The pros and cons of selling a home in autumn.

April, 2018 by

Should I sell my home in autumn?

Spring is traditionally prime-time for selling a home in Australia, however listing in autumn can be a worthwhile alternative.

Although there are typically not as many buyers during the March to May period as in spring, there are also usually fewer houses for sale. In some cases, lower autumn inventory can spark bidding wars and drive up a price to the seller’s advantage. Milder temperatures are another autumn advantage after scorching summer days.

The impact of trees is often overlooked when it comes to selling a home, according to many Raine & Horne agents, and autumn is a great time to show off your garden’s best features. That said, while autumn leaves have an undeniable charm, it is advisable to remove them before the Open House. No matter the season, a well-maintained garden is a major selling point, so make sure yours is looking its best to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.

A well-presented fireplace is another fantastic feature to highlight. Few things say autumn more than the smell of burning wood. If it is still early in the season and has been a while since your last fire, consider having your fireplace and chimney serviced and cleaned before your first open home. If you have a gas fireplace, similar rules apply. Remove any cobwebs, wash it thoroughly and fire it up well in advance of your first open house to check that it is working before prospective buyers arrive – and to ensure any repairs can be made ahead of time.

If you plan on showing your property in April, remember to factor in any time changes due to the end of daylight savings. Contact your local Raine & Horne for more information and strategies for selling your property in autumn.

How can I save for a first home faster?

Unless you recently wrote the algorithm for the next social media phenomenon or inherited a Scottish castle from a long-lost uncle, you are probably in the same position as many other Australians trying to save a deposit for a new home this year.

For most of us, there is no quick fix when it comes to amassing a deposit, but it is achievable if you make – and more importantly, stick to – a budget. A budget is a plan that shows how much you are spending, and hopefully saving, on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Once you know your financial status quo it will be easier to identify areas you might be able to cut back on spending to speed up the process.

Making a few changes to your spending habits, without completely compromising your lifestyle, will help to achieve your savings goals sooner. Calculate how much you spend on non-negotiables such as food, rent and household bills. Whatever is left over is the absolute maximum you can save in a week or month.

Consider what sacrifices you can realistically make to cut spending and maximise your savings? Do you really need that new putter or pair of Nikes right now? Work out which non-essential purchases you can eliminate and set new weekly or monthly savings goals and stick to them. Set a target date to achieve them, but first, consider what other measures you might be able to take to get there sooner.

Are you currently renting? It may or may not be an option but think of how much cash you could save if you moved back home with your parents, even for just a few months. And have you considered putting your money into a term deposit or high-interest savings account? Read all the terms and condition or consult a financial advisor before opening any new accounts.

Alternatively, if dealing with finances and a budget all sounds too complicated, there are some simple tools to help. The Australian government, through its Understanding Money website, has a valuable budget planner which takes away most of the preparation work. For more information, go to https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/budget-planner and start saving today.

 

Questions and answers for owner-occupiers, first home buyers, upgraders and downsizers.

March, 2018 by

Can I invest my way into a first property?

The simple answer is yes you can, and a recent report from one of the leading banks showed that almost 10% of home buyers are investors who haven’t bought a first home.

Known as “rentvestors,” these first-time buyers are opting to secure an investment property first, while concurrently renting a home. Typically, the rental home is located in an area that appeals to the rentvestor whether it’s closer to their jobs, the beach or other lifestyle attractions.

Rentvesting often appeals to expats working overseas, who have longer-term plans to call Australia home. Buying an investment property first also attracts those who have longstanding home ownership plans, with many rentvestors moving into the property at some point in the future. Tellingly, many rentvestors are buying houses rather than apartments, which is possibly a nod to future family plans.

First and foremost, rentvesting is a valuable way for building wealth. And like any buyer; you must start with some research. Seek out a hidden treasure suburb in one of our capital cities or a booming regional town that seems to offer the prospect of long-term capital growth. Maybe the government is investing in improved local public transport, schools, hospitals, universities and other amenities.

