Keystart thresholds increased

The state government announced yesterday that the criteria for Keystart loans will be temporarily relaxed as of 1 July 2019 through to 31 December 2019.  Keystart’s existing income limits will increase by $15,000 for singles and couples and by $20,000 for families. The maximum purchase price for a property will increase to $480,000.

UDIA cautiously welcomed the announcement, advising that it should only be considered a first step in assisting more potential home buyers into home ownership.  UDIA recommended a 25% increase to Keystart thresholds in our 2019 State Budget Submission and these changes fall significantly short of what we requested.

The increases equate to just 17% for singles; 13% for couples and 15% for families. The increase to the maximum purchase price limit (now $480,000) is only 7%.

UDIA undertook some quick calculations and even with this new Keystart criteria, options remain limited for where buyers can actually find a property that is under the $480,000 price threshold.

Out of Perth’s 301 residential suburbs there are just 125 suburbs, or 42 per cent of suburbs, where the median house price is under $480,000.

Whlie It is encouraging that the state government has recognised the increased difficulties that buyers, particularly first home buyers, are facing in getting their foot in the housing market door, UDIA is still advocating for broader measures to address housing affordability.

The extremely tight lending conditions that banks are currently imposing mean it has become almost impossible for many to afford to purchase their own home.

UDIA has expressed concerns that a rental crisis is looming, with a rental vacancy rate down to 2.5% at the end of the March quarter and upward pressure on rents. With little investor activity in the market for some time, many people will be priced out of the market altogether.

More details on UDIA’s position in our media release here.

UDIA WA Awards for Excellence: nominations now open

The UDIA WA Awards for Excellence program is a fantastic avenue to gain deserved recognition for the hard work and vision that goes into delivering quality communities and places.

Nominations are now open across a range of categories from masterplanned development through to urban renewal and seniors living.

Award winners will be recognised at the gala event on 21 September 2019. This annual event is attended by over 500 industry professionals and represents the pinnacle of the UDIA event calendar.

Nominations close on 26 July 2019, please download the nomination kit for more details here.

Call for nominees: Women in Leadership and Young Development Professional Awards

The UDIA Frasers Women in Leadership Award and the UDIA Stockland Young Development Professional Award are now open for nominations.

Both awards will be presented at the UDIA WA Awards for Excellence gala dinner on Saturday 21 September.

The Women in Leadership Award acknowledges and promotes the positive contribution of women to the WA property industry. The award recognises outstanding women working at mid to senior levels within the WA development industry and acknowledges their achievements.

The Young Development Professional Award celebrates and encourages the future leaders of our industry. For over a decade the annual Young Development Professional Award has recognised excellence in the next generation of development industry professionals and promoted dedicated young professionals with the drive to succeed.

More information for both awards including nomination forms here.

Waste Reform Advisory Group – inaugural meeting

UDIA is a member of the inaugural Waste Reform Advisory Group that will play an important role in providing advice to the Minister for Environment on waste and recycling policy and legislation.

The group will work together with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Waste Authority and the community to implement the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 (Waste Strategy) and its Action Plan.

The first meeting of the group was held on 9 April to discuss waste reforms and how they link with the objectives of the Waste Strategy including a review of the legislative framework for waste-derived materials; the pending consultation paper on the use of weighbridges by landfill premises; potential improvements to the waste management and waste levy regime; proposed amendments to the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Regulations 2008 and other relevant projects.

The next meeting will be held in July and UDIA will keep members informed on discussions.

National Construction Code 2019 adopted

As of 1 May 2019, the 2019 edition of the National Construction Code (NCC) was adopted by all States and Territories. The adoption date signifies that NCC 2019 is given legal effect by relevant legislation in each State and Territory.

Transition period

For NCC 2019, a 12 month transitional period ending 30 April 2020 applies to the energy efficiency provisions in Section J of Volume One and Parts 2.6 and 3.12 of Volume Two. During this time either the new NCC 2019 provisions or those from NCC 2016 may be used.

