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Dad forced to live in tent amid housing crisis

<p>An Aussie dad is the latest to fall victim to the housing crisis, with soaring rent and low vacancy rates forcing him to live in a tent. </p> <p>Peter Woodforde, 58, has been forced to live makeshift gazebo wrapped in tarps that's set up in an Adelaide park, and while his children know that he is doing it tough, they don't know that he is homeless and living in a tent. </p> <p>The father has yet to tell his kids, who live with their mother, that he's unable to find a suitable place to live as he said that they would be distraught if they found out. </p> <p>He admitted his 15-year-old daughter once told him that it "hurt her" to know her dad was struggling to find a comfortable place to live - but she doesn't know the extent of it. </p> <p>Speaking to <em>7News</em>, Woodforde said it's been difficult not being able to offer his kids a place to sleep. </p> <p>“Every parent wants to give their kids everything they possibly can and wants to give them the best chance of having a good life,” he told the publication. </p> <p>“What I say to them is that this is only temporary, Dad will get back on his feet.</p> <p>“(But) you’re missing out on some golden years ... I help where I can, I might pick them up and drop them off from school, but now they’re too far for me to do that,” he added. </p> <p>"I have to get myself off the street. I have to get my family into a house." </p> <p>Woodforde is sharing his story because he believes that homelessness is in a “state of emergency”,  especially with winter approaching. </p> <p>He is also unsure about whether his makeshift tent will collapse when heavier rain hits, and hopes that more could be done to help these people facing desperate circumstances. </p> <p>“We’re coming into the colder months - what’s the bill going to be for all the health problems that are going to arise out of this?" he said. </p> <p><em>Images: 7News</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Airbnb launches real-life "Up" house - and it actually floats!

<p>Airbnb is taking its latest listing to the sky - literally. </p> <p>The accommodation provider has announced a partnership that will see the iconic house from Pixar's hit film <em>Up</em> being lifted into the air, balloons and all. </p> <p>In their ongoing quest to redefine hospitality, Airbnb has launched a permanent category called “Icons,” which features partnerships with brands and celebrities that promise unforgettable experiences.</p> <p>Suspended over the New Mexico desert with the aid of a crane, the property looks like an exact replica of the home and contains adorable easter eggs from the film - including the Adventure Book. </p> <p>“Icons take you inside worlds that only existed in your imagination — until now,”  Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said in a statement.</p> <p>“As life becomes increasingly digital, we’re focused on bringing more magic into the real world … we’ve created the most extraordinary experiences on Earth." </p> <p>The house offers a stunning view of the desert, which you can enjoy while sitting on replica's of Ellie and Carl's chairs or have breakfast with a view in the kitchen. </p> <p>Alternatively, you could look at the stars while sitting on the front porch - but don't look down because the adventure is out there. </p> <p>Of course there are questions about the logistics of the stay, including plumbing and electricity, but the accommodation giant has assured that the house is “fully functional,” connected to generators and utilities that will be seamlessly managed before and after its flight.</p> <p>Other fantastical listings include a replica of the mansion from the “X-Men ’97” cartoon, a stay at the Ferrari Museum in Italy, and Prince's house that was featured in the legendary film <em>Purple Rain</em>. </p> <p>Check out the <a href="https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/1126185893236246260?_set_bev_on_new_domain=1715826165_M2NkZDdkODdhMjcy&amp;source_impression_id=p3_1715826166_A20M4770EGAtl8AV&amp;modal=PHOTO_TOUR_SCROLLABLE" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Up</em></a> listing here, be warned the sweet listing may make you shed a tear or two. </p> <p><em>Images: Airbnb</em></p> <p> </p>

Real Estate

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Quiet beach town offering $450k job with free house and car

<p>A picturesque beach town in Western Australia has found a creative way to bring jobs to the area: by offering a range of enticing bonuses. </p> <p>The town of Bremer Bay, south-east of Perth, is desperate for healthcare providers to join the small town and have offered a range of persuasive perks to a doctor who would be willing to leave a big city for the job in the regional location. </p> <p>Bremer Bay is next to the Fitzgerald River National Park and nearly 40 minutes away from the closest town. Currently, they only have one temporary doctor; the next permanent GP is in Albany, almost 200 kilometres away, and the town is looking for the "Swiss army knife of doctors" to step up.</p> <p>According to the job listing on Seek, the successful applicant will be granted a rent-free five-bedroom house and a four-wheel drive, on top of a salary of up to $450,000 a year.</p> <p>"Live rent-free in a scenic location, experiencing the true essence of rural Australia," the advertisement reads.</p> <p>"We offer a competitive 70 per cent of Billings or a generous Salary, based on your preference. In addition, you'll enjoy the convenience of a beautiful new 5-bedroom home and 4X4."</p> <p>Applicants must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and be willing to train as a rural generalist.</p> <p>According to the <a title="Australian Institute of Health and Welfare" href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/rural-remote-australians/rural-and-remote-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Australian Institute of Health and Welfare</a>, people living in rural and remote areas have higher rates of hospitalisations, deaths and injury compared to city-dwellers, while also having poorer access to primary health care services.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Our housing system is broken and the poorest Australians are being hardest hit

