Investors From Sydney Ordered to Stay Out of Newcastle

The introduction of the new regional permit system means that for the duration of the Greater Sydney lockdown, investors are not permitted to inspect property in Newcastle and regional NSW as of tomorrow 21 August.

Property investors have been ordered to stay out of our regions and wait –  they will not be able to exit the Greater Sydney region and enter regional NSW to inspect a property.

Residential Sydneysiders who genuinely need to find a new home to live in are allowed to travel to our region to inspect property and will be required to carry a new permit allowing them to leave the Greater Sydney lockdown region.  Those who breach the new rules risk a $3,000 on-the-spot fine.

The increased fines and police presence are to ensure people who exploit the rules are caught and punished.

There is however an exception for Central Coast buyers who are now excluded from the Greater Sydney region.   Another exception is for property investors from the Great Sydney region who need to travel to a second home located in regional NSW, but only to use it as work accommodation or if the home requires urgent maintenance and repairs.  They are allowed to apply for a permit but even then, only one person is allowed to make the trip.



Tough Competition for First-Home Buyers as Investors Make a Comeback

Investors who have returned to inspections are squeezing out first-home buyers in the property market.  A rising number of investors are securing property by offering higher, causing prices to increase. Some are trying to purchase a property rather than keep their money in the bank, where it is only earning low interest.

It comes following the property boom that has been triggered by owner-occupiers, determined to capitalize on cheap mortgages to move into bigger homes with space to work remotely. Investors usually come back to the market when prices increase and they see the probability of capital growth.

According to the latest Australia Bureau of Statistics data, investor loans throughout Australia grew 2.1% in April, hitting a record four-year high of $8.05 billion. In the same month, first-home buyer loans dropped by 1.9%.




In NSW, investor loans saw a 2.5% increase. While investor activity had improved in the past month, investors are coming back to purchase duplexes, villas and smaller homes. Though it is anticipated that they would drive growth in the unit market specifically in the coming months.

Investors will start feeling the pinch as they try to keep their eligibility for lower-priced stamp duty and government grants by paying less than the appropriate price limits.

The competition against investors will be difficult, and that could surely push prices over those limits.  We saw this the last time investors dominated the property market in Newcastle.  Many of those are cash buyers, which is noteworthy. The likely reason may be that keeping money in the bank doesn’t make sense given the low-interest rates and rising inflation.

With regards to rising prices, it will begin to trickle down, and with regards to driving competition up, this has been happening for the past month.

Another contributing factor are the rent-venters, comprising of first-home buyers priced out of their preferred location who rent where they want to live and purchase in another area.

Many have set their sights on purchasing investment properties in more reasonably priced states, including Queensland where prices have been increasing more modestly. Investor loans in the state rose 7.1% in April.

In Victoria, loans to investors increased 2.2%. Investors picked houses over units as they continue to feel the impact of the pandemic.

Numerous investors in Melbourne were searching beyond in country Victoria. People are buying property out of Melbourne with an eye to moving there in four or five years. This strategy offers good growth and good yield. It is practical for these lifestyle destinations.

However, investors were suffering FOMO like owner-occupiers, squeezing out first-home buyers as they are impacted first by affordability issues.

Investors who are returning are focusing more on the traditional property market than the apartment market. This indicates that what’s involved is likely Boomer money. Many of these investors were small, self-managed funds that were aiming to invest their cash on properties instead of keeping it in the bank.

These people are heavy hitters joining the same auctions. It means they can afford to pay more than the reserve and are more likely to be emotionally entangled in a bidding war.

In April, Melbourne posted a 69.9% clearance rate, according to Domain figures, and a 1.8% increase in housing prices to $750,562, according to CoreLogic data.




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, 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.



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?

Warning Signs to Watch Out For When Buying a Renovated House

You might consider a freshly refurbished house as a dream purchase, but you have to look beyond the new paint, shiny tiles, and polished floorboards before parting with your money.

