Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Interviewing prospective real estate agents before deciding which agent to hire is a smart thing to do. While you’re talking to a prospective agent to gauge whether they are a good fit, be aware that the agent is also interviewing you. Beware of agents who don’t ask questions to determine your goals. You wouldn’t want to sign just anybody, and good agents are just as picky with the people they take on as clients.
Below are some of the questions you should ask when interviewing a real estate agent:
1. How many years have you been in sales?
Notice the question was not, how long have you been an agent?  This is because there is no reason why a newbie agent is not as good as an agent who has been in the industry for a long time.  The reason being that a good agent may have been selling another product or item, have an impeccable sales history and more than capable of adapting to selling homes where some agents who have been in the industry for a long time have become complacent and not kept up with new trends in marketing.   There’s nothing wrong with a freshly licensed agent as long as they have had access to good mentors and they’ve attained a high level of training, just the same as a seasoned agent. Another advantage of hiring a newbie agent is that they have more time to focus on you.
2. What is your average list-price-to-sales-price ratio?
A good listing agent is not necessarily a good selling agent.  This is there the ratios play a very important part because it allows you to anticipate the results.  Many agents will provide you with a high appraisal price but end up selling for a much lower price.  Beware of these agents as they are just trying to get you signed up!!

3. What is the best marketing plan that would fit my needs?
Here are some things you need to know as a seller:

  • Does a direct mail campaign suit my needs? Why or why not?
  •  Where do you place ads and how often?
  •  Do you offer professional photography?
  •  What is your marketing strategy online?
  • What is the method you recommend using to sell my home and why?

4. Can you provide references?
All agents have references, whether they are new or experienced. Ask for references and ask whether any of the people on the list is related to the agent. Ask if it is okay to call the references for additional information.
You may not need any references if the agent has numerous reviews online. 
5. What distinguishes you from other agents?
A good agent will have a ready answer to this question. Each seller’s standards are unique, so know what is important to you but above all make sure that their answers include something about how they market your property and negotiate with the buyers.
6. May I see the papers that I would need to sign beforehand?
A good agent will have no objection to you reviewing the documents prior to signing and will always explain every component of the paperwork at the time of signing. 
These include:

  • Selling Agency Agreement
  • Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Questionnaire
  • Material Fact Sheet
  • Proof of Identity Checklist &
  • Department of Fair Trading Fact Sheet

7. How much is your fee?
No need to ask if fees are negotiable because they are. Normally, the fee is a percentage, from 1% to 3%, to represent the selling side of a transaction.  You get what you pay for in the real estate industry. Thus, expect a higher fee for top agents.  After all, the agents charging a lower fee are usually doing so because they have to to get a listing then often can’t or don’t know how to provide the service.
8. Do you offer a guarantee? If so, what kind?
If you find yourself unhappy with the agent you hired and you have some kind of guarantee in pace, will you be able to use it?  What are the company’s rules on cancelled contracts? Has a past client terminated an agreement with him/her before?
9. What are the things that I haven’t asked that I need to know?
Focus on the agent’s responses to your questions because you may glimpse something else that you need to ask. You would want an agent who takes his/her time with you to allow you to get comfortable and really determine their skills and knowledge. He/she should be a good listener and be able to offer advice, and able to ask the right questions to find out the things he/she needs to serve you better.

10.  Secret shop your potential agent.
The best way to gauge how an agent will treat your buyers is to act like one!  Go to a couple of their open homes or enquire on a listing they have.  

