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Bitcoin price worth more than Gold

One bitcoin recently traded for $US257.5 ($A3500.029), according to Coinbase.com , a company that helps users exchange bitcoins. That makes it more valuable than an ounce of gold, which trades at less than $US1230. The value of bitcoins can swing sharply, though. A year ago, one was worth $US457.04, which means that it’s nearly quadrupled in the past 12 months.

WHY BITCOINS ARE POPULAR ?
Bitcoins are basically lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they travel from one owner to the next. Transactions can be made anonymously, making the currency popular with libertarians as well as tech enthusiasts, speculators — and criminals.
The currency has become popular enough that more than 300,000 daily transactions have been occurring recently, according to bitcoin wallet site blockchain.info. A year ago, activity was closer to 230,000 transactions per day.
Businesses from Yellow Taxis in New York to a pub in Sydney have decided to accept payment in bitcoins.
Will it become mainstream?
So far, Bitcoin's volatility and a lack of understanding about it have kept it out of the mainstream. But this could be about to change.
This week, US regulators met to discuss the future of the currency and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke welcomed the potential.
"While these types of innovations may pose risks related to law enforcement and supervisory matters, there are also areas in which they may hold long-term promise," he said in an email to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
It's also spawned a host of side industries, including a trading fund by the Winklevoss brothers of Facebook fame, ATM companies and payment system BitPay which provides payment services to over 10,000 companies, 


The best time to buy a home is important

Finding the best time to buy a home is important, no matter what sort of buyer you are, or how much you have to spend. That's where understanding the property cycles comes in handy. You don't have to memorise exactly what goes on in the market at every stage of the year, because a professional buyer's agent has already done that work for you. Simply take on the services of one and sit back while they do the legwork for you.

For example, when there is high demand and low supply, as the market is showing now, dwelling values are being driven higher. In a market with low demand and high supply, there will be plenty of available homes and hardly anyone looking to buy, allowing prices to fall. That's a situation Australia is unlikely to find itself in for quite some time


It's commonly thought that the property market goes through a seven-year cycle of troughs and peaks, where prices rise and fall, and supply follows a similar trend. Nobody wants to buy when a price drop is just around the corner, but at the same time, sellers won't want to be listing their homes right before a fall because they won't be capitalising as much as possible.
At the same time, sellers would prefer to list just before a spike is expected, but buyers won't be searching at these points because they'll have to pay through the nose.
Finding a balance between these points for both buyers and sellers is difficult, but it does happen. Choosing the right time to buy also depends on how long you want the search to take, what your price ceiling is and how much competition you're comfortable facing. 
What the seven-year cycle is really referring to ?
mortgage rates were reduced in 2011, which pushed more people into the buying market to take advantage of the conditions, but that has also led to more price growth that the construction of new dwellings can't keep up with.
To put the above Melbourne figures into perspective, the aggregate median dwelling value of the five major capital cities in Australia increased by just 10.15 per cent over the last 12 months to $755,500. Looking at houses, where Melbourne grew by 14.61 per cent, the aggregate value was only 10.07 per cent, and apartments in Melbourne rose by 7.89 per cent, but over the rest of the country it was 10.68 per cent. That last figure is a little out of proportion; however, as the Sydney increase in apartment values was 15.48 per cent as a retaliation to the extreme cost of a house in the city, and Perth's drop of 4.58 per cent, which is being seen as a result of the end of the mining boom in Western Australia.
What the seven-year cycle is really referring to, then, is not a peak and trough of expensive and cheap housing, but more regarding the way the price growth rises and falls. It's rare for the median price of housing in a city to fall rapidly, thus making property more affordable, because as soon as this starts happening, people will be more reluctant to list their homes, and buyers will be out in force trying to snag a bargain. With high demand and low supply, prices will just be pushed higher once more.

Therefore, it makes more sense to look at house price growth as the subject of this seven-year cycle. The actual cost of homes won't be dropping in a trough, in this case, but the amount the value of a home has grown over a period of time would be lower than in a peak. What that means is that a home might have increased in price from a year ago, but it won't have done so at the same rate it would have in a peak.
During a peak time, the price of a home would increase more rapidly than in a trough cycle, and this means the actual cost to the buyer would be more than would be expected in a period of lower growth.


