8 Important Questions to Ask When Choosing the Manager for your Investment Property

Do you know how well your investment property is being managed? You have to know because the quality of service you’re getting from your property manager (PM) can hugely affect your investment journey.

Some of the signs of a badly managed investment property include difficult tenants, low return on investment, lack of support and property deterioration.

So, how do you find a property manager that will care about your investment as much as you do? Here are some important questions to ask your property manager to make sure your investment is in good hands.

  1. Does your property management team get good and sufficient support?

Managing too many properties means your manager is less likely to be proactive in servicing your investment. Property managers overseeing a large portfolio can feel overwhelmed, fail to communicate and commit costly mistakes.

A professional property manager in a large franchise can often be responsible for  between 100 and 200 properties. Consider a boutique agency or a property manager who is responsible for less than 100 properties and experience the difference immediately.

  1. How do you handle late rental payments?

Choose an agency that follows a proactive process when dealing with late payments.

An agent that is committed to reaching your investment objectives is one who never misses a phone call to you as the owner, along with sending written notifications. A good PM will follow up any late rent with tenants straightaway, send payment reminders and in extreme situations deliver a notice to vacate if payment is 14 days overdue.

  1. How often do you do inspections?

Find out how often the property management team conducts property inspections. Inspections are important because they ensure your property remains in good condition and help detect any problems that may need to be fixed.

Tenants must be notified of an upcoming inspection with a written notice sent 14 days prior. When you choose a PM, learn about their inspection process, including their reporting, to make sure they fit your requirements.

  1. How do you deal with property damage, repairs and maintenance?

PM’s must act fast to resolve a damage caused by tenants. Through regular inspections, your PM should be able to identify and resolve any problems sooner rather than later.

PM’s who care about your investment can categorise ‘nice to have’ maintenance or ‘future’ maintenance from necessary or urgent repairs. As the owner, it is your responsibility to care for and pay for basic property maintenance. However, it is the responsibility of your tenants and PM to make sure the requests are sensible, timely and managed well.

  1. Do you give advice on how to maximise rental returns?

You pay your property manager to deal with the important things, but what often proves helpful in steering you on your investment path is the additional advice and recommendations from them.

Talk to your PM about whether they can provide information on how to increase your rental returns. Your PM should have the property and rental market knowledge to give added value to your present investments and prospective investment ventures.

  1. Where do I look for testimonials?

The best agencies have their client testimonials on their websites and social media pages.  Other are with sites like “Rate My Agent”.

References and testimonials help ensure the PM fulfils their promises. Request for references from both renters and landlords to help you make the right decision in your choice of PM. If there aren’t testimonials online, you can always request the agency to give you some.

  1. Do you give end of the month statements?

The right PM will keep you up to date with how your rental property is performing through regular reports like end of month statements.

These reports allow you to keep track of monthly rental income, make calculations and monitor the performance of your investment property.

It is important to choose a PM who has good attention to details. And regular communication is essential to ensuring you are updated with costs and important developments that will impact your investment income.

The right PM can make a huge difference in your investment journey. Do your homework and look for the agent that meets all your requirements. Above all, the PM you pick should be as committed as you are in making sure your investments perform well.

 

 

 

How the Housing Market Be Impacted by Changes to JobSeeker

At the end of March 2021, the provisional supplement to JobSeeker payments in Australia will end. The JobSeeker “coronavirus supplement” was designed to temporarily provide support for new and current beneficiaries of welfare programs in response to COVID-19 including JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy and the Parenting Payment.

The supplement was increased by $275 per week, practically increasing by 100% the payments for some recipients. It was recently announced that when the coronavirus supplement ends in March, a further $25 will be added permanently to payments. A permanent increase will benefit some, but welfare recipients will lose $250 per week as compared with the start of the pandemic.

But will the end of the JobSeeker supplement affect the housing market?

First, it must be said that the JobSeeker supplement has already been cut significantly in the past months, with no obvious negative impact to the housing market in general.

In late March 2020, the earliest JobSeeker supplement was established at a further $275 weekly. In late September, the supplement was cut by $125 weekly, and further cut to $75 weekly through the first quarter of 2021.

However, during the period when the supplement was reduced, the housing market momentum increased from September to January. The CoreLogic national home value index grew 3.2% and rental value rose 2.5% from the end of September to January.

Additionally, even as the JobSeeker supplement was being reduced, fewer Australians have been depending on welfare, thanks to a solid turnaround in the labour market.

According to the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS), the number of JobSeeker recipients were 11.7% lower towards the end of January 2020, versus the end of September. However, the risk to wider-spread housing spread remained elevated, because the number of JobSeeker recipients by January was still up 55.9% than at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The impact of the changes to JobSeeker on housing market values would likely be minor. As lower income households mostly have lower rates of home ownership, it is more likely that households benefiting from JobSeeker are tenants. This would suggest an indirect effect on housing values, where lower rental returns could affect an investor’s inclination to pay for a house.