At the same time, as you need decent cash flow from your investment, seek out a first property that produces the best rental return possible. If you buy an apartment as part of the strategy, maximising cash flow will also involve weighing up the strata costs. Therefore, it might be best buying into older apartment blocks that don’t have gyms, lifts or swimming pools.

As a rentvestor, you can claim the ownership costs as tax deductions. These expenses include interest repayments, property management fees, strata levies, landlord insurance, and depreciation.

Where these expenses outweigh your rent, the current tax laws allow you to offset these losses against other income such as your wage or salary. This strategy is called “negative gearing.” Unfortunately, if some politicians get their way negative gearing will go. The end of negative gearing will cut off yet another avenue for many first-time buyers considering a rentvesting strategy to help them into a first home.

What are the benefits of trading down to a smaller home?

Also known as ‘down-sizing,’ trading down involves selling the family home and relocating to a more manageable alternative. If you have a mortgage, you can also downsize your loan repayments.

Trading down can mean moving to a smaller home close to your current address or shifting to an entirely new location with more affordable real estate prices. Think here a move from a capital city to a major regional or coastal town.

The bottom-line is that downsizing should free up some capital currently tied up in your home. Moreover, with the excellent run, many Australian real estate markets have enjoyed over the past five – six years, the timing is helpful if you’re considering this strategy.

While freeing up some equity can be an attractive proposition, downsizing to a cheaper home could affect your Centrelink entitlements. Your age pension depends on your assets and income. Therefore, the extent of the Centrelink benefits you can claim may be impacted by a property sale. So, be sure to consult your accountant as part of your downsizing decision-making.

If trading down means moving to a new region, town or suburb, the trick is to do some preliminary research before you proceed. This fact-finding might involve taking a holiday to a new location – at which point you can investigate the local amenities such as hospitals, schools, transport and leisure activities. Downsizing is a significant decision, so it’s important to arm yourself with as much information as you can before making a move.

As part of research, be sure to talk to a local Raine & Horne agent, who will be able to help with the features and benefits of the downsizer locations under consideration.

Why do I need a solicitor/conveyancer when buying or selling a home?

December, 2017 by

Conveyancing refers to the legalities involved in buying and selling a home.

Conveyancing checks off outstanding land taxes, or unearths unsolved disputes involving the property you’re seeking to buy, and illegal building work. Be mindful that once you exchange contracts on a property, any structures without council approval are now your problem and not the previous owner.

The conveyancing process ensures the title of the property is amended in line with your state’s current land title laws. Conveyancing can be a minefield for the uninitiated, which is why it is usually recommended you employ the services of either a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to handle the legal work involved in a property sale or purchase.

Furthermore, a solicitor or conveyancer is covered by professional indemnity insurance. This cover means you will be protected from any financial losses should your conveyancer fail to pick up an issue that could affect the value of the property. This might be a problem with a neighbor about an easement, a detrimental neighbourhood development or a road widening. If you choose a do-it-yourself approach to conveyancing, you will not have this protection and it could cost you thousands of dollars in legal or remedial action in the case of a structure on your property that doesn’t have the requisite council approval.

The cost of choosing a solicitor or conveyancer can be upwards of $2,000 but, they are required by law to provide a quote in advance. Therefore, it’s worth shopping around to get a sense of the right conveyancing service for you.

If you need to a conveyancing service in your suburb or town, you can always ask your Raine & Horne agent or property manager for a referral.

What is the median house price?

December, 2017 by


The median price is a guide used extensively by journalists and real estate commentators to describe the ebb and flow of our housing and apartment markets.

Despite its widespread use, the median price is often confused with the ‘average price’. Just to set us straight, the median house price is the middle price of all sales recorded in your suburb, region, city or state in a specified period. This period might cover a month, a quarter (three months), a year or even a decade. In an ascending list of nine house sales, the median price is the fifth property on the list.