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-ong-viforj-113482">Rachel Ong ViforJ</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a></em></p> <p>Just when we think the price of rentals could not get any worse, this week’s <a href="https://www.anglicare.asn.au/publications/2023-rental-affordability-snapshot/">Rental Affordability Snapshot</a> by Anglicare has revealed low-income Australians are facing a housing crisis like never before.</p> <p>In fact, if you rely on the <a href="https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/youth-allowance">Youth Allowance</a>, there is not a single rental property across Australia you can afford this week.</p> <h2>How did rental affordability get this bad?</h2> <p>Several post-COVID factors have been blamed, including our preference for <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2023/jun/new-insights-into-the-rental-market.html">more space, the return of international migrants</a>, and <a href="https://www.corelogic.com.au/news-research/news/2023/could-the-peak-in-interest-rates-signal-an-end-to-rising-rents">rising interest rates</a>.</p> <p>However, the rental affordability crisis pre-dates COVID.</p> <p>Affordability has been steadily declining for decades, as successive governments have failed to make shelter more affordable for low-to-moderate income Australians.</p> <h2>The market is getting squeezed at both ends</h2> <p>At the lower end of the rental sector, the growth in the supply of social housing persistently lags behind demand, trending at under <a href="https://povertyandinequality.acoss.org.au/data/annual-growth-rates-social-housing-stock-and-population-2011-2020/">one-third</a> the rate of population growth.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="OA0cS" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/OA0cS/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>This has forced growing numbers of low-income Australians to seek shelter in the private rental sector, where they face intense competition from higher-income renters.</p> <p>At the upper end, more and more aspiring home buyers are getting <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03085147.2021.2003086">locked out</a> of home ownership.</p> <p>A recent <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/sites/default/files/documents/2024-02/AHURI-Final-Report-416-Affordable-private-rental-supply-and-demand-short-term-disruption.pdf">study</a> found more households with higher incomes are now renting.</p> <p>Households earning <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/sites/default/files/documents/2024-02/AHURI-Final-Report-416-Affordable-private-rental-supply-and-demand-short-term-disruption.pdf">$140,000</a> a year or more (in 2021 dollars) accounted for just 8% of private renters in 1996. By 2021, this tripled to 24%. No doubt, this crowds out lower-income households who are now facing a shortage of affordable homes to rent.</p> <h2>Why current policies are not working</h2> <p>Worsening affordability in the private rental sector highlights a housing system that is broken. Current policies just aren’t working.</p> <p>While current policies focus on supply, more work is needed including fixing <a href="https://theconversation.com/governments-are-pouring-money-into-housing-but-materials-land-and-labour-are-still-in-short-supply-205471">labour shortages</a> and providing greater <a href="https://theconversation.com/people-want-and-need-more-housing-choice-its-about-time-governments-stood-up-to-deliver-it-122390">stock diversity</a>.</p> <p>The planning system plays a critical role and <a href="https://theconversation.com/confusing-and-not-delivering-enough-developers-and-councils-want-new-affordable-housing-rules-139762">zoning rules</a> can be reformed to support the supply of more affordable options.</p> <p>However, the housing affordability challenge is not solely a supply problem. There is also a need to respond to the <a href="https://theconversation.com/home-prices-are-climbing-alright-but-not-for-the-reason-you-might-think-158776">super-charged demand</a> in the property market.</p> <p>An overheated market will undoubtedly place intense pressure on the rental sector because aspiring first home buyers are forced to rent for longer, as house prices soar at a rate unmatched by their wages.</p> <p>Yet, governments continue to resist calls for winding back the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-15/ken-henry-australias-tax-system-in-worse-position-after-15-years/103465044">generous tax concessions</a> enjoyed by multi-property owners.</p> <p>The main help available to low-income private renters - the Commonwealth Rent Assistance scheme - is <a href="https://theconversation.com/1-billion-per-year-or-less-could-halve-rental-housing-stress-146397">poorly targeted</a> with nearly one in five low-income renters who are in rental stress deemed ineligible, while another one in four receive it despite not being in rental stress.</p> <h2>Can affordable housing occur naturally?</h2> <p>Some commentators support the theory of <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/sites/default/files/documents/2022-09/Executive-Summary-FR387-Filtering-as-a-source-of-low-income-housing-in-Australia-conceptualisation-and-testing.pdf">filtering</a> - a market-based process by which the supply of new dwellings in more expensive segments creates additional supply of dwellings for low-income households as high-income earners vacate their former dwellings.</p> <p>Proponents of filtering argue building more housing anywhere - even in wealthier ends of the property market - will eventually improve affordability across the board because lower priced housing will trickle down to the poorest households.</p> <p>However, the persistent affordability crisis low-income households face and the rise in homelessness are crucial signs filtering <a href="https://cloud.3dissue.com/122325/122578/143598/WhyNewSupplyisnotExpandingHousingOptionsfortheHomeless/html5/index.html?page=1&amp;noflash">does not work well</a> and <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/sites/default/files/documents/2022-09/AHURI-Final-Report-387-Filtering-as-a-source-of-low-income-housing-in-Australia-conceptualisation-and-testing.pdf">cannot be relied upon</a> to produce lower cost housing.</p> <h2>Location, location, location</h2> <p>Location does matter, if we expect building new housing to work for low-income individuals.</p> <p>What is needed is a steady increase of affordable, quality housing in areas offering low-income renters the same access to jobs and amenities as higher-income households.</p> <p>The <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/housing-policy/accord#:%7E:text=The%20Accord%20includes%20an%20initial,5%20years%20from%20mid%E2%80%912024.">National Housing Accord</a> aims to deliver 1.2 million new dwellings over five years from mid-2024. But it must ensure these are “well-located” for people who need affordable housing, as suggested in the accord.</p> <p>Recent <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673037.2023.229051">modelling</a> shows unaffordable housing and poor neighbourhoods both negatively affect mental health, reinforcing the need to provide both affordable and well-located housing.</p> <h2>The upcoming budget</h2> <p>While the <a href="https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2023/payments-cra_budget_fact_sheet_fa_0.pdf">15% increase</a> in the maximum rent assistance rate was welcomed in the last budget, the program is long overdue for a major restructure to target those in rental stress.</p> <p>Also, tax concessions on second properties should be wound back to reduce competition for those struggling to buy their first home. This would eventually help ease affordability pressures on low-income renters as more higher-income renters <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-8454.12335">shift into homeownership</a>.</p> <p>The potential negative impacts on rental supply can be mitigated by careful design of tax and other changes that guard against market destabilisation concerns.</p> <p>Overall, housing affordability solutions have to be multi-faceted. The housing system is badly broken and meaningful repair cannot be achieved unless policymakers are willing to confront both supply and demand challenges.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228511/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-ong-viforj-113482">Rachel Ong ViforJ</a>, ARC Future Fellow &amp; Professor of Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/our-housing-system-is-broken-and-the-poorest-australians-are-being-hardest-hit-228511">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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World's most expensive house up for sale

<p>A French chateau, once owned by a member of the Rothschild family and, later on, the King of Morocco, has gone up for sale with a £363 million (AU$699) price tag. </p> <p>Chateau d’Armainvilliers located at Seine-et-Marne, 48km east of the Eiffel Tower, is the world's most expensive home. </p> <p>Built upon the foundations of a 12th century castle, the sprawling mansion boasts 1,000 hectares of land, 100 rooms across 2,500 square metres of living space, a private lake, and plenty of sequoia trees - the largest trees in the world. </p> <p>Ignace Meuwissen, a self-acclaimed "real estate advisor to the global elite" described the property as a display of "opulence and grandeur".</p> <p>"It is the most expensive castle in France and perhaps in the world. The price of €425million is justified by the property itself but also by the 1,000 hectare land which offers numerous possibilities," he told Paris Match magazine. </p> <p>"An investor could build thousands of apartments there if he wanted."</p> <p>The chateau was first bought by the Rothschild banking empird in the late 19th century, before King Hassan II of Morocco bought it in the 1980s. </p> <p>He then made the chateau more fit for a king, adding a hammam spa, a beauty and hairdressing salon, and a fully-equipped medical and dental facility.</p> <p>The Moroccan King  also added a basement level, which has a network of tunnels, kitchens, cold rooms, storage spaces and staff quarters.</p> <p>The lucky owner will also find Moroccan mosaics and wall tiles decorating the home, and for any avid equestrians, the home also has a stable big enough for 50 horses. </p> <p>However, some luxury property agents have expressed their doubts on whether the property would sell with its nine-figure sum, with one saying it was an "unrealistic" price tag. </p> <p>"It doesn’t make sense, it’s absurd Properties of this type could sell for 20-25 million, or even 30 million if we really fall in love with them. I’m not even sure that Vaux-le-Vicomte (a Baroque French château), which has no marketing plans, would sell at this price," one agent told French real estate publication <em>Le Figaro Immobilier</em>.</p> <p>Others were unsure whether the changes made by the King in the 1980s would suit modern tastes. </p> <p><em>Images: Whisper Auctions</em></p>

