5 Living Rooms Items You Will Need in Your New Home

Moving to your new house is an exciting time, but there are some basic essentials that you need to make your new dwelling look, feel and function like a home.

Here are a few essential décor and furniture items that increase the comfort of your living area.

  1. Curtains

Curtains are one of the most useful items in your living room. Many people pick curtains for aesthetic purposes, but curtains provide many functions outside of style.  They are used to control light. Curtains let in light when you draw them open and hide it when you want shade.  Curtains also provide insulation. During summers, lighter and airier fabrics are recommended. In winter, it is better to layer up your window coverings to keep the cold away.  When choosing colours, consider the colour of the backing/lining as well. This is to make sure they look good both inside and outside of your home.

  1. The Right Sofa

The best seating arrangement will be customised to your space. You need to give it some thought when choosing the right sofa for your living room.  A two-seater and one or two armchairs are ideal for a small living room. You can also consider slimline, less bulky designs to minimise clutter.  For a bigger living room, choose a large three-seater or modular sofa.  And don’t forget to make sure the furniture that you’re moving into your new home will fit through the door. Take measurements, including the total width, height and depth, before purchasing a lounge suite.

  1. Cushions

Cushions are mainly thought of as décor, but they offer a few practical functions. Hence, they are considered as a must-have item in living rooms.  Firstly, cushions provide added back support for extra comfort while lazing on your sofa. Secondly, the added padding is very useful during winter, especially if your sofa is made of leather or vinyl fabric, which is cool to the touch.  In terms of the colour of your cushions, first, determine your colour palette. Are you using a neutral shade or a pop of colour? Then, experiment with the size of the cushions and the textures of the fabric.  All of these add to the fact that those little cushions make your living space more comfortable and inviting.  For inspiration check out my Pinterest page!

  1. Hard surfaces

After you have picked your sofas and chairs, you’re not done. Your living room will definitely need a coffee table and/or side tables.  The size, materials and shapes of these living room essentials will be determined by the size of your space and your preferred aesthetic. Your lifestyle will also influence your choices.  For example, if you have children, you might want to choose a round coffee table. While a modern-style lounge may call for a glass, marble or a type of plastic.  While coffee tables are the common choice, depending on the space available, you may opt for side tables.  For your colour palette, again, if you’ve selected neutral colours, pick a complementary colour to bring harmony to the space.  Or, you may choose to create a statement piece by using a bold, contrasting shade.  Whatever combination of colours you choose, one thing is clear: you’d want a space where you can place your cup of tea or glass of wine after a long, busy day.

  1. Mood lighting

Two things control light in your living room: curtains and electronic systems. Mood lighting is essential to living spaces, a place of relaxation.  To pick the right living room lighting, layer the lights, which means you have to use three types of artificial lighting: ambient, task and accent.  Ambient light, which imitates natural daylight, can be created with lamps for a calming vibe.  Task lighting is normally more focused, like a reading lamp.  Accent light, such as downlights and spotlights, puts certain design features on the spotlight to deliver your illuminated requirements.  Create the perfect relaxation space by playing with the three types of lighting.



Home Selling 101: Get Rid of These 7 Items When Selling Your Home

House hunting is exciting, and that feeling can come from envisioning yourself living in the house you’ve dreamed about for so long. However, it cannot be easy imagining the place to be yours when it still feels like it belongs to another.

Buyers will feel the same when they see your house during open inspections. They can be turned off by clutter and excessive personal belongings, leading to reduced competition and offers.

Most agents, including me, will recommend getting rid of clutter and styling the home using furniture to showcase its most attractive features.

Moving out completely while the house is on the market may not be for everyone, especially sellers who haven’t found their next home yet. But freeing the home of items that might turn off buyers will let a sale happen and ideally result in higher price.

  1. Noticeable Clutter

The first step is decluttering and this should be done weeks before listing the home.

These can be easy tasks like clearing kitchen counters of cumbersome appliances like blenders and microwaves to make the area appear bigger, or emptying the hallways and entryways of coats, shoes and bags to create a sense of space.

  1. Odd homewares

Styling your home sometimes means that your tastes may not fit that of some buyers.

“Keep it vanilla,” is what I recommend. This means anything quirky or odd for the house, any item that makes buyers pause will distract them from the features of the property.

When a property is styled well, it can help sell a property quickly.

  1. Photos and personal belongings

Buyers want to envision themselves living in your house. But that is not easy when your photos are hanging on walls and fridges.

Family photos scattered throughout the home will show too much of your personality to buyers, and this makes it hard for them to establish a connection to the property.