Delayed adoption

The new Fire Safety Verification Method (FSVM) will not be adopted from 1 May, 2019. Instead, a delayed adoption date of 1 May 2020 will apply. Keep an eye on the ABCB website as more information is released about helping practitioners prepare for using the new FSVM.

Consolidated Performance Requirements

For NCC 2019 the Consolidated Performance Requirements will not be released as a separate document. You can access the Performance Requirements for each Volume by choosing the ‘Filter by’ option located at the top of the Table of Contents within NCC online.

More information is available here.

Department of Communities welcomes new DG

UDIA congratulates Michelle Andrews, who has been appointed as the new Director General of the Department of Communities.

Ms Andrews has more than 30 years of experience in leadership roles in the public service and has been Acting Director General of Communities since February 2019, following the retirement of Grahame Searle.

Previous roles held by Ms Andrews include Deputy Director General – Department of the Premier and Cabinet; Deputy Director General – Department of Mines and Petroleum; Executive Director – Department of State Development; and Interim CEO at the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority.

Ms Andrews officially commenced the role yesterday. As part of Ms Andrews’ appointment, she will also be appointed CEO of the Housing Authority; Country Housing Authority; and the Disability Services Commission which are all part of the Department of Communities.

Westport Kwinana Rail Loop alternative concept

As a member of the Westport taskforce, UDIA is pleased to provide members with the latest updates on the project.   Addressing key constraints to facilitate future growth in the freight supply chain is Westport’s key objective, and the Kwinana Triangle is a significant constraint to rail operations on the Western Trade Coast.

Most of Perth’s freight rail traffic is concentrated in and around the Kwinana Rail Triangle servicing the Western Trade Coast. Currently, trains heading south meet the trains heading north at a crossover point up to 65 times a day within the Kwinana Triangle.

The Kwinana Triangle is currently near full capacity. Without infrastructure planning and investment, there will not be capacity to support future increases in demand. Increased rail freight movements to and from the Western Trade Coast may be achieved with an additional freight rail corridor – known as the Kwinana Rail Loop.

Westport reviewed the outcomes of the Kwinana Triangle Project Working Group’s findings in 2018 and identified a new alignment that amends the current corridor but does not impact on Rockingham residents.

This alignment within the southern corridor was revised to bypass the residential area and is supported by industry and stakeholders.

By adding a second entry and exit point to the Kwinana Triangle, the proposed Kwinana Rail Loop would enhance the overall resilience and efficiency of the network. This would allow more freight to be transported on rail to the Outer Harbour, which is an essential component of three of Westport’s Eight Strategic Options.

The next step in securing this alternative rail corridor is to seek Government endorsement for the proposal. To that end, Westport will be briefing the Minister for Transport; Planning, and the Minister for Ports.

More information on Westport activities here.

UDIA online professional development course now open

Enrolments are now open for our next intake of BSB41515 Certificate IV in Project Management Practice and the course will commence on Monday 15 July 2019.

This course is the only nationally recognised qualification of its kind that teaches the project management competencies unique to the property development industry. The course has been written by UDIA in partnership with its members and vocational education experts.

The qualification is delivered and issued by our new partnering Registered Training Organisation – McMillan (RTO No. 88187). The course teaches the critical skills of project management such as identifying project scope; managing time, cost and quality; contract negotiation; team engagement and stakeholder communication.

The course content has been written by education experts and industry professionals who provide real life relevance and focus on the practical application of knowledge. Tools, techniques and examples provided are real and what is currently used in the industry.

For more information here.

CommSec State of the States

Western Australia’s economy remains in seventh position in Australia, just ahead of the Northern Territory according to CommSec’s latest State of the States report.

WA is seventh on six of the indicators and eighth on relative economic growth and the job market. Encouragingly, annual population growth is now the strongest in three years.

Also on a positive note, WA recorded the fastest nominal economic growth, up 9.0 per cent over the year to December, supported by stronger exports and weaker imports.

More here.

