Stan Zaslavsky

Hi, and welcome to July!

As the Aussie winter has well and truly set in, my wife and I have just returned from the sunny and hot USA for about ten days, 3 of which were in Hawaii and the rest in Los Angeles. The last time I was there was 2006, and I was keen to see how the country had changed. The changes were quite confronting—the most obvious one being the homelessness crisis, which was immediately apparent throughout Hawaii and even more so in Santa Monica and the rest of Los Angeles (we did stay in Torrance for a couple of days, and as it’s further down south and away from the beach, we only saw very few homeless people there).

Perhaps it’s only limited to Hawaii and California – but from conversations with locals – it’s rife throughout the country. Anecdotally, they had allocated USD 240M to deal with this problem in California, but most of the money was flittered away to administrative costs and barely reached the real problem. 

So, for a tourist to see a woman sleeping on the street in the middle of the day without anything under her or to see a teenage girl pushing a trolley through the street in Santa Monica with a couple of bottles of wine in her trolley amongst her other possessions, was extremely confronting. Locals also told us not to engage with any of them – as they may be on drugs or carrying weapons, and so that made it even harder. We were also told that the situation is made worse because Santa Monica is at the end of the train line, and as it’s reasonably easy to get to by public transport and is beachside, while the weather is good – it’s convenient to access and then find a spot to sleep overnight.

I hope that Australia doesn’t get there, but as interest rates remain high and the cost of living escalates – the housing crisis may lead us down this path sooner rather than later. There are no easy solutions – but it doesn’t help when the planning changes proposed as part of the National Housing Accord after July 1 with the secondary dwelling approvals being streamlined. Still, they require those dwellings to be built at the 7-star level, so a 60 sqm granny flat costing roughly $40,000 becomes a $120,000 investment, which very few could afford from their savings.

In other news, home building approvals increased by 5.5% in the month of May, which is encouraging for the ambitious target of building 1.2M homes within five years as part of the National Housing Accord initiative. The initiative aims to tackle the housing crisis by streamlining planning processes and reducing red tape. Median prices, on the other hand, present a much more mixed picture. Despite regional variations, with some areas experiencing declines, national home prices have reached a record high, particularly in capital cities like Perth. This 18-month growth streak defies expectations set by rising interest rates and pandemic-induced dips.

Despite central banks raising interest rates to combat inflation, property and stock markets remain strong. Factors like high immigration and quantitative easing have attributed to the markets’ resilience. Still, the risk is that if asset prices are inflated artificially, it may lead to a bubble. However, this economic strength comes with a caveat – uneven wealth distribution. While older generations reap the benefits, recent homeowners face a burden of heavy debt. Central banks are now tasked with adjusting interest rates without triggering a recession, as indicators like declining job advertisements and household savings point to potential economic vulnerabilities.

Finally, a win for worker safety has emerged in the construction industry. Australia has banned engineered stone since July 1 due to its high silica content and health risks associated with working with it. So, builders will be required to look for safer alternatives like timber, stainless steel, and zero-silica engineered stone.

Finally, in the list of the most liveable cities on Earth, Adelaide has moved up to number 11, while Melbourne holds fourth, and Sydney shares seventh with Vancouver in Canada.

Here are some of the other interesting articles we came across over the last month:

Australia’s secondary cities outpace capitals for property growth over past five years

Australian city world’s second most unaffordable, with four others among top 20

Construction insolvencies rocket higher

Revhead dream homes: Best suburbs for car lovers revealed

Buying a home becomes a multigenerational undertaking

Australia’s house price boom “gone”

Melbourne left behind as house prices boom

Adelaide named one of the most liveable cities on Earth

Smaller capitals push house prices higher

Home building just got a little easier in NSW, WA, as 1.2 million new homes race begins –

Home prices hit record high, despite falls in two capitals –

We’re richer than everyone else. But one more rate hike could change that

Engineered stone is now banned. But how safe are the alternatives?

High-Performance Habits for Men – Part 1: The Mind

We’ve started a new video interview series, taking a bit of a different tack this time around. Troy Flower, who’s been an elite athlete, extreme adventurer and all around men’s wellbeing expert – is talking about High Performance Habits for Men.

In the first episode, we’re discussing all about the mind and what it takes to perform at this kind of level.

Head here to check out the episode and look forward to hearing your thoughts about it.

Damon Nagel – Creating Sustainable Legacies for Generational Impact

It was great to interview Damon from Kite Property and formerly Starfish Developments – one of the pre-eminent land and residential developers in Adelaide. Damon has consistently pushed the boundaries of sustainable development, transforming landscapes into vibrant, eco-friendly communities. His dedication to creating spaces that benefit both people and the planet makes him a true visionary in the field.

Check out the podcast episode here

aerial photomontage for Melbourne Skyfarm

Melbourne Skyfarm – Urban Food Production & Renewal

Although it’s been a few years since we created the 3D visual perspectives, it was great to see the project come to life and it’s now a hub of activity in the middle of Docklands.

Click here to check out some of the 3D work and real photos of the community space and how the food is being grown.

Doing good for the community can be as simple as picking and solving this problem. So when one of our team members from the Philippines told us that their community centre had a broken speaker and no fans in the middle of one of the worst heatwaves they’ve ever had – it was an obvious cause to put a bit of effort into and solve.

Hope your month ahead is fruitful and all the best for the financial year ahead!


Stan Zaslavsky