Property market outlook for 2017

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January, 2017 by

With the past few years delivering unprecedented sales results, those with an interest in property may be wondering what we will see in this new year? And, albeit very early, already there are important signs being revealed throughout the marketplace.

The last two months of 2016 saw renewed interest in the property market across the country. Sydney and Melbourne benefited from an increase in sales volumes, while the other capital cities benefited from stronger buyer enquiry from investors, as well as families looking at moving up the property tree.

Future prices
While some economists are predicting a dip in prices, we are confident that prices will again increase over the first six months of the year — however, we may not see double digit gains that Melbourne and Sydney achieved over the last 12 months. Nevertheless, we are now seeing some vendors taking advantage of the higher prices and looking to list their homes on the lead-up to Easter.

One of the main deterrents in listing has been the concern that there may be a lack of property to buy back into, and vendors want to make sure that they will be able to re-enter the market relatively quickly. Traditionally, the lead up to Easter is one of the strongest period to sell property. So if you are going to sell, we would recommend that you take advantage of the pent-up demand and speak to a professional agent now.

Lifestyle options
Over the holiday break, many regional centres have seen a renewed interest in property, particularly within three hours of the major capitals. Many families are taking advantage of new infrastructure projects that governments have implemented over the last two years, and new technologies which enable people to work from remote locations.

However, the fact remains that demand is outstripping demand and governments need to plan for better infrastructure, as well as speeding up the development process while also looking at ways to reduce the sale cost — especially stamp duty.

So don’t hesitate. With a steady economy predicted for the foreseeable future, property is a pretty safe investment. You can always be confident that, whether you are selling, buying, or engaging a professional managing agent, Raine & Horne are here to assist you with your particular property requirements.

What are some tips for keeping my property cool this summer?

November, 2016 by

The heat is well and truly here, but you don’t need to break the bank to keep your house or apartment cool this summer.

The most basic step you can take to keep your house cooler without air conditioning is to keep as much sunlight out as possible, and let cooler air in at night. During the day, shut the windows, and keep the blinds and curtains closed, especially on the southern and western sides of your home. If you have a verandah or balcony, use large plastic or bamboo shades to reduce the direct sunlight.

Thick curtains with block out backing or solid blinds (not Venetians) will make some difference to your summer cooling – and a much bigger difference in winter when you’re trying to keep heat inside the property. Also, if there are parts of the house or apartment that you just can’t keep cool, close the door to these areas. This will stop them adding to heat in other parts of your home.

If you feel you need some electrical assistance to keep cool this summer, a ceiling fan could be a reasonably cheap option. Ceiling fans start from $130 and they don’t cost a motza to run – about 3 cents per hour according to lighting specialist, Beacon Lighting.

If you are installing new windows, it is worth investigating ways of making them more thermally efficient. Double-glazing the windows will not only stop noise, they keep the heat at bay too.

If your home lacks shade, try planting deciduous trees in your garden. Deciduous trees have leaves that block the sunlight in the warmer months and lose their leaves in autumn and winter to allow the sunlight into your garden. Planting trees such as oak, maple or elm on the north side of the property can provide cooling shade over the house during summer.

When it’s stinking hot outside, many of us are inclined to set the thermostat of the air-conditioner to 21°C. But cooling to just 26° should keep your home or office comfortable and save you money — setting your thermostat just 1° cooler can increase your cooling bill by 15%, advises Environment Victoria. At the same time, if you have an air conditioner, keep the outdoor component shaded and its filters cleaned regularly.

How important is the streetscape to the value of my home?

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November, 2016 by

Strong neighbourhood relations and an attractive streetscape have the potential to improve the value of a property, and slash the time it takes to sell a home considerably, according to Raine & Horne.

We all know the importance of presenting a property in its best light to potential sellers. However, a subtler element is how your street presents to potential buyers. The ‘streetscape’ is the first impression for potential buyers, even before they walk through the front gate.

The streetscape refers to the way houses, footpaths, gardens and landscaping along the length of a street, present collectively. It is the visual identity of a neighbourhood, and it plays an important part in facilitating the interaction between residents, and creating a community. It also contributes to building the value of the properties located on a street or road.