However, upon checking on areas with the highest proportion of JobSeeker beneficiaries in Australia compared with the local population, rental returns have been varied since the huge cuts in the JobSeeker supplement in September.

The table below, which tracks changes in rent from September 2020 to January 2021, shows this trend in the markets with the greatest proportion of JobSeeker beneficiaries.

Only one region, Queensland – Outback – saw a reduction in rental values, while the rest of the SA2 markets saw an average growth in market rents of 4.2%, which is actually higher than the 2.5% growth in rent values across Australia over the same period.

One significant information to take note of is the absence of data for rental performance in the markets where the coronavirus supplement remained the same. In these situations, rents may have risen even more.

However, what the data underscores is that the looming changes to JobSeeker could cause more discrepancy between incomes and housing costs for some of most vulnerable households in the country. These rental markets may be improving collectively, but housing problems and even homelessness, may be experienced by people whose source of income have been affected by COVID-19. Changes to JobSeeker may not likely to affect the housing market, but reduced welfare could significantly impact housing situations for plenty of people.

 

 

 

The Hottest Garden and Landscaping Trends for 2021

With people on lockdown for most of 2020, there is no doubt that many of us spent more time in our backyards and gardens, or looking for green spaces. 

Local hardware stores and nurseries were definitely not hurting as people tried to revamp their outdoor spaces and create a haven.


For 2021, here are a few trends that we can expect to see according to some top landscape designers.

 

Structural and Sophisticated

Combining lots of big leaf plants, such as fatsia, philodendrons, alcanterias and succulents, with architectural concrete is a trend that continues to increase in popularity.

But more than just your average slab, architectural concrete has steps with a shadow line, clean edges and profiles.

This style is a clean, severe landscape aesthetic at the ground level but made soft by plenty of plants. This is a perfect contrast between hard, solid surfaces and a gentler landscape with leafy plants.

 

More Garden, Less Lawn

The “less lawn, more garden” trend will become popular because it is low maintenance.

More people are using plants within the landscape, not just to serve as borders along the fence line or around the lawn.

This is very different from a decade ago when people would have asked for minimal plants and a really big lawn.

 

More Natives and Plant Biodiversity

Australian gardens have always been influenced by English or European styles, but landscaping professionals are seeing a move away from this trend and more into adopting the Australian native garden, by using plants that are more accustomed to our climate.

Not only will Australian native gardens become popular, but they will also become more diverse as people plant natives and combine them with European, South African, and South American plants like succulents and cacti.

The use of plants that are relatively low maintenance and don’t need plenty of water makes sense as they are a lot friendlier to the environment and less stressful to take care of.

 

The Australian Meadow

A good way to create biodiversity in your yard is through a European meadow-style garden, which involves the layering of shrubs, grasses, perennials, and trees.

An increasing number of Australians are adopting this style, so expect this to become relevant.

And landscape designers are putting their unique perspective with the use of native plants like eucalyptus, banksia, grevilla, callistemon and acacia, and more.

 

Crazy Paving

Crazy paving, or random stone paving, is becoming a top trend again but not as people remember it.

People have a memory of it as being large slabs of brown or Castlemaine slate, but a variety of materials are being imported from abroad with grey, nearly granite-looking random stone, or those grey shades that look great with concrete and timber.

If you want to create a textured, clean and contemporary look that sends a strong visual impact, go for random paving in natural stone then combine it with natural timbers and smooth-finished concrete.

 

Outdoors an Extension of the Indoors

Australians are all-about outdoor living, and this is something that will never go away.

Due to the lockdown, people are beginning to look at their outdoor spaces in a different light, with questions such as “how can we turn it into something that is more practical and more functional?”

Outdoor kitchens are becoming even more essential, the same with barbeques and even pizza ovens.

In the past, people were content with built-in barbeque, but now people want to put everything outdoors. People want to experience that relaxed lifestyle at home – without having to go too far for it.

Insiders expect an increase in flexible furniture that fit both indoors and outdoors, as people adopt a style that connects the indoors with the outdoors.

 

Pools Will Become Smaller

As Australians’ outdoor spaces shrink, so too does our pool size.

But what is important is to make sure the pool is properly designed for the space allotted to it and that it is practical and useful.

Whatever size the pool is, what’s important is to make so that people want to use it, and use it for a long time.

 

 

 

Sell with One Agency

Selling a Home: Important Thing to Know When Setting a Price

Sell with One Agency

With the market constantly changing and massive amounts of money at play, arriving at a sale price for your home can feel overwhelming.

Sellers often set a price based on how much they need to repay debts or to purchase a new home. In reality, those figures don’t bear any relation to the property’s actual market value. It doesn’t work that way!

