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Regardless of whether you are buying your first home in Perth, an experienced investor or looking to refinance your current home loan, we take a unique approach to assess your needs and structure your finance solutions. We would love to hear from you so please get in touch today to chat about how Element Finance Fremantle can help you too. Come and visit us in one of our convenient Home Loan Centres in Fremantle, Joondalup, Rockingham or Perth or we can come to you, anywhere in Perth.

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  • How to beat the urge to splurge

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    Christmas is just over the horizon and decorations are already starting to appear at the local shops. It’s a time of year where it’s almost common practice to splurge! Marketers are all working hard to encourage you to buy, buy, buy and you may have already picked up a few things for yourself and to put under the tree for family and friends.

    It’s easy to resort to “retail therapy” when you need a bit of a pick-me-up, and it’s also easy to overspend on gifts amidst all the excitement of Christmas. But what will really give you a thrill and a sense of satisfaction is reaching your savings goals and using the money to buy an asset that will help you grow your nest egg even further (like a house). Here are our tips for beating the urge to splurge this Christmas.

    Establish a budget

    The most valuable thing you can do for your bank balance this silly season is to create a budget and stick to it. This is especially important if you are buying Christmas gifts.

    Write down all of your income and expenses and set an amount for regular savings. Once you have a budget in place, you’ll know your spending limits, and how much you can afford to spend on things like Christmas presents or summer holidays. You’ll also be able to establish good savings habits – something that’s vitally important when the time comes to apply for a home loan. When creating your budget, set yourself short-term savings goals to stay motivated, plus long-term goals to set your sights on where you want to be financially.

    There are plenty of online tools to help you create a budget. You could use a simple Excel spreadsheet or a budgeting app. Wally, for example, allows you to manually log your expenses and store pictures of receipts in a virtual budget journal. The app alerts you when you hit your savings goals or when a bill is due. TrackMyGOALSallows you to set, plan, track and manage your savings goals (we’re thinking a new home could be a goodie!).

    Think outside the box

    If you want to avoid splurging, you need to think outside the box and make a fun game out of finding ways to save money. The key is to challenge yourself to find ways to feel good without buying stuff you don’t really need. If you’re feeling blue and needing some “retail therapy”, do some exercise instead or head to your local park. The endorphins and fresh air will do you a world of good!

    When it comes to Christmas gifts, simple home-made presents can potentially save you a load of cash. Get creative! Make some yummy treats and jazz them up with some pretty wrapping. Get a professional photo done and buy some frames in bulk at wholesale prices. Don’t be shy about ‘re-gifting’ anything you don’t need, just give it to someone else who may enjoy it. The options are endless!

    Avoid temptation

    It’s important to know your spending triggers and to keep them in check to avoid impulse shopping. If you’re a fan of online shopping and find yourself gravitating towards those advertisements on Facebook, perhaps take a hiatus from social media during the silly season and ‘unlike’ your favourite shopping sites.

    Similarly, if you find yourself being tempted to buy things for yourself when you’re out and about buying Christmas presents for your family, it’s wise to avoid shopping centres. After all, if you don’t see those killer shoes in the shop window, you won’t know what you’re missing out on. If you have to go out to buy Christmas gifts or essentials like groceries, write yourself a shopping list and take cash with you. By keeping your credit cards safe from yourself (and locked in a drawer at home), you’ll spare yourself a spending hangover.

    If you’d like to explore your home loan options, we’d love to hear from you. Even if you don’t have a huge deposit saved, we may still be able to help you, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Remember, you’ll need a good savings history if you are planning to buy a property, so resist the urge to splurge this Christmas! Make some savings goals, change your spending habits and set the wheels in motion for a splurge-free future today!How to beat the urge to splurge

  • Welcome to our November Newsletter

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    It’s hard to believe we’re already into November and Christmas is only weeks away! The spring property market is really heating up, with the number of auctions in our capital cities reaching a record high at the end of October. At the same time, rises in home values seem to have stalled and clearance rates are lower, so if you’re in the market to buy a property you may be able to score one that’s right on budget at auction. Interest rates are still very competitive, so why not call us now to talk about your plans?

    Interest Rate News

    The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the cash rate on hold at 1.5% again this month. It’s the 15th consecutive month with no rate change – the RBA last moved rates in August 2016, cutting the cash rate by 0.25 basis points. According to market analysts, it’s unlikely the RBA will make any move to adjust the cash rate at its final meeting for 2017 next month.

    Property Market News

    Home value increases slowed across the combined capital cities in October. Melbourne proved to be more resilient than Sydney, with dwelling values up 0.5% over the month, compared to Sydney, where they dropped -0.5%. Melbourne also saw stronger growth over the quarter, up 1.9% while Sydney’s prices fell -0.6%.

    Dwelling values grew by 0.9% in Hobart in the month of October, and the city also saw the highest change in dwelling value growth over the quarter (up 3.3%). In Brisbane, values increased by 0.2% during the month of October, and 0.6% during the quarter. In Adelaide and Perth, there was no monthly change in dwelling values. Adelaide saw prices rise 0.1% over the quarter, while Perth’s prices fell -0.7% in the three months prior to October 31. Canberra saw prices fall -0.1% last month, but overall they increased 1.1 percent during the quarter.

    Record auction numbers in October

    Auction volumes across the combined capital cities reached record highs at the end of last month, according to CoreLogic. In the last week of October, the combined capital cities held 3,690 auctions, returning a preliminary auction clearance rate of 67.8%. Melbourne saw volumes reach their highest level on record, with 1,983 properties going under the hammer and 71.7% being snapped up!

    The ACT also had a high clearance rate of 77% for 128 scheduled auctions. In South Australia, there were 163 scheduled auctions and 68% sold. New South Wales held 1,395 scheduled auctions, and achieved a clearance rate of 64%. In Tasmania, there were only six auctions, but 60% of properties sold. Half of the 60 properties that went to auction in Western Australia sold, while in the Northern Territory there were 10 scheduled auctions (44% clearance rate). Queensland had the lowest clearance rate for the week ending October 29 (43% for 361 scheduled auctions).

    Now the Christmas shopping season has arrived, we know you’ll be busy buying gifts for your loved ones – so it might help to read our article this month about resisting the urge to splurge! Now is also a fantastic time to talk with us about your property purchasing plans, or to see us about a home loan health check, so please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.Welcome to our November Newsletter

  • What is the best time of the year to sell your home?

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    When selling your home, your main objective is to get the best possible price. So when should you put it on the market? Does the time of year make a difference? The answer is that it depends on the property itself. The time of year can make a difference in some cases, however the location and how the property market is performing are important considerations too. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important seasonal factors that you should consider when deciding to sell your home.
    Spring

    Spring is traditionally the most popular time of year to sell a property. It’s the season for new beginnings, when buyers spring into action (pardon the pun). Homes and gardens often look their best in spring too, which may drive up the sale price in some cases.

    However, spring may not necessarily be the best time of year to sell for everyone, particularly if your property is an established home or located in a city or metropolitan area. Whilst spring may bring increased buyer demand, it may also mean many more property listings in the area your home is located. If there are many properties similar to yours on the market, that could mean lower prices.

    Summer

    If your home is located in a popular summer holiday destination, summer could be the best time of year to sell. Holiday-makers could potentially be your best market audience!

    Properties that are particularly cool may also be more attractive from a selling point of view in summer. Depending on where your property is located, there may also be fewer properties on the market to compete with so it could help you to achieve your price. However, be careful about selling in December or January, when people are generally winding down and preparing to relax over the festive break and summer holidays. If your property is located in a city location, or its market audience is families with school-age children, there will be fewer buyers on the inspection circuit.

    Autumn

    Autumn is another popular time of year to sell, with auction activity usually red hot just before Easter. Many prospective home buyers hit the open house inspection circuit at this time of year, hoping to find a new home and get it settled before the cold weather arrives. Again, consider your location and check out what other properties are on the market to see how much competition you’re likely to encounter.

    Winter

    Your home’s key drawcards could influence when to sell. For example if it has an amazing fireplace or a fantastic underfloor heating system, it may be more appealing to buyers in winter. Likewise, if your property is in the snow-fields or an area that is popular for winter sports, winter could also be the best time to sell. West-facing properties tend to receive more sunlight around this time, and this could make them more appealing in winter than at other times of the year.

    Another advantage of selling in winter is there may be fewer listings to compete against, which could drive up competition amongst buyers and lift prices, depending on the area where your property is located. Properties in popular locations often sell quickly all year round.

    Don’t forget to consider market conditions

    In addition to seasonal factors, it’s important to consider local property market dynamics, specifically supply and demand. If there is an oversupply of properties on the market, it may be best to wait it out until conditions change. The best option is to choose a time when stock levels of properties that are similar to yours are low.

    If it’s a ‘buyer’s market’ as exists in Perth – a time when there are more properties available for sale than there is buyer demand – there may be no ‘best’ time of year to sell. It may even pay to rent the property out for a while until the market warms up.

    Alternatively, if there’s not enough housing stock to meet demand and it’s a ‘seller’s market’ – as has been the case in Melbourne and Sydney – you’ll likely be able to negotiate harder and push up the price. Other influences such as new developments, changes to the first home buyer grant or stamp duty, and interest rate fluctuations can also affect supply and demand, so it’s worth talking to us about these factors.

    Do your research and ask for advice

    When it comes to selling your home, it’s best to take all of these factors into account, along with your personal circumstances. Your local real estate agent is a great source of information about when to sell, or you could ask us for a free market appraisal report. It’s always wise to do careful research when buying or selling a home, so please don’t hesitate to ask us for help. If you are looking to sell your home and purchase a new one, please speak to us about your finance options as we’re here to help you find the right loan for your financial circumstances and goals. We usually recommend that you try to sell before you buy if possible, so you know how much money you can budget for your next home purchase. However, if you do require bridging finance to tide you over, we can also help you with a competitive option. Please get in touch today – we’re always happy to help!What is the best time of the year to sell your home?

  • How refinancing every three years could help you save

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    When it comes to smart money management, the key to success is to regularly assess your financial position – and that includes taking a good hard look at your mortgage. Here’s why refinancing every three years may help you save, and why you should check in with us today to ensure your home loan is still the right choice for you.
    Refinancing every 3 years may help you to:

    Secure a more competitive interest rate

    Checking your home loan regularly gives you peace of mind that you’re getting the most competitive interest rate and that your financial needs are being met. With RBA rate movements, lender rate changes and new loan products coming onto the market all the time, it’s quite likely there’s a better option available if you’ve had your home loan for a while.

    Access better features and save

    A home loan health check is about reviewing your loan against your current financial situation and goals to ensure it still meets your needs and suits your objectives. As your circumstances change – perhaps you have a better job or have started a family since you took out your home loan – the loan features you need may change too. A different type of loan could potentially help you to save money and manage your finances better.

    Access equity to build wealth

    Accessing your equity could be a fantastic opportunity to build wealth for your future and refinancing to a new loan could allow you to do just that. If you’ve had your mortgage for a while, you’ve probably paid it down somewhat and your property could also have increased in value, so you may have some equity you could use to buy an investment property, or use to purchase shares or other investments.

    You could also use the equity for other things you want. Perhaps you need a new car, a holiday, or would like to use the money to pay for your children’s education? Maybe you’d like to put the money towards some home renovations that could ultimately drive up the value of your property. Whatever your goals, we can explain whether refinancing and accessing your equity will help you to achieve them.

    Consolidate debt

    If you have several debts with high-interest credit facilities like credit cards or personal loans, you could potentially make things more manageable by refinancing and rolling your debts into your home loan. In this scenario, you’d access some of your equity and use it to pay off your other debts. The benefit is you only pay the home loan interest rate, rather than the higher credit card or personal loan rates – although your home loan repayments will likely rise somewhat, you could possibly make some savings if you make an effort to make extra repayments to pay back the amount you withdraw quickly. Talk to us and we’ll help you determine if refinancing to consolidate debt makes financial sense for you.

    As your mortgage broker, we are experts at finding the right home loan to help you achieve your financial goals. We’ll check out your current home loan and if it no longer has that youthful vigor you need, see if we can find a better alternative! But first, we’ll nut out the figures and make sure refinancing is the right move forward for you financially. So if you’ve had your current home loan for three years or more, give us a call today for a home loan health check. We’d love to hear from you.How refinancing every three years could help you save

  • 6 little-known strategies for first home buyers

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    Saving a 20% deposit for your first home is no easy task – particularly if you want to buy your home in Melbourne or Sydney where home values seem to be rising faster than most people can save. But the good news is that there could be ways to get around the problem. Here’s a few little-known strategies and suggestions from your friendly mortgage broker that could potentially help you secure your first home sooner. We hope you find them handy!
    Buy what you can afford right nowAs a first-time buyer, it’s important to know what you can afford to purchase right now. Why wait when you could opt for a cheaper entry point into the market and work your way up the property ladder? As your mortgage broker, we’re here to help you work out your current borrowing capacity, so it’s worth getting in touch.

    Borrow up to 95% with Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance

    Did you know you may not need a 20% deposit to buy a property? Under some circumstances, you may be able to qualify for a loan for 95% of the purchase price. You would have to pay Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance and strict eligibility criteria will apply, but if it allows you to achieve the dream of homeownership sooner, it may be worth it. Talk to us – we’ll explain whether this option could work for you.

    Borrow up to 100% with a Guarantor Loan

    A guarantor is someone who will provide a guarantee for your home loan, usually a family member (better known as the ‘bank of mum and dad’). This guarantee is usually secured against the equity in their own property. Once you have paid off part of your home loan, or your property has increased in value, you can apply to have the guarantee removed.

    Guarantor Loans are a great idea for first home buyers who do not have a full 20% deposit as they save you from having to pay Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance. Some lenders even allow you to consolidate some of your debts – such as credit cards – when you buy your home. Talk to us if you’d like to find out more.

    Delay paying your deposit 

    If you can’t come up with the cash deposit for your home right now, you may be able to use a deposit guarantee. This is a type of insurance that guarantees the funds will be paid upon settlement. Your money may be tied up in a fixed-term deposit or other assets that you’re waiting to sell. Maybe you’ll be eligible to receive the First Home Owners’ Grant after settlement, but you’d like to use the money from the grant as part of your deposit? A deposit guarantee could help! Talk to us to find out if this strategy could work for you.

    Use your super to save your deposit

    If you’re trying to save a deposit for your first home, you may be able to use your super to help you save faster. Earlier this year, the Government announced plans to introduce a new scheme that, from July 1, 2018, will allow first home buyers to withdraw any voluntary contributions you make to your super after July 1, 2017. You can potentially withdraw up to $30,000 of voluntary contributions, plus any associated deemed earnings, and put the money towards your deposit. The amount withdrawn will be taxed at marginal rates, less a 30 per cent offset – which means the government will effectively be helping you save your deposit! If you’re a couple, you can both withdraw that $30,000 amount, so it could provide you with a significant deposit for your first home.

    But before you start whacking your extra money into your super, be sure to ask your financial planner, accountant, or super provider whether or not you could benefit from this new scheme. As yet, the full terms and conditions of the scheme have not been published, but you can find out more here.

    Have someone with experience on your team!

    Our final suggestion is to have someone in your corner who knows the game and how to play it. As your mortgage broker, we’ll do everything we can to help you secure finance for your first home. We know all the lender requirements for every loan and can help keep the application process simple, so please get in touch and have a chat with us about your property purchasing plans and financial goals. We’ll also be here to support you after you make your first home purchase – our long term goal is to help you build wealth for your future through property – so rest assured you’ll always be in safe hands with us as your credit and finance partner!6 little-known strategies for first home buyers

  • Welcome to our October Newsletter

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    There’s a certain buzz in the air at this time of year, as the weather warms up and the property market gets into full swing. Buyers continue to come out of hibernation and snap up properties during the spring selling season. If you’re one of the lucky ones about to make an exciting property purchase, we’d love to help you find a home or investment loan that suits your financial circumstances and goals. Please get in touch!
    Interest Rate News

    This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia kept the official cash rate unchanged at 1.5%. The RBA’s decision to hold the cash rate was widely anticipated by economists. In September, some of the major banks lowered interest rates on fixed rate loans, so it could be a good time to speak to us to see if this option works for you. Overall, interest rates remain low and there are some very competitive products out there, so call us if you’d like us to check your home loan features and rate!

    Property Market News

    Dwelling values increased in all capital cities except Sydney and Darwin last month. Hobart led the way, with a month-on-month change in dwelling values of 1.71%. In Melbourne, values rose 0.86%, while in Canberra they were up 0.56%. Brisbane saw increases of 0.28%, and Perth experienced 0.08% growth. Adelaide was slower, with an increase of 0.03%. In Sydney, home values decreased by 0.13% and in Darwin they fell 0.68%.

    While auction activity was strong earlier in September, it dropped off during the final week of September (week ending October 1). In Victoria, there were only 137 scheduled auctions, with 89% of properties selling, while in New South Wales, 690 auctions were held and only 67% of properties sold. That’s a big drop in volume compared to the previous week (ending September 24), when both states had a combined 2,672 properties go to auction and clearance rates of 74% for Victoria and 70% for New South Wales. Perhaps everyone was just too busy watching the footy Grand Finals!

    In South Australia, 78% of the 45 properties scheduled for auction went under the hammer in the week ending October 1. The ACT held 45 scheduled auctions and achieved a clearance rate of 76%. Western Australia had 17 scheduled auctions (67% clearance rate) and Queensland had 306 scheduled auctions, with a 39% clearance rate. The Northern Territory had 6 scheduled auctions (25% clearance rate), while Tasmania only had one property go to auction, and it sold!

    Spring is traditionally the most popular time of year for vendors to sell, and with more competition out there, you may score an attractive deal on the property of your dreams! So please give us a call to talk about your spring property plans, we’re here to help you find you a mortgage that is tailored to suit your financial circumstances and goals, and we’d love to help!Welcome to our October Newsletter

  • Investment property refinance made easy!

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    The clever investor knows that assessing your investments regularly is key to identifying opportunities to build wealth. Knowing when to refinance an investment property could be vital to a successful strategy. So is now the time for you to refinance?

    Talk to us and we’ll help you to decide! Despite recent tightening around investor lending, there are still some very competitive interest rates available from a variety of lenders. In this article, we cover some of the common questions we get from our property investor customers – and if you do decide you’re ready to refinance, you can rely on us to make it easy!

    Why should I refinance my investment property?

    There are generally two main reasons why you may want to refinance your investment property. These are to access your equity, or to change to a different loan.

    If you’d like to expand your investment portfolio, refinancing to access your equity could be a good move. You could potentially use your equity as a deposit to buy another property, or to take advantage of some other kind of investment opportunity – talk to your financial planner to see what strategy is right for you.

    Accessing your equity to renovate could also be a good move. It could help you add value to your investment property, fast-track its capital growth and perhaps improve the rental value to increase cash-flow.

    What kinds of fees are involved?

    The good news is that when you refinance an investment property, the costs involved in exiting your existing loan and setting up another are usually tax-deductable. That includes the borrowing expenses and any exit fees or penalties. In the first five years of owning your investment property, you can usually claim borrowing expenses back incrementally, and if you refinance within that timeframe, you can claim the remaining tax deductions immediately. Talk to your tax accountant about the benefits appropriate to your situation. If you don’t have one, we’ll be happy to help you with a referral.

    Should I use one lender or multiple lenders?

    Professional investors often prefer to use multiple lenders to avoid cross-collateralisation. Cross-collateralisation is where you secure a loan against two or more properties instead of one – which can be inconvenient when the time comes to sell, and risky if property prices should fall. If you use one lender, your properties may be cross-collateralised by default. Having said that, some investors may prefer to use one lender. Overall, it depends on your individual financial situation, goals and the size of your investment portfolio, whether you may choose to go with one lender or several. Talk to us and we’ll help you decide which loan structure is right for you.

    Should I refinance all my investments at the same time?

    If you’re reviewing one mortgage, you might as well ask us to assess all of your investment loans to make sure they are up to scratch. You may decide you are happy with the deal you are receiving for some of the loans, and only proceed with refinancing others. Or you may decide it’s time to change the way all your loans are structured and if so, we’re here to help.

    Talking to your financial planner or tax accountant is also a good idea, to make sure refinancing is the right strategy for you financially. If you’d like to chat or explore the kinds of investment loan options out there, please get in touch today. We’d love to help you find the right finance to fulfill your needs!Investment property refinance made easy!

  • 3 ways to start growing your nest-egg using real estate.

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    In Australia, the national past-time seems to be to save, save, save for a house deposit! People are making all sorts of sacrifices to get that all-important deposit together – from living with mum and dad into their thirties, to sacrificing life’s little luxuries. But why are so many Australians so very focused on owning their own property?

    Besides providing a cosy nest of your very own, buying a property can potentially open up a world of wealth building opportunities – for your long term benefit! Whether you’re buying your own home or an investment property, home ownership could be a good move to help you get ahead financially. So get ready to start feathering your nest! Here’s a few reasons why real estate can be used as a powerful wealth generator.

    Capital growth potential

    Real estate has real potential to increase in value over time – this is called capital growth. That’s because the supply of housing is often insufficient to meet demand, supporting growth in values.

    Whether you’re buying your home to live in yourself, or you’re buying a property as an investment to rent out to tenants, capital growth is going to be very beneficial to your financial situation. If the value of your property increases, you could potentially make a nice profit when you sell, particularly if it’s your own home. Alternatively, you could access the capital gains (known as equity) as you go along by refinancing your loan – effectively using the property as a money tree.

    Make more investments

    Money tree you say! We all know that money doesn’t grow on trees, so how does that work?

    If you refinance your home loan you can access your equity, which gives you funds that you can spend how you like. If you’re focused on building wealth, you may wish to use it as a deposit for an investment property. Once some time passes and your equity builds in that property too, you could refinance your loan again and use those funds as a deposit for your next investment, and so on. In this way, your nest egg could potentially keep growing and growing.

    This is just a broad outline of how property investment works. We recommend that you talk to a professional financial planner to help you formulate an investment strategy that’s right for you. Just ask us if you’d like a recommendation.

    Tax perks

    As mortgage brokers, we’re not tax advisors or financial planners. But generally speaking, property investment is a very popular form of investment, mainly because the Australian Taxation Office supports it with tax benefits.

    One popular strategy is to ‘negatively gear’ your investment property to reduce your taxable income. Negative gearing is when the expenses associated with owning the property (including interest on the loan borrowed to finance the property) are greater than the income it generates. You can claim any net losses against your taxable income and in this way, reduce the tax you’ll have to pay on the money you earn in your job or by other means – all whilst your property investment makes capital gains. Once again, talk to your accountant and financial planner to be sure that a negative gearing strategy is right for you.

    Speak with us about your property plans!

    Buying real estate could be a smart move for you financially, whether you’re buying a home to live in or are investing in property to rent out to tenants. We’re here to help you maximise your financial position and obtain a loan that’s suitable for your purposes and goals. Talk to us about how buying a property could benefit you – we’ll help you to determine your borrowing capacity, get pre-approval on your loan and can even help you with insightful property data to assist you with locating and purchasing the right place. Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to chat with you about your plans.3 ways to start growing your nest-egg using real estate.

  • Could the equity in your house buy you a new car?

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    If you’ve been putting all your extra cash into your home loan, well done. Paying your loan off sooner could potentially save you a lot of money on interest. However, owning a safe and reliable car is just as important, particularly if you have a family or need to travel a distance to work. So if you need a new car, how can you afford it if your home loan has been your priority? Is there a way to get the best of both worlds? The answer is yes!

    How does it work?

    If the equity in your home has grown significantly because you have been paying off your loan for a while, have made extra repayments, or the value of your home has increased, then you may be in a position to refinance your home loan to access your equity. This could give you enough cash to go down to a dealership and buy that new car. Having cash-in-hand may even give you a little extra bargaining power!

    Whilst refinancing may mean that your home loan repayments increase somewhat, the increase could potentially be less than the cost of a car loan repayment and your mortgage repayment combined. Car loans and personal loans tend to carry a much higher interest rate than your mortgage. Depending on where you get your car or personal loan, you could pay anything from 6.5% p.a. up to 14.5% p.a. in interest. (Always talk to us before taking out any kind of loan to be sure you’re getting a suitable loan for your needs at a competitive rate.)

    Talk to us and we’ll help you to assess your financial position on your loan to see if it is the right move for you.

    What are the drawbacks?

    It’s important to be aware that if you take some equity out of your home loan, your home loan repayments are likely to increase. You probably won’t be paying as much as you would if you had a separate car loan and a home loan as well, but if you take the full 30-year term to pay it off, it may cost you more in interest over the life of the loan. So if you decide to access your equity to buy a car, we recommend that you make additional repayments and pay it back as quickly as you can. This will help you to maximize the benefit of the lower interest rate you get by using your mortgage rather than a car or personal loan.

    Talk to us first

    Before you make any large purchase that may require a loan, it’s important to talk to us about your finance options so we can help you find a solution that’s right for you. We’ll help you decide whether refinancing and using your equity to buy what you need is a viable option, or if another type of finance could be more suitable. And above all, remember that car dealerships only offer one type of finance, whereas we offer a variety of finance options that can be tailored to suit your personal financial circumstances and goals – so always talk to us first. We’re here to help you achieve your financial goals, so call us today.Could the equity in your house buy you a new car?

  • Welcome to our September Newsletter

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    Spring has sprung and isn’t it a glorious time of year? It’s traditionally the time for change and new beginnings! If you’ve been considering a property purchase, now could be the time to get out there, enjoy the sunshine and start your property hunt.
    Perhaps you’ve been considering refinancing to a fresh new mortgage that’s tailored specifically to your needs? Or perhaps you’re thinking of renovating your existing home? If so, we’d love to help you out. As the property market heats up, we are seeing plenty of competitive lender deals, so be sure to speak to us about your loan options before you start on your spring property plans!

