Future Population Growth Has Meaning for Some Property Investment Locations

Population growth is not the ‘panacea’ for all things property investment. In fact, it’s often used by many property investment spruikers as the way to get unsuspecting Mum and Dad investors excited enough to hook into a lemon location, and ultimately a lemon investment. However, for some locations it does mean positive things… let me explain.

I recently had a very insightful lunch with the head of the Property Research team at ANZ – a team of very smart men, who I’m sure, are happy to remain anonymous for the purposes of this article. Anyway, the conversation got on to the topic of population growth, and what that means for the property.

Here’s a chart, courtesy of the team at ANZ, regarding population growth forecasts for our major cities by 2028.

 

Future Population Growth Has Meaning for Some Property Investment Locations Ben Kingsley Future Population Growth Has Meaning for Some Property Investment Locations

 

Percentage-wise, Perth will lead the way, and, based on these forecasts, is expected to become Australia’s third biggest city ahead of Brisbane. Interestingly, those same models have Melbourne becoming a bigger city than Sydney before the end of this century.

Percentages aside, it’s the number of people forecast to live in our big cities that is of extreme interest to me as a residential property analyst. Melbourne is set to see its city grow by over 1.378 million people over the course of the next 14 years. To put that into dwelling context, assuming the average dwelling accommodates 2.3 people, this means that over the next 14 years, Melbourne will add just under 600,000 new dwellings. They are serious numbers, and if you refer to the chart, it’s not going to take you long to work out that factor in all cities, and that you have a very big pipeline of housing construction for the next decade and a half.

With such a strong demand for residential property looking highly likely, you’re probably asking why aren’t I so bullish on property value increases, given so many uneducated commentators are?
The big reason is: population doesn’t automatically guarantee that property prices will rise. The science isn’t just in the population, it goes deeper than that.

Let’s look at an example that we are experiencing here in Australia at the moment in regards to Baby Boomers retiring, and those who are ‘Sea Changing’ for ‘Tree Changing’. It’s been reported that every week, as many as 4000 people across Australia are turning 65 and moving into the retirement phases of their lives. So, population centres that offer great leisure amenities are very attractive to these folk. These retirement seaside towns and country towns across Australia will certainly see their population numbers swell now, and also in the coming years, but history has told us that property values don’t move much at all. Why is this?

It’s simple, really: these new folk don’t bring with them the income that is needed to push values higher, or sustain values. In fact, most are living off considerably less money than they were living off when they were working.

The same rule applies for areas that offer low income wages, such as the outer areas of large cities, and many rural towns – they simply don’t create a sufficient number of high earning jobs to put pressure on property prices in these locations. The spruikers will tell you all about the plans for a new major shopping centre, or the new schools etc planned, but these too will not grow property values, because the incomes of the majority of people living, or, in this argument I’m making, moving to a location that increases the population, aren’t good enough or aren’t growing quick enough to provide the capital growth that would interest a smart property investor.

However, huge population growth, like what is forecast in our major cities, will deliver some strong capital growth outcomes for some areas, and, yes, those areas are going to be the inner city areas. Why?

High income earners are time poor; they want quick access to their place of employment, and they want all the pickings and trimmings of what inner city lifestyle locations can offer them. And it’s this increased density of population, like what we see in other mega cities around the globe, that produce exceptionally high land values and strong demand for these assets. So those properties that will be in scarce supply, like houses and small developments, will prove their worth in the coming decades, and they are the ones that will deliver results that outperform others for the smarter property investor!

 

Remember, knowledge is empowering if you act on it.

Sales for Brisbane apartments continue to heat up

Following a record breaking December quarter, the inner-Brisbane apartment market continued to perform well in the first quarter of 2014, indicating another positive twelve months could well be on the horizon.

