Shared gardens bloom into social spaces

The leafy streets and parks of Malvern East helped to inspire the refined elegance of the rooftop garden at Little Projects’ new Hedgeley development in the exclusive Melbourne suburb.
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The expansive oasis atop the 117-apartment low-rise development is rich in a diverse range of vegetation and features a palette of natural materials such as timber and stone, allowing residents to connect with nature without having to leave home.

Amenities include a large entertainment terrace comprising barbecue facilities and an outdoor kitchen and dining area, a large lawn dotted with stepping stones, outdoor fireplaces and two pergolas hung with lush vines.

Seating is arranged in clusters so that residents can socialise in small groups or find a quiet corner to read a book or enjoy the sunshine in solitude.

Fergus Humphries, Little Projects’ general manager, sales and marketing, says the rooftop garden is designed as an all-weather, all-purpose area that residents can use year-round.

“[It’s a place] that really draws residents together and creates that sense of community,” he says.

“The driver is to create areas for residents to interact. As people move away from mainstream housing and accommodation, that sense of neighbourhood and belonging is getting lost a little bit.

“We’re trying to bring back a communal facility. Yes, it helps with sales and marketing – but it’s about more than that.”

Greenery is a key feature of the rooftop garden. Plant species includes fragrant bay trees and rosemary bushes, flowering varieties such as star jasmine and crepe myrtle, evergreen magnolias and deciduous Boston ivy and ornamental grape vines.

Award-winning landscape architect Jack Merlo, who designed the outdoor spaces at Hedgeley, says the plants were carefully selected to provide a combination of year-round greenery and seasonal interest.

“It is always nice to have some seasonal change,” he says.

“About 80 to 90 per cent of the plants are evergreen, so they will stay green and lush all year, but the ornamental grapes on the pergola will change colour in autumn and allow the sun to shine through in winter.”

In addition to the rooftop garden, the Hedgeley development also includes an atrium garden comprising four graduated levels of flowering plants and crepe myrtle trees. Many of the apartments in the building look out onto the passive space.

Each of the one, two and three-bedroom apartments in the building also has a private balcony or terrace. The smallest balconies measure about seven square metres, while the average size is about 13-14 square metres.

The development, on the site of the former Dairy Bell ice-cream store at the corner of Belgrave and Waverley Roads, launched on March 25.

The project has already received 600 expressions of interest ahead of the opening of registrations.

Mr Humphries says he expects a high proportion of owner-occupiers, including first home-buyers, young families and people already based in the area who are downsizing from a standalone house with a garden.

“I would think it’s going to be about 60-70 per cent owner-occupiers,” he says.

“It’s very much an owner-occupier product, because the apartments all have balconies or large terraces.”

Parents, get the kids in the kitchen these school holidaysFOOD BITES

FOOD IS FUN: Budding chefs Emily and Oscar Dagwell, aged 11 and 13.
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The school holidays kick off at the end of this weekand cooking classes are a smart option. Not only are your children being entertained, they are also being taught a valuable life skill.

The Essential Ingredient is holdingcooking classes for kids and teens throughout the Easter break. On April 10children aged eight and up can learn how to makefruit-free hot cross buns and decorate Easter-themed cupcakes.

On April 11 the Egg-tastic for Easter class will teach children aged 12 and older how to make egg dishes including frittatas, Portuguese custard tarts, home-made mayonnaise and bacon and eggs in filo pastry. And that afternoon, in the Easter Treatsclass, theycan learn how to make hot cross buns and a carrot cake from scratch.

Teens can try their hand atMiddle Eastern cooking on April 12, with a morning session featuring spicy chicken skewers, hummus, tzatziki, flat bread and tabbouleh, and an afternoon class ofTurkish street food. They will make gozleme, the crispy yoghurt-based flatbread filled with spiced lamb or spinach and feta, followed by baklava.

Two classes are scheduled on April 13. In the morning session they will masterprawn cutlets andlearn how to make a top tartare sauce and atnoon, it’s time to make Thai fish cakesand pickled ginger mayonnaise. Later, teenagers will try their hand atcrumbed fish burgersand herb mayonnaise.

For details and to book, go online to The Essential Ingredient Newcastle’scooking school page or pop in to The Junction store.

The Argenton Hotel is also encouraging the next generation of chefs these school holidays.

A weekly Little Chefscooking class will start at 11am and cost $10 per child (recommended age is two to 10). Mums and dads can watch as the kids bake mini pizzas bycreating, kneading and cutting out pizza dough, andhand decorate a box to take them home in.Bookings are essential by phoning4958 1060.

