Archive for Property Market

Quality in living – Achacha a farm worker story

The first thing we consider in our work is quality in living. One of the major impacts of the Covid19 pandemic has been unemployment and worsening under employment.  Separately there is concern about how crops will be harvested given the reduced numbers of international backpackers and other temporary workers who usually do much of this work. Put all this together as we move towards major harvest seasons and we are likely to see some serious labour challenges. 

The workers and their wages
International students and backpackers usually make up around 11% of our working population. However it seems they are being exploited by some Australian employers. A study of the pre-pandemic work experiences of around 4000 students and backpackers has found significant underpayment with fruit-pickers the lowest paid of all. One in three received around half the minimum wage. Worst of all was one in seven workers on fruit farms who earned around $5 an hour – around a quarter of the legal minimum wage for a casual worker.

So it would seem at least some farms are underpaying their workers. Additionally this sector has a strong reliance on temporary workers – students and backpackers whose numbers are now significantly reduced. In the mix also are credible reports of unemployed Australians struggling to land farm jobs despite being keen to work.

This year, when so many Aussies are looking for work it is going to be interesting to understand more of what has been really going on in our agricultural labour market.

Fabulous Farmers
In contrast there are some bright spots where farms and farmers pay award wages by the hour rather than the hated piece rates. They also employ locals and have a reputation for looking after their workers. This should mean they will have less problems in finding harvest labour in their upcoming picking season.

Part of our philosophy and working with our clients in passing on their properties is quality in living.  One fundamental is that people should be paid a fair wage for fair work.  

Achacha
One example of farmers doing the right thing and being respected for doing so are Bruce and Helen Hill. As owners of a unique Achacha farm near Townsville their farm is known as a ‘very good farm to work’ according to the manager of the local backpackers hostel. Payments are ‘by the hour and at award rates’ rather than piece rates, as well as having a  ‘body friendly’ harvest. The picking can be done standing up with no back breaking crouch and no climbing ladders. There is also an added bonus of doing the picking inside the tree shaded from the summer heat. Bruce and Helen are also known for ‘looking after their workers’. A fair wage for fair work.

Bruce and Helen are hoping, along with many other farmers, that they manage to find farm labour this season. The Achacha harvest of around 300 tonnes starts in January and runs through to March, after the local mango harvest finishes. The farm usually employs around half locals and the remainder backpackers.

The farm is also popular with grey nomads who usually stay on for 1-2 months and enjoy breaking their journey on a working organic farm, only 30 minutes away from Townsville.

The farm is organic and biodynamic certified producing not only Achacha but also mangoes and very popular Achacha honey. Their farm tours are also growing in popularity with visitors enjoying the experience of a working sustainable farm. This is a farm that embodies quality in living !

It’s a Moving Time for Organic Farmers

There is much discussion and evidence about changes in Australian agriculture as family farms are sold off – either to other families who need bigger operations or to corporations into mega agriculture.

There is another dimension of this story in Australian farming that receives little attention but is increasingly important to Australians and our way of life for the coming centuries.

A remaining issue is the challenge of succession; namely that the adult children of farmers often want different lives and careers outside of agriculture and so are not interested to continue a farming enterprise. For some families, the current farm is too small for the split of assets between children.

Such is the case for Ron and Sue Watkins in south-western WA.  They would have loved to pass their certified organic farm on to at least one of their children.

Instead, they are now looking for a young family to take over what has become one of the finest examples of regenerative farming in Australia today.

As a young couple, Ron and Sue moved back to what was his traditional family farm in the 1970s. It was only then Ron was confronted with his mother’s difficulties growing her veggies and fruit trees.  What began as a water and salinity issue to be solved, led Ron on a wonderful journey over the last 40 years towards sustainability – the health and wellbeing of his land, his animals, the food he produces – for Australians every week.

You can now witness his integrated systems of water, soil, climate, human energy, to the production of grains, beef, wool, lamb, eggs, poultry, vegetables. The organic produce coming from the farm is held in high esteem and demand is high.

