A bizarre job advertisement for a property inspector has been shared online, with many questioning its legitimacy.
The advertisement, for a rental property inspector position with National Rental Inspections (NRI) in Victoria, was posted on Seek last week and lists requirements such as owning “a car that works 96 per cent of the time” and being “able to pay to put fuel in it”.
A sense of humour was also listed as a requirement, alongside owning an iPad “that works” and having a “minor interest in real estate.
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Applicants were also advised they must “be able to alphabet, sentance, punctuate and grammar way better than me, i dont need to, i have staff….(sic)”.
No experience is required for the job, with training provided.
While the advertisement said hours could be built around your family life, “this is not school hours”.
“We can work around your family, but you cannot have three months off over Christmas and two weeks off every other month for school holidays,” the listing said.
“We are actually very awesome to work with/for and have an amazing team but we are just growing and need more inspectors.”
Social media users were unsure about the advertisement’s legitimacy, with one user saying: “This has to be satire, surely?”
Others said they thought such a role would usually be filled by real estate agents.
“I note there is no requirement to know and understand tenancy laws,” one person said.
“This is like a ‘comedy’ sketch, but where nothing is funny,” another person said.
Amid a national housing crisis, many raised concerns about the outsourcing of this role to a third-party provider and about a contractor unknowingly entering their home.
While real estate agents must have a real estate licence, they are permitted to bring a third party onto the property for a purpose such as photography or valuation, according to a Consumer Affairs Victoria spokesperson.
No licence required
An agent’s representative can perform any of the legal functions of that estate agent in Victoria with written authority.
The representative does not need to apply for a licence, but their employer must verify they are eligible to be an agent’s representative.
The education requirements to work as an agent’s representative vary depending on the person’s experience in the industry, but can include up to 15 units of study towards a certificate in Real Estate Practice.
To be an agent’s representative, a police check is also required and being found guilty of fraud, dishonesty, drug trafficking or violent offences may impact eligibility.
An agent’s representative must be at least 18 years old and must not be insolvent under administration, not be the cause of a successful claim against the Victorian Property Fund or a corresponding fund and not be a represented person under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986.
They also must not be subject to a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal declaration making them ineligible, and not the subject of an order by any regulatory body in or outside Victoria that would disqualify them.
NRI is an independent property inspection service, operating across the country.
A spokesperson for the NRI confirmed the job’s legitimacy, and also that it had previously been posted.
When asked how many agencies the organisation worked for and how many properties were inspected, the NRI spokesperson said that information was “privileged”.
The listing said NRI completed more than 50,000 inspections last year.
The kind of training provided to staff was also “privileged”.
David Clement is the North American affairs manager with the Consumer Choice Center.
While for many Canadians the pandemic is behind us, one of its enduring effects is the lack of demand for commercial office space. During the pandemic, many people reasonably thought that as life returned to normal, so would the need to be back in the office full-time. This never panned out, and the office vacancy rate in almost every major Canadian city is a perfect indicator of that. In the second quarter of this year, arguably the most the pandemic has ever been behind us, the office vacancy rate in Canada actually increased to 18.1 per cent.
This new reality is horrific for the firms that own office towers. It means they’re left with empty space and exorbitant costs.
This reflects trends around the world and has potential ripple effects. The financial health of the building owners affects their ability to service loans, in turn affecting banks. It also affects the investors who put money in the sector. Observers fear this could spark a new financial crisis.
There is a way to help solve this and make the overall real estate market more dynamic – which would also help solve another problem, the housing crisis.
At present, hundreds of zoning restrictions prevent firms from converting commercial offices into mixed-use facilities or residential units, despite the urgent demand for such spaces. Unzoning, or rezoning, these swaths of commercial space could be one way local governments help the industry survive. Cities could also grant tax breaks to offset the costs of conversion, which can be high owing to inherent technical challenges.
Relaxing zoning for most of these commercial spaces would also significantly benefit the housing market, as mixed-use or residential units would increase the housing stock. Given that housing is the top political issue of the day, it’s time to give this some serious consideration.
For cities such as Vancouver or Toronto, it is well known that the supply of housing has never kept up with the demand, which is why residential vacancy rates in these major cities are at or below 1 per cent. It’s also in large part why rental prices in Toronto jumped 16 per cent from July, 2022, to July, 2023, with the average rent for a one-bedroom now a whopping $2,572. In Toronto specifically, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board says the average price of a home has more than tripled since 2005.