The property cycle generally takes around 7 to 10 years

the whole cycle generally takes around seven to 10 years, and ideally one full cycle will see the price of property double.

While the names of each phase differ slightly depending on who you talk to, it is agreed that the property cycle is made up of four key phases:
  • The value stage: Prices are flat, leading many people to believe it’s a good time to buy.
  • The growth phase: Prices begin to rise, slowly at first before picking up the pace.
  • The peak: Marks the top of the market. Prices will have increased very rapidly (as much as 20 per cent year on year), but have reached the highest point of the cycle.
  • The correction: Price moderation. People often equate a correction to a price crash, but sometimes a correction is simply a long, slow period where prices stagnate.
In essence, the factors that contribute to one phase will directly lead to the next phase developing.
After a period of stability, people will regain confidence in the market and start investing, which leads to price growth. As prices grow, more and more people pile in, which quickens the pace of price rises. Eventually, affordability constraints will lead to prices peaking, before undergoing a correction to bring prices back from their dizzying heights. Once they hit bottom, a period of some stability ensues, and the cycle begins over again.
The phases, though, don’t transition purely of their own accord. There are a vast number of external factors that play a role in driving change.
Additionally, property cycles are much more localised than most people recognise. For example, it is highly unusual for every Australian capital city to be in the same stage of the cycle simultaneously, as each market operates independently of the others.
Yet even that is quite a broad overview. Each town and suburb can be subject to its own property cycle. One particular area may experience rapid growth thanks to a new shopping centre being constructed while the next suburb sees little to no growth.
Most of us are familiar with the concept that the property market moves in a cycle – one almost as regular as clockwork. Prices rise, fall, stabilise and then rise once more.
Some would-be investors spend considerable time trying to pick the exact moment they should buy in order to maximise their profits when they eventually come to sell. The trouble is that the property cycle has far less impact on buyers than many believe.


Where are we on the property cycle ?

Whether you’re buying your own home or investing, purchasing property at the wrong time in the market cycle can have a huge negative impact on your wealth. Whilst purchasing in a rising market can increase outlay, selling real estate in a slowing market can diminish property profits also.
Knowing where the property market is in its cycle is imperative, to help you avoid these risks.
There is no single property cycle in Australia. Rather, our country is comprised of hundreds of individual property market cycles, so that when one region is booming, another may experience a downturn.
Fortunately for investors, you can keep track of how markets are moving from a broad point of view via reputable sources such as property valuers, Herron Todd White. Its latest ‘Month in Review’ report provides a comprehensive overview of the current residential market in each of the 8 Australian capital cities:

Sydney

Across the greater Sydney market, both units and houses are part of a rising market, although growth rates are much slower than the 12.8% recorded by CoreLogic in 2015. Investors may want to turn their attention to the west, such as the Liverpool city hub, which will be “the central focus point for living, working and entertainment in the south west region”, Herron Todd White reports. “With ease of access to the shopping centre, train station and schools, it has major attractions for both owner occupiers and tenants.”

Melbourne

Residential real estate in Melbourne is currently in a peak phase, having increased across the board by 11.8% in 2015 (CoreLogic). “With some banks stopping lending to foreign borrowers, the apartment market has begun to flatten and there are concerns about oversupply,” Herron Todd White cautions. Buyers may wish to consider the risk posed by units, and explore the potential of freestanding dwellings.

Brisbane

Due to a continued lack of investor confidence and a deflation in the Queensland mining boom, the city has “generally failed to fire at the level expected by most since 2012”, Herron Todd White has stated. It experienced capital growth of just 4% in 2015 (CoreLogic), and though many investors had their sights set on Brisbane being 2016’s boomtown, substantial growth has failed to eventuate. Instead, the city is in the grips of a two-phase market driven by a growing apartment oversupply – so while unit growth slumps, houses are beginning their recovery.

