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 Will 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!

 

 

Why the Real Estate Franchise Model is Broken

Breaking away from considering the big real estate franchise model is one of the smartest decisions you can make when thinking about who to sell your home!

Since the invention of the internet, long-established real estate franchise groups are no longer the be-all and end-all they once were.  In fact, some might say they are actually becoming dinosaurs within the industry!  Due for extinction!

Years ago working with a franchise meant that your agent was provided with the tools and resources to help make successful sales. Agents received in house training, business marketing to strengthen the brand attracting more buyers and technological resources to help sell your home.

But the internet has now reshaped the whole property market and it’s because everything is now online.

Even the smaller independent agencies now have access to the same information that franchises used to hold. Boutique agencies also have access to all the technology, systems, forms and documents needed to run their business and sell your home successfully.

So why is the traditional franchise model broken?  Because it hasn’t changed with the times.

When I worked for a franchise, less than 10 years ago, I received no in house training even though the business received training grants.  I had to take annual leave days to attend outside training which I paid myself.  Though I had many great marketing ideas, largely due to having an associate diploma in marketing and experience in working in radio, television and the newspaper industries, my ideas were never adopted.  This was because my ideas were not within the constrains of the franchise.

Another reason franchisees are going backwards is because they still need to pay their fees to the Franchisor even though they are no longer receiving the tools and support like the good old days.   Plus, they don’t have the freedom to run their businesses the way they want without the need for approvals.

As an agent working within a franchise we were subjected to the weekly sales meeting about how to condition the seller, a term used often – and still being used,  to get the price reduction to sell the homes that were lagging on the market and not selling.  It was more about volume and turning over the houses so the business could pay their franchise fees and overheads.  It was also about where the agents next listing is coming from.  It was never about creating a strategy or brainstorming new ideas on how to help sell the property.

This pressure from management turns agents into chasers for the next listing and often when agents have too many listings, they then begin to cut corners, provide a sub level of service to the sellers and buyers and often undersell property!

Since leaving the franchise and starting my own business, I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all turned out.  I’m grateful to all my repeat clients and for all the referrals I receive.

If you think I could be of service to you, your family or friends by offering my real estate knowledge and expertise, then call and make an appointment.

 

 

 

 

Serene Shades are the Top Colour Trends for 2021

The pandemic has changed the way we see the walls of our home and as many people are continue working from home, the line separating work lives from home lives have become notably indistinct.

While you may lack the funds to undertake a total renovation involving adding a new room or a ‘She Shed” for your new home office, there are a few understated updates you can do that will make a huge difference.

Sure, your productivity might get a boost from having a brand new coffee machine, but changing the colours of your space can impact it as well.

Dulux’s Colour Forecast 2021

Staying at home for most of last year has led to people preferring their homes to echo their personalities and for it to be a haven that functions both for working/studying and relaxing.

In past years, trends had been mostly influenced by European design and architecture shows, but most of these were cancelled in 2020. This resulted in the trends being dictated by the adjustments of our homes towards new ways of living and working in one space.

Colour evokes emotions and actually helps people relate to their space. At the moment, people would like to be cheerful and secure in our homes and colours can help bring that feeling of contentment, relaxation and happiness in your home.

Consisting of three soothing patterns, the 2021 forecast is inspired by nature together with instances of stronger colour to ease the mood and improve our outlook.

Retreat Palette

This palette comprises warm whites, brown-based neutrals and dusty blues that evoke a feeling of soft luxury, together with vintage-inspired shades of burgundy and deep ocean blue.

Nourish Palette

This palette depicts our rejuvenated enjoyment of natural beauty, with mellow, buff neutrals and bits of tan, soft olive and muted ochre.

Natural shades sooth and can bring out a sense of being more grounded and safe. These subdued shades, with an earthy undertone, are super calming and takes us back to our natural surroundings and can bring a feeling of harmony and peace.

Reset Palette

This is an inspiring and positive range of stirring and more upbeat colours; lush blues and coral, warm rust and lively mash-ups of pink and terracotta suggest a 1970s nostalgia and bring about recollections of travel and fun.

Starting your Colour Journey

If you’re having a hard time relaxing after a hectic day, colour can help you differentiate spaces, particularly if you work from home and prefer to have a distinctive vibe between your work area and relaxing spaces.

Where is the ideal area to start your colour journey?

Start in the master bedroom by creating a feature behind your bed. To create a lovely, moody vibe, use a deeper or darker tone and combine this with lighter bed linens and accessories.

You can also start in your home office or study area. Colours will help you feel motivated and give you a reminder that this is a working space. Start with a mid-tone or deeper tone.

To improve your mood, you can paint your front door in a bold or dark tone.

These are simple ways to introduce colour and personality into your home and separate your home from that of your neighbours. Colours reflect you and the people who reside in your home, so make it exciting and keep in mind that it’s just paint and it is not permanent.

For more inspiration on colour palettes visit my Colour Combinations board at Pinterest.

5 Home Features You Should Upgrade Before Selling

From new paint to simply making your yard neat and tidy, learn what focus-areas I recommend and tasks that will have a hefty influence without breaking the bank.

Find out what buyers are looking for, and how your home can meet their expectations.

  1. The Walls

Painting is always a priority because for each dollar you spend on painting, you are most likely to recoup over a thousand.

So what right colours do I recommend?

Choose neutral colours, but avoid the colours becoming too plain. Many shades of white are available, so what you choose will be determined by the amount of light your space gets, and the tones of furniture and floors.

