A password will be e-mailed to you.

Last week, we asked if now was the right time to get into the market and buy that first home.  You gave your answer: yes it is!

According to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics  this week, the number of first time home buyers entering the market soared to 18 per cent last month – reaching its highest level in five years.

There were 12,000 new buyers in NSW alone.

The last time the proportion of first home buyers was this high was in September 2012 – but a lot has changed to house prices since then.  Like, they’ve almost doubled to around $1.2 million in Sydney and around $1 million in Melbourne.

Here at Really Simple Money, we didn’t even know there was a ‘‘good time to buy a dwelling’ ’ index, but according to the Sydney Morning Herald it’s climbed 6.1 per cent to 106.7, the highest reading since September.

It’s apparently a survey of 1,200 people run by by the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank.

The paper reports the index was up 7.9 per cent on January last year, “meaning that optimists now outnumber pessimists” in the most positive start to a calendar year since 2010.

Happy New Year indeed!

 

Did you fall for this insurance scam? Over 250,000 did and they could get your money back!

 

Ok, we all know we don’t read the small print.  But that’s because we don’t think any reputable organisation would actually sell us something that’s such an obvious rip off.  They want to maintain their good reputation, right?

Er…wrong.

How about this: you buy an insurance policy that costs $6,000 – with a payout capped at $6,000.

You wouldn’t fall for that right?

Well, corporate watchdog ASIC has just found big names doing just that.  And the commissions to sellers – mainly car yards – were so huge, the sales teams couldn’t wait to sign up their customers.

They call it add-on insurance.

The five most common are:

Credit insurance,

Gap insurance

Loan termination insurance

Mechanical breakdown insurance

Tyre and rim insurance.

The numbers said it all.  We paid $1.6 billion in premiums, and got back just $144 million in successful insurance claims.

Insurers paid car dealers $602 million in commissions – more than four times more than they paid to consumers in claims – to get them to basically con their clients.

Some people sold these pups weren’t even eligible to claim!

Then there was ‘‘ flex commissions’ ’  – car dealers could set their own loan interest (as high as they could!) and get big bonuses for doing so.

Thanks to the guys at ASIC, insurance sold through car yards has had commission slashed to 20 per cent of the premium.

And Allianz will return $48 million to about 110,000 customers, Suncorp’s is to return of $17.2 million to 54,000 customers, and the Swann Insurance (part of Insurance Australia Group) has tabled an offer of  $37 million to 68,000 customers.

are a good start on making things right.

“We expect to see refunds of more than $122 million paid to more than 257,000 customers for buying insurance products of little or no use to them,” says ASIC.

 

Did you get bitten by Bitcoin?

Last week, our colleague Bernadette Chua told us she had made $2,000 trading cryptocurrencies over Christmas.  Despite the free-fall, she is still holding her own – and says she’s investing not retreating.

But her words come with a sensible warning:  “I have outlaid very little  – basically my shoe money – and already made it back.  Don’t bet on cryptocurrencies with more than you can afford to lose!”

Bernadette is not alone.  Despite Bitcoin being at its lowest level since late December, most Australians were hanging tough.

Watch this space!

 

No money in your wallet? Here’s why…

 

If you live in Sydney, you know you your city is among the most expensive – 16th in the world for rent and 32nd overall.

Numbeo, the world’s biggest price aggregation website, says Sydney has risen from 41 a year ago. Melbourne is No.64, up from 77.

 

Ok, who beat us?  The site measures cities against a basket of New York costs.

Well Hamilton in Bermuda has the world’s most expensive cost of living , at 145 per cent of New York.  Sydney is at 91 per cent and Melbourne at 85 per cent.

Childcare for one month costs $1922 in Sydney and $1343 in Melbourne, compared with $2158 in New York.

Rent for a one bedroom apartment in central Sydney costs $2619 a month, compared to $1746 in central Melbourne, $2870 in central London and $3096 in New York.

A Sydney central apartments cost $13,212 per square metre to buy, compared with $8603 per square metre in central Melbourne, $16,750 in New York and $22,731 in central London.

The cheapest Australian restaurants surveyed are in Cairns and the Gold Coast.

The most attractive Australian city in which to live, taking into account wages, is Canberra, where a typical ACT wage buys 39 per cent more than a typical New York wage, making Canberra the world’s 41st most affordable city.