Budget, the talk of the town - on 14th May 2013 the Federal Government handed down one of the most keenly anticipated budgets for years.
In the lead-up to the 2013/14 Federal Budget was all about surpluses and schools, deficits and disability care.
Some of the numbers are eye-catching. With $14.3 billion for Disability Care and $9.8 billion for school funding, there are some big sums on the table.
But back at the kitchen table, what does all this mean for your hip pocket?
When it comes to accessing healthcare, education and aged care, not to mention paying the bills and saving for retirement, how will the budget change the way you live, work and pay for services on a practical day-to-day level?
Thanks to the team at Invision Wealth, HERE is a brief round-up of what the budget means for your family finances.
But don’t forget, the proposals may change as the legislation passes through parliament.
The tail end of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 have displayed some positive and encouraging indicators. There is a clear return of optimism within the residential property market.
We have seen an increase in activity on websites, more buyers at our open homes, multiple offers and more bidder registrations at our auctions. Many of these indicators suggest that the market is on the rebound. This is underpinned by low interest rates, lack of supply, realistic seller expectations and improved consumer confidence.
The early signs suggest that 2013 may also see a strong return of investors. With the share market proving inconsistent, interest rates providing nominal returns and the residential property market displaying positive signs, combined with strong demand for rentals, investor confidence is also gaining momentum.
Just this morning I meet with the head valuer for CBRE (one of Queensland’s largest valuation firms) and he made the comment that he is seeing a lot more activity at his end.
He also made a very valid point, he said that one of the biggest misconceptions he is seeing is that people believe that prices are on the rise. He said that is simply not the case. Although we are seeing positive signs in the market place, Sellers who are prepared to be reasonable are achieving a great result within a relatively short timeframe. However, Sellers who are motivated by achieving a utopia price are seeing their property sit on the market week in, week out.
If you are considering selling your family home, you must base your decision around your own individual situation and desire to make a move. Be very careful not to fall into the trap that an increase in buyer confidence translates into a significant price increase.
If you are considering selling, please give me a call and I will provide you with a confidential and honest appraisal of your home. Something that will help you with making your next big decision (no unrealistic ‘utopia’ prices, I promise).
So you’ve decided to buy your first home, congratulations, that’s awesome. The idea of this blog is to give you a few tips to help you through the process and save you time and money.
If this is your first home, chances are that you may be a little overwhelmed by all the information that is out there. Hopefully you’ll find this list easy to follow.
1. Secure pre-approval
One of the first things you should do once you decide you're going to buy your first home is to get pre-qualified for a loan, so you’ll know in advance how much you can afford and what the lender will loan to you. You'll also be ready to act once you spot your dream home.
Make sure the pre-approval from your lender is put in writing, giving you the confidence and means to make an offer on a home or bid at auction.
I recommend seeing a finance broker for that. Your bank may give you the best that they can offer but a finance broker will look at what all the banks offer. They will then find you the loan that suits your needs the best. This can save you thousands and generally their service is free, they get paid by the banks directly.
2. Do your research
Failing to understand the market and exactly what properties are worth could be your downfall in securing a property at the right price. There are lots of places where you can research property prices. Look at auction results in newspapers or on the Internet, speak to local real estate agents regarding recent sales, purchase a professional sales report for the suburb you are interested in. Such reports give a detailed analysis of sales on a street-by-street basis.
3. Being familiar with the sales process
Before you start your search, be aware of the practicalities of buying a home. Read up on how auctions work (HERE is a great blog on buying at auction), the best way to go about making an offer, what to look for when buying property. Speak to friends and family about their experiences.
I hear a lot of people saying “it's best not to let your emotions get in the way”. Personally, I think this is rubbish. This is your first home, you should love it. This is where you are going to live, come home to every day, you could be there for the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Don’t settle for something you don’t love just because someone told you “don’t let your emotions get in the way”.
