8 Ways to Increase the Value of your Home

The location and size of your property will affect how much it’s worth, but there are some tips to help you boost the value of your home.

Here are 8 tips to boost home value:

  1. A fresh coat of paint

The easiest and least expensive way to update the look of your home while raising its value is a new coat of paint. Choose whether you want to redo the entire house or do just two rooms, or maybe a feature wall? In terms of colour, experts say that ivory is the only colour that boost the value of your home however, I personally feel that most neutral colours will work just the same.

  1. Put in storage

If you’re not going for extreme minimalism, the lack of storage space will be a major turnoff for prospective buyers. Consider open shelves for the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. In addition, putting hooks on the back of doors is a simple convenience that is usually ignored.  Also think about any ‘dead’ areas of your home that could be transformed into new storage nooks.

  1. Upgrade the outdoor

The desirability of your home will increase with an outdoor area beautifully designed for entertaining. Shade and shelter are important, but fire pits have become a standard feature in many backyards.

  1. Add gas heating and appliances

There are a couple of reasons why gas appliances are a popular home feature. Gas heaters, especially flame-effect fires, provide warmth and comfort while being environmentally friendly. Gas cooktops can boost the value of your kitchen as they are generally favoured over electric cooktops because they can provide immediate heat and even temperature compared to electric. Gas also generates less greenhouse gas emissions compared to electricity, making it eco-friendly.

  1. Easy switches

You can build an entire new bathroom with no renovation. Minor, but current updates, like swapping handles and taps, can easily improve the appearance of your bathroom. Old and grubby tiles could be repainted. For an outdated vanity, installing a more contemporary one can make a huge difference to the vibe of the space.

  1. Curb appeal

The desirability of your home can also be influenced by how it looks from the street. Putting up a fence may be aesthetically pleasing, but it won’t automatically add value to your home. However, repairing and painting any existing fence around the property is worth it. Another easy and cost-efficient way to boost curb appeal is by replacing or repainting your letterbox and front door to a different colour.

  1. Décor and interior design

The look and feel of your home can be greatly benefited by adding items such as cushions, rugs and throws. Update old-fashioned lampshades and think of investing in some artwork. If you put your home for sale, it’s important that prospective buyers can imagine the space where they will potentially live.

  1. Add a granny flat

The concept of generations of families living together and dividing the cost of living is becoming popular. If space allows, building a granny flat in your property can boost the overall value provided it is done right. It is also a good way to earn extra income that you can use for your mortgage repayments.


I service the Newcastle and the Lake Macquarie regions and have been offering my 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.  




What Does Off-Market Sale Mean?

Have you heard the word off-market listing and wondered what it means?

An off-market sale means a property that is selling or has already sold with no public advertising, with real estate agents contacting interested buyers privately.

Sometimes sellers choose to accept an offer without formally ‘going to the market’ and advertising on the real estate portals or in magazines or the newspaper.  

This can be advantageous to the seller especially if the purchaser offers a strong price in order to lock out any competition.  It also quickens the sale and avoids having to spend money on advertising.  But be warned, an off-market sale doesn’t always deliver the best results especially when their is no competition because it’s hard to know if you’re accepting the best price possible.

Anyone who is high profile prefers an off-market sale because of the anonymity it offers. Sellers with scheming families or neighbours can also see the benefit in keeping their home’s sale private.  Often sellers who are looking for an off-market sale are usually those in relationships/marriage collapse, financial trouble, deceased estates or the seller may be facing job changes. Whatever their reason is, the one thing they have in common with is their need to sell quickly with the least amount of people knowing about it in order to focus on the more important issues in their lives.

Important to know is that off-market properties are usually only available for a brief period of time and they are usually the outcome of perfect timing.

Advantages of an off-market sale


  • The competition is weak so you may be able to purchase for a lower price. You may be the sole buyer who knows the anonymous listing and this exclusivity can mean getting that property for a lower price than if you bought in an open market.
  • High probability that your offer will be accepted. Even if your first offer is below market price, the seller may consider accepting your offer to avoid having to prepare the home for open homes and inspections as well as avoiding advertising fees.


