October property roundup

Facebook to develop US$120m community for staff; Online property rental scam hits WA; Residential markets improve

Facebook to develop US$120m community for staff

Facebook is working with a local developer to construct a US$120 million housing community, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The development, Anton Menlo, will include 394 units on 630,000 sq ft and will be within walking distance of its office in Menlo Park, California.

The development will comprise 35 studios, 208 one-bedroom apartments, 139 two-bedroom apartments and 12 three-bedroom apartments, according to Business Insider. Fifteen units have also been allocated as low income housing.

The community will be able to house around 10 per cent of Facebook’s staff in Menlo Park, with units to go at market rates.

Facebook is working with St. Anton Partners, a private multi-family development company in San Francisco, to build the development.

“We're certainly excited to have more housing options closer to campus, but we believe that people work at Facebook because what they do is rewarding and they believe in our mission,” a Facebook spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.

Residential markets improve

Demand is picking up in the residential market in Sydney and Perth, while Brisbane will experience a pick-up in 2013/14, according to economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel.

However, the Gold Coast and Sunshine markets are expected to lag behind Brisbane, according to BIS Shrapnel’s Outlook for residential land, 2013 to 2018 report.

The forecaster said lot production in Sydney and Perth is underway following years of low new dwelling construction. While Brisbane is experiencing similar conditions, BIS Shrapnel said it will be another 12 months until confidence returns to the market.

“Land prices in Brisbane have … been relatively unchanged in the last four years, although the affordability of land has not improved relative to houses as house prices have been also stagnant,” Angie Zigomanis, senior manager at BIS Shrapnel, said in a statement.

“With the first signs of house prices in Brisbane improving over 2012/13, and upgrader demand increasing, this should see growth in lot production emerge over 2013/14, although stronger rises are more likely the following year.”

In Melbourne and Adelaide, demand for land next year is expected to continue growing but remain subdued, with the two markets the strongest following the global financial crisis.

“The weaker markets in lot production in Melbourne and Adelaide reflect activity falling from unsustainable record levels,” Zigomanis said.

“Conversely, the weakness in the other cities was the result of excess supply, weak underlying demand, and constrained affordability after land prices had peaked in earlier years. These issues are now starting to wash through, with the recent declines in interest rates expected to be the trigger for a pickup in demand into 2014.”

Online property rental scam hits WA

Western Australia ScamNet is warning renters in the state to watch out for fake rental property ads placed on websites such as Gumtree.

According to the consumer watchdog, scammers have searched legitimate real estate websites in order to copy pictures and address details for their fake adverts.

“The scammers place the adverts on free listing websites and substitute an agency’s contact details with their own. Usually they have an email address with one of the free email account providers such as Google or Yahoo,” a WA ScamNet spokesman said in a statement.

He added that when the prospective tenant gets in touch, the scammer will ask for a rent or bond payment and claim the property can’t be visited as they are overseas.

“The scammers will often share supposedly personal details about their work/home life situation and they may stress the importance of wanting a non-smoker or non-drinker.

“It is also common for the scammers to provide copies of passports and fraudulent title deeds.”

He advised tenants to meet prospective landlords in person or go through a property management agency.

“Don’t rely on photos and never wire transfer money to secure a rental because the payment method is untraceable.”

The spokesman also said that real estate agents could help to combat scammers.

“Our advice is to watermark photographs being used to advertise homes online and disable the copy and save function,” he said.

“Agents and owners may also wish to carry out periodic Internet searches for the address of their listed properties to ensure the property details are not being used fraudulently.”

If a real estate agent or owner discovers that a property has been unlawfully placed onto a classifieds website, the ad should be reported to the website host, he said.

- Hamish Barwick