Blogger: Lachlan Walker, Place Advisory

There were no signs of the market cooling off throughout the March 2014 quarter with a total of 639 unconditional sales made over the summer period. While this figure didn’t quite top December, it is still almost twice the ten year average of 326 unconditional sales per quarter. Brisbane has continued to experience positive market sentiment which can be attributed the overall improvement of the real estate market. The sales seen this quarter have paved the way for this pattern to continue over coming years as the Brisbane market continues its growth phase.

Breakdown
The CBD
The Brisbane CBD recorded strong levels of unconditional sales for the second consecutive quarter. As with last time, these sales resulted from new project releases, illustrating high levels of buyer commitment. The precinct recorded a weighted sale price of $1,228,419 for the quarter; the highest weighted average of all precincts. This result reflects the high percentages of luxury owner occupier transactions. High- end building Abian by the Sunland group recorded the majority of unconditional transactions of all projects, with 108 sales for the quarter, reinforcing the return of Brisbane’s million dollar plus market. The CBD continues to remain the most limited in terms of new projects, new buying opportunities and residential supply, with only 111 developer apartments remaining for sale in the CBD across three different projects.

North of the River
Once again, the North of the River was the top performing precinct, recording a total of 404 unconditional transactions across the March quarter. This figure accounts for 63% of all sales documented during this time. The three projects with the most sales were Broadway on Ann in Fortitude Valley with 58 unconditional transactions, Proximity in Hamilton (45) and 38 High Street in Toowong (44). The success of these projects is indicative of suburbs which have been experiencing high demand in the Inner Brisbane market. While the Inner North retains the majority of supply in Inner Brisbane with 861 apartments, this is the lowest level of stock this precinct has seen since June 2010.

South of the River
The South of the River continued to illustrate a swing towards luxury stock, despite a dip in sales. Luxury apartment building Southpoint by the Anthony John Group was the top performing project in the Inner South, recording 46 unconditional transactions. The 253 unconditional sales seen during this quarter was nearly 50% less than the previous quarter, due to the lower levels of available stock and lack of new project releases. While sales results were lower, the Inner South saw a weighted sales average of $752,331 which was 35% higher than the December quarter, and this is directly reflective of the higher level of owner occupier transactions recorded at Southpoint. Although 15 projects are still being actively marketed South of the River, only 253 off the plan apartments remain for sale in this area.

Future supply?
While some statistics imply that the Brisbane market will be facing an oversupply in the near term, Place Advisory directly challenges these statements and believes that Brisbane is, and will remain undersupplied in the near term. While there are a substantial number of proposed apartments in the pipeline, this amount of 22,000 has now existed for over 6 years. Although there are many ‘proposed’ opportunities in Brisbane, many will be impeded by obstacles such as finance, and subsequently (in our opinion) will never make it to the open market. Low levels of stock remain in the CBD, Northern and Southern sides of the river as units continue to increase in popularity. Cranes have activated the Brisbane skyline in recent months, proving the increased sales activity has undoubtedly stimulated development. We look forward to the ongoing improvement in sentiment and the change to be delivered to the market in the years to come.

http://spionline.com.au/blog/latest-blogs/13025-sales-for-brisbane-apartments-continue-to-heat-up

FIFO breakthrough means locals will still be able to apply

REMOVING the practice of 100% FIFO will allow Moranbah residents apply for up to 1500 jobs at the yet-to-be-approved BMA Red Hill mine.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker made the comments after Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the government did not support 100% fly-in, fly-out workforces.

“In the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever that people all over Queensland have the opportunity to apply for new mining jobs and make their own decisions as to where they live and work,” Cr Baker said.

Moranbah has been heavily impacted by the decision to have a 100% FIFO workforce at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Daunia and Caval Ridge mines.

Businesses have closed and the number of people in the town has dropped dramatically.

A decision will be made shortly by the independent Queensland Co-ordinator General on BMA’s operation at Red Hill mine. The operators have flagged using only fly-in, fly-out workers.

Cr Baker welcomed Mr Seeney’s decision.

