenge New York-based Pfizer's patent on sildenafil citrate, the main ingredient in the popular impotence drug.

The Beijing court's verdict sends a positive signal to other foreign pharmaceutical companies that feared the government's decision to challenge Pfizer's patent would open up other drugs to attack on similar grounds, the report said.
'We welcome the court's decision,' Paul Fitzhenry, a spokesman for Pfizer, was quoted by the Journal as saying.

'It reflects China's commitment to creating an effective patent-protection environment and boosts the confidence of the business community in China as an investment location.'

In response to the verdict, Wang Wei, a lawyer for the Chinese drug companies that challenged the patent said: 'Of course, I'm upset, but it's reasonable.'

He said some companies may choose again to challenge the patent, though he wasn't sure. 'If I were them, I would not appeal,' he added. 'It's too difficult to predict the consequences of the appeal.'

A spokesperson for China's patent re-examination board, which defended Pfizer's appeal, was not available to comment, the paper said.

Following Pfizer's victory, the case will now be handed back to the patent review board at China's State Intellectual Property Office for review, according to a person familiar with the matter. The board will have 15 days to decide whether to appeal the decision to a higher court. Pfizer's patent has and will remain in effect until the appeal process is finished. (forbes.com)

Investors Dump Shares to Buy Property

Choppy equity markets are making buy-to-lets look attractive. So is now a good time to become a landlord, asks Clare Francis

EQUITY investors are experiencing a bumpy ride while life for landlords seems rosy, with rents and yields rising — so investors are being tempted to switch. But it’s a close call.

When the technology bubble burst in 2000, heralding a three-year bear market, thousands of investors poured money into buy-to-lets. Shares were falling, house prices were rising and many people thought property was the best way to make money. It was the hot dinner-party topic, and the Council of Mortgage Lenders says that between 2000 and the end of 2005 the number of buy-to-let mortgages increased by 483%.

Justin Urquhart Stewart at Seven Investment Management, a wealth manager, said: “Investors were terrified of the stock market. Property was popular because people like investments they can kick and touch, particularly in times of uncertainty.

“After three years of recovery, confidence in stock markets had picked up but people are having their nerves tested again by the recent volatility. I expect it will continue for the next few months and I fear there will be a flood back into buy-to-let. Not that there is anything wrong with investing in property, but you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Over the past 10 years house prices have risen by more than share prices. Property values are 182% higher, according to the Halifax house-price index, compared with a rise of 57% for the FTSE All-Share index.

But property has not always beaten shares. In the preceding 10 years, 1986 to 1996, the All-Share rose 138%, while house prices went up by only 62%. And many people wrongly assume property has been the best-performing asset class of the past few years. Despite recent volatility, shares have outperformed property over the past three years — the house-price index has risen 38%, but the All-Share is up 50%.

And do not forget that property prices can fall too. Between 1990 and 1994 values dropped 9%. The All-Share climbed by 24% over the same period. So investing in bricks and mortar is not without its risks. That is not to say you should steer clear, however. Specialist lender Paragon Mortgages’ latest buy-to-let index found many landlords were planning to add to their portfolios in the next 12 months.

John Heron at Paragon said: “There has been a resurgence of buy-to-let activity since last autumn. Upbeat landlords are buying properties, secure in the knowledge that there is good tenant demand for the right property in the right place.” Demand stems from would-be first-time buyers, migrant workers, a shortage of social housing and an increasing number of students. The Association of Residential Letting Agents said that nearly half its members believe there are now more tenants than properties available. This is helping push up rents, which are rising at their fastest for five years, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Higher rents are having a positive impact on rental yields — income as a proportion of the property’s value — but at about 5% they are still relatively low. Yields have been squeezed over the past few years as house prices have increased faster than rents. Despite the recent pick-up in rents, it can still be difficult to get the sums to add up. Melanie Bien at Savills Private Finance, a broker, said: “You must do your research carefully to ensure you buy in an area rich with potential tenants and don’t overstretch yourself.”

A recent study by UCB Home Loans, Nationwide’s buy-to-let lending arm, found that rents have not kept pace with house prices in Belfast. As a result some potential investors are struggling to get finance.