Adelaide

Houses in Adelaide are entering a rising market phase, however units are just beginning their recovery after a period of decline. Residential property prices are still the most affordable of all mainland capital cities, although perhaps not for long. REISA President Alex Ouwens points out that the median property price continues to rise each quarter, which is “evidence of the strength of the underlying fundamentals of the South Australian real estate market”. Adelaide’s median currently sits at $450,000.*

Perth

Unfortunately for current property owners, the Perth property cycle reflects that both housing and units are approaching the bottom of the market. For investors with a long-term view, however, the city could be viewed in an opportunistic light, with buyers able to negotiate strong discounts. Better still, Herron Todd White suggests that there are many areas with positive growth prospects. “From an investment point of view, the suburbs of Armadale and Kelmscott stand out,” they report.

Darwin

In Darwin, both units and houses are approaching the bottom of the market. The median house price is down, although there are inexpensive investment opportunities to be found in the northern suburbs, the report advises. “The current dwelling market in the northern suburbs presents a great opportunity for purchasers looking to secure property around the $500,000 mark.”

Canberra

The first half of the year saw an increase in demand for established dwellings, but many areas – such as Ngunnawal and Wanniassa remain relatively inexpensive. “The lazy half million can still achieve reasonably good value in both the north and south of Canberra,” Herron Todd White says. In terms of the market cycle, houses in Canberra are starting to decline, while units are approaching the bottom of the market.

Hobart

Both houses and units in Hobart are at the start of their recovery phase. The city has enjoyed relatively stable economic conditions and capital gains due to a reduction in stock, while boasting some of the least expensive prices in the country. The median property price in Hobart remains very affordable at around $360,000, so as Herron Todd White notes in its report, “$500,000 can go a long way compared to other states”.
Overall, it’s clear that some areas are slowing or in decline, representing an opportunity for investors to buy. Other areas are already moving forward and recording growth, meaning buyers need to act fast to secure an investment before the market peaks and risk over-paying.
Regardless of the property cycle, always remember that an affordable investment doesn’t always constitute a good investment.  Property investment to generate wealth is a long-term strategy, and various aspects should be carefully considered prior to purchase.


AFL : Richmond vs Sydney clash at the MCG round 13

The highlight of round 13 will unfold at traditionalists' favourite timeslot and venue. However, Franklin and Rance will not be allowed to wind the clock back to the days of the incredible one-on-one rivalry Wayne Carey and Glen Jakovich shared throughout the 1990s.

The league's premier goalkicker will not be caged in the forward line. Franklin will roam, his pressure acts will boost Sydney's hopes of victory as much as his goals.

The competition's best defender will be one of many Richmond players asked to curb Franklin's influence. Rance will also seek to hurt the Swans with rebounding run and intercept marks.
Yet it's hard to imagine a more anticipated duel this season.

Franklin and Rance are the best at their respective crafts and among the AFL's most athletic, authoritative and exciting players. It's just their coaches value different things to what Denis Pagan and Mick Malthouse did 20 years ago; defence and attack have become increasingly blurred in the modern era.
"It's certainly evolved a lot," Alastair Lynch reflected, having spent time at both full-back and full-forward in a 306-game career that ran from 1988 until 2004.

Franklin booted seven goals during his most recent clash with Richmond, who were devoid of momentum and morale in the final round of the 2016 regular season.
But such bags are now oddities.
Spearheads still exist but genuine full-forwards became endangered soon after Lynch's retirement in 2004.

"Everyone started pressing up the ground. I remember scratching my head a few times, I'd be standing in the centre circle but playing full-forward," Lynch said.
Frankin and Rance's match-up will be hard to map. It will stop at various points, depending on rotations and where each man is running. It may not even transpire, although Swans coach John Longmire senses that is unlikely.




Things to be aware of about fixed rate home loans with offset accounts

How do fixed rate home loans with 100% offset accounts work?

Fixed rate mortgages let you ‘lock’ in a rate for a set period when you sign up to the loan. Lenders tend to offer different rates depending on the length of your fixed term, which will usually range between one and five years. Some lenders also offer fixed rate terms of as little as six months or as long as 10 years.
A fixed rate loan with a 100% offset account lets you link an account to your mortgage, with the balance of that account offsetting your principal loan amount. This can save you a considerable amount in interest, and can actively encourage you to save money. As this is a 100% offset account, the entire amount in the account can be used to reduce your principal.