De-personalisation should be implemented in every room of the home. Too many personal items in the bathroom can turn off buyers, so the best thing to do is keep the toothbrushes and medicines away.

  1. Cupboard items

Buyers tend to open wardrobes, linen cupboards and the pantry when viewing a property, which gives a literal meaning to the phrase “open home.” But a wardrobe bursting with clothes and whatnots won’t help sell a home.

To make a property feel more spacious, I suggest using a minimalist strategy while the home is on the market. Imagine that you’re taking a holiday and are living with just the items you can take.  In other words, pack away all the seasonal clothing you are not wearing, books, vases and linen that you want to take to your new home too and store them off site if you have to. 

  1. Pet items

Half of Australians have at least one pet, but it’s still best to keep away of any sign of pet occupancy during open homes. Not all buyers love pets, and pet items can make a property disorganised and distract buyers.

  1. Home offices and studies

A sale price can be impacted by the number of bedrooms. Thus, sellers are advised to convert home offices and studies into bedrooms before sale.

It’s important to make it clear what each room is used for. Buyers might not be able to visualise a room when they see a study.

  1. Backyard junk

It is just as important to declutter your backyard. Left-over construction materials like bricks and timber should be thrown away, while garden tools should be stored properly.

Changing trends means some outdoor features that were once disliked are now popular. Ten years ago, people didn’t like vegetable gardens. Today, they’re a selling point, particularly with younger buyers.

If you are thinking of selling anytime in the next few months and are seeking advise, just ask Annette!

3 Things To Do When You Have Just Bought an Investment Property

It’s not yet time to rest after doing the work to successfully secure your first investment property.

There are three important things you should do before you can enjoy the fruits of your investment.

  1. Get a property manager

Hiring a property manager should make your role as a landlord relatively stress and hassle free. You should start looking as soon as you’ve decided to purchase.

Property managers know the better neighbourhoods or streets and may help you in identifying where the better quality homes are located.

One of the best ways to find the best property managers is through referral. Ask your fellow investor who they use and whether they’re satisfied. You can also search online.

What are the qualities of a good property manager?

  • They have to do what they say they will do.
  • They have to have an extensive knowledge and understanding of related legislation.
  • They need to have experience, preferably years of doing property management.
  • They should be able to understand your unique situation, which means they should be good listeners.
  • They should know what needs to be done to minimise any risk to you.

A good manager will also find a tenant who is ready to move in immediately after settlement day to maximise your rental return.   

  1. Arrange insurance

Insurance is a must to manage your risk in what will be one of your biggest assets.

New landlords should have the right insurance in place to protect them from incurring massive debts due to unforeseen circumstances.

With landlord insurance, you are covered if your investment property is damaged by natural or man-made disasters like fire, floods, hail storms or high winds. Some of the things it covers include window breakages, a burst water pipe, a leak due to a broken toilet or washing machine.

By paying a little extra you can also cover rent default should you stop receiving rent payment from your tenant or loss of rent if your property becomes inhabitable due to a natural disaster.

The cost of your landlord insurance will depend on the value of your property and its risk profile. It is even tax deductible. Your policy is good if it covers tenant-related risks, including loss of rental income and damage to your property caused by the tenant or their pet.

It’s important to get landlord insurance as soon as possible after your property purchase because there can be some grey areas between the purchase date and the settlement date. That something could go wrong between those dates is not unheard of. Without insurance, you could get in big trouble.

  1. Save extra money for maintenance and unexpected expenses

Strata fees include a component called a sinking fund levy. This is due to the fact that even well-constructed buildings will need repairs and maintenance in the future.

This is the money set aside for “rainy day” expenses, such as new paint or new floor coverings, won’t not mess up your household budget when these items need to be done.

As an investor, you have to understand that there are some things you need to pay for over the course of the year. You will need a contingency fund to pay for those things, as well as ongoing expenses such as council, water and strata bills.

You invested in a property to make money, but you also need to maintain that property and that costs money.



The Impact of the Lockdown on Property Prices

The property prices in Newcastle look to benefit even more from the current COVID lockdown.

Because of the restrictions, people can no longer spend money on restaurants, bars or international travels. People are spending more time in their homes and research shows time searching for homes and investment opportunities is on the increase. This could push home values even more.

For most of last year, prices were driven more by owner-occupiers and not so much by investors. But as this years lockdowns continue, more and more investors are returning to the market.  One of the driving influencers is because investors tend to purchase properties without seeing it and base their interest on numbers. And the rental return numbers are going up making it more enticing.  Meanwhile, homeowners prefer to check out the property because they want to reside in it.

