Tag Archives: Australian Real Estate

Real Estate Recyling Initiative Wins Award

First National Real Estate Burnie is calling on local residents of Burnie, Somerset and surrounding areas to recycle their old mobiles, batteries, accessories and chargers by dropping them off at our office.

As an extension to its energy efficiency and sustainability drive, First National Real Estate is continuing its partnership with MobileMuster to help keep old mobiles and accessories out of landfill, and reduce the need for new, raw materials and precious metals.

First National first called upon all its members and their local communities to support the MobleMuster pledge in 2011, winning an award for its marketing and promotion of the recycling initiative to its more than 400 offices throughout Australia.

Customers can drop off their old mobile phones, batteries, accessories and chargers for recycling at their local First National office.

By collecting and recycling our old phones and those of our local community, we will be helping to assure that the 22 million unwanted mobile phones in people’s drawers and cupboards across Australia don’t go to waste.

By recycling your old mobile, you’re avoiding future greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy, protecting the environment and conserving scarce natural resources.

First National Real Estate recognises that energy efficiency and sustainable living starts at home.  Moving into a new home is the ideal time to round up those old mobiles and accessories in drawers and cupboards and recycle them with MobileMuster.

The greenhouse gases that could be avoided if Australians recycled their old, unused phones would be the same as planting 100,000 trees or taking more than 6,000 cars off the road.

Since it began in 1999, MobileMuster has collected 806 tonnes of old mobile phones, batteries and accessories, recycling over 90 per cent of the materials in them and keeping these mobiles out of landfill.

To find your nearest First National / MobileMuster collection point for mobile phone recycling go to www.mobilemuster.com.au or call 1300 730 070.

Market Turning Point?

In July, capital city home values increased for a second consecutive month, recording a jump of 0.6% following June’s 1% rise.

This brings five consecutive quarters of declines to an end, possibly signalling that Australia’s property market has now bottomed.

With many other market metrics suggesting a turning point, don’t wait any longer to buy if you’re trying to pick the bottom. With the volume of property for sale decreasing and demand increasing, prices must inevitably rise.

Regional Centres – Good Returns, Low Risk

Throughout 2012, investors seeking the highest rental yields have been strongly attracted to mining towns, where returns can be astonishing but risks are also higher.

However, Australia’s regional centres are producing respectable yields and vacancy rates in capital cities are relatively low – with the national average sitting at 1.9% in July.

Across the capital cities, weekly rents rose an average of 3.3% over the first 7 months of the year, the exceptions being Adelaide and Hobart. Perth and    Darwin have produced the greatest increases in weekly rents throughout the year – 13.7% and 5.4% respectively.

So, remember, property investment is for the long-term and steady performance should be every investor’s goal.

Positive Spring Market Outlook

While spring usually heralds a rush of new property listings, over the past few months, the amount of new properties being listed for sale has been trending down.

This bodes well for the spring market as the property market functions more normally when there are approximately 200,000 properties for sale nationally. Recently, there have been over 368,000 properties for sale.

First National’s agents are optimistic about this spring producing better results than the 2011 spring market.

This is because the number of days it takes to sell has been trending downward, there has been a reducing need for price reductions, auction clearance rates have been lifting and consumer sentiment has improved.

We’re looking forward to producing solid results for our customers.

There’s no choice with tradespeople

When you own an investment, it’s essential that any tradespeople you hire for repairs be properly licensed, have insurance and an ABN.

Your First National Property Manager will only ever use such tradespeople for repairs at your property.

However, if you choose to manage repairs yourself and something goes wrong, an uninsured or unlicensed tradesman could cost you much more than you bargained for.

Zero Vacancies at First National Burnie

First National Burnie has achieved a zero vacancy rate, meaning that all of our rental properties are leased out.

Naturally, we strive to minimise vacancy periods for our landlords but a zero vacancy rate is almost unheard of in the real estate industry. This reflects not only the success of our staff and systems, at matching tenants to vacant properties, but also the general shortage of property across the country.

Throughout 2012, investors seeking the highest rental yields have been strongly attracted to mining towns, where returns can be astonishing but risks are also higher.

However, Australia’s regional centres continue to produce respectable yields and vacancy rates in capital cities are relatively low – with the national average sitting at 1.9% in July.

Across the capital cities, weekly rents rose by an average of 3.3% over the first 7 months of the year, the exceptions being Adelaide and Hobart. Perth and Darwin have produced the greatest increases in weekly rents throughout the year – 13.7% and 5.4% respectively.