Ron and Sue’s farm sits in complete contrast to the mono-cultures of massive wheat, beef or cotton farms of industrial agriculture.

A certified organic farm means no industrialised chemical regime; careful assessment of anything brought on to the farm.

What it also means is a way of life that echoes the agriculture of old – a love of the land, a love of the way of life, a place to grow family and foster community.

This is not some pie-in-the-sky-dream or uneconomic way to live.   Ron and Sue have demonstrated that small is indeed beautiful, you can make a living on a farm that works with its natural systems.  A small landholding (552ha) can provide a family with all it needs.

In spite of our mass-industrialised food systems, the market demand for organic food and natural, unprocessed products has increased exponentially. The Australian organics market has grown by almost 88 per cent since 2012. So too, consumers are seeking to know where their food comes from, how it is grown and processed, and the environmental impact. Key figures from the 2018 Australian Organic Market Report show two thirds of Australian shoppers said they started buying organics for personal health reasons, while 12 per cent consider themselves to be ‘highly-committed’ organic purchasers, usually outlaying 40 per cent or more of their food budget on organic food or household products.

Ron and Sue are deeply committed to preserving the legacy of the land and passing on their passion. They won’t simply walk away. As true custodians of the land, Ron and Sue’s greatest gift to the next generation is to mentor and guide them through a transition period. The next family will benefit from Ron and Sue’s priceless wisdom and knowledge.  Their knowledge of what works (and what doesn’t), how to pursue new organic crops or the interests of the new owners based on the market demand, as well as what the land can offer.

The gates are open for vegetables, more poultry and eggs, aquaculture, experiential tourism, training and research.   For the enterprising and innovative farmer, Ron’s farm provides the legacy and potential that cannot be bought elsewhere.

Regenerative agriculture on small farms and gardens is often based on practical ideologies like permaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, restoration ecology, keyline design and holistic management. This is rapidly gaining momentum among the farming community as it is the integration of many approaches that have arisen through the environmental movement in the last 50 years – speaking to all the people worldwide who have wanted a different world, a different way of life to the ever-increasing industrialising of farming through chemical regimes, corporate seed ownership, ever bigger machinery.  The values of working with natural systems, not imposing human will on the land or water systems, but working with the earth’s natural ecosystem to harness what the environment will provide in any one location.

So, whether it is permaculture emphasising natural systems and location; organic certification which focuses on inputs and outputs in land; water systems; soil improvement; natural habitat and biodiversity; all the benefits of these features are now available on Ron’s farm.

Of course, Ron’s farm at Frankland River could easily be sold on the open market, where these opportunities and legacy may be lost.  There has been ample interest from parties wanting to expand their current farm; corporations wanting to exploit all the systems and land; or perhaps those wanting to move into wine or olives.  There are now three award-winning wines in James Halliday’s Top 100 wine list; the region is now being looked at for its community as Margaret River becomes increasingly upmarket and corporatised.

Ron’s main priority  is to preserve the eco capital of the property and pass his farm on as if  to his family; to share his knowledge, to pass it on knowing the young family as committed to maintaining the organic status even if they want to change the mix of production or enterprises to suit their own preferences.

In choosing his buyer Ron has selected The Eco Real Estate Network as the agency to do this work.  This real estate innovator works nationwide only on what it calls environmental properties – property that contributes to sustainability in some way.  Organic farms of course but also suburban and lifestyle homes, conservation and eco-tourism.  Through its partnership programs it works with the property owner to find the next owner.

Extra benefits are available.  For this property there are 4 titles which means innovation financing can come into play.  Eco Real Estate works with investors and consultants who can structure innovative financing for any young family who may need help in obtaining farming finance.  The investors and consultants share the commitment to retaining organic farms in Australia, for them not to be lost to the open market. 

Here is an opportunity for you to be the farmer and ecoprenueur you always dreamed of being.  An outstanding economic and environmental choice awaits you, with an amazing 12 month mentoring and training package.

Title Sustainability Starts Where You Live

Gloucester Tops – make the move.