What Tenants Need to Know About Decorating their Rental Property

It’s normal for tenants to want to personalise their rental property by painting an accent wall or hanging a picture.
But there is something you need to be aware of as a renter: the changes you make must easily be reversible when you leave, and the landlords have the right to make you pay for it.
It is the reality that tenants have to carefully balance between making their rental a place to call home and making changes that could be taken out from their bond.
But tenants shouldn’t despair. There are situations where changes can be made with the landlord’s approval, and sometimes they shoulder a portion of the cost, too. Communication is important. Learn about the conditions in your tenancy agreement and tell your landlord what you plan to do before doing anything.
What are the common “improvements” that tenants attempt but landlords dislike?
Starting a painting job is how most tenants express their excitement in moving to a home. A landlord’s approval for a painting job would depend on the colour and how easy it will be cover with a new paint.
The landlord would also appreciate it if you have the skill to do the job. For example, don’t get paint on the ceilings, the trim, doorknobs or outlets. Do the job well, like it was done by a professional.
One of the major issues that landlords encounter when a renter moves out is filling holes in the wall. Tenants should consider less destructive handing methods, like using Blu-Tack instead of thumb tacks.
Window treatments installation
You don’t like the cheap vertical blinds currently installed in your rental home. It is normal to want to put a curtain rod or roman shades. However, the holes that you need to drill in order to put those elements would need to be filled in when you move out. Landlords don’t like seeing those large screw marks around the window frame.
It takes time to fix those walls. The landlord will use your bond if they have to hire a handyman or do the repair themselves.
Installing your TV on the wall
Drilling holes to mount your TV on the wall is worse than hammering nails into the drywall to hang a picture or curtain.
The worst case scenario is that the TV will fall to the floor because the mounting wasn’t done right. This could injure someone, break the TV or take a portion of the wall with it.
Planting in the garden
Landlord may not always appreciate their tenant planting a few flowers in the garden. This is because landlords prefer their property as maintenance free as possible. Best to check before you start planting even if you think it looks nicer and adds value!  to be safe, your best bet are pots and planters.

Newcastle is Challenging Sydney on Affordability and Amenity

Newcastle is experiencing a construction boom with a record $1 billion-plus in building approvals and a huge $650 million state government infrastructure budget for a light rail system and CBD upgrade.

The area is definitely giving Sydney a run for its money because, in addition, home prices are about half of those in the more popular city, vacancy rates are high, lots of job openings and beautiful beaches and scenery on offer.

Plenty of Sydney residents have moved to Newcastle who are happy to live in an amazing community with no traffic problems and thy keep coming.

Historically known as a coal and steel town until the closure of BHP’s steelworks at the end of the 1990s, ‘our town’ (really a city now) is experiencing continued change, especially in the past two years.

Many developments are under way or about to start in the city, including the $90 million justice precinct, the train station and transport interchange renewal, the light rail system, the Hunter Street Mall upgrade, new university campuses and residential buildings.

Plus, a V8 Supercar race will be launched, a $13 million cruise terminal facility will be built and the local airport will commence international flights starting in 2018. Australia’s largest smart pole installation for Wi-Fi connectivity, LED lighting, cameras and audio speakers is also underway.

All of these developments are what prompted major developer Sam Arnaout of Iris Capital to launch several projects in Newcastle, including East End, a $750 million estate spanning four city blocks. Over 35% of inquiries came from Sydney when the project’s display suite recently opened.

Sydney is a terrific market, but Newcastle is even more so. Affordability has become a major issue for people who want to have easy access to amenities, beaches and the CBD. With a project like East End, people can have both affordability and amenity as it is located near the harbour, the beach and the CBD and prices are much lower compared to those in Sydney.

Construction on the 1.6-hectare East End project, which will include parks, public areas, shops, cafes, restaurants and entertainment, will commence in early 2018 and scheduled to end in mid-2020. The price of a one-bedroom apartment is from $480,000.

There’s so much to love about Newcastle now and it’s only going to get more and more exciting and better and better as time goes on.  Just watch us grow and become an even more awesome place to live!

Quick Tips for Selling in Spring

Fondly known as the silly season of the property market, spring is about to get serious with competition warming up, which means more homes are available for buyers and sellers.

Here are tips for sellers to attract more prospective buyers to their property:

1. How your property is presented is important. What you need to do to make a good first impression is to declutter your house. Experts advise moving your possessions out of your home before listing it. Without your personal possessions in sight, buyers can better envision themselves living in your home and feel an emotional connection to it.