5. Looking at all aspects of the property
When searching for your dream first home, it's not just about inspecting the rooms and outdoors areas, you need to take many other issues into consideration, such as neighbours, noise levels, parking availability, and any developments planned nearby.
6. Choosing the right area
The suburb you move into will become a big part of your life so it's important you make the right decision. When compiling your list of suitable areas, you might consider transport facilities, whether you'll have to commute, and what the surrounding area has to offer.
7. Act quickly
Once you see your ideal home, you may have to move quickly. Whether it's the first house/apartment or the 100th one you see, if it feels right and it's within your budget (and you've looked at all the aspects above), don't leave it too late before making an offer. Someone might just beat you to it. That said, don't be talked into buying any property you're not sure about.
8. Put your offer in Writing
Just because you've made an offer and it's been verbally accepted, don't be fooled into believing the property is yours. Until you and the owner sign a legally binding contract nothing is set in stone. My advice is to always make your offer in writing, yes it may take a little more time than simply giving a verbal offer but the advantages of making your offer correctly outweigh the disadvantages.
9. Saving money on Stamp Duty
Here in Queensland, if you are a first home buyer and you pay $500,000 or less for your first home, you don’t have to pay any stamp duty. Between $500,001 - $550,000 there is a sliding scale between discounted and full stamp duty. If your first home is between $500,000 - $550,000, a $50 discount on your contract price can save you $877 on stamp duty.
What I mean by that is if your contract price is $505,000 your stamp duty is $1050, however, if your contract price is $504,950, your stamp duty is $173 saving you $877. That works all the way up to $550,000 where your stamp duty would be $10,600 however if your contract price is $549,950 your stamp duty would be $9723 saving you the $877. Keep this in mind when negotiating your purchase price.
10. Your budget
Despite step 4, about emotions, as a first home buyer (or in fact anyone buying property), you should never go above your budget and financial means. This goes back to the very first step in this list and secure your pre approval. Work out how much you can afford, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
11. Get a building and pest inspection
We've all heard horror stories about those who've purchased a new home only to find it riddled with termites. While you might think this will never happen to you, just remember that buying a property will be one of the biggest financial commitments you'll ever make. And it could prove an even more costly one if you don't get an independent pest and building inspection done prior to purchase.
12. Setting up your payments
Make fortnightly payments, not monthly, thereby saving thousands on the mortgage.
13. What’s included
If you are looking at buying a new home, carry out due diligence and confirm what is included in the total price.
Presentation is such an important element to get right if you are going to sell your home. It could mean the difference between achieving a premium price, an OK price or selling yourself short.
In this week’s blog, I’ve given you a few things to consider if you are looking to sell your home in 2013.
Buyers want to buy your house, not your ‘to do list’
The first point is that buyers want to buy a house, not your ‘to do list’. In most cases, when they see broken or unloved items around your house they overestimate both the time it will take to mend this themselves and the cost of the repairs. When you leave any part of the work undone you leave the price open for discussion and negotiation resulting in lost equity. You wouldn’t want to buy a house that required repairs (unless you were looking for a bargain) so bear this in mind when preparing your own house to sell.
A good place to start is to call your local building and pest inspector. Having a building and pest inspection done on the home will ensure you are fully informed on the current state of the home and reduce the chance of any surprises down the track. It also gives you an opportunity to fix any little issues before a buyer finds out about them.
Most of us live in houses that need a bit of TLC and we’re probably not even aware of all the repairs required. Now is the time to be objective, ask friends to help. Go around the home, both inside and out with a notebook and pen. Write down everything that needs attention. Be specific. Also write down exactly how you are going to solve the problem eg: re-caulk around sink with white caulk.
Once you have your list, gather together everything you need and make 1 trip to the hardware store to buy additional items. (not 2 or 3 trips like my Dad, he seems to love his trips to Bunnings) Set aside time to make all the repairs, ticking them off as you go.
If you don’t have the time, inclination or skills, call a handyman and give them the complete job list. It’s easier and more efficient if they are given all the jobs in one go.