Rather than leaving commercial holdings to sit empty, rezoning would give them flexibility in terms of occupancy while quickly increasing the housing stock to better keep up with demand. If done properly, this could put some downward pressure on home prices and rental prices citywide.
What makes this solution even more attractive is that it would be quite difficult to oppose. New developments in major cities such as Toronto undergo years of review and community consultation. At every turn, the NIMBY activists will attempt to block housing developments for nonsensical reasons such as the proposed building’s height, shadow or footprint. Luckily for housing realists – those who understand that major Canadian cities need to increase supply – rezoning existing buildings would be largely immune from such roadblocks.
Simply put, the pandemic created a new reality, one that has shown Canada’s work force the viability of working from home or at least working from the office less often. As most white-collar jobs moved from the office to the home office, employers soon realized that productivity could be maintained.
With this new reality, it is likely that other corporate entities will follow Shopify’s lead and forgo the expensive overhead of downtown office space. Even for those companies that keep a hybrid model, the need to have office space for every single employee is over. Hybrid workweeks reduce the amount of time required in the office, which ultimately reduces the amount of total space needed for day-to-day operations.
Giving rezoning a serious look would allow local governments to potentially avoid a commercial real estate disaster, while also making housing more affordable. This is a win-win scenario if city councils have the courage to make it happen.
- Amazon announced a new $40 million affordable housing initiative last week
- Will help about 800 families find homes with down payment as low as 1%
- Program is targeted at Amazon hubs in Nashville, Seattle, and Arlington, Virginia
Amazon is launching a new $40 million affordable housing initiative targeted at expanding homeownership for moderate-income families in three cities where it has major operations.
The pilot initiative, a partnership with the National Housing Trust, is targeted at households making less than 80 percent of the local median income, which for a family of four would be $80,000 in Nashville, $95,000 in Arlington and $100,900 in Seattle.
The program is part of a larger $2 billion Amazon pledge to create or preserve at least 20,000 affordable housing units near its hubs — after the company and other tech giants were accused driving up home prices with their legions of well-paid workers.
Details of the new initiative, which will be administered through local partner organizations in each of the three cities, are still in flux, but NHT says that it plans to test concepts including shared equity ownership to keep home prices low.
Shared equity ownership involves a one-time investment that subsidizes the cost of the home, and then imposes restrictions on the resale value to keep it affordable for the next family that purchases it.
In some cases, it takes the form of a community trust that owns and maintains the land the home sits on, with the residents owning the physical house itself.
Amazon says that removing the cost of the land from the total cost of the home allows the price of homes to stay affordable for middle-class homeowners.
‘Historically, those who are able to own homes are more likely to experience long-term economic stability, while those who can’t are more likely to struggle financially,’ said Senthil Sankaran, managing principal of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund.
‘This new initiative will allow us to explore ways to help more moderate-income residents realize their dreams of homeownership and, in turn, help build wealth that can pass on to the next generation,’ added Sankaran.
Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, which has long struggled with a shortage of affordable housing, and is building its second headquarters in Arlington, on the outskirts of Washington DC.
The company also runs its logistics operations from Nashville, where it has more than 2,500 corporate employees, and plans to hire up to 5,000.
Amazon employs more than 65,000 workers in the Seattle area and about 8,000 in Arlington, where it expects to grow its headcount to about 25,000 by 2030.
In June, Amazon opened phase one of HQ2, though it has indefinitely paused construction of the second phase of the project.
The new affordable housing initiative is not aimed at helping Amazon employees, but rather the teachers, first responders, and service industry workers who risk being priced out of homes as the retail giant’s corporate campuses grow.
Amazon attracts thousands of well-paid workers to each of the areas where it opens a corporate base. They usually drive-up house prices and begin to gentrify poorer areas, whose longtime residents find they are no longer able to live where they grew up.
In Nashville, residents who qualify for the program could buy a below-market house with a down payment of just 1 percent, according to The Tennessean.
Amazon is partnering with The Housing Fund to administer the program in Nashville, where families making up to 120 percent of median income might qualify — a threshold of about $120,000 for a family of four.
‘Incomes are not keeping up with housing values so people could lose their homes because of rising property taxes,’ The Housing Fund CEO Marshall Crawford told the newspaper, adding that the city has suffered a shortage of affordable housing.
‘Now, Amazon is giving us additional resources to acquire properties. It was a major win for them to build a headquarters in Nashville and it’s a major win for the residents for them to put money behind affordable housing.’