    Interest Rate News

    This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5%. Lenders continue to cut rates for owner-occupiers on principal and interest home loans, and at the same time, try to ensure the proportion of their loan books for investment purposes and interest-only loans meet APRA’s lending guidelines. Despite these restrictions, some lenders have cut interest rates for investors on principal and interest loans in recent weeks. Overall, interest rates remain low and there are competitive deals for both home owners and property investors.

    Property Market News

    Last month, dwelling values increased by 0.11% overall across the combined capital cities. Sydney’s growth was flat during August, while Hobart led the way for growth in dwelling values, at 0.61%. Hobart was also the strongest capital city performer for the past 12 months (13.61% growth). Canberra experienced 0.57% growth in August, while Melbourne remained resilient, with property values increasing 0.54%. Brisbane and the Gold Coast saw an increase of 0.18% for the month, and in Adelaide property values edged 0.03% higher. Perth’s dwelling values slipped -0.83%, while in Darwin they fell -2.17%.

    Auction volumes remained high in Victoria and New South Wales, with 1987 combined scheduled auctions in the week ending September 3. Both had relatively strong clearance rates of 73% and 70% respectively. Across the other auction markets, clearance rates were varied. Tasmania had 10 scheduled auctions, with an impressive 100% clearance rate. The ACT had a 68% clearance rate for 69 scheduled auctions, while South Australia’s clearance rate was 62% for 80 scheduled auctions. In Western Australia, 28 properties went to auction, but only 58% sold, while in Queensland there were 292 scheduled auctions, with a clearance rate of 36%.

    If you have property plans this spring, talk to us about a competitive home loan, investment loan, or renovation loan that works to your advantage. We’ll compare the market and line you up with a mortgage that ties in with your personal financial circumstances and goals. Please get in touch today – we’d love to help!Welcome to our September Newsletter

  • First home buyers, what to look out for when inspecting properties

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    If you’re a first-time buyer and new to inspecting properties, it can be difficult to know what to look out for, especially when you’re excited about your first home purchase!

    Well, first-timers, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ve put together a 101 guide of things to be mindful of during your home inspections – all the big issues which may be costly to fix down the track. When you do find a property that ticks your boxes, you’ll want to be ready to move fast, so remember to talk to us about getting pre-approval on your home loan before you start inspecting. But first, here’s our checklist to help you avoid buying a lemon!

    It’s all about your budget

    If you’re a first time buyer and looking for a home, you’ll probably be inspecting properties that need money spent on them for a variety of different reasons. This checklist is designed to help you inspect properties effectively so you can rule out the lemons and save money on multiple building and pest inspections. But remember, it won’t rule out the need for a professional inspection on the place you decide to buy!

    Structural issues: These are generally the most expensive and difficult problems to repair. During the inspection, keep your eyes peeled for signs of subsidence, uneven floors, cracks in the walls or brickwork, or doors that don’t close properly.

    Plumbing issues: You don’t want to be knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door when you take a shower, so don’t be shy about turning on the taps to check for hammer issues. Make sure the water pressure is good and the drains are operating well.

    Dampness: Stains, water marks and damaged or peeling paint may indicate the property has issues with dampness. Sometimes, vendors try to paint over problems, so channel your inner canine and use your sense of smell during the inspection.

    Mould: This may be an indication of a bigger, more expensive problem, such as a leaky roof, plumbing issues, inadequate ventilation, or rising damp. All of these can be expensive to fix, so check bathrooms, ceilings, window frames and walls meticulously.

    Termites: When you’re inspecting properties, look for the tell-tale signs – sagging or buckling floors, hollow-sounding beams and “mud leads”. A bad termite problem may produce a sweet, sugary smell. No matter where you live in Australia, always get a pest inspection, because termites are everywhere and they can be costly to evict!

    Wiring: If the property is sporting a 1970s chandelier, or antiquated switches and sockets, the electrical wiring may be outdated and it could end up costing you to rewire. Check the electrical box as this will tell you when the system was last updated. If it does not have a residual current circuit breaker, then it has probably not been brought up to modern standards.

    Appliances: It’s always a good idea to take a good look at the fixed appliances such as the oven, stove, air-conditioner, dishwasher and heating system. If they look like they are on their last legs, you’ll need to factor in the cost of getting them replaced.

    Renovations: Homes at the less pricey end of the market often have outdated kitchens and bathrooms. Many first home buyers think they can live with the situation until they save up to do a renovation, however you need to be realistic – these can be expensive to replace so get a quote so you can factor it into your budget! If renovations have already been done, check the quality.

    Asbestos: Properties built before 1990 may contain asbestos. During the inspection, find out when the property was built and ask about the construction materials. If the property is of ‘fibro construction’ it probably has asbestos – which is not dangerous if it is in good condition, but get your building inspector to check carefully before you move ahead with a purchase.

    Roof: Stand back in the street and cast your eye over the roof. What is it made of – tin or tiles? Is it rusty? Are there any missing or damaged tiles? Does the pointing between the tiles look crumbly? These can all indicate the roof needs work, so if it looks at all suspicious, be sure to get it checked out properly as a new roof can be costly.

    We hope you’ll find our inspection guide handy! But remember, even if you’ve developed an eagle eye and a nose for trouble, protect yourself by getting professional building and pest inspections before you buy anything! If you need a referral to a reliable inspector, just let us know. Before you set out on your buying journey, it’s a good idea to talk to us so you can determine your budget and get pre-approval on your home loan. Then once you find the right place and it’s been given the all-clear, we can help you move quickly. We’d love to help with your first home buying journey, so please get in touch!First home buyers, what to look out for when inspecting properties

  • 4 benefits of downsizing

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    If you’re looking to buy your next home, downsizing might be the way to go. After all, sometimes less is more and it could work wonders for your finances!

    In this article, we explore some of the benefits of downsizing – from cutting back on maintenance and energy costs, to having more money in your pocket to invest. And remember, when you are ready to purchase your next home, we’d love to help you find a loan that meets your financial needs and future aspirations. Here are some of the key reasons to consider downsizing.

    More funds to invest

    Downsizing allows you to unlock the equity in your current home to use for investment purposes. If you are lucky, you may be at a point where you’ll be able to pay off your new home with cash, then use any leftover funds to expand your property portfolio and start generating income from an investment property. You could also use the money on a new car or other lifestyle pursuits. If you’re interested in investing in property, just give us a call, we can help you in many different ways.

    Fewer expenses

    Downsizing can drastically reduce your expenses, from cutting your mortgage repayments, to slashing your living costs. Energy is one area you are likely to notice real savings when you move to a smaller property. What’s more, downsizing may encourage you to stop blowing money on furniture, appliances, electronics and “stuff” you don’t actually need. It will also encourage you to get rid of unnecessary clutter – there’s only so much you can squeeze into a smaller home, after all.

    Lifestyle benefits

    Looking for a sea change or a tree change? Downsizing could provide a great opportunity for you to live in a more desirable location, in housing that is more suitable for your needs. There are many great locations to consider – from the coast to the hills, you can find great value properties in communities where you can indulge your personal interests. Sailing, hiking, exciting adventures in your caravan – you name it! If you’re ready to retire, an empty-nester, or are recently single, downsizing could be the fantastic new chapter you’ve been looking for!

    Let’s face it – bigger properties can be hard work. Not everyone wants to spend their life maintaining a larger property or garden. Just think of what you could do with the time it takes to clean and maintain that great big house. Golf-course here you come!

    New tax breaks

    In the 2017-18 Federal Budget, the Government announced plans to encourage older property owners to downsize. This is intended to help free up larger homes for younger, growing families. From July 2018, retirees may be able to inject up to $300,000 into superannuation if they sell their home after they reach the age of 65. The existing voluntary contribution rules for people aged 65 and older (work test for 65-74 year olds, no contributions for those aged 75 and over) and restrictions on non-concessional contributions for people with balances above $1.6 million do not apply to contributions made under the new downsizing cap.

    To qualify, you must have owned your property for 10 years. What’s great about this new initiative is that both members of a couple can take advantage of the measure for the same home – that means as much as $600,000 per couple can be put into super! However, keep in mind that the proceeds contributed to superannuation will be included in the assets test for the age pension. For more details ask your tax accountant – if you don’t have one, ask us for a referral, we’ll be happy to help.

    While it’s tempting to hold onto the family home because of the sentimental value, the reality is that it may be holding you back from a better lifestyle and a more comfortable financial situation. Downsizing could allow you to find a home that’s more appropriate to your lifestyle, while also freeing up time and money to use elsewhere. If you’re looking to purchase your next home and would like to explore your home loan options, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! We would love to find you a competitive home loan that works to your advantage.4 benefits of downsizing

  • A step-by-step guide to refinancing your home

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    With a home loan it’s easy to just ‘set and forget’. But it’s sensible to review your home loan every three years or so.

    We’re living in a world of rapid change, where interest rates go up and down fast, new lenders emerge and more competitive lending products become available on a regular basis. Under these circumstances, keeping the same home loan for 30 years could cost you more money than you need to spend!

    In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide to refinancing your home, breaking it down into simple layman’s terms. But before we get into that, let us clear up a few common questions about refinancing.

    WHY should you consider refinancing?

    Generally speaking, there are four main reasons to consider refinancing.

    1. Your loan may be outdated and you could potentially get a lower interest rate.
    2. Different home loan features could work better for you.
    3. Your financial situation may have changed.
    4. You want to access some of the equity you’ve built up in your home.

    WHEN should you consider refinancing?

    There’s no time like the present! We’re currently experiencing a low interest rate period, so there are many competitive home loan products available. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to review your home loan every two to four years.

    WHO should you use to refinance?

    You should always talk to a mortgage broker because our opinion is not biased towards any particular lender or product. And we won’t suggest that you refinance if it isn’t the right move for you.

    HOW do you refinance?

    We’ve explained the when, who and what of refinancing, but what’s the actual process involved? Here’s a simple step-by-step guide.

    Step 1: Speak to us

    Before we begin exploring your loan options, it’s important for us to have a sound understanding of where you’re at financially and what you’d like to achieve. Whatever your goals, we’re here to assist!

    Step 2: Choose your mortgage and apply

    We’ll help you find the right mortgage to fit your personal financial circumstances and goals. Then we’ll help you submit your application.

    Step 3: Your new lender will perform a valuation

    Your new home loan provider will require a valuation on your property as part of the application process. Keep in mind that their valuation might be more conservative than the market value you estimate.

    Step 4: Get approved

    Within a few days of submitting your application, it’s likely our inbox will light up with that delightful email confirming you’ve been approved for your new home loan. Yay!

    Step 5: Your old mortgage will be closed

    Your new lender will contact your previous provider to co-ordinate your refinancing arrangement. The lender will submit a ‘discharge of mortgage’ form to the Land Titles Office in your state or territory to close your old mortgage account. Upon settlement, your new lender will pay out your existing lender with funds from your new home loan and take ownership of your property title. If you’re refinancing to consolidate other debts, they will be closed too.

    Step 6: You start afresh!

    Once you have your new home loan in place, you can begin making repayments, satisfied that you have the most suitable mortgage for your needs. If you need any help managing your new home loan, we are always here to lend a hand.

    We hope you’ll find this guide to refinancing handy, and we would love to help you decide whether refinancing is the right step for you financially. Whether you are looking to refinance for a better interest rate, to access equity, consolidate debt or for a property investment to build wealth for your future, we can help you to achieve your goals. Please get in touch today!A step-by-step guide to refinancing your home

  • Welcome to our August newsletter

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    With winter on the way out, now could be a great time to score a bargain in the property market, as some buyers may still be in hibernation mode and traditionally, there is less competition at this time of year.

    Property numbers are likely to pick up later this month and into early September, with spring tending to be a more popular time to sell. The cash rate remains on hold and interest rates are low, so why not seize the moment and purchase that dream property you’ve been looking for?

    Interest Rate News

    This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5%. Meanwhile, lenders continue to make rate moves to encourage interest-only borrowers to switch to principal and interest loans.

    The Australian dollar soared after last month’s RBA meeting, following media speculation the RBA wanted to raise interest rates to 3.5%. However, the RBA has since commented they are not expecting to make any cash rate movements until late 2018. Overall, interest rates are still low and there are some great opportunities for buyers, investors and those looking to refinance!

    Property Market News

    The average monthly home value growth across Australia’s capital cities was fairly slow during July, only increasing 1.45%. In Melbourne, home values beat the average, increasing by 3.12% and Canberra also performed well, with home values increasing by 2.36%. In Adelaide home values rose a marginal 1.07% while in Hobart the increase was just 0.87%. Other cities saw marginal decreases in home values for July, with Perth showing the largest fall in home values of 1.32%.

    Auction activity remains quite strong in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. For the week ending July 30, Victoria had 1002 auctions and a clearance rate of 77%. New South Wales had 838 auctions with a clearance rate of 67% and Queensland, 367 auctions with a clearance rate of 47%. In other states, activity was not as brisk, with the ACT only holding 47 auctions with a clearance rate of 74%, South Australia 87 auctions with a clearance rate of 63%, Western Australia 30 auctions with a clearance rate of 29%, Northern Territory 10 auctions with a clearance rate of 17% and no auctions were registered for Tasmania – and there were very few throughout July.

    With spring just around the corner, now is a fantastic time for a fresh start, so why not make the most of the low interest rates? Whether you’re purchasing a home or an investment property, or are considering refinancing, we’d love to help! We’ll compare the market and find you a loan that suits your financial circumstances and goals. Please get in touch today!Welcome to our August newsletter

  • 6 Reasons why property investment is more popular than ever

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    Australians are a nation of investors. Over 60% of us hold additional investments outside of compulsory superannuation and increasingly, property is one of our most popular investment choices. But why? And is it the right form of investment for you?

    If you’re not sure, the sooner you talk to a qualified Financial Planner the better! And if you don’t have one, ask us for a referral to a reliable professional who can help you come up with an investment plan that’s right for your personal circumstances and goals. To get you started, here are six reasons why an ever increasing number of Australians are considering a property investment.

    1. Supply & demand.

    The value of any given commodity is subject to the law of supply and demand. When demand is greater than supply, the value goes up. Therefore, investing in something people need or really want is generally considered a good idea. Everyone needs somewhere to live, and most of us want to own our own home, which is why many Australians consider property to be a good investment type.

    It may seem a bit over-simplistic, but the statistics tend to support this popular opinion. For example, 2016 figures from the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning estimated that Melbourne’s population will double by 2031 and hit 10 million people by 2050.

    2. You have greater control over managing your investment.

    When you invest in a property, you are in charge of that asset. You can do things to affect the property’s ongoing capital growth potential, like keeping it in good repair and up to date, and you can choose the right tenants to maximise your rental income. You may also have some potential to affect the end value of the asset – by getting it rezoned for development purposes, or performing extensions or renovations, for example. You can also take out insurance on the asset, which can help to insulate you against some of the financial risks of property ownership.

    By comparison, with stocks and shares, value growth is subject to the success of the company and a variety of other external factors which are usually beyond your control. These uncertainties may influence some people to prefer a ‘solid’ asset like bricks and mortar.

    3. You can easily assess capital growth potential and invest accordingly.

    When investing in property, careful research will help you to choose a suburb or area that has capital growth and rental income potential. This information is relatively easy for the average person to acquire. (For example, we can provide you with a variety of reliable reports, as will most banks, and there is a variety of other property data suppliers online.) By contrast, assessing the capital growth potential of other kinds of assets is much more complex and often requires expert analysis, or access to information that isn’t as easy to obtain.

    With property, some areas have more potential than others, so smart investors spend time locating and investigating opportunities that could align with their investment strategy. For example, you can research future population and employment growth in an area, transportation links and future infrastructure development, lifestyle amenities, schools and other factors that are likely to make the area popular with buyers and tenants down the track.

    4. You can access the equity to continue growing your wealth.

    Property investment can be like an “investment money tree” because it is possible to access the equity (or capital gains) as you go along by refinancing, without being liable to pay tax until you actually sell the property. With an investment property, equity is created as soon as it increases in value or your tenants pay down your mortgage somewhat, so you can often plan to access your equity (subject to refinance approval from a lender) for your next investment. You could use that money to buy any kind of investment, not just property, which is why property is often considered a good way to start an investment portfolio. If you’re interested in refinancing a property to access your equity, just give us a call.

    5. The opportunity to diversify your portfolio.

    When investing, a good Financial Planner will probably tell you that it pays not to keep all of your eggs in one basket. Including property in your investment portfolio could potentially provide an opportunity to spread your risk. And in itself, property investment provides opportunities to diversify your investments. For example, you could invest in a variety of locations and in different types of properties – vacant land, apartments, units, houses, rural or perhaps commercial properties. Talk to your Financial Planner for suggestions on how to create a diversified investment portfolio that takes your personal appetite for risk into consideration.

    6. You can take advantage of tax breaks and super.

    Another advantage of property investment is that it is supported by a variety of tax breaks and government incentives to help people grow wealth. There are many different ways you could potentially benefit, depending on your personal situation, tax obligations and other financial circumstances. Talking to your Mortgage Broker and Tax Accountant to find out more is a great idea, because the benefits are different for everyone and no-one wants to give their money to the tax man when they could be using it to fund a better retirement.

    What to invest in is an age-old debate and property investment may not be the right choice for everyone. But if you’re keen to join around 1.7 million Australians who choose to invest in property, we’re here to help! We’re happy to work with you, your Financial Planner and your Accountant, and then arrange the appropriate financing to meet your financial circumstances, needs and investment goals. Please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!

    This article provides general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. It does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice and you should always seek professional advice in relation to your individual circumstances. All loans are subject to lenders terms and conditions – fees, charges and eligibility criteria apply.6 Reasons why property investment is more popular than ever

  • Common mistakes to avoid when buying your next family home

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    Making a fresh start in a new family home is an exhilarating experience. Maybe you’ve just welcomed a new addition to the family (congratulations!)? Perhaps your kids have moved out, so it’s time to downsize?

    Maybe you’re craving a change of scenery, or you’ve scored a fantastic new job and now’s the time to upgrade your home too. Whatever the reasoning, buying your next family home is an adventure, and we’re here to help make the journey as smooth as possible. Here’s a quick rundown on common mistakes to avoid when buying your next family home.

    Mistake # 1: Going it alone

    When you decide to buy a new family home, one of the biggest decisions you’ll face is what to do with your old home. Do you sell the property and put the money towards your new digs, or do you turn it into an investment and rent it out? Do you get two mortgages, or refinance your current mortgage to buy the second property? What can you afford and what is best for your future? The questions can seem endless, but don’t worry, you don’t have to solve them all alone – we’re here to help!

    Having a professional mortgage broker on your team will make the decision making process much easier. Remember, we have years of experience and access to hundreds of different loan products from Australia’s leading lenders. We can help you assess your financial situation and borrowing capacity to inform your decisions, and then find you a loan that’s exactly the right fit for your current personal financial circumstances and future goals

    Mistake #2: Being short-sighted about the future

    When the time comes to buy a new family home, it’s important to plan for your family’s future and to think about the kind of living arrangements you may require in the long-run. Often people try to fulfil their current needs, without giving too much thought to where they’ll be down the track. So, for example, if you plan to have three kids in six years, there’s little point buying a new home with just one extra room, as you’re likely to need four! Perhaps you’re a few years off retirement and won’t be needing a huge family home that requires a lot of effort to maintain? Whatever stage you’re at in life, it’s important to plan for what’s on the horizon and to make sure your new home marries with your actual needs.

    Mistake # 3: Buying without doing your research first

    You’ve bought before, so it’s easy to believe that you have a handle on the property market and don’t need to do any extensive research. But things change rapidly in the real estate world and it always pays to do some thorough research about where and what to buy next.

    The goal is to buy a home that will appreciate in value over time and potentially be attractive to tenants if you ever decide to rent it out. You also have to make sure the property and neighbourhood meet your family’s needs, whether that be good schools for the kids, dog-friendly parks for young Fido, great access to public transport for your partner’s work commute, or catering for your needs in retirement. Before buying, make sure you get to know the neighbourhood intimately – research the crime levels, the quality of nearby schools, the transport options and proposed nearby developments, or other facilities you may need like hospitals or treatment centres. Ask us for a property report to help you get started.

    Don’t forget to meticulously inspect the property, and to get building and pest inspections done before you put in an offer or bid at auction. We can often help you with referrals to reliable professionals, so please ask us.

    Mistake # 4: Letting emotion cloud your judgement

    It’s hard not to let your feelings overtake your better judgement when you do find a home that ticks all your boxes, but it’s important not to pay more than the property is actually worth. Compare recent sale prices of similar properties in the area to determine the correct price, and don’t be fooled for a second by clever home staging tactics designed to make you fall in love with the property and sign the contract on the spot!

    Lastly, try not to be too sentimental about buying where you currently live. Another neighbourhood could provide you with a property with greater capital growth potential, or more home for your budget to better meet your future requirements and lifestyle.

    Remember, we’re here to help!

    If you’re ready to buy your next home, please get in touch. We’ll find you a personalised home loan solution, tailored to meet your particular financial circumstances and goals. As your mortgage broker, we can provide advice about everything from maximising your credit facilities to potentially keeping your current home as an investment property. Here’s to new beginnings! We’ll look forward to hearing from you soon. 

  • 5 Tips for saving a deposit for your first home

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    The comments in the news are enough to make you think saving a deposit for your first home is mission impossible. Not true!

    So, rather than just encouraging you to stop buying #SmashedAvo breakfasts to save your deposit, we’ve put together some practical tips to get your savings account over the finish line. We may even be able to tell you about some recent changes to the first home owner grant and stamp duty that could help, depending on where you are looking to buy. With a solid budget, a few lifestyle tweaks and some help from us to determine how much of a deposit you’ll actually need, you could soon be attending open home inspections looking for a fantastic new pad!

    Tip #1: Create a budget

    Our first tip is to have a savings plan and stick to it. Create a budget, separating your ‘needs’ from your ‘wants’, and work out how much you can put aside every week to reach your goal. Remember, lenders will want to see a solid savings history, and depending on the type of property you intend to buy, this could be just as important as the size of your deposit.

    It’s important to include ‘fun’ money in your budget, but if you’re serious about saving up a deposit you may have to consider cutting back on extras. There are plenty of great tools to help you get started, such as the TrackMySPEND app, whereby you can nominate a spending limit and track your progress, or the Pocketbook app, which connects to your bank and automatically tracks your income and expenses. Once you get going, you’ll find it very satisfying to watch your nest-egg grow. Chat to us and we’ll help you set up an effective budget.

    Tip #2: Change your spending habits

    Try to be proactive about saving. For example, take lunch to work rather than eating out, or challenge yourself to stay fit by running or exercising at home rather than spending money on a gym membership. Need entertainment? Borrow books or DVDs from your local library or have friends over for a pot luck dinner. Need clothes? Organise a clothes swap party or find a bargain at the nearest op shop. Need tools? Ask your parents if you can borrow theirs. Shopping around can also help you save, so whether you’re buying groceries or electricity, compare prices and make a point of finding the cheapest option – it can be fun!

    Tip #3: Become a “super” saver

    As of July 1, aspiring first-home buyers will be able to make up to $15,000 of voluntary contributions into super each year, or $30,000 in total, to put towards a deposit and benefit from the tax breaks. Talk to us and we’ll explain the changes.

    If this is not the option for you, there are other ways to maximise your savings. You could open a term deposit or a high-interest savings account that rewards you for depositing money and not taking it out. You may even consider investing in shares to grow your savings. It’s a good idea to talk to a financial planner about how you can make your money work harder for you. Chat to us and we can refer you to a reliable professional.

    Tip #4: Speak to us now, even if you don’t think you’re ready to buy

    We can help you to create a budget and explain any financial assistance that’s available. Recently, there have been changes to stamp duty concessions and exemptions for first-home owners in some states, as well as to the First Home Owner Grant, so check in with us to see what you’re entitled to. Maybe you won’t need the 20% deposit – ask us about other options like paying Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance to secure a home loan with a smaller deposit, or asking a family member to use their equity as security for your loan and go guarantor. We can also explain how to check and tidy up your credit report, which lenders will want to see when assessing your home loan application.

    Tip #5: Consider property options that may require a smaller deposit

    Your first home may not necessarily be like your mum and dad’s place – most people have to start small and work their way up the property ladder and that’s OK. To break into the market, you may have to consider less expensive properties such as apartments or renovators’ dreams. How much deposit you’ll need will depend on what you want to buy and your financial circumstances, so talk to us and we’ll help you review all of your options.

    As your mortgage broker, we can help you with everything from saving the deposit, to finding a suitable loan, given your personal financial circumstances and goals. We may even be able to help you find the right area and property. Please give us a call today – we’d love to hear from you. And if you do find yourself feeling disheartened, remember the words of the great Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”5 Tips for saving a deposit for your first home

  • Welcome to our July Newsletter

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    As the new financial year kicks off, it’s a great time to start afresh. That could mean buying your first home, investing in property, or even refinancing your loan to a more suitable option. With the cash rate on hold and interest rates remaining low, now could be a good time to consider purchasing property.

    Interest Rate News

    This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent, where it has been since August 2016. However, there has been plenty of movement on interest rates of late from the lenders. Last month, the big four banks announced increases in rates on interest-only loans, in response to the Australian Prudential Regulator Authority’s crackdown on interest-only borrowing earlier this year. At the same time, the big four banks announced cuts to interest rates for owner-occupiers on principal and interest loans. With so many changes happening, it’s a good idea to get in touch to review your mortgage and future plans. We’ll compare the market and make sure your loan meets your financial needs and goals.

    Property Market News

    Home values were back on the rise in Melbourne and Sydney last month, after the seasonally weaker month of May. In Sydney, home values increased by 2.21%, while Melbourne saw increases of 2.71%. Home values also increased in Perth (1.38%), Canberra (2.58%) and Hobart (2.77%). Darwin saw the biggest drop in home values, at -2.18%, while in Adelaide they fell -1.72%. Brisbane also saw a decrease of -0.46%.