  • A fast sale – if priced keenly.
  • Normally sold with additional terms and conditions. When a seller prefers a silent sale, the fast sale usually contains more conditions, including shorter settlement periods, higher deposits, or inclusive of any structural flaws.
  • Avoid having to present the property for open homes and inspections
  • Avoid advertising costs.

Disadvantages of off-market sale


  • You still need to find a home that checks all your requirements, such as location, features, condition and price. This may mean additional footwork.
  • Who you know will make a big difference and it requires a long time to establish those insider relationships.
  • Absence of marketing materials, which means you can’t create a visual list of potential off-market investments.


  • High probability that you will sell at bargain price compared to if you advertise your home.
  • Zero possibility of going to auction or capitalising on the huge passive market of people who regularly go online to search for investment or owner-occupied properties.
  • You may still lose, despite believing you can save money by not advertising. The reality is that they cost themselves tens of thousands of dollars because off-market will not offer the competition of a marketed sale.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What motivates vendors to sell off the market?

People who opt for an off-market sale are typically going for either a fast sale or private sale. For these people, selling the house is more important than the sold price.

The anonymity of an off-market sale usually attracts high-profile people or those who want privacy in their sales process.

  1. Can you purchase property that is not on the market?

Yes. But you will need the help of agents to find off-market properties. It’s important to get to know the agents in your chosen location so that you can work with what may be available.

  1. Can you remove your home off the market then re-list later?

Yes. Your home may be taking too long to sell and you and your agent decide that re-listing later is the best strategy to take.


Although selling off-market properties is a growing trend in Newcastle, One Agency Pinkerton Properties has been selling off-market properties since the agency was launched in 2013.

If you’re thinking of selling your property off-market this year, contact Annette Pinkerton on 0418447856 to discuss how this can work for you.



How Do You Future Proof your First Home Purchase?

Property investment is generally regarded as long term. However, it can be tricky to purchase a first home that you won’t outgrow immediately.

The not-so-easy task of saving for a deposit, the absence of equity in their current home and borrowing abilities constrained by early-career salaries indicate that future-thinking first-home buyers have to weigh what they want in a home at present with what they’ll require in the future.

Looking towards the future
A majority of first-home buyers know that their purchase is just a means and purchase according to their present situation.  People buying their first home would like to choose something close to their work and look for something newer that looks easy to manage.  But it can be detrimental to focus too much on your present lifestyle. For example, young couples purchase in inner-city suburbs to be close to restaurants, cafes and pubs, then they start a family and immediately their location is redundant.  It can be a big mistake to purchase a home that isn’t going to meet your needs for long. You’d be wasting your transaction costs if you have to sell and relocate to another home within a few years.

First-home buyers’ thought processes are often influenced by market conditions. If the market is really strong, buyers will try to enter straight away and probably have less thoughts for the years ahead. However, they tend to plan more if the market is weaker.

Affordability issues often force inner-city first-home buyers to purchase smaller apartments, putting a limit to how long a property will continue to be suitable as the family grows.

But by expanding the search grid, new possibilities can open it. If your lifestyle allows you to live in other suburbs, you should open yourself up to the possibilities of what you can purchase.

Here is what we recommend: First-home buyers planning to expand their family should prioritise what they’ll require in the home itself over their present lifestyle. A family-sized property can be a more profitable long-term investment than an apartment.

Planning for improvements
As an agent I often advise first-home buyers to consider how the home will help attain future objectives and think about ways you can boost the value of the property through cosmetic upgrades or extensions to woo potential future buyers.  You’re not going to be living in the property forever. It is not where you’re going to raise teenagers in, but it might be where you’re living when your first baby arrives.

You need to make sure the value of the equity you’re adding to the home is safeguarded and does not vanish in a weak market.

