'Greedy foreign investors’ + Urban Living Index

'Greedy foreign investors’ + Urban Living Index

Today we tell you about a web site that will tell you everything you need to know about a property – anywhere in Australia. The site is called Microburbs and is the brainchild of Luke Metcalf who built it to help him find a property. Now you can use it – and its FREE.
Foreign ownership of Australian property has become an emotionally charged issue. But do so called ‘greedy foreign investors’ really push up property values? Michael Yardney shares his thoughts on that question.
Mark McCrindle tells us about the Urban Living Index and what it tells us about the property market of the future. We will tell you how you can get it it as well.
We check in with Margaret Lomas from Destiny Financial Solutions to hear what she thinks the property landscape will be like. She identifies one of the last capital city markets that will be the big improver this year.
Paul Nugent from Wakelin Property Advisory says we are in for some pleasant surprises with the market this year.
We are joined by Shaynna Blaze from Selling Houses Australia and The Block as we look at some of the design trends and how you can tap into those to get the best value for money.
We answer some questions and also find out that some of the lifestyle markets around Australia are in for a good time price wise and also that young people are making some big sacrifices to get into property.


Luke Metcalf

Kevin:  So often we’re asked the question about research, “How do I go about finding the best property in the best marketplace? Is there one site that does it all?” Up until now there have been a number of sites you had to go through to get all the detailed information you need. I’ve been contacted about a site called Microburbs. Now, I’ll give you that detail again in just a moment, but the man behind the site is Luke Metcalf, and Luke joins me.
Hi, Luke.
Luke:  Hi, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin:  Well thanks, mate. Congratulations on what you’re doing here. Now, Microburbs: tell me how it came about and what can we expect to see?
Luke:  Sure. This came about because my wife and I were looking for a property and we spent countless Saturdays going from property to property, often only to find that if we’d just done more research online we would have been able to save on inspections and really get to know what’s out there. There’s enormous amount of government data that’s out there, but it’s in a lot of different places. There’s business data, as well.
So my vision was to create a site that puts all that data into a single place, into a single report. You put in any address in Australia and it gives you a free scorecard looking at all these different ways of looking at a property.
Kevin:  Of course, we’ve heard of sites like Walk Score and places like that. What you’ve actually done is combine a lot to look at things like lifestyle, tranquility, the family score, investor data, what’s happening in the community – in fact, the whole profile on the area that you’re looking at. Where did you get all this information from, Luke?
Luke:  On the Walk Score point, I would consider us Walk Score on steroids. Walk Score, they’re all about walkable places – particularly good for the inner city, but for general Australians, we generally drive a lot of places. We don’t mind if it’s ten minutes’ drive to the shops. I wanted to consider that along with family and other things.
To answer your question about where we get the data from, the biggest source is the OBS with their census data. They provide very fine-grained data that we use on the site. Also, a lot of it comes from Google. When people submit their properties to Google Places, we use that data, as well, and various other sources, as well.
Kevin:  It’s even as detailed as looking at what the Internet is like in different places, as well, and what applications have gone through local government for development in the area. It’s actually quite comprehensive. What’s the cost for the site? What does it cost for me to get one of these reports?
Luke:  It’s absolutely free. We launched just three months ago, and our mission really is just to help out buyers. I’m sure there will be a business model further down the track. Obviously, in real estate there’s a lot of value there. For us, it’s just really sold by its promise, get the message out, and the site is completely free of charge.
Kevin:  Is there at any stage a thought that you might monetize this in some way?
Luke:  There will be. There are a number of different models there. Obviously, there’s the On The House model where they charge for advertising. I’m not so keen on the Domain/REA model of charging for listings, but that is another one. There’s the subscription model, like Real Estate Investor. We’re a funded start-up. We have money. We’re not about to run out of it. It’s just out there for free.
Kevin:  I can see that real estate agents would love this, too, to be able to send out to their buyers. They’ll do an open house and they’ll send this information to the people who come through the open house. I can see them being all over this. Are you getting any reaction from the industry about it?
Luke:  Yes, it’s very positive actually. At first, I was wondering would some agents think of it as competitive, because our slogan is “Get the facts that the property ad left out.” But they’re actually very warm to it. They themselves are the experts in their little areas and they already know about little farm areas and that, and now they have a site that they can show buyers and potential vendors, “Look this is really what your neighbors are like statistically.”
Kevin:  I can see that agents will be all over this, as will buyers in particular, and I guess it’s also handy for sellers, too, to get a feel for what their market is like. I’ve been in and had a look at our place and learned a few things that I didn’t know about our neighborhood too.
Luke, it’s a great site. It’s called Microburbs. I guess that’s as in “suburbs.” It’s just Microburbs.com.au. The man I’ve been talking to is Luke Metcalf, the man behind it. Check it out for yourself, especially if you’re looking at purchasing a property.
Luke, congratulations on what you’re doing. I look forward to following it with you, and thanks for spending some time with us today.
Luke:  Thank you very much, Kevin. It was a pleasure.

