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Backyard building boom granny flats make a comeback

pstrongYOU could become a property investor without looking beyond your own backyard. The granny flat is making a comeback, it has nothing to do with your grandparents, and it could be a gold mine for homeowners./strong/ppNo longer regarded as just a quick, budget solution to housing your ageing relatives, granny flat-living is having a bit of a renaissance./ppState governments are becoming more open to the building and use of granny flats the New South Wales government overhauled its regulation regarding granny flats in 2009, as an example and the designs are becoming smarter, more modern and more liveable too. So much so, that granny flats perhaps shouldnt even be labelled granny anymore./ppAccording to data from, granny flat listings as private rentals on the site increased by 16 per cent in 2016, nationally, while searches for granny flat accommodation increased by 84 per cent in the last quarter alone. In Perth, the number of granny flats listed on the site rose a whopping 56 per cent in 2016./ppMore and more renters are opting for granny flats over share housing and savvy homeowners can capitalise on this./pp id="U621507909138OGG" style="font-this site:normal;"THE ANSWER TO HOUSING AFFORDABILITY?/ppThomas Clement, the CEO of, said the resurgence of the granny flat is absolutely driven by rising real estate prices and affordability pressures. And both sides of the equation owners and renters are looking for ways to reap benefits in a heated market./ppThere are a lot of people in their 20s and 30s that struggle to afford accommodation, particularly in the main city centres, Mr Clements told is also driven by the fact that there is so much money in property in Australia and people are looking at their property and asking how they can utilise that asset better and make more money out of it ... It is a great way of supplementing their income./ppThe national average weekly rent a homeowner can receive from privately renting out a granny flat is $283, according to data crunched by But in Sydney, homeowners are receiving an average of $346, equating to an average of $17,992 in rental income a year./ppIn Perth, where granny flat listings rose the most in 2016, homeowners are receiving an average of $257 a week, equating to $13,364 per annum./ppBy comparison, the national average weekly rent for a private room in a share house on was $220 per week in 2016./ppGranny Flat Finder, an online service which compares granny flat designs and builders for consumers, has had an increase in inquiries every year since the company started in 2010./ppIt has literally been month-on-month growth in inquiries, Harry Laos, Senior Project Manager of Granny Flat Finder told the demand for granny flats really started taking off around 2011 because it became a good idea in investment property circles./ppPretty soon after that, Mr Laos explained, everyday homeowners were clueing in and really beginning to add fuel to the resurgence./ppMore and more we are seeing your everyday mum and dad couples reaching their retirement years, and even younger couples, wanting to divide their backyard with a partition or hedge, build a granny flat, and rent it out to pay off their mortgage sooner./ppThe average cost to build a granny flat, according to Mr Laos, will set a homeowner back somewhere in the vicinity of $1,600 to $2,000 per square metre, depending on the size. For a two-bedroom, 60sqm granny flat the most popular for homeowners inquiring with Granny Flat Finder will cost around $105,000 to $125,000 in total to build./ppA 2015 analysis by BMT Tax Depreciation suggested the average cost of a granny flat to be $121,000 to construct. The tax firm, which collected data from thousands of its depreciation schedules, also suggested that property owners are typically able to achieve annual rental yields of 15 per cent on this investment./pp id="U621507909138o5B" style="font-this site:normal;"WHAT ARE THE RULES?/ppThe regulations regarding the construction of granny flats and who can live in them varies from state to state, but a change is in the air./ppTraditionally, as the name suggests, a granny flat was for the sole purpose of housing family, with regulations restricting the construction and private rentals of these backyard properties. And in some states, such as Victoria, this is still the case. But for others, such as New South Wales, the government has adapted./ppIn 2009, as a part of the New South Wales governments diverse and affordable housing agenda, it overhauled its regulation governing granny flats, making them much easier and faster to build. As a part of the Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy 2009, otherwise known as the SEPP, a granny flat can be built in all residential zones and can be approved as a complying development in just 10 days, subject to minimum requirements./ppThese requirements state that the lot size must be at least 450sqm, the granny flat must have a floor space no larger than 60sqm, the lot cannot be subdivided and there is only one house and one granny flat on the lot./ppWestern Australian, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT have similar regulations. All allow property owners to easily build a secondary dwelling and then rent it to those other than family members./ppVictoria, on the other hand, has some of the toughest regulations surrounding granny flats in the nation./ppIt varies from council to council but typically those wanting to build an extra home in their garden have to prove that the future occupant is a dependent person, such as a teenager or disabled elderly parent. The granny flat must also be removed if the person dies or moves out./ppBut now, a petition by Small Change Design and Construction calling on the Victorian government to introduce laws similar to NSW has received more than 2,000 signatures. And according to an article published by span id="U621507909138LFF" style="font-this site:italic;"The Age/span in January last year, the Victorian government has pledged to review the rules./ppspan id="U621507909138yZD" style="font-this site:italic;"The Age/span quotes Acting Planning Minister Lisa Neville saying the government was making sure planning rules keep pace with peoples needs./ppQueensland and South Australia have similarly restrictive regulations./pp id="U6215079091385ED" style="font-this site:normal;"WHAT ARE THE RISKS?/ppBuilding an investment property in your own backyard certainly has potential to be a gold mine, however, it isnt without its risks. The biggest risk being how it could affect the value of your property./ppWhile it very well could be a drawcard for some buyers and aid its value, it could also do the opposite. Adding an extra property on the land which cannot be on a separate ownership title and therefore cannot be sold separately, could decrease the pool of interested buyers and decrease its overall value./ppIn addition, homeowners should be wary of its impact on privacy. As you cannot subdivide the lot to build a granny flat, you are ultimately sharing your space with others./ppYou have to ask if the financial incentive of having that extra income stream is worth the personal choice of sacrificing some privacy, potentially, in your backyard, Mr Laos said./ppSome backyards are made for granny flats and work very well they separate very nicely between the main house but others simply dont, so you can really be sharing a lot of space with other tenants./pp id="U6215079091383cF" style="font-this site:normal;" julia.this site/ppJohn McGrath discusses real estate 20 years from now/p