Alternatively, the average price is calculated by adding the values of the nine sales together and dividing the total by the number of sales (9). If you’re a first home buyer or upgrader, the Raine & Horne website (rh.com.au), does the work for you of calculating median and average prices for the majority of Australia’s favourite suburban and regional markets.

The median house price is valuable as a guide for home buyers because at a specific time (e.g., over 3, 6 or 12 months), it can help show the favourite price points where the buying and selling action in a local market is occurring. If more people are buying expensive homes in your suburb, for instance, then it’s fair to expect the median will increase. However, if the action is at the entry-level end of the market, then the median price is more likely to be lower. That said, there is a common saying: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” As such it’s always worthwhile consulting with your local Raine & Horne agent to find out of there are factors, such a significant sale in a tightly held market that may have skewed the median and average price data.

Days on Market (DOM) is another reference point for gauging the health a property market – and some would say a superior measurement than median prices. The DOM is a measure of how many days it takes to sell a property. Typically, the faster properties sell in your patch, the lower the DOM. A lower DOM is usually a stronger indication that supply is tight, and that it’s a seller’s market. If the days on the market are higher, this often means it is a buyer’s market.

Should I sell my current home before buying my next property?

November, 2017 by

If you’re planning on upgrading or downsizing your living arrangements anytime soon, there are a few issues to weigh up before settling on a strategy to buy or sell first.

Let’s consider the advantages of a sell-first strategy. If it’s possible to negotiate a delayed settlement on the sale over and above the traditional 42 days, this might buy you time to find your next home and move into it, before settling on your original property. A more extended settlement period not only reduces the pressure to find a new property, but it also stops potential buyers from taking advantage of the fact that you need to sell fast to help finance the next dwelling.

That said, if you’re too finicky about finding a suitable next home, an extended settlement may not save you. In this situation, you might need to move into rental digs. Leasing a short-term rental will involve paying a removal company twice to relocate your possessions, as well as weekly rents.

There’s the possibility that prices might go up after you sell. This situation is more an issue for upgraders as the sell-first approach can leave you at the mercy of the market.

On the flip side, by buying first, you could avoid moving into a rental property and forking out for multiple moving fees. Besides, you could avoid having to find a new property in a hurry if you choose this strategy.

However, by buying first, you may need a ‘bridging loan’ to finance the new property and meet the repayments on the mortgage against your existing property. Bridging loans cover homeowners for short periods of up to 12 months, and lenders will usually take security over both properties until the original property is sold and settled. There are several ways these loans can be established, with some lenders allowing borrowers to add the interest payments to their existing loan to relieve the day-to-day financial pressure.

Other lenders may require borrowers to demonstrate the ability to service the existing loan and the new bridging debt. Also, expect lenders to impose strict conditions on these loans and potentially you’ll pay interest rates that are higher than conventional mortgages. For more information about bridging loans, contact Our Broker on 1800 913 677.

Can a stylist make a difference to my sale price?

November, 2017 by

With the traditional spring selling season upon us, it is essential your home stands out from the crowd – and this are where a stylist might come in very handy.

Professional home styling can add thousands of dollars to the value of a home – and much more in some cases. In fact, some specialists claim the average rate of return for home styling is $3 for every $1 spent.

Moreover, you don’t need to live in the inner suburbs of Sydney or Melbourne for professional staging assistance to make a difference. Styling enables potential buyers to see the advantages of your home in their best possible light. For example, clutter is a significant distraction for buyers. Without styling, your property will drop down a couple of rungs on the ladder compared to the competition. It might be that shifting surplus furniture into storage when your property is on the market for sale might prove to be a worthwhile expense. Decluttering strategies can be discussed with a stylist.

Styling can help make a difference to the photography used to present your home. Typically, a vacant property doesn’t display well in photographs, especially if it’s up against robust competition.