In Nashville, the median sales price for homes in $459,900, up 3.3 percent from a year ago and a 12.1 percent increase from December 2019, according to data from Redfin.
Arlington’s median home price of $687,500 represents a rapid rise, up 7.4 percent from a year ago and a 15.7 percent gain from December 2019.
In Seattle, the median home sales price remains sky-high at $810,000, although that is down 4.5 percent from a year ago and a 2 percent drop from December 2019.
NHT says that each local partner will have their own homebuyer selection processes with specific criteria based on income, though the goal of the program is for the majority of homes to go to families making 80 percent or less of the median local income.
Local partners in the Seattle area include Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties, which will provide flexible financing to support the construction of over 140 homes as well as a funding enabling 50 families to become homeowners in 2023.
The Habitat projects include cottages in South Park, condos in Capitol Hill and Columbia City and town homes in Burien, CEO Brett D’Antonio told the Seattle Times.
Habitat homes are available for households making 80 percent of county area median income or less, which in King County is 100,900 for a family of four.
Other Seattle-area partners are African Community Housing & Development and the Homestead Community Land Trust.
In the DC area, Amazon is partnering with Douglass Community Land Trust, which will use the funds to grow their development capacity for their home equity programs.
Some of the funds will support the group’s ‘Pay It Forward’ program, in which the trust buys homes then resells them below market price to low- or middle-income households, according to the Washington Post.
However, when those homeowners eventually resell, they must do also do so below-market price.
That program is open to first-time homebuyers who make less than 80 percent of area median income, which in the DC area would be $95,300 for a family of four.
Residential property prices in Germany have fallen by their steepest decline since data collection began in 2000, with larger cities seeing harsher drops.
German housing prices fell by the most since records began in the second quarter as high interest rates and rising materials costs took their toll on the property market in Europe’s largest economy, according to government data.
Residential property prices fell by 9.9% year-on-year, the steepest decline since the start of data collection in 2000, the federal statistics office said on Friday.
Prices fell by 1.5% on the quarter, with steeper declines in larger cities than in more sparsely populated areas.
In cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich, apartment prices fell by 9.8% and single and two-family house prices dropped by 12.6% on the year.
For a decade, low-interest rates have fuelled a property boom in Europe’s largest real estate investment market. A sharp rise in rates and increasing construction costs have put an end to the run, tipping a string of developers into insolvency as deals froze and prices fell.
Building permits for apartments in Germany declined 31.5% in July from a year earlier, the statistics office disclosed on Monday, as construction prices rose by almost 9% on the year.
Germany aims to build 400,000 apartments a year but has struggled to meet the goal.
German Housing Industry Association GdW on Friday sounded the alarm over the situation calling for government support for construction companies.
‘The construction crisis in Germany is getting worse day by day and is increasingly reaching the middle of society,’ GdW, which represents around 3,000 housing companies nationwide, said in a statement.
GdW called for a cut in value-added tax (VAT) to 7% from the current level of 19% for affordable rentals and government funding loans with a 1% interest rate to support companies.
The government is scheduled to hold a summit with the industry on Monday to discuss the situation.
GdW and the Haus&Grund owner’s association said they were boycotting the summit as they had too little influence on its agenda.
The German cabinet plans to present an aid package for the industry by the end of the month after announcing plans to promote the construction sector, including reducing regulatory and bureaucratic requirements.
A new measure in Prince George’s County aims to make housing more inclusive by creating more accessible homes.
The purpose of recently passed universal design legislation is to ensure there are housing options available to people with disabilities.
“It is huge to have it inside of the county, because there’s just simply not enough houses available for individuals with disabilities, who may be using wheelchairs for mobility,” said Chandra Smith, who was crowned Ms. Wheelchair of America in 2023, after becoming a triple amputee two years ago.
The Prince George’s County native says she was forced to move to Anne Arundel County due to the lack of options.
“If it wasn’t’ for the ability to live with my father, not because I didn’t have the resources, but I would’ve actually been homeless, because there just wasn’t availability,” Smith said.
She helped advocate in the effort to make homes more inclusive for people with disabilities, older residents, and people who may develop short- or longer-term injuries.
According to the bill, elements of universal design will now be required for at least half of new single, two and multifamily residential units constructed in the county after Jan. 1, 2026 — with exemptions.
A possible waiver included in the bill will allow up to 50% of the new homes in a development to be exempt from the requirements.
Former county Councilwoman Monique Anderson Walker tried to pass the bill three times — most recently in 2021 — but didn’t have the support at the time.