The ‘saver effect’ (saving and not spending) was felt significantly towards the end of 2020 and in the early days of 2021, when home prices soared to record levels.  Then in June, Greater Sydney went back into lockdown and Newcastle followed weeks later.  Because of these current lockdowns, it is anticipated that people are still saving and are looking to spend on property.

People’s outlook towards property is generally more positive than other forms of investing, especially for those who have had earnings, who had been able to save since the pandemic began and all due to the fact that they hadn’t taken holidays abroad, haven’t travelled interstate and have not spent on entertainment.

They are looking at where their life is currently: some are going into investment properties and others are purchasing in regional or coastal suburbs because they desire a lifestyle change.

People are checking their money and thinking of what to spend it on and a lot of them are looking at Newcastle.

If you want to know what your property is worth in the current market, call Annette Pinkerton today!

The Rising Popularity of Touchless Technology in the Home

Touchless tech is rising in popularity, even more so now as it fits perfectly with our pandemic lifestyle, where the norm is to interact with objects and people at a safe distance. Originally intended to provide efficiency in smart homes, touchless devices are now being used as hygienic measures to prevent cross-contamination.

Here are the current trends in touchless technology and the rapid changes in the way we interact with devices in the home:

Switches replaced by voice control and apps

With your smartphone, you get inside your home after turning off the alarm and unlocking the door. As you enter, a motion detector turns on the lights. In the bathroom, you wash your hands in the sink with sensor taps, which are no longer just in public restrooms. You make a request with your speaker to play some music as you go into your kitchen, where you tap on a screen to turn on the oven.

Apps on our smartphones have changed the way we interact with our home, as they replace buttons, switches and thermostats.

Our increasingly busy life has given us less time to spend on household tasks. Also, life has become easier for people thanks to innovations in the home appliance market.

Because of this, we are increasingly investing in autonomous appliances.

Appliances are becoming increasingly autonomous

We like to delegate work as much as we can. This is why robotic vacuum cleaners, for example, are rising in popularity. The only device that can totally take over a task are robots. The latest models get commands using a voice assistant. With this feature, the device can be used remotely and even at home. So, for example, you spilled a bottle of mineral water on the floor, just command the robot to clean up.

There are other features aside from remote activation. There is also the function that reduces the domestic workload. For example, there is a dishwasher in which the rinse aid and detergent are loaded into a big tank that automatically adjusts the amount for every wash.

Range hoods now don’t have buttons, even to turn it on and off. Even lights don’t need a switch to be turned on and off. While in some instances touchless technology is designed for practicality, others are aimed at simplifying design. The latest lamp models are built in with an infrared sensor to allow it to be turned on or dimmed with a simple hand movement.

Systems that are comforting and easy to use

Remote control systems are rising in popularity because of our desire for simplification and control. Having the ability to tell a voice assistant that you are going out so you can have the peace of mind knowing all the lights are off, the shutters are lowered, and some utilities are deactivated offers a benefit it terms of time efficiency and an assurance of safety.

Touchless technology also allows you to manage the temperature of your home in case your hands are busy preparing food, or maybe turning the lights on when you come home with bags full of shopping bags.

They also help in hygiene, which is important in settings such as holiday homes and short-term rental properties.

One thing about touchless technology is that it is intuitive. It just takes a little practice on how to come up with the correct command for a particular device.

What’s in store for touchless controls at home

Touchless technology will probably not capture the whole world. Different kinds of control are more likely to be inclusive instead of exclusive. This is the reason that many more touchless control systems will be invented, but they will always come with other options like conventional controls or apps.

The so-called Internet of Things, or the way devices communicate with each other, is poised for further growth with the addition of machine learning and AI features.

So, in the short term, not only will buttons to turn on appliances be eliminated, but the appliances themselves will know when and how to activate.

For example, when you leave your office at the end of the day, your smartphone uses geolocation to command your home heating system to start, so your home’s temperature will be just right when you enter. Comfort and the optimisation of energy use are in reality the genuine drivers of this technology.

Coming home after a hectic day is just a common instance that shows us how, without lifting a finger and even (almost) without thought, our relationship with home devices entails decreasing moments of interactions.

Can I still buy property during Covid-19 Lockdowns?

Yes you can, as there are no restrictions in place that will prevent you from either buying or selling a home during the current Covid-19 lockdowns, though the home buying process in Newcastle and how you can inspect the property has changed.

During lockdowns all open homes are closed and real estate agents are currently offering private inspections, FaceTime appointments and providing videos or virtual tours.