Mark McCrindle

Kevin:  I’d like to introduce you now to Mark McCrindle. Mark is a social researcher, author, futurist, and he is responsible for a website called McCrindle.com.au and also the Urban Living Index, which we’re going to pretty much focus on today.
Mark, thank you so much for your time.
Mark:  You’re welcome, Kevin.
Kevin:  Congratulations on that report, too. It centers a lot around the Sydney area, which I guess is where most people when they talk about real estate now are pretty much focused on. But based on what you’ve studied, what are the real estate trends that you saw in 2015, and what’s likely to occur this year?
Mark:   Right across our capitals, particularly our eastern seaboard capitals, we’re seeing population growth. It’s quite the year of growth. In fact, next month, Australia will hit 24 million. Next year Sydney will hit 5 million. Queensland is on track to hit 5 million as a state over the next year.
We’re seeing lots of population milestones being hit at the moment, and that’s because we have some pretty significant population growth on at the moment – not only the natural increase with more than 300,000 babies being born every year and people living longer than ever, but through the cultural diversity that’s building our population, we have population growth.
The sprawl of our cities can’t continue unabated. We’re seeing people now start to opt for a more densified form of living. A lot of the units and apartments are taking off in our capitals and creating a lifestyle with that where people can walk to the needs that they have in their life and have a little bit of a lifestyle that doesn’t just rely on being in the outer suburbs, getting in a car all the time. In fact, now in Australia 46% of all households get by with one car or none. That’s some of the lifestyle changes that we’re seeing, and it’s a bit of a trend for the next few years.
Kevin:  Has that escalated a lot in the last few years compared to what we were looking at, say, a decade or even 50 years ago?
Mark:  It sure has, and particularly the people choosing that sort of city living. It used to be more for those if you couldn’t afford a house, maybe you would rent or you would get something in the city, a smaller unit. It was often where you had a higher older population in some of those city areas.
But it’s all changed. In the last generation, it’s become a lifestyle pursuit. You have young couples moving into the cities. You have higher net-worth downsizing baby boomers moving into the cities who don’t need that empty nest house anymore.
You have even those starting families or with young children moving into the urbanized areas because it’s got a bit of a café vibe. They can walk to some of the connections. It’s closer to the workplace. You have childcare offerings there. Sometimes even it’s easy to access the public transport and get to mom and dad’s house, that sort of thing.
Whether it be students, whether it be those that are downsizing, or whether it be young families and couples, we’re seeing more demand for the lifestyle and the built amenity that is found in the more densified areas and harder to get in some of the outer suburbs.
Kevin:  I mentioned at the introduction there, too, that Mark, you’ve developed the Urban Living Index, and there is a website for that, UrbanLivingIndex.com. Tell me a little bit more about that. How did it evolve?
Mark:  We looked at and wanted to measure what is it that defines and creates livability in a city today? What are the key aspects? We looked at five categories. You want accessibility to work and to transport. You need amenity, which is the shopping centers and the art and recreational pursuits, restaurants, and educational facilities. You need employability, so it needs to be accessible to where work is. If an area has a high employment rate, that says something positive about the area.
Community is important – what are the people like – and that can be measured through things like the volunteering rate, workforce participation, even the diversity of the language in the community. Of course, affordability is important, as well.
We took those five broad areas; each has four separate measures, so overall, there are 20 measures that make up the urban living index. We rated every suburb across Sydney – and we’re going to do the same across Melbourne and Brisbane, as well – to find out based on this index what are the highest areas of livability.
We found that there’s a strong correlation between those that are more densified and have more of that medium- and high-density housing with a positive urban living index, because they tend to be closer to work and employment and education and shops and cafes and the like, they tend to be somewhat more affordable than a detached home, and certainly from a population perspective, you get more of that diversity, you get people participating in education and the professionals and the like. All of that helps create that urban living index.
Now, it’s not to say that the suburbs don’t have livability – a lot of them have a lot of green space and nice amenity – but from a built amenity perspective, from a built environment perspective, you’re more likely to get that infrastructure in the built-up areas rather than the middle or outer ring suburbs.
Kevin:  The top-ranked suburb, I think – if I’m reading it correctly on your report here – came in as Crows Nest in Waverton, which is fairly close to the city on the train line, of course, and fairly heavily populated.
Mark:  Exactly right. Then you have some of the city areas like Surry Hills and inner city areas like Marrickville, Pyrmont, Ultimo, Potts Point, and the like. They ranked very strongly. And now not too many people could afford to buy a detached home in those areas, but from a rental perspective and even buying units, there are a few options there. Certainly, their location does work out pretty well from some of those other measures.
The further out you go, we had some areas that did well in affordability – that’s why people are moving there – but perhaps didn’t do as well in some of the employability and the accessability aspects of the measure.
That’s how it played out, and certainly it does show that not only is there good livability in some of the unit and apartment living, but Australians have changed their mind on that and are happy now across those different life stages to consider that as a form of living compared to the Aussie dream, as once defined: the house with the shed in the backyard and the two-car garage and the detached home of old.
Kevin:  Just to build on this, I want to get you back in the next couple of weeks, too, Mark, and we’ll talk about some of those lifestyle trends that you’ve seen occur as a result of this report. Thank you so much for your time. I want to tell you the web address is UrbanLivingIndex.com, and if you want to go and have a talk to Mark and his team, their direct website is McCrindle.com.au.
Mark, thank you so much for your time.
Mark:  Thanks, Kevin.