And Grill’d at Kotara will be teaching little ones how to maketheir very own burgers at aHealthy Burger Masterclass suitable for ages three to eight. Budding chefs will get their hands dirty making their ultimate burgers from healthy ingredients and instructions from a Grill’d chef.

Afterwards, they can enjoy eating it, along with Grill’d chips and a drink. Limited spots are available for the April 10 to 12, and 18 to 20, masterclasses, which will be held at 11am and 12.30pm and cost $5 per child.

Fresh Salt menuSalt, at Belmont 16s, has a new menu and rumour has it the300-gram Darling Downs grain-fed wagyu scotch fillet is worth checking out. It has a marble score of 5+ and is served with fried kipflers, steamed vegetables, home-made mustard, confit onion and red wine jus.

Also, The Terrace at Belmont 16s is hosting a four-course Mother’s Day lunch from 12.30pm on May 14. On the menu is kingfish, duck, beef and profiteroles.Bookings are essential and a children’smenu is available.

Top of its classRebecca Fowler has some exciting news to share. Her labour of love, Newcastle’s The TeaProject, has just been named Best Tea Room in at the Melbourne International Tea and Coffee Expo, and won the Best Tea Menu category.

And the timing was just right for The Tea Project to launch a brand new concept.

“It’s the Tea Collective Roam, which is basically a really cool Kombi that has iced tea taps on the side and we serve iced tea around the place,” she said.

“We have already got quite a few people wanting to purchase around .”

If you haven’t been to The Tea House before, do yourself a favour. The King Street venue is cosier and even more inviting in the cooler months.

More on Tea Collective Roam soon.

High tea timeLove your chocolate? Then book a seat at A Chocolate Indulgenceat Crowne Plaza Newcastle on Easter Sunday. From noon to 3pm a chocolate-inspired high tea will be served at Seasalt Restaurant, as well as sandwiches, hot-cross buns and handmade Hunter Valley Chocolates. For $55 per person you also get a glass of sparkling wine and unlimited tea and coffee.Bookings are essential by phoning4907 5075.

Muse a mustIf you’re lucky, tickets to the Muse Degustation Lunch on May 27 may still be available. Last year’s lunch at the two-hatted restaurant sold out quickly.Chef Troy Rhoades-Brown will prepare the five-course lunch and winemakers Greg, Liz and Shaun Silkman will pair each dish with a glass of First Creek wine. Tickets $175 by phoning 4998 7293 or emailing [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au.

Italy in BrokeDon’t forget A Little Bit of Italy in Broke kicks off this Friday, April 7, for three days of food, fun, wine and music. For the full program of events, and to book your seat on a shuttle bus, go toitalyinbroke苏州夜总会招聘.au.

Business sellsCafe Macquarie is changing hands. Owners Sam and Ana’s last day at the popular Belmont hub is this Sunday, April 9. The couple say they have sold the business to “a lovely young couple who will … continue trading as Cafe Macquarie. It was a big decision for us to put our business on the market but other exciting opportunities have arisen for us both, the timing seemed right and family life is busier than ever.”

Craft beer on tapNewcastle Beer Fest (formerly known as the Boardwalk Beer Festival)is on this weekend, April 8 and 9, noon to 5.30pm both days. If you like your craft beer cold and unique, Nobbys Beach Reserve is the place to be. Tickets at eventbrite苏州夜总会招聘.au.

Zac Barnes: Hope for missing Maitland teenager remains five months on

‘I know he would not have just run off’ Zac Barnes.
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Zac Barnes’ mother Karen Gudelj and step-father Mick Gudelj. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Search efforts for Zac Barnes at Thornton following his disappearance. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Search efforts for Zac Barnes at Thornton following his disappearance. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Search efforts for Zac Barnes at Thornton following his disappearance. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Search efforts for Zac Barnes at Thornton following his disappearance. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Search efforts for Zac Barnes at Thornton following his disappearance. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Search efforts for Zac Barnes at Thornton following his disappearance. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Search efforts for Zac Barnes at Thornton following his disappearance. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookSOMEHOW, through the thick fog of unimaginable despair, Karen Gudelj still hauls herself out of bed every morning with one positive thought – she is a day closer to finding her missing teenage son Zac Barnes.

Sunday will mark 20 weeks since the popular apprentice bricklayer jumped from a friend’s car near some Thornton bushland and ran into thin air.

