The Block 2020 listings: Asking prices revealed as houses hit market


The Block 2020 contestants’ projects have officially hit the market.


The Block 2020 has delivered highs, including the show’s best ever bathrooms, and lows, in the form of cheating allegations and a coronavirus-driven shutdown.

Now, the five Brighton homes created this season have officially been delivered to the market — despite only snippets of them having been revealed on TV.

The listings reveal each house carries the same price guide, which comes in slightly below the $3.62m sum achieved by winners Tess and Luke’s St Kilda terrace last year.

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New The Block season kicks off with plenty of firsts

Victorian contestants Harry and Tash are The Block’s first father-daughter duo.


They also all face the same hurdles in Melbourne’s locked-down market, in which physical home inspections and auctions are outlawed until at least October 26, according to the Victorian Government’s road map to reopening.

Triple Block-winning agent David Wood, of Belle Albert Park, said this season would be “very different” without inspections.

He said technology, including videos and interactive floorplans, would play an important role in engaging potential purchasers, along with agencies’ vast buyer networks.

Check out the rooms that have been revealed on our screens so far, as well as the features being hyped in the homes’ online listings.

HARRY AND TASH

364 New Street, Brighton

Price guide: $3.2-$3.4m

Listing agency: Whitefox (Marty Fox, Lana Samuels)

Layout: 4 bed, 3 bath, 2 car, 303sq m internal space

Harry and Tash’s main bedroom is a standout of the rooms revealed so far.


Green subway titles are a winning feature of this bathroom.


The main bedroom in Melbourne father-daughter duo Harry and Tash’s project is highlighted as a “masterpiece” in Whitefox’s marketing of the revamped 1920s California bungalow.

The space features 4.8m-high cathedral ceilings, double doors that open out to a Juliette balcony overlooking the garden, a walk-in wardrobe with a backlit mirror, and an ensuite with a bath that offers “an at-home spa experience”, according to the listing.

The walk-in wardrobe with a backlit mirror.


Bold tiles were also a feature of the Melbourne pair’s other unveiled bathroom.


The bedroom is one of four in the house, which also features three bathrooms, including the local pair’s high-scoring bathroom that was unveiled last weekend.

It’s decked out in striking green subway tiles, black and brass fittings, a double shower, white basins, a white bath and a skylight.

SARAH AND GEORGE

362B New Street, Brighton

Price guide: $3.2-$3.4m

Listing agency: The Agency Port Phillip (Peter Kakos, Christine Henderson, Jesse Raeburn)

Layout: 5 bed, 4 bath, 2 car, 357sq m internal space

One of Sarah and George’s seriously sleek bathrooms.


1940s flair comes to the fore of this bedroom.


Sydney’s Sarah and George have engaged The Block 2019 contestant Jesse Raeburn and his colleagues at The Agency to sell their revamp of a 1940s residence.

Mr Raeburn said his experience on the show — which culminated in his and partner Mel’s St Kilda renovation fetching $3.378m to put them in fourth place — ensured he could provide “emotional and mental support” as well as sales expertise.

The Agency is marketing the house as a blend of “striking 1940s period charm with … modern day design” that “delivers outstanding family living”. The home offers the largest internal floorplan on The Block 2020, at 357sq m.

The guest bedroom has been described as a “second master”.


The austere 1940s has been a tough era for the Sydney pair to tackle.


The listing highlights the guest bedroom as essentially a “second master” thanks to its substantial size, separate study and grand ensuite, while noting the main bedroom boasts an original ceiling rose, an oversized walk-in wardrobe and a “showstopping ensuite”.

The Agency general manger Peter Kakos said while the austere ’40s was a “complex era to tackle”, Sarah and George had worked “through the controversy and uncertainty on the judges’ part to create amazing rooms”.

DANIEL AND JADE

362A New Street Brighton

Price guide: $3.2-$3.4m

Listing agency: Belle Property Albert Park (David Wood, Stephanie Evans)

Layout: 6 bed, 4 bath, 2 car, 314sq m internal space

Daniel and Jade’s house features a whopping six bedrooms, according to its online listing.


The “instantly relaxing” ensuite.


A whopping six bedrooms and four bathrooms are on offer at South Australian farmers Daniel and Jade’s renovation of a 1930s house, despite the property not having the largest internal floorplan on the show.

Among them are a main bedroom “calm retreat” with a Deco Fantail wallpaper feature wall by Grafico Group, according to Belle Property’s marketing.

Adding to the room’s ’30s flair are period-inspired ceilings and light fittings.

The walk-in wardrobe is a clear highlight of the main bedroom.


A pendant light found in the rubble of the original house is a standout feature of this room.


The space also features a swish walk-in wardrobe with a rotating shoe rack, pullout hanging rails, a glass-topped watches and jewellery draw, and glass handbag-display shelves.

And there’s an “instantly relaxing” ensuite with a freestanding bath, floor-to-ceiling walls of fish-scale tiles and a marble-encased double shower.

The Belle listing talks up the guest bedroom and ensuite for paying homage to the era, highlighting a “pendant light Daniel found among the home’s rubble” that was “carefully restored” to hang in the space.