Michael Yardney

Kevin:  Foreign ownership of Australian property has become an emotionally charged issue: only look back at all the discussion that happened last year. Of course, there is nothing new about foreign investment in Australia. It dates back to when we first became a colony and has continued ever since, but there were some changes made last year.
I want to have a look at those and also get an expert’s opinion on what that means for property in Australia. Michael Yardney joins me from Metropole Property Strategists.
Michael, firstly just tell us what the FIRB changes meant last year and how do you think they’re going to impact the market.
Michael:  Kevin, I think it came around for a couple of reasons, but I guess as the property markets in Melbourne and Sydney grew very strongly last year, in particular, many were pointing their finger at foreign buyers.
But really, foreign buyers have been restricted: nonresident foreign investors aren’t allowed to buy an existing home; they can only buy new homes, apartments, off-the-plan properties, or vacant properties. Or if they’re living in Australia for no more than 12 months, they can buy a home and then they have to sell it.
There was the presumption, that hasn’t been proven, that some people broke these rules so in December last year, the Foreign Investment Review Board brought down some strong penalties, some financial and even jail terms for people who broke the laws, and they gave an amnesty period of about six months for people who had already broken them to sell off the properties without any of those fines.
Kevin:  What are they buying, Michael?
Michael:  Last year, the National Australia Bank’s survey showed that in the September quarter, 19% of all new apartments, 15% of all new homes, were purchased by foreign buyers. This was significantly up from the past. In Victoria, in particular, foreign activity was significantly higher than that.
Interestingly, what raised some eyebrows despite the restrictions on foreign investment was that the NAB survey also found foreign investors accounted for a significantly higher number of established property purchases.
Kevin:  Michael, there is a lot of emotion about this issue, and I mentioned that at the outset. Are foreign investors really pushing up property prices because this is one of the arguments, isn’t it?
Michael:  Of course, it is. Our relatively cheap Australian dollar, a new middle class of Chinese people who fear the future a little bit and are looking for a flight of security for their money to accompany where there’s a safe economic, safe political environment has definitely caused people to invest in Australia. They have different criteria than the local investors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that foreign buyers are pushing up our markets.
Research last year by the University of New South Wales showed that offshore Chinese purchases totaled just 2% of all the transactions in 2014. Kevin, this figure is so low, it would really be hard to argue that foreign investment is driving up affordability around Australia. What are they driving up? Off-the-plan and the new property markets, but not all around, not your home and my home.
Kevin:  There are pros and cons to all issues, Michael. Do we really need foreign investment?
Michael:  I think what happened was the Australian government’s policy was to encourage foreign investment in residential real estate because number one, they wanted to increase the supply of housing for our growing population, and clearly, it’s doing that. But they also wanted construction to shore up our economy as the mining boom started to dwindle down, and it’s done that as well. But I guess with the up side, there are probably some down sides.
Kevin:  What is the down side? Are there any?
Michael:  I think currently, we’re now going to get an oversupply of apartments, especially in the CBDs of Melbourne and Sydney because the foreign developers are building sometimes the wrong sort of properties with different criteria and they have different levels of funding. They’re going full steam ahead, building some properties and we’re going to end up with too many of them. Too many of them are going to be a bit small, poor standard, and I see that they could be the slums of the future.
I think the other problem is that we’re now getting a large number of those big monoliths that are almost 100% owned by investors, not owner-occupiers. I think this is going to create competition for tenants, and it could create a period of quite a number of years of no capital growth or rental growth in those big inner city markets. I think the oversupply is going to stifle those.
I think the other thing is that some local investors have gotten a bit carried away seeing all these other properties being sold to foreigners and hopping on the bandwagon maybe a little bit too late.
Kevin:  What are some of the signs, I guess, or what should local investors be wary of?
Michael:  I think they should avoid locations that are predominated by foreign investors. This is no disrespect to the foreign investors, but I think the problem is imagine those big high-rise buildings where they have an owner’s corporation meeting and all the owners are overseas. I don’t know one new high-rise building that hasn’t had water issues with their balconies. Imagine trying to get the levies out of all these overseas investors.
I see some issues with that so avoid those sort of buildings, and avoid locations close to where we’re going to have an oversupply. I believe there are still opportunities in 2016 in real estate, but maybe not in those new and off-the-plan high-rise markets, Kevin
Kevin:  Good advice. Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists.
Michael, thank you for your time.
Michael:  My pleasure, Kevin.