Taking advantage
The present low interest rate could let first-home buyers afford a more permanent home. It’s the perfect time to look for something that is bigger than you thought you could buy. Anyone who has had to live in a cramped space understands the importance of having a bigger space.

As long as you don’t overextend yourself, now is that ideal time to enter the market where you’ll be able to get more features/amenities that you want in your home.  Buying for the future needs a thorough deliberation, and not doing your research can prevent you from buying a long-term home.  Ensure that you’ve done research on the location you’re purchasing in. If you’re aiming for long-term, you want to avoid a home you’ll outgrow immediately.

Determine if this is a neighbourhood you can imagine yourself living in for more than five years.



One Agency Annette Pinkerton

What are the Expert Qualities that Make a Good Real Estate Agent?

A good real estate agent knows that a house is more than a structure, it also includes people. They know that while the sales process can be complicated and sometimes challenging, they also have to be a support, an independent expert and always striving to achieve the best results for both parties.


The best agents are comfortable talking to different kinds of people, have an extensive knowledge of the area where they operate, and a solid sales record to support their claims.


Given all these, here are the eight qualities that you should remember when looking for the best real estate agent.

  1. They talk well and regularly with their clients

Dealing with a real estate agent with poor communication skills can be stressful. Time is of the essence when it comes to real estate, so you need an agent who regularly keeps you updated about your present buying or selling situation.

If not, you end up squandering valuable time when opportunities with a limited chance of success come up.


  1. Proactive with the sales process

A good agent should be proactive in calling prospective buyers, talking to existing clients and regularly going after new leads. Keeping the client well informed is one of the most important elements of being proactive.

Hint: If you are constantly calling your agent for updates, then they are not giving you adequate information.


  1. Good listener

Be wary of agents who talk too much. When you have trouble getting in a word when talking to your agent, that’s a red flag.

As the client, you are the one who should be doing most of the talking and making sure your agent understands your special requests and needs. Your agent should be asking you questions, not you.

A good agent will also be able to determine the client’s preferred method of communication to ensure the client doesn’t feel disregarded by silence, or pressured by excessive communication.


  1. They are client-motivated

If a client wins a good deal, then the agent does as well. This is the reason it’s crucial to pick an agent who puts their vendors first.

A great agent will work for your interest and that means putting your needs as a top priority.


  1. Have knowledge of the local area

More than a house, real estate agents are also selling a life that comes with that house. This requires an agent’s local understanding of the area where you’re considering to buy.

So before deciding on a real estate agent, make sure to ask prospective agents various questions, including train and bus routes, nearby activities for children, local planning regulations, etc. This will allow you to determine which ones can sell the local lifestyle and those who can’t.


  1. They understand their clients’ time frame

One of the foundations of a good client-agent relationship is understanding urgency.

A good client knows if the client is in a rush to sell. If they have to settle quickly, the agent should be aware of this, and should be working to meet the client’s time frame. If the client is not in any hurry, the agent can look around more and recommend that the client wait for a more ideal market to get the best possible price for their property.


  1. They understand their client’s purpose for selling 

A good agent will find out what is motivating their clients to sell, and will ask themselves these questions:

Is my client selling to buy?
Are they aiming to buy an investment property?
Will they reside in the home and knock it down later on?

A good agent should also know any emotional attachment the client may have on their property. The motivation of a client who is selling one of multiple investment properties will be different from a client who is selling their family home. A good agent understands the difference and will change strategy accordingly.


  1. They are willing to provide you their last 20 clients as references

The simplest way to find a good agent is to use their previous clients as references. If you want to make sure that a prospective agent is right for you, request for the testimonials of their last 20 clients.  Not clients that they’ve chosen, but literally the last 20. A good agent should have no trouble providing positive feedback from any of their previous clients.




Tips to Prepare your Outdoor Space for Summer

We always look forward to a change in season, particularly when it’s summer. Sunblock is used more than usual. We impulsively buy ice cream from the service station. We also stretch out in our backyard under the sun as we watch the bedsheets dry out fast.

