10 Important Questions to Ask When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran of real estate transactions, it is beneficial to have the right real estate agent working on your behalf. But with hundreds of agents to choose from, how can you pick the right one?

You can begin by asking friends or family for names in your specific area. Hopefully, there will be names that would crop up more than once. When you have picked a couple of names, call the agent and set up a meeting where you can ask a few basic, but important questions.

Here are the 10 important questions that need to ask your agent:

1.  How long have you been a real estate agent?

The response could be much more than a number of years. Yes, it is true that experience doesn’t always equate to success, but real estate agents get paid by commission and it would not be easy for an agent to survive for so many years by providing bad service. An experienced agent would have gone through many difficult situations and is less likely to be flustered should problems arise.

2. What is the average number of clients you serve?

The reason you’d want to know how many clients your agent has is you want to make sure they have enough time to attend to your needs. If your agent has many clients, ask how they plan to allot time to you in case you need more support. Find out if your agent has other team members or a licensed assistant who can help you if necessary.

3. What is your ratio of buyers to sellers?

Many agents specialise on either buyers or sellers. While it’s good to be skilled in one thing, this could also result in a narrow perspective. Would your agent be able to know what a seller is thinking if he or she has been working with buyers for most of his/her career and vice versa? Aside from that, if you were looking to sell your house and purchase a new one, the transaction would proceed much more smoothly if your agent has the experience to oversee the whole process.

4. What area do you cover?

While there are agents who are neighbourhood experts, there are also those who will travel a long distance. Don’t rule these agents out.  It may be because they are a mobile office and only deal with repeat and referred clients. With the internet, it’s now easy to become more familiar with a larger territory and wouldn’t you prefer an agent with diverse knowledge? The risk with hiring a “neighbourhood expert” is that they may try to fit you in a particular area that doesn’t suit you. Work with someone who covers the inside and outside of your primary area of interest.

5. Do you work with a team?

There are many benefits to being in a team, but you have to clarify what your relationship will be with the other members from the start. Find out if you will be talking to many people or will be working with a specific agent throughout the process. Don’t expect to work with just one agent, but you need to know if you will be passed around from one step to the next.

6. Do you have the skill to deal with my particular circumstances?

You’ll want an agent who has experience in your particular situation, whether you’re a long-term investor, first home buyer, house flipper or selling an estate. Don’t be easily swayed by someone who replies with, “Don’t worry, I’ve handled this before.” Ask what unique problems could come up and how they would resolve it.  Roll play!

7. What kinds of communications should I expect to get from you?

At this stage, you should be able to tell how you and your agent communicate with each other. Similarly essentially, this should be the stage where both of you set expectations on the frequency of updates, the most effective ways to utilise and who are the people who should be kept informed. You as a client should determine which of these things you feel most comfortable with.

8. Can you present a recommended vendors list?

A seasoned agent will have cultivated reliable relationships with lenders, title companies, contractors and other industry professionals. Your agent should be able to recommend to you names of professionals who will do the best job for you. But remember that these are just recommendations – the law gives you the right to choose who you want to work with throughout the process.

9. Can you provide the contact details for three references?

No one can judge the customer service provided by your agent better than past clients. Of course, agents are not expected to provide information on clients who disliked them, so don’t take what they say hook, line and sinker. Ask questions that are specific and open-ended based on your needs.

10. Do you have questions to want to ask to me?

This is the most critical question you will ask because it will determine the agent’s mindset and priorities. It gives the agent an opportunity to discuss marketing which is the most important factor.   Any agent can provide an appraisal and ask what your selling price is but most are unfamiliar and have limited knowledge about how to attract buyers to view your home in the the first place.  It doesn’t matter how good the agent is or how many ticks they got on the above 9 questions, if there are no buyers viewing your home it’s all for nothing. 

Choose an agent who knows and understands all facets of marketing plus all the other attributes.

Factors Impacting the Increase in your Mortgage

Borrowers have been enjoying historically low interest rates for some time now. However, are happy days are at an end?  What is expected in 2019? Would 2019 mean larger repayments for many Australians?

Many homeowners fail to realise that there are other factors that could be influencing or increasing their mortgage just as much or more than any actions the Reserve Bank initiates.