“We have been working proactively for a long period of time with the State Government on the impact of 100% FIFO on our communities,” she said. “By returning choice, the State Government is supporting mining regions to grow sustainably, keep families together, and build stronger local and regional communities.”

On Wednesday Mr Seeney said he could not foresee any situation that required a third 100% FIFO workforce.

Cr Baker said complete FIFO removed regional resource towns’ ability for population renewal, regrowth and resilience.

“Forced 100% FIFO practices have heavily impacted our communities; our local workers and their families are unable to apply for jobs on their doorstep,” she said.

Cr Baker said she was happy there was a growing understanding of FIFO impacts.

Members stand together against 100% FIFO

FED UP with having to publicly spar with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney’s support of 100% fly-in, fly-out in mining towns, central Queensland MP Michelle Landry with Rockhampton LNP members are pushing to change party policy through the state conference next month.

The Capricornia MP stood with Dawson MP George Christensen and Flynn MP Ken O’Dowd in Federal Parliament on Monday to criticise state policy on 100% FIFO .

Two Moranbah mines owned by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance were given approval by the former Labor state government to recruit entirely from Brisbane and Cairns.

BMA blacklisted local applicants unless they would relocate from regional Queensland.

The company pushed for the recruitment deal at the height of the mining boom when it struggled to find local workers.

The policy was opposed by Campbell Newman while in Opposition but became policy once the LNP took power.

The criticism from Ms Landry earned bipartisan support in Canberra.

Perth Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said she “would be quite appalled to see 100% FIFO developments in the minerals and resource sector” in Western Australia.

“It is simply, in my view, not acceptable where those mines are located near towns – towns that could benefit from the infusion of activity,” she said.

Mr Christensen – whose electorate includes Mackay and the Whitsundays – said he knew of a Moranbah worker who now must fly to Brisbane each week so he could join the 100% FIFO workforce.

The worker is not able to visit his family until BMA flies him to Brisbane once his roster ends.

From Brisbane he flies back to Moranbah for his days off.

“I believe 100% fly-in, fly-out is a cancer,” Mr Christensen said.

Attempts to change state government policy by both federal and Queensland MPs have so far failed.

Mr Seeney has never wavered from his view that 100% FIFO gives workers a choice of where they live and work.

At the upcoming state conference, Rockhampton’s LNP branch and Ms Landry will put a motion to drop the “100%” from “100% FIFO”.

“A lot of those motions that go through our state convention become policy,” she said.

“I think it will get a fair bit of support.

“I obviously can’t tell the state government what to do, it’s a decision the party makes.

“We have to show them how much this is affected the people in these areas.”

17 Things Extraordinary People Do Every Day

Some people seem to get ahead, no matter what. They aren’t necessarily smarter, more creative or harder working than many others. Still, they achieve much more than their peers. Why is that?

The philosopher Aristotle offered an explanation a really, really long time ago: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

I meet some of these amazing, extraordinary people just about people every day, as part of my job. They’re amazing entrepreneurs, leaders, artists and innovators, and their keys to success aren’t complex. Rather, it’s the cumulative effect of their simple daily habits.

Here are 17 things the most extraordinary people do every day.

1. Examine long-term goals.

If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll probably never arrive. So, it’s crucial to spend a few minutes each day thinking about where you’d like to be one, five or even 20 years from now. Your goals will change, and that’s a good thing. But it’s easier to act strategically when you’ve thought about where you want your dreams to lead.

2. Examine daily plans.

Whether you’ve written it down or not, you have a to-do list. Do the tasks you’re accomplishing truly contribute to your long-term goals? Nobody is 100 percent productive, and that’s OK. But if you’re working your tail off each day to become better at something you don’t even want to be doing, that’s a sign it’s time for a change.