The beach and day trips are not the only activities that can give us the greatest taste of summer. Our home can also offer similar experiences by preparing your outdoor spaces ahead of the summer season.

Use mulch

One of the simplest and low-maintenance ways to spruce up your garden for summer is to add mulch to your plants. Mulch helps suppress weeds, keep moisture in the soil while keeping it from becoming dry, and will make you garden look tidier.

Use organic mulch if possible because it adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.  I particularly like to use leaf litter mulch.

When you add mulch to your garden, make sure to weed the area first and add the mulch at 75 millimetre depth. Unlike with compost, there is no need to dig it in.

Replace with fresh mulch every 12 to 18 months.   

DIY garden renovation

Start small and work on one area at a time and when you decide what to plant, choose ones that you’d like to eat, see and smell.

This is a system that can easily work. For example, plant blooming flowers and integrate them with herbs.

Herbs are highly recommended. Plant lots of them because they grow easily and can easily shift effectively from a summer salad to a cocktail garnish.

For fragrance, plant gardenias, and for shade & colour think about a Japanese Maple.

Al fresco style

If your style leans towards some al fresco atmosphere for your outdoor space, whether a backyard or an apartment balcony, determine how you intend to use it first.

For example, do you want to use the space to gather a large group of friends for dinner, or do you prefer to host people for coffee or drinks?

For a smaller event, a lounge seating and a coffee table is ideal. Use stackable furniture if you need to store it after use. You can buy wooden stools that can also be used as tables and coffee tables.

To get value for your money, consider stools that can be used for both indoors and outdoors and can withstand any weather. This will allow you to move it from outdoors to indoors and vice versa.

You might also encounter unwanted guests – mosquitoes. To address this rather annoying situation, use repellents such as citronella candles or throw a few stems of rosemary on the barbeque. The mosquitoes will stay away due to the herb’s woody scent.

Garden pots

When you use garden pots to style your garden, opt for clusters of pots at different heights and sizes, as well as ones that are hanging or affixed to the wall with cascading foliage, in odd numbers.

Pots are considered ideal for renters as you can take them with you when you move.

You can be creative by turning found objects into pots. Just make sure the objects have drainage holes, or you can drill small holes in the base if they don’t.

As summer approaches, it’s better to use big pots because the smaller ones will dry out fast.


It is also important to add a lighting feature to your outdoor area, especially when afternoon drinks shifts to an evening barbeque. Your choices are outdoor lamps, floor lamps, and hanging and strand lamps, which are sold at different price ranges.

You can also opt for LED lights from hardware stores, or designer lights that can be used for both task and ambient lighting.

This year I’ve opted for solar battery Christmas lights along the balustrade and fairy lights from the ceiling.


So get creative and just because it’s almost Christmas – don’t think it’s too late…..  There is still Boxing D

New Buyer Behaviors Revealed with Increase in Filtered Searches

The economic recession from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious restrictions in the ways people can spend their money.

Because of the ‘per person square meterage’ restrictions, we can’t go out to eat or attend sporting events like we used to and the closure of domestic and international borders have made travelling challenging whereas pre-pandemic it was a luxury that many Australians indulge in each year.

With borrowing costs at record lows – and not likely to recover in the near future – and restrictions on movement and spending, it looks like a growing number of Australians are thinking of putting their surplus funds into real estate.

The total search volumes on realestate.com.au were higher compared to the previous year and price-filtered searches are also on the rise.

An increase in filtered searches shows new buyer desires

The shifting nature of search behaviour throughout Australia over the last year can be seen in searches for properties listed for sale with a price filter.

Majority of searches performed on realestate.com.au are carried out with no price filters, but the site still get a massive amount of searches carried out with these filters and they can offer important insight into the changing nature of the property market.