“If you have housing that’s built with sustainability in mind and utility in mind, then everyone can benefit from it,” she said.
Councilwoman Jolene Ivey continued to advocate for the bill, making the necessary adjustments to get it enacted.
“New housing is going to be built in a way that people can easily access the home and easily access at least the first floor,” Ivey said.
“And I just wanted to bring that experience to other people,” she said. “It makes all the difference when people can come visit you.”
The universal design features will also benefit first responders who might respond to emergency situations.
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) – Many people in the community can remember the historic drought that gripped Texoma 10 years ago.
The memory of that drought has left some concerned about how the current drought could impact the housing market.
Property experts said that in our current level of drought, Stage 1, property owners really don’t need to worry too much as long the drought doesn’t get worse.
“The moment that there’s any fear in the market, everyone thinks it’s the word everyone thinks the sky is falling, and a lot of times it’s not.” Realtor of Domain Real Estate Tyler Methvin said.
Methvin said the effects a drought can have on a home in Stage 1 are minimal.
”It makes people uneasy about the future of their property, property values, you know the condition of the home it can cause the homes to have some movement as ground contracts and expands again.” Methvin said.
Former Economic Professor for MSU Sarah Quintanar the drought won’t hurt the market short-term.
”As an economist, the perspective is really that droughts aren’t going to impact the short-term real estate market, but they can surely impact the consumer demand in the long run.”
If the drought worsens, it could eventually have a damaging impact.
“If we think about house prices in the market are based on the demand of homes so if we have a lot of homes flooding the market in terms of wanting to be sold and not a lot of buyers we could see prices fall.”
Methvin said a drought could slow down the circulation in the market, comparing it to the bottleneck effect.
”It just increases the inventory, it increases the days on the market; you just get some hesitant buyers there. People are always buying and selling it just slows down during those times.” Methvin stated.
”I think if we saw a real hard multi-year drought that’s super severe yeah you’re probably going to see property prices go down a little bit”
In 2013, Wichita Falls experienced Stage 4 drought, Methvin said Realtors in the area used techniques to ensure the industry stayed afloat at that time.
”We’re even a model for other cities and counties across the country at this point because we managed a historic drought the best that we could.”
Methvin hopes that homeowners remain calm, even if the drought worsens.
“Those things should help to make people less uneasy when we see those single-year drought periods. Yes, it’s been tough, but we’ve seen way way tougher in the past.” Methvin explained.
Methvin added that buyers and sellers in the housing market are still circulating the way they were before the drought.
He said if you are concerned about your property during this time it’s best to consult with an expert.
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Mr O’Flynn, who faces an estimated €1m annual tax bill on land he plans to develop off Dublin’s Naas Road as a result of losing an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, said an “unintended consequence” of the new tax is that it will “add to the cost of housing”.
“We haven’t taken these appeals lightly. I think that there’s an extra layer of work on developers, and on the local authorities, and now An Bord Pleanála, and all of these add to the cost of housing,” he said.
The residential zoned land tax (RZLT), payable from next year, by developers whose sites fall within its scope and who face paying 3% of the market value, is aimed at lands that have benefitted from investment in services and are capable of being developed for housing.
Mr O’Flynn, a member of the Government’s Housing Commission, said while he supported the new tax in principle, it was becoming a tax on residential development.
“If land is zoned, it should become available, and on that basis — as land is our key raw material — why wouldn’t I be in favour of this tax?
The O’Flynn Group is among a number of big property developers to have lodged multiple appeals with An Bord Pleanála challenging the inclusion of their lands in maps which designate sites on which the new tax may be imposed from next year.
FARMER CITY — The Farmer City Council and a Mahomet-based developer have approved a letter of intent for residential development near Interstate 74 and Illinois 54 on the city’s northeast side.
The project, which will initially involve construction of two eight-unit apartment buildings, is also expected to lead to to neighborhood commercial development on 2 acres.
Shawn Tabeling, manager of Tabeling Development Co., said additional residential and commercial projects could also be coming.
Farmer City Mayor Scott Testory said it’s about time.
“This property should have been developed several councils ago,” he said, adding that he helped to spearhead bringing utilities to that area at a cost of about $1.5 million.
“I really am hopeful this is a catalyst for future development,” Testory said.
Tabeling Development Co. has specialized in development in rural communities for more than 15 years. It has developments in Mahomet, Sullivan and Heyworth and will soon start a new project in Arcola.
City Manager Sue McLaughlin said a market analysis of the property showed the best commercial use would be a travel plaza.
