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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 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.

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.

Common costs for first home buyers

Common costs for first home buyers When you’re buying your first home, there any any number of costs that can slip your mind in the excitement. After you’ve set down that 20 per cent deposit, it can be easy to get carried away and forget about the additional sums that come with setting up and maintaining a home. To help you stay on track and aware of those extra payments, here are some of the most common costs that can sneak by.

Home loan costs

If you’ve been slaving away to save for a deposit, finally getting a hold on of the finance to purchase your home might seem like the end of the road. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Be aware that you’ll also need to make a number of fees for arranging the home loan, such as a settlement charge, service fees and, if you’ve chose a fixed rate mortgage, a tidy sum to lock the rate in place. It’s worth getting some advice on this, especially if you want to set down a repayment schedule.

Legal fees

While it’s important to be across all the legal ins and outs of the sales process, costs for a solicitor or conveyancer can stack up quickly. This isn’t something you’ll want to skimp on, though. They can organise the title transfer, be present during negotiations and help you decipher the contract  – and, in fact, they can make the legalities of the sales journey a whole lot simpler for you!


As in love, as with taxes, stamp duties are often commonplace when buying a property. It is a tax on the purchase price of the house and can be a significant proportion in many cases. Each local government typically has their own levy, so investigate what you’ll need to pay when buying your first home. Keep in mind that there’s often a set timeframe in which you’ll need to pay, which is generally before settlement – stay within it and all will be well!

It’s crucial to be prepared when going into your first home purchase. If you’ve got any more questions, your local real estate agent can also inform you on what you’ll need to pay before and after the transaction.

How to make your property appeal to families

How to make your property appeal to familiesOne of the first things you’ll likely need to do when selling your home is decide on the target buyer. This can help you organise the marketing and sales campaign, and even set you on the right track for renovating. Depending on the area and the property itself you might settle on targeting families – but when your buyers have young kids, there are a couple of things they will probably look for in a home.

Here are some of the main things you can do to make your property more appealing to families.

Make it clear

Families have a particular set of things they might look for in a house, but to get your property on the radar it’s important to get the marketing campaign spot on. While a chunk of the pitch will involve the property itself, location can be the single biggest selling point for a property. The family-orientated buyer often looks for homes that have schools, parks or public amenities nearby. This could be why you chose to target families in the first place, but it’s important to emphasise the location in your marketing campaign.


Parents will likely be on the look out for hazards in their search for a home. Stairways, decks and pool areas can all pose a risk so make sure you’ve eliminated some of the main issues. Think about doing some minor building work to improve the safety levels in the property. Make sure the latches on windows and doors are working properly, and install sturdy railing on the stair case and around raised areas, like balconies and decking.

Get a second opinion on your pool – they can be an attractive feature when the weather’s warm, but make sure you have any legal paperwork sorted out before the sale and double check that the fencing is all up to standard.

What to think about when buying off the plan

What to think about when buying off the planAfter a few year experience in the property market game, many people start to think about different ways to maximise their profit. There is nothing more appealing than snapping up a house or unit for less than its value and making a great rental return, then waiting for the best time to take advantage of compound growth. In some cases, you can actually buy a property before the building has even been constructed. This is known as buying off the plan.

If you want to go down this path, there are a number of things to think about.

Legal tips

Buying in this way is much different than normal property purchases because you are entering into a contract without being able to view and inspect a physical building. The date for completing the contract is generally not until the building is finished, so you should get legal advice before agreeing to any conditions.

There are a few things you should ask. First, investigate whether there are any serious penalties for withdrawing from the contract. Financial and personal circumstances can change quickly, but you don’t want to be caught out.

Ask questions

Particularly in a big strata development, properties can end up looking the same – but when you want to get as much profit from your investment as possible, you should also ask about customising the property. This can include choosing everything from appliances, wall colours and floor tiles; to finishes in the kitchen and bathroom. You might even want to check on its progress during construction.

You might also enquire about your rights in construction phase. For example, you need to know if you’re able to on-sell during building, or what rights you have the if building is finished earlier than expected but your finances aren’t in order. This is especially the case if construction is delayed or if you’ve paid the deposit but the building doesn’t go ahead at all.

Property investment can be a very lucrative, but it’s very important to be prepared before you commit.

Get your garden ready for sale

Get your garden ready for saleBeing outside is widely accepted as being good for your health, so it follows that one of the first things people will gravitate towards in a property is the backyard. If you’re one of many people blessed with even a small patch of green grass, putting that space to its best use with landscaping can significantly increase the likelihood of a good sale. Here are a few tips to get your garden in ship sale shape.

Tidy and clean

The first step toward making your garden look like a lush oasis is to get it spick and span. This means throwing out any old toys, rubbish or gardening waste. Washing down fences and the driveway with a high pressure hose will also make a world of difference. Basic tasks like weeding garden beds and using an edging tool along paths can make an untidy space look much fresher.

This also applies to overgrown or ugly shrubs – but if there are trees or bushes you need removed, check with your local council first. Pulling out plants on a boundary line could get you into trouble with the neighbours.