Margaret Lomas

Kevin:  As we continue to head into a brand-new year, let’s have a look back at 2015 with our good friend Margaret Lomas from Destiny Financial Solutions.
Margaret, thanks for your time.
Margaret:  You’re welcome.
Kevin:  Did you have a nice time with Christmas and the family?
Margaret:  Yes, we always do, especially with a new grandbaby.
Kevin:  Well done. That’s fantastic. A little boy or a girl?
Margaret:  Girl.
Kevin:  Well done. Congratulations, Margaret. That’s lovely news.
Margaret:  Thank you.
Kevin:  Let’s have a look at property. Let’s turn our attention to that. What were the lessons for you in 2015, Margaret?
Margaret:  I guess one of the most important things about 2015 is that you shouldn’t be really listening to everything that is written in the newspapers. Unfortunately, there was all sorts of news about the property boom when, in fact, there were many areas that indeed weren’t booming where there were still some great opportunities.
I think if anyone was really watching those markets in 2015, they were able to pick up some really good bargains that people were missing because everybody was subject to that big buyer frenzy in Sydney and all trying to rush in there while the other areas sat there ripe for the picking.
Kevin:  Yes, we did actually see some people rush in and think, “The property boom’s on everywhere; let’s just buy it.” There must have been a number of people who were hurt, I would think, Margaret.
Margaret:  I think so, especially toward the end of that boom. We saw it coming. We tried to warn everybody that now wasn’t the time, and now many people who bought into that boom in the closing stages have found that their properties have just started to come off the boil a little and some people, most likely, paid too much.
Kevin:  You and I have spoken in the past about buying off-the-plan and the dangers of that. I guess there are going to be many people as this year progresses who won’t simply be able to settle on their new properties, Margaret.
Margaret:  Of course, it’s going to be a bit of a double-whammy for them because not only may they find that the prices that they’ve agreed to pay don’t materialize and the banks will value the properties lower than their purchase price, but also of course, with the request from APRA and the tightening up of the banking rules, many banks are now not letting borrowers or investors borrow any more than 80%.
A lot of people who bought off-the-plan properties were doing so thinking that they would be okay to get a 90% loan, so they’re going to be hit from two sides and I don’t like the look of that. I think we’re definitely going to see many people having to forfeit their contracts and therefore, they’re going to be losing quite a lot of money. Most of them would have paid a 10% deposit, so they’re all going to have to forfeit those contracts.
Kevin:  A bit of hurt coming. What will you be telling the people you work with, Margaret, about 2016? What are the areas you’ll be watching?
Margaret:  I still think that there is a lot of really good property in Brisbane, and I think we can’t ignore the fact that Brisbane is one of the last remaining capital cities where the median price is well below what the average income can afford.
Whenever there’s room between that average income and the median house price, we’ll always see a little bit of pressure on prices. If people look to those areas where there are a lot of families but little new land and some great infrastructure development, they’re still going to see some really good price increases.
Brisbane has been really percolating away in many of those suburbs that people might have missed. Everyone is still thinking about CBDs and 10 kilometers around the CBD, but there is a really good band in Brisbane 10 to 15 kilometers from the CBD where we’re seeing some really good opportunity for growth. The same applies in Melbourne.
I’m really picking some of those suburbs in that 15 kilometer band around Melbourne, not quite as far out as the Craigieburns and the areas where there is plenty of new land, but in those land-locked suburbs of Altona Meadows and Deer Park and around those areas, where we will definitely see some pressure on prices. They’ll behave contrary to the general Melbourne market, which is really being impacted by those off-the-plan sales.
Kevin:  What regional markets do you think will fair okay this year, Margaret?
Margaret:  I’m not going big on the regions in 2016, again, and I didn’t in 2015, mostly because 2012, 2013 was really strong in the regions and I think anybody who got in then did quite well and will sit on a pretty good property that will get them some fairly good yields and some growth still. But I think a buy in the regions in 2016 may come at the cost of a better buy in some of those capital city suburbs.
Kevin:  Margaret, always great talking to you. Thank you so much. Look forward to working with you in 2016. Margaret Lomas, of course, from Destiny Financial Solutions.
Thanks, Margaret.
Margaret:  Thank you for having me.