Real Estate

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If you squat in a vacant property, does the law give you the house for free? Well, sort of

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cathy-sherry-466">Cathy Sherry</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>Nothing excites law students like the idea of a free house. Or alternatively, enrages them. It depends on their politics. As a result, academics condemned to teaching property law find it hard to resist the “<a href="https://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/MelbULawRw/2011/28.html">doctrine of adverse possession</a>”. The fact that a person can change the locks on someone else’s house, wait 12 years, and claim it as their own, makes students light up in a way that the Strata Schemes Management Act never will.</p> <p>The idea of “squatters’ rights” has received a lot of media attention recently amid the grim reality of the Australian housing market. It fuels commentators such as Jordan van den Berg, who <a href="https://www.instagram.com/purplepingers/">critiques bad landlords</a> on social media. Casting back to his days as a law student, <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/article/jordan-was-fed-up-with-australias-empty-houses-his-proposal-has-led-to-death-threats/stx6rv6fl">he’s promoting</a> the doctrine of adverse possession as a way of making use of vacant properties.</p> <p>As interesting as the doctrine is, it has little relevance in modern Australia. While it is necessary to limit the time someone has to bring legal proceedings to recover land – typically 12 or 15 years, depending on which state you’re in – most people don’t need that long to notice someone else is living in their house. If a family member is occupying a home that someone else has inherited or a tenant refuses to vacate at the end of a lease, owners tend to bring actions to recover their land pronto.</p> <p>So where did this doctrine come from, and what has it meant in practice?</p> <h2>Free house fetching millions</h2> <p>In unusual circumstances, people can lose track of their own land.</p> <p>Just before the second world war, Henry Downie moved out of his house in the Sydney suburb of Ashbury. Downie died a decade later, but his will was never administered. At the time of his death, a Mrs Grimes rented the house and did so for a further 50 years. Downie’s next of kin did not realise they had inherited the house or that they were Grimes’s landlord.</p> <p>Grimes died in 1998 and Bill Gertos, a property developer, saw the house was vacant. He changed the locks, did some repairs, then leased the house and paid the rates for the next 17 years. He then made an application under <a href="https://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/rpa1900178/s45d.html">NSW property laws</a> to become the registered proprietor. At this point, Downie’s next of kin became aware they may have been entitled to the property and disputed Gertos’s claim.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/nsw/NSWSC/2018/1629.html">court held</a> Gertos had been “in possession” of the property since the late 1990s. The next of kin had a legal right to eject him, but they had failed to do so within the statutory time limit of 12 years. Gertos had the best claim to the house. He <a href="https://www.domain.com.au/6-malleny-street-ashbury-nsw-2193-2015821514">promptly sold it</a> for A$1.4 million.</p> <p>Outrageous as this may seem, the law encourages caring for land. If you fail to take responsibility for your land, and someone else does, you can lose it.</p> <h2>An old English tradition</h2> <p>Gertos’s jackpot was unusual, and adverse possession has always been more relevant in a country like England.</p> <p>First, for much of English history, many people did not have documentary title (deeds) to their land. People were illiterate, parchment was expensive, and documents could disappear in a puff of smoke in a house fire. The law often had to rely on people’s physical possession of land as proof of ownership.</p> <p>Second, as a result of feudalism, vast swathes of England were owned by the aristocracy. They and their 20th-century successors in title, often local councils, had a habit of forgetting they owned five suburbs in London.</p> <p>In the post second world war housing crisis, thousands of families, and later young people and students, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b017cfv4">squatted in vacant houses</a> owned by public and private landlords who lacked the means or motivation to maintain them.</p> <h2>A sign of the times</h2> <p>In contrast, in Australia, for most of our settler history, governments of all political persuasions actively prevented the emergence of a landed class.</p> <p>But now, courtesy of tax policies that <a href="https://www.quarterlyessay.com.au/essay/2023/11/the-great-divide">encourage investment</a> in residential real estate, we have a landlord class of Baby Boomer and Gen X investors. That has caused housing market stress as younger people cannot make the natural transition from being renters to homeowners. They are outbid by older, wealthier buyers whose tax benefits from negative gearing increase with every dollar they borrow to buy an investment property.</p> <p>Money flowing into the market then means that landlords’ greatest benefit is capital gain rather than income, and thanks to John Howard, investors pay <a href="https://theconversation.com/stranger-than-fiction-who-labors-capital-gains-tax-changes-will-really-hurt-109657">no tax</a> on half of that gain.</p> <p>Finally, an almost exclusive reliance by government on the <a href="https://australiainstitute.org.au/post/for-more-affordable-housing-we-need-more-public-housing/">private sector</a> to provide new homes – which it will only do if it is making a profit – has left many people in deep housing stress.</p> <p>While squatters in Australia are likely to find themselves swiftly subject to court orders for ejection, van den Berg’s rallying cry indicates just how inequitable the housing market has become. Baby Boomers and Gen X should be on notice – young people want their housing back. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/227556/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cathy-sherry-466"><em>Cathy Sherry</em></a><em>, Professor in Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-you-squat-in-a-vacant-property-does-the-law-give-you-the-house-for-free-well-sort-of-227556">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Australia's oldest person bids farewell to iconic beach house