Despite one organised search from authorities, and several others by family and friends, there has been no sign of the 18-year-old since – no social media contact, no phone calls, zero.

Mrs Gudelj says her mind – and that of Zac’s stepfather Mick and siblings – constantly wanders to think the worst.

“I can’t believe it has been five months,” Mrs Gudelj told Fairfax Media.

“I have been living in an absolute fog and my family is falling apart. They are all struggling.

“You think about what the past five months have been and whether you will still be going through this in 10 years time.

“You can go through all those emotions a couple of times a day. It is just torture.

“The only way I have been able to survive is by trying to think of the positives, of thinking that every morning I get up is a day closer to finding him.

“You can’t think of it any other way.”

It was November 13 and, according to friends, Zac had appeared fine before something triggered him to want to leave a friend’s house to get a train at Thornton railway station.

On the way, Zac asked his friend to stop the car before he got out and ran off near the intersection of Haussman Drive and Tripp Close.

He hasn’t been seen since.

A Facebook page called Help Find Zac Barnes, set up by Mrs Gudelj, has attracted nearly 17,000 followers.

And along with the support has also come the theories, the rumours and the nasty comments.

Mrs Gudelj has taken them head-on.

“Is there drugs involved? I don’t know. Was he an addict? No, he wasn’t. But he probably experimented, he is an 18-year-old. Did he drink? Yes,’’ she said.

“He did owe money, but it was only a small amount. And it wasn’t gambling.

“It was definitely not enough money to lose your life.’’

When asked what she thinks happened to her son, Mrs Gudelj pauses and her eyes well up as she battles between warm hope and cold reality.

Because she knows her son would not have willingly remained away from his family for so long.

“I will never lose hope, hope is always there but it is hard because I know my son, and I know he would not have just run off,’’ Mrs Gudelj said..

“So I fear he is being held against his will or has met with foul play or there has been an accident.

“I don’t think he could harm himself because he cared too much about what people thought.

“We had spoken about suicide, in a broad sense, in the past and he was well aware of the grief that it left behind.

“He even said to me once: “I wouldn’t do that. Everyone would hate me”.

“We just don’t know what to do. We go through so many emotions, from simply thinking where he is to hope he will come home, to fear about what has happened to him and even anger when you quietly think “how dare you, how could you do this to us’’.”

Information should be forwarded to Central Hunter detectives on 49340 200 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Why 10 mobile calls, 2 landline calls and 3 gigs cost Annie $142.50

TELSTRA GENERIC, MELB.030224.AFR.PIC BY ERIN JONASSON. GENERIC HOLD FOR FILES ..FIRST USE AFR PLEASE. Man tapping numers into a telephone, montage, phone call, business telephone enquiries. telemarketing,***afrphotos苏州夜总会招聘*** Photo: Erin JonassonAt 80 years old, Annie McQuisten doesn’t spend much time online, nor on the phone.
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In the month of February she made exactly 10 mobile calls, two landline calls and used three gigabytes of data.

And yet her Telstra bill for that same month was $142.70, roughly the amount she has been paying every month for the past 10 years.

“I was shocked,” said Ranui Young, Ms McQuisten’s neighbour who looked at her bill when she asked for some advice.

“I’m a tech savvy IT professional, and I don’t even pay that much.”

In a breakdown of her bill, Telstra advised that she had paid $30 for the 10 mobile calls, $52.75 for the two landline calls and $59.95 for the three gigabytes of data.

“Luckily a neighbour was more than happy to give Annie access to her WiFi…so I cancelled her internet…[changed her] to a basic $26.50 a month line rental… and moved her to a prepaid mobile plan with $30 credit for six months,” Mr Young said.

With the changes Ms McQuistan will save around $1000 a year.

But Mr Young says it never should have come this far and has since lodged a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

“Telstra have the ability to identify vulnerable customers by date of birth and consumption… Annie has been paying roughly the same amount for the past 10 years, that’s around $17,000,” he said.

“Shouldn’t Telstra offer a specific product for loyal pensioners like Annie who barely consume any data?”

At her apartment in Fairlight, Ms McQuisten only ever uses three websites; internet banking, email, and Facebook, where she occasionally connects with family in Scotland.

Currently in hospital, Ms McQuisten said she now knew the amount she had been paying was “absolutely outrageous”.

“I didn’t know about this until my dear friend Ranui brought it up. Just the size of it, for a pensioner. $142… And [another bill] was $149…that’s exorbitant,” she said.

