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Photo: Liz Rusby/The Grubb Co




The eat-in kitchen offers an island with sitting area, breakfast nook and Viking appliances.

Photo: Liz Rusby/The Grubb Co

A family room just off the kitchen includes a fireplace and yard access off both sides.

Photo: Liz Rusby/The Grubb Co

The tiered island in the kitchen provides space for preparing meals and casual dining.

Photo: Liz Rusby/The Grubb Co

Above: The five-bedroom 1238 Drury Road in Berkeley is designed by Phil Perkins. Below: The tiered island in the kitchen provides space for preparing meals and casual dining.

Photo: Liz Rusby/The Grubb Co

Cityscapes and Bay Area landmarks are visible from the west-facing terrace.

Photo: Liz Rusby/The Grubb Co

The Berkeley home enjoys a level lawn in its backyard that complements the bay views.

Photo: Liz Rusby/The Grubb Co

Hot Property: Hillside Claremont home offers bay views, luxurious courtyard and a level lawn

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Alex Siows timing couldnt have been better. During a fateful Saturday morning drive around Berkeleys Claremont neighborhood in 2007, he and his wife happened across the skeleton of a home under construction.

Within two months, the Siows would own the property and move in once the building phase wrapped up.

There was masking tape and paint rags everywhere when we first saw it. You could still tell it was going to be beautiful, Siow said of 1238 Drury Road, listed at $2.38 million. The tall windows stood out to us immediately.

Those expansive glass panels frame views of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges while simultaneously inviting sunlight to the elegant interior. The five-bedroom tri-level includes an elevator, view terrace and fireplaces in the living room and master suite. Viking appliances dominate an eat-in kitchen with a tiered island and breakfast nook. But bay views and a level lawn cemented the couples desire to buy the west-facing home.

Its a hillside home with a flat lawn ... that by itself makes it special, Siow said.

Siow lucked out that Saturday he first visited the lot. The person that day was both the lots owner the homes builder, John Coleman of JeColeman Consulting.

Coleman guided them around the site and informed them Marin architect Phillip Perkins designed the home. The revelation made the property all the more desirable, Siow said.

We had made offers on a few homes (designed by Perkins before) over the years but we kept getting outbid, he said.

The Siows bought the home months before its completion. They worked with an interior designer on a few specific finishes, but otherwise the couple simply needed to close out the transaction and grab the keys before moving in.

They already planned on putting in the highest quality brands and finishes, he said.

Views are obviously a prime element of this property, but Siow is quick to compliment Perkins on focusing on the design as a whole.

Perkins was not only concentrating on views, he also designed the space to be livable, Siow said.

The seller points to attic and basement storage, bedrooms on the same floor and elevator access to all levels as functional design elements. The elevator proves its worth every time Siow needed to lug a bulky item in or out of the home, he said.

Its convenient, especially when youre transporting something from garage to the deck, said Siow, recalling the time he moved a freestanding barbecue to a terrace off the family room.

Though technically a Berkeley mailing address, residents of 1238 Drury Road pay property taxes to the city of Oakland.

Visit for more details.

Listing agent: Bebe McRae, Grubb Co., (510) 652-2133, ext. 415, [email protected]


Address: 1238 Drury Road, Berkeley

Price: $2.38 million

Features: A five-bedroom view home in Berkeleys Claremont neighborhood overlooking cityscapes, the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Viking appliances and a tiered island highlight the chefs kitchen. The hillside home offers a level lawn in the backyard before the landscape tapers downward.

Open home: 2 to 4: 30 p.m. Sunday
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David Koch explains why it is essential for all rental property investors

A FEW years of stellar returns has convinced many people that investing in property is a sure thing. Just buy a reasonable place in a suburb close to a capital city, then sit back and watch capital gains accumulate... or so the thinking goes.

But before you start counting your money, we should warn you that being a property investor may not be all it's cracked up to be.

Not only is it foolish to believe that prices will always appreciate, but any number of issues can spring up and turn your goldmine into a sinkhole.

Here are a few things to be aware of before jumping into the property market with both feet.

Expect the unexpected (expenses)

Before investing in property, the vast majority of people sit down and do their sums to work out whether they can actually afford it.