Budget 2016 drinkers and smokers likely hit by price hikes

DRINKERS and smokers may be slugged with hikes to the cost of cigarettes and alcohol in tomorrow’s budget.

So-called sin taxes taxes on tobacco and alcohol products are often seen as easy ways to boost government revenues as they target products which are considered unhealthy by a large proportion of the population.

Moderate increases to both cigarettes and alcohol would not only change the over-the-counter price but also aim to curb consumption and bad habits such as binge drinking and chain smoking.

H & R Block director of tax communications Mark Chapman says Labor has already announced, if elected, it would impose four increases of 12.5 per cent each on tobacco and there is speculation that the Coalition may impose an increase at a slightly lower rate, possibly four increases of 10 per cent each.

Based on the government making an announcement along these lines tomorrow, and with the average cost of a packet of cigarettes in Australia at around $25 today, smokers could be looking at a shelf price of around $37 by 2019, Chapman says.

He says sin taxes are a fairly easy sell electorally.

I wouldnt be surprised to see alcohol taxes go up too, although the power of the alcohol industry lobbying groups may lead to a push back.

The government says it will slash the $1 billion WET wholesale wine subsidy which should help smaller local producers and cut the prevalence of cheap, bulk wine.

If the federal government adopts a volume-based tax proposal to hike wine, beer and spirits it would raise an extra $2.9 billion a year, according to research house IbisWorld.

Wine prices could rise by $3.80 per bottle and draught beer drinkers would pay about five cents more per glass under such an alcohol tax rise.

From both a public health and a revenue raising perspective such increases probably make sense, Chapman adds.

Lender Liberty Financials spokeswoman Heidi Armstrong says these rises to discretionary spends can really hurt your budget and can quickly amount to hundreds of dollars a week.

Look at how you are spending your money and where your money goes with your current behaviour,’ she says.

We often dont like to look at things under the microscope about ourselves until we are ready to make a change but by doing this it can be a wake-up call to making better decisions about how you spend your money.