3. Ask for help.

Nobody does anything worthwhile alone, and asking for help, when done correctly, isn’t a sign of weakness–it’s a sign of respect. People enjoy being reminded that their knowledge and skills have value to others. Just ask politely, respectfully and on the other person’s schedule. If the help leads to a positive outcome for you, make sure you express your gratitude. (Speaking of which, there are 17 items on this list. Can I ask for your help in figuring out No. 18? Let us know your ideas in the comments, below.)

4. Engage in mentorship.

Mentorship has two sides, so on any given day, do two things: Engage with a mentor, and also offer mentorship to someone else. Not every interaction has to be profound; that would be exhausting. However, if you take a few minutes, for example, to reply to someone seeking to enter your field, and later ask a more expert friend to help you refine your daily workout (item No. 10, below), you can check this step off your daily list.

5. Give yourself a break.

Extraordinary people recognize that they are just that–people. We’re only human, and success (however it’s defined) is never an overnight thing. Should you hold yourself to high standards? Sure, but every day, give yourself a pass on a few things you did wrong, and for missing a few items on this list. You’re looking for a general, rising slope in all things in life–not an uninterrupted (and unrealistic) sprint to the top.

6. Write down what happened.

Life is a journey, so keep a journal. You don’t need to be a polished writer or even devote a lot of time to this; even a small effort can pay huge dividends (as we’ll see in item No. 7, below). A top military leader who was working 16-hour days in a time of crisis wanted to keep a journal. His solution? Every day he wrote a single haiku poem describing what happened that day and how he felt.

7. Build your confidence.

Everybody has crises of confidence; everyone has to learn to overcome fear of failure. The best ways to win are twofold, and we’ve already covered the groundwork on this list. First, engage with mentors. People who’ve been through similar challenges and inspire you and show you the way. Second, remember the challenges you’ve overcome in the past–say, perhaps, the things you wrote about in your journal. You did it then; you can do it now. Speaking of which…

8. Give thanks and compliments.

Just as you sometimes have crises of confidence, so does everyone else around you. So, make it a point to compliment others, and to express your appreciation for what they do. If you end each day having sincerely uttered the words, “thank you” to a colleague, friend, family member and even people you only interact in passing, you’ll find this habit pays you back tenfold.

9. Focus on others.

No matter that you do, you will leave a legacy. The question is whether you’ll be remembered for something positive or something negative. So, keep in mind during all interactions, that this might be someone’s lasting impression of you. If you want to hear a powerful example of this in action, read this story about actor Robert Downey Jr. I won’t ruin it for you; just read it.

10. Get some physical exercise.

It doesn’t have to be much–just a 20- or 30-minute workout each day can improve your outlook and change your life.

11. Quit something.

Coming up with a great idea isn’t the hard part in life. Instead, it’s eliminating 99 out of 100 great ideas, so you can focus on the few that really work. The only way to do that is to be willing to give up on things you’ve tried but aren’t paying off–nevermind the sunk costs.

12. Check small things.

Extraordinary people learn to delegate effectively. That can be scary, because it requires trust. You can’t possibly check everything you’ve delegated, but you can check some small things, which in turn creates the possibility you’ll check everything. One of the best examples ever of this comes from the the truly excellent band Van Halen, and why it included a clause banning brown M&Ms from its phone book-length standard concert contract in the 1980s.

13. Laugh–especially at yourself.

Comedy is the flipside of tragedy. For all the passion with which they pursue their goals, truly extraordinary people keep perspective by recognizing that a well-led life is full of humor. Thus, the most important jokes you’ll ever tell are the ones about yourself, even your failures. As H.G. Wells (the writer who gave us War of the Worlds, among many other works) put it, “The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.”

14. Sleep.

Seven to eight hours a night, at least. If not, you’re killing your productivity and killing brain cells.

15. Continue your education.

Lifelong learning is one of the keys to success. As my colleague Geoffrey James wrote, “[Approach] lifelong learning with a sense of fun that adds pleasure and energy to the tasks at hand. It means expanding your principles and practices so that they serve a greater purpose.”