Sustainability is a way of life that may be as simple as taking the time to make purchases that use less packaging. Or, it could be as deep as finding ways to live off the land and provide others with options to purchase sustainable products and services.

Several lots of income streams possible around the food production, eggs/chicken, permaculture training/experiential tourism; showcase sustainable living B&B.

If sustainability is important to you, it can seem overwhelming to know where to make changes or how to find a home that offers sustainable living and sustainable income streams.

Gloucester Tops in NSW is the property found by one couple to start their dream of sustainable living and production. Inspired and charmed by the ever-changing landscape adjacent to the World Heritage listed Barrington Tops wilderness and a climate that feels so close to the sky, they named the home and gardens they built Misty Ridge.

The couple and their family like to think of Misty Ridge as an edible landscape providing many diverse food sources. For example, free-range eggs laid by chickens in their expansive hen house!  With lots of produce sold.

A well-established market garden provides year-round produce for farmers’ markets, retail sales and produce boxes.

Established using permaculture design and low water use, a wicking system has created 95% efficiency of water, yet still produces high yields.

With careful planning and farming practices, the garlic and sweet potato cash crops and market garden as well as the whole property are organically certified by Australian Certified Organic. This is an achievement that many sustainable producers seek to obtain.

The gentle art of bee-keeping adds to their seasonal sales of honey; well known for its unique flavor of the surrounding native bush.

Thanks to the success of the established permaculture farm, Misty Ridge is a place where many people travel to attend workshops and other ticketed events to learn more about sustainable produce farming. For the owners, this has been so valuable and affirming to share their extensive practical knowledge. This experiential tourism on this property is untapped potential for anyone wanting to undertake education and ecotourism enterprises.

There is one major element that makes Misty Ridge so successful in offering sustainable living, income and life—and that is love. There is no doubt about it—this property has been lovingly created and well designed with fully-implemented integrated systems for health and well-being as well as food production.

Although not established yet, Misty Ridge could at some point offer accommodation such as B&B to people and families who wish to spend more time in this amazing place. It really is a place for people to connect with the environment and perhaps learn deeper skills and inspiration to take every-day sustainable practices back into their homes and community.

Visit our Gloucester Tops listing for more information.

Straw Bale Living in Victoria

Green Change to Beautiful Strawbale Executive Style Family Home on a few Acres

Straw bale homes really are the ultimate alternative for people wanting to consider the eco-footprint of their home on our fragile earth—yet still live in comfort and beauty all year round.

Described as having an “organic feel”, this straw bale home is unusually presented with a stunning executive finish that snubs any hippy hang-ups that alternative building materials may convey.

The minute you step into this straw bale home, you feel enclosed by the softness of the walls, yet the home is spacious with impressively high ceilings and breathtaking views.

It’s a home that is big on enjoying the good things in life with family and friends—like entertaining and hanging around inside and out. The lovely wide veranda is the absolute location for many merry gatherings, with a refreshing dipping pool.

Amongst the numerous benefits of living in a straw bale home is the non-toxic interior environment. The nature of how it is built and what it is built from (straw) means that the walls absorb moisture and are considerably healthier than a conventional interior of painted plasterboard wall.

The internal temperature is comfortably stable inside a passive solar straw bale home, often in the low 20s during winter, and in the heat of summer it remains beautifully cooler—up to 10 degrees cooler than the outside.

The benefits (apart from no electricity bills) of running completely off-grid,  means this straw bale home has great features including lighting and the appliances that all contemporary executive modern homes boast—yet without ongoing additional costs to the family budget or the environment.

What you will love the most about living in this straw bale home—even though it is modern and has the best of the best executive living aspects—are the unique features that are the undeniable nature of straw bale, such as the curved finish between the double-glazed windows and wall; unmistakably hand-crafted and one-of-a-kind.

Make the green change to Glenlyon Victoria and the gentle, lovely life in such an unusual and special WOW home.

Straw Bale Living

Green Change to Beautiful Strawbale Executive Style Family Home on a few Acres

Straw bale homes really are the ultimate alternative for people wanting to consider the eco-footprint of their home on our fragile earth—yet still live in comfort and beauty all year round.

