The latest property news from Kevin Turner | 27th January

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The first stage of a national electronic conveyancing system is now operating in at least one Australian state.

Queensland’s state minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, says the Property Exchange Australia system, will allow mortgage dealings and releases to be conducted online reducing the process down to minutes rather than the current one or two day turnaround. The state has now joined Victoria and New South Wales in using e-conveyancing for these transactions and marks the first step towards full online processing.

The Minister says a second stage, due for release in 2015, will see lawyers able to complete property transfers for their clients. This means solicitors booking and physically attending settlement day should soon be a thing of the past. And staying in Queensland, first homebuyers shouldn’t be too quick to ignore renovation properties.

The Sunshine State’s $15,000 first homeowners grant has been available to those purchasing newly-built or off-the-plan properties, but Lachlan Walker of Place Advisory points out that many first homebuyers don’t realise the payment also applies to homes that require substantial renovations.

According to the Queensland Government’s website, a substantial renovation involves any structural building work such as replacing or altering foundations, floors, supporting walls, brickwork and roofs, so it pays for first time buyers to check if their purchase meets the criteria. And there’s still options for buyers looking to get in on Sydney’s hot market. According to property researcher, onthehouse, some suburbs haven’t taken off yet and offer investment opportunities.

John Edwards, a consulting analyst for Onthehouse and founder of Residex, says while suburbs that performed well in 2013 have probably seen the majority of their capital gains for this cycle, there are plenty of areas yet to blossom. He notes suburbs such as Green Valley and Camden South are due for their period of strong growth.

Onthehouse have identified the worst performing suburbs for capital gains in Sydney in 2013, and believe these could be at bottom of their growth cycle, so 2014 might be the year of the underdog.