What to Expect in Open House Inspections?

An open house is an exciting event whether you are a seller or a buyer. If you are selling, an open house is the chance for you to showcase your property to prospective buyers, and hopefully close a sale. If you’re a buyer, you are searching for a property that you can inspect, with the aim of finding a home that you can call your own.

While it seems like all you have to do is open your house and someone will buy, the fact is you need to have a little preparation if you want to ensure the best deal.

Here are tips to help you prepare before setting an open house inspection – from the perspectives of both the buyer and the seller.

How to prepare for open home inspections as a buyer

When you attend an open inspection, it’s easy to make yourself believe that the first home you inspect will be perfect or if not, you’d just go with your gut feeling. But if you are going to open homes with the aim of purchasing, you have to research the property so you have all the information you need before deciding to make an offer.

Here are three things you should consider when attending open homes:

Research the surroundings – Find out what services are close by. Knowing the neighbourhood and the properties proximity to schools, shops, cafes, parks, beaches, hospitals, sporting fields and complexes along with major shopping centres and even off the lead dog parks can add value to the property you’re looking at.  Not knowing this while your competition does may result in loosing out to another buyer.

Ask questions about the property  – finding out the history of the building can help you make your decision.  As they say, knowledge is power and being informed about any repairs or renovations the property may have been subjected to could either highlight some negatives or help you to discover some positives like not having to spend any more money on the home for the next 10 years.  Finding out if the pipes, roof, electrical systems, plumbing, pool equipment or windows have been replaced recently could mean that you make a higher offer and secure the property. 

Do some research to find out when the home hit the market – If the property has only been open for inspection for a short period of time, it could mean that many buyers are competing and you may need to make an attractive offer to advance in further negotiations.

How to prepare for open home inspections as a seller

What is an open house for sellers? This is your moment to put your property on display. On inspection day, your home needs to stun potential buyers and make them eager about the possibility of living in your home.

You want to give buyers all the reasons to buy and no reason not to. This means you have to get your home ready to sell fast – and for the highest possible price.

If you are preparing for open inspections, here are some things to include in your home inspection checklist:

Use space efficiently – The most important step in preparing your home for open inspection is decluttering. A tidy, uncluttered house appears larger, which creates a major difference when selling your house. Generally, you should remove at least half of your furniture (keep it somewhere else.)

Fix any maintenance issues – People are turned off by properties that look like it has been neglected. Additionally, if buyers think your property needs major repairs, they might request that you shoulder the expense. Repair leaky faucets, cracked tiles or damaged windows, and replace all the old light fixtures and or broken switches. You should also consider applying a fresh coat of paint as it makes your property look new and well-cared for.

Allow natural light – Buyers are turned off by a dark home, so ensure your home is taking advantage of the available natural light. Get rid or pull back superfluous window blinds, drapes or curtains. You can also install warm tone light bulbs and spot lamps to brighten a space.

Open Inspection in the Time of Covid-19

For us property managers and real estate agents, the health and safety of our clients are of utmost importance. In line with this, we have modified and updated our approach to meet the criteria of a safe place as defined by health authorities.

The process of open inspections during Covid-19 now includes:

Property managers and real estate agents are now working from home, and only attend home appraisal appointments, or to meet the clients, and oversee open homes or auctions. Buyers and sellers now have the option to communicate virtually with their agents or property managers over electronic devices for any property services they may need.

  • Most agents are now offering virtual open houses to vendors. These virtual walk-through technologies are secure and help agents generate offers as buyers are required to sign into the virtual open home in the manner that is the same for a physical one.
  • Clients who feel sick, or have gone to any high-risk areas are requested not to attend open homes for 14 days and instead call their agents for any enquiries they many have.
  • Clients will also be asked if they have travelled overseas in the past two weeks if they are going to homes for appraisals, or managing open home inspections.

The Rental Markets that are Most Affected by COVID-19

COVID-19 is impacting the residential property market in various ways, but perhaps the most impact could be felt in the rental space.