DIY styling

Typically a home stylist will offer a variety of services based on your budget and needs. If you’d prefer to style your own home, most stylists provide an advisory service. As part of this service, the stylist will visit your home and provide you with an advisory report outlining how you should best present and declutter your property. Typically you can expect to pay up to $500 for an advisory report.

If you then want the stylist to implement the recommendations in the advisory report, the fee for this service will start from around $1,500 for an apartment. This charge may or not include the cost of leasing furniture and will vary from stylist to stylist.

To discuss whether a stylist could help you sell your property faster, talk with your local Raine & Horne agent today.

How can I be certain my home presents appropriately for a spring sale?

September, 2017 by

Displaying your home in its finest light can attract more potential buyers this spring, and better still it won’t cost you a small fortune.

Sparkle up the interior, paying attention to the kitchen, bathroom/s and lounge room, ensuring surfaces are free of dust and mould.

Create a sense of space in your home by removing non-essential items, such as portable heaters and fans, children’s toys, photo frames and other personal effects. Clutter is a significant turn-off for many buyers. So, any time you spend decluttering your property will be certain to pay handsome dividends.

Showing a home that is in in apple-pie order will impress buyers. Whether it’s a wobbly door handle or a fractured tile, get it repaired. Also, never underestimate the magic powers of a fresh coat of paint applied to your front door, fences and gates, while it can pay to recoat your interiors with light, neutral colours.

If you have a flower garden, be sure to cut back dead branches and unkempt shrubs, Rake up any leaves and tree branches in the yard. Likewise, strategically placed pot plants, hanging baskets and bushes can create an attractive environment, and help take the focus away from less attractive features.

For vendors with moggies and pooches, consider eliminating pet smells, which will deter some buyers. If your four-legged friends have been living indoors, eliminating their lingering scents will generally involve a thorough clean. It might be paying a few hundred dollars for the services of a professional to clean the carpets and soft furnishings, which will be money well-spent. Boarding your pets with a helpful friend or family member is usually a sensible move, as it will guarantee your home appeals to as many buyers as possible during the sales campaign.

These simple steps won’t cost an arm and a leg, and your local Raine & Horne agent will have more tips to help you sell your home faster this Spring. To find a Raine & Horne agent in your area, visit www.rh.com.au

How can I treat damp in my property?

September, 2017 by

Damp is a major nuisance for property owners, especially in the colder months of the year. It can cause damage, cost plenty of money, risk the health of loved ones, or deter buyers if you are about to embark on a spring sale.

The health issues relate to the growth of ‘mould’, which can cause a range of respiratory disorders such as asthma, advises Asthma Australia. Mould is a tiny fungus that forms slimy or fluffy growths in dank, dark places, and usually has a musty smell. Most categories of mould produce millions of spores, which can get airborne effortlessly making them easy to inhale. Also, be careful about the cleaning products you choose to eliminate mould, as often the chemicals are extremely irritating to human airways and can trigger asthma symptoms.

Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the threat of damp around your property, advises, Archicentre. To start with, it’s prudent to treat existing mould outbreaks before taking steps to reduce dampness.

Asthma Australia recommends that ideally a person without asthma should scour moldy areas, as the cleaning process may release thousands of spores that could set in motion asthma symptoms. In addition, mend anything that allows moisture to enter such as leaking roofs, pipes and gutters.

As for taking some pre-emptive strikes against mould, Archicentre advises that ceiling insulation can reduce dampness in ceilings and walls, as well as shaving winter heating bills.

When redecorating, Archicentre warns homeowners to be aware mould grows through paint or paper. In other words, don’t simply paint, or wallpaper over the mould. Instead use a salt neutraliser on the wall plaster, and brush on an anti-mould paint. Mould loves to grow in the lining of wallpaper, and anti-mould wallpaper paste will help reduce the risks.

Heavy drapes with pelmets will produce an insulating layer of air, which prevents condensation forming on the frosty glass surfaces of windows. Fresh air is an anti-mould remedy. So, open windows and cutting back shrubbery is a great way to minimise the threat of mould. These strategies will increase airflow through the house and help reduce humidity, which can cultivate mould.