The following are six trends that realestate.com.au is getting in the price filter search data:

  1. A higher share of searches at lower price points

In September 2019, 32.9% of price-filtered searches nationwide recorded the highest price of $500,000 or less, compared to 33.7% in September 2020.

  1. Increase in searches for homes valued at over $1 m

In September 2020, 23.1% of price-filtered searches recorded a maximum search price of over $1 million, versus 21.2% in the same year-ago period.

  1. Increased searches above $1 m in the capital cities than regional markets

In September 2020, 21.2% of all price-filtered searches for capital cities were for homes priced at over $1 million, up from 10.6% of searches across regions in the country.

  1. Change in searches over $1 m higher in regional markets

There were greater searchers for homes priced at over $1 million in capital cities, but regional markets have enjoyed a much greater growth in their share of $1 million searches over the last year.

The price-filtered searches for homes listed above $1 million in the combined regional markets rose from 8.9% in September 2019 to 10.6% in September 2020. The share in the capital city markets has increased from 20.8% to 21.2%.

  1. Lower searches in excess of $1 m in Melbourne but regional Vic increased

In Melbourne, the proportion of price-filtered searches for home above $1 million has dropped from 21.4% in September 2019 to 20.0% in 2020.

Meanwhile, searches for homes above $1 million in regional Victoria have risen from 6.1% of price-filtered searches in 2019 to 7.1% in 2020.

Darwin and regional Northern Territory are the only two places beyond Melbourne to have posted a decline in the proportion of price-filtered searches for homes listed above $1 million over the last year.

  1. Higher searches for $1 m homes across NSW

In Sydney, the share of price-filtered searches for homes above $1 million rose by 250 basis points from 2019, increasing from 38.2% to 40.7%.

In the NSW regions, the growing frequency of searches for $1 million homes has been even greater in Sydney with the volume of these searches increasing from 11.3% in 2019 to 14.0% in 2020.

What do these search trends mean?

There is chatter that working for home will become a more constant feature of Australian employment and that may motivate people to retreat from capital cities.

Out of the total price-filtered searches, searches for capital city searches were nearly twice as high than regional market searches. However, the share of capital city searches has increased by 23% from 2019 compared to a 46% growth in regional searches.

The figures also mean that it isn’t just people who had been priced out of the capital cities who are likely considering a move to regional markets, considering the major change in the share of searches for homes priced above $1 million.


If you have a home in Regional Newcastle/Lake Macquarie over $1 million and are thinking of selling, then now might be the best time for you to take advantage of the surplus of buyers in the price range.  Call me today to discuss the opportunity of selling your home to one of these buyers, many of which are cashed up!



Here is Why COVID-hit Home Owners Should Think About Selling Now

It is heartbreaking to think that you have to sell your home due to financial hardship. It is always preferable to hold on to your property, but for some homeowners that have been hit by COVID-19, the decision to sell in the present market situation could be beneficial in the long term.

In March 2020, the Australian Banking Association launched six-month mortgage holidays to help homeowners that can’t make mortgage repayments due to loss of employment during the pandemic. As the loan moratorium nears its end, banks are urging borrowers to begin making repayments again, if they’re able. Good news for people who are struggling – the mortgage holiday period has been extended for four months to January 2021.

However, as the country experiences its first recession in nearly 30 years due to the pandemic, more loss of jobs is projected with some industries forecast to take years to return to normal. This suggests that a loan moratorium is only postponing the inevitable.

If we analyse the years before Australia’s last official recession occurred in the early 1990s, the unemployment rate had slumped to 5.8% in late 1989. It then increased to 11.2% in December 1992 and didn’t return to pre-recession levels until August 2003.

Though it wasn’t technically a recession, before the Global Financial Crisis Australia’s unemployment rate dived to a low of 4.0% in February 2008 and rose to 5.9% in June 2009. The lowest rate reached since that period is 4.9% and that was just for one month.

Unemployment was recorded at 5.1% in February 2020 pre-pandemic, and it’s currently at 7.4% with forecasts it could reach 10% by Christmas.