Australia’s rental market was already in decline, before COVID-19. Today, we are faced with new challenges. As tourists remain barred from entering Australia, and short-term rental arrangements are restricted by government policies, Airbnb rentals have shifted to long-term rentals. The increased supply means rents could decline.

This is compounded by a decrease in demand. Increased job losses have caused some tenants to renegotiate for payment plans, reduced rents, or seek alternative accommodation, like opting to live with their parents. A break on the movement of foreign students and migration numbers have led to more properties becoming vacant, while local students are less prone to rent near universities, as they get into remote study.

Another contributing factor is that while most of us have been staying home, the construction industry has been able to forge ahead with less disruptions and deliver completed projects ahead of schedule.

A number of datasets identify Inner Sydney and Melbourne, high density and expensive accommodation, as being most impacted whereas Newcastle has not been impacted anywhere near the levels of the larger cities.

Let us know if you have questions or would like more information about the performance of rental properties in your postcode or suburb.

 

 

 

Interior Decorating Ideas for Winter

Though the grey skies and wet mornings of winter have arrived, that shouldn’t be a reason for you to give up on style. With the change of season, you can restyle your interior.

Here are winter interior decorating ideas that you can use to help you feel snug as a bug even in the dead of winter.

  1. Colour and texture

If you are thinking of buying new homewares for the winter, reassess your interior colour scheme. Rich, saturated colours like dark green, jewel tones, reds or oranges fit this season. In the same manner, fabric choices reaffirm the richness of winter, with velvet, wool, cashmere and faux fur are the material of choice to direct warmth and texture to a space.

  1. Add greenery

Australian winter suppresses the people’s cultural desire for outdoor living, no thanks to strong winds, frost-bitten lawns and icy evenings. Bring a little of the outdoors inside your home using hardy indoor plants, or bring a sunny atmosphere to the gloomiest of corners with a bouquet of flowers that you can buy at the farmers market each week.

  1. Rearrange and reconsider

You don’t need to go on holiday in an exotic place to escape winter. Some change in your home is all you need. Look at your living room, dining and bedrooms to see if there is a way the space could be laid out. Could the seating arrangement be changed to promote conversation, or to congregate around an open fireplace? Fashion new snippets of vessels and trinkets on the sideboard in the dining room. You can also consider adding a textured bedhead to cosy up your bedroom. Sometimes breathing new life into an old arrangement can be as simple as rearranging a space or the accessories filling it.

  1. Layer

Introducing layers is one of the simplest ways to create a cosy atmosphere in your space. Use elements such as throw rugs, cushions, faux sheepskins, floor rugs and heavy curtains to create a cosy vibe in a space as well as give you easy access to all creature comforts.

  1. Lighting

The days are shorter during winter compared to summer, but don’t feel disheartened. Take advantage of the absence of natural light to create a mood with various kinds of lighting. To create a warmer overall cast to a space, use lamps, candles and bulbs with warmer tones for overhead lighting. If your lamps have visible bulbs, mix in classic decorative ones.

 

Staging with One Agency Pinkerton Properties

Simple Staging Ideas to Help Sell your House Fast

You might have decorated your home according to your taste, but the design you chose for your wallpaper might not suit other people. View your home through a buyer’s eyes, and make small changes to present it in the best light. 

Let’s take a look at these simple, cost-effective fixes that will improve your home.

  1. Create a welcoming front door. Prospective buyers drive by the property they are interested in before deciding to see its interior, so make sure the front door looks inviting.
  2. Get rid of clutter. Don’t display personal photos, knickknacks, boxes and other items that will steal the buyer’s focus on your house. People will not purchase a house if they can’t see the square footage, so declutter and clean it.

People assume there is not enough storage in the house if it’s cluttered. A general rule of thumb on how to determine whether something is clutter or not is “if you can’t sit on it, it’s not decoration, and you can’t eat it, it’s clutter.”