Breakout: More tips for reducing latent mould haunts

  • Wash and/or air clothing and shoes
  • Clean your bathroom at least once per week
  • Clean your shower curtain monthly

Clean out the fridge drip tray often

How can I trim the costs of heating my home this winter?

Manage your heating costs

July, 2017 by

Energy costs are soaring this winter, with the electricity companies blaming a range of issues such as rising wholesale, network and retail costs.

Despite the electricity hikes, there are many ways to warm your home without breaking the budget. For starters, it’s worth heeding the advice of one of the energy companies that a heated room should sit between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius – and that every degree programmed into a heater above 21 degrees will add roughly 10% to your energy bill. If the room is 21 degrees, and you’re still chilly, the general consensus is that another jumper or jersey might be a sensible way to save on energy costs.

It’s old-style, but hot water bottles and extra blankets can keep you snug at night – and are easy on the wallet. If you prefer an electric blanket, turn it on for a short time before hitting the sack and then switch it off immediately.

If you have kids — encourage them to do their homework together in the living room rather than their bedrooms – this will trim down the expense of heating extra rooms.

Closing doors to rooms you’re not using and opening curtains during the day to let in the sunlight can reduce energy costs. Just be sure to close the curtains at night, and by sealing any draughts around windows or doors, you can maximise the heat created by an air conditioners or heaters.

Wood is an excellent fuel because it is a renewable resource if sustainably harvested, according to yourhome.gov.au. That said, only 10% of homes use wood for heating. Also be careful that the wood is not from unsustainable sources and don’t use treated timbers, which may give off toxic pollutants when burned.

Likewise yourhome.gov.au advises homeowners to burn wood only in an airtight, slow combustion heater. Slow combustion heaters have the highest energy efficiency of wood heaters, and use the least amount of wood and cost the least to run. Careful operation of wood heaters is also critical for limiting air pollution. Use seasoned wood and don’t add large loads of wood just before turning the flue right down.

Ultimately, if you feel you’re paying too much for energy this winter, there’s nothing stopping you from shopping around. To help you find a suitable energy provider, why not contact Raine & Horne Assist today on 1800 960 230.

What are some tactics for managing the toy-clutter in my home?

July, 2017 by

If you have children, the odds are your living areas are breeding grounds for Lego bricks, puzzles, oversized Fnaf Plushies, Nerf Guns, dolls, remote control cars and Pokémon trading cards.

What is more, the clutter of playthings could be a major problem if you’re trying to sell the property. If you’re having regular open homes, constantly tidying the chaos can be tedious. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to manage the mess such as choosing toy-friendly furniture, which can help you reclaim some space and make your home ready for the next open for inspection.

A chest is a practical way for storing away toys. Consider adding dividers to the chest to create separate sections for building blocks, puzzles, teddy bears, trucks and dolls to enable the children to find their toys fast. Another option is to line a wall with bookshelves. Add a few drawers and cupboards to help conceal some of the kid’s knick-knacks. Shelves are also useful for books, board games and puzzles – just be sure to stack board games on their side to make them easier to find for the children.

Another trick is to add some bins that can fit into the shelving. Be sure to label each bin with the category of toy they are storing. This makes playthings easier to find, while the children can take the bins to other parts of a home such as their bedrooms for playtime.

Once there are good toy storage options in place, it’s time to encourage the children to help with regular cleanup times. Creating routines and clear expectations about how children should take care of their toys will help reduce the clutter. It might be that there are some rewards such as pocket money that are align to the children’s responsibilities for keeping their own toys in order.

At the end of the day, keeping the toy jumble under control will not only make life easier, but you’ll be able to make your home ready for prospective buyers. Some buyers might see beyond the clutter. But why give them a reason to put a cross against your home. Besides, once the toys are in order, you can focus on other areas of your home where clutter has taken hold.

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