If you change your flooring, take into account the paint as well, and vice versa. White tones will reflect the flooring’s colour.

  1. The Floor

Changing flooring is not simple, but there are times the present flooring is tattered and dirty. If your carpet is 20 years old, it’s going to gain a lot from an upgrade.

Picking new flooring for a property for sale should be influenced by the type of home and what kind of buyer you are targeting. For example, if you’re selling a home to attract home buyers (versus investors), then you have to show that in the flooring. I’d recommend choosing a really good engineered floorboard rather than a hard wearing vinyl.  If you are targeting property investors, choose quality, reasonably priced flooring, like an inexpensive laminate.

For carpets, both tenants and buyers still prefer softness when they step into their bedroom or upstairs areas. If you are appealing to investors who will eventually rent out the property, choose low-maintenance, stain-resistant carpets like the synthetic dyed nylon varieties. Choose something more luxurious – to appeal to people who are purchasing their forever home.

Lastly, consider the architecture and style of the remaining spaces of your home when choosing a colour or floor style. Consider the light in the spaces and the architecture of the home, as some homes benefit from a lighter or darker flooring depending on the period of style.

  1. The curb appeal

Street appeal is crucial because people often drive past a property before they have even determined if they’re going to its open inspection.

De-clutter and throw away any unnecessary objects, fix or mend fencing, plant some colour, mulch the garden then paint the front door and letterbox.

  1. The kitchen

We all know, what sells homes are kitchens and bathrooms. However, before you completely demolish your kitchen, find out if a renovation is more fitting.

If you’re going to remodel your kitchen, ensure that it is going to be reflected in the sale price. If not, then clean all surfaces and select some well chosen styling items.

If in any doubt, consult with me. It’s important not to over spend if you’re not going to get a return on your investment.

  1. The lighting as well as the windows

Clean your windows!   Allow people to see your yard and feel a connection to their potential home.  I also recommend trimming back any trees that block views or light. Most buyers place a high priority on a well-lit home.

Check your light fittings and update them if necessary.

 

Now take a tour of your home and see what improvements can be made to increase the sale price.  Remember, if you need help or advice, I’m just a call away!

 

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. 

5 Important Home Features for Low Maintenance Living

Regular maintenance is required to keep your home in top-notch condition. Often these tasks are too much work for us, taking up valuable time and can be expensive if you employ professionals.

Certainly, retirees and semi-retirees can think of more pleasurable activities and better things to spend their time and money on.

A low-maintenance lifestyle can be achieved by finding a home in which both indoors and outdoors are meticulously set up to be hassle-free. It is a period of your life when you want to take it easy more and work less.

To help you enjoy low-maintenance living, here are five important features in your new home:

  1. Clever use of space

The most effective way to lower maintenance is by downsizing to a smaller house. According to Stockland’s 2020 Property survey, this is a rising trend among buyers.

But note that you don’t need to sacrifice space to downsize. A home with the right layout will feel large, comfortable and liveable, if the important features are laid out in a clever manner.

It’s essential to have a kitchen you can be proud of and where you can socialise with friends and family. Even if you live in a downsized home, your kitchen should still feel comfortable and spacious.

Smart designs take advantage of all available space, while still focused on view lines, the links between living areas and smart storage options.

The smart use of space for new homes involves connecting spaces in such a way to ensure privacy and amenity of the residents and their guests. This is especially true in Newcastle, where integration to the outdoors is essential.

  1. Low maintenance garden

Gardening is a pleasurable activity but not when the front and backyards are large as the pleasure could easily be outweighed by maintenance.

Instead of having a large space, opt for a smaller garden that is well designed and well-incorporated into the house.

Today’s front yards are regarded as the new “social spot” of homes as well as the area where you can showcase your gardening skills. Front yards feature a variety of flowers, plants and landscape designs. Low-maintenance patio backyards, on the other hand, offer a retreat where you can rest and relax.

  1. Sturdy materials and superior build

The deterioration of a house is commonly the reason for the many maintenance tasks that need to be done around the home. If you’re living in a house with a bit of age, expect that you may come across some problems with wiring, the plumbing or something unforeseen that is caused by general wear and tear.

An industry survey found that the main reason people purchase a new home is assurance in build quality, low probability of major repairs and higher quality features for an affordable price.

Choosing a home constructed using high standards and good quality materials, like steel framers to reduce the risk of a termite attack, are important to the home’s long-term maintenance requirements.

  1. Design for diverse ages

You will need to do a variety of maintenance jobs for your home over time. But choosing to live in a low-maintenance home also requires ensuring your home is right for you at various phases of your life.

You want to avoid moving into a new house only to discover it wouldn’t be able to meet your needs as time passes.

Choose designs that feature larger bathrooms, more spacious hallways, fewer or zero steps and are typically more comfortable and bigger.

  1. Common spaces for entertaining

Parties and other events in which friends and family get together requires time to prepare, take a bit of work, and of course, maintenance! However, it doesn’t mean you have to forego these celebrations just because you are living the low maintenance lifestyle.

One sure way to have a maintenance-free lifestyle is to adopt the common facilities featured in gated communities – which are all maintained by the on-site property manager.

Entertaining can be made easy, thanks to having access to larger kitchens, events places, bars, dining areas, lounge, etc. Compared to the family home, lifestyle communities have more facilities – all maintenance free!

This feature allows you to downsize maintenance, downsize your yard, but elevates your lifestyle.