Fortunately, First National Burnie will have some new properties becoming available shortly so we won’t be in a position where we can’t help people find new homes for very much longer.

Should you invest in Australian property?

The decision to rent or buy is always a big one. The traditional strategy of buying a first house and then moving up to the ideal home as your income and equity grows is fast being replaced by the initial purchase of an investment property. However, the alternative of renting indefinitely while you save to buy is becoming equally difficult because of escalating rents and an historic squeeze on vacancies.

If you’ve wondered whether you’re ahead by renting or better off buying, consider these statistics.

  • The median net wealth of a renting household is $55,265 whereas homeowners have nine times as much – $487,183
  • Renters comprise 28.7 per cent of the nation’s households but have only 6.3 per cent of the nation’s wealth
  • Australians who own their home are worth 13 times more than renters – $734,394

So, despite arguments to the contrary that emerge from time to time, real estate ownership has made the average Australian second only to Swiss residents as the wealthiest in the world.

So how do you take the step from renting to buying your first home?

  1. Approach the market with a sound five-year plan. Get into the market, pay down the mortgage, and establish equity in the home as a basis for long-term financial security and flexibility.
  2. Budget for extras. As well as a solid deposit, have money set aside to cover insurance, routine maintenance costs and to meet mortgage payments for several months if something goes wrong.
  3. Don’t worry about the market. Your focus should be on building a deposit while looking for the property that matches your lifestyle and budget.
  4. Compromise. Your perfect home is likely to be out of reach for now, so focus on hunting down a property that has solid real estate attributes – good location, off-street parking, security, quality finishes and proximity to restaurants and transport. Choose something that will suit your needs for the next five years or so while you build up equity and prepare for the next phase of home ownership.

Renting the family home; Should it be treated differently?

We’re all emotionally attached to the family home so making the decision to rent it out can be fraught with difficulty for some. Letting go can sometimes be a hard thing to do but homeowners across the board need to treat their home just as they would an investment bought specifically for rental purposes.

Even though it’s your private residence, you’re now the landlord so you should consider having the property professionally cleaned to set the standard as well as future expectations for the incoming tenant.

Landlords who demonstrate their personal high standard of cleanliness usually find their tenants respect the property, returning it in the same condition when they leave.

This also applies to the condition of the interior and exterior of the home. Setting a high standard of living and comfort can make all the difference because the longer a tenant stays, the less wear & tear on the property.

Your Property Manager can put you in contact with professional cleaners and qualified tradespeople and can even arrange quotes in most cases.

Ultimately, renting your family home shouldn’t cause any great concern. Properly prepared and presented, then managed carefully by First National Real Estate Burnie, you can expect to attract tenants who’ll care for it as much as you do.

Men are from the garage, Women the kitchen…

Women believe they put more importance on the kitchen when hunting for a home compared to men, First National Real Estate’s survey of women and property shows.

As well, women feel the bathroom and the size and number of bedrooms are a higher priority for them than men when buying a home. Women are also more likely to rate proximity to friends and family as extremely or very important. But expect men to be checking whether a home has a garage or a workshop – more men than women say these would be a priority when buying a home:

The survey, of 1,207 Australians (603 male and 604 female), looked at key factors influencing home purchase decisions as well as differences between men and women. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of a range of features that would influence their selection of a home. Overall:

  • 73 per cent said having a garage would be extremely or very important;
  • 71 per cent said the quality of the kitchen; the home having water saving systems or equipment, such as a grey water recycling system or rain water tank, was considered extremely or very important by 67 per cent of respondents;
  • 65 per cent said the quality of the bathroom; and
  • 56 per cent said a low maintenance garden or courtyard.
  • At the bottom of the list were: the home having good potential to improve or renovate (38 per cent), proximity to friends and family (36 per cent) and the home having a security alarm system (31 per cent).

But when couples were asked what things they believe they would prioritise more than their partner, clear gender differences emerged.

  • Far more women (28 per cent) placed a greater emphasis on the kitchen than men (three per cent);
  • Women also said they would place a greater emphasis on the bathroom – 17 per cent compared to two per cent of men);
  • 10 per cent of men said the garage or the size of the garage would be a priority, compared to four per cent of women and the same number nominated a shed or a workshop, compared to only one per cent of women;
  • 43 per cent of women compared to only 28 per cent of men said proximity to friends and family is an extremely or very important factor and 46 per cent said proximity to where people in the household work was extremely or very important, compared to 36 per cent of men;
  • Women seem more environmentally aware than men – 72 per cent said water saving systems would be an important feature, compared to 63 per cent of men.