In Liverpool, there is strong demand for university accommodation, but because of the number of new-build projects in the city centre, this part of the market has reached saturation point. And in certain areas of Birmingham UCB found that rents are sometimes insufficient to cover mortgage payments. Mark Durant, 30, pictured with his wife, Sam, 34, and children Mae, 7, and Billy, 6, believes there are still good buy-to-let opportunities. Durant, from Maidstone in Kent, runs a property company in conjunction with Investment Property Management.

He said: “I’m buying property all the time, and am able to negotiate big discounts from developers because I buy in volume. I always buy new builds, but you have to be very selective.”

Lee Grandin at Landlord Mortgages, a broker, warns novice property investors against trying to copy Durant.

He said: “Entrepreneur landlords who have been in the business for a while know what to buy, and they buy cheaply. The danger is that inexperienced investors will try to do the same. Five years ago, when house prices were rising rapidly, you could afford to make a mistake, but in a stable market like we have at the moment it is dangerous. If you buy the wrong property or spend too much, you will struggle.”

Even if the recent hiccup in stock markets has made you nervous about equities and tempted you to invest in property, advisers recommend that you do not sell your shares to do so.

Clem Chambers, who runs ADVFN, a financial website, said: “You should never sell your shares unless you think Armageddon is coming. A lot of people sold out in 2000. Many haven’t got back in and have missed out on some substantial growth.”

The FTSE All-Share index fell by 0.5% last week, and it is 184 points below its April peak. Many analysts expect this volatility to go on for the next few months, but most see it as a correction rather than the beginning of a bear market.

Stephen Whittaker, who runs New Star’s UK Growth fund, said: “Companies are still meeting or beating earnings expectations and, given attractive free cashflow yields, there is plenty of potential for bid activity. The fall has been quicker and deeper than many expected and it may take a couple of months for markets to digest the sudden rise in volatility.

“I believe the markets will steady, however, and go on to achieve double-digit returns by the end of the year.”

So what are the alternatives?

YOUR investment decisions should never be based on what is flavour of the month and you shouldn’t chop and change just because a certain type of asset is not performing well.

The aim is to build a balanced portfolio to suit your investment objectives and attitude to risk through varying circumstances. You should then be well placed to ride out any volatility.

I am looking to invest my money for up to five years

Advisers generally recommend you stick to cash-based investments if you are investing for less than five years. The main reason is that with all other types of asset, your capital is at risk and because the timeframe is so short you may not have time to recoup losses should markets move against you.

You should always have some money in an easy-access account, in case of emergency. Bradford & Bingley’s internet account pays 4.85%. There is no short-term bonus and the minimum investment is just £1.

If you have money you can afford to tie up you may want to consider a fixed-rate or guaranteed income bond (Gib). Heritable Bank has the best two and three-year fixed-rate bonds, paying 5.26% and 5.31% respectively, with a minimum investment of £2,000. AIG Life has the best three and four-year Gibs. Rates start from 4.02% and 4.06% respectively. Income is paid net of basic-rate tax, so the equivalent gross rate for a higher-rate taxpayer is 5.36% in the three-year bond and 5.41% for the four-year version.

I am investing for long-term growth

Should you wish to invest for more than five years, advisers recommend broadening your portfolio to include corporate bonds and gilts, equities, property and commodities. There are risks because you could lose some of your capital, but over the long term you should get better returns than if you had kept everything in cash.

Justin Modray at Bestinvest, an adviser, suggests a medium-risk investor should have 70% in equities, with 45% of that in UK shares, 25% in Europe, 11% America, 9% in Japan and 10% in emerging markets. About 15% should be in fixed interest and the remaining 15% in other assets such as commercial property, commodities and cash. If you own a home, Modray said you probably already have adequate exposure to residential property. If you are thinking of investing in a buy-to-let, you should research the best areas for capital growth and ensure there is a flow of tenants.

An alternative is commercial property, which is best accessed through a fund so that you can sell whenever you want. Modray suggests Swip Property Trust and New Star Property. Commercial property prices do not move in line with the residential market, so having exposure to both minimises risk. (timeonline.co.uk)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Property Law

What is it and how does it work?
This section takes a look at laws governing buying property or renting.

What do I need to know when buying or selling a property?
The first thing to know about any property is whether it is 'freehold' or 'leasehold.'