While many homeowners make sure their properties are renovated to high specifications, there are still those who cut corners or ignore major issues to try to get the highest possible price for their property.

Being aware of the warning signs and having experts to help you can boost your chances of buying a quality home instead of a problematic house.

Look Out for the Flip

A home that had been refurbished prior to sale can fall into one of three categories, which may impact its quality.

The 3 categories are:

  • A DIY renovation by the owners who lived in it and loved it. This is normally not bad because the renovation has been made according to the owners’ standards.
  • A renovation that the landlord did for their renter. This is fine too because renters will tell you if they aren’t satisfied.
  • A flip, can be a warning sign. This is because someone who is doing a flip is trying to maximise their profit, and maximising profit sometimes means minimising costs.

Discovering Problems

It’s not uncommon to see pre-sale renovations where many corners get cut. They are done to hide problems or sometimes use cheap, low-quality products to save money. The house might be lived in, so you might find it hard to ascertain if all is in good working order. You have to be prepared to check everything.

One example is painting over problems without properly fixing the surfaces. There is a correct way of removing mould, but people renovating their homes may not know this. Mould can remain inactive on a dry surface but can spring back to life once moisture is introduced.

Another hotspot for problems is bathroom renovations. Some of the issues you need to check out are improperly repaired subfloors, insufficiently waterproofed surfaces, and joint failures or leaks due to the use of the wrong adhesives and sealants.  Having a pre-purchase building and pest inspection done on any home is a wise move.

Experts suggest that buyers ensure that the renovations are council-approved, ask for the information of any engineers, architects, or tradespeople hired for the project, and find out if there is any warranty related to the project.

Pricing Refurbished Homes

You shouldn’t believe that a renovation will add more value than it costs. Unless you have the related experience and qualifications of a tradesperson, you tend to realise that the money you spend on refurbishing a home is about what you add to it. People making more is the exemption rather than the rule.

Buyers should be aware that a cosmetic renovation doesn’t make them overlook the major issues that haven’t been fixed.

That is where buyers become victims of a flip. If there are costly problems hiding under those renovations, you will still pay the premium.  But homes that have undergone high-quality renovations will command wide-ranging interest, and buyers of high-quality refurbished homes should expect to face plenty of competitors.

If you’re purchasing a property that has been refurbished or reconstructed, search for high-quality construction, fixtures, and fittings.  You might even consider asking the sellers if they have any before, during and after photos – particularly when it’s structural work and behind or in walls.


How to Find the Right Investment Property for First-Time Investors?

Finding the right investment property can be an overwhelming process, especially if you have no clue what you’re looking for or where to begin.

For first-time investors, choosing a property is not about visualising yourself living in it. It’s all about the numbers going in your favour and your self-assurance that the property is going to meet your requirements to help you accomplish your investment goals.

What are these requirements and how can you be sure that the property you’re choosing is going to fit you?

Here are the following factors you need to consider when looking for the right property investment:

  1. Identify your strategy

Every person will approach property investing using a different strategy. Some will want to just grow their portfolio and acquire as many properties as possible, while others may want to attempt renovations and sell the property for a higher price. Knowing what your investment strategy is before you begin to search for properties will help you narrow down significantly what you’re looking for.

  1. Determine your budget

If you know how much money you have to invest, you can quickly remove areas and properties that you cannot afford. Don’t forget that numbers will play an important role when you’re purchasing an investment property. If the numbers don’t add up, it means the property is not for you.

  1. Know your property type

Identify what type of property you want to invest in – whether a house on land, a unit, a townhouse, or another type of property. Settling on a property type and only looking at these properties will prevent you from feeling confused because you are comparing the same type of properties.

Each property type also has varying requirements that you need to look at and evaluate. Focusing on just one property type will also help prevent you from making mistakes when doing your due diligence.

  1. The location

There are plenty of locations where you can buy a property, and choosing a location can derail investors from taking the first step.