Checklist of potential repairs:
Bathrooms: replace broken toilet seats or toilets, shower screens or curtains and cabinets including handles, replace taps if required. Re-caulk and re-grout the tiles
Walls and trim: Touch up flaking paint, paint untreated or primed wood. Repair cracks or picture hanging holes
Countertops, cabinets and cupboards: Replace damaged counter tops, repair cabinets, replace handles if required (gives a more modern look for a small cost)
Floors: Replace or repair any flooring that is loose, broken or has a piece missing.
Light fixtures: Replace if old fashioned, make sure every light bulb works and is a high voltage, replace electric sockets if broken.
Windows and window panes: Make sure they operate properly. Repair or replace as required.
Doorbells, doors and door hardware: Oil anything that squeaks. Repaint doors, especially front door if required. Make sure your doorbell works. Replace any tired hardware for the all important first impression. Replace any torn or ripped flyscreens.
Appliances: If you are selling an appliance with the house make sure that it works. Repair or replace if not
Stairs: If any stair treads are worn, damaged or creaking, get them repaired
Driveway and garage: Clean up any oil spills and give a good wash
External: A complete house wash, fix any broken gutters and missing downpipes.
All of this will help remove any barriers that buyers put up with relation to your home and of course will help to sell your home for the most amount of money in the least amount of time.
If you would like some personalised advice, please drop me a line. I'm here to help you achieve the best possible result with the sale of your home.
Welcome to my first blog of 2013. I hope that you were able to enjoy some R&R over the holiday season, you’ve managed to re-charge the batteries and that 2013 has started off really well for you.
In this blog, I'm going to have a look into my crystal ball and see what the 2013 property market could end up looking like. Please keep in mind that my crystal ball is no better than yours, I simply have a little more insider information. Any statistician will tell you that only a fool bases future expectations on past statistics. But just for fun, let's look at what’s been happening recently in the residential property market.
Before we get started, here is a funny quote I always keep in mind when writing these kinds of blogs “An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things they predicted yesterday didn't happen today.”
Now that all the disclaimers are out the way, strap yourself in and let’s jump on this thrilling roller coaster ride we call ‘real estate’.
Most of the real estate agents in Brisbane agree, we had a really good end to 2012 with enquiry picking up along with the auction clearance rates. 2013 has started out the same way. We have noticed a sizeable increase in website traffic and email enquiry. Although it is too early to tell about numbers through open homes and sales, the early indicators are looking good.
I feel that part of this is due to the Reserve Bank’s decision to cut official interest rates last year, bringing them down to their current levels. It seems to have boosted the confidence of property buyers that have been concerned with cost of living pressures.
There seems to have been a real shift in confidence within the property market. Less people are talking ‘doom and gloom’ and more people (along with the media) seem to be a lot more positive.
I read an article by John McGrath, head of McGrath Real Estate and he is also feeling positive about the real estate market in 2013. He made the comment “I'm expecting a more buoyant market in both Sydney and Brisbane in 2013”.
Mark Kelly, a prominent estate agent from Brisbane’s Bayside made an awesome comment in his regular market update when discussing if the market has bottomed out. He said “the only way you ever really know that prices have bottomed out is when they have started to rise again. By then of course, it’s too late”.
If we look at some stats, the latest RP Data-Rismark survey shows property values in Brisbane are up 0.8% for September-November. Year-on-year, they’re up 0.3%.
These are small gains but they represent a change in the market. On a national level, capital city prices are still -5.6% off their historical peak in November 2010 but they’re up 2% from their historical low in May last year – indicating we’ve left the bottom of this particular property cycle.
Michael Matusik wrote a fun report with his expectations for this year and in typical Matusik style, pointed out that since the beginning of the GFC, Australians have been “hoarding money like it’s the end of the world”.
He also pointed out that once Australians get their mojo back, some of the $1 trillion in term and other deposits will find itself into the property market, as will a proportion of the $1.5 trillion locked up in super funds.