  • Most houses are sold on a freehold lease, which means the buyer owns the house and the ground that it stands on.
  • Flats and properties such as business premises are usually sold on a leasehold basis. The land, and often the main building itself, is owned by a landlord who leases it for a set period - anything up to 999 years!
  • The landlord and leaseholder have certain rights and responsibilities: Leaseholders must follow the terms of their lease and pay a 'service charge' to cover the costs of maintenance. Landlords must maintain the property.

If you're buying a property you should make your initial offer 'subject to contract.' If a survey then finds a problem with the property, terms of lease, or anything else such as disputed boundaries, you can pull out.

Once a contract has been signed it's legally binding, but both sides can claim compensation if the deal falls through.

  • The government recently announced new laws that mean anyone selling a property must have a 'sellers pack,' which includes information such as 'buildings surveys,' that are currently only given when contracts are exchanged.

The Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 and Housing Act 1988 govern the renting or letting of property.

Landlords must:

  • Allow tenants to benefit from the 'quiet enjoyment of the property,' tenants should be able to live without being harassed, or inconvenienced by the landlord.
  • Provide property that is fit for human habitation. If a property is in an unhealthy state it is illegal under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.
  • Maintain common areas, building structures and the outside of the property.
  • Ensure that repairs are carried out properly.
  • Design and build property to certain standards. If they don't, they can be prosecuted under the Defective Premises Act 1972.

If you're a tenant you have to:

  • Pay rent
  • Pay Council Tax, Water Rates and any other bills connected with the property.
  • Take proper care of the property
  • Allow the landlord to enter and view the property, providing you've been given sufficient notice. (At least 24 hours).

How Does Property Law Affect You?

Buying a property
Buying a property usually involves solicitors, estate agents, surveyors and unless you're buying with cash, a mortgage provider. You can do some parts yourself, such as the 'conveyancing,' but it's better to get the professionals to do it for you, even if it's expensive.

  • As part of the conveyancing, solicitors carry out the necessary local searches. They ensure that the property isn't due to be demolished, subject to a compulsory purchase order, which might happen when the area the property is in is due for re-development, and most importantly of all, that the seller actually owns the property.
  • They organise the transfers of money, deeds, and the particulars of the sale, such as the fixtures and fittings included in the purchase and determine the boundaries, rights of way and that a legally binding lease exists.
  • Estate agents represent the seller. Should a problem arise with an agent you can complain to their trade association or the estate agent's ombudsman. Your local Trading Standards office can help you here and anything up to £50,000 can be awarded in compensation for problems.
  • The surveyor inspects the property to ensure that it's worth the asking price. Your mortgage provider will insist on a minimal survey but it's worth having a more detailed survey done to be on the safe side.

The seller isn't legally obliged to point out any problems with the property, although they must answer truthfully any questions they are asked. If a problem arises the seller may be liable under the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 and may have to compensate the buyer.

Leases and renting
Both landlords and tenants have legal obligations that depend on the type of lease.

There are three types of lease for private tenancies:

  • Assured Shorthold Tenancy - tenancies started after 28th February 1997 unless the landlord has stated otherwise. Landlords are certain of retaining possession of the property at the end of the lease.
  • Assured Tenancy - tenancy is assured for a fixed period and can only be terminated by court order or surrender by the tenant.
  • Regulated (or 'protected') Tenancy - tenancies started before 15th January 1989. These offer the most protection against rent increases or eviction.

Under the Housing Act 1985, council or housing association tenants benefit from 'Secure Tenancy'. They have greater protection from rent increases or eviction than private tenants and can transfer the tenancy to a spouse or dependants should they die.
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/onelife/legal/the_law/property.shtml

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Atherton-Newport Picks Up 1,215 Units for $114M

SEATTLE- Atherton-Newport Investments LLC of Irvine, CA, this week acquired seven Puget Sound apartment properties for $114 million, marking the largest acquisition in its history. Spread between Everett, WA north of Seattle and Federal Way, WA to the south, the properties contain a total of 1,215 units. Atherton-Newport founder Ashish Khatana tells GlobeSt.com the properties’ average occupancy is in the low 90% range.
Atherton-Newport officials say the properties are underperforming and will be rehabilitated and repositioned. The goal is to capitalize on the region’s increasing demand for quality rental units resulting from job growth, condominium conversions, reduced new apartment development and the increasingly un-affordable single-family home. In 2005, for the same reasons, Atherton-Newport acquired two other Federal Way properties, the 156-unit Village at the Lake and the 78-unit Redondo.