“Being a pensioner you’ve got other outlays, expenses to look out for.”

A spokesman for the n Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said it often heard from consumers stuck on “legacy plans”.

“These are plans that are no longer offered by telcos and have been replaced by updated plans…[and] may no longer suit their usage habits,” he said.

“When selling products to consumers, telcos should ensure their staff properly identify the needs of customers and sell them products that match their usage and budget.”

Telstra’s media general manager Steven Carey offered an apology to Ms McQuisten “for the circumstance she finds herself in,” adding that Telstra had recently worked with her to make changes.

“We have a range of discounts available to customers with a pensioner concession and offer seniors a special phone and internet bundle. However, we rely on customers advising us of their eligibility,” he said.

Telstra currently offers a special seniors bundle for $59 a month, which includes a home phone and internet connection, as well as Telstra Broadband Protect and unlimited local calls.

Every year Telstra runs a check-in program to ensure customers are getting the best value from their services, however in Ms McQuisten’s case, it would appear she fell through the cracks.

“There needs to be better regulation…because vulnerable consumers are being taken advantage of,” Mr Young said.

He is calling on Telstra to refund at least some of the money Ms McQuisten has paid in the past year.

Mr Carey said Telstra has contacted Ms McQuisten to discuss any potential refund.

What ails Bernard Tomic? And is there a cure?

Whether Bernard Tomic was unwanted or unavailable for ‘s Davis Cup quarter-final against the US this week is a moot point amid the broader crisis threatening the former world No.17. Tomic has not won a match since January, and just two of his past 10, the manner of the defeats as concerning as the number. A career that has been on the decline for six months is on the precipice of a nasty freefall.
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For every small step forward Nick Kyrgios appears to be taking, his erstwhile teammate continues to stumble half-heartedly in the opposite direction. Indeed, the question being pondered is one that has been regularly asked of Kyrgios: does he even want to play tennis? To quote one insider, Tomic’s effort, even by his own standards, has been “terrible” since a first-round failure at last year’s US Open.

Clearly, the Tomic story is a complex one, with enough family dramas to fill a daytime soapie script. He was introduced to the game as a seven-year-old by his father, John, then pushed, directed and dominated through his successful teenage years that culminated with a Wimbledon quarter-final from qualifying in 2011. Now, at 24, a sportsman who makes no secret of his dollar-driven motivation boasts official prizemoney of more than $6 million, a privileged history – albeit rapidly dwindling – of lucrative sponsorships and tournament guarantees, and a garage of luxury cars.

Yet if the drive needs to come from within a natural talent known more for his devotion to nightclubs than the daily training grind, how willing is he to embrace the single-mindedness required to do what’s required? Or, alternatively, to play amateur psychologist, how powerful is his desire to rebel?

“He’s been driven by his father blindly, for years and years and years, and now’s his time of questioning it,” suggests one source, noting Tomic senior’s loosened grip on the reins over the past two years, despite still remaining highly invested and involved. “And with that autonomy maybe it’s not so obvious that’s all there is and it’s what he wants.”

The manifestations are obvious; so too the consequences. “You can’t hide from not doing the work, for not having the right application and discipline, for not having done the work,” says coach and commentator Roger Rasheed of the player described by Jim Courier as the least athletic in the men’s top 100. “Not at this level. It’s OK when you’re younger; you’ll have a few spikes.

“There’s just a massive culture shift that needs to take place in Bernie’s world, because the culture around him is toxic. There’s nothing that delivers him to the right pathway, and they’ve all allowed that to continue. But he’s the main one because at some point you’ve got to put your hand up and own your space as a person. He’s not 15 any more. He’s been in the game a long time and he’s got to step up and say ‘do I want to make a significant contribution to my tennis career?’, but also look at what you are doing off the court.”

The tipping point, one credible theory goes, was the US Open, Tomic having spent the lead-up working with his Davis Cup captain and mentor Lleyton Hewitt. Yes, really working. Hard, even. Yet when the expectation of instant success was instead followed by a dispiriting four-set loss to 72nd-ranked Damir Dzumhur, and despite the reality that rewards for a demanding training block are rarely immediate, it was apparently enough to convince him it was all pointless. “So he went back back to relying on ability, and partying,” says one insider, “when a good run could have changed everything around.”