He mentioned that new dwelling starts have been slow in Queensland and he put that down to weaker population growth. However he was quick to point out that population growth has improved, and with it the potential for a supply v. demand imbalance.
He believes that 2013 is going to be a good year for more full-time job creation as the forecasts for economic growth is good for Queensland this year and next.
So in summary, after reading all these different reports and listening to what the buyers I’m meeting in the market place are saying, I'm starting 2013 with a forecast of optimism, after all, it's more fun to be happy and optimistic then the opposite and that's a good enough reason for me to predict that 2013 is going to be a good year.
Christmas seems to be the perfect opportunity for those not so nice members of the community to turn your festive holiday into a complete nightmare.
If you are going away over the Christmas break, here are some tips to ensure your house is safe and remains in the same condition it was when you left.
• Check all your windows and doors are locked
• Lock all interior doors of the house and take the keys with you to reduce opportunities for an intruder
• Don’t leave keys concealed outside
• Disconnect the electrical supply on radio-controlled or electronic garage doors
• Secure your vehicle if leaving it at home, this means lock it even if it is in the garage
• Have your wheelie bin locked away from windows
• Lock away tools, ladders and anything else that could be used to get inside
• If you have a monitored electronic alarm system, let the base station know when you're going away, give them contact details for key holders in case the alarm does goes off
• Lock your power box with an electricity authority lock so any alarm systems can't be cut off from the power supply
Make your home look ‘lived in’
• Cancel milk, paper and other deliveries
• Have your mail collected by a friend or neighbour, or have it held or redirected by the Post Office
• Arrange for someone to remove junk mail
• Leave a light or two on that are visible at night, consider using automatic timers
• Install self activating external lights
• Have a radio switched to a talk back station so your house sounds like someone is inside. Again you might consider using a timer for this
• Turn down your phone’s volume so it can’t be heard ringing
• Ask a friend or neighbour to mow your lawn and water your plants
• Leave a key with a trusted neighbour or friend that lives locally, ask them to rearrange blinds etc to make your house look ‘lived in’ also ask them to park their car in your driveway occasionally
Tell neighbours, family and friends
• Ask your neighbours to watch for visitors ensure they don’t tell visitors you are away
• Leave a few inexpensive laundry items (e.g. towels or old clothes) on the line
• Inform police, neighbourhood watch and or a trusted neighbour of your absence and leave a contact name and phone number with them
• Ask neighbours to contact the police if they notice anything suspicious
It is also a good idea to use the most secure room in your home to store valuables.
If you have a trusted friend or relative that can house sit for you, then that could save you becoming the next Christmas burglary statistic.
Wishing you all a safe and very pleasant holiday season!
Recently we have been invited into a number of homes where the owner is considering selling. Of course the big question at the moment is “do we do it now or do we wait until after Christmas?”
These meetings generally turn into a big ‘brain storming’ session with the owners on the pros and cons of acting now or waiting until later.
Of course the question doesn’t have a simple answer. For every owner, there are a bunch of different circumstances surrounding their motivation for the selling their home.
The idea of this blog is to give a general perspective on what are the pros and cons of placing your home on the market before Christmas.
So what are the pros?
1. We know what today’s market place is like, we know what competition you have and how they are presented. We don’t know who else is coming on the market next year that could potentially compete with your home.
2. Limited competition, there are a number of people that may be thinking of selling but are waiting until after Christmas. By acting now, you are beating them to the market.
3. Buyers want to make a decision before Christmas. There are a large percentage of buyers out at the moment that want to secure a property before Christmas. This is so they can plan schools for their children and they can begin 2013 without the hassle of finding somewhere to live.
4. Perceived deadline. There are a lot of buyers out and about at the moment and they have a perceived deadline within their own mind about wanting to buy before Christmas
5. Flowers are in bloom, gardens are looking good. You have spent a lot of time ensuring your gardens look good and at the moment, they look great! Take advantage of this.
6. Relocations, the corporate move happens at this time of the year. It’s a great time of the year to take advantage of all the corporate movement that happens before the beginning of the new year.
