Boom time …

In the news this week, house prices continue to rise, housing approvals soar and interest rates stay low; and National Recycling Week starts this weekend, with loads of activities, ideas, help and resources for getting rid of old phones, batteries, e-waste and unwanted items from your household…

The hidden cost of renovating

Now is certainly a good time to add value to your property, particularly for investors who are looking to manufacture equity and increase their rental returns allowing them to add to their property portfolio sooner rather than later.

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Safe betting on interest rates

The safest bet this week was always going to be that the Reserve Bank would make no change to the official cash rate, leaving it at the historic low of 2.5 per cent.

Interest rates strategist at JP Morgan, Sally Auld, was ‘bang on the money’ when she told the ABC on Tuesday morning that interest rates are likely to remain unchanged for some time yet, adding that the RBA's current approach to monetary policy is more reactive than proactive...

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House prices still rising: ABS

House prices around the country have risen consistently over the past twelve months, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced this week.

The latest figures show that the average price for houses in the eight capital cities increased 1.9 per cent in the September 2013 quarter, for a total rise of 7.6 per cent over the last year.

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Don’t want it? Get rid of it

Light installations made from plastic bottles, Shoes for Planet Earth, trendy trash fashions and Big Aussie Swap parties will be happening over the next days as Australians celebrate National Recycling Week, 11-17 November 2013.

‘If you don’t want it, get rid of it’ is the idea behind the Big Aussie Swap parties, and if there is one happening in your neighbourhood, take your unwanted items along and swap them for tokens which can then be used to ‘buy’ some other treasure!

The week is also being used to highlight waste minimisation and local or national initiatives such as e-waste recycling and Mobile Muster. See your local council website or Planet Ark for more details.

Gold does grow on trees, Grandpa

The adage ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’ may not be as true as our austere forebears wanted us to think, after all, since scientists have struck gold on the leaves of Australian eucalypts.

Trees in the Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia have been found to be drawing up gold particles from the earth via their root systems and depositing it on their leaves and branches...

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Apartment approvals up by almost a third

Building approvals surged in September to the highest they have been in three years, due largely to a spike in the apartment sector, according to data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The seasonally adjusted figures show that the number of dwellings approved rose 14.4 per cent in September. Over the twelve months to September 2013, the numbers rose by 18.6 per cent.

This growth was driven primarily by an increase of 31.8 per cent in apartments or ‘private sector dwellings excluding houses’ (up 31.9 per cent over the year).

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Town basks in reflected glory

We have a few dark and stormy days during winter, but can you imagine six whole months of no sunlight? That's par for the course in the small Norwegian town of Rjukan, but on the lighter side, a new installation is set to brighten their days up considerably.

Nestled within the bottom of a deep valley, Rjukan sees barely a ray of sunlight from September until March, but the ABC recently reported that a new initiative has installed giant mirrors 450m high on a mountain above the town to bathe the local square in sun during the day.

Operating on solar power and controlled by a computer in the town, the mirrors have brought the townsfolk out of their homes to enjoy the warmth, light and some much-needed vitamin D from the sun's reflected rays.