Tomic has been drifting in and – mostly – out of matches pretty much ever since, barely disguising his keenness to see the back of the Asian swing, then enjoying his extended off-season to the point where he turned up out of shape and was soon out of puff when the season started in Brisbane. During the n Open, the worried word was that the 27th seed would be lucky to be in the top 50 by the end of 2017. On Monday, the well-known rankings obsessive will have dropped to 43rd.

Too much lower and it starts to get tricky, for no longer is there direct entry to Masters 1000 main draws, and Tomic is not the type to thrive in qualifying. That, in turn, leads to greater reliance on results in the grand slams – and thus best-of-five matches, sometimes in heat far more testing than that which supposedly nobbled the defending finalist recently in Acapulco. Tomic is known to gasp/grunt/retire earlier than most, encouraging his opponents to do little more than to keep the ball in and keep Tomic running after it. Or, well, not.

His Davis Cup replacement, gritty world No. 79 Jordan Thompson, typifies the hungry, committed pack in pursuit. To the question of whether Tomic would do even half the work of a Thompson, the expert estimate came in at closer to 25 per cent. Should that not change – along, perhaps, with a mates-based entourage that does not include a regular coach – it may not matter what ambitions and abilities Tomic still harbours, for the tour will effectively retire him first.

As it is, having cited a back injury for his Miami Open withdrawal, the Queenslander is about to enter his individual torture chamber that is the claycourt season, and then, on grass, will be under immense pressure to defend his fourth-round Wimbledon points from 2016. The rankings system only gives players 12 months grace, and Tomic has already wasted more than half.

So if opinion is divided on whether all this really is a career-threatening slump, there is nevertheless furious agreement about the steep gradient of a potentially very slippery slope. Still, there is also concern for the likable n’s well-being and non-tennis welfare. Some would not be surprised if, before too long, he is gone from the game altogether. And what then?

“He’s in a dangerous place as a person,” says Rasheed. “The tour’s keeping him safe, in my opinion. I just fear that because the tour gives him a week-to-week structure, and it’s the only structure he’s got.

“So if you take the tour out and say ‘you’re not playing for six months’, what does he do? There’s no personal disciplines … you can get into bad habits with bad people and you sort of spiral into a bad place, and we see that a lot with sports people, but I just think he’s a classic candidate for that and it’s very obvious that the tour keeps him in a safe place.”

As for how much longer, consider Davis Cup. It was once the happy haven his fine representative record reflects, and yet even if Tomic was still willing, it seems he is no longer welcome. Not like this. Note Hewitt’s comments at Melbourne Park this week: “Right at the moment he’s not in the right space to go out there and play Davis Cup. It’s a tough situation for him, and it’s only hard work that’s gonna get him out of it.”

Port Stephens police commander Chris Craner appointed Chief of Staff to Commissioner Mick Fuller

MOVING ON: Superintendent Chris Craner has been appointed Chief of Staff to Commissioner Mick Fuller.Chris Craneris the new Port Stephens police commanderCollective effort to rub out domestic violenceCar a fitting tribute for Richardson | videoIt has been little more than a year since Superintendent Chris Craner took over as the Port’s police commander.
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He came to the command vowing to provide stable leadership and to address issues such as domestic violence, police proficiency and transparency.

With some major gains in those areas under his belt, it seems it hasn’t taken long for the top brass to take notice.

Last week, Superintendent Craner was appointed to fill the temporary role of Chief of Staff to the NSW Commissioner. It means the Port Stephens LAC will receive its sixth commander in nine years.

“I came here promising stable leadership and I think the command is in a far more stable position than it was 15 months ago,” Supt Craner said.

“I’ve worked to make our police officers feel valued and make the community feel valued and that brings stability.”

Top cop’s new appointment | photos TOP COP: Superintendent Chris Craner, pictured when he first became commander of Port Stephens LAC in April 2016. Supt Craner was the Port’s fifth commander in eight years. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

TRIBUTE: Superintendent Chris Craner and Sergeant Martine Morley with the new Port Stephens police car, which is dedicated to Geoffrey Richardson who died in the line of duty in March. Picture: Simone De Peak

CRAFTSMEN: Raymond Terrace Men’s Shed members Allyn Sloane and Ian Dorney with Port Stephens police commander Superintendent Chris Craner. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

KNOCK OUT: Horatius Feni (H for short) with Superintendent Chris Craner who coordinated a Port Stephens effort to deliver new boxing gear to a gym in South Africa. Picture: Supplied

AT WORK: Superintendent Chris Craner.

AT WORK: Superintendent Chris Craner.