But at the end of the day, it's difficult to account for all of the unexpected expenses that inevitably pop up.

Whether that's fixing a leaky roof, the oven giving up or landlords' insurance premiums increasing, the unexpected costs of owning an investment property can quickly add up.

Expect unexpected expenses when buying property such as a leaky roof.

Source: News Limited

Top tenants are hard to find

The dream for property investors is to find a long-term tenant willing to pay a reasonable rent and treat the property well while living there.

Of course, sometimes the dream is just that... a dream.

In some cases, you may have to accept a lower rent to fill the property, tenants might move out unexpectedly or cause damage, intentional or otherwise.

In slower markets, your property may sit empty for an extended period of time, meaning that you'll need to stump up for the entire mortgage yourself.

Your time is money

Managing a property and dealing with the potential issues we've just outlined is a very time-consuming process.

Of course, it's possible to pay other people to help you with many of these tasks, but that's another expense that will eat into your overall return.

You can pay someone to manage your property but it is another expense.

Property isn't a sure bet

Last week we wrote about the potential headwinds for property prices.

These include higher borrowing costs as interest rates rise, banks tightening their lending standards, an increased supply of housing coming onto the market and a slowdown in China.

And when you consider the fact that property prices in many of our capital cities are at record highs, it's more important than ever to think carefully about what you expect to achieve through your investment over the long-term and where we are in the property cycle.

Property can go down in value, as it is currently in some capital cities, as well as up.

Negative gearing means making a loss

Remember, despite the generous tax breaks you receive, negative gearing is not a guarantee of making money.

In fact, negatively gearing a property means you're making an ongoing cash loss on the investment. So to make sense as an investment strategy, a loss-making property must appreciate in value over time to cover these losses.

And when you take into account the price headwinds we've just outlined, there's no guarantee this will happen.

It's more important than ever to think carefully about what you expect to achieve through your investment over the long-term and where we are in the property cycle.

Source: Supplied

How to make it work

Of course, it's not all doom and gloom: property can be a great long-term investment when approached sensibly.

It's secure, tangible, offers great tax benefits and can produce a fairly stable income. However, before investing in any property it's important to do your research.

Consider the risks outlined above, factor in a rate rise of at least two per cent into your repayment calculations to make sure you don't borrow more than you can afford, and look for a reasonably priced property in an area that you believe has strong potential for capital growth and is attractive to tenants.

And if you do plan on managing it all yourself, be prepared for some hard work.

Good luck!
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Mal Maiden: Time nearly up for negative gearing

With the Federal Reserve hinting at a looming rate rise, and the government white paper on tax overdue, Mal Maiden examines the market future.




Australia's federal politicians have been outed as the country's most eager property investors, casting doubt on their willingness to rein in negative gearing.

The controversial practice allows taxpayers to use tax losses from rental properties to cut their taxable income. Critics argue it contributes to Australia's house affordability crisis.

If someone has more than one mortgage of course they're negatively gearing. You'd be an idiot not to 

Around one in seven Australian taxpayers own rental properties, but among federal politicians it is at least one in three.

Figures compiled by property authors Lindsay David, Paul Egan and Philip Soos show federal politicians own an average 2.4 properties each, including their family homes.

Collectively they own a portfolio of 541 properties, conservatively estimated to be worth $350 million.

Barry O'Sullivan is Capital Hill's biggest property tycoon, with the Queensland Nationals senator owning 41 properties.

Other big real estate investors include the Nationals' David Gillespie (18 properties), the Palmer United Party's Clive Palmer (12 properties), and the Country Liberal Party's Natasha Griggs (12 properties).

High-profile Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull owns an impressive portfolio of seven properties, while Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan has five.

But of the 226 members of Parliament, 84 of them hold at least one investment property and at least one mortgage or investment loan, meaning they are possibly negative gearing.

Parliament's register of members' interest does not disclose if its members who hold a loan against their investment properties are negatively geared.

But as one federal politician told Fairfax Media, after admitting he negatively geared a second property: "If someone has more than one mortgage of course they're negatively gearing. You'd be an idiot not to."

Alannah MacTiernan said that her sole investment property (in which she has a 33 per cent interest) is not negatively geared. 

