Aussies most satisfied with First National Real Estate


Buying or selling a home will be amongst the biggest financial decisions you will ever make, so you’ll want the best service, advice and value for money from your real estate agent as possible. Really, picking the right agent to guide you through the process should be one of your first and most important considerations. So, which real estate agents aremoving Aussies in the right direction, and which should be packing their bags?

To find out which real estate agents are rated highest across Australia, we surveyed more than 1,100 adults who have employed the services of an agent in their area over the last three years, whether it related to the buying or selling of a property, lease management or renting. They may not always be top of your Christmas card list, but estate agents are there to provide a vital service, whatever the specific needs. Our ratings take all aspects into account and give you an overall guide to which are meeting the expectations of customers.

In this, the inaugural year of our ratings for real estate agents, we found that First National Real Estate has been impressing more than any other firm, taking out five-star reviews from consumers in almost every single category, including communication and advice, problem resolution and value for money. In fact, no other real estate agent achieved top marks in any area.

Family home won’t be added to pension test

The family home will not be included in the pension assets test, says Social Services Minister Scott Morrison. A story in today’s The Australian Financial Review said that the federal government is canvassing the prospect of including the family home in the pension assets test, but Morrison refuted the story on ABC radio. “There is no plan, under no consideration,” he said. “We’re working through the challenges of an ageing population but I don’t think going out there with a stick to pensioners is the way to do that.”

Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said having a valuable home does not make retirees wealthy.”I know a lot of people who would have bought their home 50 years ago and of course it’s increased dramatically in value,” she told ABC radio. “You can’t eat your family home, you can’t pay your electricity bill with it.”

A National Centre of Social and Economic Modelling study has found multi-millionaire retirees are reportedly receiving up to $500 million a year in federal government handouts. About 260,000 Australian households have a net worth of more than $3 million but are receiving $800 million a year in welfare payments and more than $6 billion a year in benefits such as healthcare and education services, reports The Australian.


Australian dollar falls further as market mood turns sour

Continuing expectations of an interest rate cut are also pushing the Aussie dollar lower.

THE Australian dollar has fallen to a new five and a half year low, after an anti-austerity party won the Greek election.

At 0700 AEDT today, the local unit was trading at 79.18 US cents, down from 79.90 cents on Friday, before the Australia Day long weekend.

Early yesterday morning, the currency fell as low as 78.72 US cents, its weakest level since July 2009.

The far-left Syriza party, which won a resounding victory in Sunday’s general election, opposes the austerity program Greece accepted in exchange for the bailout, and plans to renegotiate the deal, including a possible renegotiation of the country’s debt.

National Australia Bank senior economist David de Garis said the result caused a euro sell-off.

“The US dollar ended last week on a strong note and started the week with more momentum, aided by further euro weakness,” he said. “While the Euro has come in for some predictable selling in recent sessions, so has the Australian dollar against the US dollar.” Mr de Garis said a fall in the iron ore price and a massive snowstorm in the US was weighing on market optimism and putting downward pressure on the Australian dollar.

Continuing expectations of an interest rate cut are also pushing the Aussie dollar lower, with the futures market now pricing in a 34 per cent chance of a rate cut.

Key data out on Tuesday includes the National Australia Bank business survey for December and the ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence survey. AAP jcc/cdh


Whiff of interest rate cuts likely to hasten Aussie dollars fall below US80¢

Whiff of interest rate cuts likely to hasten Aussie dollars fall below US80¢

THE Australian dollar is spending its final days above US80¢, according to ANZ economists, with the whiff of interest rate cuts likely to push the currency lower.

A shock rate cut by Canada’s central bank drove speculation yesterday that the Reserve Bank of Australia could follow suit as early as next month.

“The Bank of Canada surprised everybody – there wasn’t an economist out there forecasting a rate cut and they’ve delivered it for insurance reasons,” Westpac senior market strategist Damien McColough said. “All of which are potential reasons for the RBA if they wanted to go for a cut in February.”

Almost US2¢ has been sliced from the Aussie this week on the back of renewed rate cut talk plus better-than-expected US economic data.

New construction of US homes rose 4.4 per cent in December, which was well above the 1.2 per cent rise expected by analysts.

The Aussie was trading at US80.9¢ after trading as low as US80.56¢ during the day.

ANZ said two key pieces of economic data next week could further erode the Aussie.

“Should next week’s business confidence and CPI (inflation) numbers look as soft as we anticipate, a more sustained Reserve Bank easing cycle will be priced, and the Australian dollar will break through US80¢,” ANZ senior currency strategist Daniel Been said.

Most economists are tipping the annual inflation rate to come in below 2 per cent, with underlying inflation at the lower end of the RBA’s 2-3 per cent target range.

That could give the RBA not only room to cut rates but a reason to do so.

Mr Been said the currency was likely to drop to around US76¢ by mid- year.

That’s not a view shared by Westpac senior currency strategist Sean Callow, who expects the dollar to hold steady through 2015, closing the year at US85¢

But forecasters at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, predict the Aussie could fall to US70¢ on the back of a slump in resource prices.

The Aussie has not been below US80¢ since July 2009.