<p>In a heartwarming tale that speaks to the enduring love for cherished places and the passing of generational torches, Marija Ruljancich, Australia's oldest person, has bid farewell to her beloved holiday retreat.</p> <p>The Sorrento pile, nestled on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, has found new hands, marking the end of an era and the dawn of a promising new chapter.</p> <p>Marija, who reached the remarkable milestone of 110 years in 2023, has been the guardian of this beachside haven for countless years. With its origins tracing back to 1960, when it was designed by the esteemed architect Daryl Jackson AO for local businessman Robert Riley, the house has stood as a testament to timeless design and cherished memories.</p> <p>The sale of this iconic property has not only captured the attention of locals but also stirred the hearts of many across the nation. Despite its undisclosed transaction sum, it's understood that the sale falls within the property's estimated range, a fitting exchange for a home steeped in history and affection.</p> <p>What truly warms the soul is the buyer's commitment to honouring the legacy of Riley House. With plans to restore the dwelling to its original glory, there's a palpable sense of joy and relief within Marija's family. The Melbourne-based buyer, driven by a passion for preserving architectural heritage, sees beyond the bricks and mortar; they envision a continuation of the house's story, enriched by their own memories and experiences.</p> <p>As Liz Jensen of Kay & Burton Portsea recounts the emotional journey of the sale, it's evident that this isn't merely a transaction; it's a celebration of life, love, and the power of preservation. </p> <p>"Congratulations to Australia’s oldest living person," Liz wrote on Instagram, "as today she successfully sells her long-held and much loved Sorrento mid century beachside family holiday home designed by Architect Daryl Jackson AO."</p> <p>The buyer's dedication to retaining even the smallest details, such as the built-in speaker nestled within the dining room cupboard, speaks volumes about their reverence for the past and their vision for the future.</p> <p>Amid whispers of demolishing the home, the decision to uphold its structure stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of community and connection. For those who walked through its halls during inspections, the house isn't just a property; it's a repository of memories, a canvas upon which stories of old Sorrento are painted with every creaking floorboard and whispering breeze.</p> <p>For Marija and her family, and for all those who have been touched by its charm, the legacy lives on – a timeless reminder of the beauty found in preserving the past while embracing the promise of tomorrow.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram | </em><em>Kay & Burton Portsea</em></p>

Real Estate

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Homeowner fined just $667 over fire that killed six people

<p>A homeowner has been slapped with a fine for smoke alarm failure after a house fire killed six people. </p> <p>The 61-year-old woman has been forced to pay just $667 for failing to install legally required and compliant smoke alarms, after a father and his five children died in the property due to a deadly house fire. </p> <p>Donna Rose Beadel was the owner of the home on Russell Island where Wayne Godinet, 34, and his five sons were residing in August 2023. </p> <p>The house was engulfed in flames, also destroying two neighbouring homes and leaving several people needing treatment for minor burns and smoke inhalation, while the children's mother Samantha Stephenson, and another woman survived the blaze. </p> <p>Cleveland magistrate Deborah Vasta handed down the maximum fine of $667.25 to Ms Beadel for failing to comply with smoke alarm legislation, saying, "It seems a pittance, however it's not for me to comment on the laws."</p> <p>"It's absolutely no excuse that she failed to keep abreast of the laws required of an investment property owner in having the premises legally wired with smoke detectors after January 2022," Vasta said.</p> <p>The fine comes just weeks after the children's grandmother claimed her daughter had "begged" their landlord to <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/major-claim-in-investigation-into-deadly-house-fire-that-killed-five-children" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fix</a> the smoke alarms in the house.</p> <p>When Ms Beadel was charged for her involvement in the tragedy, Rebecca Stephenson claimed that her daughter had spoken to the landlord about updating the smoke alarms in the property just one week before the fire. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine</em></p>

Legal

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Elevating tradition: La Traviata at the Sydney Opera House

<p>Opera Australia is set to enchant audiences as it opens its highly anticipated 2024 season with the Sydney premiere of Sarah Giles’ acclaimed production of Verdi’s timeless masterpiece, <em>La Traviata</em>. The curtains will rise on January 2nd at the iconic Joan Sutherland Theatre in the Sydney Opera House, promising an unforgettable journey into the world of love, sacrifice and redemption.</p> <p>Hailed as "an absolute triumph" by <em>The AU Review</em> and described as "audaciously new" by <em>InReview</em>, this co-production by Opera Queensland, State Opera South Australia and West Australian Opera promises to deliver the quintessential glamour of <em>La Traviata</em> while offering a fresh, female perspective. Director Sarah Giles skilfully brings the inner turmoil of Violetta to the forefront, shedding light on the harsh realities and heartaches of her life as a courtesan.</p> <p>Enhancing the narrative, Charles Davis' masterful set design delves into Violetta's public and private spheres, while his costumes brilliantly capture the opulent world of lavish parties and extravagance synonymous with <em>La Traviata</em>.</p> <p>For the first time, the award-winning conductor Jessica Cottis will take the baton, leading the Opera Australia Orchestra and the celebrated Opera Australia Chorus through Verdi's emotionally stirring score. Audiences can anticipate spine-tingling renditions of iconic pieces such as the lively "Brindisi" and the achingly beautiful "Sempre libera".</p> <p>Taking centre stage as Violetta, Australian soprano Samantha Clarke, fresh from a string of successful debuts in prestigious venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is set to mesmerise audiences with her poignant portrayal. Joining her are the talented Australian-Chinese tenor Kang Wang, reprising the role of Alfredo, and New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes, making his Opera Australia debut as Giorgio Germont.</p> <p>As the season progresses, rising Australian soprano Sophie Salvesani will step into the shoes of Violetta, a role she previously captivated audiences with in 2022. Alongside her, Australian tenor Tomas Dalton returns as Alfredo, while baritone Luke Gabbedy, fresh from his acclaimed performance in OA's five-star production of the <em>Ring Cycle</em> in Brisbane, graces the stage as Giorgio Germont.</p> <p>Prepare to be swept away by the passion, drama, and timeless melodies of <em>La Traviata</em>, as Opera Australia invites you to experience this unforgettable journey of love and sacrifice, reimagined for a new era.</p> <p>Don't miss your chance to witness this exquisite production at the Sydney Opera House, from January 2nd to March 16th, 2024. For more information, <a href="https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/opera-australia/2024-season/la-traviata" target="_blank" rel="noopener">click here</a>.</p>