Economists like Saul Eslake from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and John Daley from the Grattan Institute - who recently took on Treasurer Joe Hockey on Q&A - say negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount should be wound back because they are inflating house prices and accelerating falling rates of home ownership among the young.

Mr Daley said if the government was unwilling to remove the capital gains tax discount it should get rid of negative gearing altogether.

"The most important argument against negative gearing is that it drives up house prices because it increases the after-tax returns to housing investors, and so prices are higher than they would be otherwise," Mr Daley argued last week.

Mr David, Mr Egan and Mr Soos last year warned that, with such high rates of property ownership among Australia's senators and ministers, it was "difficult to believe that politicians will address the real causes of housing unaffordability, despite the recommendations from government reports".

When it comes to Canberra's entire property portfolio, members of the Coalition own 331 properties, or 61 per cent, at an average of 2.7 properties each.

Labor politicians own 162 properties, at an average of two properties each. Greens politicians own 16 properties, while the Palmer United Party owns 14 (Clive Palmer owns 12 of those).

Australia's MPs currently used more properties for investment or commercial purposes (291 properties) than for residential or recreational purposes (250 properties).

Property ownership among politicians is slightly down since the last time Mr David, Mr Egan and Mr Soos conducted similar research.

In 2013, the authors found MPs owned roughly 563 properties, including 312 for investment or commercial purposes.

In 2011/12, more than 1.2 million taxpayers owned a negatively geared property, and the number of people who use the tax strategy has more than doubled since capital the gains tax discount was introduced in 1999.

This article originally contained errors relating to Alannah MacTiernan's property ownership. They have been corrected.

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Property prices in Dubai Marina have dropped by as much as 18 per cent over the past three months, according to the classifieds website Dubizzle.

The company's second-quarter report shows that sale prices for a studio apartment fell by 18 per cent in the Marina to Dh900,000, while three-bed properties dropped in price by 14 per cent to Dh3.6 million.

Rents in the area, which remains the most searched for community in Dubai, have fallen by 7 per cent for three-bedroom properties to Dh213,000 per year.

Meanwhile, prices in some of Dubai's older communities such as Deira have increased as renters have sought cheaper options in the city and no new stock has been built in these areas.

o Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, second quarter of this year

The rent for a studio apartment in Deira has increased by 18 per cent to Dh65,000 (the same as in Bur Dubai) and three-bedroom apartments have risen by 5 per cent to Dh158,000.

In Abu Dhabi, rents and prices have increased across the board apart from Al Reem Island, where there was a decline in sales prices for two and three-bedroom apartments. Two-bedroom apartments dropped in price by 2 per cent to Dh1.96 million, and three-bed units fell by 5 per cent to Dh2.8m.

o Dubai and Abu Dhabi tenants locked in limbo as landlords seek rent advantage

Rents at Saadiyat Island increased by more than 10 per cent, with a three-bedroom property costing an average Dh210,000 to Dh240,000.

Musaffah East, encompassing Mohammed bin Zayed City and Khalifa City, remains the most affordable area in Abu Dhabi to rent.

However, even here prices increased by up to 13 per cent. A one-bedroom apartment in Khalifa City A costs 11 per cent more at Dh55,500.

"The Dubai property market is softening, while older areas in Dubai showed price increases in reflection to a maintained level of demand," said Ann Boothello, product marketing manager for dubizzle. "An example of this is that now a studio in Bur Dubai is rented out for Dh65,000 annually and in Dubai Marina at Dh70,000."

o Where Abu Dhabi rents have risen and fallen, Q2 2015

"Prices of properties for sale decreased across Dubai, with the exception of studios and two-bedroom apartments on the Palm Jumeirah increasing up to 6 per cent," she added.

"Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, experienced price increases in for sale and rent properties."

The top five areas where people were looking for property to buy in Dubai during the first six months of the year were Dubai Marina (which attracted 20 million searches), followed by International City (16 million), JLT (13 million), Downtown Dubai (7 million) and Arabian Ranches (4 million).

In Abu Dhabi, the most popular areas for buyers were Al Reem Island (2 million searches), Gate District (2 million), Tamouh's Marina Square (900,000), Al Ghadeer Village (900,000) and Shams Abu Dhabi (500,000).

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