UNITED: Senior Constable Brendan Sykes, White Ribbon ambassador Roger Yeo, Senior Constable Lisa Holloway and Port Stephens LAC commander Chris Craner. Picture: Sam Norris

UNITED: White Ribbon ambassador Roger Yeo with Port Stephens LAC commander Chris Craner, speaking at the inaugural Port Stephens White Ribbon Day march in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Sam Norris

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4 tips for Chinan home shoppers buying property in the US

Maybe you fell in love with a new city while on holiday in the US. Maybe you’re itching for a new experience. Or maybe, after observing the American dream from afar, you’ve decided to pursue it for yourself.
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Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to move to the land of opportunity. But the prospect of navigating a foreign tax system, calculating extra administrative costs or learning about a completely different housing market can feel overwhelming.

For ns looking to buye a home abroad, here are tips to keep in mind. Photo: Laurent Delhourme

Talking to an expert, such as a mortgage lender or real estate professional with experience helping international buyers, can help you figure out what you need to do and what you can expect from the process. It’s comforting to have a seasoned professional on your side and can help alleviate some fear of the unknown. Use search tools, like Zillow’s Agent Finder, to choose an agent based on sales and listing activity, area of expertise and reputation.

A real estate agent is an important partner when buying a home as they can provide helpful information about homes and neighbourhoods and have an extensive knowledge of the home buying process. In the US, the sales commission is paid by the seller, so buyers do not pay to have an agent work on their behalf.Beware of scams

Some investor specialists try to take advantage of foreign investors who know little about the market. Be aware of the red flags for scams and internet fraud, and remember the key rule: it if sounds too good to be true, it probably is.Understand the requirements

In the vast majority of cases, there are no US laws that prohibit foreign nationals buying properties and owning land in the US. However, there are additional disclosure requirements for foreign buyers using cash in some cities. It’s best to work with a professional to navigate your specific needs when it comes to buying your new home.

n citizens who buy property in the US will need to complete and file a tax return annually in both and the US. Generally, US property held by a foreign investor will be subject to additional requirements as stipulated by the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act. As an n resident, you are taxed on your worldwide income, including income from offshore bank accounts, any rental income from the US property and capital gains on overseas assets.

You don’t need to be a US citizen or have a green card to buy a home in the US, but you do need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is a tax-processing number assigned to foreign nationals, who are required to have a US taxpayer identification number, but do not have one and are ineligible for a Social Security number.

An ITIN can be issued by the Internal Revenue Service or by an IRS-approved certified professional accountant.Get financed

Using financing (like a mortgage) to buy a home is technically optional, but necessary for many buyers. US banks impose stricter lending criteria for foreign investors, which can make it difficult to obtain financing. Most banks require a hefty deposit, normally about a third of the home price. For instance, to get financing to buy a property for $US750,000, you would need a $US250,000 deposit.

Generally, qualified foreign buyers with a 30-40 per cent down payment can often obtain financing for real estate purchases in the US. Many banks require foreign buyers to have a specific amount ($US100,000 or more) on deposit with the bank, while others set loan limits of $US1 million to $US2 million. The buyer may also be required to present a minimum of three months of bank statements.

Before applying for a US mortgage, buyers must first establish credit and earn a good credit score. You can build your credit score by opening US bank and credit card accounts and paying off the balances. Buyers will also want to be sure to report all income on their tax returns. Lenders use this income information to determine how much money they are willing to loan the buyer to buy a home.

Online tools are a good way to gauge what you can afford. However, n buyers will also want to consider issues such as currency exchange rates, international wire transfer fees, multinational taxation and accounting issues, and import-export restrictions regarding currency and household goods. Photo: Spaces Images/Blend Images

‘If you think I’m not good enough’: Aung San Suu Kyi offers to resign

Bangkok: Twelve months after being swept into office on a wave of optimism, Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has acknowledged disappointment over the state of her country, saying she is prepared to step down if people end up dissatisfied with her leadership.
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“When I joined politics, I said ‘I promise one thing; that I will do my best.’ That’s all. I can’t do better than that,” Ms Suu Kyi said in a televised speech.

“So if you think I am not good enough for our country and our people, if someone or some organisation can do better than us, we are ready to step down.”

Ms Suu Kyi, once celebrated as a heroine of democracy, appealed for more time amid a myriad problems facing the country, including fighting with ethnic armed groups in border areas, atrocities on long persecuted Rohingya Muslims, a rise in hate speech and sluggish progress on reforming an economy shackled by 50 years of military rule.

