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The economy is slowing but people are still buying ridiculously expensive cars




In 2015, the economy struggled.

The unemployment rate was more than six per cent most of the year. Major miners culled workers. Australia Post announced big job losses. (Even the Treasurer lost his job!) It felt like hard times.

So why, when I check car sales for 2015, do I see Lamborghini having its best year ever, with sales up 211 per cent?

Some people obviously had a pretty good year.

A Lamborghini is priced at $430,000 for the base model. You can pay over $900,00 for the top-of-the-line Aventador with all the trimmings.

The Lamborghini Clubs Gary Overs calls himself a Lamborghini tragic.

Every time you turn the key and that V12 bursts into life, it is an epic event, he told me.

Overs reckons the sales boost is partly due to the launch of that cheaper car, giving people what he called a more affordable way to realise their dream.

But it is not just Lamborghinis going fast. If you look at a lot of super-luxury cars, you find a part of the economy that is having an amazing revival.

Nice for some!

The next graph has the numbers broken out for all those cars.

The relatively cheap Maserati, which can still cost up to $388,000, accounts for the biggest single upswing.

But Ferrari (up 41 per cent) and Bentley (up 17 per cent) also had their best year ever.

Rolls Royce sales fell 23 per cent however, from 39 cars in 2014 to 30 in 2015. But even 30 sales is three times higher than a decade earlier.

Whats going on?

Traditional luxury car brands have become more mainstream.

Porsche makes SUVs for the school run. And Mercedes now sells a whopping 36,000 units a year, including small hatchbacks costing less than a Holden.

The Mercedes-Benz marque was once far more exclusive.

In 1980, the cheapest model cost $30,000 four times the price of a Holden Commodore, and the most expensive model, at $80,000, would set you back more than a house in inner Sydney.

German autos once occupied that very elevated niche, but have abandoned it. Italian and British supercars are now filling it.

Thats the first part of the explanation. The second part is the sector of Australian society now insulated from the hard times.

You might be thinking about people who work in real estate, which has been booming. Or people who did some hard years in the mines and earned a lot. Or lawyers and surgeons. Top income earners make plenty more than bottom ones.

But its not income that makes Australia really unequal. Its mostly wealth.

Land and companies account for a lot of the wealth of the top sector of society.

Id guess the boom in super luxury cars tells us more about Australias wealth situation in 2015 than anything else.

Last years wealth statistics arent out yet, but I cant wait to see them.

Vendors skim time off marketing campaigns to help sell their homes quicker




DESPERATE home sellers are shaving a week or more from their auction campaigns in a bid to avoid an unexpected Christmas sales rush, auction experts claim.

This years spring selling season has been unusually late, with the coming weekend the first true auction bonanza of the season.

More than 900 homes are scheduled to go under the hammer, breaking a listings slump that started before the Federal election.

Homeowners who had delayed listing their homes earlier this season now face increased competition from other sellers if they want their home to change hands before the end of the year.

This has prompted some sellers to opt for a speedier auction campaign.

Raine and Horne director of auctions James Pratt said the strategy had merits.

This weekends super Saturday auction extravaganza features a large number of properties, which are using three-week marketing campaigns, rather than the traditional four-week approach, Mr Pratt said.

This is a sensible strategy given Sydneys high clearance rates and stock levels that are lower than in previous years.

These factors are encouraging more owners to act quickly before buyers lose interest, or more stock comes onto the market.

Auction Services director Rocky Bartolotto said buyers can expect a spike in auction listings during December.

A given years auction activity usually ends a week before Christmas, but a large number of sellers have expressed interest in auctioning much later into the year and on Christmas Eve itself, Mr Bartolotto said.

We have a huge number of bookings December 17 and there may be some overflow. Were expecting even more properties to come up for auction as we get closer to the end of the year, he said.

Auctions have had a high success rate in Sydneys inner ring suburbs. Last weeks highest auction clearance rate was in the inner west, where 91 per cent of auctions produced a result.

Just over 90 per cent of eastern suburbs auctions were a success and 84 per cent of lower north shore auctions.

A clearance rate above 90 per cent means vendors have very a solid chance of selling in this market, Mr Pratt said. Its this realisation, and the proximity to Christmas, which is encouraging more owners to choose a shorter marketing campaign.