Described as having an “organic feel”, this straw bale home is unusually presented with a stunning executive finish that snubs any hippy hang-ups that alternative building materials may convey.

The minute you step into this straw bale home, you feel enclosed by the softness of the walls, yet the home is spacious with impressively high ceilings and breathtaking views.

It’s a home that is big on enjoying the good things in life with family and friends—like entertaining and hanging around inside and out. The lovely wide veranda is the absolute location for many merry gatherings, with a refreshing dipping pool.

Amongst the numerous benefits of living in a straw bale home is the non-toxic interior environment. The nature of how it is built and what it is built from (straw) means that the walls absorb moisture and are considerably healthier than a conventional interior of painted plasterboard wall.

The internal temperature is comfortably stable inside a passive solar straw bale home, often in the low 20s during winter, and in the heat of summer it remains beautifully cooler—up to 10 degrees cooler than the outside.

The benefits (apart from no electricity bills) of running completely off-grid,  means this straw bale home has great features including lighting and the appliances that all contemporary executive modern homes boast—yet without ongoing additional costs to the family budget or the environment.

What you will love the most about living in this straw bale home—even though it is modern and has the best of the best executive living aspects—are the unique features that are the undeniable nature of straw bale, such as the curved finish between the double-glazed windows and wall; unmistakably hand-crafted and one-of-a-kind.

Make the green change to Scone NSW and the gentle, lovely life in such an unusual and special WOW home.

Lakeside Living at its Best

Your own beach, waterfront, eco home away from the maddening crowds

The most difficult thing after making the decision to move for a new lifestyle is to find a home that is within three hours of Melbourne CBD.

That challenge increases if you are looking for a home and land that is sustainable, eco-friendly and has potential enterprise opportunities.

Lakeside Coongulla is an ecoproperty® in a Victorian community of central Gippsland that is often an overlooked location.   This can be a good thing for people looking for real lifestyle options outside of the city! The diversity of this area is amazing with wineries establishing, abundant water for irrigation and established transport links to markets.

Situated on 29 acres, this ecoproperty® has many enterprise opportunities for a home based businessor weekender around water sports.  The property has separate entries so there are lots of creative potential, like a B&B, or a retreat for artists or writers to produce their next big masterpiece. Nowadays it is possible to do business anywhere in the world!

Enjoy this quieter location away from the maddening crowds. The more isolated area is an opportunity to create a more peaceful true getaway. With a private sandy beach and metre of your own waterfront all on the shores of Lakeside Glenmaggie; your friends, family and potential paying guests will be hard to keep away.  Enjoy swimming and water sports or simply soak up the tranquil lifestyle that living by the water brings.

Banyandah, or “Home by the Water” is an architect designed solar passive house. Built from timber, stone and mud sourced onsite; this home celebrates the seasons for living beautifully and simply.

It is a stunning ecoproperty® ready for entertaining family, friends and guests- with four bedrooms, two spacious living zones, two bathrooms, a beautiful timber kitchen and expansive timber decking for outdoor entertaining.

The seasons and the surrounding landscape are the inspiration of the design for Banyandah.

Passive solar design minimises the carbon footprint over the life of the home. The use of solar energy for hot water and heating, wood for heating, cooking and hot water and an environmentally friendly sewerage system reduces the need for water.

The property comes with 122,750 litres (27,000 gallons) of domestic water storage, and a 2mg water right from the lake with pump, 27,000 litres of water tanks tank supplying garden water system.

At Eco Real Estate our passion is connecting people to ecoproperty®. Check out Ryans Road, Coongulla in Victoria for your new lifestyle in Australia.

What an Opportunity: Introducing Payneham Vale

Payneham Vale, a 552ha property of early selected undulating gravel loams, has been NASAA certified organic since 1997 and has received international awards for environmental excellence.

And, it could be yours!

If you are looking for a farm with the highest environmental stewardship with a bright financial future, you would be hard pressed to find something as special as Payneham Vale.