To be fair, it’s difficult for individual owners to influence the joint streetscape. However, the value of an attractive street, where all the gardens are well-tended, can have an impact on the saleability of a property. Also by communally maintaining the kerbside appeal of all properties in a street, owners can maintain and grow the values of their properties.

That said, it can be a very tricky situation if you have neighbours who refuse to play ball like the owners of the infamous “hoarders’ home” in Bondi, in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.  The problem is that most of us are fair-minded and don’t wish to cause tension or offence.

Your best bet for addressing issues that may impact your streetscape, is to try and create a sense of community among your neighbours before problems arise. With Christmas fast approaching, for example, street parties are a great way to develop neighbourly bonds. In some neighbourhoods, people also plant vegetable gardens in nature strips. It is about building a community so the neighbourhood feels part of a greater good, says Angus Raine, Executive Chairman of Raine & Horne.

Is an apartment a good option for retirees?

October, 2016 by

aptApartment living has come a long way in recent years, and far from being the chief domain of first home buyers, we are increasingly seeing families, and in particular, empty nesters, opting for apartments over houses.

Much of the appeal reflects the greater affordability of apartments and relatively lower maintenance costs.

However, there are different rules of engagement when it comes to apartment living. For starters, you’ll need to abide by the rules of your owners’ corporation. Likewise, keeping pets may be prohibited and you might need to seek the approval of the body corporate to make changes to your apartment, such as installing new flooring or air-conditioning.

On the other side of the coin, if you own a house, you are the master of your domain, meaning you can renovate when you want. However, as we get older, renovating a property may not exactly float your boat, while apartment living offers ease of maintenance, and the ability in many cases to live closer to city centres and lifestyle facilities such as cafes, restaurants, shopping centres and entertainment complexes. Apartment blocks may also offer gyms, pools and other facilities, access to shared gardens, playgrounds, roof terraces and more.

As for the maintenance costs associated with apartment living, you will typically be responsible for most repairs and maintenance within your apartment. In addition, you may pay an owners’ corporation fee to cover repairs and maintenance on ceilings, boundary walls, common areas and services. This fee should also cover building insurance – you will need to take our contents insurance separately. There are also administration costs and a sinking fund for future works. Owners’ corporation fees vary depending on the number of facilities in the development. For example, if the development has a pool, gym and lifts, the strata fees will often be higher than an older apartment block that doesn’t offer these features.

As with all property purchases, doing your due diligence is key and if you want to know more about a particular apartment market or the benefits of apartment living, contact your local Raine & Horne agent by visiting our website.

How can I bushfire proof my home this summer?

October, 2016 by

Bushfire fightersBushfires constantly create a serious risk to life, the environment and properties located in rural and urban areas.

The risk of bushfire increases as the mercury jumps in the warmer months, especially with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predicting a hotter than average summer for some parts of Australia, including Western Australia and Tasmania.

There is very little we can do about our harsh summer climate, however there is plenty we can do to ensure our homes are safe this bushfire season, whether we live on Sydney’s leafy North Shore or near a state forest in Tasmania.

For starters, be sure to clean out leaves and other garden flotsam and jetsam from gutters and other roof fittings. Garden waste is extremely flammable when it dries out and will prove a magnet for flying embers. If you have a woodpile left over from winter, be sure to locate it well away from the house, as it’s combustible source of fuel for a bushfire.

Trees with overhanging branches are potential fire hazards. If you can’t chop the trees back yourself, commission a gardener or arborist to prune them. It also pays to keep the lawn trimmed and to take a rake to any piles of leaves lying around. Dead leaves are a major fire hazard.

To help fight any potential fires, be sure you have at least one garden hose that reaches the perimeter of your property and that all hoses and tap fittings are in good working order.

While many homeowners are recycling newspapers and cardboard, these items need to be safely contained as they are highly combustible if a bushfire strikes at your property. Also have a look around your home for any recycling materials, such as flammable liquids or paint tins close to the house, as these items can also fuel a fire – and keep gas bottles in a safe place.

Encouraging your neighbours to take some precautions is another sensible prevention measure. Therefore, don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbours about their plans and precautions for bushfire season, as you may find yourselves in the firing line together.

Is a real estate agent best placed to sell my home this spring?