16. Cultivate outside interests.

All work and no play makes … well, you know the rest. Let your mind wander every day, and feed it heartily. And, when you’ve stumbled upon something truly fantastic and worth telling others about…

17. Share something great.

Did you hear the one about the SEO writer who walked into a bar [“best bars,” “taverns” “pubs” “B&B joint,” “where should I go tonight?”] (If you laughed, credit this great PR person; if you groaned, blame me.) Seriously, extraordinary people always have something to share, and something truly interesting to talk about–a joke, a story, a bit of good news. Follow their lead. (Hey, why not start by sharing this article?)

 

http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/17-things-extraordinary-people-do-every-day.html

 

Jamie’s Top 10 Investment Strategies For 2014

It’s important to be financially educated in the 21st Century.

Every year my 21st Century Subscribers eagerly await my top 10 investment strategies for the year ahead.

For this year ahead I’ve made quite a few changes to the past top 10 strategies. I have adapted my financial strategies to suit market conditions.

Land banking has jumped to the number 1 spot due to my prediction of a new Australian property boom for the next 12-28 months. When buying land in this unique way you don’t have to pay for 7-10 years nor do you have to borrow, making it by far the best investment currently available.

The last year has already proved my prediction to be on target with price rises especially in Sydney, showing record high auction clearance rates which approached 90% but now stabilising.

US property is in the number 3 spot, mainly because of strong price gains in certain cities, meaning for those of us who have been in this market for 2-3 years can now cash in and buy in new cities we are targeting for future price growth.

I am currently investing nearly all my money into the top 3 strategies and exiting the stock market.

1. Land Banking
Low capital required
Low time required
An asset investment
Low – medium skill required
High rate of success
2. Buying Australian Property Buy and Hold
Low capital required
Low time required
An asset investment
Low – medium skill required
High rate of success
3. U.S. Property
Low capital required
Low – medium time required
Capital growth and cashflow
Low – medium skill required
Medium rate of success
4. Subdivision
Medium capital required
Medium time required
Capital growth, long-term strategy
Medium skill required
High rate of success
5. US Land Banking
Low capital required
Low time required
An asset investment
Low – medium skill required
High rate of success
6. Blogging To Make $100,000 p.a
Low capital required
Low time required
Cashflow investment
Medium skill required
Medium rate of success
7. Sharelord (Cashflow in conjunction with property portfolio)
Low – medium capital required
Low time required
An asset investment
Medium skill required
Medium – high rate of success
8. Internet Domain Trading
Low capital required
Low time required
Capital gain strategy and cashflow
Medium skill required
Medium rate of success
9. Bitcoin Trading
Low capital required
Low time required
Capital growth strategy
Medium skill required
Medium rate of success
10. Forex
Low capital required
Medium time required
A cashflow investment
High skill required
Low – medium rate of success

If you get the right properties, the US property strategy is great.

A brand new strategy that’s jumped into the number 4 spot is sub-division. Particularly by buying larger house blocks and dividing it to build a townhouse at the back to rent or sell off.

A very a solid realistic strategy many have used and with some education on how to do it first, it could potentially be a winner to generate $100,000 or more with not much time required.

US land banking has been added as a brand new strategy at number 5, and blogging for profit has moved into the number 6 spot.

Although blogging isn’t an investment strategy as such, it’s a return on time invested and for the average person, something to consider mastering.

Internet Domain has joined my list, and why not? Many are making a fortune from this new form of real estate, it’s one to be considered.

Once again, the key is getting educated or mentored by those who are making money from these strategies already.

Bitcoin trading has also made this list with the new online currency already producing over 250 millionaires with the potential to make many more and I’ve founded several bitcoin start-ups, such as www.bitcoinenetwork.com.au

Rounding out the top 10 is forex trading. Even though its a speculative investment, it can be profitable for some.