“We know that we weren’t able to make as much progress as people had wanted???one year is not a long period,” she said.

Analysts say Ms Suu Kyi, who formally carries the title State Counsellor, is not facing any threat to her leadership while her opponents, comprising the military and its allies remains deeply unpopular.

Known as “The Lady” who suffered years of torment and injustice for standing up to the military, Ms Suu Kyi still draws widespread personal admiration across the country, one of Asia’s poorest.

But dissenting voices are rising as she cuts an aloof figure in office while failing to delegate authority, articulate her government’s policies and publicly confront the powerful military which maintains control of key security ministries.

“Many voters feel frustrated,” Myo Zaw Aung, an MP in Ms Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy told Reuters, citing pervasive low-level corruption as one source of disaffection among a population who also face ramshackle public services.

“People had sky-high expectations for the NLD but actually the change can’t be that dramatic – they are not seeing an obvious change at the grassroots level,” he said.

In her 25-minute speech, Ms Suu Kyi reiterated that her government will refuse to accept a United Nations fact-finding mission to investigate atrocities on Rohingya in western Rakhine state but said her number one priority is to end ethnic conflicts involving about 20 rebel groups.

“We have a lot of hope???but hope is just hope – nothing for sure yet. We have to keep trying,” she said.

Separately, Ms Suu Kyi’s government announced that five more groups had agreed to attempts to reach a landmark peace deal.

But critics say Ms Suu Kyi’s failure to speak up for the Rohingya and denials that widespread abuses have taken place in Rakhine have severely damaged her reputation as a human rights defender.

UN investigators have accused Myanmar security forces of systemic abuses in Rakhine which the UN says could amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Ms Suu Kyi was criticised by her fellow Nobel peace laureates in December for failing to protect the Rohingya.

Derek Mitchell, the US’s ambassador in Myanmar from 2012 until last year, said it was reasonable to question whether Ms Suu Kyi and the NLD have taken full advantage of the momentum of their victory during their first year in office, regardless of structural obstacles.

But he said the biggest question mark hangs over the role of the military which under the constitution does not allow for civilian control.

“Economic underdevelopment, civil war and degradation of virtually every institution save one – the military – over the past 50 years cannot be wiped away by a single election,” Mr Mitchell told the Nikkei Report.

“Nor can the legacies of social division, mistrust and corruption created in their wake.”

More than 70,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh refugee camps after fleeing Rakhine since October when Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown after attacks on several police border posts.

Myanmar’s military has declared that more than one million Rohingya living in the Buddhist majority country are illegal immigrants despite that they have lived there for generations.

A-League: Ben Kennedy signs with the Mariners as Jets aim to make amends against Wanderers

PLAYING FOR KEEPS: Long-serving Jets keeper Ben Kennedy has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Central Coast Mariners. Picture: Ryan Osland
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BENKennedy never imagined playing for anyone but the Newcastle Jets.

But an opportunity to re-establish himself as a first-choice keeper at the Central Coast Mariners was an opportunity too good to knock back.

Kennedy on Friday agreed to terms ona one-deal with a year option at the Mariners, bringing an end to 10-year association with the Jets.

The Jets had offered the 30-year-old, who rupturedhis Achilles in the pre-season,a one year extension.

The Jets deal was slightly less than the Mariners,but the decision to head down the freeway was more football-based.

With Paul Izzo departing the Mariners for Adelaide,Kennedy will get first shot at the No.1 spot.Jack Duncan is entrenched in goals atthe Jets and is in talks about extending his contract.

“We know how much Ben loves Newcastle and the Jets,” Kennedy’s agent Joel Grenell said.“Football-wise this makes sense.He is guaranteed the No.1 spot. The situation Ben is in. He hasn’t played football this year and Jack has done quite well.Coaches are quite loyal to goalkeepers and if Ben has two yearsin a row without playing his career could effectively be over if Newcastle don’t offer him a new contract.”

Former JetsIvanNecevski, 37, and Adam Pearce, 20, are the other keepers on the Mariners books.Another former Jet, Matt Nash, is the goalkeeping coach.

“It is all about timing,” Grenell said. The time is right for Ben to make the move and play some games.”

Jets football operations manager Joel Griffiths said they weredisappointedto loseKennedy, who made his A-League debut in 2006 and played 114 games.

“We have done everything right by BK in terms of his rehabilitation and offering a contract extension,” Griffiths said.“He has chosen to go to the Central Coast. I want himto be happy and hope he gets to be No.1. I just wish it was at another club.”