Art

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What is negative gearing and what is it doing to housing affordability?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-cull-340911">Michelle Cull</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p>Australia’s housing crisis is putting the <a href="https://www.mortgagechoice.com.au/guides/what-is-the-great-australian-dream/">Australian dream</a> to own one’s home out of reach for many.</p> <p>But it’s not just <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/home-ownership-and-housing-tenure">home ownership</a> that has been affected. Rental affordability has also become a serious issue. This has reignited the debate about negative gearing; whether or not it is fair and whether it holds the key to fixing the housing crisis.</p> <h2>What is negative gearing?</h2> <p><a href="https://treasury.gov.au/review/tax-white-paper/negative-gearing">Negative gearing</a> refers to using borrowed money to invest in an asset so it results in a loss which can be claimed as a tax deduction against other income. For example, a property investment is negatively geared if the net rental income received is lower than the mortgage interest. The loss is then offset against other income, such as wages and salaries, which reduces the amount of income tax payable.</p> <p>Negative gearing is commonly used for property investments but also applies to other investments (such as shares). Investments can also be positively geared when net income from the investment is more than the interest on borrowings.</p> <p>The attractiveness of negative gearing in Australia is mainly due to its ability to reduce the amount of income tax. For this reason, it can be more beneficial to individuals who are on higher marginal tax rates. However, capital gains tax must be paid on any gain when the asset is sold.</p> <h2>How does negative gearing work?</h2> <p>Let’s look at a simple example of negative gearing. Say an investment property was rented to tenants at A$500 a week ($26,000 a year), and associated expenses (such as agent fees, rates, mortgage interest, maintenance) were $40,000 for the year. This leaves a shortfall of $14,000.</p> <p>The property owner can deduct the $14,000 from their taxable income to reduce their liability. For example if they received $100,000 from wages, they would pay tax on only $86,000 (saving $4,550 in income tax). Individuals on higher incomes and therefore higher marginal tax rates would receive larger tax deductions (for example, someone earning over $180,001 would pay $6,300 less tax).</p> <p>While negative gearing an investment property can reduce tax while it is being rented, it can also result in a large <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/investments-and-assets/capital-gains-tax/what-is-capital-gains-tax">capital gains tax</a> bill once the property is sold (even though capital gains tax is halved for assets held for more than 12 months).</p> <p>For example, if the cost base for a property purchased ten years ago was $400,000 and it sells for $900,000 today, capital gains tax would be calculated on half of the $500,000 difference. At a marginal rate of 45%, the tax bill would be $112,500.</p> <h2>How widespread is it in Australia?</h2> <p>According to the <a href="https://data.gov.au/data/dataset/taxation-statistics-2020-21">Australian Taxation Office</a>, about 2.25 million individual tax payers (21% of all individual tax payers) claimed deductions against rental income for a total 3.25 million properties in 2020-21 financial year.</p> <p>Of these, 47% negatively geared their properties, claiming a net rental loss. This is equivalent to just less than 10% of all taxpayers. Investors with fewer properties were more likely to be using negative gearing with over 71% of property investors having only one investment property.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="Wv9lV" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/Wv9lV/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>The largest group of property investors (524,220) had one investment property and a total annual taxable income between $50,001 and $100,000. The chart above shows the proportion of property investors by age group.</p> <p>From 2016-2017 to 2020-2021, the total net rental income on property investments in Australia went from a loss of $3.3 billion to a gain of $3.1 billion (as you can see from the chart below).</p> <p>For the same period, the proportion of investors negatively gearing their properties dropped from 58% to 47%, as lower interest rates reduced losses.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="fXnoe" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/fXnoe/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>Negative gearing is also becoming less attractive with the government’s recent changes to <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/tax-cuts">tax brackets and marginal tax rates</a>. According to a study conducted by <a href="https://www.pexa.com.au/staticly-media/2023/03/Whitepaper-2-Private-renting-in-Australia-a-broken-system_compressed-sm-1679450145.pdf">LongView and PEXA</a>, 60% of property investors would be financially better off if they instead put their money into a superannuation fund.</p> <h2>When was it introduced?</h2> <p>Negative gearing has been allowed under tax laws since 1936. It was thought it would encourage investment in housing and increase supply.</p> <p>However, debate around its impact on housing affordability led the government to partially abolish it in 1985 by not allowing rental property losses to reduce tax on other sources of income.</p> <p>There was a shortage of housing and rents rose during the two years it was abolished. As a result, in 1987, negative gearing was reinstated and capital gains tax legislation was introduced.</p> <h2>Is it used in other countries?</h2> <p>Canada, Germany, Japan and Norway use negative gearing. In Finland, France and the United States, rental losses can offset future rental income only. In the US, <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p936#en_US_2023_publink1000229891">home owners are entitled</a> to claim a tax deduction for mortgage interest on their own home.</p> <p>The use and benefit of negative gearing depends upon all aspects of a country’s tax system. So although it may be attractive in countries with high marginal tax rates, other taxes such as capital gains tax, land tax and stamp duties may reduce its appeal.</p> <h2>Negative gearing’s impact on housing affordability</h2> <p>Many factors affect the cost of housing, including interest rates, inflation, employment, the overall taxation system and population growth, making housing affordability a complex issue.</p> <p><a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/nz-kills-tax-loophole-on-property-to-slow-soaring-house-prices-20210323-p57d9s.html">In New Zealand, negative gearing is being phased out</a> due to its impact on housing prices.</p> <p>However, unlike Australia, New Zealand does not have capital gains tax, making negative gearing more popular and more likely to impact housing prices. In addition to phasing out negative gearing, the New Zealand government <a href="https://www.hud.govt.nz/our-work/public-housing-plan/">increased the supply of public housing</a> and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-25/nz-auckland-house-supply-experiment-results-in-dramatic-change/102846126">relaxed zoning regulations</a> to provide more affordable housing.</p> <p>In Australia, however, there are concerns abolishing negative gearing will cause rents to rise, as they did in the 1980s. More innovative approaches to housing affordability are needed to ensure ample supply of property for first home buyers and tenants.</p> <p>Some consideration could be given to allowing first home buyers to claim a tax deduction for mortgage interest, increasing capital gains tax, limiting the number or type of investment properties held, capping rent increases, or more infrastructure investment from the government for first home buyers and social housing.</p> <p>One or more of these measures would be a step in the right direction. Negative gearing on its own is not the answer to housing affordability. The whole system needs an overhaul, with a combination of measures needed to adequately address affordability, for now and for future generations.</p> <p>Taking no action will put home ownership out of reach for even more Australians.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223823/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-cull-340911"><em>Michelle Cull</em></a><em>, Associate professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-negative-gearing-and-what-is-it-doing-to-housing-affordability-223823">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Major claim in investigation into deadly house fire that killed five children

<p>The grandmother of five children who died alongside their father in a tragic house fire has spoken out, claiming her daughter had "begged" their landlord to fix the smoke alarms in the house.</p> <p>In August last year, Wayne Godinet, 34, died along with his four-year-old twins Kyza and Koa, his three-year-old son Nicky, and his stepsons Zack, 11, and Harry, 10, in a <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/news/news/6-beautiful-souls-family-break-silence-after-tragic-house-fire" target="_blank" rel="noopener">horrific blaze</a> in Queensland's Russell Island. </p> <p>Mr Godinet and his sons became trapped upstairs of the two storey home after he raced back into the house to save them, while the children's mother, Samantha Stephenson, 28, and her sister were able to escape the fire.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the owner of the rental property, 61-year-old Donna Rose Beadel, was charged by police over her alleged involvement in the tragedy.</p> <p>The family has spoken out in anger, with the grandmother of the five boys, Rebecca Stephenson, claiming that her daughter had spoken to the landlord about updating the smoke alarms in the property just one week before the fire. </p> <p>Ms Stephenson told the Courier Mail, “The week before it happened, Sam texted the landlady and asked for the smoke alarms to be updated.”</p> <p>She claims she knew of at least three times her daughter had asked for the smoke alarms to be fixed.</p> <p>“It was the first thing you noticed when you walked into the house, a smoke alarm hanging from the ceiling and then a marking of one in the kitchen that had been painted over,” she added.</p> <p>Police allege that Ms Beadel's property did not have compliant smoke alarms when the fire broke out, with police further alleging that she wasn’t present when the fire occurred.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Legal