    The pace of home value growth eased over the second quarter of 2017. The quarterly data shows softer conditions in Sydney, with values gaining 0.8%, compared to 5% in the three months prior to March. Melbourne’s home values increased by 1.5% in the June quarter, slower than the 4.2% gain in the March quarter. Darwin (-5.2%), Hobart (-1.3%) Canberra (-0.4%) and Adelaide (-0.2%) saw values fall during the June quarter. In Brisbane, growth was modest at 0.5%, while Perth was up 0.1%.

    Auction clearance rates remain relatively strong in the ACT, Sydney and Melbourne. For the week ending July 2, the ACT had a clearance rate of 76% for 36 scheduled auctions, while Victoria had a 72% clearance rate for 930 scheduled auctions. New South Wales saw a slowdown of auction clearance rates in June, but things appeared to be picking up last week. Of the 961 properties that went to auction in New South Wales, 71% were sold in the week ending July 2. In the Northern Territory, there was a 60% clearance rate for 13 scheduled auctions, while Tasmania only had 9 auctions and achieved a 60% clearance rate. South Australia held 89 auctions with a clearance rate of 59%. Western Australia had a 46% clearance rate on 47 scheduled auctions, while Queensland experienced a 45% clearance rate on 298 scheduled auctions.

    The new financial year is providing an optimistic outlook, with interest rates likely to remain low for some time. It’s a fabulous time to talk to us about buying your dream home or an investment property. We would love to help you find a competitive home loan that meets your needs and goals, so please get in touch today!Welcome to our July Newsletter

  • Should You Consolidate Your Debts By Refinancing Your Home?

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    If you’re struggling to manage your debts, or just want to save money on interest on your debts, we can help!

    There are a range of solutions available to you that are worth exploring. In this article, we explain why consolidating your debts by refinancing your home may or may not be a good option for you financially, and explain what else you could do to manage your debts. Whatever you decide is best for your financial future, remember we are here to help!

    What is debt consolidation?

    Debt consolidation involves combining all of your existing debts into one. Usually you take this measure to reduce interest, or simply make your debts easier to manage by spreading your repayments out over a longer period of time.

    You may consolidate by taking out a new personal loan to repay your debts, or by refinancing your home loan. This is where you essentially refinance your mortgage so you can get some cash to pay-out your debts. As your mortgage broker, we can access both home and personal loans with competitive rates, so we can help you with either of these options.

    How debt consolidation could help you

    The key benefit of debt consolidation is that it may help to reduce the amount of interest you pay. The benefit of refinancing your home loan to consolidate debt is that home loan interest rates are generally lower than the interest on other forms of credit, especially unsecured credit like credit cards and personal loans.

    Refinancing your home loan means all your debt repayments will be covered by the one mortgage repayment. If you pay extra on your new, refinanced home loan after consolidating your debts, you’ll pay off your debts sooner and save money on interest compared to the interest you might have paid – say on a credit card.

    Plus, if you have multiple types of debt with different interest rates and repayment deadlines, trying to manage your cash flow can be as much fun as pulling your own teeth! But consolidating your debt means you’ll only have to remember to make one repayment.

    When debt consolidation may not be right for you

    For some people, consolidating is a great idea, as it can potentially reduce the fees and interest you pay, but for others, it may not be the right step forward. If your financial circumstances have generally changed for the worse, you may find it difficult to get approval to refinance your home loan from a lender, or get a personal loan at a good rate.

    Depending how long it takes to pay off your debt, you could also end up paying more in interest and fees in the long-run compared to if you had just paid it off quicker at the higher rate. Talk to us and we’ll help you crunch the numbers and decide if consolidating your debts is right for you.

    Call us now!

    Before you decide to consolidate your debt, it’s extremely important to seek advice from professional mortgage brokers like us. We’ll crunch the numbers and let you know if consolidation makes financial sense for you. You can rest assured we’ll be completely transparent about the interest rates, fees and charges you may be up for if you do refinance your home loan, or get a personal loan to consolidate your debt.Should You Consolidate Your Debts By Refinancing Your Home?

  • Building a new home? How to finance it

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    There’s something thrilling about building your very own, brand spanking new home!

    Perhaps it’s the knowledge that everything will be fresh and new, or the freedom that comes with being able to design the property to suit your own tastes and lifestyle needs. Always dreamed of having a lap pool? Why not! Like the idea of a home studio? Let’s make it happen!

    When building your own home, there’s a new chapter to begin, new adventures to be had and new memories to make. So, whether you’re planning on doing the building yourself, or you’re purchasing off-the-plan, talk with us now about securing the right finance!

    Building your own home

    When you build a new home, the right loan could potentially help you save a lot of money on interest. For example, a construction loan allows you to borrow in stages, while your home is being built. Rather than providing the full loan amount at once, the lender breaks the loan down into “progress draws”, and pays these to the builder in stages throughout the construction process. This arrangement means you only have to pay interest on the loan amount you have actually used.

    Your lender will usually require council-approved plans and a fixed-price building contract before they will approve a construction loan. The lender’s valuation expert will use these to help estimate the on-completion value of the property, and the lender will then assess the final loan application on whatever is less – the land price and cost of construction, or the on-completion value.

    The advantages of construction loans

    With construction loans, you only pay interest on what you’ve actually drawn down, not the maximum loan amount you’ve signed up for. What’s more, loan repayments are usually interest-only during construction.

    As each phase of construction is completed, the lender’s valuation expert usually inspects the building progress on behalf of the lender and then authorises the next draw down on your loan to pay to the builder. Then at the end of the construction process, you can choose the type of loan you’d like to use moving forward – this could be a fixed rate loan, a variable rate loan, or another type of loan, depending on your circumstances and objectives. (So do talk to us about your options before you decide.)

    Perhaps the biggest benefit of a construction loan is the way your builder is paid. Construction loans help to give you a level of protection, because cash is not paid to the builder until the work is completed and inspected at each stage. This can often help to prevent construction falling behind schedule, or potentially aid in early detection if there are any issues with the build or the quality of work.

    Some lenders charge a slightly higher interest rate for construction loans, so it pays to ask us to shop around amongst lenders. Talk to us and we’ll ensure you have the right kind of construction loan for your particular needs and are fully aware of exactly how much it will cost. If necessary, we may advise you to use another loan alternative, like setting up a line of credit facility, for example.

    Buying off-the-plan

    Buying off-the-plan is a term used to describe buying a home from a developer before it has been built. If you’re buying property off-the-plan, you’ll only have to pay the deposit up front. However, organising your finances may not be quite as straight forward as with purchasing an established home, as there is usually a considerable period of time between paying your deposit and final loan settlement. You will also need to get advice from a solicitor regarding the details in the contract for your off-the-plan home purchase, to make sure you and the developer are on the same page regarding what the price includes before you sign the contract.

    As your mortgage broker, we are here to explain the process of buying off-the-plan, help you line up your professional team, and help you find the most suitable loan for your needs and objectives. We can also help you arrange your deposit, whether it’s in the form of a bank guarantee, deposit bond or cash, and oversee the payment process for you. It’s also very important to organise conditional loan approval (finance in principle) with your chosen lender before construction of your off-the-plan property begins, so do give us a call before you sign on the dotted line.

    Talk with us about finance before you get started!

    There are many important things to consider when buying off-the-plan, or building your own home. For example, once the property is built, most lenders will require a valuation on the finished product before approving your final loan and proceeding to settlement. If a problem arises, such as the value of the completed home is less than you anticipated, construction is delayed, or the build costs more than you expected, having a finance professional on your team could make all the difference to the outcome.

    If you’re a first-time buyer, you may also be eligible for the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) when building your own home or buying off-the-plan. You may qualify for stamp duty concessions or exemptions in some circumstances, even if it’s not your first home. Speak to us and we’ll help you check what concessions you may be eligible to receive.

    It pays to get professional advice about your finances when building your own home, and planning ahead is the key to success. Construction loans can be complicated and the timing can be tight with off-the-plan mortgages, which is why it’s a good idea to call us for help. We’re here to give you support throughout the process and help you secure a suitable finance solution for your needs and goals, so if you’re ready to stop dreaming and make building your own home a reality, please call us today.Building a new home? How to finance it

  • Property Research Checklist

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    You know when you decide to go on holidays and you start researching all of the fun things you’re in store for?

    The excitement begins to consume you. You may find yourself sneakily looking up extreme adventure activities when you’re meant to be working, Googling accommodation options on your commute home or browsing Instagram travel photos at midnight. Well, buying property requires that same level of enthusiasm and commitment towards research – after all, it is an adventure you’ll never forget. And guess what – the eventual purchase will feel even better than the holiday. In this article, we’ve put together your essential property research checklist so you have the perfect home adventure!

    Research your borrowing power

    For this first point, you don’t actually have to do too much. All that’s required of you is to pick up the phone and chat with us! As your mortgage broker, we’ll determine your borrowing power and give you a clear understanding of how much you can realistically afford to spend. We’ll ask you about your income, expenses and get to know you financially, so we can give you an accurate indication of your borrowing power and ensure you’re looking in the right price range from the very start.

    Research the suburb

    Now that you’ve got an idea of how much you can borrow, it’s time to start researching where to buy. Whether you’re a homebuyer or an investor, the aim is to purchase in a suburb with solid capital growth potential, and to buy at the early stages of an upturn, not at the peak of a growth cycle.

    There are plenty of great online resources to access market reports on specific areas. These contain details about everything from median prices and growth rates to rental yields and demographic trends. RP Data CoreLogic, realestate.com.au, Residex and domain.com.au are just a few examples, and you can also ask us for a property report.

    It’s a good idea to consider the average rental yield of the area and of a particular property. The rental yield is the rental income expressed as a percentage of the property’s value. If there is strong demand in an area, the rental yields may be higher, but if there is a high vacancy rate, the rental yields may stagnate or decline.

    Research the property

    During inspections, you should go through the property with a fine-toothed comb. Inside the property, check the ceilings for water stains and the cornices for waviness, which may indicate water leaks in the roof. If the property is carpeted and you want to pull it up, find out whether there’s cement or floorboards underneath. As you stroll through the property, be mindful about the evenness of the floor. Before you buy, it’s always a good idea to get building and pest inspections. The peace of mind of knowing your property won’t collapse or be eaten up by termites is worth the fees.

    Outside, look at the condition of the gutters, check for cracks in the brickwork and for mildew in the eaves, which may indicate issues with run-off. Keep an eye out for cracks in the driveway, which may mean there’s a lot of ground movement on the property.

    Research the price

    The best way to research the price you may end up paying is to compare other recent sales prices for similar properties in the same location. You can find recent sales via websites like realestate.com.au. Make sure the land size is similar and the condition of the property is comparable. Regularly attending inspections will also help you to formulate a clearer picture of the going rate for similar properties. Lastly, it’s important to research additional ongoing costs such as the council rates, strata fees, and water costs. Most of these outgoings should be included in the contract of sale.

    Research the professionals you’ll need

    During the buying process, you’ll need professional support you can depend on, including us as your mortgage broker, a solicitor, and building and pest inspectors. When researching who to use, it’s a good idea to ask friends and family for recommendations. Also, check each service provider’s online reviews. And if you do need a referral to a professional we can vouch for, please don’t hesitate to ask!

    We can’t stress enough the importance of doing plenty of research before buying property, but we guarantee the effort will be well worth it in the long-run. You may even find it becomes as addictive as planning a holiday! And remember, we are here to help you with everything from calculating your borrowing capacity, to organising pre-approval and finding you a home loan that works. Please get in touch.Property Research Checklist

  • Welcome to our June Newsletter

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    What a whirlwind month it’s been in the property world! The Federal Budget provided some exciting new opportunities for first-home buyers and downsizers.

    Housing market conditions cooled slightly last month, while auction activity remained strong in Melbourne and Sydney, but quieter elsewhere. The good news is that there may be some fantastic bargains around the corner for buyers if dwelling values continue to drop!

    Interest Rate News

    This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent. Interest rates have been edging higher in recent months, particularly for investors, but there are still some very competitive deals available! The introduction of the new bank levy from July 1 could cause interest rates to rise further, so speak to us and we’ll explain your interest rate options and whether it might be a good idea to lock in a fixed rate.

    Federal Budget News

    Last month’s Federal Budget introduced new measures to make it easier for first-home buyers to save a deposit, by allowing them to salary-sacrifice up to $30,000 into super and benefit from a reduced tax rate of 15 per cent. If you are a first-home buyer, talk to us about other changes that could affect you, such as NSW’s recent changes to stamp duty.

    The government is tightening some of the rules relating to negative gearing claims. From July 1, all travel deductions to inspect, maintain or collect rent for an investment property will be disallowed. Plant and equipment depreciation deductions will be limited to outlays actually incurred by investors. The government introduced measures to increase housing supply, such as releasing Commonwealth land for housing development. New financial incentives were also announced to encourage over 65s to downsize, with the government making it easier for them to contribute up to $300,000 from the sale of their family home into super. If you’d like to know more about property-related announcements in the Federal Budget, please give us a call!

    Property Market News

    Dwelling values fell by -1.1% across the combined capital cities in May. The biggest drops were in Hobart (-4.8%) and Darwin (-3.5%), while Melbourne and Sydney also saw prices fall by -1.7% and -1.3% respectively. Perth’s housing values fell by -0.4% and Canberra’s dropped -0.1%. In contrast, Brisbane’s prices increased by 0.3%, while Adelaide’s rose by 0.8%. While there has been speculation we could be starting to see a property market correction, it’s important to note that May is seasonally weaker than other months – values have fallen during May in four of the past five years.

    Auction activity remains strong in Sydney and Melbourne, but softer elsewhere. For the week ending June 4, there were 1145 scheduled auctions in New South Wales (76% clearance rate), while Victoria cleared 75% of the stock at the 1269 auctions. The ACT had 78 scheduled auctions and cleared 72% of the stock, while in South Australia there were 114 scheduled auctions (61% clearance rate). Things were quieter in Western Australia (34 scheduled auctions with a clearance rate of 47%), Queensland (43% clearance rate on 306 scheduled auctions) and the Northern Territory (33% clearance rate on 8 auctions). In Tassie, none of the 4 scheduled auctions resulted in a sale.

    With so many changes happening in the property market, it’s important to seek expert advice about your home loan. We are on top of all the latest developments and can find the right home loan to suit your current and future financial needs. Please call us today!Welcome to our June Newsletter

  • 3 Top Tips for Buying Your First Home

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    You’ve budgeted hard, given up loads of smashed avocado brekkies, saved your deposit and are ready to buy your first home. High five!

    There’s nothing quite like finally getting a foothold on the property ladder and moving into your very own pad, but it does require planning and research. With our help, you’ll soon be doing a victory dance and posting that exciting Facebook post of you in front of a shiny ‘SOLD’ sign. Here are our quick tips for buying your first home.

    1) Talk to us about how much you can borrow

    Your home ownership journey begins with a chat with your mortgage broker! There’s no point wasting your life inspecting properties that are outside your price range. We’ll help you determine your borrowing capacity, set your buying budget and explain about applying for the First Home Owner Grant and making the most of any other exemptions and savings you may be able to obtain to help you get started.

    The amount you can borrow will depend on the size of your deposit, your savings history, income, expenses and credit history. It’s a good idea to save 20 per cent of the purchase price, plus the other costs associated with buying property like stamp duty, legal fees and building and pest inspections.

    You may still be able to buy now even if you don’t have a 20% deposit, so talk to us about your plans. If you don’t have a 20% deposit, you may still be able to get a home loan, but you will have to pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI) which protects the lender against any shortfall if you default on your loan and it has to be sold to repay your debt. Sometimes it’s worth paying LMI if it means you can get on the property ladder sooner, so talk to us and we’ll help you decide if its best to buy now or wait until you’ve saved more.

    2) Get on the property ladder sooner rather than later

    In most cases, it’s a good thing is to jump aboard the real estate train pronto! The sooner you stop wasting money on rent and start making capital gains on your property, the better. But getting into the market sooner rather than later might mean compromising. You might not be able to afford your dream home immediately, but the property you buy may be a stepping stone to greater things. If your desired location is too costly, you may have to consider buying in another suburb, purchasing an apartment or a more modest home, or finding a “renovator’s dream”. Remember, from little things big things grow and you can always trade up in future.

    3) Learn how to research the right property to buy

    Once you know your price range, you can use it to find prospective properties to inspect and identify areas that you can afford. Location is key, but you also have to factor in affordability. Research the areas and properties you are interested in very thoroughly. Consider the capital growth potential, rental yields and proximity to schools, transport and other amenities – this can be confusing, so if you need help just ask us.

    When you find a home you like, research it by arranging building and pest inspections to ensure the property is structurally sound and free of unwanted guests. If the property is going to auction, you will need to do this beforehand.

    Buying your first home is exciting, but it’s important to seek professional advice. As your mortgage and finance specialist, our services are free and we’re happy to help you in any way we can, even if you’re not quite ready to buy right now. We’ll help you with your budget and deposit saving plan, guide you through the buying process, ensure your financial goals are taken into consideration, and provide ongoing support in the future. Save yourself time, money and stress by getting in touch with us today!3 Top Tips for Buying Your First Home

  • How to get a bargain when buying a new car

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    Have you been driving the same old bomb for donkey’s years? Then perhaps it’s time to improve your image with a new set of wheels!

    If you’re worried about the cost of a new car, fear not! With the right kind of finance through mortgage brokers like us, and the right kind of knowledge about how to negotiate a great deal at the end of financial year car sales, you’ll be cruising in style in no time! Here are our 6 steps and tips for making the most of the End of Financial Year (EOFY) car sales.

    6 Steps to buying a new car

    Pre-arrange your finance

    Before you begin shopping for a new car, it’s a good idea to talk to us about how you’ll pay for it. We can provide plenty of finance options besides standard car loans that could help you save money on interest and make your car more affordable. These may include a lease, a personal loan, or accessing the equity in your home. If you’re self-employed, we may be able to work with you and your accountant to find a way to save at tax time on your car purchase. And if the car is for commercial purposes, you may be able to claim a deduction up to the full price of the vehicle (up to $20,000, including GST) before June 30. So please talk to us about your options!

    Pre-arranging finance will also help protect you from the hard-sell of dealership salespeople and to give you more negotiating power. Be wary of 0% finance deals, as the repayment terms are often too short for people to afford, and you may end up being shuffled into alternative finance with higher interest rates. Don’t be taken for a ride!

    Do your research

    Knowing the recommended retail price before you enter the car yard puts you in a better position to negotiate. Price the car online and be sure to approach at least three different dealerships to get a quote. It may work to your advantage to use the best quote to see if you can negotiate a better price from the next dealer you speak with. Researching the car you’re buying thoroughly will also allow you to negotiate with knowledge of the product and perhaps get some additional extras.

    Test-drive prospective new cars

    Now comes the fun part – test driving your potential new baby. Like speed-dating, you only have a limited amount of time to get to know one another, so make it count. Take the cars out for a spin in a variety of different traffic conditions, and preferably on different terrains.

    Consider trading-in your old car

    If you don’t need to keep your old car, you may be able to get a further discount by trading it in on the new one. But sometimes you can get a better price for your old car if you sell it privately, so go online to do some research about what its worth before you decide to accept an offer from a dealership.

    It’s ok to haggle

    Car dealers expect people to drive a hard bargain, so don’t be embarrassed about a bit of negotiating. If you’re buying during the EOFY car sales, dealers often discount aggressively to clear stock and the increased competition to secure your business means you’re more likely to walk away with a better bargain if you haggle. Buying at the end of the day may also work in your favour, as dealers may be eager to lock in a final sale before home time.

    Hit the road, Jack!

    Once you’ve signed all the paperwork, don’t forget to make sure your insurance is in place before you drive out of the dealership. We can help with this too. We hope these tips come in handy when buying your new car. Remember, we can find you car finance with terms that suit your needs and budget. We’ll organise pre-approval, giving you leverage during the negotiation process, and explain your options. Happy car hunting!How to get a bargain when buying a new car

  • Why invest in commercial property?

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    Whether you’re a seasoned investor looking for a new opportunity, or you’re after other ways to get your foot on the property ladder, a commercial property investment may be worth considering.

    In this article, we explore the reasons why people venture into commercial property investing, and some of the areas to be aware of. And if you do decide to go down the commercial route, we can hook you up with an investment loan that suits your situation and objectives!

    What is commercial property?

    “Commercial property” tends to conjure up images of dusty industrial warehouses, but it’s a general term that covers all kinds of property that isn’t residential, or is used for some kind of business purpose. That includes everything from offices and retail outlets, to industrial sites and doctor’s surgeries. It can even include car parks!

    The benefits of investing in commercial property

    Attractive yields

    If your focus is on generating income from rents, investing in commercial property may be the way to go. Commercial properties typically return a much higher rental yield than residential properties – usually upwards of 7% return. In comparison, the average residential rental yield across Australia’s capital cities fell to 3.2% in February 2017. (Rental yield percentages are calculated on the amount of rent compared to the cost of the property).

    Additionally, the costs of owning and managing a commercial property are usually lower, because most of these costs are covered by the tenant.

    Potential to target growth areas

    Commercial property investment often provides the opportunity to capitalise on growth areas, both in terms of location and the business economy. For example, a recent report by Deloitte identified that our future business economy is likely to expand rapidly in the areas of communications technology, hospitals and a wide variety of other health industries, food processing, private schooling and education. Hospitality and tourism are other areas that traditionally enjoy steady growth.

    What to watch when investing in commercial property

    Potentially lower rates of capital growth

    While commercial property often provides more attractive rental yields than residential property, the capital growth potential is often not as strong because the land value of commercial premises is usually not as high. This is not always the case, so if you do your research carefully, you may be able to locate a commercial property investment in a growth location. Often it’s the popular shopping and holiday destinations that provide good capital growth potential for commercial property purchases, but these locations can be expensive and difficult to secure, so do your homework.

    Associated costs

    Goods and services tax (GST) applies when you buy a commercial property, so you need to factor in an extra 10% of the purchase price when you buy. Often investors have to pay more stamp duty for commercial properties than residential properties, too. Properties used in the running of a business are also subject to capital gains tax when you sell.

    Additionally, some lenders require a higher deposit for a commercial property investment – 30% instead of the usual 20% recommended for a residential property purchase. But this requirement differs from lender to lender and often depends on the value of the property you want to purchase. To find out more about how much deposit you may require, call us for a chat and we’ll be happy to help you crunch the numbers.

    How we can help

    If you decide to invest in commercial property, it’s important to have professional advice from your mortgage and finance broker and check with your accountant about the tax implications before you begin. We’re here to help you structure your loan the right way and do all the legwork to help you obtain finance to suit your current financial circumstances and future goals. There’s so much more to know and understand if you’re interested in buying a commercial property, so please get in touch today!Why invest in commercial property?

  • What does the 2017 budget mean to you?

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    After weeks of media speculation, on Tuesday, May 9 the Federal Budget was released. To help you navigate the changes, we have pulled together key insights. To review the full budget release visit: 2017 Federal Budget

    Childcare & Education

    • A $37.3 billion increase in spending for childcare over four years, has been outlaid in this years budget. This will provide more affordable childcare, including after school care, for around one million families.
    • Working parents earning $185, 710 or less will not face an annual cap under the Child Care Subsidy. A $10,000 cap will apply for families earning more than this.
    • Education: University fees will rise by 1.8 per cent next year, and 7.5 per cent by 2022, increasing the share of fees paid by students from the current level of 40 percent to 41.8% – which could be up to $3,600 for a four-year university degree. HELP: The income threshold for repayments to higher education loans (HELP) has been lowered to $42,000, meaning students will have to start repaying loans sooner.
    • $428 million in funding has been announced for ‘Universal Access’ to support all Australian children to gain access to 15 hours per week of preschool programs, regardless of the setting (this may include day-care facilities) under the National Partnership Agreement.
    • An additional $18.6 billion has been allocated to schools over the next ten years under a new needs-based model. 20% of government schools, and 80% of non-government schools will share an increase in funding. On average per-student funding will be increased by 4.1%.

    Housing affordability

    • A proposed $375.3 million in funding for the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) will help to provide more affordable housing for the most vulnerable. This funding, which will be matched by State and Territory Governments, will support homelessness support services.
    • First time buyers will be able to make voluntary contributions to their superannuation up to $30, 000 to pay for a deposit on a first house or apartment. Similar to a salary-sacrificing program, this will assist with First home owners gaining access to the housing market faster.
    • A tax benefit for retirees who are downsizing their homes will allow them to transfer up to $300,000 (per person) into a superannuation fund. This is aimed to encourage retirees who are currently living in larger homes to free up housing stock for young families who are entering the property market.
    • SUPPLY: Aimed to address the low housing supply in Australia, the government will divest 127 hectares of surplus Defence land less than 10 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD. This land is large enough to develop up to 6,000 new homes.

    Job seekers

    • The new Skilling Australians Fund will support up to 300,000 apprenticeships, traineeships and higher level skilled Australians.

    Healthcare

    • The Budget is investing $2.8 billion for public hospitals.
    • An increase in the Medicare Levy to 2.5% (up from 2%) in 2019 will guarantee the funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
    • The budget has funded $65.9 million for the Medical Research Future Fund to support health research. In addition, $5.8 million will support childhood cancer research.
    • $115 million has been directed to mental health, including research, rural support, psychological services and suicide prevention.
    • Freeze on Medicare rebates for bulk-billed consultations has been removed. $1.2 billion will go to funding new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making them more affordable for consumers.

    Transport & infrastructure

    • $1.6 billion of Federal funds towards a $2.3 billion infrastructure package for WA including the top three by proposed dollar investment;
    1. Kwinana Freeway – Armadale & North Lake Roads
    2. Leach Highway – upgrade to High Street
    3. Access to Fiona Stanley Hospital
    • $8.4 billion funding has been announced for an inland rail freight project linking Melbourne and Brisbane offering transit time of less than 24 hours, which will save an estimated 10 hours on the existing route.
    • The Budget includes funding for a second airport in Sydney at Badgerys Creek, which will cost approx $5.3 billion and will likely open in 2026. Further investment of $3.6 billion for infrastructure in Western Sydney to support population growth in the region by a further $1 million by 2030.