7. Going into Christmas knowing your home is sold without having to move before Christmas. As mentioned in point 3 and 4, there are a lot of buyers that want to secure a home before Christmas but not necessarily move in until the New Year.
So what are the cons?
1. The best buyer for your home may want to settle and move in before Christmas, this could mean a Christmas move
2. It’s already a busy time of the year with your family, a lot is already going on, do you want to add the pressure of selling your home?
3. Christmas parties and family events could impact on your ability to have the home presented adequately for buyer inspections.
Truth is you never know when the right time to sell is, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet but don’t use Christmas as an excuse. If you’re ready to sell now, just do it!
This week I wanted to share an article from Michael Matusik. Michael is a respected property analyst and he recently wrote this article on spending money marketing your home.
I personally believe that the more people that know your home is for sale, the more people you will get through the front door, therefore the more people you will find that like you home. In turn, this gives the agent more people to deal with and helps them to get the highest possible price.
The great thing is that Michael agrees with me. I hope you find the below article helpful.
“The spring selling season is traditionally when we see the greatest number of properties come on to the market.
And for those owners who want to sell quickly and for the best possible price, the adage that "you have to spend money to make money'' definitely applies.
Marketing is an additional expenditure in which owners are sometimes reluctant to invest. In fact, most sellers want to commit as little as possible to the marketing cost of their property. It's completely understandable - why would we spend anything if we don't have to?
The standard "bare bones'' marketing package consists of photos, a signboard, internet advertising, and strategic print advertisements.
This is the basic package that is most often proposed by agents at a listing presentation. And depending on variables such as quality and the type of marketing package it can cost up to several thousand dollars.
But the question as to whether a basic, no-frills package really is in their best interests is something that sellers must consider.
Often, those agents who propose an upgraded campaign and a higher spend, have to work harder to win the business of prospective clients. Sellers need to be convinced that additional expenditure will be worthwhile.
Recently, JA Group auctioneers undertook a random sample of 365 auctions and split them into two categories. The first consisted of properties where owners spend less than $5000 in total on their marketing campaign. There were 282 properties in this group; and over a five-week period, they received 13.3 groups of inspections on average.
The second category contained 82 properties, and the marketing spend was greater than $5000. The average number of groups inspecting these properties sky-rocketed to 32.2 over the same period.
So essentially, where the marketing spend was higher, there were almost 2.5 times the average numbers of inspections.
Now, that's not to say that the JA study provides a firm rule of thumb calculation, but it does support a broad equation behind achieving the best possible sales outcome.
Simply, the wider a marketing campaign, the greater the number of potential buyers that are reached. More inspections lead to greater levels of buyer competition and potentially a better sales result.
Also, keep in mind that the quality of a marketing campaign also plays a vital role in the selling process. Good-quality marketing can make thousands of dollars of difference to the price.
The best agents will demonstrate this to sellers with clear evidence and supporting data. And smart sellers will be able to see that spending more to make more on the sale of what is likely to be their most valuable asset, is a worthwhile investment.” - Michael Matusik
We often get invited into homes that have been on the market for a while with a different agent. The Seller is lost and doesn’t understand why their home hasn’t sold. So in light of this, I’ve put together a list of a few things to think about if your home simply isn’t selling.
I can’t stress enough the importance of getting your home sold within the first 30 days. If you are looking to sell, speak to your agent about putting a plan together that will achieve a result quickly, that’s where all the energy & great results sit. I’ve only seen a handful of great prices achieved after that time period has passed. Many homes after that timeframe seem to attract the ‘hard to sell’ label which changes the energy & makes it near impossible to even get the right price let alone a premium.
However, if you are in that unfortunate position where your home has been on the market for a while, here are a few tips that will help you move past ‘stale’ to sold.
Step 1. Ask your agent directly “What is preventing my home from selling today?” As strange as it sounds, a lot of people avoid such direct conversation as they are afraid of the answer. Don’t avoid it, it’s important to know the answer to this simple question.