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Tiny ancient Christmas tree sells for thousands

<p>One of the world's first mass-produced Christmas trees has sold at auction for a whopping 56 times higher than its original purchase price. </p> <p>The tree was first bought in 1920 for just six pence, and was snapped up at the auction in England by an anonymous buyer for £3,400, or $6,433 AUD. </p> <p>The tree was described by the auctioneer as “the humblest Christmas tree in the world”, measuring just 79cm in height, boasting 25 branches, 12 berries and six mini candle holders.</p> <p>The tree sits in a small, red-painted wooden base with a simple decorative emblem.</p> <p>The Christmas tree was first bought by the family of eight-year-old Dorothy Grant in 1920, with Dorothy using it as her tree until she passed away at the age of 101. </p> <p>The tree is believed to have been bought from Woolworths, with Grant decorating the tree as a child with cotton wool to mimic snow, given that baubles were considered a luxury at the time.</p> <p>After Grant's passing in 2014, the charming tree was passed down to her daughter Shirley Hall, who was "parting with the tree now to honour her mother's memory and to ensure it survives as a humble reminder of 1920s life". </p> <p>It was expected to sell for between £60 and £80 (between $110 and $150 AUD) but was bought for the astonishing price of £3,411 when it went under the hammer at Hansons auctioneers on Friday.</p> <p>Charles Hanson, the owner of Hansons and a regular guest on the BBC’s <em>Bargain Hunt</em> said, “This is one of the earliest Christmas trees of its type we have seen. The humblest Christmas tree in the world has a new home and we’re delighted for both buyer and seller … I think it’s down to the power of nostalgia. Dorothy’s story resonated with people.”</p> <p>He added, “As simple as it was, Dorothy loved that tree. It became a staple part of family celebrations for decades. The fact that it brought such joy to Dorothy is humbling in itself. It reminds us that extravagance and excess are not required to capture the spirit of Christmas. For Dorothy it was enough to have a tree."</p> <p>“Some of the first artificial Christmas trees utilised machinery which had been designed to manufacture toilet brushes. The waste-not, want-not generations of old are still teaching us an important lesson about valuing the simple things and not replacing objects just for the sake of it."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Hansons Auctioneers</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Liam Neeson filming new movie in tiny Aussie town

<p>The quaint, gorgeous historic Victorian town of Walhalla is gearing up for its moment in the cinematic spotlight as it gets set to become the backdrop for Liam Neeson's upcoming blockbuster sequel, <em>Ice Road 2: Road To The Sky</em>.</p> <p>Yes, apparently, the road to the sky involves a detour through rural Australia. </p> <p>Residents of Walhalla received a letter announcing the impending movie magic, and it's safe to say they're experiencing a mixture of excitement and confusion akin to trying to follow the plot of a Christopher Nolan epic.</p> <p>According to reports, the filmmakers are turning Walhalla into a bona fide Nepalese village. The town's Star Hotel and surrounding areas are getting a makeover to mimic Kodari, Nepal. Now, if you're wondering where Walhalla is on the map, don't worry, you're not alone. Even the residents seem a bit perplexed, with one local commenting online, "Interesting that this is going ahead at the height of our tourist season." Because, naturally, when you think tourist hotspots, you think Walhalla.</p> <p>But fear not, dear residents, for the filmmakers have assured everyone that after their Himalayan escapade, Walhalla will return to its original heritage colours. It's like the town is getting a cinematic spa day, complete with a paint job.</p> <p>Filming is set to take place at two main locations: the intersection of Main Rd and Right Hand Branch Rd and the top of Churchill Rd above the Fire Station Museum. And oh boy, get ready for some action, because the letter states, "During the filming period, there will be stunts involving large vehicles, special effects and prop gun use."</p> <p>Walhalla, known for its scenic beauty and historic charm, is about to witness the fusion of Hollywood glitz and Nepalese grit.</p> <p>Of course, not everyone is on board with this Hollywood invasion. One local expressed concern about the impact on other businesses in town, suggesting, "This would have been much better slotted into the quiet time in August." Clearly, they're not buying into the idea that summer is the best time for a Nepalese makeover.</p> <p>But fear not, skeptics! Another resident pointed out that the influx of up to 200 crew members per day will be a boon for local shops. "What a great thing for the area," they declared. And who can argue with that logic? Imagine the crew swarming the pub, devouring schnitties and downing pints of Carlton lager. This could be the most Aussie-Nepalese fusion experience since Vegemite momos.</p> <p>As the charming town of Walhalla braces itself for the coming storm of movie magic, we can't help but wonder: Will Liam Neeson's next iconic line be, "I will find you, even if I have to navigate the treacherous roads of rural Australia"? Buckle up, Walhalla, because the road to the sky might just be a detour through down under.</p> <p><em>Images: Visit Victoria / Netflix</em></p>

Movies

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Tiny chihuahua saves 90-year-old woman with heroic act

<p>In the world of unlikely heroes, step aside Batman, move over Superman, because Minnie the Chihuahua cross is here to steal the spotlight.</p> <p>This petite pooch from Kingston, in the South Australia's southeast, has recently been showered with praise for her unexpected, life-saving antics.</p> <p>Picture this: Minnie, a little dog with a heart as big as her bark, not particularly keen on hugs, found herself in a situation that required more than just a wag of her tail.</p> <p>On that fateful Friday, December 1, Minnie noticed that her 90-year-old owner, Joyce Gibbs, was in a bit of a pickle – struggling to catch a breath. Now, most dogs might just tilt their heads in confusion (you can picture it) or fetch a chew toy, but not Minnie.</p> <p>Untrained in any form of medical assistance, Minnie decided to take matters into her own paws. Whether by sheer luck or by innate instinct, the canine prodigy leaped onto Joyce’s lap and – brace yourselves –  <em>pressed the medical alert device hanging around her neck</em>. Yes, you heard that right; she hit the SOS button, sending out a message that would make any emergency service scramble into action.</p> <p>Lyn Gibbs, Joyce’s daughter, expressed her astonishment, “Minnie never jumps up in that chair when mum is in it..." she <a href="https://7news.com.au/news/chihuahua-praised-for-saving-90-year-old-south-australian-owner-struggling-to-breathe-c-12821344" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told 7News</a>. "Minnie knew she needed help, so she jumped up, trying to help her.”</p> <p>A stroke of genius? An incredibly lucky accident? Either way, Minnie became the the hero of the moment, saving the day like a furry little Avenger.</p> <p>As Joyce found herself in the hospital grappling with Rhinovirus, Minnie continued to be her unwavering companion. Doctors predicted a three-week recovery period, but after only four days, Joyce was back home, thanks to the vigilant care of her four-legged saviour.</p> <p>Lyn couldn’t help but gush about Minnie’s dedication, “Minnie’s been so good from the day I got her... she’s the best dog... she doesn’t leave her side.” Move over Florence Nightingale; we’ve got Minnie, the dedicated dog nurse, taking care of business.</p> <p>This heartwarming tale isn’t just about Minnie’s heroics; it’s a reminder of the importance of those pesky but life-saving medical alert devices. As Lyn says: “The medical alert is just so important for old people... a lot of them won’t wear them. They put them on the cupboard or on the table, but you really need them at all times, especially in the shower.”</p> <p>So, take heed: wear your devices and maybe, just maybe, you'll have a four-legged hero by your side, ready to leap into action when you least expect it.</p> <p>In a world where a Chihuahua can be the difference between a close call and catastrophe, we salute you, Minnie, for proving that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.</p> <p><em>Images: 7News</em></p>

