Is your deck ready for the cooler months?

Is your deck ready for the cooler months?It’s been a long, hot summer and, with Christmas and all the associated entertaining behind you, it’s time to take a look at your long-suffering deck.

Caring for your home’s deck before the weather turns cooler can actually make it much easier to enjoy when summer rolls back around again. When it comes to deck maintenance, it’s like the old adage – a stitch in time saves nine!

Here are few tips of keeping your deck clean and healthy.

Choose your timing wisely

Although a nice sunny day might seem ideal, don’t subject yourself to the potential UV and heat stress. Cloudy days are perfect for cleaning decks. You won’t get sunburnt and you’ll find the task far less taxing. Plus, if you’re using an expensive cleaner, it’s not going to evaporate before your eyes.

Cleaning up

The harsh summer sun is destructive enough, but cold winds and rain can really take their toll on your deck. Stains and dirt can ruin your deck’s appearance, and, if you leave them there over winter, they get a lot harder to remedy. A rainy winter can also breed mould and mildew in the grain, which can be very hard to remove.

Protecting from the elements

Cleaning your deck prepares it for the next step – protection. Consider a water-repellent treatment when you’re preparing your deck for a change of season. Rain and frosts can cause the wood in your deck to split and deteriorate, but a sealant can help maintain your deck for months – or years – to come. Make sure you remove any flowerpots or furniture from the deck before you start – these often hide marks and stains. You should expect to re-apply clear sealers and toners annually.

Look for signs of rot

Look around the areas of your deck that are within 15 centimetres of the ground, or close to water sources such as planter boxes and drain spouts. Starting with stairs, probe structural members with a screwdriver and pay attention to where the stairs meet the ground. Also check perimeter posts, handrails and their supports. If you can push the screwdriver in more than a few millimetres, you probably have rot. Small areas of rot should be removed with a chisel but if you find rot in structural members, consult a professional carpenter or builder.

Natural timber decks

There are a couple of different ways to look after natural timbers. You can give raw timber a good scrub with a stiff bristle brush and a specialist wood cleaner like Oxalic acid. You’ll be amazed at its restorative powers and how even quite old, natural timber surfaces can be freshened up. However, don’t forget less expensive alternatives like Nappy San. Add two cups to half a bucket of hot water and add the cleaner while scrubbing with your bristle brush.

Oiled or stained decks

If you’ve just built a new timber deck, allow the timber to season for at least two or three months before applying oil for the first time. With older decks, it’s best to re-apply oil every six to twelve months, so autumn and spring are the ideal times. Clean the deck before you start, leaving it to dry overnight. Then, grab your decking brush and extension pole and apply your oil quickly and evenly, with continuous strokes. Have some turps and a rag on standby to clean up spills. Always wear protective eyewear and gloves when using oils and stains.

Painted decks

Painted decks can be a little trickier to maintain. If the paint has started to peel off, you’ll possibly have algae in the wood grain to contend with as well, so it’s best to strip the paint completely and give the deck a pressure wash with bleach and water. Allow the deck to dry fully and the grain to open up before starting with new paint. Choose a ‘high grip’ primer and brush it into the wood grain as deeply as possible. Don’t rush this step. The better the primer is applied, the more chance of a long-lasting upper paint layer. Allow it to dry completely before starting the painting process.

Fixing popped nails

Popped nails aren’t just unsightly; they’re downright dangerous! They’re a trip hazard and an early sign that your deck is starting to fall apart. Don’t just hammer them back in as they’ll simply pop up again. Remove the nail with a cat’s paw or hammer, then use a screw that’s longer than the nail you just removed to re-attach the board.

Ultimately, taking some preventative measures, year round, will save you a lot of effort. Trim nearby bushes and trees. Sweep leaves and debris out of corners, and, move pot plants, planter boxes, tables and furniture around. This helps spread the wear and avoid deck discolouration.

So how is your deck looking?

How to help your children up the property ladder

How to help your children up the property ladderFor anyone trying to buy a home in today’s market, recent conditions aren’t particularly accommodating. According to the Housing Industry Association’s Affordability Report, the affordability index dropped by 6.4 per cent over the December quarter. This has pushed the rating to 75.6 (a score of 100 represents a balanced market). A mix of incredible price growth and a supply shortage has helped see to this.