  • Welcome to our May Newsletter

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    It’s been an interesting month for the housing market, with most capital cities experiencing softer growth in April than in the first three months of 2017.

    Hobart is leading the way as the strongest housing market, with home values increasing 5.1% over the past three months. In Melbourne and Sydney home value growth slowed in April, but the upside is that this may bring some relief on the horizon for first home buyers!

    The Federal Budget was released on Tuesday this week, introducing changes which may affect property prices and buying conditions. Of late, the news has also been dominated by discussions that may impact property buyers and owners – such as the housing affordability debate, negative gearing, capital gains tax discounts, interest-only lending, borrowing through Self-Managed Super Funds and proposed changes to first-home-buyer grants and stamp duty. Please call us if you have any concerns or questions about how any of these points they may affect you, we’re here to help!

    Interest Rate News

    This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent. Meanwhile, some lenders have raised their interest rates marginally on both owner-occupier and investment loans outside of RBA movements in recent months.

    The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has introduced new caps on lending for interest-only home loans, which may make them more difficult to obtain for some property investors. But there are still plenty of lenders prepared to give interest-only loans to solid borrowers.

    Property Market News

    Auction activity has picked up, following the Easter lull. The last week of April saw high clearance rates of 79% in Victoria, with 1335 scheduled auctions, and 75% in New South Wales from 1007 scheduled auctions. The Northern Territory had a 100% clearance rate, but there were only four scheduled auctions. The ACT had a clearance rate of 68% for 62 scheduled auctions, while Tasmania’s clearance rate was 67% for 10 scheduled auctions. The clearance rates were lower for South Australia (65%), Western Australia (50%) and Queensland (45%).

    Home values only increased by 0.1% across the combined capital cities in April – the lowest month-on-month rise since December, 2015. Home value growth cooled in both Sydney (0% growth in home values for the month) and Melbourne (0.5% growth over the month). In contrast, Hobart’s home values grew 1%, while Adelaide’s increased 0.8% and Brisbane’s rose by 0.6%. Darwin’s property values rose by 0.5% in April, while Perth’s and Canberra’s fell 1% and 2.8% respectively.

    If you’re considering refinancing, purchasing your first home, your next home, an investment property, commercial property, or even a car at the end-of-financial-year sales, we can organise the right finance for your individual needs and financial goals. Set yourself up for a bright financial future by speaking to us about your options today!

    Welcome to our May Newsletter

  • Property Investment Jargon Explained

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    If you’re new to property investment, understanding all of the jargon involved can be tricky.

    As your mortgage broker, our mission is to help simplify and support you through the process of investing in property, which is why we’ve put together this handy list explaining the key lingo you’re likely to encounter. Right, students, pens at the ready, it’s time for some learning!

    Bank valuation
    A bank valuation is the bank’s estimate of the value of a property. When you apply for a home loan, your lender will send an independent valuer to appraise the property. The bank valuation is usually more conservative than the market value, because it’s designed to limit the lender’s risk and indicates the amount they can expect to recoup if the property is repossessed. It’s important to note that a bank will not accept your valuation of the property, even if you obtain your valuation from an independent valuer.

    Capital gain
    Capital gain is the term used to describe the profit on the sale of the property, once all expenses have been deducted. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is applicable to capital gains on investment properties purchased on or after September 20, 1985, but does not apply to your principal place of residence in most instances.

    The tax you pay is based on the sale price minus the cost involved in acquiring and holding the property (your cost base), and any gain is included in your assessable income in the financial year you sell the property. There may be several exemptions for paying capital gains tax (CGT). For example under the ‘Temporary Absence Rule’ – if you move out of your home and rent it out, the property may still be treated as your principal residence for up to six years and you are exempt from CGT. However, the exemption rules may vary from state to state, so it is wise to speak to your accountant about CGT and ask them to explain any exemptions that may be applicable to you.

    Capital growth
    Capital growth is the increase in value of the property over time. The supply and demand in an area impacts the capital growth. If there is high demand from buyers and limited supply, the prices are likely to rise.

    Current market value
    Not to be confused with the listing price, nor the most recent offer on a property, the current market value, as defined by The International Valuation Standards Council, is: “The estimated amount for which an asset or liability should exchange on the valuation date between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s length transaction, after proper marketing and where the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently and without compulsion.”

    Depreciation
    Depreciation is the decline in the value of an asset over time. As an investor, you may be able to claim depreciation on the property buildings and the items within it against your taxable income, but again you should check with your accountant to see what tax deductions are applicable to you. In order to claim depreciation, you will need to employ a qualified Quantity Surveyor to prepare you a depreciation schedule. The tax office will not accept a depreciation schedule that you prepare yourself.

    Equity
    Equity is the current market value of a property minus any outstanding mortgage repayments. Investors can use the equity from the increasing value of an investment property to purchase a new property – if you are interested in doing this, talk to us about refinancing your current loan.

    Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)
    This is a fee charged by lenders to protect themselves against borrowers who default, in case the net proceeds of a foreclosure do not cover the loan. LMI may be applicable to borrowers who do not have a deposit of 20% or more.

    Loan-to-value ratio (LVR)
    The LVR is the proportion of money borrowed versus the value of a property. Lenders take into account the LVR when assessing mortgage applications, as the lower the LVR, the lower their risk. Usually lenders will require you to pay LMI if they’re lending more than 80% of the value of the property.

    Negative gearing
    Negative gearing applies when the property’s expenses surpass the rent earned. These expenses can be used to reduce your taxable income. Positive gearing is when the rent exceeds the costs and the property pays for itself.

    Rental yield
    The rental yield is the annual rental income, expressed as a percentage of the property’s value. It’s often quoted when examining a property’s rental potential, and may be calculated as a gross percentage (before expenses are subtracted), or as a net percentage (accounting for purchasing or transaction costs). The rental yield can help investors determine the potential income and cash flow involved in purchasing a property.

    Suburb growth
    Suburb growth refers to the capital growth of properties within a particular suburb. As an investor, it a good idea to thoroughly research a suburb’s profile, including its capital growth potential, before purchasing a property.

    Vacancy rate
    The vacancy rate is the amount of properties vacant in an area. It is a useful way for investors to assess the rental demand of a suburb before purchasing. Investors usually prefer a suburb with a low vacancy rate, because it indicates a likelihood of being able to find tenants quickly and easily.

    Zoning
    Zoning refers to government laws specifying how property can be used. Properties may be zoned for residential, industrial, business, or other purposes. It’s important to be aware of zoning, as it affects the home loan you take out, capital growth potential, plus future renovation plans.

    Investing in property is exciting, but it can also be confusing with so much new terminology to digest. We can help you make smart investment decisions and alleviate the stress by helping you decide the right structure for your property investment loan and by guiding you through the loan application and settlement processProperty Investment Jargon Explained

  • 7 easy steps to buying a home if you’re self-employed

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    There’s nothing quite like the sweet satisfaction that comes from holding a shiny new set of keys to your very own home.

    If you’re a self-employed borrower, you’ve no doubt worked hard to get where you are and you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Here are our best tips for buying a home when you’re self-employed – but be warned, you may feel tempted to break out a spontaneous “happy dance” when you secure your new digs. It’s that exciting!

    1) Save the nest egg

    If you’re considering buying property in the not-so-distant future, it’s a good idea to start saving and planning the purchase well in advance. Lenders like to see a solid savings history over several months when assessing home loan applications.

    While you may be able to borrow up to 95% of the property’s value by using your personal and business tax returns from the last two years to verify your income, you will be subject to Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) if you have less than 20% for your deposit. LMI protects lenders if you default on your home loan and it can be costly, so it’s a good idea to aim to save a deposit of 20% or more.

    2) Be fastidious about financials

    As a self-employed borrower, one of the best ways to maximise your chances of approval is to make sure your financial records are up-to-date and accurate. Lenders are typically more careful about granting home loans to self-employed borrowers, as your income streams fluctuate more than PAYG applicants and it’s more difficult for lenders to gauge whether you can meet repayments into the future. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) also requires lenders and mortgage brokers to ensure you are able to repay your loan without suffering financial hardship.

    Lenders like to see consistency of income, and if your financial record-keeping is top-notch, it will be easier to illustrate your earnings and ultimately have your loan application approved. If you’re self-employed and thinking about buying a home, it’s a good idea to have your last two years’ financial statements, income tax returns and notices of assessment ready to go.

    3) Get your accountant on the job

    One challenge self-employed borrowers may face is not being able to prove they can service a loan because their accountant has been clever about reducing their taxable income. While you may save money on your tax bill, reducing your taxable income can also affect your ability to apply for credit and invest in property. It’s important to talk to a qualified accountant about your home buying aspirations and the tax implications. We have some great contacts, so let us know if you need a referral.

    Often there are business expenses that can be added back to your taxable income to work out your borrowing capacity. These “add-backs” include larger stand-alone costs, non-cash expenses like depreciation, additional super contributions, and interest on loans being refinanced. Talk to us about whether “add-backs” could improve your chances of being approved.

    4) Provide the necessary documentation

    If you’ve been self-employed for more than two years, you can verify your income by providing two years of personal tax returns and the correlating ATO notices of assessment, two years of tax returns for all entities (company, trust, Self-Managed Super Fund), and two years of profit and loss statements (if applicable).

    If you’ve been self-employed for less than two years, the income requirements on Alternative Documentation loans include: six months of Business Activity Statements, six months of business account statements, six months of personal bank account statements, confirmation of ABN and confirmation of GST registration. You will also need a letter from your accountant confirming your full legal name, trading name, how long the accountant has serviced you, gross taxable income for the past three years and any relevant deductions.

    5) Talk to us about pre-approval

    Organising pre-approval before you begin looking for a property will make the process a whole lot easier, as it will give you a realistic idea of how much you can afford to borrow, so that you can put a budget on your search and find the home you want sooner. We can help you establish your borrowing power and determine your eligibility for finance. We’ll explain the merits of each lender and which loans could work for you.

    As part of the pre-approval process, we will approach your lender of choice, who will check your credit history and verify your income. Pre-approval gives you an assurance from the lender that you can take out a loan up to a certain amount – handy ammunition when trying to convince real estate agents and vendors you’re serious about buying.

    6) Find your property

    Once you’ve organised pre-approval, it’s time to find the right property. Remember, this is one of the biggest decisions of your life, so it pays to do plenty of research before choosing ‘the one’. Make sure you get a building inspection done to check for issues such as structural movement or plumbing problems, as well as pest inspections for termites and other unwanted guests. A solicitor or conveyancer will be able to take care of the legalities involved in buying the property.

    7) Apply for your home loan

    As your mortgage broker, we will find the right home loan to suit your financial situation and future objectives. As a self-employed borrower, we can help you find ways to make your cash flow work harder. If you are a contractor or sub-contractor, you may be considered ‘an employee’ rather than self-employed by some lenders, so it’s worth asking us to check.

    If you’re self-employed and looking to buy a home, it’s a good idea to consult a mortgage broker like us to discuss your options. Lenders’ policies vary widely when it comes to self-employed applicants, but we know which ones will view your application most favourably. We’ll explain your buying capacity, provide advice about which application method would work best (given your income and documentation), and help maximise your chances of approval. Best of all, you’ll feel confident in the knowledge your home loan is structured correctly from day one, so that it works for you.

    PS. We won’t judge you if the “happy dance” happens in our office. We may even capture it on video and post it on our Facebook page!

    7 easy steps to buying a home if you’re self-employed

  • How to sell your home above market value

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    When you decide to sell your home or investment property, it’s natural to want it to fetch the highest sale price possible, but it’s also important to be realistic when setting your price or you risk scaring the buyers away.

    Here are some pointers to help improve your chances of selling above market value, whilst not overpricing your property. And remember, when you do decide to move on and buy your next property, we can help you find the right home loan to meet your current and future financial needs.

    1) Find a reputable real estate agent

    Selecting the right real estate agent is an important part of achieving a desirable sale price, as they provide the necessary advice throughout the sales process to help you reach your goals. You’ll also need someone you can count on to attract the right buyers and secure a sale price that’s on the higher end of the spectrum.

    The easiest way to narrow down your search for the right real estate agent is to pose as a buyer yourself. Put the agent’s knowledge and people skills to the test, and research how they are performing in the local area. Their knowledge of the local property market is key. To get the maximum price, they need to have a very sharp understanding of where the local home values are headed and have the skills to persuade prospective buyers that your property is still a bargain, even though you are asking maximum price. The right candidate should be a good communicator, efficient and adaptable.

    2) Clean, de-clutter and repair

    Prior to selling, it’s imperative to go through your property with a fine-tooth comb. Clean meticulously, de-clutter ruthlessly and repair anything that needs fixing. Buyers will be more likely to pay your price if they know it will be years before they have to spend any more money on maintenance. This is particularly true of property investors – who also don’t want the hassle. Ensuring the property is looking its absolute best will make the next step easier.

    3) Style to sell

    The goal is to make the buyer fall in love and for your property to be so irresistible, they simply have to accept the price tag. The more attractive a home looks, the more likely a buyer will pay top dollar for it. The key is to showcase your property’s strong points and to make it ‘pop’ in the eyes of prospective buyers.

    When it comes to décor, tastes vary widely, so it’s a good idea to stick to neutral or popular choices. Knowing your buyer profile will help you style the property appropriately, but if in doubt, hire a professional stylist. Subtle touches can help drive up the final price.

    4) Invest in marketing

    Your marketing efforts can make all the difference to your sale price. The more people interested in the property, the higher the competition and the more likely the property will sell above market value.

    The quality of the photography is essential to getting a higher price. If you use a professional stylist to set up the property, they often have their own professional photographer. If your real estate agent is taking care of the photos, check the quality of the photography they’ve used with past clients. If they take unacceptable photos of your property, then insist on doing another photoshoot with a better photographer, until you reach a better result. Lastly, use enticing copy to hook buyers and advertise through several avenues to increase your property’s exposure. A good real estate agent will help you with all this!

    5) Choose your timing wisely

    Timing is everything and choosing when to sell, based on the property market in general, the wider economy, and even the season, is important. It’s all about supply and demand, and if you want to sell your home above market value, you need to wait until the supply is low but the demand is high locally for properties similar to yours. Keep an eye out for your competitors and avoid putting your house on the market at the same time as others in your suburb offering the same features. Your home will get a greater price if it seen as a rare commodity.

    Along with timing, deciding whether to do a private sale or an auction can impact what price you fetch. Your real estate agent will be able to provide insights about which sales technique would suit your property and location best, and recommend a starting price that will lure the right buyers.

    In order to sell your home or investment property above market value, your property must be beautifully presented and effectively marketed. When you are ready to move on from your current home, we can help you find the right home loan product for your next property. As your mortgage and finance broker, we will guide you through the transition period, and locate a home loan that’s right up your street. Happy selling and good luck!How to sell your home above market value

  • What you need to consider when buying your second property

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    If you have already purchased your first home, congratulations! The next step in building wealth for your future could be to plan for the purchase of a second property as an investment.

    Owning two properties is a great financial ambition and with Australian house prices on the rise, doing so has great potential to improve your financial situation in the long term. But please don’t be fooled – just because you have done it once before doesn’t mean it will be easy! Buying a second property also requires hard work, discipline and effort. Here are some financial pointers to help with the process of buying your second property.

      1. Property purchase purpose
        The first thing you need to understand is why you want to buy a second property. Are you planning to rent out your original property and buy something else to move into? Are you buying a ‘renovators dream’ to knock down and develop? Are you buying because you want a beach house and you will spend half your time in each location?

        Really understanding why you want a second property before you set out will help to inform all your other decisions in the property purchasing process. For example, if you are buying as an investment property, decisions around location, capital gain potential and rental yield will influence you in a different way than when you are buying something for yourself to live in.

      2. Your cash flow and budget
        There are no two ways around it – having a second mortgage is going to have a significant impact on your monthly cash flow! Ask yourself: can you easily service both mortgages? Do you have a stable income?

        Better still, keep a budget so you know what you can reasonably handle so you won’t over-extend yourself. The key here, and this is what a lender will look for, is your ability to earn enough to service both your first and second mortgage effectively, on top of the cost of living.

        It is important to fully assess and understand your borrowing capacity. (We can help you with this – just give us a call). As with any other home loan application, your second mortgage will be assessed on your income versus expenses. Lenders will look at your overall position of asset and liabilities, which means if you have any existing debts such another mortgage (which you do have), personal loans or credit cards, your borrowing capacity is going to be less, compared to if you were debt-free.

        When considering your cash flow and budget, it is also well worth including a ‘safety buffer’ contingency plan. This could be three to six months’ worth of repayments and living expenses, or similar, depending on your savings ability. It is important to have a safety buffer if you are hoping to use your owner-occupied property as security to fund the deposit for the second home.

      3. Will you be renting out one of your two properties?
        If the answer is yes, and for most of you we imagine that you are buying a second property for investment purposes, it’s essential to get a rental estimate for your second property before you make your purchase.

        If you are just in the research stage, having a rough estimate of rental income will help with setting your budget and understanding your cash flow (see point 2), but if you have chosen ‘the’ property to buy, most lenders will require a rental estimate letter from the real estate agent currently handling the property at the application stage.

        Lenders will factor in any possible rental income (if applicable) when determining your borrowing capacity, ensuring it is set at a safe limit – reducing your risk and theirs!

        When choosing a property for rental income, it’s important that the property is well located and will be easily tenanted so that it continues to generate income and support itself.

      4. Loan type & loan structure
        Interest rates have been very low for some time, which makes it a great time to consider buying a second property. And right now there are literally thousands of home loan options out there for you to consider. However, there are many variables to take into account when financing your second property purchase – so it’s a good idea to give us a call. Finding the right home loan product for your financing needs depends entirely on your current financial position and your short and long term goals. This is why the right advice is imperative when taking on a higher amount of debt across two different properties. It is best to speak to us about these options and the best way to structure your finances, before you even choose a property to buy, so you don’t get stung later on in the process. A few scenarios we could discuss include:

        Using your existing equity
        If you’ve lived in your first home for some time, there’s a good chance you have grown your equity. Equity is the difference between what your home is worth and how much you owe on it. For example, if your home is worth $550,000 and you owe $200,000 then you have $350,000 in equity.

        Tapping into this equity could give you a larger deposit for your second property purchase, which could be beneficial for your borrowing capacity and your overall budget. If you’re looking to do this, you will need to have your home revalued. In order to determine how much equity you have in your home, a lender will perform a valuation using an independent valuer before determining how much you can borrow and approving your loan.

    Refinancing or staying with your current mortgage lender
    Buying a second property offers the perfect opportunity to give your existing mortgage a health check. Use the opportunity to consider your home loan needs in relation to your future goals and ask yourself how well your current loan is performing for you. If you’re satisfied with the service your lender is providing and you have determined that the interest rate and fees you’re paying are competitive, there may be no need to refinance to another lender. However, there are some record low rates on offer at the moment and if you have had your mortgage for some time, it would be worth talking to us about what other home loan products are suitable for you and your goals.

    Buying your second property is by no means a small task. We are here to help you with your financial goals, so please chat to us about how we can structure your loan so your second property purchase can really set you up for the future.What you need to consider when buying your second property

  • The First Home Owner Grant explained

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    mortgage broker fremantle

    You’re almost there! You’ve spent years budgeting to buy your own home and now you just need that final cash injection to break into the property market.

    Pop quiz time, hands on your buzzers, first-timers. Do you: 1) Continue living off two-minute noodles for another five years and hoard your pennies? 2) Cash-in your grandpa’s beloved stamp collection? Or 3) Ask your mortgage and finance broker about this mystery thing they call the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG)? That’s right, Option 3 is the winning answer and the good news we have for you is that the First Home Owner Grant has recently increased in many states of Australia!

    What is the first home owner grant (FHOG)?

    The FHOG is a national initiative designed to help young go-getters like yourself to swing a leg onto the property ladder. You can use the one-off grant as part of your deposit, or put it towards other purchasing costs. There are some major provisos: it must be used to buy or construct a brand new home that has not been previously occupied or sold, and it must be used as your place of residence. In some instances, substantially renovated properties that have undergone major structural changes may qualify.

    Who is eligible?

    Naturally, the Australian Government isn’t going to give away money to everyone who asks for it. The eligibility conditions for the FHOG are quite strict.

    To be eligible for the FHOG, you or your spouse must:

    • Intend to live in the home as your principal place of residence (PPR) for six to 12 continuous months, depending on the state or territory, within 12 months of settlement or completion of construction.
    • Be aged 18 or over.
    • Be an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident.

    You don’t qualify if you or your spouse have previously:

    • Received a FHOG in Australia already.
    • Owned a home in Australia, either jointly or separately, prior to July 1, 2000.
    • Occupied, for a continuous period of at least six months, a home in which either of you acquired a relevant interest on or after July 1, 2000, in Australia.
    • Depending on the state or territory in which you purchase your home, other conditions may apply. So please talk to us if you’re unsure if you’re eligible for the FHOG.

    Could there be more good news?

    Yes! The FHOG is currently under review, so it’s worth visiting your state’s office of revenue website from time to time to see what’s on offer. You may even want to consider moving interstate. How much you can get or save as a first home buyer, often depends on where you want to live.

    It’s definitely worth checking out, because you may find you’re eligible for other big savings, like on stamp duty fees in some states. For example, from July 1, the Victorian Government is going to be scrapping stamp duty for first homebuyers for properties up to $600,000, with further discounts for new or existing homes between $600,000 and $750,000. Stamp duty is usually one of the biggest expenses if you’re buying a home, so this may make all the difference to your ability to climb onto the property ladder sooner rather than later.

    What’s available around the nation?

    The winner of the “most generous” award goes to the Northern Territory. Those wonderful peeps who call the Red Centre home are offering $26,000 to eligible first-home buyers, regardless of the value of the property. In Queensland, first home buyers can receive $20,000 until June 30 (then its $15,000) for properties valued up to $750,000. If you can live with the weather, Tasmania may be the place to buy, with no value cap and a $20,000 FHOG until June 30, when it reverts to $10,000.

    In South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA), the FHOG is $15,000. In SA, the value cap is $575,000, while in WA, it depends on geographic location (for Perth, its $750,000). Victoria and NSW offer a $10,000 FHOG for new homes valued up to $750,000, but from July 1 the FHOG will double to $20,000 for new homes built in regional Victoria. Lastly, the ACT offer $7,000 for properties up to $750,000. (Data current March 2017).

    We’re here for you.

    Talking to a mortgage broker about purchasing your first home is always a great idea. We’re happy to give you the benefit of our knowledge, even if you’re not quite ready to buy. You can ask us to help you create a budget, establish a plan to clear off your credit card and other debts, and save a deposit. When you’re ready, we are here to help you secure a loan and choose a home that you can realistically afford, given your income and personal financial circumstances. Get an expert on your team by calling us today!

  • Why it pays to refinance an unhealthy home loan

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    mortgage broker rockingham

    Today’s mortgage market is extremely competitive. With so many new deals and loan features constantly becoming available, it makes sense financially to regularly give your home loan a health check. That way, you’ll be confident your mortgage is satisfying your needs and living up to expectations.

    If you do suspect your home loan is in bad shape, don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ll perform a home loan check-up for you and find you a healthy alternative if necessary. Here’s why refinancing every 2 to 4 years may be just what the doctor ordered.

    Circumstances change

    Over time, your financial situation may change and a mortgage that was a healthy choice several years ago, may be ailing today. It might lack the features and flexibility you need, or you may be paying for features you’re not using. Perhaps you’d like to access the equity in your property to renovate or invest, or could benefit from refinancing to consolidate multiple debts into your home loan to save on interest. You may have changed jobs and have more or less disposable income. Refinancing at least every 2 to 4 years gives you the peace of mind of knowing your finances are on track and your home loan marries with your current financial circumstances and goals. Allow us to remedy this situation by prescribing a tailored home loan that works for you in the long-run!

    New opportunities

    The finance and mortgage industry is constantly evolving, with new deals, packages and home loan features continually becoming available. By shopping around every 2 to 4 years, you may find a more competitive interest rate that cuts your repayments and potentially saves you thousands – money that would otherwise have been lost in an inefficient loan. As your mortgage and finance broker, we’ll take a holistic approach to your home loan needs, and advise you about features such as offset accounts or redraw facilities that could help keep your finances in tip-top shape.

    To grow your wealth

    It pays to keep a healthy attitude toward your finances. Reviewing your mortgage regularly keeps you focused about where you’re at financially and where you’d like to be. It may open your eyes to new strategies to proactively build your wealth and expand your investment portfolio. Refinancing can also allow you to access the equity in your home to invest, renovate, go on holiday or use as you see fit.

    If you suspect it might be time for your current home loan to meet its maker, please get in touch! We’ll give your home loan a thorough check-up – minus the stethoscope – and find you a healthier alternative if necessary. While we are specialists at what we do, there are no hefty consultation fees involved – your home loan health check is a free service. Call us, your helpful “mortgage medics”!

  • Things to consider when choosing an apartment for investment

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    mortgage broker joondalup

    As Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw could tell you, there are many perks to apartment living, which makes them a fantastic investment option.

    They offer people the ability to live close to work and exciting entertainment hubs, where many a social drink can be had within walking distance of home. After all, who wants to live out in the burbs when you can be in the heart of the action? Sure, you might not have your own patch of dirt to toil over, but unless you’re over the age of 60, gardening is overrated.

    Indeed, apartments offer attractive rental yields and an entry point into the market in locations that might otherwise be unaffordable for investors. Last May, CoreLogic anticipated there would be 231,129 new units set for completion across the combined capital cities by April 2018. And with such a large supply of apartments, price drops seem likely, so you may very well be able afford your own version of Carrie and Big’s “heaven on 5th”. Here are some tips for choosing the right investment apartment, and when you do, we would love to help you find the right loan!