2. Know what you’re up against. For example, if you find out that your competition has an amazing kitchen, it’s probably smart to evaluate your kitchen. Also, don’t list your home until you have researched what other properties are on the market and what has recently sold in your area.

3. Outdoor space is one of the important features of selling property during spring. Experts recommend getting your landscaping in shape by pulling out weeds, mowing the lawn and planting some flowers to add colour to your surroundings. A dash of new colour is an expensive way to rejuvenate your property’s curbside appeal.

Tips to Negotiate Like a Pro for a Property

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A significant number of home buyers will only be in the market a handful of times in their lives, so negotiating price for a property can be uncomfortable for some.

Here are tips to help buyers negotiate like a pro:

1. Ask for the price you want
Be assertive and challenge everything if you want to succeed at negotiating. Successful negotiators know that everything can be negotiated. This is called “negotiation consciousness,” which separates the good from the bad negotiators.

2. Don’t talk, just listen
Don’t talk too much. Negotiators ask pointed questions and close their mouths. The competing negotiators will do the talking and all you have to do is listen to the flow of information.

3. Do research
Collect as much vital information as possible before negotiation begins. What are the sellers’ needs? What difficulties are they expressing? What choices do sellers have?

Knowing the answers to these questions gives negotiators an understanding of the other side’s situation and allows them to make accurate decisions. The more information you get about the sellers or their agents the stronger you become. People who often leave money on the table are likely those who don’t research.

4. Be prepared to walk away
Show that you are willing to walk away if you can’t land a satisfactory deal, and the other party will realise that you mean business.

5. Don’t rush
Your patience can defeat your rival negotiators if they are in a rush because they assume that you’re not weighted by the end to finalise the deal immediately.

Key for women investors

The Typical Investors in Australia’s Property Market

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A wealthy, full-time property speculator is not what a typical investor in Australia’s real estate market. In fact, the market is made up mostly of people who don’t rely on their investment property as a main source of income. Figures show that these small-time investors own 83% of investment properties. 

The typical property investor
According to past studies, real estate investors are likely to be married, wealthy males with high income and a full-time employee.

Private data from a large mortgage provider during the 2003-2009 period shows that the typical property investor is on average 42 years old, 72% are married, only one-third are female, and less than two-thirds obtain finance with a co-borrower.

Residential investors earn an average net monthly income of $8,600, or $103,200 a year. Excluding the 100 investors with a net monthly income over $100,000, the average net monthly income becomes $6,617, or $79,404 a year.

The net wealth of residential investors that are bankrolling the property with a mortgage averaged $934,091 (half of the respondents owned $581,541 in net wealth).

Direct residential investors are made up primarily of professionals, in management roles, small business owners, or workers with a skilled trade. In total, 27% are self-employed, compared with 19% of self-employed owner-occupiers.

Where do they invest?
Direct residential investors primarily put in their money on existing houses, same with owner-occupiers when purchasing a property. Only a small percentage invests in constructing new houses.

Residential investors are more likely than owner-occupiers to invest interstate or in a different post code. Additionally, a significant percentage of residential investors choose to invest in rural or regional areas. Many residential investors elect to purchase in major metropolitan cities like Melbourne and Sydney.

Why do they invest?
Other than to live in the house, the primary reasons for investing in property are income and wealth accumulation.

There are other secondary reasons such as moving up or down and owning other property as an investment, or having a holiday residence and maintaining it as an investment as well. In addition, there are “unintentional” property investors that may have inherited or acquired property.

A typical Australian property investor could be your neighbour as research finds that a significant number of residential investors are average Australian, who put their money in rural or regional areas as a secondary source of income and to earn equity.

In Newcastle, we are currently seeing a high volume of property investors at all of our open homes.  The majority we see are, in fact, locals like my neighbours but we also attract many investors from outside of the region too!

If you would like to sell your current investment property and would like an appraisal, please call Annette directly on 0418447856.