Auction Markets Impacted by Stamp Duty Concession

The bleak auction markets welcomed some good news with the new stamp duty concessions for first-home buyers in New South Wales and Victoria taking effect on 1 July 2017.
The aggregate preliminary clearance rate across the country’s seven capital cities rose to 70.3% in the first week of July, up from last week, when the final figures showed the clearance rate declined to 66.5%. According to CoreLogic, this was the lowest clearance rate since June 2016.
Sydney, NSW
Stamp duty for first-home buyers for new and existing homes worth up to $650,000 has been scrapped and stamp duty concessions for first-home buyers for properties worth up to $800,000 have been enacted.
In the last week of June, Sydney posted a preliminary clearance rate of 72.6%. This was not the most interesting statistic to be disclosed from the results, though. It was the decline in the median house and unit price from the past week, according to a real estate expert.
According to the Domain Group, prices dropped for the week. Media house price in Sydney dropped from $1.5 M during the past week to $1.4 M last week. The median unit price dropped to $855,000 from $960,000.
Many first-home buyers are delaying, more cheaper properties are being sold as sellers postpone completing sales until 1 July, which naturally causes median prices to drop.

Tips to Avoid Renovations from Going Over Budget’s latest Consumer Intentions Study shows that it is a challenge for most people to stay on budget during renovation. Nearly 50% of the 2,343 participants surpassed their budget by over 10%.

Costs can be higher than renovators expect due to lack of planning. Because of the excitement that people feel with the thought of renovating their home, they forget to plan carefully and make bad decisions, ultimately resulting in an unsatisfactory finished product.

Below are some of the costs that renovators come across and how to handle these issues:

Avoiding tradie costs from increasing
Tradie fees were higher than 39% of the people surveyed anticipated.  It is costing you money if a tradie is doing nothing in your house while waiting for you to make a decision. Likewise, if a tradie has to repair a mistake, wrong measurements for instance, you’re budget will go over.

With better planning, you would be able to see mistakes that should be fixed by a tradie, leading to lower costs.

Materials, fittings and finishes can be expensive
36% of the people surveyed found that the cost of materials, fittings and finishes were higher than they’d expected. Products often end up costing more because people need to replace originally less expensive materials afterwards.

You can avoid this by doing a thorough research of various products in the market. You can talk to tradespeople, go to different showrooms or hire an interior designer if your budget would allow it. Having an interior designer can save you money in some cases.

If you go to a showroom without any planning, you’d likely get overly excited by the wide selections, and you can blow out your budget without a plan.

Budget for unforeseen problems
There are several unforeseen issues that renovators should include in their budget:

  • Removal of asbestos
  • Creating structural problems by removing load-bearing walls
  • Incorrect measurements

Changes in the floor plan
17% of respondents’ budget blew out because of changes to the overall specifications, like adding a room, for example. Ninety per cent of the time, with good planning, people don’t have to make radical changes to the floor plan. By making a buffer in your renovation budget, you can factor in unforeseen problems.

If you have extra money or you saved some in your budget, you can use it to buy a new piece of furniture or artwork for your newly renovated home.