Australian farmland is a highly-demanded asset, and owning a part of Australia is a sound long-term business decision. In addition, converting a farm to a certified organic farm can be a long and expensive one, but here all of the work has been done. The Walk In, Walk Out option includes purchase of livestock, fodder, machinery and equipment (other options are available for discussion).

The four titles mean that your choice of business structure is flexible and can be fitted to your unique position and financing to suit your own personal circumstances. The property provides the opportunity for a multi-level family enterprise, with the equivalent of four full time jobs currently. With two houses and an additional cottage, the ownership options are ideal for a family business or partnership with a variety of roles available.

EcoRealEstate was established to protect and promote environmental property and to preserve our eco capital
and our goal is to find a buyer with similar values and a passion to continue the work done to date.

Learn more about this standout property at https://www.ecorealestate.com.au/

Affordable Housing

‪Great show ABC TV on affordable housing around the world – special Foreign Correspondent, May 9 – check out iview. ‬We need imagination and lots of solutions – plus some new ownership and leasing solutions.

Apartment Owners – Check Your Local Area

Apartment owners and buyers be warned – APRA tightening on investor lending may be starting to bite.

Deposit holders who cannot find sufficient finance are selling on, sometimes walking away from deposits.This will put downward pressure on prices, and eventually impact on developers and their financiers.

If you are located in this type of local market, take some time to review your own assets and check values with your lifestyle and any plans.

Affordable Housing

Finally extensive debate and hopefully some key policies will be announced in the May 17 Federal Budget. Check out our Poll here on our Facebook page to give your views. We will report the results on Facebook and in our EcoNews. Give your opinion – ours for example, is that accessing Superannuation will only provide more demand and more competition – unless it is matched by some innovative policies that will also generate extensive supply.

Organic Farms

WA’s highest quality certified organic farm, Payneham Organic Farm on four titles and two homes.

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Financial Property

Over winter this year we will be discussing the financing of properties, traditional banks of course and other usual sources. More importantly we will be looking at your experiences and those of our clients, innovations that are coming in to the market, how to get the best loan, the best financiers for different types and location of property. So stay tuned to join in and share your experience and what you need for your property ownership and management. Please look out for our note of how to participate towards the end of April.

Current Market

It has been an exciting and rewarding 18 months for us with our eco buyers, all around Australia and other parts of the world, very interested in our properties and making some great purchases.

Frequently, we are asked by seller “how long will it take to sell my property?” Sadly, the biggest mistake we see is not putting the right strategy in place from the get go. Getting the best buyers, the best price, the best timing.

Our Eco Networks of over 8,000 people have been built over many years so we know what people want, and when they want it.

Both buyers and sellers are welcome to have one of our free consultations. So make any time to suit by booking here and tell us a bit about what you are hoping to buy, or planning to sell (or rent/lease). As part of this we will let you know about the current market and what is happening for your type of property or project.

Foreign Buyers of Australian Property

It’s highly unlikely lending and regulation is going to halt demand and impact.

It is time to discuss types of ownership eg. more leasehold; taxation eg. more contribution to national infrastructure, health, environment.

Let’s be innovative and imaginative – we have what most people and corporations want – security, wealth, well being. All comparative of course but we remain one of the luckiest countries.

So how best to share it – let’s debate widely and deeply and constantly.

SELLING property in 2016

THE CURRENT MARKET – SELLING property in 2016
One of the most concerning problems in the real estate market at the moment is the domination in some locations of large marketing or corporate franchises, or simply a dominant local agency.  Not a problem in themselves, but when it comes to evidence of low sale prices in the interest of quick cash flow for the agency, we do have a real issue.  EcoRealEstate’s work utilsing the ecoproperty® methodology and its EcoPremium already drives values for our clients.  However, when we also see where vendors have lost not small amounts, significant amounts of money from $20,000 to as much as $100,000 we are very concerned.  If you are ready to sell or would just like to chat about your property options you can start here or make an appointment.  If you would like to talk about your local market we would also most welcome the opportunity to hear about your experiences, or those of your friends or colleagues so contact us here anytime.

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