Failure to evaluate your mortgage

Hundreds of thousands of Australians are neglecting to review their mortgage, leaving them paying more than they should every month.

Experts recommend that you review your mortgage every 12 to 24 months to find out if you can acquire a better deal.

If you want to make sure you’re not overpaying your mortgage, evaluate where the interest rates in relation to the market. How much are exit costs going to be? Would there be any gains for you?

Take this route if your bank is not adjusting their rates with the market: consult a financial expert, review your mortgage and consider all the expenses of discontinuing a mortgage, exiting, refinancing, etc.

Clamp down on interest-only loans
Interest-only loans are normally connected with investment lending, but owner-occupiers are also borrowing via this method.  But a crack down on interest-only loans by APRA is making sure that borrowers are paying considerably more, both at present and over the life of the loan.  Right now, owner-occupiers who are paying both principal and interest are getting the most affordable mortgages.  Interest-only repayments are drawing very high premiums at present, as well as investors. An interest-only loan can get a premium of half a percent, based on standard rates.

Paying more for property
People who borrowed more will, obviously, pay higher mortgage. Experts warn that those who max out their budget could end up heavily affected in the coming months and years.  Having insufficient deposit will mean getting a lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI), which could be hefty in many situations.  There are many creative ways you can limit or lower LMI so talk with a trusted broker.  If you don’t know any brokers, then just ask One Agency Pinkerton Properties and we will be able to point you in the right direction.


Kitchen Appliances to Keep and to Discard

Before going to the store to purchase kitchen appliances, here is what experts say are the items that you need and don’t need.

Most people lead busy lives, which makes it important to keep the food they prepare and the appliances they use simple and easy.

Must-have kitchen appliances

Food processor – this is a good investment as it is durable and has many uses including for blending, grinding and puree-ing many things.

Slow and all-in-one cookers – this versatile, affordable and efficient product becomes a necessity during winter when it’s too cold and the day is short. There are so many foods you can make using a slow-cooker, including soups, stews, stock, and even cakes.

But if you don’t like too many appliances cluttering your kitchen, buy an all-in-one cooker that functions as a slow cooker and also as a pressure cooker and multi cooker.

Good knives – Knives are technically not an appliance, but a kitchen would not be complete without of good set of knives. Japan is famous for its forged steel knife. Many chefs attest to its sharpness and durability. One chef said that his knives are still as sharp as a razor six months after he received it as a gift.

What you can do without

High-speed blenders – there are other kitchen appliances that can do the job of a high-speed blender. Some chefs consider it over-rated. It can macerate food quickly, but its high cost and the loud noise it emits are not worth it. As an alternative, get a food processor, which can do just about anything a blender can and more.

Panini press – this appliance is good for making toasted sandwich and nothing else. It’s bulky and if you don’t use it often enough, it would only be taking up space in the kitchen. In place of a Panini press, get a George Foreman grill. You can use it to toast sandwich as well grill meat.

Popcorn maker – This appliance sounds great for the kids, but does it get used regularly? Avoid regretting over investing on a popcorn make by using the tried and tested way of making popcorn in the microwave or in a pot on a stove.

 

Bread maker – It’s not a great idea to buy a bread maker if you’re not baking bread regularly. You can look up bread recipes online that don’t need a specific appliance to make.

Juicer – Juicers are large and not easy to clean that a lot of them end up collecting cobwebs at the back of the kitchen cabinet.

The Fastest Selling Affordable Suburbs in Australia

New research by Propertyology, a market research and buyers’ agency, found that the fastest selling affordable suburbs in Australia are projected to outdo both Melbourne and Sydney over the next few years.

The results came from analysing 550 city councils throughout Australia and identifying 40 areas where days on market declined considerably in 2017 while also enjoying strong (or improving) sales volume.

The two metrics are driving prices in the market, so evaluating the areas where this is occurring will give researchers an understanding of which areas are primed to flourish.

Clarence in Tasmania was the fastest selling suburb with an average selling period of just 10 days, which is a drop of 60% in days on market compared to same year-ago period.

 

Queensland

Among the five city councils that comprise Greater Brisbane, the outer east municipality of Redland, performed the best in term of selling time, up 37% over the past 12 months, and a drop to an average of 38 days.