LUKE AND JASMIN

360B New Street, Brighton

Price guide: $3.2-$3.4m

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Listing agency: Buxton Brighton (Halli Moore, Sonja Sendin)

Layout: 4 bed, 4 bath, 2 car, 343sq m internal space

It’s easy to see how Luke and Jasmin’s main ensuite was a winner.


A four-poster bed stands out in the main bedroom.


Luke and Jasmin’s listing unsurprisingly highlights the Perth chippy and teacher’s winning main ensuite, which the judges scored 29 out of a possible 30.

The large 10.5sq m room boasts a curved wall, a circular skylight, a $6000 black stone bath, a fluted shower screen and rolled brass fittings.

It tied with Jimmy and Tam’s creation in equal first, despite Jasmin admitting she wasn’t sure it was particularly faithful to their Federation-era 1910s house.

The main bedroom’s dressing room.


Another stylish bathroom.


Listing agency Buxton Brighton describes the bathroom as offering “bespoke beauty and superior functionality”, while also highlighting the underfloor heating and imported “kit-kat” mosaic tiles.

Marketing for the house also talks up the main bedroom as offering “a flawless fusion of heritage style, coastal luxury and contemporary class”, as well as a striking four-poster bed and an LED-lit dressing room with a luxe stone-topped dressing table and glass shelving.

JIMMY AND TAM

360A New Street, Brighton

Price guide: $3.2-$3.4m

Listing agency: McGrath St Kilda (Michael Townsend, Josh Stirling)

Layout: 4 bed, 3 bath, 2 car, 298sq m internal space

Palm Springs style inhabits the Queenslanders’ winning bedroom.


Jimmy and Tam’s winning guest bathroom was likened to a “public pool change room” in that it had “retro yesteryear childhood charm”.


Early favourites Jimmy and Tam’s recreation of a 1950s house is defined by “mid-century architecture, cutting edge luxury and Palm Springs-style glamour”, according to listing agency McGrath St Kilda.

Marketing for the four-bedroom home emphasises the Queensland pair’s winning guest bedroom and bathroom.

The former features four skylights, a striking feature wall, “divine” floor-to-ceiling curtains and a “secret door in the wardrobe leading to the ensuite”.

This bedroom has 1950s flair in spades.


Blush pink tiles ensure this bathroom stands out.


And the latter offers “retro appeal”, contrasting green and white tiles, brass tapware, a skylight and terrazzo flooring, according to McGrath. Judge Darren Palmer likened the bathroom to a “public pool change room” in that it had “retro yesteryear childhood charm”.

Custom wallpaper, a gas fireplace, a cream brick chimney and a soaring vaulted ceiling are standout features of the main bedroom.

It’s accompanied by an oak-finished walk-in wardrobe and an ensuite adorned with blush pink tiles and a black benchtop.

MORE: The Block resumes filming after 40-day COVID-19 shutdown


The complete guide to a bathroom renovation

How to stage your home for the best sale price



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Former Victoria Police sergeant Rosa Rossi jailed for claiming vacant houses in property scam


A disgraced police officer has become the first female member of the force to be jailed in Victoria after she was caught using obscure laws to effectively steal houses to boost her bogus property portfolio.

Rosa Rossi, 57, was sentenced to four years and six months in jail over the elaborate scam, which she orchestrated using manuals she found on the internet.

As part of the ruse, Rossi would pick out empty homes and claim them under the laws of adverse possession, a legal principle which is sometimes described as squatters’ rights.

She would then change the locks and take control of the properties.

Today, Victoria’s County Court heard that Rossi, a former Victoria Police sergeant, had been suicidal since being charged and held serious fears for her safety in prison.

Judge Martine Marich said her behaviour challenged the “very heart of property ownership”.

“Your conduct involved planning and foresight.

“These were the owner’s private properties. They were worth significant sums. You violated the sanctity of those properties with your brazen acts.”

The judge said Rossi’s status as a senior police officer at the time of the offending was an aggravating factor.(Supplied)

Judge Marich said Rossi “cloaked” her criminal conduct under the guise of legitimacy, which ultimately destroyed her distinguished policing career.

“Your fall from grace has been dramatic, profound, public and gravely embarrassing to you,” she said.

Between 2016 and 2017, Rossi claimed six vacant properties — three in the rural town of Willaura, near Ararat, and three in Melbourne — which together were conservatively valued at more than $2.6 million.

Scam targeted owners who were interstate or overseas

Her scam often followed a loose but distinctive pattern.

The 57-year-old would find a home that had been empty for some time and change the locks on the property, never explicitly telling the locksmith that she was not the owner.

She would then contact the local council and submit a change of address form, redirecting any correspondence for the real owner to herself and at times even posing as them.

Her scam would target homeowners who were interstate or out of the country, including a woman who had moved to Queensland to take care of her sick son, and a man living in South Africa who inherited a house after his father died.

She rented out two of the properties — in Chadstone in Melbourne’s south-east, and Brooklyn in Melbourne’s west — earning about $13,000 in rent.