Paul Nugent

Kevin:  With his view on what the market is going to look like in 2016, I’m joined now by Paul Nugent, who’s a director at Wakelin Property Advisory.
Hi, Paul. Thanks for your time.
Paul:  Thanks very much, Kevin.
Kevin:  What do you think we’re going to be saying about the property market this time next year?
Paul:  I think we’ll probably be most pleasantly surprised by how resilient the market has been and that we probably won’t be getting the downturn that many have predicted.
Kevin:  Yes, there have been some pretty dire predictions. Were there any big property surprises in 2015 for you?
Paul:  I think there were several, to be honest with you. Firstly, it was that the government and APRA were unusually strict in tightening up lending policies. In the past, we’ve had a lot of jawboning, but this year, they actually came through, and I think that’s had some quite beneficial consequences.
The other interesting area has been where they’ve had an unusually strong response to overseas buyers breaking laws. That’s probably, once again, been a positive for the overall market as we finish the year.
Realistically, I think we thought that the market would show some good growth and some strength this year, but I think the level of growth in both the Sydney and Melbourne markets in particular has been far greater than anticipated.
Kevin:  You mentioned overseas buyers there. Have the restrictions that the government placed on them been any sort of a dampener? Has it slowed that part of the market down a bit, Paul?
Paul:  Yes, Kevin, I think it has, most certainly. The second half of the year has been very different to the first half of the year, where we saw people rampantly buying whatever suited them and flouting the laws.
There’s been quite a realignment, and that’s principally happened in two sectors of the market: the top end of the market and also, particularly in the Melbourne situation, in the prized eastern, middle eastern suburbs in the school belts, where many overseas buyers have been paying what we would suggest are fairly hefty premiums to acquire residential properties.
Kevin:  Paul, what are the markets that you’re going to be watching in 2016?
Paul:  There will be the usual ones. It’ll be the inner suburban markets. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Sydney, to see if prices actually go backwards or whether they just level off. I think Brisbane and Melbourne are probably looking as though they’re going to show a bit of growth next year, particularly in the first half of the year. That would be my prediction.
Kevin:  You mentioned Brisbane and Melbourne there. Brisbane is probably long overdue for some price increases. Do you see it growing as rapidly as some of those southern markets, Sydney and Melbourne?
Paul:  I don’t think Brisbane will ever perform in the same way that Sydney and Melbourne do, and that’s just off the back of population growth and demographics.
Kevin:  What advice would you have for someone wanting to start a property portfolio in 2016?
Paul:  The very best thing that one could do is establish their budget upfront. It’s most important that people get the go-ahead from their lending institution and sort out that budget because the budget is going to dictate the quality of the asset they can buy.
Now, in doing that and establishing those parameters, it’s then a matter of scouring the market and buying the very best property that one can within the financial range that is available – not going out on a limb, not trying to find hot spots in the market, and most certainly – most certainly – steering clear of the new multi-unit high rise sectors.
Kevin:  You mentioned a couple of things there – one, the high rise – but the thing you haven’t mentioned for me, and I want to ask you about this, is affordability and particularly some of the regional markets around Australia. Are they good propositions for someone to get started as an investor?
Paul:  Not necessarily as an investor. In fact, off the back of the changing tide in the mining boom, we’ve seen many regional areas in Western Australia come right off the boil and we’ve seen prices go backwards at a great rate of knots.
I think if one’s wanting to get into the market as an owner-occupier and it suits one to be in a regional area, by all means, affordability is a very attractive factor in choosing a location. From an investment point of view, they still worry me because properties in regional areas as investments tend to be yield-driven rather than capital growth-driven.
I think that the essence of getting property investment right is buying something that has strong capital growth, and it’s not as likely to happen in a regional area. However, having said that, if it’s one’s first foray into the market and it gets someone started, perhaps one should consider it as part of the cornerstone but with a view to getting into a strong capital growth market down the track.
Kevin:  Paul, great advice and thank you very much for your time. Paul Nugent has been my guest, director of Wakelin Property Advisory.
Thanks, Paul.
Paul:  Thank you so much, Kevin. All the best.

