Increase Your Home’s Liveability With These 5 Practical Features

When constructing your new home, you need to include features that boost liveability.  This can be achieved by simply answering this question: “What can I add to help improve my daily life?”

 

Life has changed with COVID-19, with people now spending so much of their time at home. This makes it all the more essential that your home functions in a way that fits your lifestyle.

 

Here are five simple features that can help boost your home’s liveability:

  1. A butler’s pantry

What was once a feature that is considered exclusive for the rich, a butler’s pantry is now a must-have in new homes. It has become popular because it keeps all the mess hidden and not visible and scattered in the area where all the daily activities are going on.

Many butler’s pantries include a preparation bench and storage area for food, glasses, crockery and tableware.

But the more generous setups should accommodate a dishwater, microwave, refrigerator and of course, the kitchen sink.  Otherwise it’s just a pantry!

  1. Built-on office or study corner

While 2020 pushed the work from home trend to the forefront, it has been going towards that path for several years, and many home builders have been taking this work transformation into account.

A home office, or even a study corner, has become a real need for people – with some people even going to the length of transforming their extra bedrooms back into studies.

Each person will have different needs, so for some they might install a big TV screen on the wall for Zoom meetings. Everything should be set up and ready to go, so choose built-in joinery for the workspace, shelves, access to power outlets, and abundance of natural light.

Avoid treating your home office space as an afterthought because you can make a well-designed space as a major selling point in the future.

  1. Cool storage

There are so many smart storage ideas and hacks on how to keep your things organised on the Internet. However, it is important to make sure your ideas are fit for the purpose. Don’t just install cupboards wherever there is a blank space. You don’t want future buyers to find out the linen cupboards are on the other side of the house to the laundry.

One of the items on many buyers’ checklist is additional storage in the garage. If you’ve got the space, use it.

  1. Energy efficiency

Homeowners consider sustainability as a top priority these days. According to the 2020 REA Group Property Seekers Report, 80% of buyers believe sustainable home features are essential.

One area where new home buyers can make a huge difference to their environmental footprint and their bills is energy efficiency.

Building a home involves a tick list and getting the balance right. Energy efficiency is lower with a dark roof. You can balance that out with additional windows or a ceiling fan or probably tinted windows.

There are many other energy efficient measures, including solar to lower energy consumption and bills, double-glazed windows, insulation, LED light bulbs and energy-saving appliances.

  1. Swimming pool

Australian homeowners dream of a backyard pool, but this is an extravagant feature that takes months to build – and expensive, too.

However, this is not true anymore because innovative precast concrete pools are already available in the market. This prefabricated pool can be built quickly – as it can just be craned into the backyard.  Plus with more of us working from home, the swimming pool has enjoyed popularity again!

 

 

 

Housing deadlock – Limited listings as home owners won’t sell if they can’t buy

It’s a deadlock! Housing markets across the country have almost ground to a standstill with the number of new listings being put up for sale in a slump and mostly because vendors fear that they won’t be able to find anything to buy.

Many sellers are also reluctant to put their homes on the market in winter only exacerbating the problem – thinking that spring is the best time to sell. In actual fact, it makes more sense to list your property for sale in winter when there is less competition and a greater chance of getting a stronger result than coming to the market in spring with more competition and when buyers can be more choosy.

The savvy seller is planning to sell now for a premium while demand still far outweighs the level of stock and even negotiating a delayed settlement, then buying at settlement time when it’s spring and there are more properties on the market.  They hope to buy at a keener price when the supply is greater and they have more choice!  It’s the ‘sell high – buy low’ strategy.

Sadly these forward thinking sellers are in the minority.  Most vendors are all thinking it’s a good time to sell but not a good time to buy which is only compounding the deadlock especially when more and more buyers are joining the backlog!

In fact, sellers know they’ll get a brilliant price as we’ve seen fantastic price growth over the last nine months, but that can equally put a hesitation into the sellers’ minds knowing there might not be much out there for them to buy.  Some are even waiting to find their new property before launching theirs to the market.