On two other occasions, neighbours became suspicious and contacted the owners. One returned to find new deadlocks on the doors and their possessions missing.

A yellow weatherboard house with a corrugated iron roof, in a state of disrepair.
This house in Willaura, in western Victoria, was one of six properties Rossi claimed between 2016 and 2017.(Supplied)

Rossi visited council in uniform to demand homeowner’s name

Over time, Rossi’s scam became more brazen.

In 2017, Rossi went to Hobsons Bay City Council wearing her police uniform and demanded the name of someone who owned a house in Brooklyn.

Court documents reveal that when a council officer told her that the information would be emailed, she said she was already in the local area and asked for it to be given to her on the spot.

She then contacted the owner, who was working in Macau, and claimed that she had been called to the house in her role as a police officer because there had been reports of squatters.

Rossi then brazenly told the man that she had secured the house and was maintaining it for him.

A small red car can be seen in the driveway of a brick house which has a metal fence.
The six properties Rossi claimed in the scam, including this house in Willaura, were conservatively valued at $2.6 million.(Supplied)

The disgraced sergeant pleaded guilty to obtaining property by deception and perjury offences, after an Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) investigation.

The court heard that Rossi, a devout Catholic, had a turbulent and abusive childhood where she was beaten and forced to eat rotten meat.

She said Rossi had been experiencing a “mood disturbance” when she committed her crimes.

The court received several references vouching for Rossi’s character, including from a priest and former Victoria Police inspector David Manly, who himself was convicted of perjury as a result of the same IBAC investigation.

Rossi will have to serve two years and four months before she is eligible for parole.



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Most competitive suburbs for buyers: the Sydney areas where houses with backyards are in short supply


Dee Why home sellers

Sean O’Hara, with sons Aidan, Jesse, and Zac, at their home in Dee Why up for sale. Picture: Tim Hunter


Houses with backyards have been getting harder to come by across much of Sydney during the pandemic and the shortage of sales has kept prices high despite the weaker economic conditions.

Analysis of real estate listings showed there were less than 100 houses for sale within a 10km radius of the CBD with a price tag under $1.5m, with much of the housing requiring substantial work.

There was a similar situation in the city’s coastal regions, with less than 50 houses for sale under $1.5m in the northern beaches and a similar number in the eastern suburbs.

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Nervous home sellers get extra $100k

The lower supply of houses with backyards comes amid an increase in unit owners seeking to trade up to bigger properties.

This increased competition among buyers and meant opportunities to get a bargain price for “family-friendly” properties evaporated.

Supplied Editorial =?UTF-8?Q?Eliza_Owen_=E2=80=93_CoreLogic_Head_of_Commercial_Research?=

CoreLogic’s Eliza Owen said COVID-19 had a bigger impact on listings than prices.


Housing experts said a different dynamic was at play in the inner city unit market, where supply has been rising while demand from investors – historically the biggest market for units – has nosedived.

House supply in Sydney’s west was also significantly higher with close to 4000 houses up for sale, according to My Housing Market data.

“There’s more demand for bigger properties and work from home arrangements have probably been a factor in that,” My Housing Market economist Andrew Wilson said.

“The Sydney economy has also done better than many expected and buyers have adjusted to that reality.

“Buyers of mid-range houses have been less affected by job cuts, they’re still active, so prices for houses have been flat rather than falling.”

CoreLogic data showed Sydney’s median home price has dropped by about 2 per cent since the COVID-19 crisis started in March but remains about 12 per cent higher than a year ago.

CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said COVID-19 had a bigger impact on the number of properties marketed than prices.

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New listings during the stage two restrictions from mid-March to early May fell 50.3 per cent. Listings later bounced back but remain below levels reported last year, she said.

Dee Why residents Sean and Kristy O’Hara realised it was a good time to be listing their home after realising there was a dire shortage of freestanding houses with backyards in their suburb.

Their two-level house on Turner St is one of just 10 houses up for sale in the suburb. It is also one of only six priced under $2m.

Dee Why home sellers

Backyards like those in the O’Hara’s Dee Why house are becoming rarer. Picture: Tim Hunter.


There were even fewer listings in surrounding suburbs Narraweena and Cromer, while southern neighbour Curl Curl had just three house listings.

The low supply has come at a time of rising demand in the area — realestate.com.au data showed northern beaches properties attracted among the highest levels of interest online.

“Just looking at what’s on offer in our area it’s pretty obvious there is a shortage,” Ms O’Hara said.

The couple are moving to a nearby home with “renovation potential” and will be seeking to fix it up. Their home goes to auction September 12 with Belle Property agent Nick Duchatel.



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12 Human Smuggling Stash Houses Busted near Texas Border in 10 Days



Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents disrupted 12 human smuggling stash house operations during a ten-day period ending August 27. The raids on the stash houses led to the arrest of 229 migrants.