It’s important to remember when inspecting the property in person, that the agent must follow the strict Health Order Guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus and that only ONE buyer may attend a private inspection.  The buyer must wear a mask, use a hand sanitiser, maintain distance between the agent and must not touch anything in the home.

Buyers also must not attend if they are considered a close or casual contact, are awaiting a covid test result and should be self isolating.

If you are feeling unwell in anyway, please delay your inspection or have someone you trust to view the property on your behalf.

For those investment buyers from the Greater Sydney region who are prohibited to inspect in person in regional area or any buyer not wanting to inspect in person, you can do a remote inspection of the property by watching videos or by using other digital platforms like FaceTime or WhatsApp.

It’s also really important to plan in advance and be prepared to purchase by getting your permit to travel out of the Greater Sydney region and your pre-approval for finance before making appointments and offers.

NOTE:  For the latest updates about Covid-19 Rules click here!



Why Real Estate Won’t Return To Normal Once Lockdowns Lift

Many real estate agents and principals are working in lockdown right now, and even though we are still able to list and sell property (under constrained circumstances), we are finding that the majority of sellers are saying they prefer to wait for restrictions to end and consider listing their properties when real estate returns to normal.

The problem is, when restrictions end, real estate won’t return to normal. In fact, if we take into account what happened last year when Melbourne agents were in an extended lockdown period, it was just the opposite.

The main lesson I learnt from One Agency’s in Victoria last year was that as soon as restrictions lifted and sellers rushed to the market, it lead to high demand for associated service providers like stagers, photographers, pest & building inspectors and conveyancers, causing major waitlists and a huge slowing in the process.

So, the immediate post-lockdown environment will actually be far from normal.  That’s why it’s so important to take steps right now to set yourself up for a successful post-lockdown sale.


How to set yourself up for a post-lockdown sale of your property

Styling and staging experienced big bottlenecks in Victoria last year. There are only so many styling professionals and their staging furniture to go around, which means there’s likely to be a big queue for this service when lockdown lifts.

One way to get around this problem is to consider selling right now. This can be a great option, because while there are less properties on the market, buyer numbers are still very strong, which means you are facing less competition than usual and certainly far less than when everyone decides to come to the market post-lockdown.

If you still prefer to wait until lockdown ends, you should try to book styling and staging appointments right now. If appropriate, consider offering to pay a deposit. That way, you can get to the front of what’s likely to be a long queue.

The same logic applies with contracts for sale and pest and building inspections. Demand for conveyancers and inspectors will skyrocket once lockdown ends, but supply of these services remain unchanged. Now might be a good time to go to market, because if you wait until lockdown is over, it might become harder for you to sell your property.  It may take longer and everyone knows that the longer a property is on the market, there’s a higher chance you’ll have to drop your original asking price.

Of course, if you want to wait, that’s your choice. In that case, speak to your favourite conveyancer right now and ask them to draft a contract of sale in readiness so you can get to the front of the long post-lockdown queue.  Remember to book your stylist and contact your agent so they can book your photographer.

These are conversations you need to be having right now because your competition is already doing it!



No Super Spring Saturdays!

Spring is here but the Australian property market and it’s super selling Spring Saturdays are not!  And it’s all because of the Health Orders relating to Covid-19 set down by the Chief Health Minister.

The Australian property market is no longer a seasonal market.

Typically, spring is a season where we see an influx of property already on the market but that not the case this year! It’s now evident that we will not see the Super Saturdays that we would normally see happen towards late September.

But when the health orders are lifted, the restrictions on inspections are extinguished and sellers bring their properties to the market, the prediction is that there’ll be too much stock.  There’s going to be a gluttony of listings, you’re going to see signboards everywhere and that’s when it’s going to be a buyers’ paradise.

The forecast is that this will happen during the months of Summer (November-December-January).  This is based on the number of administered vaccines and the promise of easing of restrictions by the Chief Health Minister and the Premier.

Supported by the idea that Australia is making progress and with the prediction of a buyers’ paradise, I believe that when the restrictions are lifted, sellers will begin listing their properties and you’re going to have a lot of listings on the market.

Knowing that there was limited stock and supply in recent months, it’s evident that there’s a lot of sellers that haven’t come on to the market since the middle of the year.  So in actual fact, there’s likely going to be three seasons worth of listing on the market at the one time!  Winter, spring and summer listings!

This will be a great time for buyers but I’m concerned for seller because the absorption rate of property will likely head downwards meaning that buyers get to purchase at a cheaper price and sellers forgo premium sale prices.

For clarification, the absorption rate is defined as how many days would it take for all the stock on the market to get sucked in by the buyers!