Boosting a Home’s Appeal with Minor Improvements


Have you ever entered a home and just feel bad energy? Sometimes the causes are obvious, like very old furniture or cracking paint, other times the reasons are not immediately visible.
For the latter, they can be addressed through Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese practice of putting one’s surroundings in order. It is based on qi (pronounced as ‘chi’), the energy that flows through all things.
If you are interested in pursuing Feng shui, remember that the key is finding out the age of the property, its compass directions and getting the floor plan. Here are more principles behind Feng shui:
The anti-clutter principle of Feng shui precedes the present minimalism trend by quite a few thousand years.
You can start your de-cluttering by discarding all things that you have not used in a year, along with all trash and damaged items, because these items cause ‘blockages.’  To clear out the blockages, get rid of your clutter.
Make your entrance inviting
The entrance to your home should also be clutter free, so make sure you have a place for shoes and bags.
A console table with flowers, anything attractive that draws the eyes into the home, should be placed in the foyer. In addition, mirrors are not to be directly placed opposite the front doors as this reflects energy and opportunities out of the home.
Pick the right colours
Research before you decide to paint your wall a bright colour. According to Feng shui principle, every colour is related to a one of the four elements, namely wind, earth, water and fire, and can encourage specific energies.
The colour to be avoided is red as it is not appropriate in the kitchen and bedrooms.  Feng shui experts recommend choosing neutral colours that offer accents in accord with the home. Use peaceful and relaxing colours for the bedroom.
Furniture placement should always be a consideration. Place beds, couches and other big items along solid walls, as this brings energy support. If you have several sofas in one room, arrange them in an L-shape configuration. This is more pleasant than placing them opposite each other.
Art, plants and décor
When it comes to artwork, choose pieces that look beautiful and have a good feeling.  In general, artworks that bring negative feelings should be avoided. For example, violent or sad scenes as they can arouse negative feelings in people.
Put indoor plants in your study or living area as they are linked to the active qi (yang) and produce negative ions. However, it should not be put in the bedroom because of its association with the restful qi, or yin.  Fresh flowers are encouraged in feng shui as flowers are considered as symbols of good forune. Auspicious flowers include chrysanthemum, orchids, rose, peony, carnation and lotus.

Top Tips for Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

Home sellers will find it difficult and daunting which real estate agent to choose prior to listing their property. The reason is because choosing a bad agent can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, property marketing has evolved significantly. Putting a signboard in front of property doesn’t cut it anymore. So it is essential to find the agent with the knowledge on how to use the complete arsenal of digital tools available today.

Here are the top 10 things you should consider before choosing a real estate agent:

1. Stay away from ‘free’ agent recommendation websites
You will find plenty of websites claiming they can recommend the best agent for you for free. If you think this is too good to be true, then you’re right. Virtually all of these sites compel the agent to part with a portion of their recommendation to win a vendor’s business.

The best agents can survive without paying for business and don’t sign up with these sites. Thus, there is a chance you could end up with a sub-par agent. So, there’s a risk that you won’t be able to get the best possible price for your property.

You should be the one choosing your agent. If you want to a recommendation, try asking a trusted friend.

2. Make sure the agent knows your target buyers
When you interview an agent, ask how they plan to position your property, or who they identify as your target market. The right agent should have a clear understanding of your property’s target market and tailor your marketing strategy accordingly. Your agent should also be able to guide you on matters such as minor renovations, staging and styling.

3. Your agent should use market data
A wealth of property data can be accessed by agents to help them make the right decisions when selling a home. With their excellent grasp of the local market, agents can guide you on setting a price guide, sale type and what should be done to make your property distinct from others.

4. Your agent should have a good grasp of local market
The agent you should choose is one who has extensive knowledge of your suburb. Your agent must be able to provide information about local schools, demographics, public transport and local attractions to prospective buyers.

Information on what’s coming up in your suburb, such as new developments, new shopping centres, light-rail, etc., is also valuable to buyers.

5. Ask your agent what the multi-channel marketing campaign will look like
When agents suggest a minimal advertising budget, it could sometimes mean their client’s best interest is not their top priority.

You could add tens of thousands of dollars to your sale price and help you sell your home faster with an effective advertising campaign. High-performing agents recognise this, and will treat advertising as an investment rather than a cost.

Know what marketing channels your agent intends to utilise. Using multiple channels to advertise your property – including digital, print and social, will significantly increase your capability of reaching your target buyers, which could include ‘passive buyers’ who are not actively searching.

6. Know which digital-type listings are available
Not all property listings are created – at least when it pertains to digital advertising. Your ad size, search results ranking and how long your advertising run will determine the number of views and buyer inquiries that your ad will generate.

Ask your agent which digital listing type they will include in your campaign. Agents who recommend high-exposure listings will probably be dedicated to bringing you significantly more competition for your home.