Imagine if all the property sellers were on the market now!  I’m sure it would put an end to this deadlock situation!

We know we have fewer listings on the market in Newcastle for the same time last year and the numbers are continuing to drop.  According to the latest Domain Group figures, new listings over the four weeks to June 20 in Sydney fell 7.8 per cent while Melbourne’s new listings dropped over the past four weeks by a thumping 28.7 per cent.

Let me know today if you’re thinking of selling anytime soon.  I might just have another seller waiting ‘off market’ who has your dream home!

 

 

 

Tips for Choosing a Home with Good Resale Value

The surest way for homeowners to be able to maximise their resale value by purchasing the right property to start with.

Buyers can be particular and if a home only attracts a small number of people, it may stay on the market or get a lower price than similar homes.

Without a major improvement to the property, a home bought cheap now may still be cheap if you sell it in the future.

Meanwhile, a property with lasting appeal will draw attention from a diverse range of buyers, strengthening competition and improving returns when it is time to sell.

Prevent mistakes

First-time buyers tired of searching can be susceptible to committing blunders because they are not trained to look for the features that they should be looking for in a property.

To save money, inexperienced home buyers in particular take a gamble by failing to do their due diligence. There are many first-home buyers that are not getting building and pest reports, especially if they’ve lost out a few times. This is similar to going to the casinos and putting all your money in one table – not a good idea.

Due diligence is essential particularly when you’re buying an apartment. Some of the toughest homes to sell can be apartments in strata with pending lawsuit against the developer or builder, or trying to generate funds to repair defects.

Aside from issues, buyers can also be turned off by the design of a bespoke home. It may have been built to meet the requirements of the original owners, but their taste may not necessarily be ideal for the lifestyle of an ordinary family.

Promoting competition

Properties can fetch higher prices when there are plenty of buyers who are competing for it.

The local community is the most important factor that can attract buyers to a property. Buyers don’t necessarily prefer the most prestigious areas, just in a wonderful street or a lovely peaceful environment that is close to amenities such as transport, cafes, shops and schools.

Bigger homes are often eyed by upsizing families, who may have enough funds that they received from the sale of their property. The most sought-after properties are single-level, four-bedroom homes.

In terms of the appearance and vibe of the home, those with wide-ranging allure will attract the most number of buyers. Classic, elegant styling, plenty of neutral shades, many whites and greys, natural stone, middle to high-end finishes, and nothing too weird comprise broad appeal.

What is very popular in the market are light-filled homes with open plan layouts and  modern features. These include having north-facing backyards, two living areas and two bathrooms.

Competition is high for period homes in particular. This is because these properties are beautiful and they are likely to have attractive features such as high ceilings, cornices, rosettes and fireplaces. The 1980s and 1990s brown and red-brick homes aren’t really as popular as period homes of a prior age.  So if your home falls into this era then you may need to consider making it more modern or adding some classic features.

Improving appeal

Cosmetic renovations can help improve the future appeal of the properties. Property experts suggest purchasing property with potential. Old-fashioned bathrooms, carpets, fixtures and fittings always give buyers occasions to add value now and in the future.

Also popular are homes with development potential, including properties on corner blocks or having space to extend for a growing family.

But though upgrading a home can boost its value, avoiding homes that require major repairs is a smart thing to do. Those big structural issues can cost a lot of money and the returns are usually elusive.  Likewise if you are selling a home knowing it has major defects, you’d be wise to rectify this before going to the market.

 

 

Survey Says: It’s a Buy Market Despite Record Property Price Hikes

According to two in five Australians, now is a good time to buy property, despite record-high buyer competition and prices.

The number of Aussies polled in a recent survey who believed it was a good time to buy was higher than those who doubt that it’s a good time to buy.

The Edentify survey commissioned by Mortgage Choice, which polled more than 1000 Australians, also found that the 42% with a positive outlook was also higher than those who think it’s a bad time.