“This Seattle portfolio acquisition marks our largest portfolio investment nationwide to date,” says Khatana, whose firm specializes in value-add investments and entitling land for development. “The fact that we have returned once again to Seattle for acquisition activity is a direct reflection on what we see as a ripe investment market for multifamily product.”

In further explaining the new opportunity, Atherton-Newport officials cite a 2005 year-end report on the greater Seattle-Tacoma area published by Hendricks & Partners that speaks of “Puget Sound adding jobs and residents at a pace not seen since the 90’s.” The study also states that total non-farm employment expanded at a rate of 3.4%, or 46,000 jobs, over the course of 2005.

“Obviously the market is improving,” says Khatana. “In addition, the properties have been under managed and undercapitalized, so we think the combination of new management, $10 million of capital improvements and the improving job market is a good story.”

John Walsh of Marcus & Millichap brokered both sides of the off-market transaction. "The deal was never listed; I had relationship with ownership and they were looking to sell. They said 'at this price were a seller' and I brought them a group willing to pay that price."

Neither Khatana nor Walsh would name the sellers. Local sources tell GlobeSt.com the seller was a syndicator. Each property was held under different partnerships that had the same general partner and different limited partners. The general partner in each case was Rhoda Altmon, who could not be reached for comment.

The seven communities acquired by Atherton-Newport are as follows:

  • Woodside Crossing Apartments: A 216-unit complex located in Everett at 420 85th Pl. SW, one mile west of Boeing Co. headquarters.
  • Woodtrail Village Apartments: A 300-unit complex located in Federal Way at 1901 SW 320th St., three miles west of Interstate 5 and a half mile south of Highway 509.
  • Steel Lake Apartments: A 51-unit complex in Federal Way at 31220 28th Ave. S., adjacent to Interstate 5.
  • Keeler Creek Apartments: A 100-unit complex located in Lynwood, WA, at 16604 48th Ave. W. , near Interstates 5 and 405 and Alderwood Mall.
  • Summer Mill Apartments: A 124-unit complex located in Bothell, WA, at 16520 North Road, near Interstates 5 and 405 and Highway 427.
  • Pacific Pointe Apartments: A 249-unit complex located in Kent, WA, at 25701 27th Pl. S. in Kent, between Interstate 5 and State Route 99.
  • Country Home Apartments: A 175-unit complex located in Kent, WA, at 22440 Benson Rd. SE, adjacent to Highway 515.
  • Source: http://www.globest.com/news/575_575/seattle/146277-1.html

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    $440M Westin St. Francis Sale Closes

    SAN FRANCISCO-Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. has closed on the Westin St. Francis hotel on Union Square. The Chicago-based REIT paid $440 million for the 1,195-room historic property. The seller was an affiliate of the New York-based investment bank Blackstone Group that acquired the hotel in 2000 for $243 million. Westin, an affiliate of Starwood, will continue to manage the property for Strategic Hotels & Resorts.
    The hotel features 45 luxury suites, 50,000 sf of meeting space, 39,000 sf of retail space, a 4,600-sf health club and spa and four food and beverage outlets. Strategic Hotels forecasts that the property will contribute between $19 million and $21 million of EBITDA in the last seven months of 2006 and between $32 million and $34 million in the first 12 months of ownership.

    Strategic Hotels & Resorts owns and asset manages 18 high-end hotels and resorts. At the time Strategic Hotels put the property under contract, chief executive Laurence Geller said San Francisco has lagged the broader market recovery and is poised for significant and sustainable growth. In addition, CFO James Mead told GlobeSt.com that significant value can be added through the conversion and realignment of the retailing space, guestrooms and public areas.

    The hotel and much of the retail space fronts Union Square, a tourist Mecca that is home to the city’s high-end retail shops. “There is a belief that we can make more money out of the same retail space,” Mead said. With regard to the hotel’s common areas and guestrooms, he said the general plan is to “add to some of the recent renovations and refine and tune the marketing strategy and the pricing potential for the asset.”