    Location, location, location!

    Location is king when choosing an investment apartment – nobody wants to live in a box in the boonies! Proximity to amenities such as public transport, healthcare, recreational facilities, childcare and schools will impact on the rental appeal of your investment and the rent you can get away with charging tenants. Apartments and units with great tenant appeal also tend to experience more reliable capital growth, so choosing the right apartment can help you profit both ways.

    Do your homework

    Knowledge is power! We recommend you thoroughly research an area before buying. Consider supply and demand for apartment living in the area and find out what are other apartments are renting and selling for. That way, you’ll have a sound understanding of what a given property is worth and the potential rental yield.

    Consider your future tenants

    Think about who your future tenants might be and what they are looking for in a home. Will they be like Carrie, and require a massive built-in wardrobe to house their Imelda Marcos-style shoe collection? Perhaps features like a parking spot in the CBD may be in particularly high demand. If you can anticipate your tenants’ needs, your apartment is more likely to be highly sought after.

    Consider the ongoing fees

    As Samantha would say, sky-high strata fees are “painful and unnecessary”. Before buying, calculate your net rental yield to estimate your likely return, factoring in the strata fees, interest repayments, insurance, taxes, rates and water charges. Lastly, before you sign on the dotted line, don’t forget to organise a strata inspection report, which will raise any red flags about the accounts and records of the property.

    When you do find an investment apartment that ticks all your boxes, we can help you find you a home loan that fits like a glove. As your mortgage broker, we’ll help you get a competitive rate from one of Australia’s leading lenders and structure your investment property loan so that you get the most out of it – now and in the future. Happy apartment hunting!

  • Welcome to our April Update

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    mortgage  broker rockingham
    As we head into the Easter long weekend, activity in the national housing market continues to ramp up. Home prices in Australia’s biggest cities have jumped 3.7 per cent since the start of the year and Melbourne and Sydney continue to lead the way, with strong property price growth and high auction clearance rates.

    Last month saw notable growth in home values in Darwin and Hobart, and while we continue to see a two-speed market across the country, there are some great investment opportunities out there.

    Interest Rate News

    This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold again at 1.5 per cent. The decision follows an announcement by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority on Friday 31 March that financial institutions restrict new interest-only property lending to 30 per cent of their total residential mortgage lending, in a bid to manage heightened risks in the property market.

    Many lenders adjusted rates outside of RBA movements this month and raised rates on both owner-occupier and investment loans. They increased rates on both variable and fixed-rate products. That makes it more important than ever to stay on top of your home loan interest rate. Check in with us and we’ll compare hundreds of different home loan products to find the right one for you.

    Property Market News

    Bidders are continuing to snap up properties at auction, with high clearance rates last week in Victoria, NSW, South Australia and the ACT. For the week ending April 2, Victoria had 1231 auctions, with a clearance rate of 80 per cent, while NSW held 1284 auctions, with a clearance rate of 78 per cent. South Australia and the ACT both had clearance rates of 76 per cent, while things were quieter on the auction front elsewhere.

    In March, home values increased in all capital cities, with the biggest percentage changes month-on-month in Darwin (3.07%) and Hobart (3.06%). Darwin’s year-on-year home values dropped 4.41%, while Hobart’s increased 10.24%. Melbourne home values increased 1.92% month-on-month and 15.93% annually, while Sydney’s home values were up 1.41% month-on-month, and a massive 18.88% year-on-year.

    Meanwhile, the proportion of total housing finance commitments to owner-occupier first home buyers is at an historic low. Talk to us to see how you can take advantage of recent improvements to the First Home Buyer Grant to get into the market sooner.

    With interest rates remaining low, now is a great time to buy your first home, invest or consider refinancing. We’ll find you the right home loan to suit your personal needs and goals, potentially saving you thousands in the long-run. Call us today!

  • Mortgage Brokers – Why We’re More Popular Than Ever

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    Whether you are buying your first home, your next home, refinancing, investing, purchasing assets or commercial property, entering the property market is exciting.

    However, it can also be daunting, with so many elements at play and your life savings on the line. Now more than ever, borrowers are relying on the professional expertise of mortgage and finance brokers to help them navigate through the home loan application and settlement process.

    A recent survey by Deloitte of more than 1000 Aussies who took out a home loan in the past two years found customers who used mortgage brokers were more satisfied with their experience than direct-to-lender customers. In fact, some 32% of broker customers rated their experience of using a broker a 9 or 10 out of 10 (with 10 being ‘exceeding expectations’), compared to only 20% of direct-to-lender customers giving such a ranking.

    More than 53% of all home loans are now being originated by brokers and this figure is on the rise. It’s clear that using the services of a mortgage and finance professional is increasing in popularity amongst consumers. But why? What are the benefits of using a mortgage broker?

    It’s that personal touch

    The number one reason why you should use a mortgage broker is because we have your best interests at heart and will help you find the right product for you. A lender, on the other hand, is only interested in selling their own products and does not know whether there might be better options for you with a different provider. As your mortgage broker, we can offer you invaluable support and be with you each step of the way, from pre-approval right through to settlement and beyond.

    We save you time and money

    Finding the right home loan to suit your personal needs, financial circumstances and goals can potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long-run. Only a mortgage broker will take the time to research which home loan products will marry up best with your objectives. Deciding what types of features you would like attached to your home loan can be tricky, and you don’t want to end up paying for add-ons you don’t need. Whether you require a mortgage with all the bells and whistles, like redraw facilities and offset accounts, or something straightforward, a broker will structure your loan accordingly. Moreover, we keep abreast of the latest deals, and know the merits and requirements of each individual lender, so that you can feel confident about the suitability of the home loan you are using.

    We do all the grunt work

    Mortgage brokers undertake the tedious process of comparing hundreds of home loans on your behalf, taking on one of the most unpleasant tasks in the home loan process. Loan product comparisons can be very confusing to the average home buyer and loan comparison websites don’t explain the features and benefits of a loan and how you can use them to your advantage.

    Because we already understand the intricacies of all of the products on offer, we take away the complexity and simplify the application process. That means you can spend your time focusing on the fun stuff, like choosing your dream home! We offer expert advice about all aspects of purchasing your home or investment property and can tailor a home loan to your exact needs and financial aspirations.

    You don’t know what you don’t know

    There may be much more you can do with your money than you imagine. Nowadays, many mortgage brokers have diversified their offerings to include more than just home loans. Mortgage brokers are experts about credit and finance and can help you be smart about your financial decisions. We can provide expert advice about your borrowing capacity, how to use property to build your wealth in the long-run, and how to make the most of your income and assets. You’ll find our support invaluable, whether you need advice about finance for a renovation, building wealth through property in your self-managed super fund, consolidating debt, accessing a commercial property loan and more.

    The icing on the cake is that we don’t charge anything for our services – the lenders pay us a commission. The commission amount is about the same across all lenders and home loan products, so you can rest assured we are not biased towards one provider. To find out more about how we can help you, or to chat with us about your finance and home loan options, please call us today.

  • How to Spot a Good Fixer-Upper

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    How to Spot a Good Fixer-Upper
    Buying to renovate and sell can be a lucrative investment strategy, allowing investors to potentially make a fast profit with minimal effort and expense. However, the key is to find the right fixer-upper – one that gives you a maximum increase in value for minimal expenditure. Cha-ching!

    As your mortgage and finance broker, we love to pass on juicy tips that ultimately help you to use your property investment dollars wisely. So, how do you spot that diamond in the rough that will become your renovation goldmine? Well, it takes a good deal of detective work, a resourceful imagination and some logical reasoning when it comes to renovation spending. Right, time to channel Sherlock, folks!

    Step 1: Narrow down your leads

    Finding the right location is paramount for any property purchase. The aim is to target run-down properties in suburbs with solid growth potential. Ultimately, the property should be close to amenities such as schools, shops and public transport, but not so close to the train line that the front door rattles all night long!

    If you’re buying for investment purposes, always remember your end-goal, which is to sell post-renovation. Research what’s in high demand in areas you’re interested in, as well as the value of renovated properties in the suburb. Searching for phrases like “renovator’s dream” and “deceased estates” in real estate advertisements will narrow down your options.

    Step 2: Follow the clues and do your detective work

    When you find a potential fixer-upper, you need to quickly develop a keen eye for detail. Research the neighbourhood thoroughly and investigate any external issues that could affect your investment. Is the area flood-prone? Is there a high crime rate that could impact upon liveability? Is there noise pollution? Lastly, consider any legal or heritage restrictions that could put a dampener on your renovation goals.

    Once you have ruled out potential external glitches, it’s time to concentrate on the finer details and test out your powers of observation. Is the structure sound and are the roof, walls, doors and windows in good condition? Are the foundations strong? Are there any issues with the electrics and plumbing of the property? The last thing you want is to be paying through the roof for non-cosmetic upgrades. It’s a good idea to invest in a pre-purchase building inspection and study it with your trusty magnifying glass.

    Step 3: Consider different scenarios and mastermind your makeover

    Warning: this may require a good deal of imagination! Being able to overlook retro linoleum floors and garish wallpaper can be tricky, but keep in mind the golden rule of renovation: minimal effort, maximum returns. Cosmetic enhancements that will drive up the value of the property are what you want. Flaky paint, scruffy carpets, old cupboards and dated bathroom fixtures can all be upgraded with minimal effort and cost. Many experts recommend seeking out properties with older bathrooms and kitchens that can easily be renovated.

    Also, it’s a good idea to consider the layout and convertibility of the property. Can you add value by playing with the dimensions? Can you knock down walls to create a more open-plan living space, or add walls to create new rooms? Can a puny window be transformed into a spectacular natural light portal? How could you revamp the garden?

    A good sleuth knows when to trust their instincts, and if your gut is telling you you’ve found your fixer-upper, it’s time to speak to a reputable mortgage and finance broker like us about how to finance your property purchase and renovations.

    Step 3: Close the case

    Our final tip is to make sure you stay within budget once you’ve found your renovator’s dream. Don’t overspend on improvements, but don’t skimp on quality either. Spend time and money on renovations that will give you the best return on investment and make the property stand out to prospective buyers.

    We hope you’ve found these tips for spotting a good fixer-upper handy. We can provide expert advice about obtaining finance for your property investments and renovations. We’ll analyse the thousands of home loan products out there and test them under our microscope to ensure they measure up. Please get in touch with our team today.

     

     

  • 3 Auction Strategies That Really Work

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    There’s nothing quite like attending your first auction and seeing the characters at play – the charismatic auctioneer with the overpriced suit and the Hollywood smile, the throng of sticky-palmed bidders and nosy neighbours waiting in anticipation, the stressed-out vendors hiding in the shadows.

    The experience can be exhilarating and exciting, but it can also be frustrating and disappointing if you miss out on your dream property after months of looking for the right one. That’s why it’s a great idea to organise your finance through trusted mortgage and finance brokers like us, prior to the auction. And if you’re still on your auction L-Plates, fret not. Here are 3 tried-and-true auction strategies that really work.

    1) Adhere to the Scout Motto: Be Prepared!

    Before you begin bidding, it’s important that you do your homework. If you’re a first home buyer or new to the auction scene, visit plenty of auctions and familiarise yourself with the process. That way, when you go to bid on your dream home, you’ll feel confident and ready. Above all, research your market and the property you wish to purchase thoroughly.

    It’s crucial to have a solid understanding of your financial position and budget before the auction. Talk to us and we’ll help you work out your maximum borrowing capacity, help ensure your deposit is ready and arrange pre-approval through your lender of choice. Having this document on hand, which verifies how much a lender is willing to lend you, will give real estate agents and vendors confidence that you’re a serious buyer.

    Lastly, when you decide the property you’ve chosen is the right one for you, it’s important to perform your due diligence. Undertake all building and pest inspections before the auction. Have your solicitor review the contract and make amendments, such as a longer settlement period, if needed.

    2) Ooze confidence

    An auction is like a game of poker – each player has different cards to play, but they’re all in it to win. In order to be successful, you need a strategy and you need to act it out with conviction. Devise a plan beforehand and stick to it.

    When you begin bidding at the auction, you must radiate confidence so you don’t get elbowed aside by the other bidders. The competition will be looking for any sign of weakness, and you must not show your nerves. Even if you’re trembling like a jellyfish inside, it’s all about smoke and mirrors. Be aware of your body language. Position yourself at the centre of the bidders, stand tall, and make decisive movements.

    3) Be brave, be bold

    When the bidding begins, your best bet at scaring off the competition is to hit back with assertive bids. Come in with a solid early bid if possible. Your competition may be taken by surprise and lose their nerve.

    You need to give the impression that your wallet is bottomless, while still making bids within the scope of your buying capacity. After every bid, come back immediately with your counter-bid. Do not hesitate. Remain in control, even if your heart is in your mouth, and with a bit of luck you will blow the competition out of the water.

    Mistakes to avoid

    Experts recommend against waiting until the very end of the auction to bid. Go in strong from the beginning instead, even if that means making the first bid. Don’t rely on your own instincts throughout the auction process, but rather, carefully consider any advice the agent has provided, particularly relating to the reserve price. Avoid asking whether the property is “on the market yet” in the middle of an auction, as this may irritate the vendor and discourage them from negotiating with you if the property is passed in at auction. And remember, if it all seems too daunting, you can nominate a phone bidder to bid on your behalf.

    Being confident and relaxed is an important part of being successful at an auction. It really helps to be sure of your financial position and your budget before you raise your hand for your first auction bid, and that’s where we can help. As your trusted mortgage and finance broker, we can help you determine your buying capacity and the kind of home loan products that may be right for you, make sure your deposit is ready to go and arrange pre-approval with your lender of choice. Please get in touch today.

  • Welcome to our February newsletter

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    This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia met for its first meeting for the year and elected to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent.

    The official cash rate has been at an all-time low for some time now and forecasters are undecided about where the RBA will take it next. It seems likely that the RBA will wait to see if our economy continues to improve and for global economic developments before making any further changes, which could mean the official cash rate stays on hold for quite some time.

    Meanwhile, lenders have adopted the policy of adjusting their interest rates outside of RBA movements in order to factor in local conditions and their actual costs. For example, since December there have been minor adjustments to some owner-occupier variable interest rate products and some lenders have increased rates slightly on some of their fixed rate loan options. So far, these adjustments have only been minor, but do get in touch if you need us to check your rate.

    Auction activity has been surprising for this time of year, when property buyers are usually more interested in going to the beach than open house inspections. For the week ending February 5, Victoria had 321 auctions with a clearance rate of 75%, NSW 427 auctions with a clearance rate of 74%, QLD 294 auctions with a clearance rate of 46%, SA 156 auctions and a clearance rate of 62%, WA 54 auctions with a clearance rate of 21%, NT 4 auctions with a clearance rate of 100%, ACT 69 auctions with a clearance rate of 75% and there were 11 auctions in Tasmania with a clearance rate just under 50%.

    Home owners and property investors will be pleased to note that the trend for rising home values looks set to continue into 2017. For the month ending January 31 most markets showed an increase and although these were mostly less than 1%, the fact they rose during the quietest time of year bodes well. Hobart was the exception, showing an increase for the month of 1.44%. The only market that showed a decline was Darwin, where home values fell by 1.72%.

    A recent news article* revealed that a significant proportion of Australians do not know how much interest they are paying on their home loan! If you need an update or would like us to check your interest rate and home loan features to see if it is still the most suitable product for you, then please give us a call.

    We’re excited about the year ahead, so if you’re considering purchasing a property this year, expanding your investment portfolio, or refinancing to a different loan product, just get in touch. We’ll be happy to help you get on the path to success.

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter. It contains general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply. *Information Sources: www.realestate.com.au/news & www.realestate.com.au/auction-results & www.corelogic.com.au/research/monthly-indices.html

  • 7 Top Home Renovation and Décor Ideas for 2017

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    Out with the old and in with the new! What better way to start 2017 than with a make-over for your most valuable asset?

    Whether you’re ready for a complete home renovation or simply want to bring your house up-to-date with a few cosmetic changes, you’ll want to get on top of the latest trends so you can make some wise choices on where to invest your budget. Here are 7 top renovation and décor ideas that could help you make sure your money is well spent.

    1. Get eco-friendly.
      People want more sustainable homes and as eco-friendly renovations genuinely help to make older homes more sustainable, they’re on trend in 2017. Essential considerations are sustainably produced ceiling and wall insulation, the general use of sustainable building materials, built-in waste management systems, rainwater tanks and water recycling systems, solar energy panels, green walls and leafy facades. Roof gardens and passive design elements that provide natural light and reduce heating and cooling costs are also popular. You probably won’t want to go as far as foregoing the dishwasher or air conditioner entirely, but you should invest in energy saving appliances wherever possible.
    2. Create more space and make it more interesting.
      More spacious homes (or homes that appear to be more spacious) are ever popular with home buyers today, so renovations that include extending or adding extra rooms to your home are still great ways to add value in 2017. However, rather than just focusing on knocking all the smaller rooms into one big open plan communal space, the new trend is to also provide options for privacy, with spaces that offer interesting nooks and crannies where people can escape with their personal technological devices and do their own thing.

      Roof rooms and attic renovations are going to be popular in 2017, because they provide opportunities to add a point of interest and difference. The open, spacious look is still the fashion, however finding ways to add character and uniqueness are trendy too.

    3. More efficient storage spaces.
      Investing in upgrading your laundry to create and maximise storage space was a very popular option for home renovations last year, and this is all set to continue into 2017. Maximising your storage areas means you can keep all of your untidy clutter out of sight, which will make your home appear much more spacious and help you keep the look up-to-date, with clean crisp lines. Adding clever storage that utilises any dead space in your home is an easy way to add value, particularly important if your property is a family home.
    4. Terracotta Tiles.
      If you’ve been around long enough to have survived the ‘80’s, you may be very surprised to learn that terracotta is back in fashion for home renovations in 2017. Interior trends are now moving away from the cool tones that have been popular for the last decade and designers are returning to warm colours and natural materials that add character.

      Today’s fashion in terracotta calls for a smooth matte finish with crisp edges and a more finished look. The idea is to add warmth and depth with natural colours and materials, so consider using your terracotta tiles on feature walls or for cladding fireplaces.

    5. Darker Wood Tones.
      If you are tired of the blonde wood look of the world’s recent ‘Scandi’ obsession, you’ll be happy to know that darker wood tones are finally back for homes in 2017. Remembering the current trend is for warm, natural materials that add character, you can now go ahead and use darker wood and natural timbers as feature walls and flooring. Consider adding texture by using it in herringbone tiling on floors, or by choosing interesting darker wood furniture pieces as focal items.
    6. Go natural in the bathroom.
      Updating the kitchen and bathroom in your home is one of the tried and tested ways of adding value and is one of the main motivations for choosing to renovate for many home owners. Bathroom makeovers in 2017 will also follow the new interior design trend that combines modern, clean lines with natural materials and organic warmth. Functionality is also an important consideration to home buyers today, so try and choose materials that are easy to clean and maintain to generate the most value.

      Remember that sinks and baths with classic, elegant, clean lines are always timeless favourites. Add that natural touch by using wood in warm tones for accents and furniture or accessories. Don’t forget the terracotta in the bathroom too – add some extra organic depth with a fern in a terracotta pot or consider a small terracotta sculpture.

    7. Create more curb appeal.
      A garden makeover that creates more curb appeal for your home is still one of the best investments you can make in terms of adding value this year. Garden design is now moving away from that harsh, minimalistic look that has been popular of late and following the new interior design trend of a warmer, more welcoming look that incorporates natural materials.

      Create a more natural style by staying away from geometric design layouts. You can achieve a more authentic, organic feeling in your garden by using recycled materials, free-form decks, stepping stones or meandering pebble paths. Locally sourced is the buzz word of the year, with native plants and shrubs planted in abundance adding charm.

    Talk to us about renovation finance and budgeting.

    Over capitalising is one of the greatest dangers when making home renovations, so be careful to set a practical budget and resist the temptation to splurge on too many designer or big brand items. They may make you feel good about what you’ve created, but they won’t add more value and you risk losing money if you decide to sell. If you need help working out how much money you can afford to invest in your renovation project, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

    Once you’ve set a practical budget, forward planning for how you intend to finance your renovation project is also a wise idea. Depending on how much you plan to spend, there are a variety of finance options that you can choose from, so talk to us before you start your renovation project so we can help you get it organised. Financing your renovations could mean refinancing your home loan to access some of the equity, taking out a line of credit, or perhaps a personal loan. To find out which option is the right one for you, just give us a call for a chat today.

  • New Year Resolutions for Your Finances

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    With another Christmas celebrated and already showing up on our waistlines, a common topic of conversation for many of us in January is our New Year resolutions.

    Whether it’s a pledge to give up smoking, get to the gym more often, or start (yet another) healthy eating regime, New Year resolutions usually have a self-improvement or healthy living focus. But what about your finances? A healthy financial situation is just as important to your well-being as a healthy diet and exercise regime. Here are a few New Year resolution suggestions for your finances that could make a big difference to your financial health in 2017 and beyond. If one of these appeals to you, please give us a call as we’d love to help you achieve your financial New Year resolutions this year.

    “I will make a proper budget and stick to it.”

    Did your credit card debt go up or down in 2016? Spending more than you earn is surprisingly easy to do and having to pay exorbitant credit card interest on all of your purchases just makes matters worse. The secret to turning this situation around is to create a proper budget for yourself and stick to it. It’s also a good idea to include repayments on your credit card as a weekly expense in your budget outgoings, so you can work on getting your debts paid off as well.

    To create a realistic budget, list all of the things you need to spend money on and how much they cost. The amount you have left over each week is the amount you can afford to spend on the things you want, put into your savings account, or use to pay off your debts sooner. It’s also important to review your budget regularly to see how you are tracking.

    If you have multiple credit card debts, or a variety of debts, you may find managing your budget a challenge as a large part of your income may be lost on interest payments. This kind of situation is frequently referred to as a ‘debt trap’. Talk to us about consolidating your debts to reduce your interest payments and make your financial situation more manageable.

     “I will make an effort to achieve my saving goals.”

    The ability to save money consistently is a talent that everyone should cultivate. It’s particularly important if you’re saving a deposit for your first home, as a lender will take your savings history into consideration when deciding if you are eligible for a home loan.

    If you are the kind of person who finds it hard to stick to a budget, can’t resist impulse purchases, or indulges in ‘retail therapy’, then you may like to consider installing an app on your mobile phone that supports your efforts to save. ASIC’s MoneySmart website offers a variety of excellent free apps designed to help you manage your finances:

    • TrackMyGOALS integrates techniques that are proven to work for successful savers.
    • TrackMySPEND helps you see where your money is really going so you can adjust your spending habits to save more. Even just committing to reducing the number of take away coffees you buy each week can make a big difference over a full year!

    “I will stop wasting my money on rent.”

    For many people, choosing to rent a property instead of buying one boils down to a lifestyle choice. It may be more affordable to rent a property in a location where you enjoy living, than it is to buy one. But the consequence of this choice is that when property prices rise, you are potentially missing out on some significant capital gains that could be important to your financial well-being later on in life.

    What’s more, the money you spend on rent is wasted – you are potentially paying off someone else’s investment when you could be paying off a property of your own. So the question is: do you have enough money for a deposit?

    If you have been saving regularly and have some money in the bank, now is a great time to take stock of what kind of property you may be able to afford this year. Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to sit down with you and help you work it out!

    Getting on the property ladder may mean that you have to consider a location where you can afford to buy, rather than a location where you prefer to live. It may mean giving up your short commute home from work, or easy access to your friends and family, favourite bars, shopping venues and cinemas. But with property prices rising steadily, the long-term benefits could have a significant impact on your future financial security and retirement lifestyle, so it could be worth it to act now.

    “I will review all of my financial accounts, including my home loan”

    When was the last time you stopped to think about how much money you are paying on fees every year for your mortgage, bank accounts, credit cards and superannuation plans? Most people would be horrified to discover exactly how much money they lose every year in fees and charges across their financial accounts – so it definitely pays to review them regularly and cancel any unnecessary accounts you hardly ever use and don’t really need.

    For example, the fees and charges you pay on your superannuation accounts can be quite high and they often go unnoticed. Over the years, these fees and charges may add up to make a big difference to the balance of your super on retirement. The fact is, if you have more than one superannuation account, you are paying double the fees you need to pay! Consider consolidating all your super accounts into one as soon as you can.

    The same rule applies to your credit cards. How many do you really need? What are you using them for? If you have more than one, it may be a good idea to transfer all of the balances to one card using a free balance transfer offer. This not only has the potential to save you a significant amount of money on fees, it could also save you some money on interest and perhaps, help you to pay off your credit card balances sooner. Don’t be tempted to keep all of the old cards though, remember to cancel them as soon as you make the balance transfer.

    If you have a mortgage, now is a good time to look at which features and benefits it provides, and if you are using them. Do you really need them? Is your home loan the most suitable for your current financial goals? If not, talk to us so we can see if you could be saving on fees, getting a more favourable interest rate or accessing the loan features you need!

    We can help you achieve your financial New Year resolutions

    Our role as your mortgage broker is to help you arrange your credit and finance to maximise the money you have. We’re here to help you save on interest wherever possible. Whether it’s time for a home-loan-health check on your existing mortgage, or you would like to find out how much you can afford to spend on buying a property, you’ll find our expertise and support invaluable in helping you to achieve your goals. We are even willing to help you find better ways to manage your debt and plan to build wealth for your future.

    Financial success means setting some financial goals and making a step-by-step plan to reach them. With a credit and finance professional on your team, you are much more likely to get where you want to be. If you would like to buy a property in 2017, then we can help you achieve your goal by assisting with everything from setting your purchasing budget and getting pre-approval on your home loan, to supplying you with insightful property market data so you can locate the right home to buy more quickly.

    Make sure your New Year is a happy one by talking to us about getting on top of your finances. It is one New Year resolution you’ll find very easy to keep! Call us to make a time today.