September, 2016 by

iStock_000002116286MediumYou might have read about some of the foreign companies trying to bring their DIY real estate services into Australia. Services such as these will appeal to those people who are prepared to have a crack at selling their own properties – and in most cases won’t really need these companies to help them anyway.

However, to be fair, not many Australians will have the sufficient time, knowledge or financial resources to pull off a successful property sale – and this is where a qualified real estate agent will continue to provide a valuable professional service.

A licensed real estate agent sells properties for a living, and their wealth of experience can be invaluable to owners. Additionally, using an agent gives you legal protection to ensure you come through the transaction without any hitches.

An agent will also provide a realistic indication of the value of your property – as they’re in the business of selling homes rather than letting them languish on the market for many months, which is what can occur if you take a DIY approach. Other services agents can provide include:

  • Helping you decide how to sell your property, whether by auction, private treaty or tender
  • Organising and liaising with potential buyers at any time of the day or night – and managing their enquiries
  • Providing access to more potential buyers by means of their own databases – through Raine & Horne, for example, your property will be marketed to a database of hundreds of thousands of buyers and investors in Australia and overseas
  • Negotiating the sale on your behalf and striving to achieve the best possible result

An agent will also prepare a professional advertising schedule designed to generate the most valuable exposure for your property and organise the marketing collateral for you, whether its signboards, flyers, floor plans and photography, as well as a digital campaign and some public relations. An agent is also well-placed to offer some guidance in respect to conveyancing, legal and financial services, and finalise the sale through a solicitor or conveyancer.

If you’re thinking about selling your biggest asset this spring, visit the Raine & Horne website today to find an agent in your suburb or town.

How can we keep our homes safe this magpie season?

September, 2016 by

Everyone knows spring is the traditional property season, but many don’t know it’s also magpie nesting season – and unlike the property market, magpies can drop on you when you least expect it!

A Brisbane study has shown only 9% of magpies are aggressive towards people. Even though most magpies don’t attack people, many of us have seen or experienced a strike, while walking or riding a bike through a magpie’s ‘defence zone’ on the way to work or school.

However, by understanding what sticks in a magpie’s craw, you can keep yourself and your family safe this spring. For starters, many maggies seem to have taken a particular dislike to pedestrians and cyclists. A magpie will only defend its nest within its defence zone. If you’re on foot, this is usually an area within 110 metres, and if you’re cycling it is 150 metres according to the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

A magpie’s defensive behaviour can range from a non-contact swoop with or without its beak snapping, through to pecking, dive-bombing and sometimes front-on attacks from the ground.

There are a few tips that can keep you safe from swooping magpies this spring. These include wearing a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses or sheltering under an umbrella to protect your face. If a magpie swoops while you are cycling, it will probably stop swooping if you jump off your bike and walk. If you have identified a magpie defence zone, try and avoid it if possible – and use signs to warn your neighbours and visitors about the flying dangers. At the same time, don’t try and fight the swooping threats with sticks and stones – it will only make a magpie more hostile. Also, don’t approach a young magpie that has fallen from a nest – mum and dad will be watching and you’ll be marked as a predator to be dealt with in the future.

If a magpie becomes aggressive and is a community risk, it can, in some instances, be removed. Contact your local council to see if they can help. Alternatively, try searching for your nearest licensed magpie relocator online, or contact your local wildlife service.

What should I do to prepare my home for a Spring sale?

August, 2016 by

DeathtoStock_Simplify6Presenting your home in the best possible light could add thousands to the value of your property sale this Spring. And the good news is that it won’t cost an arm and leg to maintain appearances.

Start by creating a sense of space by removing non-essential items from your home. This strategy offers the dual benefit of creating a space where buyers can see themselves living, as it does away with objects that associate you directly to the property. Personal items to pack away include family photographs, trophies and the children’s toys.

You’re trying to make your home attractive to a wide range of prospective purchasers, so now is not the time for expressing your personal identity with a flashy paint job. Sticking to a single light neutral colour throughout the property creates a sense of ‘flow’ and space. You can add style and splashes of colour with a few luxury accessories.

Create an inviting sense of serenity by playing ambient music during open house inspections – think here crooning Michael Bublé and not hard rocking AC-DC. Comforting scents create an attractive atmosphere too – there’d be very few buyers deterred by the lingering aroma of a recently baked cake.