    Several San Francisco hotels have changed hands in recent weeks and months. In early May, The 360-room Park Hyatt hotel in the Financial District was acquired by a new fund of HEI Hospitality of Norwalk, CT, for about $126 million and re-branded a Le Meridien. The seller was a a subsidiary of Strategic Hotel Capital LLC, a private company whose principal shareholders are affiliates of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and investors advised by Prudential Real Estate Investors.

    On April 20, Ashford Hospitality Trust of Dallas closed on its acquisition of the 338-room Pan Pacific San Francisco Hotel for $95-million, or $281,065 per key, and re-branded the property a JW Marriott hotel. That same week, Greystone Hospitality of San Francisco paid $15.25 million, or $246,000 per key for the 62-room Griffon Hotel, one of only three hotels located along the Embarcadero.

    At the end of March, the Argent hotel on Third Street between Market and Mission was sold for $178 million or $258 per key. It may be converted to a Westin, according to local sources. Finally, the 110-room Campton Place Hotel, which sits on the Embarcadero near the Griffon Hotel, sold in November for $400,000 per key.
    Source: http://www.globest.com

    Dick Smith sells in Sydney

    Major private developer Winten Property Group and Australand jointly paid $30 million for the Dick Smith site at Macquarie Park in Sydney.

    The 1.63 hectare site is located in north-western Sydney and once served as the headquarters of Dick Smith, the company vacated in 2001.

    The existing buildings are leased by MAN Diesel, the State Rail Authority and other tenants.

    The site is located on the corner of Lane Cove Rd and Waterloo Rd at Macquarie Park.

    The JV partners have purchased the site as an investment property, however, there are no plans to immediately develop the prominent property.

    The JV partners said the site is recognised as one of Macquarie Park’s gateway sites with expectations that under current planning proposals being considered by Lane Cove Council, it may yield over 40,000 sqm of office accommodation in three buildings.

    “The acquisition formed part of the group’s commitment to maintaining the growth of its burgeoning investment portfolio while ensuring a pipeline of future development landbanks,” Australand’s executive general manager of commercial and industrial John Thomas said.

    Recent changes to the Local Environment Plan for the region had removed a requirement for development to be R&D based, meaning the area would be more attractive to traditional commercial tenants.

    The changes also raise the building height limit from five storeys to 10 storeys.

    Winten development director Anthony Otto said that with better rail and road links in the area, it would be a matter of time before big-name commercial tenants moved into Macquarie Park.

    “When you consider the changes that have occurred with the LEP, Macquarie Park is likely to have a very different looking skyline in the next few years,” Otto said.

    SOURCE: www.propertyreview.com.au

    Source: http://commercial.domain.com.au

    Budget rewards for property investors

    Property investors are expected to receive an additional 33% in annual deductions from the ninth Federal Budget, according leading property tax specialist Napier & Blakeley.

    Napier & Blakeley believes the May Federal Budget provides property investors with a major increase in property tax allowance.

    Napier & Blakeley, which sits on the Australian Tax Office Committee and acts as an advisor to the Property Council of Australia and other high profile Australian property bodies, said the budget changes will have a positive effect on the commercial property market.

    In addition, the property tax specialist said the budget mitigates any concerns that reductions in marginal tax rates might dampen the residential property market.

    The budget announced that for eligible assets acquired on or after May 10, 2006, the diminishing value rate for depreciation will be increased to 200% of the straight line rate compared to the current DV of 150%.

    According to Napier & Blakeley, under the new regime, assets acquired from May 10, 2006 will have a substantially increased after tax return on investment, potentially adding up to 1.5% onto the after tax return and substantially increasing the cash income component.

    Source: http://commercial.domain.com.au

    Tenants wanted for Melbourne offices

    The Melbourne office market has over 80,000 sqm of space to be leased within the CBD, pushing vacancy rates up from 8.1% to 9.8% in the first quarter of 2006.

    According to Jones Lang LaSalle, the Melbourne construction cycle is winding down and the focus now is firmly towards major leasing campaigns.