     

  • Welcome to our January Newsletter

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    Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed the break and Santa was kind to you and your family this Christmas. Are you ready for another fantastic year in our property markets?

    As the Reserve Bank of Australia will not meet until the first Tuesday in February for its initial rate meeting for 2017, there is no change to the official cash rate to report this month. However, whilst some analysts are speculating there may be another cash rate cut as early as next month, they are also suggesting there is little reason to expect the cut will be passed on to consumers by many lenders.

    This is because lender’s rates are also linked to their actual costs, rather than RBA movements alone. In November and December of 2016, many lenders adjusted rates upwards slightly, particularly on fixed interest rate loans, with several more following in January. We can expect lenders to continue with this approach to rates in 2017 as they respond to global financial market movements and trends, as well as local conditions.

    As expected for this time of year, activity in our property markets has slowed to a near standstill as people take time out to enjoy the holidays and fantastic summer weather with family and friends. For the week ending December 25, there were just 97 auctions in Victoria with a clearance rate of 74%, 89 in NSW with a clearance rate of 80%, 37 in SA with a clearance rate of 78% and in QLD 36 auctions with a clearance rate of 47%. Our smaller markets showed even less activity, with just 13 auctions in WA showing a clearance rate of about 80%, 14 auctions in ACT with a clearance rate of 90%, and just 1 auction in NT and 3 in Tasmania with no sales.

    In contrast to this huge reduction in property market activity, home values continued to rise in many markets during December. In Sydney, home values increased by .91%, Melbourne 3.14%, Brisbane/Gold Coast .60%, Perth 1.39%, and Hobart 3.31%. Adelaide showed a decline in home values of 2.00% for the month, Canberra .26% and Darwin .10%.

    Generally speaking, 2016 was a great year for home owners and property investors in terms of home value increases, with only Perth showing a small decline for the year. All other markets performed well, with Sydney showing the most substantial home value increase for the year at 15.46%, closely followed by Melbourne at 13.86% and Hobart at 11.24%. Home values in Canberra increased by 9.29%, Brisbane/Gold Coast 4.40%, Adelaide 4.23% and Darwin .93%.

    With interest rates still very low and looking to remain that way for some time, conditions continue to look good for property buyers in 2017. We’re anticipating a very busy year, with plenty of housing stock available for buyers and good scope for further home value growth for home owners. Now is a great time to see us to talk about your plans and get ready for the year if you may be in the market to make a property purchase, or to get your annual home-loan-health check if you are a home owner, so please give us a call soon.

    Enjoy the rest of the summer holidays!

  • Get ready for the New Year car sales

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    It’s nearly clearance sale time at car yards across Australia, as car dealerships try to clear last year’s stock. A vehicle may have only been built a few months ago, but as far as the dealer is concerned it’s now a year old.

    The good news is you can capitalise on their eagerness to sell, and that makes the start of the 2017 a great time to find a genuinely sharp price for your new car!

    But, to snap up a great car deal in the New Year, you need to be prepared. Here are our steps to help you get ready for the New Year car sales and ensure a smooth ride towards owning your new car.

    Research

    As with all big investments, you need to do your research before you even consider getting behind the wheel for a test drive.

    Start by thinking about the make and model you would like. Consider what your plans might be for the next year or so. Will you have another child? Do you need a certain car for your line of work? It’s also worthwhile considering how you will use the car. Do you need good fuel consumption? Will you take it off road?

    There are many factors that can influence you towards a certain make or model – car insurance costs, resale value, warranty and more. Being informed can make the process of test drives and getting your finances in place a lot easier and quicker, as you don’t waste time of cars you know don’t suit your needs.

    There are loads of resources out there that can tell you about your ideal car. Why don’t you check out the manufacturers’ website, online reviews, or reliability surveys?

    Make plans for your old wheels

    What you decide to do with your old car is important when we consider how you are going to finance your new car. If you are relying on the funds from the sale or trade-in of your old car, you need to decide on this before we can help you arrange the finance of your new purchase.

    Whilst trade-ins are convenient and generally very straight forward, you don’t always get as good a rate as you might should you go down the private sale path. Either way, knowing how much you have to play with from your old car will help get your new car finance in place.

    Get your finance sorted

    In most instances, you are better off arranging your own finance through a broker, rather than going through the car dealer. Often car dealers will offer you “amazing deals” on the day that may end up costing you more in the long run, so it pays to have your buying power sorted before you head to the car yard. Plus, having your finance pre-approved also gives you a solid bargaining position, should you need it!

    There are loads of different ways you can finance a new car. You can:

    • Get a car loan: This is a common, straight forward option that’s great for most people.
    • Take out a lease: A lease differs to a car loan in that the lender retains actual ownership of the car.
    • Use the equity in your home: If you own your home, you could consider refinancing your home loan to use some of your equity to pay cash for a car. Or you could use your redraw facility if you have been overpaying.
    • Get a chattel mortgage: If you have a company, business partnership or are a sole trader, you can use a chattel mortgage to buy a vehicle provided it is primarily used for business purposes.

    We can work with you to determine the option that is most suitable for you, then we’ll do all the legwork to get your finances sorted – so you are ready for the test drive!

    Test drive before you buy

    Once you have your preferred make and model in mind, and you know how much you can afford to spend on the car, you can go ahead and start testing them out.

    It’s always a good idea to take someone with you for a second opinion, and if possible, for you choose the test route (rather than the usual one the car salesperson uses). Take your time, test out the various features of the car, and use the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

    Check the price and inclusions

    Whilst it may sound great, look great and drive well – it always pays to shop around. Why not take a look at the same car at a few different dealerships?

    It is hard, but try not to get sucked into those ‘one day only specials’ at the car yard, as usually you can get a similar special on another day once you are more informed.

    Car dealerships are required to quote in full. Make sure you are being quoted for everything – registration, fees, stamp duty, etc. It’s also worth being aware of any ‘extras’. This can include leather seats, tinted windows, extended warranties, etc. If these are not part of the standard model – they will cost you more!

    And then you are done, nearly!

    Congratulations, you are a happy owner of a new car. Once you have found the right car, don’t feel pressured to sign anything until you are 100% happy. Check all the paper work, and make sure all the details are correct, to your expectations, and complete. We can help you with this if needed, just give us a call. Finally, before you drive your car out of the yard make sure you have car insurance – imagine having a bingle on the way home from the lot!

    If you’re planning on buying a car, talk with us about which option will be most beneficial to your financial circumstances. Just give us a call, we’ll be happy to talk you through all of the car financing options available for you.

  • How to be a good landlord

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    Your loan has settled and you are officially the proud owner of an investment property. Well done!

    No doubt you want the rent to start flowing in so you can pay off your mortgage, and to have a smooth and stress free time as ‘landlord’. If that’s the case, it’s time to start looking for good tenants!

    Did you know that better landlords attract better tenants? It’s pretty simple really. When you consider your rental property is a business, then your tenants are your customers. You’re providing a service, and they are paying for that service. Wouldn’t you want to keep your best customers for as long as possible?

    The first thing you need to decide is if you want to be a “do-it-yourself” landlord, or go down the path of hiring a property management company. There are benefits to both options, but if you are a new “do-it-yourself” landlord, here are a few tips on how to be a great landlord, and in turn, keep your renters happy, for longer!

    Welcome them in style

    As the saying goes, first impressions last. As your new tenants move in, it’s a great idea to make the process easy and seamless for them from the start. Why not write them a welcome letter? Leaving your tenant a brief note, as well as echoing how happy you are to have them, will set the tone the relationship. Remember to include your contact details!

    You could also consider stocking the bathrooms or kitchen. This could be as simple as buying some soap or tooth paste for the bathroom, or some dish washing detergent for the kitchen. Such a small investment can really make a difference to those first few days in a new place.

    Ensure both parties understand the lease

    To build a harmonious lease/lessor relationship, it’s important that you are both on the same page from day one. To ensure this is the case, it’s always a good idea to walk your renters through the lease. By walking your tenant through the lease it provides the opportunity to answer any questions they may have about any of the clauses in it. This helps to build trust, and importantly, makes it easy for both parties to follow the lease guidelines.

    Whilst it is important to have a collaborative relationship with your tenant, at the end of the day, it is a business relationship. If a problem is to arise, it’s vital to follow the guidelines outlined in your lease – as that’s what everyone signed! This way, should they have any objections, you can make it clear that you are within your rights, or vise verser.

    It’s also advisable to keep electronic copies of everything – receipts, invoices, bills. You never know when you may need to refer to them down the track.

    Be professional and available

    It might sound like common sense, but dressing neatly, presenting yourself well and responding promptly can go a long way to keeping your tenants happy!

    Ultimately, if your tenants need to talk to you, then you need to be reachable. Tenants should always be provided with multiple means to contact you. Plus, if there was a leaky pipe, you would want to know about it before real damage was done.

    Whenever a tenant calls or emails you, be sure to respond as soon as possible. Remember any interaction with your tenant is like a business interaction, so it’s important to think of what you would expect from a business – efficiency, accessibility, approachability. If you know you are going to be away, tell the tenant that you may not be able to respond as quickly.

    Be a human

    We need to remember that tenants are people too. Good landlords exhibit all the traits that form a good working relationship – open and honest, transparent, good communication. Showing empathy, exercising compassion and making sure you listen to your tenant’s concerns can really go a long way.

    If you want to be a good landlord that attracts tenants who stick around, it’s also vital that you are respectful of their privacy.

    A good landlord is consistent. A lot of frustration and miscommunication can occur when rules and decisions are changed on a whim, or without reasoning. It pays to be reliable, helping to build trust and understanding.

    By following these easy tips, you are on your way to being the best landlord your tenants have ever had! If this all sounds like too much hard work, get in touch with us and we can refer you to a property management company.

    With interest rates so low, if you are thinking about purchasing an investment property now is a good time to talk to us about it. It’s also a great time to look at any existing investment loans you have, to determine whether they are still the most suitable for your investment needs. Why not give us a call?

  • 5 damage control tips for Christmas spending

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    Christmas is just a matter of days away and for many Australians, they’re likely to be the most expensive days of the year.

    According to the Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan Research, we’re expected to spend over $48 billion in the lead up to Christmas 2016, so the Christmas shopping frenzy is bound to put a dent in a few credit cards!

    Nobody wants to be a scrooge at this time of year, but it doesn’t pay to throw all caution to the wind. Here’s five great tips that can help you apply some damage control to your Christmas spending spree without giving up the simple joy of giving.

    1. Make a list and check it twice.

    Impulse purchasing is one of the worst spending traps during the Christmas shopping season. And it can be a particular problem if you’re one of those shoppers who just can’t resist buying a present for yourself every time you buy one for someone else. Making a list is a great way to stay focused on buying only what you need. It can also help you avoid the temptation to shower yourself with gifts when you should be waiting to see what Santa brings you first.

    Take a sensible approach by making a list of everyone you need to buy a present for and putting a budget for the gift next to each person. It may be a good idea to download a budgeting app like TrackMySpend from ASIC’s MoneySmart website or Christmas Gift List from Google Play. These apps will help you keep track of the gifts you’ve bought, how much you’ve spent and how much you have left in your budget for further purchases.

    2. Online shopping is not naughty, but nice.

    With your carefully prepared list in hand, it’s time to hit the shops, right? Not necessarily. Visiting the stores makes it much more difficult to resist the temptation of buying things you don’t really need. And a trip to the shops can often be an expensive exercise in itself – you’ll probably need to pay for car parking, festive season snacks, not to mention plenty of energy drinks to keep you going. Shopping online can be an excellent way to save!

    In order to maximise your savings, try doing a web search for discounts or coupons that you can use for the specific gifts you want to purchase. If you Google the item itself, you can often find several vendors and choose the least expensive – but make sure you include shipping costs when you are comparing prices and check the delivery period.

    Social media is also a good way to grab a bargain, as retailers will often offer exclusive discounts to loyal followers. Simply look up the social media sites for your favourite brands and see what they have on offer.

    3. Collaborate with family and friends.

    If you ask most people, they’ll tell you they prefer quality over quantity when it comes to receiving gifts. If you can’t afford to buy an expensive item, then why not consider pooling your resources with some other family members? This could potentially save you a lot of money and at the same time, ensure you give great gifts that are genuinely appreciated.

    Many larger families choose to take the Secret Santa option to reduce costs at Christmas. Rather than spend a lot of money buying an inexpensive (and probably useless) gift for each and every family member, consider putting everyone’s name in a hat and drawing one each. This will allow you to spend your budget on one decent gift, rather than risk overspending by trying to get a little something for everyone.

    4. Buy your gifts wholesale or in bulk.

    Everyone wine connoisseur knows that buying one excellent bottle of wine from the local bottle shop can be a bit expensive, but a whole case of the same wine can bring the price down considerably, particularly if you go direct to the supplier. Great wine can make the perfect gift for some people, but of course if you have many people to buy for and would rather not give alcohol, there are many kinds of gifts you can buy wholesale direct from the supplier or discounted in bulk.

    Some ideas could include scented candles, body lotions and bath oils, t-shirts and caps, diaries and stationery sets, jewellery, exotic tea or coffee beans, glasses and tableware, artwork and ornaments, chocolates and sweets, lipsticks and make-up, perfume and aftershave – the list is literally endless! Simply go online and search for bulk suppliers of the kind of items that will make great gifts for your particular friends and family members.

    5. Save on interest for bigger gifts.

    If you plan to use credit to purchase your Christmas gifts this year, take a close look at your credit card statement and check how much interest you’ll be paying on your purchases. If your credit card interest is high, consider looking for an alternative card that offers a lower interest rate. You may even be able to find a card that offers you an interest-free period on a balance transfer from your existing card, so you could end up saving yourself some money there too.

    If your Christmas Shopping List includes some big ticket items this year – perhaps it’s a new jet ski, family boat, a new car or even an overseas holiday – then talk to us about the most cost-effective way to finance your purchases. There are many options that could end up costing you much less in interest than a credit card, with flexible repayment terms that could help to make your purchase more affordable. Our job is to help you find the most suitable option available considering your personal financial circumstances and goals, so give us a call today.

  • Welcome to our December newsletter

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    Summer is here and Christmas is just around the corner. Our last newsletter for 2016 focuses on maximising those New Year car sales, investment loans and becoming a good landlord, and how you can apply some damage control to your Christmas spending.

    The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has met for their final meeting for 2016, and announced the official cash rate will remain unchanged at 1.5 per cent. We last saw rates fall in May and August this year, which brought the official cash rate to its lowest level in Australian history. The RBA will not meet again until February 2017, so the cash rate will stay at this record breaking low level at least until then.

    There is a great deal of speculation about what the RBA’s next move will be. Some forecasters anticipate that rates will now stay on hold until later in 2017 and then start to rise as inflation improves. Others are predicting continuing low inflation and soft wages growth may influence another RBA cash rate cut to as low as 1.0 per cent next year, with the first cut coming as early as February next year. Either way, we can expect to see these very competitive home loan rates in the market for some time.

    Regardless of what the RBA decide to do, lenders have been varying their rates outside of the RBA’s rate movements. Over recent weeks we have seen quite a few lenders increase their fixed rates, so if you are considering fixing some or all of your loan, now might be a good time to talk to us.

    We are also seeing a more noticeable variance in the rates that are being offered by different lenders in the market. So if you have a current home loan, it’s worthwhile getting in touch to determine if your loan product is still right for your needs.

    2016 has been a fascinating year. Global economic influences and developments in the US, such as the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, have caused a bit of uncertainty in the market. But overall it has been a strong year for home values here in Australia. From January to October this year, capital city home values grew by 9.1 per cent. Perth and Darwin are the only cities where values have fallen slightly for the first 10 months of the year.

    Compared to the same time last year, combined capital city home values have increased by 7.5 per cent. This is trending up from 6.1 per cent at the end of July this year, with house values growing slightly higher than unit values across the country.

    Summer is usually a slower time for Australian property markets, with much activity coming to a standstill over the Christmas period. However, the market activity in most of our capital cities is still quite strong.

    According to Australian Property Monitors (APM), Melbourne listed 1173 auctions on Saturday 3 December alone, with a clearance rate of 80 per cent. Sydney also had a strong clearance rate of 76 per cent from 874 auctions on the same day. Other cities with strong auction numbers included Adelaide (160 auctions), and Brisbane (148 auctions), and even Canberra (with 81 auctions).

    2016 has been a positive year in our property markets, and this looks set to continue into 2017! With the low interest rates we are seeing at the moment, it’s a great time for those in the market to purchase property, whether you’re a first home buyer, investor or refinancing an existing loan.

    As this is our last newsletter for 2016, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family Merry Christmas and a safe and happy festive season. Thank you for your support throughout 2016, it’s been a big year for everyone, and we’re sure you’re looking forward to the break as much as we are! Thank you once again for your ongoing support, and we look forward to connecting in the New Year.

    Information sources:
    Home values: www.corelogic.com.au
    RBA: www.rba.gov.au

  • 5 ways to make settlement day stress-free

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    Next to your wedding day perhaps, settlement day on your first home is likely to be the most exciting and stressful day of your life.

    It not only brings an end to the hard work and perseverance it takes to save your deposit and find the home of your dreams, it marks the beginning of your new life and your very own happily ever after. But how can you stop yourself from biting your nails to the quick on the day the vendor hands over the keys? Here are 5 tips to make your settlement day go smoothly.

    Tip #1. Get a good conveyancing solicitor.

    Property settlement is the legal process of transferring ownership of a property. In order to make it go as sweetly as possible, you should engage the services of a reputable conveyancing solicitor well ahead of time and ask them to explain the regulations and procedures required by the government in your state.

    During the settlement process, your conveyancing solicitor will complete the following tasks:

    • Inspect the sales contract and ensure enough time has been allowed between the finance approval date and settlement date to complete the paperwork.
    • Prepare the documentation you need to sign – transfer of ownership, transfer of land, stamp duty application, authority to proceed, etc.
    • Ensure that all the paperwork is correctly completed, verified and filed by both parties.
    • Check that any existing debts or mortgages against the property are paid off.
    • Perform a title search and check everything is correct with the certificate of title for the property.
    • Register the transaction with all of the appropriate authorities.
    • Help us to co-ordinate the necessary lender property valuation required before we can get your final finance approval.
    • Work with us to ensure the cheques are ready on the day and the lender and other interested parties are present at the exchange.

    Tip #2. Check the details in your sales contract carefully.

    The sales contract you sign when you agree to purchase the property is a wealth of information and very important to settlement day. It’s a good idea to get your conveyancing solicitor to check it before you sign or put down your deposit so that you are sure it provides all of the required information.

    Your sales contract should outline all of the conditions of the sale, what is included in the sale, what actions are required to complete the sale, the schedule for completing these actions and who is responsible for completing them. If you show your sales contract to your conveyancing solicitor before you sign it, you can ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

    Tip #3. Get your finance in place before you sign the sales contract.

    Settlement day is the big day when your mortgage comes into effect and your chosen lender pays the money to the vendor. To ensure your settlement day goes according to plan, it’s vitally important to get the timing right on this transfer of funds.

    During busy periods, it can take several weeks for a home loan to be approved by some lenders. If you don’t want to limit your choices to the few lenders who are able get your loan through according to the timing on your sales contract, then it’s a good idea to talk with us and check the turn-around time a lender will need to process your loan before you sign the sales contract, so you can make sure it allows enough time.

    You should also bear in mind that any other government fees, charges and duties must also be paid on settlement day. Just ask us and we’ll help you calculate these costs.

    Tip #4. Get insurance and do a property inspection.

    A lot can happen to a property in the time between signing the sales contract and collecting the keys. It is likely the property will be vacant during this time and to ensure there are no break-ins, thefts, storm damage or worse, you should include a clause in the sales contract allowing you to inspect the property just prior to settlement day to see for yourself that everything is still in good order.

    To make sure you’re fully covered for any insurable event, it is also a good idea to take out insurance on the property when you sign the sales contract. It is not a good idea to trust the vendor to keep the property fully insured until settlement day. Insuring it yourself could save you money and trouble if something should go wrong, so don’t forget to ask us if you need help organising some cover.

    Tip #5. Set your moving in date a few days after settlement day.

    Delays can happen on settlement day, no matter how carefully you plan. People can miss meetings or take the day off sick, cheques can be held up, even the weather has been known to throw up unexpected obstacles to make completion impossible on the set date.

    We recommend that on settlement day, you find a relaxing place to wait for the news that settlement has been successfully completed and to receive the keys. If you plan to move into your dream home a day or two later, you’ll have the time to sit back and enjoy the experience of becoming a new home owner before you need to do the heavy lifting required to actually get your stuff in there and start living happily ever after.

    As your mortgage and finance broker, we’re here to help you make sure that you can complete the purchase of your new home with as little hassle and stress as possible. Ask us to help you get pre-approval on your home loan, and if you need a referral to a good conveyancer, we’ll be happy to help with that too.

  • 8 tips for investing in interstate property

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    Success in the property investment game relies on your ability to locate and purchase exactly the right property for your budget and buying strategy.

    If you live and work in one of Australia’s major capital cities, you are probably finding this task increasingly difficult in your local market as both prices and competition continue to increase.

    The answer may be to look further afield. Australia is made up of many different property markets which work together to provide property investors with a full range of investment choices. And diversifying your assets across interstate markets could help you to minimise your risks and maximise your capital gain and income potential. Here are eight tips for making successful interstate property investments to help you build wealth for your future.

    1. Do your research.

    Whether you’re investing interstate or locally, thorough research is vitally important. You need to become fully familiar with the market you buy into to be confident about your purchasing decisions and avoid expensive mistakes. Your research should cover four basic steps:

    Step 1: If you are considering investing interstate, start by researching all the markets across Australia to find which of them provide areas with properties that generally meet your budget and buying strategy, then compare these with each other until you have just a few that you find attractive.

    Step 2: Once you have located an interstate market that may be suitable for your investment, research it carefully to identify a general location within that market that meets both your affordability level, rental yield and capital growth objectives.

    Step 3: Research the streets and properties within the area you have identified to pinpoint an opportunity to make your property purchase. If you need help formulating a buying strategy, call us for a chat.

    Step 4: Research the individual property you select very carefully before you put down a deposit or go to auction. Get building and pest inspection reports together with a comprehensive condition report so you can make an accurate projection of your costs of ownership, including maintenance planning and potential depreciation tax deductions.

    2. Buy with your head and not your heart.

    Don’t dismiss an interstate location simply because you wouldn’t want to live there yourself. Some investors also make the mistake of choosing a property investment location because it is their favourite holiday destination or somewhere they’d potentially like to retire one day. Always remember that choosing an investment property is a business decision and you should base your decision on potential investment returns, not on personal preferences. To choose a profitable location for your property investment, always focus on the numbers and research data.

    3. Visit the location.

    Travelling interstate to view investment opportunities may be inconvenient, but no matter what you may hear from other investors, buying a property sight unseen could be risky. Take the time and effort to at least visit the location. You may be able to claim the travel costs as a tax deduction (but talk to your accountant first). If you can’t stay there long enough to locate, inspect and buy a property yourself, then consider interviewing a local buyer’s agent while you are on your initial visit. This will allow you to quickly engage a trustworthy representative to help you in case you can’t get back there yourself when you find the right opportunity.

    4. Partner with a good property manager.

    Whilst you are visiting the interstate location, it is also a good idea to identify a good property manager in the area and engage their services as well. Managing a property from interstate is not easy and may cost more than you anticipate in travel and expenses. Property management costs are usually tax deductible for most property investors, so ask your accountant if the numbers stack up to allow for a property management company to be included in your budget for the interstate property you are interested in purchasing.

    5. Line up a local conveyancer.

    Whilst it is possible to use your regular conveyancer or solicitor to help you purchase a property interstate, the costs may be higher than using a conveyancer that is located near to the interstate property you wish to purchase as their expenses to complete the process may be greater. Conveyancing rules, regulations and practices also differ from state to state and your usual conveyancer may be unfamiliar with these differences. Ask us if you need assistance locating an interstate conveyancer.

    6. Note the different legal requirements.

    Each state has different legal requirements for the purchase and transfer of properties. If you are buying interstate you should talk with a qualified conveyancer or solicitor to make yourself aware of differences in:

    • Property titles and transfer requirements.
    • Local and national planning controls.
    • Rules regarding the purchase of property for foreign investors (if you are from overseas and not a permanent resident).
    • Terms and conditions required for sales contracts.
    • Terms and conditions imposed on auctions.
    • Cooling off periods.
    • Permitted uses, zoning certificates and heritage overlays.
    • Body corporate rules and constraints.
    • Rental and tenancy rules and agreements.
    • Rules and regulations when buying off the plan.

    7. Research the costs.

    Stamp duties, land taxes and other government costs like transfer fees vary from state to state. Council rates can also be widely different from one location to another and you may be surprised by how much. When purchasing interstate, it pays to research these costs well ahead of time so that you can factor them into your budget and avoid funding or cash flow difficulties.

    8. Talk with your mortgage broker early.

    Good credit advice when investing in property is critical to your success as an investor. Getting pre-approval on a loan for a purchase in a specific location is not only a good idea for budgeting purposes, it will make you aware of any postcode or location restrictions imposed by the lender on the area you are considering. Some lenders impose these restrictions on hundreds of locations around the country to minimise their risk of loss. Where you buy can have a significant effect on how much money a lender is prepared to let you borrow, so it pays to talk to us early about your purchasing plans.

    We’re here to help you get things organised if you’re planning to invest in property interstate. Just pick up the phone and give us a call to discuss your plans, we’ll be happy to help you get the ball rolling.

  • How to set up a luxury holiday rental

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    Summer is approaching fast and everyone is looking on AirB&B or Stayz.com for the perfect house to spend the holidays.

    As you scroll through the listings and your eye wanders across all the gorgeous homes in Australia’s most idyllic holiday spots, you’ll also notice the breathtaking prices they command during the peak season. If you’re a property investor, you may find those high price tags make it very hard to resist the idea of investing in a luxury holiday rental property yourself. But is it really going to be a good money spinner?