7. How do you promote your property on social media?
Real estate is the second-most discovered product/service on Facebook in Australia, according to research by the social media giant. Since 11 million Australians are on Facebook daily, it makes sense to ensure your property is popping up in your buyers’ feed.

Your agent will likely propose to showcase your property on their social pages, but ask your agent how they plan to reach the broad range of buyers who are not in their list of followers.

Paid social can position your property in front of a high targeted buying audience. You can also use products that can remove the guesswork from social and connect you with qualified buyers. The right agent understands all of these.

8. Enquire about the agent’s database
A good agent has a good clean database. Ask how your agent plans to market your property to their current database of buyers. However, as much as an agent’s database is essential, it cannot be solely relied upon. Competition between buyers is the main driver of higher house prices. To boost competition, give your property the most exposure you can.

9. Use professional photos and videos
Use professionally-taken photos and videos for your ad. Find out from your agent which video options they include in their marketing package. You should also request for samples of their past work.

The best video will feature your property’s finest elements and potentials through high-quality footage and inlays. Add a wow factor and set your property apart from other listed properties by having the agent present your home and stay away from the videos that are simply still photos put to music.

10. Commission
The good agents can still win business without cutting their commission, even during a soft market. Hiring the agent with the lowest rates is tempting, but don’t forget that you get what you pay for when it comes to selling your home.

Tips to Save for a Deposit

Have you been saving up for a house deposit for many years, but you see property prices rising faster than you can save. Will you ever be able to save enough to purchase your own home?
For a significant number of first time home buyers, it seems saving for a 10-20% deposit is impossible to do, particularly when the markets don’t show signs of slowing down. But don’t lose hope. You can save for that home deposit but you will need a comprehensive savings plan and the right mindset.
Step 1: Savings Plan
Start saving for a deposit early and you will arrive at the full amount much quicker.

  • Most people know the amount of their weekly pay cheque, but are slightly vague on how much they actually spend every week. Make an effort to understand your financial circumstances so that you can determine when you can save money to put towards your deposit.
  • Pay off your debt. This is also the time to clear any bad debt you may have. If you’re paying interest on any credit card or small loan, time to pay them off. The money will be better spent on your deposit.
  • Once you have your budget set, you’ll determine the amount you can put on your savings account every month. This will ensure the money is being put towards your savings and not on things like shoes. Open a separate savings account (if possible, high interest/low fees) and set up a regular direct debit payment from your primary account to your savings account. This would prevent you from using the money for something else.

Step 2:  Savings Mindset
You have to be prepared to make certain sacrifices because saving for a house deposit can be a slow process. Devoting yourself to your savings plan may be challenging, but the sacrifices will be worth it when you finally get your hands on your dream home.
Here are some things you can do to get yourself into the savings mindset:

  • Determine a savings target and time frame. If you are considering a $500,000 property and you’d like to put down a 10% deposit, then you have to come up with a $50,000 savings. Figure out how much you can set aside every week for your deposit and then estimate how long it would take you to complete the amount. Always remember that the longer it takes you to come up with the deposit, the higher property values could go.
  • Learn about interest rates. Interest rates are at a record-low, so many people could afford repayments on property. But interest rates can vary. Mortgage repayments increase when interest rates go up. Make sure to put a buffer in place when you’re calculating your repayment figures.
  • Put a limit to your sacrifices. Don’t sacrifice all the important things in your life even if you really want to save for your first home. Limit your shopping or dining out or holiday, but it’s alright to still indulge every so often.
  • Focus on your goal. Purchasing a property seems like an unreachable dream. You are regularly putting money to your savings account and yet it feels like you’re not getting anywhere near where you can put down a proper deposit. It feels kind of discouraging, but keep your eye on the prize because sooner or later the money you’ve saved for many years will let you purchase a home or investment property.

3.  Calculate Your Rent
Calculate how much you’ve already spent on rent.  This alone could be all the inspiration to keep you on track to saving and purchasing your first home.