And despite becoming an important buying power in the property market, some women say they are still discriminated against. Thirty four per cent of female home owners said they had experienced gender discrimination from tradespeople around the home and 25 per cent said they had experienced it from real estate agents. Only 11 per cent said they had been discriminated against by their mortgage lender.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Buyers

If you find the prospect of buying your first property a little intimidating, don’t worry. Doing some basic research is easier than most people think. It increases your confidence and reduces the chance of making a mistake.

Buying a home is about the biggest financial commitment you’ll ever have to make. However, it’s also going to be an exciting turning point – one that will almost certainly make the most impact on your lifestyle. For many it will be something never done before. Selecting the right home in the right area, organising finance and negotiating the sale – it all sounds a little daunting. Yet it isn’t as complicated as you may think! Turning the home of your dreams into a reality is easier if you’re prepared.

Why seven habits of effective home buyers? Because over the years we’ve seen some traits (habits) the our successful buyers share. What is a “successful buyer”? Let’s just define it as someone who finds the home they want, and gets through the often home buying process without killing themselves, a loved one, the seller, or their real estate agent.

Effective Habit #1: Get pre-approved for a loan

Don’t miss out on a ‘hot’ property, do everything you can to be able to push the ‘GO’ button. It is wise to seek “approval in principle” from your Lender, meaning the Lender has given you approval to borrow up to a certain figure.  This step will save you the grief of looking at homes you can’t afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right one.

Buying a home is not a task undertaken everyday. It’s important to understand the process of real estate, what you can comfortably afford and the type of loan product best suited to

Choosing the right home loan from the many products available can be daunting. It’s important to understand all the alternatives before making your choice.

It is crucial to work with a good lender throughout the home buying process. Talking to several brokers as well as a finance adviser will definitely help you sort the wheat from the chaff. There are two options available to you when organising finance. You can apply directly to a finance institution or you can use a mortgage broker to help you through the process.

A lending institution will apply a “Qualifying Ratio” which is the percentage of a home buyer’s gross income that can be prudently allocated for debt, based on personal income.

As a general guide, lenders limit the total sum of monthly mortgage principal, interest, tax and insurance payments to 28 per cent of the borrower’s gross monthly income. Furthermore, they may limit the total of all long-term debt payments to 36 per cent of the borrower’s gross monthly income.

Effective Habit #2: Define your must haves, like to haves, and cannot haves

Shopping for a property should be an exciting adventure. If you have a clear picture of what you want and how much you can afford, it can be a fun and rewarding experience.

Face it — when working within a budget, sometimes you have to make some compromises. Knowing what you really need can help narrow your home options and also make decisions easier when it comes to making an offer.

The first step is to decide what kind of home will suit your tastes, your lifestyle and your budget. Start an all-family member housing priority discussion before beginning to look at your options. Determine what you MUST have in a home. Then determine what you would LIKE to have in a home. Talk to your agent about these things. Don’t forget to include what you CAN’T have in a home — that will often be more important than anything else.

Aside from basics such as the suburb, number of bedrooms and price range, there are other important things to consider, depending on your circumstances. Take your time and consider things like proximity to schools, transport and amenities, and the condition of the property. Does it need major repairs?

Don’t know exactly what you must/like/can’t have in a home? That’s OK, it happens ALL the time. Your agent can help you by showing you different homes in your price range with different features to help you get a better understanding of what you’d like in a home.

But at some point you are going to have to make decisions and not wander aimlessly through every home that may possibly fit some undefined set of criteria. That would be a waste of your time, the time of your agent, the home sellers, and everyone else that is involved in a real estate transaction.

Effective Habit #3: Be realistic

Naturally everyone wants to get the most home they can for the least amount of money. Which is, of course, in opposition to the home seller, who wants the most money for their home.

Think about what your expectations are, and work with your agent to see if they are realistic. There’s no point looking for a mansion if you can only afford a cottage. You’re not going to get everything a $300K+ home has to offer for say $160K – it just doesn’t work that way. Once you’ve set your price range, identify the suburbs that have properties in that range – it will save you a lot of legwork. Work closely with your agent, ask them for recent sale prices of similar properties in the area, build that trust and get out there and find that perfect home!

Being realistic also applies to things besides the home itself. Buying a home in a low price bracket and expecting no repairs or maintenance? Good luck with that. Buying a home and thinking if the building inspector finds anything wrong with it (other than major structural problems), I’m not buying the house? Well you might as well stop right now because I can assure your there aren’t any homes where the building inspector finds nothing to report.