Tighter sales times were seen in five of Queensland’s local authorities, including the Gold Coast, which saw days on market drop 31%, undoubtedly echoing higher tourism figures.

Improved buyer activity was also seen in regional Queensland, with figures forecasting a tightening market in the Gold Coast, Mackay, Hervey Bay and Cairns.

 

South Australia

Both increased sales volumes and a significant drop in days-on-market were recorded in Adelaide Hills along with middle-ring city councils such Salisbury, West Torrens, Prospect and Marion.

 

Western Australia

As the economy stabilised in Western Australia, some of their regional markets have performed better than Perth. Compared to a year ago, properties are selling faster in the lifestyle market of Broome, Busselton in the south, and Karratha and Port Hedland in the Pilbara.

 

Tasmania

Thanks to a robust economy, the sale of properties in metropolitan Hobart was done within three to seven days upon listing.

However, a tighter market is being experienced in suburbs outside of Hobart. There were also a strong increase in sales volume and a major drop in days on market in regional Tasmanian markets including Burnie and Devonport.

 

Victoria

Numbers were also turned out well in regional areas like Ballarat and Shepparton, plus the outer-east suburbs of Melbourne including Frankston, Dandenong and Cardinia, and outer-north areas including Hume, Mitchell and Macedon Ranges.

 

New South Wales

Sales volume in Orange has increased 13%. In addition, property sales are 23% quicker compared to a year ago.

A tightening was seen in regional centres across Hunter Valley. Meanwhile, areas like Maitland, Cessnock and Port Stephens have already posted a good price increase. Recent figures show a more robust activity in Muswellbrook and Singleton where it will only cost $300,000 to $360,000 for a typical house.

 

If you want more information about your suburb and it is located within Newcastle or the Lake Macquarie areas, text POSTCODE REPORT to 0418447856 and we will send it to you!

How Much Should You Save for a Home Deposit?

Saving for a home deposit is no easy feat considering that house prices are soaring in most Australian cities.

In today’s market, how much do you beed to buy your first home? Are you required to pay the full 20% deposit, or are some lenders willing to accept less?

Here are some important things you need to know:

What is the required home deposit by banks?

You don’t need to save a 20% deposit before you can approach a bank for a loan. Most banks are willing to offer loan to buyers with less than a 20% deposit – some even accepts as little as 5%.

Aside from the deposit and stamp duty, buyers also need to pay for lenders’ mortgage insurance (LMI), which helps minimise lenders’ risk of lending to people with small savings.

LMI generally applies to borrowers with less than 20% of the purchase price. But this rule exempts borrowers who plan to buy in high-density areas like inner-city suburbs, commercial properties or self-managed super fund investments. The required deposit for this type of purchase is 30%.

Is saving for a bigger deposit beneficial for first-home buyers?

Borrowers should always consider that the properties in their price range may increase in value by considerably more than the cost of the LMI when making a decision about when and how much to borrow.

In some cases, it pays more for customers to purchase the property and get that insurance, because by the time they are able to save the required deposit to dodge the mortgage insurance, property values have increased again and they’re actually behind even further.

What other items will the buyer pay for?

There are many concessions given to first-home buyers that allow them to avoid paying for some costs typically associated with purchasing property. This, however, depends on which state you’re buying and the purchase price.

In Victoria, any property purchased with a price of as much as $600,000 has no stamp duty and properties valued from $600,000 to $750,000 have a sliding scale of concessions.

Properties valued at $750,000 or more are expected to carry duties of about 5% of the purchase price, which is $40,000 on a $750,000 property.

There are other smaller items to pay for such as conveyancing and title transfers, which could amount to roughly $2,500.

Lending requirements of banks

Different banks, different rules and standards. Most lenders are flexible, but it will depend on the borrower’s personal financial situation.

Of course, it’s always better to give more to the bank so you’d pay less interest. However, this would depend on your particular situation. Do you have a good income, have you been in your current job for a long time? If you just had a pay raise, you’re capable of making those repayments.

The rates and fees will not change any time soon. The key is looking carefully at your options to secure the loan that best fit your needs.

Let me know if you would like to speak with or need advise from a lender.