The results showed that Australians had varied opinions on the property market.

The participants’ view that it was a good time to buy may have been influenced by record low-interest rates and the fear of missing out.

According to figures from property group CoreLogic, home prices grew across Australia in March at the fastest rate since late 1988. Listings, which were rising, continue to be low in a number of markets.

Buyers’ outlook may also be mixed because of the type of properties they want to purchase and how they plan to pay for them.

In a different study by comparison site Finder.com.au, nearly one in 10 of participants with plans to purchase their first home were intending to buy as investors.

The most likely to be first homebuyers-investors were the Gen Z, people born after about 1996, followed by Millennials and Gen X.

The Finder study also showed that it is not common for Baby boomers to consider “rentvesting”: renting in one place while renting out another place.

Investing was a typical strategy for people who don’t have the funds to buy in the location they desire.

The concept of reinvesting is gaining momentum among many first-time buyers, as it offers another way towards homeownership for people who have been priced out of the market, particularly in inner-city suburbs.

By “rentvesting”, you can use the rental income to help pay the mortgage, while as a first home buyer you can keep on living in your current home or rent someplace else.

 

 

Here Are 7 Tips for Finding the Right Property Manager

 

When you have spent practically all your life savings to buy an investment property, you’d want to make sure it will be professionally managed to maximise returns and minimise stress. You have the choice of managing your rental property yourself, but a lot of investors choose to hire a professional property manager.

How do you find the right property manager? Here are some important things to keep in mind during your search.

  1. Search locally

Local knowledge is essential in the property market. Hiring a local property manager gives you numerous advantages, including knowing how to attract tenants, setting the rent at the right price, and having contacts with reliable tradespeople.

  1. Find information

The worldwide web can give you plenty of information about local property managers. Check out online customer reviews of property managers to get honest opinions from other investors. You can do your research using these resources: Google, real estate websites, productreview.com.au and rent.com.au.

  1. Trust word of mouth

The best way to find the right property manager is by word of mouth and feedback from past customers instead of through marketing or ad campaigns.

  1. Make enquiries

You may find a property management company to be excellent on brochures or on their website, but you still have to ask some questions to see the company beyond the PR spin. Here are some of the questions you can ask your prospective property manager:

  • What are your qualifications?
  • How many properties does your company manage at present?
  • How many properties are assigned to every manager within the company?
  • What is your commitment to best practice?
  1. Ask what services they offer

Each property manager is different, and not all will offer similar services, so you need to know what services you will be getting from the company.

  1. Compare communication

Your property manager should communicate with you at all times, whether to tell you of necessary repairs, provide you with a shortlist of prospective tenants, or simply to touch base with you. The property manager you should choose is one whom you can easily reach and keeps you updated all the time.

  1. Consider the expenses

Any cost related to an investment is always going to be a major factor, but it should not be the only thing you should consider. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is relevant when it comes to property management, so don’t prioritise cost too much over other considerations.

Make sure you’re getting your money’s worth

The calculations for the overall success of your investment should include how much you’re paying in property management fees. Depending on the state or territory where your property is located, a property manager’s fee is typically a percentage of the rent, such as 8% or 10%.

It will benefit you to regularly check your property management services to make sure your investment property is receiving the care and attention it deserves. Getting in touch with your property manager regularly for updates will help you determine whether your investment is being prioritised or not and ensure that your property manager remains focused on helping you make the most of your property.

If you’re looking for a professional to look after your property, do your research and shop around. Your investment could fail if you choose the wrong property manager. But if you make the effort to find a good property manager, you can watch your wealth grow without lifting a finger.

 

 

Will the Federal Budget 2021 Help With Housing Costs?

The priority items in the budget wish list of housing specialists include a major social housing build, an increase in rent aid, and more efforts on energy efficiency.

However, they are not hopeful, as recent federal budgets have taken a rather disjointed strategy in addressing the housing affordability issue.