Caring

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9 things you should never touch in someone else’s house

<p><strong>A hands-off approach</strong></p> <p>Nothing like a global pandemic to critically alter your lifelong and intrinsic sanitary practices, huh? And while we know coronavirus does not spread easily from surfaces, there are still plenty of other germs and bacteria that do. And it’s not always a matter of good hygiene – sometimes it’s just a matter of good manners!</p> <p><strong>The door </strong></p> <p>Of course, you can actually touch the door, but you should never do so to let yourself into someone else’s home without them, or without being invited. Always knock or ring the bell, even if it’s been left unlocked, unless someone has expressly told you that you don’t have to.</p> <p>And please, don’t show up knocking earlier than expected – it could be a huge inconvenience to your host.</p> <p><strong>Their bathroom </strong></p> <p>As with most of the things on this list, you should avoid this unless you’re specifically invited. Try not to stray after your trip to the bathroom for a look around – it’s definitely off-limits if you don’t have permission or are going in without your host knowing. Of course, there are exceptions, as it may not be so serious an offence if you know the person very well, or if one lives in a shared living space, a studio, or an apartment with limited space.</p> <p>And on that note, it’s best to wait until you’re invited to sit or relax on someone’s bed. Many people also find that a bedroom is a convenient place to store coats if there are guests coming over, but wait until they offer instead of assuming it’s OK.</p> <p><strong>The floor - with your shoes on</strong></p> <p>Depending on personal preferences or cultural norms, many households have a no-shoes-inside policy. Take the tip from your host – if they’re wearing shoes in their house, you can probably assume it’s OK for you. When in doubt, ask what they would prefer.</p> <p>Another place you shouldn’t be putting your feet? On the couch or coffee table. I can think of five good reasons you should ban shoes in the house, period.</p> <p><strong>The fridge and cupboards </strong></p> <p>This one might sound like it should go without saying, but some might not realize just how rude it is to help yourself to someone else’s food. If you’re hungry, let your host know, or suggest going out to eat. If you’re staying for a long time, your host will probably prepare and shop for food accordingly, but it’s a good idea to offer to bring or buy some groceries yourself. And if you came for dinner, eat what’s been prepared for you, and offer to bring a dish or wine to share.</p> <p>If you have a restricted diet, let your host know beforehand and prepare a dish to bring if it’s difficult to accommodate. Offer to help cook, and lend a hand with the dishes and cleanup. Countertops are absolutely one of those things you should be cleaning every day, regardless.</p> <p><strong>The windows or thermostat</strong></p> <p>Always let your hosts set the thermostat number – it’s their house, after all, and they’re the ones paying the bill for it. If you’re really too cold, a better option might be to ask to borrow a jumper, or extra blankets if you’ll be staying overnight.</p> <p>Too hot? Suggest an activity to help cool off, like going to a place with air conditioning. If you have a medical condition that makes you particularly sensitive to heat or cold, you should always inform your host ahead of time so you can make plans accordingly.</p> <p><strong>Drawers and cabinets</strong></p> <p>This one is definitely invasive of your host’s privacy. Don’t go rummaging for anything that’s not in plain sight or in the rooms your host is expecting you in. You might find it tempting to snoop, but the medicine cabinet is certainly off-limits.</p> <p><strong>Workspaces, mail, or bills</strong></p> <p>To go along with the last one, it’s always best to avoid snooping. In some homes, a guest bedroom might also double as a home office, so steer clear of using these spaces to store your things. You have no idea how they might have organised their things, so try to leave it as is. Not going through someone’s mail is basic manners!</p> <p><strong>Cigarettes or e-cigarettes </strong></p> <p>Unless your host is doing the same and gives you permission, you should never, ever start smoking a cigarette or e-cigarette in someone’s home. This rule is especially inflexible if there are children in the house. Not only can you expose them to the harmful ingredients and chemicals in cigarettes, but the effects – and the smell – can linger long after you’re gone.</p> <p>If you can’t wait, excuse yourself to go outside, and try to move away from doors and windows so it doesn’t waft into the house. Removing the cigarette and cigar smell is quite the cumbersome task. </p> <p><strong>The Wi-Fi</strong></p> <p>Try to refrain from asking for the Wi-Fi password unless you’re a long-term guest or a very frequent visitor. If you’re asking at the beginning of a dinner party, it’s sending the message that you’d rather be on your phone. Try to stay off of your phone as much as possible to really have quality time when you’re visiting.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/9-things-you-should-never-touch-in-someone-elses-house" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Home & Garden

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Baby boomer's "humble brag" backfires spectacularly

<p>A baby boomer has been mercilessly mocked online after complaining that the value of her home skyrocketed by $1 million. </p> <p>A Sydney mother took to Reddit to share that she purchased a family home for $2 million six years ago, and was shocked to learn her neighbour had sold their home for a whopping $3 million. </p> <p>The boomer parent feared that the property market was becoming so unaffordable that her children would also need to come up with a seven-figure sum to eventually own their own homes. </p> <p>Despite the poster being genuinely concerned, commenters on Reddit were less than sympathetic that her children might end up "worse off", and asked why they even needed a multi-million dollar home in the first place. </p> <p>The mother insisted that she was not bragging about her situation and that she considered herself "lucky" to be able to buy her first house "when they were affordable".</p> <p>"Prices have risen since, it's not news to anyone," she wrote.</p> <p>"I have never been excited about the value of my house going up because I've always known it just meant things would be harder for my kids and all other younger people."</p> <p>Despite trying to appear understanding of the plight of would-be homeowners, she was slammed for her "tone deaf" take on the issue. </p> <p>"Oh my heart bleeds, but why do your kids need multi-million dollar homes," one user asked. </p> <p>Another user said that her "humble brag" was "very sad".</p> <p>Others agreed that she was facing the reality that they had been facing for years and suggested that she toned down her children's expectations for home ownership. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Why Dave Hughes didn't buy the final Block house