Sellers will also compare their home to nearby properties to determine a sale price, but their personal bias could influence the calculation.

Setting an independent value is more difficult than it seems. Most people talk to three real estate agents, trying to get three valuations on their home, but they are actually being given three pitches for business.  A good agent will work with a seller to set a fair price taking into account all the relevant market forces. 

Another option is to pay for a sworn valuation from a licensed valuer. 

Things You Need to Consider when Setting Sale Price

When determining the sale price for your home, you need to consider a combination of factors. For this, you need to be prepared to do a little research.

  1. Check listings in your area

Do some research on what is happening in your area so you can get a good indication of the present market trends.

First, look at the property listings in the same location as you. Focus on homes that have been listed over the past three months or longer.

Compare the original listings prices with the final sale prices when you look at the listings. This will give you information on any price reductions and supply and demand in the area.

  1. Look at comparable properties

There is no point in comparing a one-bedroom property when your home has five bedrooms. Focus on properties that are similar to your own – a decent range is areas that compare in square footage within a 10% variance up or down.

Aside from the square footage, also look for listings of properties that are the same age as your property and built with similar material.

  1. Check expired and withdrawn listings as well

To get an in-depth of what is actually going on in the market, you also need to look at expired and withdrawn listings.

This will help you figure out if any listing were withdrawn from the market and re-listed, highlighting any difference in listing sale prices. This should help you further understand the market situation and provide you with more guidance on what sale price is right.

How to Calculate the Value of your Home

When you have completed your research and have the information about comparable properties in your area, it is time for some computations.

You can calculate an average price if, for example, you found three or four similar sales in your area. This will give a better insight on what number you can realistically put on your home.

At this time, it also doesn’t hurt to seek help with experts – whether it is fine to add or subtract 10% of this average to either make your property more competitive in the market and boost your chances of a quick sale, or leave it to lady luck and try to get the highest possible price for your home as is possible.

If you are ready to talk, I’m available.   And, depending on your timeframe, your appointment can be as little as 15 minutes of your time!

 

Annette has been servicing the Newcastle and the Lake Macquarie regions and has been offering her clients sound recommendations and  professional advise since opening One Agency Pinkerton Properties in 2013.   If you found this article helpful or know someone who may benefit from it, feel free to share it. 

Why Is Now Might Be the Ideal Time to Buy Property

If you weren’t sure about entering the property market in 2020, there are many compelling reasons to do it right now.

Here are five reasons why the current market is working in favour of home buyers.

  1. Low interest rates

The number ONE reason why people are considering buying right now is the low interest rates.

The beginning of 2020 was difficult for the people and the economy, with severe bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak. However, things are looking up in the housing market, with auction clearance rates rising throughout Australia.

With interest rates at its lowest ever, right now is the perfect time to talk to a mortgage specialist about the home loan options that might be ideal for your current situation.

  1. The cost of buying vs renting

If you’re renting and a first home buyer you’re probably attempting to determine what would cost more between buying and renting.

In some cases, the cost will be very close. In other cases, it might actually be less expensive to buy a house, depending on its location and type.

If you’re thinking about this, it might be time to calculate your rental expenses.

  1. Less travel means bigger savings

With plenty of travel possibilities still in the pipeline in Australia, many could have saved thousands of dollars that they would otherwise have spent on overseas holidays and social expenses. So, what can you do about those savings?

People are still not completely free to spend their money. In some states, you’re prohibited from travelling interstate. You might be saving for a fabulous trip now but are thinking that “it’s a major challenge to do it this year, it might not happen next year, let’s use that money on something else.”

  1. Work from Home Flexibility

More and more people, both employees and employers, are choosing work from home arrangements.

What this means in relation to purchasing a house is that you can choose a location that is further away from your current workplace and often something larger.

Choosing an area further away from the CBD is also likely to offer more bang for your buck in terms of real estate.

  1. Incentive Schemes

The federal government has extended its First Home Loan Deposit Scheme until 2021. The scheme allows first home buyers to buy a home with a deposit as little as 5%. Usually, home buyers would be required to pay a 20% deposit or pay an additional Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) fee.

With this scheme, first home buyers don’t have to save a huge amount for a deposit if they want to enter the market ASAP.

There are other incentive schemes geared towards first home buyers that make buying now more appealing. Most importantly, there are various state-defined First Home Owner Grants and concessions for people who are making their first home buy.

If you are considering upgrading, there are also incentives available. For example, there is the Regional Home Building Boost Grant in Queensland and the BuildBonus Grant in the Northern Territory. Rules vary by state.

Even if the present is the perfect time to buy a home, knowing where to begin is the main problem. To get you started with a little more confidence, there are tools and support available to you.  All you need to do is ask!