Officials report the last incident of this series of raids occurred on August 27 when Laredo South Station Border Patrol agents and Laredo Police Department officers began surveillance on a suspected human smuggling stash house on Juarez Avenue in the city of Laredo, Texas. While watching the house, a Laredo police officer observed a person sneaking through a hole in the fence to gain access to the house. The officers detained the man and Border Patrol agents conducted an immigration interview, according to information obtained from Laredo Sector Border Patrol officials.

The agents determined the intercepted man to be a Mexican national illegally present in the U.S. They arrested the man for an immigration violation.

The LPD officers then conducted a welfare check on the residence located in a well-known human smuggling area of the city.

After making entry into the home, Border Patrol agents found 20 people packed into the home. “None were wearing any personal protective equipment,” Laredo Sector officials said in a written statement. The agents conducted immigration interviews and identified all 20 as illegal aliens from Mexico and Guatemala. The agents took all 20 into custody pending further investigation.

Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Matthew J. Hudak stated, “Over the past ten days, Laredo Sector agents and our partners have encountered and arrested 229 aliens in 12 stash houses within the City of Laredo. As the number of illegal aliens testing positive for COVID-19 increases, these stash houses represent an increasingly significant threat to our agents, to public health, and to our health care system and our health care professionals.”

Breitbart Texas’ Jaeson Jones reported that more than 160 cartel-connected human smuggling stash houses have been busted by Border Patrol agents in South Texas since the beginning of the current fiscal year in October 2019.

Jones reported:

Human smuggling networks routinely treat migrants as a commodity. As seen in this video posted on August 12th, 2020 by Commissioner Morgan where you get to see a video recorded by a smuggler having no concern for human beings in terrible conditions.

Human smugglers often commit the crimes of human trafficking as well. As migrants are being smuggled it is common for smugglers to take advantage of them through force, fraud, and coercion. The smugglers also subject migrants to forced sex, labor, and indentured servitude. These crimes are routinely discussed by Commission Mark Morgan at his monthly meetings with the press from the Reagan building in Washington.

Breitbart Texas regularly reports on a case-by-case basis about the efforts by Border Patrol agents along with state and local law enforcement officers to disrupt and shut down these cartel-connected human smuggling operations carried out on U.S. soil.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.





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‘Those in Glass Houses Should Not Be Allowed Near the Interns’



During his highly anticipated DNC appearance on Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton admonished President Donald Trump for turning the Oval Office into a “storm center” when it should be a “command center.” For left-wing late-night comedian Stephen Colbert, the idea of Clinton lecturing anyone about the Oval Office behavior was too good to resist.

“Alright, that’s true, that’s a good point,” Stephen Colbert said on CBS’s The Late Show. “But I don’t think Bill Clinton gets to lecture anyone on what should happen in the Oval Office. Those in glass houses should not be allowed near the interns.”

Watch below:

Colbert also ribbed “Bubba” for his geriatric attempt to talk about social media.

In his DNC speech, former President Clinton said, “If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man.”

To which Colbert replied: “I think he’s inventing new slang. He’s ‘zaps’ people on social media. The he ‘zoops’ them on the Tik Tok! Did I do it? Did I meme?”

The left-wing comedian also made a fleeting reference to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Earlier this week, photos emerged showing Bill Clinton receiving a neck massage from an Epstein victim, Chauntae Davies. Court documents have also revealed that witnesses saw Clinton on Epstein’s “Pedophile Island” in the Caribbean, despite the former president’s past claim that he didn’t visit the island.

Colbert referenced the scandal by showing a photograph of Clinton during a 2016 presidential debate and joking, “Bill Clinton, seen here learning that Ghislaine Maxwell was just arrested.”

Ghislaine Maxwell, who was taken into custody last month, is facing charges that she “assisted, facilitated and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” a series of girls younger than 18, according to the indictment.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at dng@breitbart.com





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Safe as houses no more as banks fear spike in bad loans


With political leaders warning other COVID-19 outbreaks are likely, Slade says the key issue is managing the sheer level of uncertainty facing the bank and its customers.

“How do we get this balance, to make sure we support customers [and] try and manage the overall impact to the economy?” she says.

“But, of course, there is that recognition that there will be customers that won’t recover from this. We’ve added resourcing into the parts of the bank that deal with customers in hardship, and we’re working with customers on an individual basis to figure out when the right time is for them to make that shift.

“Because it’s not in our interest or their interest to keep them on a deferral if it’s clear to us and to them that they’re not going to come out the other side of it. We’re much better off moving to helping them work through other options.”

Her comments illustrate the challenge facing thousands of borrowers and a multibillion-dollar cloud of uncertainty hanging over Australian banks’ loan books.

The banks are recognising that there will be customers that won’t recover from this.Credit:Peter Braig

Markets expect a rise in bad debts caused by COVID-19, but the extent of this increase will be a critical influence on profits, and therefore dividends, for the country’s biggest financial institutions.

Since the pandemic struck in March, banks have allowed some $266 billion in home loans and small business loans to be deferred as hundreds of thousands of borrowers have lost their incomes or been stood down.

The temporary measure has provided crucial breathing space for borrowers who watched their incomes evaporate overnight, but the cold financial reality is those loans continue to rack up interest.