These numbers are important because the harsh truth of the present recession is that some of jobs that had been lost will not be returning and the unemployment rate is not likely to go back to pre-pandemic levels for several years.

With this in mind, mortgage holders who find themselves unemployed should really think about the possibility of them getting another job, or a job with a similar salary. If the chances of this happening is low, they should seriously deliberate selling their home now rather than later.

Three Good Reasons to Sell Now

  1. Competition

Selling a home is not simple. You and many other people may be hopeful that the situation will be much better soon, but struggling homeowners could be facing more competition if they wait longer to sell.

COVID-hit mortgage holders should consider selling now because the supply of new listings is very low in Newcastle.  At the end of August 2020, the number of homes that were for sale nationwide was roughly 9% below that for the same period a year-ago.

  1. High demand

Demand for property is at an all-time high. The number of people who are actively looking for properties for sale is at record-high. Similarly, the share of high-intent search behaviour on realestate.com.au is also near to a historic high and considerably greater compared to last year.  In all my years in the industry I have never seen so many active and qualified buyers.  A lot of whom are actually cash buyers!

The inadequate supply is likely slowing buying activity at present due to the fact that many prospective buyers are just unable to find the right home to buy. Particularly when you take into account that spring is when people would normally see new home listing increase.

  1. Historic low interest rates

Lastly, a major factor for the rise in interest for properties at present is the historically low cash rate. The latest Reserve Bank of Australia figures show a 2.3% average for the new three-year fix rate mortgage rates, which is a record low.

According to the RBA, the official interest rate will not be increased until progress is gained towards full employment and the inflation will sustainably remain within the 2% to 3% target brand.

Though the cash rate may not increase for several years, there is no guarantee that the banks won’t independently raise mortgage rates. Because of this, people may feel a certain urgency to buy property and take advantage of those low rates sooner rather than later, and it is critical that there is an increase in supply of homes for people to be able to do that.

It’s not easy to make the decision to sell

Don’t take the decision to sell property lightly, especially during an economic downturn. What is ideal is to hold on to your property or downsize – but you should want it rather than need it.

However, during situations like this pandemic, it would be smart for homeowners with bad financial prospects to capitalise on the present market situation.      

No one is sure that the current market dynamics will continue in the coming months.



Should You Buy the Worst House in the Best Street? The Answer is: Yes!

In real estate, the term “renovator’s dream” is taken to mean as a “run down mess”, but those properties, believe it or not, have unrealised potential.

When looking for property, we tend to set our sights on a property in excellent condition that is ready for you to move into. However, there are times when you have to overcome your initial doubts and be a little more imaginative in your property hunt.

Why buy the worst house in the best street?

Property developers suggest looking for opportunities to boost the value of a property instead of being dependent on the market to do all the work for you. The old “worst house in the street” belief is the ideal illustration of a case where this can be applied. Using your own sweat and blood can boost the value of a home, by undertaking either a cosmetic or structural improvement, or maybe even an extension.

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: purchasing a home in an overly-developed neighbourhood is not a very safe investment, as buyers are usually enticed into purchasing newly built homes with offers of incentives, freebies (such as new ovens and brand name white goods) and first home buyers schemes.

The features in overly-developed areas are actually special and can easily be found in any location, which means investing in these high volume developments will not succeed compared to investing in more tightly-held areas.

The projected population growth in the country indicates a low supply of properties in major capital cities and this trend will continue in the foreseeable future.

Purchasing property with a solid foundation, even if in bad condition, in a promising, popular street that is in high demand and insufficient supply will offer higher capital growth than an investment where there are many properties of the same features.

Things to consider when hunting for your “renovator’s dream”

Your goal is to find a solid investment, so look for a home where the things you can change, like the floor plan, built-in appliances, etc., aren’t perfect, but the features you can’t change like the location, block size, etc., are advantageous.