Lawning it over

Turf Australia has found that 73 per cent of buyers want a lawn primarily as a safe playing area for their children, and the majority of people want a lawn to be at least 30 per cent of the total size of the home. With this is mind, if your grass is patchy or hasn’t been well maintained, think about bringing it up to scratch.

There are many easy-to-use products on the market for improving grass health. Even consider laying new turf. It’s an almost instant solution to make your backyard appear more manicured.

Low maintenance is best

Before you start hacking away at the hydrangeas, check with your real estate agent. They’ll be able to tell you what people in the area are looking for in the area and what landscaping – however small – will add the most value. Casting the net wide is often a good strategy – not everyone will want a high-maintenance garden, but it’s easier to add to an existing plot than to redo the entire thing. Add some basic shrubbery and some colourful potted flowers.

Tips for finding a good investment

Tips for finding a good investmentProperty investment is a big financial commitment so you want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck. Whatever your long term investment goals, there are a huge array of factors to consider when choosing the ideal property. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling.

Location counts

Finding the right location for your investment is half the battle. It drives the price and rental returns – and can make your foray into property investment a successful one. When you’re looking for a property do your research. Ask local real estate agents and property management companies about the health of the market. Glance across advertised rental prices and yields – and keep an eye on vacancy rate statistics.

Remember that trends are more powerful than individual results, so consider areas where high growth is expected.

There could be times when you can’t find tenants immediately but these statistics will prepare you for this. In any case, a low vacancy rate suggests you’ll find tenants easily. All this information can give a good idea of the demand for rental property in an area. Depending on your investment goal, you want an area where demand surpasses rental supply – after all, you don’t want an empty property!

Know your market

If you’re renting the property out, understanding your target market is equally important. Families have different preferences than young couples, while retirees are at the other end of the spectrum than students. Look for features that prospective tenants will like. Tenants might appreciate off-street parking, a garage or lots of storage space. It all depends on your target market.

Well-maintained properties often secure higher rents, so consider how much work you will have to do to bring the property up to scratch. A run-down or damaged property may not be worth the investment in the long run.

How to soundproof a home

How-to-soundproof-a-homeWhile they will differ between states and countries, most residential areas all have one thing in common: noise restrictions. Whether it’s power tools in the garage or your son or daughter’s party getting out of hand, there will usually come a time when your household breaches noise restrictions. It’s important to know when these are: For example, in New South Wales you cannot have music heard from a habitable room in a neighbours’ home between midnight and 8am.

Sometimes, these things just happen. But you can take steps to cut down noise from inside your own home – and conversely, also to cut down on noise from other homes nearby if you wish.

Set the scene appropriately

If you are buying or building a new home, consider what can be done to arrange the premises in a way that distances it from noise and neighbours. The location of your fences, windows, doors and yard spaces will all play an impact in how the noise travels to and from your home.

Even trees and plants can act as a natural muffler! Work with your surroundings and you’ll come out with a much more soundproofed space.

Change rooms

This is the same principle again, but this time on the inside. Having rooms causing noise or ones that you want to stay quiet as far away from the undesirable situation as possible is a great start. Consider reinforcing doors and windows for these rooms. You can effectively create a small sanctuary (or rumpus room) within the comfort of your own home.

There are options such as insulation and glazing on windows and walls, but these can be a lengthy and expensive renovation if you don’t have the funds. Adapt to your surrounds to create a wonderful space, whether for noise or calm.

- See more at: http://www.firstnational.com.au/media/australian-real-estate-blog/2015/February/How-to-soundproof-a-home#sthash.E0iKc24E.dpuf

3 tips for the conveyancing process

3-tips-for-the-conveyancing-processWhen it comes down to the nitty gritty of buying or selling a home, there are several legal processes that can be quite tiresome to deal with. One of those is conveyancing, which is the process of transferring title between a buyer and seller during a sale. But what are the basics you need to know about the task?

Do you get a conveyancer or a solicitor?

Either of these professions can conduct the conveyancing for you, but in many states it is specific conveyancing specialists who are employed most often. They should be registered with the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC), which is a national body that maintains best practise in the conveyancing industry.

Clarify the fees

One of the first things to do when you engage a conveyancer after checking they are qualified with the AIC, is determining the fees that will be charged. This includes stamp duty and possibly more, dependent on which area you are buying in.

The conveyancer can organise the fees for you, but make sure it is clear exactly what you will be charged and how much the conveyancer will be paid before you get down to business. The conveyancing cost is generally linked to the difficulty of the transaction.

Make sure they are working in your interests

It is not illegal for a conveyancer to work for both the buyer and seller in a transaction, but it can cause difficulty if a conflict of interest develops during a sale and be a breach of AIC best practise.

Get someone who works independently and for your best interests, and remember – all AIC registered conveyancers come with professional indemnity insurance, which will protect you if the process goes awry.

By engaging a conveyancer you can cut out a lot of technical work involved in completing the purchase or sale of a home – meaning you can rest easy and wait for the moving date.