<p>David ‘Hughesy’ Hughes was the surprise guest at this year's <em>The Block</em> auctions, and the Aussie comedian was keen on buying the final home to go on auction <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">– </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> Leah and Ash’s house. </span></p> <p>Hughes was one move away from buying House 2 - which was passed in after it failed to hit reserve - but his wife blocked him from buying the home. </p> <p>“I was accosted as I left the auction, trying to get out of there, because one house didn’t sell and I said, ‘I’ll go talk to my wife’,” Hughes said on KIIS FM’s <em>Hughesy, Ed &amp; Erin </em>on Tuesday morning. </p> <p>The radio host then called his wife Holly live-on-air so she could explain the reason why they did not buy House 2. </p> <p>Holly revealed that she "was being asked by students and teachers,” about whether or not the couple bought the <em>Block</em> house. </p> <p>“You [Hughes] came home and as we were getting into bed, you said, ‘How would you have felt if I just bought that house?’ And I said, ‘Furious’," Holly revealed. </p> <p>She then called out her husband, claiming that he only wanted to buy the house to "show off". </p> <p>“If you bought a third house [in Melbourne] without consulting with me …” she said. </p> <p>“He never expressed any interesting in investing in that part of Melbourne, it’s so random, he would’ve just been buying a house to show off.</p> <p>“He had not looked at the houses or anything. He hadn’t watched an episode.”</p> <p>Although Hughes didn't get a property this season, his <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/dave-hughes-sets-the-record-straight-over-famous-block-house-purchase" target="_blank" rel="noopener">previous <em>Block</em> buy</a> in 2017 was a huge success.</p> <p><em>Image: Nine</em></p>

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Tiny house, big dreams: How to take a trip and give back at the same time

<p dir="ltr">When it comes to getting away over the summer, there is no one size-fits-all option to accommodate everyone’s unique needs. </p> <p dir="ltr">Some of us may prefer an off-the-grid adventure to the bush to reconnect with nature, while others just can’t pass up an opportunity to lay on the beach and frolic in the ocean. </p> <p dir="ltr">But if there’s one thing every holiday goer can agree on, it's the absolute need to relax. </p> <p dir="ltr">Luckily, <a href="https://reflectionsholidayparks.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reflections Holiday & Caravan Parks</a> has something for everyone this summer. </p> <p dir="ltr">From blissful camping and caravanning sites to luxurious tiny homes and creature-comfort cabin accommodation, Reflections is proud to be New South Wales’ largest holiday park operator, showing 2 million visitors a year the magic of the outside.</p> <p dir="ltr">You can feel good about your stay with Reflections, as the company is the first and only holiday park group in Australia that is certified as a <a href="https://www.socialtraders.com.au/news/what-is-a-social-enterprise" target="_blank" rel="noopener">social enterprise</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">That means the profits from the parks go back into the Crown land nature reserves the company manages to protect and nurture the land, for their lasting preservation and the community’s enjoyment while also giving back to local areas.</p> <p dir="ltr">A holiday here is essentially giving back to the local environment and community.</p> <p dir="ltr">I was lucky enough to be invited for a trip away with Reflections, and stayed in a charming Tiny House at the Jimmy’s Beach park in Hawk’s Nest on the mid-coast of NSW. </p> <p dir="ltr">Despite bringing the dreary Sydney rain with me up the coast, my stay with Reflections was nothing short of a dream. </p> <p dir="ltr">The tiny house provided all the comforts we needed on an overcast weekend, with the cosy atmosphere providing the perfect place to fully unwind from busy city life. </p> <p dir="ltr">Despite being, by name, a tiny house, the one bedroom home provided everything we needed, including a comfy bed, spacious shower, a large lounge and TV, as well as everything you could need to cook your own meals. </p> <p dir="ltr">A spacious deck was also most welcome, giving you the chance to sit in the sun and take in the picturesque nature around you, while spotting the best of Australia's wildlife. </p> <p dir="ltr">As the sun came out, we were able to indulge in all that Reflections had to offer, including bush walks, trips to the beach and even a dip in the pool. </p> <p dir="ltr">The sense of community in Reflections holiday parks is palpable, as making friends and meeting new people is encouraged and fostered, with a welcoming environment making it easy to hear the life stories of others as you cross paths in communal areas. </p> <p dir="ltr">The holiday parks are also perfect for families, with playgrounds available for the little ones, and even an ice cream truck making the rounds while playing Waltzing Matilda to signal the arrival of delicious treats. </p> <p dir="ltr">So, when booking your summer trips away, whether you’re after a quiet beach stay, a family-friendly destination, or an exploration off the beaten track, a stay at a Reflections Holiday Park is sure to leave you refreshed, reconnected, and ready for whatever comes your way.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Supplied</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Dave Hughes sets the record straight over famous Block house purchase

<p>Dave Hughes has hit back at long-standing rumours that he grossly overpaid for his house in Melbourne at <em>The Block</em> auctions. </p> <p>The radio host addressed the speculation on <em>2DAY FM’s Hughesy, Ed & Erin</em> breakfast show, as his co-host Erin Molan queried him about how the investment property was performing. </p> <p>In 2017, Hughesy bought the five-bedroom home in Elsternwick, built by contestants Josh and Elyse on Nine’s long-running reno show, for $3.067 million: a whopping $447,000 over the reserve. </p> <p>Given the steep increase of the price, the purchase of the house led to a lot of talk that Dave Hughes had overspent. </p> <p>Molan told her co-host on-air that a recent value estimate of the property that she’d found online put the home at $3.4 million.</p> <p>Six years on from his purchase and with inflation, stamp duty and other factors weighted, Hughes noted that that $300,000-odd increase in value would actually put him at a loss.</p> <p>However, Hughes said he had recently had the house valued himself, and the news was much better: He was told it is currently worth around $5 million.</p> <p>After the purchase of the house, even Hughes himself conceded that he may have spent much more than what the house was worth. </p> <p>In an interview with <em>Stellar</em> magazine in February 2018, he said that the bank had valued the property at “much less” than he paid.</p> <p>“I went to get a bank loan the other day and they haven’t valued it the same as I paid for it, which is fine, but annoying because there were five bidders,” he said.</p> <p>He said it was “enough less that it made me annoyed”.</p> <p>“For f**k’s sake … I just think it’s good value and in a few years’ time people are going to be going, ‘Well, f**k, didn’t he do well with it!’ I am playing the long game, all right? That is what I say to my wife, anyway.”</p> <p>In September of 2018, he told his then-co-host Kate Langbroek that he’d “copped so much flak” over the purchase.</p> <p>He said, “It was ridiculous and it’s gone on and on and on. A lot of experts weighed into my purchase … There are articles that have been written all year having a go at me. One article from one mob called Property One or something, they had a dinner party discussion about how I paid too much.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine</em></p>

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