Shaynna Blaze

Kevin:  My next guest in the show is very well known for her roles, of course, in Selling Houses Australia, a judge on The Block, and her new show, Shaynna’s World of Design. I’m talking, of course, about Shaynna Blaze.
Good morning, Shaynna. Welcome to the show.
Shaynna:  Good morning, Kevin. Thank you.
Kevin:  Lovely to be talking to you. It’s a great show, too. It must have been a real thrill. How did it come about?
Shaynna:  The company One World Collection actually commissioned me to do a lighting range, and then I was booked in to go to the Milan Trade Fair, so I pitched it to the LifeStyle channel and said, “Do you want to follow me? Do you want to do this?” We had a concept but weren’t quite sure. We wanted to do it more about design and travel. We didn’t want to make the lights such a feature, but it ended up being that way.
We went over there with a bit of an idea. We only found out two weeks before we left that we would actually be filming it. We just ran it from there. It was pretty organic how it ended up.
Kevin:  Great idea. It must have been a bit scary when you realized, “Hang on a minute. Everything’s on the line here.”
Shaynna:  It’s your reputation.
Kevin:  Absolutely.
Shaynna:  It’s not just your design skills and things like that. With manufacturing and creative design, it can’t always go your way. There have to be some sort of things that don’t work. It happened, but at least some of it worked, which was good.
Kevin:  Yes. You’ve had some tremendous success, and you’ve got so many loyal followers all around Australia and around the world. How did the Shaynna Blaze story begin?
Shaynna:  It’s funny because design wasn’t the thing that I was going for. I was actually wanting to be a fine artist. My auntie was a painter and my dad was a craftsman. There was always art around me. I wanted to be an artist – go to Paris and paint and be a starving artist, that sort of thing – but my dad pushed me into interior design because he did a lot of work around the house that we worked on.
I applied for fine arts and I applied for interior design, and as the universe goes, I didn’t get into fine arts; I got into interior design. I thought, “I’ll give it a go.” I wasn’t really excited about it. Within the first two weeks, I’m sitting there and I’m sketching and I’m doing the history of architecture, and I just knew that’s what I had to do.
Kevin:  Yes. It’s quite amazing; we’ve seen many people you’ve worked for over the years just break down and cry when they see what you’ve done. I’ve often wondered whether it’s about the person or is it about the property? How do you get that understanding about what’s really going to turn someone on?
Shaynna:  It’s a couple of angles. It is about the people because it’s your home, it’s your investment, and people are very emotionally attached to the memories that are created within that space.
When you’re doing it for somebody who’s going to keep the house, you’re actually creating a space for them to create new memories. There is that real personal connection that you can never let go. When you’re trying to sell a house, you’re hoping that you can convey that, that somebody can walk in and feel emotionally connected to the space, even though they don’t own it. To me, everything has to come from a personable angle.
Kevin:  There’s a great tip there for anyone looking at selling their property. They should try and picture what the buyer will be like and maybe make the surroundings fit that personality.
Shaynna:  Yes. I think a lot of people get caught up in their own memories and forget that they’re actually selling it for someone else to put their memories in it. That’s probably the biggest key.
Kevin:  Shaynna’s World of Design, of course, was all about your lighting range. Are we likely to see an expansion of that. Will there be other lines coming along?
Shaynna:  We’re already designing part two, which is absolutely exciting.
Kevin:  Fantastic.
Shaynna:  We’re looking at a couple different variations of the lights and then also accessories and things that will go with it. It’s not just about the lights; knowing that you can have things around in the room so they’re going to connect with each other. That’s really exciting.