  1. Do a thorough cleaning of your house. Make the bathroom shine, wipe the windows down, and clean the kitchen appliances. Also clean under the sinks!
  2. Refresh your rooms. With a little paint, you can sell your home fast. Tip: use neutral colours for commonly used rooms. This will make them look clean and fresh.
  3. Set up your furniture to show off your home. Extra, unwanted furniture should be removed, and the rest of the pieces should be arranged in a manner that can help showcase a space and creates a major impact on buyers who are viewing it. To make a space look larger, push the furniture away from the wall as this will let people see the perimeter of the space and creates the illusion of a bigger space.

       6.  Minimise odours. People will recall smells upon entering the door. Make an effort to eliminate odours that are caused by pets, smoking and cooking. 

  1. Do the needed repairs. Check around your home using a buyer’s perspective to decide if you need to oil the door and windows hinges, repair loose handrails, etc.

Postponing maintenance – for instance, big cracks in your sidewalks along the way to your door – are considered red flags to buyers. It is less expensive to repair it than buyers demanding to deduct the cost from their asking price. Do your calculations and carry out the repairs. 

  1. Replace old light fixtures. The single, outdated overhead fixtures in your home can be replaced by wall sconces, recessed lighting or pendant lights to give your home a more modern look.
  2. Carpets should look fresh and clean. If your carpet is not completely worn, you can avoid replacing it before you sell. Buyers usually prefer to install their own new carpet or choose hardwood floors.

 

 

 

 

Home Buyers Tips for Property Settlement

Sure, it can be so much fun searching and going to inspections, but it is doubtful whether you can find a buyer who can say that they like the protracted negotiations and chaotic back-and-forth’s – and mean it!

Property settlement is the long-awaited culmination of a property transaction, when the home you have long wanted to own becomes legally yours. And the good news is that the hard work is done for you.

Below are six tips to help you along the property settlement process:

1. Know about property settlement
What is a property settlement? It is a legal process that shifts the owners of a property from one owner to another. It is the day you pay the rest of the sale price and is typically handled by your legal and financial representatives.  The vendor decides the settlement date in the contract of sale, which is typically arranged between 28 and 42 days after the parties exchange contracts but this can be negotiated to a mutually agreed date.

2. Organise your final inspection
The property must be in the same condition as when it was sold and handed over to you. Inspect the home at some point during the settlement period to check if the seller is on target to fulfil this obligation.  I recommend the late afternoon of the date prior to settlement but be aware that pre-settlement inspection differs from state to state.  You should verify if all the items included in the contract are present and in the right condition.

3. Arrange for building and contents insurance
Your bank will normally advise that you get building and contents insurance starting from the date the contract is signed by the seller. This is to protect the seller’s interest, as well as yours, in the property.  A great contact is Trevor Gibson at Newsure Insurance. Contact me to as for his direct mobile number.

4. Verify measurements
You will receive a plan of the land from your solicitor or conveyancer. You can use it to verify if the measurements and boundaries are what are stated in the Certificate of Title. Advise them if they check out and notify them of discrepancies, if there is any.  Make sure you furnish the documents and other information right away when requested, as delays can be expensive.

5. Allocate expenses
During the property settlement, both yours and the seller’s representatives must agree on the portion of rates and other fees that each of you must pay.  The vendors must pay the fees up to and including the settlement day, and you have to pay from the day following the settlement.  The correct amount you must pay will be specified in what is called as a settlement adjustment statement. It will also include the amount of land transfer duty (or stamp duty) you must pay on the sale. Depending on the state where the property sits, you will have between 28 days and three months after settlement to pay the stamp duty. However, you have to remember that you can’t get the title to your property until this duty is paid.

6. Know what transpires on settlement day
The people leading on settlement day are your lender and settlement agent (either your solicitor or conveyancer), so you are not required to be present.  Not so long ago all parties would meet to sign and exchange the final papers of the sale, with each of them in charge of a certain set of tasks.  These days most settlements are done electronically.