There will be a limit to how long banks and regulators will allow the deferrals to continue, but there is also debate over what more banks and policymakers should do to keep people in their homes when the repayment pauses expire.

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For bank investors, meanwhile, it adds up to even more uncertainty, which is predicted to weigh on returns from dividends for the forseeable future.

Banks around the world have formed a key plank in countries’ attempts to absorb some of the financial carnage unleashed by coronavirus by allowing borrowers to press the pause button on repayments.

After initially being offered for six months in Australia, the deferrals were this month pushed out to a maximum of 10 months, but banks stressed these extensions would only go to borrowers who really needed them.

About three months after most of the deferrals were granted, banks are conducting mandatory “check-ins” with borrowers, which is in itself a massive logistical effort that has required re-deploying and hiring hundreds of staff.

I think between September and January we will probably see a bit of a rise in properties on the market from people who have concluded that they won’t be able to make their repayments.

Martin North, Digital Finance Analytics

Any customer who can afford to resume repayments is being strongly encouraged to do so, while at the other extreme, bankers are having what they often call “difficult conversations” with borrowers in financial strife. Most of the customers with deferred loans fall somewhere between these two extremes, but all need to be assessed individually.

Just how many of near 900,000 deferred home loans, business loans, personal loans and credit cards will end up in trouble is a matter for debate, that will in part depend on the path of the virus.

Some more optimistic observers such as Atlas Funds Management chief investment officer Hugh Dive say that for all the economic uncertainty, Australia’s situation is still far better than most. This should protect banks from a catastrophic wave of bad home loans, he says.

“People will do whatever they can to keep their house. In previous downturns the bad debts have been not as much in mortgages than they have been in corporate loans,” Dive says. “I don’t expect a big ballooning in household bad debts.”

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Others are more pessimistic. Digital Finance Analytics managing director Martin North says surveys he has conducted suggest about 40 per cent of the customers who have deferred their loans would struggle to resume repayments.

He says the extent of the problem will depend on structural unemployment – such as the recent permanent job cuts at large employers such as Qantas, UNSW and Deloitte.

Banks are already working on ways to help affected borrowers manage, whether it is through extending the terms of loans, selling other assets, only paying interest, fixing interest rates, or tapping into their superannuation. But there will be others, North says, who are encouraged to sell their property.

“I think between September and January we will probably see a bit of a rise in properties on the market from people who have concluded that they won’t be able to make their repayments,” North says.

While he does not expect mass foreclosures, which would not be in banks’ interests, North argues the extra sales of homes will weigh on property prices, and the recovery ultimately hinges on what happens to unemployment.

Against such grim predictions, some consumer advocates are highlighting the enormous costs to the community and individuals if families are indeed pressured into selling their homes.

People will do whatever they can to keep their house.

Hugh Dive, Atlas Funds Management

Tony Robinson, a former Victorian government minister and a director of Financial Counselling Australia, says current policies have worked so far but warns they won’t be enough when the current deferrals start expiring. He warns of a potentially catastrophic impact on stretched young families in the outer suburbs if banks act too aggressively to push borrowers to sell.

“There are some people for sure who may make the decision to sell. But if we end up with lots of people feeling they have no other decision but to sell, that will be a disaster,” he says.

“It seems to me logically we need some form of external unconventional support, which shares this risk around.”

Consumer Action Law Centre chief executive Gerard Brody also says banks must not treat this as a “business as usual” credit cycle. He says there are other ways to support customers in hardship beyond deferring payments, such as waiving revolving credit card debts or working with people until they are able to find employment. While acknowledging the financial realities at play, he says governments must play a role too.

“What we’ve been saying to banks and credit providers is that they’ve got to offer assistance that lasts as long as people need,” Brody says.

Dividend dilemma

For bank shareholders, it adds more uncertainty. Bad debts are historically the major swing factor for bank dividends, which were already at stretched payout ratios before the pandemic struck.

But banks and the market cannot truly understand the condition of banks’ loan portfolios while borrowers are so heavily supported by government assistance. As part of what regulators called a financial “bridge” across the pandemic, banks are also receiving concessions that mean they do not need to treat deferred loans as being in arrears for capital purposes.

Jefferies banking analyst Brian Johnson says the market will not know the condition of banks’ loan books until all the government support expires, and this will depend on the economy’s ability to bounce back. “A bridge to nowhere is an upward-sloping pirate’s plank,” he says.

Regulators have also ordered banks to preserve their capital – which prompted ANZ and Westpac to suspend their half-year dividends. Johnson, who has an “underweight” stance on banks, believes dividends will either not be paid or offset by dilutive issuance of new shares through dividend reinvestment plans.

Given all the uncertainty about the economic outlook, some say it looks like a long road ahead for banks and their investors, rather than a quick bounce-back.

Investors Mutual portfolio manager Michael O’Neill says there is a case for conservatism from bank boards, and he tips dividend payout ratios will be between zero and 40 per cent. He says it could take until 2022 for returns and dividend payout ratios to return to more normal levels.

“I think banks are looking to conserve more capital rather than take the risk that they might have to raise capital at a future time,” O’Neill says.