In these circumstances, young first home buyers could find it tough to break into several city’s markets, and are often being priced out of their own region. If your kids are struggling to get a foot on the property ladder, there are a few ways you can lend a hand.

Let’s take a look at how you can do this:

Putting a deposit

CoreLogic’s monthly indices show that the average value of houses across Australia’s five biggest cities was $757,330 by the end of January. In Sydney, Australia’s densest city, this figure was a whopping $993,770. Clearly, buying real estate in Australia is more costly an affair than its ever been, making it a journey just to save for the initial down payment.

If you want to invest into the future of your children, why not give them a one-off cash gift that will go toward a deposit. Not only are you speeding up the saving process for them but keeping them motivated and with their eyes on the prize.

Put your home as collateral

For those picking up a home loan for the first time, lending conditions aren’t usually in their favour from the get-go. With no property of their own to put as collateral should things go south, they present a greater risk toward lenders.

If your child is in this situation, it can help immensely to put yourself forward as a guarantor. This means that you’ll put your own home down as collateral for the mortgage, which can help lower the minimum deposit that they have to commit by quite a bit. It could help them to buy a homeand get a foothold in the market much quicker, as well as keep them motivated.

The great thing is that it won’t cost you a cent, but can fast-track your child’s property journey significantly. However, there are obviously big risks to this. Just make sure they have the income and financial stability to make those repayments or you could, in the worst-case scenario, lose your home. Speak with a financial adviser to see if such an approach is right for you and your young adult.

Why should millennials jump into the investment property market?

Why should millennials jump into the investment property market?In today’s market, there are all sorts of people who seek to buy a home for investment purposes. According to Digital Finance Analytics’ 2015 Household Survey, just under one million households own investment property without building any kind of portfolio, while 178,000 households have a collection of investment properties.

These range from people in their 40s and 50s pondering their retirement strategy, to young professionals trying to get a foot in the market early.

With this in mind, some interesting research has recently turned up on the behaviour of the millennials, which may highlight the need for them to invest into real estate.

Millennial Falcon

People generally branded as millennials are those born sometime between 1980 and 2000, and seem to hold different values and objectives to the generations that came before.

Deloitte’s millennial Survey of 2016 revealed that this group of people tend to be far less attached to traditional career-based goals and more on personal development. Just under half of the millennials surveyed expect to change workplaces within two years. Simultaneously, roughly one in five actually intend to stay with their present employer for more than five years.

So, what does this all mean? As David Hill, chief operating officer from Deloitte Australia, suggested, millennials are more independent and more assertive of what they seek, wanting their work to have purpose beyond turning a profit. They are also unafraid to simply seek employment elsewhere until they find a fulfilling line of work.

Plan B

If you’re a millennial yourself and share this sense of free-spiritedness, you may just benefit from buying real estate for investment purposes. It’s likely that this sense of personal independence may not disappear as the decades roll by, and it’s important to have financial backing in the instance that you choose to drop jobs to pursue another passion.

Investment real estate is a practical solution, providing you with a secondary stream of income when your cash flow is erratic or you simply need extra cash to pay the bills.

Furthermore, having a valuable asset that only really goes up in value over time is a great parachute to pull in time of financial need. CoreLogic RP Data’s most recent Market and Housing Update shows that the median price of Australian property was $600,000 by January – a result of a market that, aside from a few slight dips, have only really trended upwards since 1998. This means that investing early could earn you that sweet pay out later down the line if you want to move in a completely different life direction.

Just get in touch with First National Burnie to see how we can turn those dreams into reality.

Why is investing in a holiday home a smart move?

Why is investing in a holiday home a smart move?As most real estate experts will tell you, building your property portfolio is a smart way to invest your money because land, like gold, retains its value. This means that you are safely investing your funds, as the likelihood of a return – or even profit – on your investment is high given that property and land are always in demand.

For those of you who are looking to expand your property portfolio further by buying real estate in Australia, it might be time to consider purchasing a holiday home. There are both financial and health benefits to be enjoyed by doing so.

Financial perks of a holiday home

In many ways, investing in a holiday home is the gift that keeps on giving because even when you are not using it, you can rent out the property to other holidaymaking families. This is where location, location, location comes in - consult with an agent to find a holiday home that is near the beach, parks, gardens or tourist attractions of a city to ensure you’re getting as much rent money as possible on a weekly basis. Sea views are a great calling card for renters.