    According to JLL, over 140,300 sqm of new office is being added by SX1 with 78,200 sqm and the Urban Workshop with 62,100 sqm and the Victorian Government pre-committing to 90% of these buildings, further private sector commitments have pushed these buildings to near full with a little over 1,000 sqm of new space remaining at Urban Workshop.

    JLL’s Victoria national leasing director Stuart Colquhoun said the CBD market has the next 12 months to sort itself out before a new wave of buildings enter the market in 2007.

    He said, whilst most of the new buildings under construction have very little surplus vacancy, the major focus is on securing backfill tenants.

    With sizeable State Government leases in Collins Street buildings (55, 80, 555 and 595) along with Stockland’s 452 Flinders Street soon to be vacated, the CBD office market now has a range of large areas able to meet the demand of groups like NAB (20,000 sqm), Health Insurance Commission (6,500 sqm) and Commonwealth Government’s Health & Aged Care (4,500 sqm).

    “So despite continued strong net absorption over the quarter, vacancy increased from 8.1% in Q4/2005 to 9.8% in Q1/2006 predominately as a result of the large amount of backfill space left by re-locating Government agencies.

    “A further 87,200 sqm of office space is currently under construction in the CBD with just 11,700 sqm to be completed in 2006 – and that is the Melbourne City Council’s CH2 building due to complete next quarter.

    “The next wave of new supply to enter the market will begin with the completion of Customs at Port 1010 Docklands in early 2007, followed by AXA’s new headquarters at Docklands (36 000 sqm) in late 2007 and then CGU tower at 538 Bourke Street (47 000 sqm) in early 2009,” he added.

    Colquhoun said the major issues with the big new Docklands buildings will be the effect they have on the CBD secondary office market as large slabs of major buildings comes into the market.

    JLL research manager Darren Krakowiak said rents continued to grow in the CBD on the back of falling incentives recording 1.5% growth to now sit at $334 per sqm from the $330 per sqm recorded at the end of 2005.
    SOURCE: www.propertyreview.com.au

    SOURCE: http://commercial.domain.com.au

    2006 AUSTRALIAN PROPERTY BREAFING

    Free Info Sessions
    Come and hear ...

    • How to purchase a brand new freehold Australian house or apartment whilst living in Hong Kong.
    • How to finance a property with Australia's leading banks, plus new lending criteria just announced.
    • How to lease and manage an Australian investment property from Hong Kong.
    • Latest Australian interest rate and exchange rate info.
    • How foreign purchasers can buy Australian property.**
    • How to purchase with just 10% deposit and delayed settlement.**
    • How to save tens of thousands in State Government Taxes.**
    • A special focus on exciting Melbourne, host city of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Hear the likely impact for investors.
    • Large range of brand new freehold Melbourne property for sale to suit investors and owner occupiers, including:
      • The Premier International Release of Vue Grande, the most exciting property release in Melbourne for years. From A$289,000 (see below for more info).
      • Just completed inner city apartments near the acclaimed university precinct from A$339,000*
      • 3 & 4 bedroom detached houses and land from A$323,000*
      • New luxury sky high apartments from A$439,000* (Ready to lease or occupy).
      • Your own block of beautiful Australian land from only A$123,000**
    • Leaseback package and property management services available.
    • Commonwealth Bank of Australia representative in attendance with new finance options and answers to your mortgage questions.

    This is an important and helpful presentation for anyone considering Australian property and should not be missed.

    Sensational Vue Grande.
    At the conclusion of the Briefing you can see Vue Grande prior to its upcoming release in Melbourne. Vue Grande is a 35 level landmark residential tower to be built only metres from Melbourne’s Yarra River, CBD and Crown Casino & Entertainment Complex.

    Be early for best choice!
    Vue Grande apartments and penthouses feature all new luxurious interior designs and stunning finishes. Get in early to choose from over 50 designs, many with breathtaking views.

    Purchase with just A$28,900 deposit.
    With brand new apartments starting at just A$289,000, delayed settlement until completion and huge tax savings this is an excellent opportunity to start investing in Australian property.
    Source:http://australianpropertyinfo.com/index.asp?id=03

    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    Muara Teweh

    Muara Teweh emang damai lhoocc, sejuk, ramah, indah pokokknya asyekk dhee Mtw itu. Kota kecil yang indah tak seindah kota-kota yang lain.