Rising Housing Costs

All government departments have a responsibility towards exorbitant housing values, and experts and industry groups are urging them to cooperate and grab the opportunities presented by the post-pandemic recovery.

Australia needs a massive increase in funding social housing, as this would provide more homes for those who can’t afford it and would generate employment for the construction industry. In addition, studies show that even before the pandemic, the lack of affordable rental homes for lower-income workers forces some to quit their jobs, leaving employers short of lower-paid workers.

More Support for Aboriginal Housing

There are also calls to provide more funding for Aboriginal housing and crisis and homelessness services, as well as Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

This is contrary to the steps that had been taken in recent years, like propping up construction jobs via the HomeBuilder grants for purchasing or constructing new homes, or the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme that allows first-home buyers to buy with a deposit that’s as low as 5%.

These are piecemeal measures that are politically popular, but they are empty policy-wise. The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme attracted high take-up every time a tranche of 10,000 places is launched to signal a financial year. For HomeBuilder, over 121,000 Australians have applied for the scheme.

Alarms have been sounded that demand-side grants increase house prices, and the other measures have not been as popular.

For example, just 15,000 Australians chose to downsize and pay a lump sum to super in the two years since the launch of the downsizer superannuation incentive – a tiny percentage of the four million Australians over the age of 65. Downsizer schemes are aimed at releasing a larger housing supply for upsizing families.

A government reverse mortgage scheme attracted just 3771 Australians as of December 2020, even with the issue of older Australians having assets tied with the family home and meager cash flow.

Calls for Increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance

This year’s budget should also include an increase in the rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

People who own their homes in retirement would do reasonably well. On the other hand, a renter is at a serious risk of poverty.

Experts would like to see government support in boosting the economic security of women, as older women comprise the fastest-growing group of homeless Australians.

Calls for Planning Reforms

In addition to social housing, they would also welcome planning reform. Though the federal government doesn’t oversee planning rules, it could incentivise state or local governments to increase housing construction in inner- and middle-ring suburbs. This could be medium-density housing or housing near major transport routes.

There had been “city deals” in previous budgets, but these could fall victim to electoral politics such as going after aiming at marginal seats at elections, meaning the better strategy is a program designed to push states to implement the reform.

It is the same as the call for “housing deals” from the Property Council of Australia during its pre-budget submission. This also aims to encourage state governments to amend planning systems.

Planning supply issues have always been in the top five productivity cripplers for the country, according to the Productivity Commission.

As Australia comes out of the pandemic the supply problem remains significant and will possibly continue to have a major effect on housing affordability in the years to come, so a kind of urgency for it is warranted.  Even more so now with the current outbreaks or Covid-19 and lockdowns taking effect for the next 2 weeks.

Mass Energy-Efficient Retrofitting Program

There are also calls for more purpose-built affordable housing and a boost to construction jobs by way of a mass energy-efficient retrofitting scheme as HomeBuilder expires. Incentives to retrofit can support more job creation, but a sustainability dividend should accompany it.

Even with the HomeBuilder scheme, jobs in the construction sector remain at 3.8% below their March 2020 figures.

Improving social housing instead of subsidising private housing demand would provide the extra benefit of energising employment without worsening property market inflation, as what happened with HomeBuilder.

Getting support is a proposal by the Community Housing Industry Association to construct 30,000 social housing units over a period of three or four years, generating 18,000 jobs.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia backed the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme but also requested for more support for first-home buyers. They argued that first-home buyers should be entitled to claim interest cost as a tax deduction, in the same way as investors.  

It’s perhaps not a terrible move to put first-home buyers and property investors on equal footing. First-home buyers had returned to the market but now we are currently seeing these first-home buyers squeezed out of the market by investors all over again!

 

 

5 Home Improvements to Prepare for Winter

Some features of your home don’t have to look the same throughout the year. But actually, a few minor changes can make your home more energy-efficient, cheaper to run, and more comfy during winter.

