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As the market cools, first home buyers are finding new ways to get their hands on that all-important first property.

Westpac has just released the findings of its latest survey,  showing young homebuyers are now prepared to move away from “trendy” areas or those close to work in their home hunt.

The key findings:

First home buyers are less focused on buying a home in an area that is trendy or close to work – both significantly decreased in the ranking of “essential features” by 83% and 48% respectively, compared to 2016.

But they are finicky about what’s inside: they now rank modern bathrooms and kitchens as more essential, increasing by 25% and 10% respectively over the 2016 findings

Meanwhile owner-occupiers are considering renovating, –   a 14% increase since 2015. They’re also considering selling less, with it decreasing by 11% compared to 2016.

Andy Wright, Head of Home Ownership for Westpac Group, gave these tips for home owners and first home buyers heading into 2018:

First home buyers: consider buying outside the major cities in regional areas where prices can be lower, and explore all of your options including government schemes, parental guarantees or even rentvesting, to ensure you have are making the most of all pathways to purchase your first home

Home owners: if you are thinking about renovating, make sure you do all your research, set a realistic budget, and explore your property’s potential

Sellers: modern bathrooms and kitchens have become have become more essential for home owners and first home buyers.

You can bank on it!

If anyone thought an inquiry could get the banks and government off the hook, they were so wrong.

Here at Really Simple Money, we champion the amazing value to be found in second tier banks.  They offer fewer fees, better loans and investment rates than those greedy and rapacious Big Banks.

So any inquiry – and this one sounds as if it might have been decided in advance – has us at our cynical best.

Here’s how The Australian saw the inquiry announcement: “From the shock at 8.30am this morning of the banks releasing a statement calling for a commission of inquiry, to the Prime Minister’s endorsement of said call half an hour later, this has to be one of the quickest and most thorough about-faces in recent political history. The government even had draft terms of reference ready to go.

“And that may say a lot about who is driving this commission process.”

Get the picture?

Two weeks ago The Australian reported that the banks had set up teams of lawyers to prepare for the possibility of a royal commission. So, while it might have the appearance of a sudden about-face, there’s enough to suggest that the banks have been working behind the scenes to get in front of the process.

Malcolm Turnbull maintains the inquiry will be a “responsible but comprehensive” inquiry into the whole finance sector including banks, insurance, wealth managers and superannuation.

But there is a caveat: “This will not be an open-ended commission, it will not put capitalism on trial, as some people in the parliament prefer.”

As The Australian surmised: : “As the saying goes, never commission an inquiry unless you know the outcome first. In this case, the banks seem to have got an inquiry that they haven’t exactly wished for, but can probably live with.”

A pizza the action!

Now here’s a story: On May 22, 2010, a developer bought two pizzas using 10,000 units of a then-little-known digital currency called bitcoin.

This week, a bitcoin hit US$10,000 – making 10,000 of them worth US$100 million (£75 million).

Yes, this is one of those stories about the opportunity we all missed.

A year ago, the bitcoin – a currency for the internet age – was worth US$750. So rising to US$10,000 is amazing.

That pizza purchase by Laszlo Hanyecz is believed to be the first “real-world” bitcoin transaction.

He posted on the Bitcoin Talk forum on May 22, 2010, writing (emphasis ours):

I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe 2 large ones so I have some left over for the next day.”

Ten thousand coins were then worth about US$40.

Today, 10,000 bitcoins add up to about $US100 million.

That’s one big pizza! And one big lesson about how values change…