So there you have it. My top 10 for 2014.

NT granny flats now available for rent

Changes to planning regulations in the Northern Territory will allow investors to lease out granny flats to non-related tenants.

Under the new legislation, owners of granny flats will be permitted to rent out their unit on the open market.

Previously, only dependents or family members were able to live in such properties.

Local buyer’s agent Tod Peterson from Peterson’s Property Search said the changes were a golden opportunity, particularly given Darwin’s robust rental market.

“What we’re going to see is people doing conversions to granny flats knowing they can get an income out of it,” he said.

As an example, he said a granny flat may only cost $100,000 to $120,000 to install, but bring in an additional rental income of $350 a week.

Darwin already has the highest rental yield of any city in the nation and these changes would boost these possible returns, Mr Peterson said.

According to RP Data, yields in the city are as high as 5.8 per cent for houses.

Mr Peterson said the changes were brought in to respond to a housing shortage in the territory.

“What we’re seeing is a loosening up of all the rules and regulations to help with accommodation, which we’ve always had a huge problem with,” he said.

“It’s a balancing act because rather than going down the road of creating new suburbs, which is incredibly expensive, it’s a lot easier to focus on in-fill areas where you can do things like granny flats.”

Apartment market hits four-year low

There are just 1,225 apartments on sale in Brisbane at the moment according to Place Advisory, the lowest number in four years.

Strong demand in Brisbane has sent stock in the new apartment market plummeting, which at the current sales rate, would supply the market for less than six months.

“With new apartment sales remaining strong and supply having fallen to a historical low, it’s evident there is a continued undersupply of new off-the-plan stock in inner Brisbane,” said Place Advisory director Lachlan Walker.

Mr Walker said that while fewer sales had been recorded over the March quarter than the record-breaking December quarter of 2013, the sales rate was still well above historical averages, being almost twice the 10-year average of 326 unconditional sales per quarter.

“While some commentators have implied the Brisbane market is likely to be oversupplied in the near term due to the proposed pipeline of apartments, in our opinion a majority of these projects will never actually make it to the open market, hence the undersupply will endure in the near term,” he said.

“There is indeed a substantial pipeline of proposed apartments, today numbering 22,000, but this has existed for more than six years and is to be expected of a city whose population is set to double in the coming years.

“In reality, the lending hurdles and the banks’ tight purse strings will ensure only feasible residential projects enter sales and marketing and evolve into the construction phase.”

Brisbane has been tipped to be an investment hotspot in 2014, with leading economist Dr Andrew Wilson believing all the fundamental ingredients are there.

“The market is moderating at the moment, but we are seeing a few key areas, such as Brisbane, which are expected to buck this trend,” he said earlier this year.

Urgent report: Landlords lose big time with inflated ‘investor’ rates

Recently, information has come to light concerning the way Queensland councils blatantly rip off investors and the details aren’t pretty.

My proverbial blood is boiling and after reading this article, yours very well could be too! Recently, information has come to light concerning the way Queensland councils blatantly rip off investors – and I have to tell you, the details are not pretty.

A legal stoush has developed between landlords and the Council in Mackay, over the council’s decision to charge investors’ higher rates, simply for being landlords.

The case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, where the judge found that landlords are indeed being ripped off! However, despite this legal win in the state’s highest court, we’re not out of the woods… Because the state government has stepped in and potentially doomed investors to a lifetime of inflated rates.

This situation began unfolding last year, when Mackay investor Ayril Paton was informed that the council rates on his Mackay investment property, which he’d owned for 15 years, was being placed in a new, more expensive ‘rates’ category: ‘Investor Residential’.

When he objected, he was told that the Mackay Council was well within its rights to charge inflated rates to investors, just as other councils were doing as per the Local Government Act. Ayril studied the Local Government Act and found that it did not give approval for this; he contacted a solicitor, formed the Mackay Investor Rates Committee (MIRC), raised $45,000 to fund the legal battle and took the Mackay Regional Council to court.