Here are 5 tips to help prepare your home for the colder months:

  1. Install block out curtains

Insulation is important when getting your home ready for winter. Your window coverings have other uses other than controlling light filtration. As much as 40% of a home’s heat can escape through the windows. So, when the temperature drops outside, investing in block out curtains for added warmth is worth it.

  1. Switch bedding

We can add blankets for warmth, but do you know what the role of your bedding is?

Firstly, you probably have to change to a thicker duvet if you have been using lightweight ones during summer. Second, think about heavier quilt covers and sheets. A popular option is flannelette because of its higher thread count. However, natural fabric like linen is perfect if you want something more breathable. Just make sure you have something heavy and insulating on top like a woollen blanket.

  1. Stop draughts

While draughts around your windows can be reduced by block out curtains, you should still look for any cracks that will likely generate draughts and let heat out and cool air in.

To block draughts, you can re-caulk around windows and doors to close any gaps. Even easy and simple solutions like door snakes installed at your door to prevent air from escaping can be effective.

Another option is moveable door seals for gaps under the door. 

  1. Add a rug

If you have hard flooring, rugs add another layer of insulation. Looser weave or polyester fabric rug may be appropriate for the summer months, but consider something heavier for the colder months. Imagine it like a coat – quality materials are vital for keeping warm.

If you have reservations over new rugs – or because children or pets are keeping you from buying something expensive and harder to clean – you can opt to add an underlay to increase insulation and give a more comfortable feeling.

  1. Added padding

While it would probably not alter the temperature of your room – throws, cushions and other fabric items – can increase insulation and generate added warmth. Arranging a throw over your sofa and layering a few plush cushions will not only provide warmth but also create a warm vibe and feel to a space. Invest in wool, velvet and chunky knits to truly capture that winter atmosphere.

 

 

Increase Your Sale Price with Simple Home Updates

A complete kitchen overhaul is not needed for you to catch the eye of prospective buyers. All you need for a successful sale is cleanliness, curb appeal, and quality finishes.

First impression is important

What sets the expectation for the entire property is the front of the home. What makes up a first great impression is a verdant lawn, a neat garden, and well-painted exterior.

Fertilize your lawn to make it look really nice and green. Put in new mulch and make the front of the home present well.

You may also need to freshen up the front door and windows with a fresh coat of paint on the door and window ledges. To achieve a neat, uniform look, install plantation shutters across the entire front of the house. Meanwhile, roller blinds are appropriate for the bedrooms and living spaces as they allow light but still provide some privacy.

Linen

It may not be obvious to you that your doona cover has faded over time, but prospective buyers will see it.

Home styling experts suggest white bed linen as it is hotel-like, and crisp white towels and linens give off the feeling of indulgence to buyers. Add high pillows to complete the presentation.

With cushions, they add a dash of colour, and for towels displayed in the bathroom, make sure they are new and unused.

Add a homeliness vibe

Try to achieve a hotel look, but add a feeling of homeliness with fragrances, cleanliness and freshness.

Clean homes give buyers a sense of luxury because people don’t always get to live that way on a daily basis. Buyers need to feel the surreal cleanliness and a trace of freshness with fragrance.

On your kitchen bench, place herbs harvested from your garden as well bowls of fresh lemon. You can also fill a vase with fresh flowers or sprinkle a little cinnamon in the oven on a gentle heat so the fragrance wafts through the home.   

Outdoor spaces

 The concept of using all available spaces has been put on the spotlight this past year. Therefore, outdoor spaces expanding further than a “comfortable” season are major selling points.

For example, putting outdoor blinds on your patio will serve like a mesh. It will block the heat and the brightness of the sun and allow air to flow freely. It will also prevent water from coming in when it rains. And when you put in blinds prospective buyers can effortlessly see a new, liveable space without effort.

And finally, choose matching colour or texture from the interiors of the home with the outdoor living spaces. Cushions, rugs or furniture items can allow the shift from indoors to outdoors smoothly. 