The job of your lender is to register a mortgage against the title of your new home and provide the funds to buy the new home, while it is the task of your solicitor or conveyancer to ensure that any rights of third parties have been taken off or discharged, that the present mortgage on the seller’s title has been released, that all clauses on the sales contract have been satisfied, and that the transfer of home and mortgage is registered with the appropriate titles agency.

When everything is done, the amount paid at settlement will be debited from your loan account by your lender. Then, you must pay the land transfer duty.  After this is done, you can now get the keys and move into your dream home.

 

 

Tips to Find the Right Agent to Sell Your Home

When you are selling your home, you need to have a real estate agent to help you get the highest possible sale price, in the best possible way.

Q: Why is it important to choose the right agent to sell your home?
A: It is important on several levels, especially when the market is slightly calm or it’s difficult. When the market is booming, nearly every one can sell property, so in a weaker market you have to hire the right person who has the know-how and experience. It all boils down to how you relate to them, how comfortable you are with them, how they intend on marketing your home and how they negotiate with buyers. In short, you need an agent who is going to do the right job for you and one that you have complete confidence in.

Q: How do you find the right one?
A: In real estate, recommendations by word of mouth is important. Instead of an agent telling you what they have done, it is far better to hear the good they have done from other people. It doesn’t matter whether you choose an agent with 25 years of experience or one who has been in the industry for just a year. Quite frequently, newer agents are more eager and not as complacent as some that have been around for years. They will go the extra mile because they’re working to make a name for themselves and build a brand.  Likewise is the agent who works alone in their owns the business.  This agent has their reputation at stake here and the ‘buck stops with them’.  Also important is not to choose your agent using online rating sites as the agents pay for this service and the ranking only takes into consideration the volume of properties sold (which might have been heavily discounted) and the highest value in the suburb.  It does not take into consideration the number of days it took to sell the home or if the property was sold for more than the asking price.  Nor does it consider the agent who sells in multiple areas!

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to picking a real estate agent?
A: There are two misconceptions. First, you save money by hiring the cheapest agent. Second, people view real estate agents as rich people driving in nice cars and wearing black suits.  In the first one, it could end up costing you money. You wouldn’t go to a cut-price dentist or surgeon, so it doesn’t make sense for you to hire a cheap real estate agent to sell your home, which is probably your biggest asset.  As for the second misconception, there are many agents who don’t fit that stereotype. Real estate agents come in all shapes and sizes, so an agent who wears the best suit isn’t necessarily the best one to sell your property.

Q: After getting a few quotes to compare, what are the factors that you need to consider?
A: The most important thing is the word of mouth recommendation. If you’re hiring an agent and don’t have any recommendation, act carefully. You also need an agent who will work after hours, and not all agents are willing to do that. Give preference to agents who are up to date with the latest technology because there are many tools available today. From a marketing perspective, choose an agent who doesn’t place their eggs in one basket. So, use a combination of photography, different websites, different print media and social media, too!

Q: Does a higher commission normally effective in a price premium on a sale?
A: The more commission that you are paying, the more encouragement you’re giving the agent to get the best possible. This is how it works in real estate. Usually, the agents who charge a low commission are after a quick sale. For every property that an agent might sell at a higher commission, an agent charging a lower commission would have to sell two or three properties to get a similar amount.

Q: How does an exclusivity normally works?
A: When a seller signs an agency contract, they’re usually signing up with only one agent, and that is how it should work. When you begin multiple listings with various agencies then nobody will take accountability. There should be only one agent to take ownership and responsibility for bringing your results. The exclusivity period is usually 90 days and ins negotiable.  Watch out and be very wary of agreements that have no end date and the small print hidden within the agreement saying you must give 30 or even 60 days notice to cancel.

Q: What agent “promises” should you consider a red flag?
A: An agent that promises anything should be a red flag. Go by track record. Look deep into what an agent means when they promise to provide feedback. Look for concrete proof of the ways the agent gives feedback. How do they make follow up calls to prospective buyers after an open house? What kind of weekly reports will be given to you, both from follow-up calls and the different website analytics they utilise?