Step 2. Review & renew. Treat it as a new launch, start over. Consider new photos, new ad copy etc whatever you can do to re-energise the property.
Step 3. Increase your internet presence. The internet is a key media channel for Buyers. But when was the last time you looked past page 2 of a Google search? Make sure your property is featured as prominently as possible on the key property websites. Here is an interesting stat from realestate.com.au. Only 51% of buyers look past the first page in a set of search results so if you’re on page 2 you’ve lost half your buyers!
Step 4. Promotion, yes a lot of Sellers seem to hate this word but you can’t sell a secret. The reason why we recommend it is because it works. The more Buyers that know you’re for sale, the more Buyers you will have through your front door. Despite popular belief, print media does an exceptional job of attracting new Buyers to your property.
Step 5. Look at the price. A lot of the time when we are called into advise on homes that are struggling to sell, one of the key issues is it’s pricing strategy. “Price on Application”, “for sale by negotiation”, “expressions of interest” or simply over pricing your home doesn’t work in this market.
Step 6. Get a fresh set of eyes & an objective view. Sometimes you need someone that you haven't built a close relationship with to give you a new perspective. This may mean a property stylist, a new agent inside the company who is representing you, or even an agent from another company. The point is sometimes the answer can be right in front of us, but if we are to close to the project, we need someone else to give us a new perspective.
Step 7. This one may sound a little ‘out there’ and it may simply be a placebo effect however every time we’ve recommended it in the past, it simply seems to work and that is to consider a Feng Shui expert. If you’re not sold on a Feng Shui expert, call in a property stylist who may also have a view on the flow of energy. It may have nothing to do with energy and more to do with arranging furniture within a room so that flows better, but either way, what’s the harm in giving it a go?
Imogen Brown from Home Staging Brisbane recently wrote this blog and it is very relevant with a lot of the Sellers I meet. I hope you enjoy Imogens blog as much as I did.
"How you live in your home and how you prepare your house to sell are two different things." This Barb Schwartz quote is at the core of home staging. Some of my home staging clients understand the need to think about the most likely buyer of their property, then merchandise their property to attract that buyer. They are happy to pack away family photos or change the craft room back into a bedroom so that prospective buyers can see themselves living in the house.
But for many, these simple actions are difficult, as they're still emotionally tethered to their home and find it hard to unpack themselves from the property.
Emotionally detaching from your house before you list it the first step to getting it sold. If you still see your property as your home and not as a product to be packaged, you won’t see what needs to be done, or be willing to make the changes necessary. Everything will seem harder until you realise that your house is now a property. Your next property is your home.
Tips to ease your exit
If you're about to list your house and are finding it difficult to emotionally detach, these tips will help:
• Take your time. If you don’t have to move quickly, don’t. If your agent is pushing you to list by next Friday, that’s his or her agenda not yours. Work to your own plan and only list when you and your house are ready.
• Get help from family and friends. When my Mum died my Dad asked my Aunty and sister to pack up her clothes. Some things are too painful to do alone.
• Get outside help. A home stager is a great place to start. They can provide an objective pair of eyes and practical help and advice. They will keep you on track and support you through the process. They might tell you some 'home truths', but they will do it with love.
• Accept that moving on doesn’t negate the past. Take pictures of your house, rooms and special possessions. Write down your memories of the house too. Put everything in a memory box and pack it away for your next home.
• Ask yourself "What will the house sale give me or enable me to do?" Hold onto these positive images or feelings. Affirm them regularly.
• Think and talk in chapters. This property was one chapter. There have been many, and there'll be more. Look forward to the next chapter of your life.
I tell my clients there are 10 principles to preparing a house to sell. Emotionally detaching from the house is number one. Once this is done, the other principals - your objective, choosing your target audience, organising and purchasing furnishings for staging, and more, will be easier. Without letting go, they'll be impossible.
Read more of Imogens insights at www.homestagingbrisbane.wordpress.com