Meanwhile,coach Mark Jones is adamant a couple of bad result does not make the Jets a poor team.

After heavy defeats to Melbournce City (4-0) and Wellington (5-0), the Jets host a resurgent Wandererson Saturday.

The Jets have travelled on the edge –inside and out –of the top six for much of the campaign.

“The world doesn’t change in two weeks,” Jones. “We did a good job to get where we got too and it is extremely disappointing to miss out on the six.”

“At crucial times we haven’t beenclinical enough in front of goal and we have let ourselves down inconceding soft goals at times. A lot of those were individual errors. We work on those at training and just need to do better.That includes myself, the assistant coach … everyone.”

The Jets, who have 11 players off contract, have signed Melbourne Victory championship-winner Daniel Georgievski for two years and are in talks with several other A-League players headed by Mariners striker Roy O’Donovan.

“We want players who can play in the best teams in the league,” Jones said. “We are not after second best. We want to win the league so we want the best players. Daniel has been there and done that and been successful when push comes to shove. The more quality we get in the team, the better we will execute.”

Wanderershave gone in the opposite direction to the Jets.After 21 rounds they were on 24 points, two above Newcastle. They drew nil-all with Adelaide before consecutive 3-1 win over Wellington and City to move to 31 points, five clear of seventh placed Phoenix.

“They have gotten on a purple patch,” Jones said.“Brendan Santalab has scored five goals in two weeks. That is the difference. You haveto take your opportunities and they have done that of late. That is not to say that we can’t go and do a job.”

Santalab is out suspended but Jones remains wary of an attack which has found its groove.

“Wellington had a few out and the boys who came in stepped up,” Jones said.“They have Nicolas Martinez whois a great footballer,[Mitch] Nichols is clever as well and Jumpei is excellent. They have some dangers as does every team.Apart from Sydney FC, who have been amazing all year, everyone hasbeaten everyone.You need to step up and make sure you are on your game.”

Doncaster Mile: Le Romain on meteoric rise to become Kris Lees’ best ever

SAMANTHA Miss “was a star from day one” and Lucia Valentina lived up to her New Zealand hype for Kris Lees to deliver him three group 1 wins each.
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TOP TEAM: Kris Lees and Le Romain. Picture: Getty Images

Le Romain was third at Wyong on debut.

But just 19 months after that start, Le Romain is set to become the Newcastle trainer’s greatest group 1 horseat Randwick on Saturday.

The four-year-old, a sales reject owner-breeders offered to sell for $40,000 when unraced, was the $5 favourite for the $3 million Doncaster Mile with TAB Fixed Odds.

Already a group 1 winner in the 2016 Randwick Guineas, Cantala Stakes and 2017 Canterbury Stakes,Le Romain will become Lees’ best at the top level and move within sight of Lucia Valentina’s stakes mark of $4,354,803 with victory.Le Romain has won $2,077,075 from 16 starts and is primed to take the Doncaster first prize of $1,755,000.

“You never know where they’re going to come from,” Lees said.“Samantha Miss was a star from day one and Luciaof coursecame from New Zealand with a big rap on her.This horse just keeps coming under our guard.

“It’s very hard to pick a horse that early and say that he’s going to get to the level that he’s got to, but he’s always shownabove average ability and he’s just kept improving every preparation.

“Now he’s at the highest level and competing well.He’s a good,tough,genuine gelding. Uncompromising.”

Samantha Miss won at Randwick on debut and seven times in a 12-start career before sold for a $3.85 million record broodmare price. Lucia Valentina started her n career with third in the group 3 Surround Stakes at Warwick Farm.

Le Romain has often shown fighting qualities in tough conditions to carve out his impressive record.

“I think that’s the reasonhe’s probably right in the market,” Lees said.“He’s pretty bombproof, he handles all conditions, racing patterns, he’s come up with a nice draw [eight] and a top jockey [Hugh Bowman].”

A heavy 8 surface at Randwick only strengthened Le Romain’s claims.

“It’s a very open race, with the rain, that could change a people’s opinions, but I think it’s just a good open race,atypical Doncaster,” said Lees, whose only other runner in the event was Slow Pace [13th in 2014].“We don’t want a bog but he’s adept in all conditions, and the wet takes a few out of play.”

Lees also hasSense Of Occasion, a $51 chance.

“He’s good at the Randwick Mile, he can handle the soft ground,” he said.“He’ll be out the back and he’s a little knockout chance.”