Q: Do I need to pay for “extras” like home styling and rental furniture when you’re selling?
A: You don’t need it if your home is already furnished, but there is nothing wrong with considering it, depending on the type of property. Styling can cost you, but it can also help you get the highest possible price and even help to sell the home in a shorter period.  There are properties that appear hollow, empty and cold with no furniture and styling and there are also incidents where styling can make your property look and feel fake. The nature of the property determines your decision and your agent should be able to provide the best advise for your property.

Q: My final tip for picking the right agent for your property?
A: Those middle road, really nice, honest-style people who have been working as agents for a long time and have established a good reputation within the community make the best real estate agents. They may not be flashy or known, but they get down and get on with business. Those people are most likely better alternative to agents who are always propping up their status as being the best in their area.

It is important to use word of mouth recommendations. Avoid websites that compare and recommend agents because almost all of the websites are there with an agenda and that is to make a profit. In exchange for being recommended, these sites might get a slice of the commission. The best agents don’t have to use such websites.

Major takeaways:
Be smart in choosing your agent – you could lose a lot of money if you choose wrong.
Always be guided by word of mouth recommendations.
Don’t avoid agents who have been in the business for a short time or who work alone in their own agency – they could be more driven and will go above and beyond.
Pick an agent who will work after hours – especially if you are working full-time.
A bigger share of commission can motivate agents to aim for a higher price.
Don’t automatically believe the agent who calls themselves as “the best” is truly the best. Agents who “fly under the radar” are the smarter choice.
Be careful of comparison websites that endorse certain agents – they may be getting paid to do so.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Landlord

There are many benefits to being a landlord, but the truth is there are also drawbacks that you need to consider.

Benefits of being a landlord

Additional income

One of the best benefits of owning investment properties is the rental income. If the rental income is higher than the property’s holding outlays, such as insurance, repairs, property taxes, etc., plus financing cost, the landlord gets a monthly payment, generating for you a stable source of income for as long as the property has a tenant and rent is being paid on time.

Tax benefits

Another great benefit of being a landlord is the tax deductions. There are various tax cuts that investment properties are entitled to including:

  • Business deductions (if the property is owned by a company)
  • The cost of the property, including property insurance, property taxes, and certain maintenance costs or repairs
  • Depreciation
  • Mortgage interest

A lot of these deductions are available only to rental property investors and can amount to large tax savings over time.

Equity and appreciation of the property

In most cases, real estate increases in value over time. Depending on its location, there is a chance the landlord can profit from the potential appreciation of the property on top of the additional income it generated from being leased.

Disadvantages of being a landlord

Time

Income from a rental is considered to be passive, but a rental property is not a passive investment. So much work is required in owning a rental property. Landlord responsibilities include:

  • Advertising vacancies and showing the property
  • Screening renters
  • Collecting deposits and executing leases
  • Tenant communication
  • Managing maintenance and repairs
  • Collecting rent
  • Filing evictions

One investment property may not entail a lot of work, but several properties will. Some landlords choose to hire a property management company to help them manage their rental property. Whether you manage your rental property yourself or hire a property manager, there is a fixed time obligation to investing in rental property.

Risk and liability of renting a property

There are certain risks and liability when a property is rented to a tenant. These include a lawsuit from a renter who is hurt in your property or inability to abide by your state’s tenant-landlord laws. On the other hand, a landlord could find themselves pursuing damages against a renter who damaged their property after they were evicted.

There are means to minimise risk, such as getting a sufficient liability policy for the property and putting the ownership of each property in a separate company, but the risk remains. Keep yourself updated on federal, state and local rental laws, and purchase adequate coverage to further protect yourself.

Maintenance and repairs

Properties must be maintained and cared for over time. It will suffer general wear and tear, or tenants caused damage to the property, items will have to be replaced, fixed or updated.

In some instances, unplanned expenses will come up. Some of these are:

  • The roof needing to be replaced sooner than anticipated
  • A pipe bursting, flooding the home
  • The air conditioner or hot water service breaking 
  • Finding the home in disarray after a tenant has left

Allocate a part of your rental income for ongoing maintenance and repairs, and be always ready to work with renters, contractors and repair people to fix the problems.