Don’t wait for the perfect market conditions – they will never appear and you’ll miss out on significant capital growth. Just be realistic. It will greatly reduce your stress levels.

Effective Habit #4: Be flexible

As a home buyer, it is important to be flexible. Unless you are having a home built to your exact specifications, it’s very unlikely that you will find the absolutely perfect home for you. Maybe you find a home that has everything except the perfect kind of flooring, colours, kitchen, whatever. If you have some flexibility built into your must haves and likes, you will find the entire process much less painful.

Don’t be tempted to make a very low offer in an attempt to grab a bargain as others may also be making offers and you could miss out. If you really want the property make sure your offer is realistic. The more attractive you can make your offer in terms of price and conditions, the more likely your offer will be accepted.

Effective Habit #5: Understand the home buying process

You don’t need to understand every step of the home buying process — that is your agent’s job. But the more you do understand, the less stressful and mystifying the process will be. Buying a home is a stressful event. Anything you can do to reduce that stress will go a long way not just toward saving your sanity but in helping ensure the transaction moves to settlement.

So, you have found a place you’d love to call home? Once you’ve considered other comparable nearby properties, take a deep breath and make an offer – IN WRITING!

There are two ways to do this:

Unconditional offer:

An unconditional offer is when you offer an amount to buy the house as listed (with or without drapes, fixtures, etc.) without adding or negotiating any other conditions.

Conditional offer:

A conditional offer is when you offer to buy the property only if certain conditions are accepted by the vendor. These must be listed on the Contract of Sale. For example, your offer may be conditional on arranging finance. If finance cannot be arranged within a certain period of time, the offer becomes void. For your own protection, you should nominate a specific lender as your source of finance. Leaving out a nominated lender or having open-ended finance conditions on your Contract of Sale may force you to take up finance at substantially higher rates, perhaps shorter terms, and from a lender you would not prefer to deal with. Another condition might be an extension of the settlement period. If the seller does not accept the conditions, further negotiation may take place or the offer may simply be declined.

Also be aware that if making an offer, never assume that your agent or the property owner will come back and forth to you – and you should take the approach that your first offer may be the only opportunity you get to obtain the property. A willing seller may not wish to wait around and may accept a reasonable offer from another buyer.

Do not be afraid to ask your agent questions. Lots of questions. Be advised that everyone in the process tends to toss about terms and jargon that only those dealing with real estate on a daily basis understand. Sometimes we forget we’re speaking in a different language. Don’t be shy. If there’s a term you don’t understand, ask.

Effective Habit #6: Be responsible

When you are looking at potential homes, be responsible and respectful that you are in someone else’s home. It’s OK to look in their cupboards, to flick light switches, to turn on the stove. But be responsible and leave the home in exactly the same condition you found it in.

Much of this habit really boils down to two things: 1) use common sense; and 2) treat others how you expect to be treated.

As a home buyer, you are going to have to work with a lot of different people in order to make sure your transaction progresses and ultimately settle.  Once an offer has been negotiated you’ll pay the deposit to the real estate agent who places it in a trust account. This is also the time when you should

  • Organise your solicitor/conveyancer
  • Arrange the balance of the purchase price—that is finalise the finance and sign the mortgage documents.
  • Organise any inspections
  • Insure the property

Effective Habit #7: Have fun!

We already mentioned that buying a home is a big step – both financially and emotionally. Take a look around at lists of “life’s most stressful events” and you’ll see things like taking on new debt, financial change, moving — that’s buying a house. You are about to enter into one of the single largest financial transactions of your life. Stress is a given.

But buying a home is also an exciting time! There isn’t a law that requires you to mope around, dreading every moment. There’s nothing wrong with having fun during the process. Hopefully you are working with an agent that you enjoy working with. That doesn’t mean you all need to participate in group hugs or go camping together. But it’s OK to laugh, to enjoy yourself, to have a little fun in the process.

The Bottom Line

Buying a home doesn’t have to be torture. If you understand the process, work with the right people and try to have a little fun along the way there is no question that you can find a great home and get to move into your new home. Think about the habits shown here, do a little online research, have open dialogs with your agent and lender and you too can make it through a home purchase.

Preparation is the key. Understand your rights and have everything in place. And no, applying seven habits, or even one hundred habits is going to ensure you have a successful home buying experience. Nothing can guarantee that. But you can certainly increase the likelihood of a less stressful and successful transaction by applying some of the habits listed here along with advice from your solicitor/conveyance and your agent.