PACT update

PACT Site Security now provide an additional theft reduction strategy with a dedicated online reporting platform for members of the public to report suspected crime, suspicious activity and illegal rubbish dumping within the building and construction industry.

Click or call 1800 272 836 to make a report and feel free to share with local residents in close proximity to your construction site.

Ensure your business reports all onsite crime efficiently and effectively

GST at Settlement Webinar

Since the introduction of GST at settlement on 1 July 2018,  a number of issues have been noted to cause confusion when buying or selling new residential property or land.

This ATO will host a webinar to address the following topics on Wednesday 8 May 2019 from 12 – 12.45pm:

  • Overview of the process for suppliers and purchasers
  • Who needs to complete the forms and when
  • How to complete your BAS correctly (for sellers/suppliers)
  • Common questions from industry
  • Tips on how to avoid common mistakes we’ve seen
  • If you make a mistake, how to fix it

Register here to secure your place. You must submit your questions before the session when you register.

Infrastructure and density in urban development

Since the Victorian era there has been a recognition that increasing population density in cities requires investment in infrastructure. Read our guest blog from Opticomm here.

Knuttsford launch

UDIA CEO Tanya Steinbeck attended the launch of LandCorp’s East Village at Knuttsford in Fremantle on Tuesday.

A range of water initiatives have been implemented at the estate as well as other features including electric vehicle fast charging, solar panels and battery storage, share electric vehicle scheme, quality landscaped private and public spaces.

The estate will also deliver Australia’s first blockchain ready homes, with new residents participating in leading trials of this new technology.

Trials of innovative energy sharing technology will provide an opportunity to trade renewable energy with neighbours through a private embedded network using Power Ledger’s energy and water trading platform.

A shared battery will be used by residents to reduce grid energy consumption across the estate.

A partnership with Curtin University will deliver a Legacy Living Laboratory, a learning space that will feature a commercial kitchen, meeting spaces and real time data display.

More information here

Waterwise recognition awards

UDIA was pleased to attend the Water Corporation Waterwise Recognition event yesterday morning where Water Minister Dave Kelly recognised the top water savers in local government, business and industry.

The Waterwise Business Program supports non-residential customers using more than 20 million litres of scheme water each year, to improve water management and help save water.

A total of 10 businesses received Gold Waterwise Business status for achieving a significant improvement in water use, with the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia (PTA) taking out top honours as the Platinum Waterwise Business of the Year.

The PTA was awarded for its leak detection program, which uses data loggers to quickly identify and repair leaks at its sites. It was also praised for its work using rail formations to create terraces to collect water for waterwise gardens, as well as its ongoing work to review irrigation and bore use.

Six councils achieved Platinum and Gold status as part of the Waterwise Councils program.

The City of Canning took out top honours, receiving Platinum Council of the Year in recognition of its innovation and leadership to embrace and embed waterwise principles.

The City of Fremantle, Town of Mosman Park, Shire of Mundaring, City of Rockingham and City of Stirling all achieved Gold recognition for the first time.

The City of Bayswater was awarded the inaugural Waterwise Council Community Choice Award for its Living Stream and Ninja Park project. Chosen by a public vote, this project was among nine innovative finalists showcasing waterwise thinking.

Affordability snapshot

Anglicare Australia released their 10th annual “Rental Affordability Snapshot” last week which outlined a bleak picture of Australia’s rental market, particularly for those on low incomes.

The report found that just four percent of all properties available for rent in Australia on the nominated snapshot day were affordable and appropriate for households on government income support payments such as the Disability Support Pension, Aged Pension, Youth Allowance or Newstart.

The situation isn’t much better on minimum wage, with just 26 percent of homes available at an affordable cost.

In Western Australia the rental vacancy rate is currently down to 2.5% and the median unit rent is $330 per week.  A single person on Newstart is only eligible for a maximum fortnightly payment of $555.70 which clearly does not cover the cost of an average rent.

While Anglicare make valid recommendations around the need for the federal government to invest in more social housing to cater to those most vulnerable, there are a range of measures needed to address housing affordability more broadly.

More information on the Anglicare report here.