It means that the lightings were pretty bespoke and that they’re between the middle and high end of a couple of them, and then the pieces that will go around it will be more in that affordable range. You can have your expensive piece and your lower price piece, so they actually work really well together.
Kevin:  We’ve been promoting the fact that we’re going to be talking to you today, and we actually did have a question in from one of our listeners, Janine in Tarragindi, who says, “Can you please ask Shaynna, if you have only enough money for one thing, would you choose to paint the house or renovate the 1970s orange bathroom?”
Shaynna:  I think the bathroom, and that’s because that is the hardest thing to do. You can do a lick of paint at any time, but I think if you can afford to the bathroom – it doesn’t have to be over-the-top expensive – that is a big money-spinner and that is a big thing, whether you’re going to live in it, it makes you feel good, because nothing about a ’70s bathroom makes you feel great unless you’re a retro queen. It’s about making you feel good every time you walk into that bathroom. If you’re doing it to sell, a buyer will walk in and not be put off by it because they think, one, it’s ugly, and two, they have to spend too much money.
Kevin:  Over the years, we’ve lost our way, I think, with some of the design concepts we’ve come up with: the 1970s bathroom or the orange bathroom, even all that mission brown. It was great at the time, but how did we fall into that trap? It’s pretty ugly, isn’t it?
Shaynna:  This is where I love history and history of architecture. It moves with the times. It was coming out of that concept of the Mad Men era, where you had everything loud and bright, and then you had the soft pastels. Then ’70s came along and just wanted to be very dark and moody and get away from that psychedelic era of the ’60s and the pastels of the early ’60s. It was really just creating a different movement and change.
Kevin:  Yes, I understand. That’s fair enough.
Just before I let you go, Shaynna, just your renovation tips for beginners on a bit of a budget. Have you got a couple you can give us?
Shaynna:  I think that the biggest renovation tip is to work out how long you wanted to have that renovation last for. If it’s a renovation that you just want a quick fix so that it’s going to look great for a couple of years, don’t spend your money on expensive surfaces because you might change your mind.
If it’s just a quick fix, look at your basic lights, look at your paint, and look at the fittings like your oven and your door handles that you’ll get a lot of use out of. If you’re going to do it for the long term, really plan it well. I think a lot of people go a bit too gung ho. They see a look and think, “I’m going to do this and do that,” and then start spending without really doing a proper budget and working out how it’s going to play out over the next 12 months, putting it together.
Kevin:  Great advice. Finally, before I let you go, is there one thing with design, a must-have that applies to all homes?
Shaynna:  Never forget the heart. I think that’s the thing. Don’t get caught up in the look. It’s all about the heart of the home, and it’s all about how you will fit in the space. Yes, don’t get caught up on the look.
Kevin:  It comes down to that personality again, doesn’t it? You’ve got to live there.
Shaynna:  It has to. Yes. It’s the space you have to walk in and feel good about yourself when you walk in, rather than feeling like you’re living in someone else’s house.
Kevin:  One of the big challenges, I guess, for any designer – like you – is that you’ve got to actually put yourself in someone else’s place, as opposed to imposing your own personality onto a design.
Shaynna:  I’ve actually become a very good psychologist and marriage counselor over the years.
Kevin:  You’d have to.
Shaynna:  It is. It’s tapping into the human psyche and actually trying to work out what they want even though they’re telling you something else. I love observing and I love people watching. It’s a really good skill. I get to go into people’s lives and they share so much with me, and it’s fun.
Kevin:  Thank you so much for sharing some time with us this morning, Shaynna. It’s been a delight talking to you. All the success in the future coming your way, too.
Shaynna:  Thanks you so much, Kevin. An absolute pleasure chatting to you.

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