However, it is important to differentiate between a fixer-upper and a money pit. Before you make an irreversible purchase, hire a building inspector to look at the property to ensure it has no hidden flaws that you cannot afford to fix.

Avoid being overly confident with your renovation skills and the value you’re adding to the property. Do your research to make sure there is sufficient pricing gap between the property and the rest of the street to gauge the value you’re aiming to add.

For example, you might want to rethink your decision if you’re purchasing a home below the median price in the street but the cost of your planned upgrades is $80,000.

Property specialists also recommend that you hire a licensed builder to be in charge of any home upgrades you do. The thought of saving money by doing things yourself is nice, but most states require that a builder must supervise projects that reach a minimum dollar value of work.

You can still do the work yourself, but the completed project must be signed off by a builder. This is to certify that the building is safe, is of a suitable standard and fit for purpose. If this is not done, the works may be considered not legal, thus nullifying your insurance or possibly putting lives in danger.

Purchase property that will stand out and endure for a long time. Check historical evidence to see future gains.

Carry out due diligence and research the market carefully or do it with the help of a professional real estate agent like myself.



Thinking of Refinancing Your Home Loan?

Please use the information contained here that is relevant to your situation and let it help you achieve the outcome you desire.

As you may be aware, the home loan industry is continually evolving. This is also the case with your home loan. While your home loan may have been perfect for you a few years ago, it’s highly likely that it would be out of sync in today’s mortgage climate.  So, if your mortgage no longer suits your lifestyle, you should think about seeking one that does.

Home loan interest rates are at historical lows. Now is the time to look at the features and attributes other lenders can offer that may be better suited to your lifestyle.

As your lifestyle changes, it is the perfect launch pad to take a few short moments to evaluate your mortgage. Let me make special note that refinancing in a small number of cases does not always make sense for every borrower.

How does refinancing work?

Refinancing allows borrowers to rewrite their current mortgage with another lender, with the general objective to secure a lower interest rate, access equity in the home, or to take advantage various loan features and mortgage structures offered by other lenders.

As the Borrower, you have a choice to refinance with your existing lender or choose an alternative lender.  If you have decided to choose an alternative lender, your new lender will pay out your existing home loan, and you will commence making repayments to your new lender.

The first important point.

Before considering a refinance, it is important to evaluate your current financial situation and the goals you wish to achieve over the next few years.  With the help of an expert broker you can determine the best product to match your lifestyle and goals.  Refinancing may be advantageous to you by reducing your repayments via lower interest rates. Savings of $3,000 -$10,000 a year for an average size loan are possible.  It is important to seek the advice of an experienced mortgage broker to ensure that you choose the right product for your situation.

When you refinance, it helps to consider the things that are important to you within a home loan. Ask yourself,

  • Is the interest rate competitive?
  • Is the fee structure competitive?
  • Is the lender offering a cash back incentive?
  • Is the home loan relatively flexible?
  • What is the backend support and service I will receive?
  • Have I considered rate rises in the future?
  • Do I plan on selling or changing lenders again in the next two years?
  • How long will it take to get my loan approved and settled?

Once you understand what is important to you, you are ready to take the next step. 
Contact your Finance Consultant/Mortgage Broker and go over your scenario and desired outcomes.

Brokers normally have over 30 lenders to choose from which means hundreds of products to choose from. If you were to use a bank loans manager, they would offer you 3-4 options at most and you would only get the advertised interest rate.

An experienced broker will have software that will find the cheapest possible rate available if that’s what you are after. This means more dollars back in your pocket.

Why move to an alternative lender?

A lower rate is not the only reason a person is prompted to refinance their mortgage. Often dissatisfaction with a particular lender, the need to consolidate debts, or access to flexible options are among the top reasons to prompt a refinance.   A major factor which often influences or discourages a borrower to refinance is the uncertainty associated with their employment. What needs to be kept in mind is that changes to a borrower’s employment scenario can affect their borrowing capacity, making it harder for their refinancing loan to be approved. In general, it is better to act ahead of an employment move.