Banks, for their part, have not given guidance on how many of the borrowers with deferred loans will be able to resume repayments. More details will be provided when the Commonwealth Bank reports its annual results on August 12, with others to provide quarterly updates in coming weeks.

CBA chief executive Matt Comyn this week said he was optimistic more people would resume making repayments, but he acknowledged most were too uncertain to do so at the moment.

NAB’s Slade stresses that every customer is different, which makes the process of checking in with each borrower to understand their circumstances “really critical.” “Every customer’s situation is different, so it’s working through that with them and of course encouraging customers to repay if they can, because that’s the best thing for them,” Slade says.

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FULL LIST: How much houses are worth in every local suburb



A RESIDENTIAL property shortage on the Northern Rivers has seen homeowners from Ballina to Tweed enjoy a seller’s market.

Recent figures released from realestate.com.au shows the majority of homes in Northern NSW have increased in value over the 12 months to July 2020.

Banora Point sold the most houses, with 218 changing hands in the past 12 months, while 191 units were sold at Tweed Heads during the same period.

The highest median price for a house was again the domain of the coastal areas, with Suffolk Park at $1,175,000 beating Casuarina on $1,161,000, Kingscliff on $1,150,000 and Byron Bay on $1,1404,000.

The highest priced units were at Byron Bay at $732,500, Lennox Head $710,000, Casuarina $605,000 and Kingscliff $590,000.

Real Estate Institute of NSW’s President, Leanne Pilkington said the enormous amount of demand for regional properties was coming from buyers in Sydney, and that was driving the seller’s market.

Ms Pilkington said in recent months, people have realised they can work remotely.

“Many people have realised they do not need to be based in a capital city,” she said.

“It’s a fantastic time for regional property, but it’s also a big decision and we always advise people should consider renting in a region before they make a significant move.”

 

MEDIAN PRICES IN YOUR SUBURB (HOUSES)

Alstonville $570,000

Bangalow $1,030,000

Banora Point $640,000

Bilambil $767,000

Bilambil Heights $590,000

Bogangar $855,750

Brunswick Heads $980,000

Byron Bay $1,404,000

Caniaba $594,500

Casino $298,000

Coraki $420,000

Casuarina $1,161,000

Clunes $745,000

Cumbalum $685,000

East Ballina $815,000

East Lismore $397,000

Evans Head $662,500

Geneva $349,000

Girards Hill $445,000

Goonellabah $412,000

Kingscliff $1,150,000

Kyogle $282000

Lennox Head $942,500

Lismore $342,500

Lismore Heights $421,500

McLeans Ridges $985,000

Mullumbimby $751,000

Murwillumbah $532,500

Nimbin $430,000

North Lismore $325,000

Ocean Shores $752,500

Pottsville $776,000

Skennars Head $905,000

South Golden Beach $912,500

South Lismore $325,000

South Murwillumbah $364,000

Suffolk Park $1,175,000

Terranora $735,000

Tweed Heads $673,500

Tweed Heads South $597,500

Tweed Heads $495,0002

Tweed Heads West $575,000

Uki $630,000

Wollongbar $557,500

Woodburn $478,550





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How realtors are giving virtual home tours in the absence of open houses during the pandemic


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“I’ve been doing this for 47 years,” says Tom MacDonald. “I started when something electronic was the acceptance of a contract with a telegram.”

MacDonald heads up his own realty group in California’s Central Valley, and like most realtors, his business in recent months is depending on technology more than ever before. Jurisdictions across the U.S. have responded to the coronavirus with an array of restrictions, including a total ban on traditional open houses in California.

So in the absence of baked-cookie scents and mingling strangers, MacDonald and other realtors are turning to tools that help them show off houses online. This allows for more immersion than was possible just a few years ago, and makes it easier and less expensive for realtors to put a property’s best foot forward.

These new tools include so-called “virtual staging,” in which images of a property have lifelike decor added to them digitally using 3D modeling and Photoshop. They also increasingly include digital walkthroughs of various kinds, verging on full-blown virtual reality. And while many serious buyers still want to see the property in person before signing on the dotted line, realtors and entrepreneurs believe the new marketing tools will stick around well after coronavirus pandemic is under control.

“Because a lot of open houses and conventional staging companies were not operational during the lockdown … we were actually busier,” says Young Kim, cofounder of Vancouver-based Bella Staging.

Bella specializes in virtual staging, the digital evolution of the common practice of temporarily redecorating a house to impress potential buyers. But instead of renting real furniture and hiring movers to haul it in, which can cost into the thousands of dollars, Bella adds furniture to photos of an empty house using digital wizardry. According to Kim, his team of designers and photo editors can virtually stage an entire house for under $100.

The decor in this room is almost entirely computer-generated—just one example of how technology is helping sell homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bella Staging

That occasionally leads to confusion. “There’ve been times our clients have had offers on a property, and the buyers wanted the [virtual] furniture included,” says Kim—but for the most part, clients understand that virtual staging is an exercise of imagination. “We help paint the picture of what it can be.”