So when there’s a lot of stock, the absorption rate actually becomes lower, because what actually happens is there’s just more stock to get absorbed.

Given that buyers numbers haven’t decreased much because of a lack of stock, I’m also not sure there’s going to be an increase of buyers to match the increase of supply.  I believe, buyers will have more to choose from, properties will be on the market longer (the absorption rate being lower) and we all know that the longer a property is on the market – the more likely the price will fall.

I’m personally holding off buying until the summer months for this very reason but the question I have for sellers is, will you sell now or later when restrictions are lifted and you’ll have a lot more competition?

Call me today for a confidential chat about your property.


How to Choose the Right Listing Agent to Sell Your Home

Home sellers commit the biggest mistake in choosing their listing agent when they base their decision on just two criteria: the highest list price for the home and the lowest commission.

On the surface, those two are good criteria because any home seller would want to aim for those things. However, they have very little to do with hiring a listing agent and is irrelevant in many ways. Here’s why:


The Highest Recommended Selling Price

The truth is agents can’t tell you the amount your home will sell for. They can provide you with data on comparable sales, pending sales and active sales. However you decide on  the sales price and whether it’s the right price is up to the buyer. An agent can give a suggested listing price, among other things,  that will attract buyers. How it moves forward is up to the buyer and how well your agent negotiates with them.

Choosing a listing price may sound frightening but it is possible for you to choose the right listing price. You have to do your research and work with a reliable listing agent.

Here are some things you may consider when looking for a listing agent:

  • Agents don’t have crystal balls but can provide you with a realistic price where your home may sell.  Beware of the agent who suggests the highest listing price …. Ask the agent to provide you with data supporting the recommended listing price – they must provide you with evidence. If they can’t or if the home sales are in a different suburb you probably should be aware.
  • You can trust a listing agent that provides you with a range of prices. This range cannot be greater than 10%. This number is determined by several factors, including location, the features of the property, the temperature of the market, the condition of the property and upgrades in the property.
  • There is an art to pricing. A home that is priced right will get multiple offers if the buyers are active in the market. If the price is a little high then the offers that come in may be lower than your expectations. If the price is too high, then you run the risk of no one showing up to inspect and you’ll then be forced to lower the price, leaving buyers thinking what flaws your house may be hiding.

Choosing a Listing Agent Based on Commission

Despite what you may think, each real estate agent is unique. Each has their own marketing and advertising methods. By hiring a listing agent and selecting an advertising budget your home will be seen by a large number of buyers. This is good, because the greater the number of potential buyers reached, the higher the chances of your house getting a better offer.

There is always a reason why a listing agent would work for a cheap fee. It might be they’re desperate for business, they may be inexperienced, lacking confidence or they may be pressured from their employer so they can hit their KPI’s keep their job. Find out why they are willing to be cheap before committing to hire an agent.


Why is Marketing Important?

The property marketing of a home is the most important thing to consider when selling your home.  If you don’t get the buyers there then in the first place, then it won’t matter how good or experienced your agent is when it’s time to negotiate.  Make a request to take a look at the agent’s marketing strategy. Make a point to ask what the agent’s strategy is for selling your home.

Here are a few marketing techniques you should expect:

  • Professional signage – including the agent’s contact number
  • Digital targeted marketing
  • Ads in local magazine
  • Multiple listing service
  • High definition video presentation (not slides to music)
  • Distribution to major websites
  • Full-colour brochures
  • Floor plans with dimensions
  • As many open homes as needed (not limited to two)
  • Directional signs for open homes
  • Direct mail to nearby suburbs & out-of-area buyers
  • Feedback phone call to sellers on every buyer inspection
  • Follow-up reports on buyers inspections detailing feedback in writing
  • Email feeds of new listings that compete
  • Updates on neighbourhood facts, trends and recent sales
  • Note that no single marketing technique works; it’s a combination of these techniques that sells properties.

Good Listing Agent Characteristics

It’s important to have a good working relationship with your listing agent. Here are some of the qualities you should look for in an agent:

  • Relevant education – Are they a Licensed Agent or an Assistant Real Estate Agent (who hold a certificate of registration only)?
  • Experience in marketing homes – Having a diploma in marketing is a huge advantage
  • Excellent negotiating skills
  • Results – What is the average days on market?
  • Results – What is the average percentage over the asking price obtained?
  • Transparency
  • Wide network; contacts with other agents
  • Excellent communication skills

Lastly, request for a personal guarantee. Look elsewhere if the agent refuses to provide a guarantee of performance letter.