Things to be aware of about fixed rate home loans with offset accounts
As with all home loan products, there are a few things to consider before applying. Some offset accounts come with account-keeping fees, so you should look into what you’ll be paying and whether this will eat into your savings.
Offset accounts are also not offered on all fixed rate loans, and may only be offered on more fully-featured home loans. These loans tend to come with higher interest rates and fees, so be sure to calculate the costs of the loan in regards of the savings you’ll receive.

How to compare these types of mortgages

  • Fixed term. Think about how long you want to be locked into the rate. As mentioned, terms can range from one to as many as 10 or even 15 years. Choose a term which you’ll be comfortable with, and remember that break fees are payable if you exit your loan before the term ends. If you plan to sell your property in the future ensure your fixed term accommodates this.
  • Fees. These type of loans may come with upfront and ongoing fees that could negate the savings you may make in the long run, so remember to take these into account. As well as  an offset account, the home loan may offer you other features, such as a redraw facility, the ability to make additional repayments, or it may come as a package that offers discounts. Check to see if you stand to make any further savings.

Jonny’s offset account

Let’s compare two scenarios with Jonny, a borrower.
In the first example, let’s say Jonny has a home loan with a rate of 6%. His loan size is $400,000, meaning his repayments are approximately $2,398 a month. At this rate he’ll pay a total of $863,353 over the course of the loan, $463,353 of which is interest.
If he has an offset account and keeps $20,000 in it over the course of his loan, he would pay off his loan three years earlier, and would save $55,759 in interest.
His repayments would still be the same, but more of each repayment would go towards the principal (the loan amount) then the interest due. This would pay the loan off earlier.


Don’t worry, if you want to buy a property but can’t pay the deposit

you want to buy a property but can’t pay the deposit or mortgage by yourself?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 
Increasingly friends, family or fellow investors are pooling their resources for the purpose of jointly purchasing and sharing the ownership of a property.

Benefits of co-ownership

There are many benefits of co-ownership:
  • The pooling of resources provides a more cost efficient entry into the property market by spreading the entry costs, such as the deposit, stamp duty and legal fees amongst all the co-owners
  • The pooling of resources further provides for sharing ongoing expenses of ownership, such as rates, taxes and maintenance outlays
  • The ability to increase your borrowing and repayment capacity
  • It can be a rewarding experience co-owing a property with family and or friends
However if your co-owner is not loyal and trustworthy and/or the transaction is not properly structured and documented before you purchase the property, it can end in expensive and time consuming litigation, stress, losses and ruined relationships.
Prior to the co-owners commencing a search for a property or even drafting and structuring an agreement, the very first step will require each potential co-owner to ask and honestly answer if all parties:
  1. Have the same investment philosophy and objectives
  2. Each party possesses the same appetite for risk.
If all the potential co-owners answer yes to the above questions, the next step is to formulate an agreement that will provide a framework that governs the transaction and life of the investment.
Unsurprisingly this is known as a ‘Co-Owners Agreement’.

Co-Owners Agreement

The Co-Owners Agreement should accurately reflect each party’s rights, obligations and contributions. Importantly the agreement should also provide for a mediation and dispute resolution mechanism in the event that a disagreement arises amongst the co-owners.
The agreement should also provide a formula for one or more of the co-owners to exit the investment, cash out their initial contributions and hopefully, share in the profit.  Other considerations might also include the right of one co-owner to live in the purchased property or a prohibition against a co-owner mortgaging or encumbering their interest.
The Co-Owners Agreement should also make it very clear to the parties how the property is to be managed on a daily basis, who is to be responsible for that management and limits of authority on amongst other things, incurring costs on behalf of the collective.
If the aim is to tenant the property, it should cover who will deal with the tenant and or managing agent; who has the authority and what is the limit of that authority to make ongoing payments in respect of rates, maintenance or capital expenses, and who will maintain books of accounts and report back to the other co-owners.
By taking the time and effort at the beginning to properly structure a Co-Owners Agreement, all parties will be certain as to their rights and obligations and disputes can be avoided or at the very least mitigated.
This article contains general information only and should not be relied on for detailed advice related to your particular circumstances. Should you require such advice, please contact your lawyer.