    Three things make a profitable holiday rental property. The right location, the right property and a luxurious fit out that brings your guests back time and time again. So what do you need to do to get set up for a high-yield holiday rental investment?

    Choose the right location.

    Yes, it is easy to make big dollars from a property by the sea in the height of summer, but you need to look at the total potential rental return across the entire year. Making a decent profit from a holiday rental investment requires a location that will attract holidaymakers all year round, not just in summer.

    Ask yourself: what does the location have going for it as a holiday destination year round? Try and choose a location that offers people something special. Australians love the great outdoors and if your investment property is in a location of great natural beauty, it’s likely to be a winner.

    A destination that is under three hour’s drive from the nearest capital city and international airport will not only attract local guests, it will attract people from interstate and maybe even overseas. If there is also a regional airport nearby, then all the better.

    Choose the right property.

    When choosing a property for a holiday rental investment, the first thing you need to take into consideration is the property’s accessibility to the local attractions and tourist hot spots. For example, if you’re investing in a property at a beachside location and want a maximum rental return on your investment, make sure it’s actually close to the beach and not on the other side of town near the highway entrance and the take-away food drive-thru.

    Be careful to choose a property that offers a resort-style atmosphere. Avoid anything that is too suburban or ordinary in favour of a property that offers something different, like good views and wide open spaces.

    Consider a property that offers plenty of room inside, with at least one sitting room separate from the kitchen living area. It should also have a separate laundry and wet area and of course, plenty of bedrooms. For a luxury holiday rental, a decent outdoor area is a must and a swimming pool will be a major attraction if you can manage it.

    Set your property up to attract high paying guests.

    Setting up your holiday rental property so that is practical and hard wearing is a good idea, but the trick is to do it in a way that looks luxurious, stylish and expensive so you can attract the highest paying guests. If you want to make the most profit from your investment, you need to make your place look absolutely fantastic in your online advertising photos and make sure it excites and delights your guests when they walk through the door.

    Holidaymakers paying top dollar expect better levels of comfort and luxury in a holiday house rental than they do from their own homes. They will expect to find a good dishwasher, a great cooker and a large fridge in the kitchen at the very least. A modern flat screen TV and Wi-Fi is a must.

    Your guests will also expect a king-or queen sized bed in the master bedroom and at least one other room with a double bed. Flexible sleeping options that will help them reduce costs by sharing with more people or another family are also a good idea.

    Keep the decor simple, stylish and eye-catching – ask a local decorator for advice if necessary and try to create a look that compliments the location. Don’t be tempted to use your holiday rental property as a depository for all the old furniture the family doesn’t want. Red flags are outdated TVs, daggy curtains, garish duvet covers, cabinets with trinkets, clunky second-hand lounge suites, too many ornaments, ugly brown wood shelves, nanna-style light fittings, and horror of horrors, industrial or pub style wall-to-wall carpet.

    Combining tourism and hospitality with your property investment can be a great idea if you do it right. If you’re considering buying an investment property in a holiday hot spot, let us know and we’ll help you crunch the numbers to see if it will be a good investment for you. Getting your finance right can make a big difference to your bottom line when investing in any kind property, so call us today to discuss your plans.

  • Welcome to our November newsletter

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    We hope you picked a winner on Melbourne Cup Day last week! We’ve now moved into the busiest time of year in our property markets, so we hope you’re ready to handle the pace this spring.

    At its 2016 Melbourne Cup Day meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent for November. The decision was widely expected by analysts and forward predictions are for no further RBA cash rate cuts in 2016.

    The RBA may not have cut rates this month, but you can. Many lenders have indicated that interest rate changes do not only depend on RBA changes to the cash rate, but also on other market factors and their actual costs. So if you’re a home owner and looking to refinance to save interest, call us regularly to check the latest home loan interest rate that is available for you.

    The RBA last cut rates in August and May this year, which brought the official cash rate to its lowest level in history. As a result, home loan interest rates are very competitive and the good news for home buyers and property investors is that it looks as though they will remain low for quite a while.

    That means buying conditions are great this spring. Property market activity is heating up, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, with plenty of housing stock for buyers and investors to choose from. For the week ending October 30, Victoria held 727 auctions and achieved a clearance rate of 76%, whilst Sydney held a whopping 1309 auctions and achieved a clearance rate of 77%.

    Activity in other markets indicated that buyers are possibly being a bit more discerning about prices. Queensland held 417 auctions for the same period, which is quite high, however they only achieved a low clearance rate of 39%. South Australia held 179 auctions with a clearance rate of 69%, ACT had 93 auctions with a clearance rate of 70%, Western Australia – which is not a big auction market – held 75 auctions with a clearance rate of just 37%. Northern Territory only held 6 auctions with a clearance rate of just 17% and Tasmania 10 auctions with a clearance rate of 33%.

    Rises in home values appear to have slowed across all markets during October. In Sydney, home values only rose by 0.62% and in Melbourne, they rose by just 0.78% despite strong activity from buyers in both of these markets. Brisbane/Gold Coast showed an increase of 1.10%, Perth 0.78%, Darwin 2.20%, and Canberra 0.40%. Adelaide showed a decrease of 2.39% as did Hobart, which showed a decrease in home values of 2.05% for the month.

    Opportunities are plentiful for first home buyers, next home buyers, refinancers and property investors right now. We’re here to help you make the most of low interest rates and the excellent spring property buying conditions, so please give us a call to chat about your plans. We’ll help you get the right home loan for your needs, with the most competitive interest rate available for you from Australia’s leading lenders. Christmas is also approaching fast and if you’re looking to buy a big ticket item for yourself or your family, we’ll be happy to help you with your finance needs for that too, so please give us a call today.

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter. It contains general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values: www.corelogic.com.au

  • Are you better off buying an established home or a new one?

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    It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first home buyer, next home buyer or a property investor, deciding between a brand new home and an established one is an important choice that every property buyer needs to make.

    Both choices give you a huge range of options, but it’s a decision that could be very important to your future prosperity. So will you choose a brand new property – perhaps buy one off the plan or build the home of your dreams? Or would you prefer an established home in a location you love? To help you decide which one is the right choice for you, in this article we’ve provided you with five good reasons to consider buying a new build and five good reasons to think about buying an established home.

    Why buy a new build?

    1. Lower maintenance costs.

    One of the most attractive things about a newly constructed property is that they are brand new. You don’t have to worry that the hot water heater is about to wear out or you’ll have to come up with the money for a new roof next year.

    Of course, a property with no maintenance issues means no maintenance costs – at least for the first few years – which will be very appealing to landlords everywhere. It’s also a big bonus for first home buyers and anyone who can expect cash-flow to be tight in the first few years of home ownership.

    2. First home buyer grants and other incentives.

    In most states of Australia, there are grants and other government incentives to assist first home buyers when they buy a new build home. These incentives may include the first home buyer’s grant and/or stamp duty savings. It should be noted that these benefits do vary from state to state so to find out more, please visit the government website here.

    3. Tax benefits for investors.

    If you’re a property investor there could be some tax benefits whether it is a new build or an established home. One of the things you may be able to claim on your tax is depreciation on certain aspects of your property and its contents. These tax benefits tend to be greater and easier to claim on a new build property where the building, fixtures and fittings are all new than with an established property where they may be a number of years old.

    For more information about how to claim depreciation tax benefits on your investment property and find out exactly what you can claim, please talk to an accountant or visit the ATO website here. If you don’t have an accountant who knows about property investment, just ask us for a referral.

    4. Higher rental yield potential.

    People love to live in a brand new property where no one has ever lived before. New build properties make attractive homes because they usually come with all the latest mod-cons, great insulation and the latest energy efficient appliances. You may even find that tenants are willing to pay more rent for a new build property than they would for a similar established home, simply because they know the actual costs of living there will be less.

    5. Build the home you really want.

    Building your own home, buying off the plan or purchasing a newly completed home may allow you to obtain a home that better suits your needs and lifestyle. It’s a great way to get that dream home you’ve always wanted! Whilst it is often possible to renovate an established home to meet your family’s unique requirements, designing a new one specifically for your purposes may provide better value for money and may be a much more attractive idea to some.

    Why buy an established home?

    1. Renovate or extend to add value.

    Unlike a new build property, an established home may give you the opportunity to renovate or extend which could help you to instantly add value and increase your equity. This can be a very effective wealth-building strategy if you do it well.

    2. Be sure you’re not paying too much.

    One of the problems with buying a new property off the plan or building your own home is that it is difficult to know exactly what the value of the property will be when construction is completed. This represents a risk because it is possible that you may end up paying more for the property than it is actually worth.

    With an established home, it is much easier to obtain an accurate valuation at the time of purchase, so you can be more confident that you are paying the right price. You also get the peace of mind of inspecting the finished property before you buy it.

    3. Location.

    Building a new property depends on the availability of vacant land for the development. This is most often found on the outskirts of cities. Established homes are more likely to be easier to rent and easier to sell because they are usually located in areas where people actually want to live, which tends to make them more popular with both tenants and property buyers.

    4. Historical charm and outside space.

    There are people who love a character home and would quite simply prefer to purchase an older, established home rather than a new build. It can be argued that these homes could have better capital gain potential because they are each a piece of history that is unique and becoming increasingly rare. It is also true that land allotment sizes used to be much larger, providing buyers of older established homes with bigger gardens designed to accommodate families with children and pets.

    5. Move in sooner.

    You never know for sure how long it will take to build a new home. Unforeseeable circumstances can often cause frustrating delays and even something as simple as bad weather can add months to the project. On the other hand, you can buy an established home very quickly. The entire process of locating the right property, buying it and moving in could take as little as three months, maybe even less.

    Whether you’re considering buying a new build or an established home, we’re happy to help you weigh up the merits of your choice of property. We’ve helped many first home buyers, next home buyers and property investors to make wiser property purchasing decisions and of course, choose the right home loan to help them make the most of their personal financial circumstances and achieve their goals. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you make the right choices, just give us a call today.

  • What you need to know about interest-only home loans

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    An interest-only home loan is a product that allows you to obtain a loan and only pay the interest for a set period of time, without paying off any of the loan principal.

    Many people think that interest-only home loans are only for serious property investors with aggressive purchasing strategies. However, all kinds of property buyers can apply for an interest-only loan and there are a lot of clever ways you can use them to your advantage.

    As your mortgage and finance broker, we’re here to make sure you understand the different uses of loan products and how they may apply to your personal financial strategy and purchasing goals. In this article we talk about the pros and cons of interest-only products to help you decide if it’s time to say hello to interest-only.

    The Pros

    Smaller loan payments.

    During the interest-only period of the home loan, your monthly loan payments would be lower than with a principal and interest loan. This is because your payments only need to cover the interest on the loan. Great if you want to reduce your expenses!

    Free up cash.

    Lower loan payments mean you could use your available cash for other purposes that may be financially beneficial. You could use the money to pay off debts to help save money on interest, make other investments to build wealth for your future, fund a loan to purchase another property or to make home renovations to increase your property value and equity position.

    Tax deductible for property investors.

    Want to save money on tax? The interest on an investment property debt is usually tax deductible for property investors, as long as you follow the ATO rules. That means an interest-only loan could very beneficial if you are a property investor because it could help you to maximise your tax deductions and cash-flow. Unfortunately, if you are using an interest-only loan product to purchase a home as an owner-occupier, you will not receive any tax deduction for interest.

    Benefits are ongoing for the life of the interest-only term.

    With an interest-only home loan, you can often choose an interest-only term from 1, 3, 5 or 10 years. This can be very beneficial for tax minimisation strategies and financial planning purposes. It could also be very beneficial for people buying a home on a tight budget as it can help you to plan your finances for the first few years you own the property as well as keep your loan payments lower.

    Make payments on the principal when you have extra cash.

    Many interest-only home loans allow you to make payments on the principal of your loan if you want to. This means that you can still build equity in your property by making a repayment on the principal of the loan when you have the extra cash.

    The Cons

    It’s possible that you may not build any equity.

    Interest-only loan payments do not help you to build equity in your property because your loan payments do not pay down the loan principal. That means you will be relying on property prices to rise to gain equity (unless you make extra payments as mentioned above).

    When the interest-only period ends, the loan will revert to a principal and interest loan and your loan payments will increase unless you make other plans.

    If you decide to take out an interest-only loan, you should be careful to plan ahead for what you will do at the end of your interest-only period. At that time, you will have to decide whether to renegotiate another interest-only term, allow the loan to revert to a principal and interest loan, refinance the loan, or sell the property to pay off your debt.

    An interest-only loan will cost more in interest over the life of the loan than a principal and interest loan.

    Very few people keep a loan for the full 25 years, but you should be aware that the cost differentials between an interest-only loan and a principal and interest loan can be quite significant when calculated over the entire life of the loan. For example:

    • With a normal principal and interest loan for $500,000 at 4.78% p.a. based on an LVR of 80% over 25 years, the total cost of interest on the loan would be$357,766 over the 25 year period.
    • On an interest-only loan for $500,000 at 4.78% p.a. based on an LVR of 80% over 25 years with an interest-only period of 10 years, the total cost of interest on the loan would be $440,443 over the 25 year period. This means that the interest-only loan could cost you an additional $82,676 in interest compared to a 25 year principal and interest loan.

    You may miss out on a golden opportunity to pay down the principal while interest rates are low.

    Is a principal and interest the right loan for you considering that interest-rates are now at all time lows? Sometimes it can be worth paying more now to save money later. Paying down as much as you can off the loan principal now could mean that when interest rates do rise, you will be paying those higher interest rates on a reduced loan amount. Of course, a reduced loan size could mean lower loan repayments and/or paying less interest in the long-term.

    Ask us if an interest-only home loan could help you to achieve your goals.

    As your professional mortgage and finance brokers, we know about the pros and cons of all home loan and finance products. We’re here to help you understand the different financing options available and give you expert advice on how you can be clever about applying them to help you achieve your goals. Everyone’s personal financial circumstances and goals are different and you can be sure we’ll take the time to listen and understand what you want to achieve. If you’re considering using an interest-only home loan, please get in touch. We’ll help you decide if it’s the right option for you.

  • 5 business professionals worth their weight in gold

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    Buying a property can be a very detailed and complicated process that takes a great deal of effort to complete successfully.

    If you have no experience with buying a property, you may find it difficult to know if you have done everything right. The good news is there’s no need to do it on your own. With the right team of business professionals on your side you can make the whole process go a lot more quickly and smoothly, prevent expensive mistakes and maximise the full financial benefits of making your property purchase.

    So what kind of professional support might you need? Here are five business professionals that can be worth their weight in gold to every property buyer, whether you’re buying your first home, your next home or a property investment.

    Building & Pest Inspector

    When you’ve chosen the area that’s right for your property purchase, you should take the time to find a Building & Pest Inspector who knows the area well before you even start your property selection process. When you find a property that you’re interested in buying, having your experienced Building & Pest Inspector lined up will help you to move on it quickly and with the appropriate caution.

    The word ‘caution’ is an important word to use here because not every property is as good as it looks to the untrained eye. The rule of thumb when purchasing a property is always to take a good look before you leap. Many unwary home buyers have fallen in love with what they think is the perfect home, only to find out later that it has expensive maintenance issues.

    Solicitor / Conveyancer

    A solicitor or conveyancer is required to attend to the legal formalities and prepare all of the documents you need to transfer a property into your name and ensure your settlement day goes smoothly. Their role is to be the champion of your legal interests during the purchase process and that’s why choosing a good one is important to your success.

    First of all, your solicitor will be invaluable in helping you to understand the terms, conditions and contents of any contract that you will be required to sign. If you are intending to purchase at auction, they can explain the auction rules and conditions. If you are building a new home, or if you are purchasing off the plan from a developer, an experienced solicitor will know what you need to be careful about, what to include in the contract of sale to protect your interests and help to ensure that you end up getting exactly what you are paying for.

    Accountant

    A good accountant can be a huge bonus when purchasing a property, particularly if you’re a property investor but also if you’re a first home buyer or an owner occupier. That’s because understanding your own financial position is the most important part of the property purchasing process. It helps you determine your buying power, identify and plan for any potential cash-flow difficulties and ensures you understand and can cover all the expenses.

    A good accountant who is experienced with property purchases will help you to maximise any tax benefits you may be entitled to receive. If you are planning to invest in property, it is a good idea to consult an accountant about what the tax benefits will be in your particular case and get advice about how to maximise them before you even begin.

    Real Estate Agent/s

    It’s a great idea to find out who are the best real estate agents servicing your chosen property market. Even though a real estate agent’s primary purpose is to represent a seller in a property transaction, the really good ones will also be willing to lend you their expertise in locating the right property for you – even if they don’t have it on their books right now.

    As a buyer, you will not pay a real estate agent for any services they provide to you, as the seller is responsible for paying their fees. However, good real estate agents will want to meet you and keep in touch with you because you may be a prospective buyer for one of their future customer’s properties. They will take the time to discover your needs and take an interest in what kind of property you are looking for, making a note of your approximate price range and when you want to buy. When an appropriate property becomes available, they will contact you to see if you are interested. This can help you stay on top of new properties coming on to the market in the areas that are of interest you.

    Mortgage & Finance Broker

    There are thousands of home loan products available and finding the one that is exactly the right fit for your personal financial circumstances and goals can be a confusing process. If you approach a bank directly, they will only tell you about their own products. If you go online to do your own research on all the options, you could be there for days and still be in the dark about which finance product is the best one for you.

    Some people just pick the loan with the lowest interest rate they can see and never even find out if a different type of loan product could have saved them more money in other ways.

    A professional mortgage and finance broker is here to help you sort through all of these aspects of choosing a loan. Our job is to find a loan that is exactly the right fit considering your short and long-term goals, how much you can actually afford to borrow and what you need to get out of your loan in terms of features and benefits.

    Consulting a mortgage and finance broker is usually free of charge. We’re even happy to have an informal chat with you if you just want to test the waters about getting a loan. Expert credit advice could make a big difference to your financial well-being both now and in the future – it’s not only about your finance needs right now.

    If you need help meeting the right professionals for your property purchasing team, we’ll be happy to provide you with some referrals. As mentioned, we’re also happy to give you whatever information you may need about loan products and their uses. So please feel free to call and chat with us today.

  • Welcome to our October newsletter

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    Conditions are great for home buyers and borrowers! Are you ready to tackle all the excitement of our very busy Spring property markets?

    Last month, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) appointed a new Governor, Dr Philip Lowe. After his very first meeting as the RBA Governor, Dr Lowe announced the RBA would be keeping the official cash rate on hold at 1.50 per cent during October. But everyone was well ahead of Dr Lowe’s announcement after he made comments to the press about the lack of effectiveness of further rate cuts in stimulating economic growth when he was first appointed in September.

    The RBA last cut rates in August, bringing the official cash rate to all-time lows. However the cut did not have the desired effect of reducing the level of the Australian dollar against other currencies that the RBA intended. Analysts now appear to be undecided regarding the prospect of further rate cuts this year and the RBA is taking a wait and see attitude before indicating its next move.

    Spring is traditionally the busiest time of the year in Australia’s property markets, however Grand Final Weekend slowed the market for the last week of September, particularly in Victoria where there were only 133 scheduled auctions for the week ending October 02. However these auctions did achieve a very high clearance rate of 92%. The NSW market was a bit more active with 628 auctions achieving a clearance rate of 80%.

    Elsewhere around the country, the QLD market had a lot of activity with 253 auctions, but the clearance rate was very low at just 36%. SA scheduled 47 auctions with a clearance rate of 75%, ACT had 50 auctions with a clearance rate of 72%, WA had only 15 auctions with a clearance rate of 33%, NT held 14 auctions with a clearance rate of 23% and Tasmania had only 5 auctions with a clearance rate of 25%.

    With increased activity in the Spring property market, home values are also on the rise in most markets. Sydney saw a rise in home values of 0.81% for the month of September, Melbourne saw a rise of 2.30%, Brisbane/Gold Coast rose 0.22%, Adelaide rose 2.11%, Canberra 2.38% and in Hobart home values also rose by 0.14%.

    In the north and west of the country, home values have been trending downward during the first 10 months of 2016. Darwin’s home values fell by 2.21% and Perth’s by 2.37% during the month of September alone. It should also be noted that rental rates are also showing a downward trend in these markets.

    Interest rates are currently at all-time lows and following the RBA rate cut in August, lenders are offering some great deals for all kinds of property buyers. If you’re considering purchasing a property or refinancing an existing home loan, it is a great time to see us to discuss your plans or get loan pre-approval. If also a good time to talk to us if you’ve been considering a switch to a fixed rate product to lock in a low rate for a fixed term. Whatever your financing needs we’d love to help, so please get in touch today.

  • To fix or not to fix?

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    Should you switch to a fixed interest rate product?

    With the official cash rate at an historical low and the possibility of more RBA rate cuts on the horizon, this is possibly the most frequently asked question of professional mortgage brokers today. Often the question is focused on the timing, with consumers asking if now is a good time to fix their interest rate, or if they should wait to see if interest rates fall even lower.

    However, saving money on interest is not necessarily the most important thing to consider if you’re thinking about making the switch to a fixed rate loan. In this article, we talk about the pros and cons of fixed interest rate loans and the real reasons you should consider using one.

    What is a fixed rate home loan?

    A fixed rate home loan allows you to lock in an interest rate for a fixed term, which means your loan repayments stay the same during the fixed term even if variable interest rates should rise. It allows you to plan exactly how much your repayments will be for the life of the term, making budgeting easier and this is the major benefit of a fixed rate home loan.

    Usually you can choose to fix the interest rate on your home loan for a term between 1 to 5 years. After the fixed period ends, the loan usually reverts automatically to the standard variable rate unless you refinance your loan to another product or negotiate another fixed term.

    Is switching to a fixed rate product a good interest saving strategy?

    For some people, the motivation for switching to a fixed interest rate product is primarily to save money in the event of an interest rate rise. These home owners are looking for ways to save money on interest any way they can over the life of their loan. Their strategy is to go with a variable rate product for now so they can pay the lowest interest possible in the short-term, then switch to a fixed interest rate product to keep their interest rate low when interest rates look as though they are going to rise.

    Basically, they are interested in locking their interest at the lowest rate possible when it is most prudent to do so. That’s why we are always being asked if ‘now’ is a good time to fix.

    The problem with this interest savings strategy is that no one can accurately predict interest rate movements. That makes it very difficult to know when it might be advantageous to switch, or even if switching will have the desired effect of saving on interest. How do we know when we will save more by using a variable rate product and when we will save more by switching to a fixed interest rate product?

    There is really no way to tell. In order to save money on interest by switching to a fixed rate product, variable interest rates would need to rise well above the interest rate you are paying on your fixed rate loan (and fixed rate loans usually carry a higher interest rate than variable rate loans). You also need to consider that if interest rates should fall during the fixed interest term of your loan, you will be missing out on any interest savings you would have received if you had a variable rate loan.

    Consider your financial circumstances before making the switch

    The decision to switch to a fixed interest rate loan should be influenced by other factors besides the possibility of any substantial saving on interest. The point of a fixed interest rate loan is to help you budget your household expenses more effectively, particularly for the first few years you own a property when your finances may be tight and budgeting may be difficult. As an added bonus, you are temporarily protected from interest rate rises. If interest rates do increase during the fixed interest term of your loan, you will have until the end of the fixed interest term to plan how you will manage to cover the increased payments on your loan when the fixed term ends.

    Switching to a fixed interest rate loan may not be a good idea if you need flexibility. If you are planning to sell your home in the near future, increase your loan or redraw from it, make extra repayments or refinance to access equity, staying with a variable rate home loan could actually save you money. Fixed rate home loans usually have sizeable penalties if you need to make changes or pay off the loan during the fixed term of the loan, which could cost you many thousands of dollars.

    The split option is designed to help you hedge your bets

    Many lenders offer a home loan product that gives you the capacity to split your loan between both the variable and fixed interest rate options. This could give you the advantage of partial protection in the event of interest rate rises, but could also offer you facilities like an offset account which could be very beneficial if you are a good saver, plus the ability to make extra repayments and redraw them if you need to.

    It is important to remember that with a split loan, you are still locked into the product for the length of the fixed rate term. If you needed to sell your home or repay the fixed portion of the loan early for any reason, you would still be required to pay a stiff penalty.

    To find out if switching to a fixed interest rate loan is the right move for you, it is a good idea to talk to a professional mortgage broker about your personal financial situation and goals. We’re here to help you understand which products are right for your needs and help you to choose an option that saves you the most amount of money possible. Call us today.

  • How to avoid hard sell sales tactics

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    Hard selling tactics are used by salespeople in a wide variety of industries, including property and real estate.

    They’re designed to get you to make a purchase quickly and deny you the opportunity to evaluate the purchase properly and compare other options.

    Hard sell sales tactics often include aggressive or forceful language and usually use strong psychological pressure to convince you to buy. Sometimes it is not immediately obvious that you are being given the hard sell – the salesman will pretend to be your friend and behave as if they are helping you out!

    So how do you avoid being pushed into a purchase by a hard selling salesperson? Here are five tips to help you come out on top.

    1. Learn to say no.

    Saying no is surprisingly difficult for some people. We’re all brought up to be polite and delivering a flat no can seem rude. The hard sell practitioner is fully aware of this and uses your good manners to their advantage to create an opportunity to make their sales pitch. Always be polite, but be firm when saying no or they will continue to pester you until you buy something.

    Learning to say no to such people is vitally important. Make the word ‘no’ your default response until you are sure you have all the facts and are in a position to make an informed and considered decision.

    2. Beware of people bearing gifts.

    Another common tactic, and one that is frequently used by property sellers and developers, is to reinforce your natural tendency to avoid saying no by giving you a ‘free’ gift. They know a gift will make you feel more obligated to say yes because we are all conditioned to reciprocate when given a gift.