Another digital tool that has seen a surge in relevance is the virtual walkthrough, which gives potential buyers a more immersive sense of the space. At the very high end, those can be built as full-blown virtual reality experiences using a 3D-rendered simulation. But more common (and affordable) are walkthroughs created using 360-degree photos.

“It gives you a feel for the place. How big it is, what’s the layout,” says Bartek Drozdz, cofounder of Kuula, whose core product he describes as “like Powerpoint for virtual tours.” Users take their own photos, then use Kuula to arrange them into an immersive home-tour experience. (One downside is that Kuula doesn’t allow for the addition of virtual decor, instead capturing a house’s real-life appearance.)

Drozdz says he’s seen a significant uptick in interest and web traffic during the pandemic. But growth at Kuula was steady for years before the coronavirus hit, and Drozdz sees lockdowns as accelerating a longterm change in homebuying, rather than a temporary shift. That’s because of a simple reality: even in normal times, open houses aren’t always an efficient way to shop for a home.

“In L.A., with the traffic, you have to drive for an hour to see a house you don’t like the moment you walk in,” says Drozdz. While sites like Zillow have been shifting more of the homebuying process online for well over a decade, immersive experiences take that to the next level.

MacDonald agrees: “I think this will change longterm how homes are sold. People are becoming very comfortable with sitting in their living room, using their Apple TV to look at real estate.” MacDonald says most shoppers do still want to see their new home in person before committing to a purchase, but the new tools give added confidence to some, such as cross-country movers, who snap up properties without ever setting foot in them.

Thanks in part to these digital tools (but also a lot of help from record-low mortgage rates), the real estate business overall appears to be holding up during the pandemic. In May, according to the National Association of Realtors, contract signings were off just 5.1% compared to the year before. That’s a minor drop compared to many sectors of the economy.

In fact, with supplies tight, U.S. home prices have actually gone up on average in recent months. Combined with job losses and economic uncertainty, that might make it tough for some people to buy a new home, even as stay-at-home orders have highlighted the shortcomings of their current one.

“Almost everybody during this pandemic is learning how their space isn’t working for them,” says Sally Huang, who directs visual technologies for online home design community Houzz. The site offers an online visualization tool called “View in my Room” that lets shoppers virtually check the size and style of furniture against their living space.

So whether you’re on the hunt for a new house to love, or trying to love the house you’re in, you can do more of that work online than ever before.

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The shocking contrast of major couture houses’ Instagram pages before Black Lives Matter and now


Fashion fans claim there’s a noted contrast between how the Instagram pages of designer brands in the world of couture look now compared to the period before the recent Black Lives Matter protests began. 

Earlier this month, US actress Niccole Thurman, who has starred in shows including hit comedy Shrill, tweeted an image of an Instagram page laid out in emojis, showing a sea of white faces, with emojis representing black people added at the top to reflect, she claimed, the recent Instagram activity of fashion companies.  

Explaining how she felt many couture houses have begun including more black models since the global protests began following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25th May, she wrote: ‘Feel like this tweet will get me yelled at somehow, so let me just say I’m GLAD to see more beautiful black women in my feed. 

This  tweet by actress Niccole Thurman has gone viral since she posted it over a week ago; she tweeted an image of an Instagram page laid out in emojis, showing a sea of white faces, with emojis representing black people added at the top to reflect recent Instagram activity of fashion companies

Many of those responding to Thurman's image, which has had 60,000 views, agreed with her sentiment (Pictured: A recent trio of posts by Ralph Lauren on Instagram. Right: Images posted six weeks ago)

Many of those responding to Thurman’s image, which has had 60,000 views, agreed with her sentiment (Pictured: A recent trio of posts by Ralph Lauren on Instagram. Right: Images posted six weeks ago)

The recent Instagram feed Chanel

A recent Instagram feed of Dolce & Gabbana

Thurman asks why fashion brands are just seeing ‘black, beautiful women’ now, adding ‘don’t think we’re not going to check in on you a month from now’ (Pictured: recent Instagram feeds of, left, Chanel, and, right, Dolce & Gabbana)

Thurman, who has now seen her post liked more than 60,000 times, then added: ‘It’s just THEY’VE BEEN THERE. THEY’VE *BEEN* BEAUTIFUL. 

‘Why’re brands just now seeing them? Don’t think we’re not going to check in on you a month from now.’

MailOnline has contacted major fashion houses including Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren and Chanel for comment.  

Many people who saw Thurman’s emoji illustration agreed with its sentiment. 

@LoveCrimeCat wrote: ‘Yeees!! And every goddamn photographer (nature photographer aside) I follow probably frantically searched their picture archive for that one shot of a black model they have to post last week, like “Look! I’m good! I take pictures of black people once in a while!!”

@IamSAMLDN wrote: ‘It’s only a matter of time until they go back to regular programming. I hope not but for some of these brands, it’s all performance.’ 

Others said they’d worked hard to always be inclusive. One fashion company wrote: ‘Not my fashion brand. I’ve always been inclusive. I’ve worked very hard to keep it that way for over a decade. It was part of my business plan from the beginning! Some of us TRY.’