Simply take your house off the rental market when you and your family want a vacation, so you can all enjoy the nearby amenities, too!

Health benefits of a holiday home

Interestingly, a study sponsored by Nuffield Health found that taking annual leave, or having regular holidays, can dramatically improve our overall health and wellbeing. In addition to being positive by releasing endorphins and dopamine, the chemicals that make us happy, going on holiday can reduce our blood pressure by 6 per cent on average, according to the study’s findings. What’s more, our sleep quality can also improve by up to 17 per cent.

Building more value, depreciation and new houses

Building more value, depreciation and new housesChoosing to build a brand new home rather than buy an existing property provides a number of benefits for potential investors.

Generally these types of properties will be built in a developing suburb close in proximity to schools, transport and local services. Surrounded by other new homes, a new house is likely to have street appeal that will attract potential tenants and as a result provide excellent weekly rental returns for the property owner.

One benefit that often goes unconsidered by potential investors when investing in property however is the depreciation benefits available.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of BMT Tax Depreciation, Bradley Beer, research suggests that 80% of investors don’t maximise the depreciation deductions available from their properties.

Considered a non-cash deduction, investors don’t need to spend any money to be able to claim depreciation from their property. It is a deduction available for any wear and tear which occurs to the building structure and the plant and equipment assets contained in the property over time.

Depreciation relating to the building structure is claimed as a capital works deduction. Examples of items which can be claimed as capital works deductions include the walls, windows, doors and the roof of the property. Capital works deductions can be claimed at a rate of 2.5 per cent per year over forty years for properties in which construction commenced after the 15th of September 1987.

Plant and equipment depreciation on the other hand relates to the assets which can be easily removed from the property such as carpets, blinds, ovens, dishwashers, garbage bins and even shower curtains. These items depreciate based on an individual effective life as provided in legislation from the Australian Taxation Office.

While the owner of any income producing property is eligible to claim depreciation, those considering building a brand new property for investment purposes will usually receive higher depreciation deductions. There are two main reasons for this:

  • The owner of a brand new property will be eligible to claim the full deduction for the entire cost of the building structure over forty years. Owners of properties which are not brand new can only claim the remaining years available.
  • New houses usually contain plant and equipment assets which are higher in value. This increases the depreciation deductions which will be available for the owner.

Let’s take a look at some of the depreciation deductions the owner of a freshly built brand new house can expect to claim over the first five years of ownership.

depreciation deductions the owner of a freshly built brand new house

As the table shows, the owner of a newly built house can claim between $8,300 and $10,700 in depreciation deductions in the first full financial year alone. Over five years, this cumulates to between $32,500 and $42,800 in deductions the owner can claim as a tax deduction.

Based on a tax rate of 37 per cent, investors will receive an average annual cash return of between $2,405 and $3,167 from a newly built house depending on its size and the assets contained.

Those considering building a brand new house for the purposes of an investment are recommended to seek advice from a specialist Quantity Surveyor prior to purchase.

A Quantity Surveyor, such as BMT Tax Depreciation, can provide a detailed depreciation estimate outlining the deductions that will be available once the property is property is constructed and available for rent. This estimate can help investors to crunch the numbers to get a more accurate picture of their after tax scenario to help them with their investment decision.

Once a property has been built, in order to claim depreciation a Quantity Surveyor should complete a tax depreciation schedule outlining all of the deductions available for the owner. This schedule can then be used by the property owner’s Accountant to process their claim when they complete their annual income tax assessment.

For a detailed estimate of the depreciation deductions available for any property, contact BMT Tax Depreciation on 1300 728 726 to speak with one of their expert staff or visit click here to request a quote.

Article provided by BMT Tax Depreciation.

Bradley Beer (B. Con. Mgt, AAIQS, MRICS) is the Chief Executive Officer of BMT Tax Depreciation.
Please contact 1300 728 726 or visit for an Australia-wide service.

Long Term Real Estate Values Linked To Sustainable Energy Planning

Long Term Real Estate Values Linked To Sustainable Energy PlanningOver the past decade, momentum for sustainable energy has been swelling worldwide, with more and more cities embracing environmentally friendly initiatives.