Long-term investment

Rental properties should be considered as long-term investments, as the gains are maximised the longer it is owned. Your money is tied up in a property for years to come. If your property comes with equity, you have the chance to leverage a part of that equity. However, the liquidity is far less in a rental property compared to alternative investments like real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Vacancy

All is well when a property is occupied, but when it is not, the landlord remains responsible for paying the property’s outlays and financing expenses. If the vacancy is longer than expected, it may be financially draining to continue the cost of owning the property.

Tips for Cleaning and Sanitising your Home Amid COVID

Cleaning companies are enjoying a surge in requests for sanitising services, with homeowners and businesses making efforts to keep their surroundings free of germs.

However, bringing a professional cleaner into your home may not be an option for everyone, so here are some tips from Safe Work Australia on how to DIY clean and disinfect your home thoroughly.

How to clean and disinfect

Cleaning means to physically remove germs (bacteria and viruses), dirt and grime from surfaces using a detergent and water solution. A detergent is a surfactant that is designed to break up oil and grease with the use of water. Anything labelled as a detergent will work.

Disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. It’s important to clean before disinfecting because dirt and grime can reduce the ability of disinfectants to kill germs. Disinfectants containing greater than equal to 70% alcohol, quaternary ammonium compounds, chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach are suitable for use on hard surfaces (that is, surfaces where any spilt liquid pools, and does not soak in). These will be labelled as ‘disinfectant’ on the packaging.

Cleaning should start with the cleanest surface first, progressively moving towards the dirtiest surface. When surfaces are cleaned, they should be left as dry as possible to reduce the risk of slips and falls, as well as spreading of viruses and bacteria through droplets.

Before a surface is disinfected, it is important it is cleaned first because dirt and grime can reduce the ability of disinfectants to kill germs. Disinfectant may not kill the virus if the surface has not been cleaned with a detergent first.

The packaging or manufacturer’s instructions will outline the correct way to use disinfectant. Disinfectants require time to be effective at killing viruses. If no time is specified, the disinfectant should be left for ten minutes before removing.

In addition, remember to disinfect your computer keyboards and devises, doorknobs and any remote controls, or gaming system controls, etc.

 

Tips to Avoid the Most Expensive Household Hazards and Insurance Claims During Winter

Winter blues and winter hazards around the home usually come hand in hand. They sneak up on us like the cold and you can become vulnerable when you are not protected by your home and contents insurance.

There are two common and expensive insurance claims that, during winter, home owners should be especially aware of.

Fire and escapable liquid, from the perspective of peril-type costs, are the costliest in the industry at present for home and contents insurance.

According to Fire and Rescue NSW, of the 4500 house fires in the state they handle yearly, one-third happen during winter. Heaters, electric blankets, open indoor fires, wheat bags and power surges can be accidents waiting to happen.

Fire typically is started by heating and an electrical surge due to numerous electric heaters and/or more appliances being used. Fires tend to occur more in older-wired and metered homes too.  Now that winter is here, make sure you check the things around the house that might cause a fire like heaters and electric blankets, particularly if they are several years old. 

Leak of liquids is commonly caused by significant day-to-night plunge in temperatures.  Putting pressure on pipes causes leaks and flooding. Think about a 15 to 20-degree that plunges to one digit or minus temperature at night. When hot water flows through the cold copper pipes, that is when they tend to break down.

You can avoid major water damage caused by the leak of liquid by monitoring changes in your water bill consumption and water pressure.  It is important to mitigate these dangers before they occur – preventable accidents do happen. Nights are turning colder and heaters are being taken out of storage, so making sure your home and contents insurance are adequate.  

I recommend you contact the following people to help make sure you are safe and protected this winter.

Trevor Gibson – Newsure Insurance

Uwe von Czapiewski – Elekmark Industries

Daniel Blancato – Shortland Plumbing