British fashion brand Burberry's recent posts on Instagram

The last 21 squares on Hermes Insta page

Pictured left: British fashion brand Burberry’s recent posts on Instagram. Right: the last 21 squares on Hermes Insta page

Ralph Lauren referred FEMAIL to an open letter published on June 10th by the fashion house, saying the brand ‘was listening, learning and taking action’. 

The brand wrote: ‘We recognize that, while dialogue is a much-needed first step, it is not enough. 

We will also look critically at the structures and practices inside our Company, how we use our voice as a leader in our industry and the role we play in portraying American culture.’ 

Earlier this month, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue revealed how he’s ‘always aware of his increased personal danger’ when leaving his home, because of the colour of his skin. 

British Vogue's editor-in-chief Edward Enninful (pictured) wrote for Vogue this month that he is 'always aware of his increased personal danger' when leaving his home, because of his skin colour after contributing to the discussion on racism

British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful (pictured) wrote for Vogue this month that he is ‘always aware of his increased personal danger’ when leaving his home, because of his skin colour after contributing to the discussion on racism 

Edward Enninful, 48, wrote an emotive piece on the death of 46-year-old Floyd, who died in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th after having his neck crushed by US police officer Derek Chauvin. 

Reflecting on the global protests that have followed after a video surfacing of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, Enninful said he felt ‘intense sadness’ at the killing. 

The editor of the British fashion bible said that racism is an issue entrenched in all societies, and not just prevalent in the United States.

Enniful said he has been taught from childhood to ‘watch himself’ when leaving his home, and witnessed police persecuting and abusing black people from a young age. 

He wrote: ‘When I step out of my door in the morning, to take a walk or to wander alone, I am always aware of increased personal danger because of the colour of my skin.’

Edward told that while he has privilege as an esteemed fashion editor, his life could still ‘feel worthless’ as a black and gay man. 

Reflecting on the death of Floyd, Edward told that his emotions have ranged between ‘rage and sadness and fear’ and said the killing has shone a light on the amount of work globally that there still needs to be done to tackle racism. 

The fashion guru was born in Ghana, but moved to Ladbroke Grove, West London, as a young boy, with his parents and five siblings. 



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Melbourne units closing the price gap with houses: ABS figures


Spectrum Apartment

Could better apartments be the reason why the gap between median unit and house prices is closing in Melbourne? Picture: James Ross (AAP).


Melbourne’s median unit price has closed to within $150,000 of the typical house price for the first time in three years.

Market experts believe it’s a sign new apartments being built across the city are getting better.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week show the median unit price rose from $522,500 at the end of March 2019 to $565,000 at the same time this year.

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It leaves only a $141,000 gap to the city’s $706,000 median house price, which is up from $681,100 a year prior.

The figures also show the gap has trended down since it peaked at $185,000 in June 2018.

ABS chief economist Bruce Hockman said Melbourne and Hobart had been the nation’s top performing property market in the first three months of the year — though COVID-19 was expected to have changed the market since.

Modern suburban houses on the hill in Melbourne

The gap between unit and house prices is narrowing in Melbourne.


“But the quirky thing about Melbourne is that the unit price is doing relatively better than other areas of the country,” Mr Hockman said.

Under the ABS definition, units include any attached properties, such as townhouses, villas and apartments.

Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said it was possible the tightening gap between unit and house prices could reflect better quality apartments being built in Melbourne since 2017 as a result of the Better Apartments Design Standards.

Photo outside Sky One

A growing number of high-rise towers have also emerged in Melbourne suburbs like Box Hill since 2017.


“And since 2018 developers have had to provide to more of the owner occupier market,” Ms Conisbee said.

“So maybe it’s just a reflection of a general uplift in quality.”

She added that while first-home buyers had traditionally aimed for a house over a unit, they were increasingly considering the latter as a result of higher house prices.

National Property Buyers advocate Antony Bucello agreed.

Mr Bucello said a growing number of young buyers were simply not prepared to travel to affordable housing markets on the urban fringe.

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“In the end, it is about lifestyle,” Mr Bucello said.

“The apartment market has shifted from investors to owner occupiers — and they are the ones who drive prices.”

Supplied Editorial Fwd: UoA Melbourne campus - photos

Some Melbourne suburbs, such as Docklands, have thousands more apartments than other home types.


Buyers had been particularly willing to consider smaller homes in the months leading up to COVID-19 being declared a pandemic as Melbourne’s property market kept moving upwards.

“People were strongly considering buying an inner-city apartment instead of moving out to the fringes,” Mr Bucello said.

Wakelin Property Advisory director and buyer’s advocate Jarrod McCabe said government support for first-home buyers aimed at affordable homes would also reinforce the unit market.

“And the established (apartment) stock has probably had a bit of a resurgence in the last few years after being quite dormant over the first part of the past decade,” Mr McCabe said.

“But I don’t think it has drastically changed. Once the market recovers there will be a greater recovery in the housing sector and while apartments will appreciate, it won’t be to the same extent.”

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