“We’re still reaching out to developers for that type of use in conjunction with what Tabeling is doing,” she said. “He’s leaving enough acreage for us or him to do both. This property has sat for so long.”
Businesses will have the option to buy a 1- to 12-acre lot for a freestanding building, build-to-suit, or lease a space from the proposed multi-tenant building.
McLaughlin said the property has not yet been platted, and a development agreement has to be signed. Tabeling is hoping to turn dirt in the spring and have occupancy no later than the following spring.
Tabeling said Farmer City “has a lot to offer with its convenient access to I-74, several agricultural-related employers and nearby outdoor recreational activities.”
NSW’s Labor government utilised the budget to announce several long-term reforms aimed at beginning the lengthy task of confronting the housing crisis. At the heart of the budget’s commitments to the state’s housing sector is a $2.2 billion investment towards more housing, critical infrastructure and better planning for housing.
The Minns government’s housing and infrastructure plan includes:
- $1.5 billion to build infrastructure such as roads, parks, hospitals, and schools to support the construction of new homes across Sydney, the Lower Hunter, Central Coast, and the Illawarra through the Housing and Productivity Contribution.
- $400 million reserved in Restart NSW for the new Housing Infrastructure Fund, to deliver infrastructure that will increase housing supply across the state.
- $300 million for Landcom to accelerate the construction of thousands of new homes, with 30 per cent dedicated to affordable housing.
The government believes these reforms “provide the backbone infrastructure so that more homes can be delivered”, Premier Chris Minns stated.
“It is critical that new communities where housing growth is occurring have access to high-quality infrastructure and open space,” he said.
The 30 per cent of new housing allocated for affordable housing will target infill sites and government land for their development.
Outlined in the budget was the establishment of Homes NSW, an organisation tasked with delivering better outcomes for public and social housing tenants, delivering more affordable and social housing, and reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness within the state.
The government’s $224 million Essential Housing Package, aimed at addressing supply and providing crucial support to the state’s most vulnerable residents, includes:
- $70 million in debt financing to accelerate the delivery of social, affordable, and private homes, primarily in regional Australia.
- $35.3 million to continue providing housing services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
- $35 million to support critical maintenance for social housing.
- $20 million reserved in Restart NSW for dedicated mental health housing.
- $15 million to establish an NSW Housing Fund for urgent priority housing and homelessness measures to confront the existing crisis.
- $11.3 million to extend the Together Home program.
- $11 million in urgent funding to Temporary Accommodation in 2023–24 to support rising homelessness.
- $10.5 million in funding to the Community Housing Leasing Program.
- $10 million Modular Housing Trial to deliver faster quality social housing.
- $5.9 million towards specialist homelessness services to address the increasing demand for 2023–24.
In addition to this, the government will invest $60 million to support new build-to-rent trials in the South Coast and Northern Rivers.
Premier Minns also revealed the budget includes measures aimed at increasing the number of homes built in the state by quickening the planning system, including:
- $24 million to establish a NSW Building Commission to support high-quality housing and protect home buyers from substandard buildings.
- $9.1 million to assess housing supply opportunities across government-owned sites, including for the delivery of new social housing.
- $5.6 million for artificial intelligence to deliver planning system efficiencies.
- Overhauling and simplifying the planning system by redirecting resources from the Greater Cities Commission and Western Parkland City Authority.
Mr Minns stressed that “the creation of a standalone Building Commission won’t just deliver better-quality homes; it will also let NSW Fair Trading focus on its core business – protecting consumers”.
He explained NSW Fair Trading will do this by:
- Working with the NSW rental commissioner to better protect the rights of renters and modernise the system to make it fairer.
- Delivering an additional $1 million in funding for renters’ advocacy organisations.
- Making sure products are safe and holding businesses that break the law accountable.
- Working to resolve strata disputes before they end in expensive legal battles.
On top of the measures outlined in the budget, Mr Minns detailed the government’s intentions to tackle the housing crisis by developing further policies to complement existing work.
This includes rebalancing population growth around major infrastructure investments and moving significantly higher-density planned development closer to central Sydney, auditing all NSW government’s landholdings to identify surplus land that could be used to address the state’s housing crisis, and changing self-assessment powers for certain social, affordable, and public housing providers to ensure more homes can be built quicker.
“Today is another step in the right direction to rebuild our housing system,” the Premier added.
“That means more money to build social and affordable homes as well as funding for vital homelessness services that some of the most vulnerable people of NSW need,” he concluded.