Home renovation is often top of mind for many homeowners. Replacing the kitchen and bathroom, or perhaps the need to add another bedroom are often popular triggers to refinance. Also popular are the desires to purchase an investment property, to upsize one’s home, or exit a fixed rate mortgage to take advantage of record-low interest rates.

If you are an investor the savings from refinancing could cover your properties insurance and management fees. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The need to consolidate debt.

These days, it is quite easy to get tempted into various forms of consumer debt. Whether it be via credit card, or retailers promoting a ‘buy now pay later’ program, sometimes – with the benefit of hindsight – these choices are not in the borrower’s best interest and lead to excessive repayment levels.   If you are considering debt consolidation, there is certainly a correct way and a wrong way to go about it.  The best option is to seek the direction of your trusted Mortgage Broker who will discuss the option to reduce the interest rate payable on your consumer debt through refinancing your home loan.

A Mortgage Broker will be able to show you the calculated savings of reducing your bad debt and rolling it into your home loan, so you will know where you will stand if you choose to proceed.

One great way to make a refinance TWICE as effective is to put any extra savings -could be $300 a month- back into your loan. This has the same effect as compound interest only in reverse. After a few years you will be amazed at how much extra you have paid off your home loan.

When it may not be considered sensible to refinance.

In some circumstances, there is no value in refinancing. Generally, if you have only had your home loan for a short period, or your home loan balance is under $100,000, refinancing may not make financial sense. If your total loan balance across all properties is over $200,000 then refinancing still makes sense.

While interest rates are historically low, it is important to remember that rates are likely to rise at some stage. Lenders already “stress” your home loan at 2.5% above any interest rate you are offered so they already take this into consideration.

How to make a decision to refinance.

The decision to refinance your home loan should ultimately come down to its value and the cost-effective nature of doing so. While I tell my clients that they should review their mortgage every 2 to 3 years, it is possible your current lender has passed on all possible savings to you and it is not necessary to refinance.

There are costs associated with refinancing which should be considered. Fees may include break costs, discharge fees and establishment fees. It is essential that the broker has taken these costs into account when calculating savings.

It is also important to consider whether your LVR (Loan to Value Ratio) has increased to a point where lenders mortgage insurance may be required. If your LVR is above 80% then LMI will be required from most lenders.

An effective way to review your mortgage holistically is to think about what your circumstances were when you first took out your mortgage. Think about what has changed in your life, how your personal financial circumstances have perhaps changed. If you are looking at your budget and want to find savings across all areas of your life, then your mortgage is one of the areas where you can find the most savings.

Depending on the size of your mortgage securing a 0.25% to 1.5% interest rate reduction could save you thousands and perhaps tens of thousands per year.

With more money in your back pocket it can reduce the financial stress that many Australian’s are feeling now.

The costs of refinancing a Variable rate loan can be as little as $300 though if you loan is Fixed then there could be higher costs associated.

You should consider staying away from refinancing options if the costs outweigh the benefits in the short to medium term. This outcome is especially common when exiting from fixed-rate loans as there are often very high exit fees.

Ensuring that your financial health remains sound.

  • If you choose to refinance with another lender, it is important you continue to review your mortgage every 2 to 3 years to make sure it is working at peak performance for you.
  • When refinancing, if possible, place any extra savings back into your loan to get TWICE the benefits. Extra repayments will bring your mortgage down at lightning speed. An Offset account is great for this.
  • If you have an investment property, it is important to consider monitoring the capital growth of the property and the remaining balance of your mortgage after refinancing.

If the capital growth in your investment property begins to increase in value, you may consider accessing that equity to purchase another investment property.

So now you should be fully armed with enough knowledge to decide if a refinance is an option you should be considering.

Have a great day.

Written by:
Jason Hare
Mortgage Broker & Finance Consultant

Please be aware the information provided in this guide is general in nature, and does not form part of any advice given to you. Please consider your circumstances before you make any decisions.