Start by choosing a state, then a region, then a suburb, and finally the best area within that suburb. Being unfamiliar with the areas you’re considering can muddle the process and your experience. Check out suburb reviews to find out the comments and ratings of different locations.

In addition to the above, there are questions you need answers to.

  • What infrastructure can be found in that area?
  • What is the demographic?
  • Are there jobs available there?
  • Is it easy to access services?

You also need to know where the location is in the property cycle. Is it in a bullish market where properties are selling fast or a slowing market where you have your choice of property? Is demand for rentals strong?

If you’re finding it hard to choose a location, then the smart thing for you to do is start on the areas that you’re familiar with.

When you have figured out all these four factors, then you can begin to narrow down on your property requirements in terms of size, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, garaging, etc.

But until you have done your research and have identified your property requirements, your search for a property investment is nothing more than guesswork.



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!



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.




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

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

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

Why buy the worst house in the best street?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



You Can Own Your Own Home Sooner

Just released figures found that first home buyers are trying to enter the property market encouraged by a surge of government incentives.

According to the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), the government body in charge of implementing the incentive, one in eight first home buyers in 2020 have dipped into the federal government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS).

The popularity of the scheme among first home buyers, an election promise fulfilled by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, rose despite major issues.

Demand for FHLDS in the six months to June 30 continued even though COVID-19 had happened.

First time home buyers from all ages and income groups around Australia filed to qualify for the scheme, and interest was strong from buyers in outer metropolitan and regional areas like Newcastle.

FHLDS was launched on January 1 and was limited at 10,000 qualified buyers. When the limit was reached quickly, it was reset on July 1.

There were a lot of interesting statistics found by the FHLDS Trends and Insights report. These included:

Under the scheme, buyers were able to move forward their purchase by four years on average.

Nearly 70% of buyers bought a stand-alone property, with 25% buying an apartment and 5% a townhouse.

Over 50% of properties purchased in capital cities were located 15-30 km from the CBD, with couples more likely to purchase in outlying suburbs than singles.

Major cities were the preferred location of 62.3% of buyers while the rest bought in regional locations.

The main cohort of key works who availed of the scheme was teachers (37%), followed by nurses (25%).

For houses, the median price was $385,000. In comparison, the median price of apartments was $475,000, as a significant number of units were purchased in capital cities.

The people applying for the scheme were mostly in the 25-34 age group.

The scheme allows buyers to purchase their first property with as little as 5% deposit with the federal government covering the 15% balance normally required by exorbitant insurance.

The strongest demand was seen in Toowoomba in regional Queensland, followed by Campbelltown in south west Sydney, and Cragieburn and Frankston, suburbs in outer Melbourne.

We are still seeing a lot of interest from first home buyers in our office wanting to make a purchase.  They see now as a good opportunity to enter the property market.

Our enquiries are coming from individuals, couples and families who want to achieve their dream of owning their own home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

The report once again stressed the lack of affordability of homes near the CBD in Sydney, with a significant number of the people who purchased in the Harbour City buying at least 30 km from the city centre. In all other big cities, people bought within 30 km of the CBD and we are seeing the same trends here in Newcastle though over a shorter distance.

Make your move now to avoid heartbreak

In the report, it was found that nearly two-thirds of the 10,000 capped areas in the FHLDS were filled up within the first two months. Since the two-month period has ended and the second allocation of places was launched on July 1, first home buyers planning to avail of the scheme in the next six months of 2020 should do so immediately.

NSW buyers made up nearly 23% of the 10,0000 qualified applicants, followed by QLD with 18% and Victoria with 16%.

Values throughout the country have been declining marginally in recent months. However, over the last year, prices have increased particularly in Newcastle and the Lake Macquarie areas where prices have hit the peak of the market ant the end of 2017 through to mid 2018.

We are urging first home buyers to get into the market as soon as they can even if they buy a property as a stepping stone to their next one as they may be priced out of the market as it continues to increase.