It went to the Supreme Court, which sided with Ayril and ruled that it was in fact illegal for a council to charge investors higher rates than owner-occupiers.

The Queensland Local Government Association has since launched action in the Court of Appeal and if they win, the practice of charging investors more for their rates could be rolled out nationally.

I don’t need to say it, but I will: this could be potentially devastating for all Australian investors.

Why do Councils charge investors more?
The practice of charging investors more than owner-occupiers for Council rates despite the fact that the very same supplies and services are afforded to each – has been going on for some time in different markets. In fact, around 20 different councils throughout Queensland, including Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Townsville, have been charging investors inflated rates for a number of years.

Townsville City Council chief executive officer Ray Burton says his council has “traditionally recognised that owner-occupied properties should be rated differently to commercial and investment properties,” adding, “We are committed to doing everything we can to see that continue, and await the outcome of the LGAQ’s appeal on behalf of councils in Queensland.”

Burton doesn’t offer any explanation as to why investors should be rated differently, but it seems the logic behind it is that landlords are gaining the benefit of a tax deduction for their rates, so they can therefore afford to be charged a little extra. Sounds like a really fair way to treat landlords, right?

Obviously, we feel this is an unfair and deeply flawed practice. Many Australians get a tax deduction for their mobile phone, their laptop, even their car. Should they have to pay more for these items if they can claim a tax deduction, too?

What is the situation right now?
When the case was heard at the Rockhampton Supreme Court, Judge McMeekin concluded: “It follows that in my view the making of the decision to adopt the differential rating categories identified, was an improper exercise of the power conferred on the respondent under the LGA.”

This case is now being appealed by the Council, with funding coming from councils throughout Queensland who are fearful of losing their investor rates income.

However, the State Government has just stepped in and complicated the situation further.

On the 6th of June 2014 at 9:30pm, Deputy Premier Jeffery Seeney tabled a bill in the Queensland State Parliament to amend the Local Government Act, to allow for councils to charge extra rates based on the owners place of residence and nullifying any claims in retrospective.

As the matter is still in appeal in the Supreme Court, the state government’s changes to the Act may indeed be illegal. Either way, it smacks of injustice that this situation has been resolved in favour of Councils via a bill rushed through at 9.30pm, rather than allowing it to play out fairly and with full transparency through the courts.

The result of this Appeal will be very important, whichever way it goes.

If the appeal is upheld, investors in Mackay will be forced to pay increased council rates for their investment properties, now and for years to come. Other councils throughout the country will be watching very closely because a successful appeal leaves the door open for every council in Australia to follow suit.

If the appeal is dismissed, Mackay Regional Council will be forced to repay a massive refund bill (in the vicinity of $1.6 million for over 7,700 properties). That could leave the gate open for thousands of investors around Queensland to launch action, meaning over a dozen other councils throughout Queensland would be forced to refund rates overpayments to thousands of investors. They would also lose millions of dollars in revenue each year, as they’ll have to charge investors the same rates as owner-occupiers.

What can investors do now?
If this situation seems spectacularly unfair to you as a landlord – and it should! – then we urge you to take action in any way you can.

If you think this doesn’t affect you because you don’t own property in Mackay, think again. The truth is, the outcome of this battle will impact every investor in Australia.

Do you really think it’s fair to be charged more for your investment property’s rates than owner-occupiers? If you don’t stand up for what’s right NOW, this is the very likely reality that all investors will face – because you can bet your bottom dollar that if the Mackay Council can get away with this, it won’t take long for other Council’s to follow suit.

So what can you do?

Get involved and spread the word on social media. Share this article with every investor you know. Repost the link on property forums, on websites, email it to all of your investor friends. The more people who know about this injustice, the better chance we have of convincing the Councils and the state government that we won’t be pushed around.