As a result of collaboration between town planners, citizens, the corporate sector and law makers, many international cities have adopted clean energy projects and Australian cities are among world leaders, according to First National Real Estate chief executive, Ray Ellis.

‘Adelaide is planning to be the world’s first carbon neutral city. It has establishing a Green Industries SA renewable energy investment agency and is building solar PV plants. These steps are in line with the state’s target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2025’ said Mr Ellis.

New research by the New Climate Economy (Global Commission on Economy and Climate) has found that if more cities take steps similar to Adelaide, the savings could amass a current value of US$17 trillion (AU$24 trillion) by 2050.

‘The sustainable energy initiatives that cities, towns and villages undertake reduce their energy costs, improve public health, and help them attract new residents and businesses,’ said Mr Ellis.

‘Green communities attract residents and this bodes well for real estate values. People want to live in homes capable of generating clean energy, whether that be through solar panels installed on the roof, or geothermal pumps dug beneath the house foundations. The level of interest in Tesla’s low cost Powerwall, soon to be made available in Australia, appears to underline the appetite for more sustainable home energy’.

As investment in renewable energy becomes commonplace and cheaper, and as more effective energy storage becomes commercialised, buying a property that is ‘green’ will eventually become more affordable for a wider range of people.

By streamlining the costs of producing green technologies, more houses will come already equipped with these features. In time, expectations will be such that energy efficient houses will be more highly sought after, thereby rising in value more quickly.

More space for home owner-occupiers in the market

More space for home owner-occupiers in the marketStruggling to buy a home in Australia? It can be frustrating, especially when you have to compete with investors snatching up houses for sale on every corner.

Housing values in the country have been on the up, driven mainly by prices of real estate in Sydney and Melbourne. This is partially thanks to the 2 per cent cash rate that has pushed interest rates on home loans to record lows.

To combat the risk of a market crash, the Australia Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has put countermeasures in place, including a ten per cent limit on investment credit yearly growth. While not technically enforced, this suggested target aims to restrict lending to investors to help cool rising prices.

So the big question is, is this solution working?

A look at the numbers will seem to suggest – yes.

Owner occupation on the rise

According to the Housing Industry Association (HIA), home loans for owner-occupier housing increased in August by 2.5 per cent. HIA Economist Diwa Hopkins also notes that “lending to investors seeking to construct housing fell away sharply during the month”. This means that more financing is being shifted away from investors and put toward owner-occupiers.

Furthermore the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the dwelling commitment values for this type of property increased by 6.1 per cent (seasonally-adjusted estimate) from July to August. Meanwhile, it decreased by 0.4 per cent for investment housing.

As the APRA continues to crack down on banks exceeding the 10 per cent ‘speed limit’, you can expect to see the real estate market be less and less heated in the months to come. If you’re looking to buy a home you can settle in, it’s important to be ready to snatch up a property for sale that suits your needs.

What does new housing construction mean for you?

What does new housing construction mean for you?If you’re on the hunt to buy a house, you might notice there’s been a shortage of new property in certain capital cities.

While auction listings have been high as vendors race to put up their homes for sale, it doesn’t reflect the “10 years of underbuilding” noted by Nick Proud from the Property Council of Australia.

Supply has been tight in searing property markets like Sydney and Melbourne, which have been unable to keep up with climbing demand. As observed by CoreLogic RP Data’s monthly indices, this has lead to soaring dwelling values, with both of these cities respectively seeing a 16.16 and 13.94 per cent annual increase in the year to October.

However, this supply shortfall is soon to change
New builds on the way

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that there was a record high of new housing constructions this year. In 2014 to 2015, 211,976 new homes had been commenced. This marks an increase of 16.9 per cent and “caps three consecutive years of growth for new home building”, mentions the Housing Industry Association (HIA) Chief Economist Dr Harley Dale.

This result has followed in step behind the HIA’s news in the previous quarter, which reported peak building approvals in the June quarter. The 56,351 buildings approved to be built would begin to trickle into the market as they move from planning to construction stages, as seen by the spike of new home commencements.

What does this mean for you?

This will do two things for house hunters across the country. Firstly, prices in the housing market will cool as supply arrives in force. As mentioned by the Property Council of Australia, national residential construction may “create enough housing to satisfy growing demand”.