For more great styling tips for your home contact me directly on 0418447856.

Are Pre-Purchase Inspection Reports Really Necessary?

Your home loan is secured, you’ve researched the market and you’ve been checking out homes. Then, you’ve finally found your dream home and are ready to purchase.

But there is one remaining item: the pre-purchase inspection reports. Do you really need it, or is it an added cost that you can do without to help you stay within your budget?

 

Pre-Purchase Inspection Report Explained

There are many types of reports that can be done on a property before it is purchased.

  • Building inspection. Involves checking the state of the home, including looking for damage on the roof, floors and walls, deterioration, cracks or growing moisture.  Some may also include the plumbing and the electrical wiring but check with your inspector first.
  • Pest inspection. Entails finding signs of any infestation, mostly termites or termite damage.
  • Strata inspection. Checks the finances and the minutes of the Owners Corporation operating the apartment or strata townhouse, to notify the buyer of any issues in the building, or the possibility of problems in the future.

Other inspections may be required, depending on the age, or type, of the home, including an asbestos inspection or pool inspection.

 

Reasons to Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection Report

Knowledge is power.

If you decide to forego inspections when you buy a house, you could end up with hundreds or even thousands of dollars of unforeseen expenses. You might think you got lucky with a bargain, but you find out you’re facing $300,000 to $400,000 in repairs, and suddenly it comes to you that you purchased a lemon.

If you believe you bought well the first time, you got a good property and you’re more likely to enjoy a thriving financial life. But if you purchased something with significant problems, recouping your losses could take a long time.

It’s important to stand firm against a dodgy real estate agent who might be pressuring you to decide quickly, who might promise you that there is no need for reports and who helps you get swept up into a rush of emotions and urgency – about purchasing.

After you have purchased the home and moved in and then you see problems, it’s too late. It’s always a case of buyer beware.

 

Things to Look for in a Pre-Purchase Inspection Report

 

A good quality report should itemise any defects clearly and evaluate the possible cost of repairs. It should be detailed and examine every feature of the house you’re considering purchasing.

It can be difficult for a prospective buyer to grasp the extent of issues so it’s crucial for the report to provide a strong indication.

Most properties will have some issues, even brand new homes, and those issues can be big or small.  The big problems like rising damp or termites can be expensive to fix so you really need to know what you’re getting before your purchase.

 

Strata Report Explained

 

For strata, expect another layer of complexity. In addition to having to know whether your individual apartment or townhouse has no defect, you have to find out whether the building it’s a part of has any significant issues.

Along with the unit, a building inspection should check the building’s façade, foundations, roof and other common areas that, as a strata owner, you’ll have to share in the maintenance costs. These can be separate buildings within the complex or village.  Plus, a strata inspection has to check the owner corporation records to look at all previous documents and minutes to make sure the building isn’t under-insured or there are no claims being made by, or against, the property, as well as possible issues or disagreements.

However, having a strata inspection doesn’t mean you can’t have a building inspection done anymore.  When I bought my strata property I had both strata and building reports completed.

If there is an issue, like concrete cancer, the owners might not include it in their documents so as not to threaten the value of their units.

 

The Cost of Pre-Purchase Inspections

 

Costs differ, but when evaluating which inspector you’ll hire, you have to understand that you get what you pay for. A report that you got for a bargain might turn out to be not worth the paper it’s written on – and cost you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, in the end.

Some property sellers have reports conducted in advance to provide at no cost to prospective buyers however, I would always recommend getting your own report.  

Alternatively, many inspectors feature the properties on their website that they had written reports on, so you can purchase them at lower cost than if you commission your own. You could also talk to your real estate agent if they know any inspector that had previously written a report.

 

Bottom line, make sure there is a pest and building report before you buy the home and that you actually talk to the inspector about any concerns you may have.  The best question I would ask is: Would you allow your mum to buy this house based on the findings in your report?