There’s no point getting the odours just right, if appearances are poor. Start by making sure every room is spotless and clutter-free. Particularly look at the tops of entertainment areas and book shelves. Make certain everything is free from dust and any electric cords are neat, or better still, out of sight. Remove portable appliances such as heaters and fans, which can prove obtrusive at open homes.

Dirty kitchens will turn away many buyers. As part of your Spring cleaning, give food preparation areas such as sinks, stoves, ovens and grills, some special attention. Sparkle up any chrome appliances and store all open food products from the sight of potential buyers. Visitors to open homes may look in cupboards, so be sure to clean shelves thoroughly and neatly arrange goods and chattels.

A gleaming bathroom, with the assistance of a lightly scented room atomiser, is often a winning combination with buyers. If mildew is evident, clean and remove the unpleasant growths. A fresh coat of paint in a light tone will maximise the bathroom’s appeal, and be sure to air the room before an inspection.

For more home presentation tips, contact your Raine & Horne agent today.

Is it time to get serious about switching to the NBN?

August, 2016 by

thinking BulbWhether we like it or not, the time has arrived to take the National Broadband Network (NBN), seriously.

The NBN is a fibre-optic, fixed wireless and satellite infrastructure that will replace Australia’s existing network with a faster and more reliable broadband service. It’s predicted the NBN will deliver download speeds up to four times faster than ADSL2+, making it a game changer for the way many of us use the internet at home. It means that whether you’re video streaming, online gaming or watching live news and sport, you’ll be able to enjoy faster access to the data and content. The NBN is sure to deliver superior quality video calls over the likes of Skype to help you keep in touch with friends and family living overseas or interstate from the comfort of your loungeroom couch.

To date, there are almost 3 million homes and businesses around the country which can already connect to the NBN network, with every Australian set to have access by 2020. To check if your home is ready for rapid-fire broadband, go to www.nbn.com.au and type in your home’s address and click on the ‘check home prompt’. To get a sense of the NBN’s coverage, check out the ‘rollout map’, while you’re on the NBN’s home page.

The NBN will replace most existing landline phone and internet networks in your area – and you’ll receive a letter giving you a date when your existing services will be switched off. To avoid a technology blackout, call a phone or internet provider today and ask them about switching to a plan over the NBN network. Also, the installation of NBN equipment is free of charge – although be sure to ask your provider if they have any fees associated with switching across.

Look, if you don’t want a bar of the NBN, you won’t have to return to the dark ages. You can stay connected by using a mobile phone or mobile broadband. Mobile connectivity won’t be impacted by the NBN. The trouble is, you won’t be able to take advantage of the faster access and download speeds.

What is my property worth?

July, 2016 by

homeUltimately, the value of your home is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay in today’s market.

However, before you even consider taking a property to market, a good way to get an idea of your property’s value is to obtain a property appraisal. A property appraisal is an estimate of price, usually given by a real estate agent. The agent uses his or her knowledge of the local area and recent sales to provide a guide as to the price that might be obtained for a particular property.

Appraisals are an opinion, and your local Raine & Horne agent will be happy to visit your property free of charge to provide you with his or her view on what sort of price you can expect, if you decide to take it to market. Also be aware that an appraisal has no legal standing – it is the agent’s opinion only.

You can also do some homework yourself by comparing your property with other homes currently for sale – this information is available from property websites such as rh.com.au, domain.com.au and realestate.com.au, as well as the metropolitan and local newspapers.

It is also important property owners realise the value of a property is not determined by what they originally paid for it or the price your neighbour achieved back in 2015.

However, that’s not to suggest homeowners have no say over the sales process, and ultimately there are five reasons why a property sells. These include:

  • your property’s excellent and sought-after location
  • the price of your property is in line with market expectations
  • the good condition of your property
  • the smart marketing of your property
  • the agent you choose

A skilled agent is critical to the success of a sale and can advise you on local market conditions, pricing, ‘staging’ recommendations, contracting, financing, appraising, marketing and he or she can also close the sale of your property. To speak to your local Raine & Horne agent, visit raineandhorne.com.au.

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