Figures from CoreLogic RP Data reveal that this stuttering in price growth can already be seen now. Sydney and Melbourne both recorded a 1.5 and 3.1 per cent increase in dwelling values over the September quarter – a notably slow change when compared to previous quarters this year.

If you’re seeking to buy real estate in the near future, this could be good news  for you. The market could soon swing in your favour as prices ease in these markets.

Secondly, the influx of new builds will provide buyers a greater choice of real estate in Australia. More new houses for sale mean there’ll be a wider range of property types, house sizes and more, available for people to choose. This will give you greater opportunity to find housing that’s ideal for your needs and lifestyle.

Prices are set to cool across Australia

Image result for property Prices are set to cool across AustraliaAustralians looking to buy a house in the near future can breathe a sigh of relief. According to recent findings, house prices in Australia’s property hotspots should soon stabilise after the last few years of intense momentum.

Housing values in Australia have been soaring over the past year, with the combined capital cities recording an 11.3 per cent increase in the 12 months to September, according to CoreLogic RP Data.

Unsurprisingly, this has been primarily thanks to Sydney and Melbourne. The Housing Outlook Report from QBE outlines that both these cities experienced respective median house price increases of 56 per cent and 33 per cent between June 2012 and June 2015.

These are immense figures, and has made it difficult for some house hunters to buy a home in these popular locations, even when accommodated by record low interest rates.

Dousing the fire

Fortunately, things are set to change dramatically. The report predicts that housing prices could cool significantly in the next few years. For instance, the median house price in Sydney and Melbourne, experienced respective increases of 22.3 and 15.7 per cent this year – a stunning result. However, these growth figures are forecast to drop sharply to 7.3 per cent and 4.9 per cent.

This can be attributed to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority pressuring banks to curb loaning to investors. According to the QBE release, investment finance makes up half of all residential home loans. Squeezing some of these buyers out has lowered real estate demand and in turn, market heat.

House prices are predicted to stabilise even more in 2017 and 2018, with Sydney’s median house price forecast to actually decrease. This will help to correct the dropping affordability of housing in these regions.

Whether you’re looking at homes for sale today or a few years down the road, always have an experienced real estate agent by your side to help you navigate these uncertain waters.

Why should you should consider renting?

Why should you should consider renting?When it comes to living in Australian property, purchasing with home loans seems to be the default choice. For many, there’s a general impression that renting property is some kind of short-term bridge between leaving your family and buying your first home.

But if you’ve had your eye on real estate news for the last few years, you’ll notice that purchasing real estate in Australia is getting increasingly difficult, particularly in certain capital cities.

While there are many great perks and benefits from owning property, there are also key advantages to renting that make it an appealing option.


Affordability is a big factor for anyone. In this field, the case for renting seems to have the upper hand.

The Housing Industry Association reported in June that the National Affordability Index dropped by 2.9 per cent. Sydney and Melbourne saw the greatest decreases, at 6.9 and 9.1 per cent respectively. This demonstrates that housing prices are rising faster than people’s earnings.

While people with low interest home loans can still find ways to adapt and purchase property, it outlines just how comparatively affordable renting could be.

The deal with yields

The best way to observe this comparison is not just to examine rental rates, but to take a look at yields. Sure, rates can give you a snapshot into how much it’ll cost you per week, but this alone will not give you a holistic view.

Yield figures on the other hand, will show you how renting stacks up to buying property in the current market, which is the real contest here. This can be defined as the percentage of rental income to the home’s purchase price.

For instance, CoreLogic RP Data research notes that the median rental price for a Sydney house was $610 in July. This figure might seem high and have you consider buying instead.

However, figures reveal that Sydney’s rental yield was down 0.2 per cent over the quarter, and decreased by 0.6 per cent over the year to July. This shows that rental income were in fact lower than they should have been when considering property prices.

This is true for many of the other capital cities as well, and is a sign that renting could the far more affordable option in relativity to housing prices.

Stable rates

Another good reason to look at houses for rent is the fact that rates have been mostly stagnating. Australia’s combined capital cities experienced a 0.7 per cent decline in rates over the September quarter, with every single one recording negative change.

Melbourne has lead the charge in rental growth over the year, showing a 2.1 per cent rate increase in the year to September but clearly, this figure is hardly something to worry over.

With stable rates that are lower than property prices would have them, anyone who may struggle with mortgage repayments should consider renting instead.