And if you really want to put your money where your mouth is: contact Ayril Paton and join the Mackay Investor Rates Committee ( mkyinvestorrates@hotmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). He has opened a specific trust account to deal with the mounting legal costs of the Appeal.

Your contribution, no matter how small, can help Ayril fight this on behalf of all investors. Note that any funds remaining at the end will be redistributed to each contributing party on a percentage basis.

As Ayril writes in his letter to the Queensland Governor, “The Local Government was found by the Supreme Court to be using an improper exercise of power in an illegal action. The State Government has supported the illegal action by making amendments to the Act. It is a scary day when the Government is allowed to carry out illegal actions upon we the people and when challenged, change the laws to suit themselves.”

Now is the time to stand up and support our rights as landlords to be treated fairly!

An Australian Boom Town Feels Chill of Commodity Price Decline

MORANBAH, Queensland—Two years ago, real-estate agent Bella Exposito said she was selling as many as 25 houses a day as soaring coal prices lured workers and investors to this flyspeck Outback town.

As of May this year, she has sold three.

A cream-and-brown weatherboard house near her office rented for nearly US$7,000 a month when the region’s coal industry was booming; now it has been empty for 12 months. Downtown shops have gone vacant. At Café 17, a local diner serving eggs and baked beans in the morning, visitors could fire a cannon and not hit a soul some days.

After a decade of soaring commodity prices, this is what it looks like when the party starts to end.

For years, the global grab for coal, iron ore, copper and other commodities brought riches to small mining communities across the globe. It also helped lift the broader economies of resource-rich nations from Peru to Mongolia to Indonesia. In Australia, a heavyweight in the industry, the boom helped the country sidestep recession when other developed economies hit the wall in recent years.

But more recently, commodity prices have fallen, in some cases dramatically, because of jitters over the cooling economy in China—where growth in commodity imports has slowed—and rising supply from mines planned when markets were booming.

Prices for steelmaking coal have slumped by half since the start of 2012 to around US$110 a ton, their lowest level in seven years. Iron-ore prices have dropped to less than $95 a ton from a peak of more than $190 in 2011, while copper, gold and other commodities have also declined.

While current prices are still generally higher than a decade ago, and optimists hope for a recovery, prices are low enough that some mines are now losing money. Big resources firms like BHP, Rio Tinto PLC and Anglo American PLC have vowed to strip billions of dollars from their annual costs to safeguard profits and improve returns to shareholders.

That means shuttering mines, delaying new projects and slashing jobs in communities that have benefited from the boom. While not all mining towns are as bad off as Moranbah, the downturn is a reminder that overreliance on commodities can be dangerous, even in places that seemed to have everything going for them not long ago.

In South Africa, producers of platinum, gold and coal have cut thousands of jobs, including in smaller communities like Carletonville, west of Johannesburg in the country’s Witwatersrand goldfields. Municipal leaders there expressed regret in their most recent annual report for a “problematic” over-dependence on mining, while the national government is licking its wounds from lost funding from mining and petroleum royalties and leases, which dropped 20% in the year ended March 2013.

Overall economic growth in South Africa slowed to 1.9% last year from a 2000s peak of 5.6% in 2006, in part because of weaker resources revenues.

In Brazil, whose economy soared on the back of iron ore and other commodity exports, forecasters now expect growth to be as little as 1.5% this year, down from 7.5% in 2010. Jobs at mines in places like Parauapebas—a town that sprouted up on the edge of the Amazon when mining giant Vale SA started producing iron ore in the nearby Carajas hills in the 1980s—have become scarce.

“I’ve been living here since ’97, and there has never been such a lack of jobs,” said 38-year-old Benildo Oliveira dos Santos, a mechanic, as he waited in line outside an unemployment office late last year.

In Australia, leaders are struggling to replace revenue and jobs from a resources boom many people thought would last for years to come, based on the expectation that China’s heated growth would absorb ever higher amounts of resources for decades.