    For example, time share companies will often offer you a ‘free’ weekend away in return for attending their seminar, then try and pressure you into buying while you’re there. Or a property developer may offer you a ‘free’ furniture voucher to get you to attend an open house, then pressure you into signing a contract on the spot.

    Always remember that when you accept a gift that is described as ‘free’, you are placed under absolutely no obligation to make a purchase or return the favour. Say no firmly and take your ‘free’ gift home without feeling guilty about it.

    3. Keep your emotions in check.

    High pressure sales tactics also take advantage of your negative emotions. They play on feelings such as fear, greed, vanity, guilt, ambition, frustration, anxiety and even loneliness. Gratification of any of these emotions is a strong motivator and makes us very susceptible to impulsive purchasing decisions that we may regret later.

    When making any large purchase, it is important to be able to put your emotions aside and think logically and practically. Before you even consider looking at a home or car to purchase, protect the integrity of your decision making process by working out a budget and a buying strategy. Avoid impulse purchases by giving yourself a cooling off period when you can take the time to sit down and calmly consider the pros and cons.

    4. See the bigger picture.

    When emotions are running high and you’re under pressure to make a decision, it is a good idea to step back and take a wider view of the situation. Resist your impulse to purchase by taking a few deep breaths and asking yourself “What will happen if I don’t make the decision to purchase right now?”

    After a few minutes have passed, more sensible considerations will come to the fore. Such as can you afford it? Does it meet your needs? Will it give you the return on your investment that the salesman has promised? Are you paying the right price? Could you get a better price by waiting and negotiating a bit more? These are the bigger picture questions that need to be answered before you make your decision to buy.

    5. Do your own research.

    Every property developer, real estate agent and car salesman will tell you their deal is fantastic, that buying their product is a ‘no-brainer’. They may even show you data or statistics to back up what they say. Never trust the word of a hard sell salesperson, always verify the facts for yourself. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    When making any large purchase, particularly a property, the importance of conducting your own thorough research cannot be overstated. It may be time-consuming, but it is not difficult to go online and check you’re paying the right price, how likely it is that the investment will appreciate in value and what are the likely rental yields. If you are buying off the plan, or from a developer, always take the time to verify the value of the property on completion and hire an expert to help you if necessary. Do not take the developer’s word for it.

    Remember, the objective of the hard sell salesperson is to make you buy now in order to take away your opportunity to consider things properly and perhaps decide not to make the purchase. The harder the sell, the more reason you have to go away and carefully research their offer.

    Talk to a professional finance broker today.

    One of the ways unscrupulous salespeople make their money is by selling you expensive finance. No matter how attractive the offer or how insistent the salesperson, you should never sign up for finance on the spot. It is very easy to be distracted by the price of that great car or perfect house and forget to be diligent about your financing deal – this is a major mistake that could end up costing you a lot more than you think.

    Finance contracts can often have restrictive terms, unfavourable interest rates and hefty exit fees. Car dealership finance for example, is notorious for failing to take into consideration your complete financial circumstances, so you could end up with financial hardship or may actually find yourself unable to make your car repayments. This could be disastrous for your credit rating and leave you struggling to get any kind of finance in the future.

    No matter the urgency, always take the time to talk with a mortgage or finance broker about your finance needs. We will help you to determine exactly how much you can afford to borrow and make sure you obtain the most favourable interest rate and finance product available for you and your needs, taking into consideration your personal financial circumstances and goals. Call us today.

  • 5 great reasons to consider refinancing

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    Getting a mortgage locked in can be a major hurdle when buying a property, whether you’re a home buyer or an investor.

    For some, it can be a very anxious time and it’s easy to understand why you might try to avoid the stress of doing it again for as long as you can. However, sticking with the same loan for too long can be a mistake. In this article we talk about some of the benefits of refinancing your mortgage and some of the strategic reasons why you should regularly consider making a switch.

    #1. It pays to change with the times.

    Mortgage products can become outdated very quickly and it’s important to check regularly to make sure your home loan product hasn’t become a bit of a dinosaur. It really can pay to take the time just to see what’s out there in terms of mortgage features.

    Some products offer features that could save you money outside of your mortgage. For example, fee free transaction accounts or low-rate credit cards. Other mortgage products may offer rewards, incentives or even more flexibility. Or perhaps you could be benefiting from more features on your home loan like the ability to make extra repayments and redraw them if you need to, or an offset account that helps you maximise your savings and saves you money on interest.

    #2. Minimise your interest bill.

    Interest rates also change frequently, with lenders making adjustments in response to economic influences, RBA rate movements and policy directives from industry bodies such as the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). And smaller lenders and new lenders in the market place often offer lower interest rates than the big banks, just to attract new business. So it really does pay to compare your interest rate against a range of other options from time to time.

    A recent study showed that borrowers who held the same home loan for more than ten years could easily have paid thousands more in interest than borrowers who monitored their interest rate and switched mortgage products every two to three years. You might wonder how that can be true but consider this, if you have a $500,000 mortgage and can manage to reduce the interest by just one percent, over 30 years you could save $100,000 in interest repayments. Switching regularly could potentially help you achieve results like these for yourself.

    #3. Capitalise on rises in home values.

    The interest rate you may be eligible to receive depends on a number of different criteria and these can change over time. A great example of this is your loan to value ratio (LVR). Your LVR is calculated by dividing the amount of your home loan by the current value of your property. (This is effectively a measure of how much equity you have in the property.)

    Generally speaking, the higher your LVR, the greater the risk to the lender and that’s why they usually apply a higher interest rate to loans with an LVR above 80%. As you make your regular home loan repayments and the value of your property grows over time, your LVR constantly improves. If your property has risen in value or you have made significant headway on paying down your loan, you could find your LVR has improved considerably and you could now be eligible for a better interest rate.

    #4. Maximise improvements to your circumstances.

    An improvement in your personal circumstances could also make you eligible for a better interest rate. Perhaps your credit score has improved over time. Maybe you have had a significant salary increase since you purchased your home, or you have paid off other debts and loans and your financial commitments have been reduced.

    Everyone’s circumstances are different and there are lots of ways that time can cause them to change. A consultation with your mortgage and finance broker will soon reveal how any changes to your personal circumstances may influence your interest rate on a new loan.

    #5. Make your investment work harder for you.

    Purchasing a home can be a very emotional experience and it’s easy to forget that your home is more than just the cosy haven where you live. It’s a valuable asset and an important investment that can help you build wealth.

    When you pay down your mortgage and at the same time, the value of the property increases, you build equity in the property that you may be able to access by refinancing. You can use these funds to invest in another property, make another form of investment such as stocks and shares, or to increase the value of your home through renovation. These are just some of the popular wealth building strategies that refinancing can help you to achieve.

    Another way you can use refinancing to save money on interest and improve your financial situation is by consolidating your debts. The interest rate you pay on your mortgage is the lowest interest rate available – much more attractive than the interest rate offered on credit cards, car loans, personal loans and store credit.

    If you’re interested in refinancing your home loan, just give us a call. We’ll help you decide if it’s the right move for you and work out the numbers to ensure the costs don’t outweigh the benefits. We’ll also help you to find a new loan that has the right features for your needs and offers you the best interest rate available for you considering your current personal financial circumstances. Call us today.

  • Welcome to our September newsletter

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    Spring is here and it’s also the start of the busiest time of year for our property markets! Auction activity is already heating up in our largest capital cities – are you ready for the rush?

    At its September meeting last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.50 per cent. The decision came as no surprise to analysts as the RBA cut the cash rate by 25 basis points just last month, bringing it to all-time lows.

    Positive economic growth figures for the June quarter of 3% combined with improved jobs and salary growth data, indicate the RBA’s easing measures are starting to have the desired effect. Whilst the RBA would prefer the Australian dollar to be weaker against other global currencies in order to stimulate growth in our export markets, the US Federal Reserve is tipped to be considering an interest rate rise at their September 20 meeting this month. This could potentially create a downward trend in our dollar, eliminating the need for further rate cuts from the RBA this year.

    Following last month’s RBA rate cut, lenders have been reducing interest rates on a wide variety of owner occupier home loan and property investment loan products. However, some have only passed on part of the rate cut, which prompts us to motivate you to check your interest rate with us to see if you still have the most competitive loan product for your needs!

    Activity in our largest property markets is already picking up after the Winter slowdown. Victoria held 826 auctions during the week ending September 4 and achieved a clearance rate of 79%. NSW also had a big week with 715 auctions and an 84% clearance rate. Other markets were slower to respond to the arrival of Spring, with QLD holding 135 auctions with a clearance rate of 58%, SA 73 auctions with a clearance rate of 81%, and ACT had 76 auctions with a clearance rate of 78%.

    The Perth and WA property market has been quite weak for some time and the trend is expected to continue during 2016. For the first week of Spring only 26 auctions were held and they only achieved a clearance rate of 17%. NT and Tasmania have also been slow to get started, with NT holding just 6 auctions with a clearance rate of 40% and Tasmania holding 7 auctions which achieved no sale.

    Home value movements were very conservative this month, with Sydney achieving an increase of 1.44%, Melbourne 1.49%, Brisbane/Gold Coast 0.47%, and Perth 0.20%. Larger gains were seen in Darwin at 4.07% and Canberra 2.77%. Adelaide saw a slight decline in home values of 0.96% and Hobart’s home values fell by 0.88%.

    Many of you in the market to purchase a property this Spring have already talked to us about arranging pre-approval on your home loans. If you haven’t called us yet, pick up the phone and get onto it so you don’t risk missing out on the home of your dreams during the Spring rush! Rates are great following last month’s RBA cut so it’s also a good time to discuss your refinancing plans, fix your interest rate or get a home loan health check on your existing loan. Give us a call today!

  • How to access your equity (and what to do with it)

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    Saving up the cash for a deposit on a second property can be just as difficult as saving for your first home. So how do property investors manage to get their hands on enough money to build a decent portfolio?

    The answer is equity. It’s a hidden source of wealth that grows inside your property purchases over time. Equity is one of the biggest financial benefits of home ownership, a benefit that could allow you to turn your first home into a money tree that helps you finance property investment activities and build wealth for your future.

    What is equity exactly?
    Your equity is the difference between what your home is worth and what you owe on it. For example, if your property is worth $500,000 and you owe $400,000 then your equity is $100,000.
    In order to calculate your equity position properly, you will need to establish the current market value of your home. You can do an estimate yourself by comparing your home to the price of similar homes that have sold in the surrounding area recently. If you would like a more accurate assessment of your home equity, you will need to obtain the services of a professional valuation expert.

    How do you access your equity?
    Once the equity in your home has increased, it may be possible to access it. Accessing your equity requires making an arrangement with a lender. There are several different ways you can go about accessing your equity. The options that are available to you will depend on your personal financial circumstances and goals, so you should talk with a professional mortgage broker about which method is right for you.

    The two most popular options to access equity are to refinance your existing mortgage to extract a lump sum, or to establish a line of credit against the equity in your home. However, it should be noted that a lender will seldom allow you to borrow against all of the equity in your home, particularly if you still have a mortgage. They usually prefer to keep back at least 20% of the equity in your first home as security.

    How can you grow your equity faster?
    A popular strategy to grow equity quickly is to add value to your property. This can be achieved by renovating or expanding your home. You can often create quite large equity gains with a relatively small capital outlay and the equity increase occurs as soon as you have completed the project. Improving your property also tends to help it to continue to go up in value more readily over time – out dated properties, particularly run down properties, tend to experience less value growth because prospective buyers view them as fix-me-uppers and only want to pay a bargain price.

    If your property is on a large block of land, you may even like to consider subdivision as a means of accessing the equity in your home. The subdivided block will acquire a value of its own, which you can borrow against to build. Or you can simply sell the block and access the funds.

    What is the equity investment strategy?
    When investing in property, time is your friend. Over time, the equity grows in your first property, which you can then use as a deposit to purchase a second property. This will mean that you now have two properties growing in value over time, which has the effect of growing your total equity position twice as fast. After a little more time passes, you can access more equity from the first two properties to invest in a third property, and so on.

    Whilst you continue paying the mortgage on your first property yourself, your tenants pay the mortgages on your second property and any further properties you may purchase after that. Both the tenant’s financial contributions and home value growth in the marketplace continue to increase your total equity position. The more properties you own, the more quickly your total equity grows.

    Are there any risks?
    There are always risks associated with any kind of investment strategy. The danger is that you will borrow too much money and when interest rates go up, your tenant’s rental contributions will not cover your mortgage repayments and you may not be able to cover the difference from your own pocket. If a decline in property prices was to occur at the same time as an interest rate rise, you may find yourself in the position of having to sell off your properties at a considerable loss.

    The way to mitigate these risks is to invest conservatively and always get the advice of a professional mortgage broker to help you determine how much you should borrow. They will help you take into consideration what could happen in the worst case scenario and help to make sure you don’t get caught out.

    For more information about using the equity in your home to invest, please call us today. We’ll be happy to help you formulate an appropriate strategy that’s right for your personal financial situation and goals and help you to get started by helping you access your equity and by getting you pre-approval on an investment loan.

  • Could a buyer’s agent be your secret weapon?

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    Investing in property is a big decision that can keep even the most seasoned property investor awake at night. How do you know if you’ve got your investment strategy right? How can you make sure you’re choosing the right property? Where can you find the time to do the necessary research? What is the right price to pay?

    A good buyer’s agent is the property investor’s secret weapon. They provide professional guidance on every aspect of your property investment journey, with the objective of saving you time, money and many sleepless nights. A buyer’s agent can help you take a more professional, balanced approach to your property investment activities, removing the emotional aspects of the process and saving you from the natural human tendency to make unwise, impulsive decisions under pressure.

    What does a buyer’s agent do?
    Buyer’s agents specialise in representing a buyer’s interests during a property purchase. Whilst they are most commonly used by property investors, buyer’s agents are also frequently used by families searching for exactly the right home, and people moving interstate or overseas, making the process much easier by doing all the leg-work and narrowing down the options.

    Buyer’s agents usually offer differing levels of service, depending on your requirements. The full service covers every aspect of the property investment journey including:

    • Formulating an investment strategy that maximises your funds
    • Searching for suitable properties to fit your buying strategy
    • Researching every aspect of a property to ensure profitability
    • Arranging inspections with vendors and real estate agents
    • Negotiating a price and terms of sale
    • Bidding at auctions on your behalf
    • Co-ordinating your professional team – solicitors, mortgage brokers etc.
    • Ongoing service to help you establish a complete portfolio.

    Getting the property research and selection process right is arguably the most important part of your property investment journey. It certainly takes the most amount of time and getting the right information requires a certain amount of know-how too. A professional buyer’s agent knows which questions to ask and where to look for the answers. They can often access information from developers, councils and other relevant bodies that is not readily available to the ordinary consumer.

    However, you don’t necessarily need to engage the full services of a buyer’s agent. You can also engage a buyer’s agent just to do research for you, to negotiate a price for you, or to bid for you at an auction if you would rather not do it yourself. This can be a good idea if you are nervous, inexperienced, you can’t attend the auction yourself, or you feel you may get carried away by the auction process and pay too much.

    How much does a buyer’s agent cost?
    There are many buyer’s agents and the cost will vary according to the agent you choose, your location and your requirements. Qualified, professional buyer’s agents generally charge between 1.5  – 3% + GST of the purchase price of the property for their full services, however this can often be negotiated in favour of a flat fee and savings may be obtained if you are planning on purchasing multiple properties.

    When providing a research service only, a negotiating service only, or a bidding service only, your buyer’s agent will usually charge a fee for their time. Again this will vary according to the agent, the location and your requirements. You can generally expect these services to cost around $1,000 + GST depending on how much of their time you require.

    If you are purchasing a property for investment purposes, the cost of a buyer’s agent is generally tax deductible as are most of the professional services you will require as part of the process.

    How do you find a good buyer’s agent?
    A good way to locate a great buyer’s agent is by word of mouth – there’s nothing like a recommendation from a friend, colleague or trusted business advisor (like your mortgage broker) to make you feel confident about someone’s credentials. However, you can also find some reputable buyer’s agents through the Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia (REBAA) website.

    Sometimes, outsourcing is the sensible option
    Engaging a buyer’s agent can save you hours of time and loads of stress. If you’re new to property investment, then a buyer’s agent can also be invaluable in helping you to avoid costly mistakes. When you do find a property you want to buy, all the hard work in locating it can easily be lost in the final hurdle – the purchasing process. Having an expert on your side to negotiate the price you need, or to bid for you at the auction, can reduce the risks and make all the difference. Using a buyer’s agent is one case where outsourcing can take a lot of the frustration out of the process!

    For more information, or to get your property investment finance in place, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

  • 5 tips for buying off the plan

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    When you’re looking to buy a property, a genuine bargain is the ultimate Holy Grail. We all want to buy at less than market value – and this is exactly the reason why it hardly ever happens. Buying off the plan has the possibility of being the one exception, particularly in a rising property market. It offers buyers an opportunity to put down a deposit at today’s prices on a property that is not yet built, in anticipation that it will have significantly increased in value by the time it is completed and settlement is due.

    It sounds simple, right? In fact, buying a property off the plan can be a lot more complicated than it may first appear. In this article we give you five tips on how to get it right.

    What is buying off the plan?
    Buying off the plan means signing a contract with a developer to purchase a property that has not yet been built. Instead of inspecting a completed home, you choose the property by inspecting the developer’s designs and plans, or by visiting a demonstration home or show room. Apartments are the most common type of off-the-plan property purchase, however you can often buy units, duplexes and townhouses that are a part of a larger development.

    Tip #1. Do your research.
    Putting down your deposit on a property that proves to be worth less than the original agreed purchase price could be a disaster, as you may not be able to get the finance you need to complete the sale. That’s why it is vitally important to do your research very carefully to ensure you’re buying a property that will have the value you expect when the purchase is completed.

    To be sure you get it right, you should research the suburb’s capital growth rates and rental yields. You should also find out how many other, similar developments are planned to find out how this will affect sale prices, clearance rates and vacancy rates in the area.

    Tip #2. Reference check the developer.
    Choosing the right developer is just as important as choosing the right property. Everyone has heard stories about dodgy property developers and the way to avoid being caught out is to reference check them carefully.

    Do a background check on the developer for bankruptcy, criminal record, complaints with your local building authority and ask to speak with previous clients. Ask the developer how long they have been in the industry, how many projects they have completed and visit their previous work to inspect the quality. Find out what professional industry associations they have.

    Most importantly, ask the developer to provide proof of their financial status. You don’t want to run the risk of the developer going into liquidation before the property is finished.

    Tip #3. Be sure of what you’re buying.
    When buying off the plan, it pays to be very thorough and detail minded. You need to determine exactly what you are going to be getting for your money, so ask a lot of questions about what is covered by the purchase price and what isn’t. You should be careful to ensure that everything your developer agrees to provide is written down in the contract. Be as detailed as you possibly can in every respect.

    Tip #4. Get a solicitor to check the contract.
    Because they are so very detailed and comprehensive, contracts for off the plan purchases can be complex and lengthy. To make sure everything is correct, take the contract to a solicitor you can trust to check it carefully. Read it yourself and ask your solicitor to explain anything you don’t understand before you sign on the dotted line.

    Tip #5. Pre-inspect prior to settlement.
    Another thing that you must remember to include in your contract is a pre-settlement inspection. This will give you the opportunity to go in and check that everything the developer has agreed to deliver is there in the property. You can also take along a building inspector to help you check for defects or finishes that are not up to standard. If everything is not in order, you can delay settlement until the developer rectifies the problem. Including a pre-settlement inspection in your contract is essential to protecting yourself from having to take possession of an uncompleted property. You don’t want to hand over your money until you are completely satisfied you’re getting everything you’re paying for.

    If you’re considering buying off the plan, it’s also a good idea to get pre-approval on a loan before you sign the contract. You can then keep this up to date whilst the property is being constructed to be sure you can get finance when needed. We’re here to help you crunch the numbers and make sure it’s the right purchase for you, so please call us today.

  • Welcome to our August newsletter

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    Whilst our property markets have cooled somewhat over winter, last week’s rate cut from the RBA looks all set to motivate buyers and reignite property market activity in time for spring

    At its August meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to cut the official cash rate by 25 basis points to just 1.50 per cent. This follows a rate cut in May this year, bringing the official cash rate to its lowest point ever on record!  The RBA has indicated that it’s now waiting for more information regarding global currency market activity before it will decide if further cuts to the cash rate will be necessary in 2016.

    This month’s move was prompted by low inflation figures for the June quarter, which indicated a weakening trend, well under the RBA’s target range of 2 per cent.  The Australian dollar also remains stubbornly high compared to other currencies, which tends to have a dampening effect on the economy.

    Property market activity has cooled during winter, which is traditionally the case for this time of year. For the week ending July 31, Victoria’s auction market was the strongest, with 754 scheduled auctions and a clearance rate of 75 per cent. NSW held 509 auctions with a clearance rate of 78 per cent. Queensland only scheduled 156 auctions and the clearance rate was quite low at just 49 per cent. South Australia had 107 auctions and a clearance rate of 69 per cent. Western Australia scheduled 34 auctions and achieved a clearance rate of only 37 per cent. Northern Territory had only 8 auctions and a clearance rate of just 25 per cent. ACT held 43 auctions, with a clearance rate of 74 per cent and whilst Tasmania held 7 auctions, none of the properties registered as sold.

    With the overall weakening of property sales during winter, home value increases have also slowed. The biggest increase for the month was in Adelaide, where home values rose 1.42 per cent. Home values in Sydney increased by 1.25 per cent, in Hobart by 1.12 per cent and in Melbourne, 1.11 per cent. All other markets showed very marginal decreases in home values, except for Darwin where there was a significant drop of 6.18 per cent.

    This month’s cash rate cut, combined with the decline in market activity for winter, has stimulated  lenders to offer some extremely competitive interest rates and great special offers. Smaller lenders have passed on the full rate cut, so if you’ve been waiting for the right time to refinance your home loan or fix your interest rate, then this could be it! We can also access great rates for first home buyers, next home buyers and property investors, so give us a call now to check out what we can do for you and find out how much money you could save.

  • Why a building and pest inspection is a must for home buyers.

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    Did you know that termites damage more than 180,000 homes and buildings around Australia every year?

    That the high prevalence of rats and mice in Australian homes is a major factor in the distribution of food poisoning organisms like salmonella? Clearly, if you’re thinking about buying a property, the value of an independent building and pest inspection report can’t be understated!

    Reduce your financial risks.

    Buying a property can be a very emotional decision and it’s easy to forget about looking for defects when you finally find a property you love. But the reality is that all property buyers should obtain an independent building and pest inspection report in order to remain sensible and objective about the property they’re purchasing and reduce the risk of incurring expensive repair bills down the track.

    A building and pest inspection report will provide you with a professional’s evaluation of the condition of the property you are purchasing. They will provide you with a visual review of all elements of the property including structural inspections of the exterior roof, interior roof spaces and eaves, foundations, subfloor, wiring, interior plumbing, sheds and pergolas, fireplaces, electrical and air conditioning systems. Your report can also cover things like windows, doors, flooring, ceilings and other temporary fittings and so on. If you have any particular concerns about a property you are looking to buy, you can mention them to your inspector and they will take special care to put your concerns to rest.

    There are three good financial reasons why you should get a building and pest inspection report:

    1. To check for structural and pest issues, so you are able to budget for rectifying them.
    2. To use the information to negotiate a lower price, or for repairs to be completed before you purchase the property.
    3. To find out if the problems are so severe that they may adversely affect the property’s future resale value, or be so expensive to repair that you may be put off purchasing the property entirely.

    Ideally, a building inspection should be performed before you sign a Contract of Sale, or prior to auction if that is going to be the method of sale. When you’re not buying at auction, it is standard practice to insert a clause into the Contract of Sale stating that the purchase is subject to building and pest inspection reports.

    Even new build homes can have problems.

    Whilst it’s true that structural defects, termite damage and pest infestations tend to be more common in older homes, unfortunately even new-build properties can come with issues. If the property is new, paying for a fully comprehensive building inspection report is still a good idea because it will ensure that the building has been finished correctly according to the building plans and help you identify any problems the builder has overlooked or any issues that may not be covered under the building warranty.

    When it comes to pest problems, these tend to be endemic to areas and their prevalence will have as much to do with where the property is located, as the property’s age. In many areas, homes under construction are extremely vulnerable to termite attack and other pest issues such as rats and mice.

    A few hundred dollars could save you thousands.

    Depending on the location and size of your home, a building and pest inspection report can cost anywhere from $300 for your average suburban home to $600 or more for larger properties or ones located in a rural location. However taking the precaution of getting a building and pest inspection report before you buy could save you a great deal of money and hassle.

    When a professional building and pest inspector comes across a problem that may be significant, they will recommend you seek further advice from an appropriate professional before proceeding with the purchase. Depending on the nature of the defect and the extent of the damage, you can get quotes to make repairs or simply walk away from the deal if it is too hard.

    For more information about locating a reputable company or qualified building industry professional to perform your building and pest inspections, please give us a call. We maintain relationships with many professional companies relating to the purchase of your home, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a referral if you require any assistance.

  • Which is the better investment – residential or commercial?

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    With residential property prices escalating at an unprecedented rate, many investors looking to enter the property market are finding it increasingly difficult to get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder.

    As an alternative option, more and more investors are investigating the merits of commercial property to help them grow their wealth. But what are the major differences between commercial and residential property investments? What do investors need to look out for?

    Capital growth potential

    Capital growth potential is an important consideration for investors, and this is one of the key differences between residential and commercial property. It is generally believed that the capital growth potential of commercial property is not as reliable as with residential property. This is because demand for residential property is growing all the time as the population grows, usually at a higher rate than the supply of new homes.

    Generally speaking, demand for commercial property tends to be less and it is usually reliant on economic growth, rather than population growth. When the economy is in a growth phase, more new businesses start up and this increases demand for commercial premises and supports capital growth, but this generally occurs at a much slower rate than with residential property. Additionally, commercial property is more vulnerable during an economic downturn than residential property.

    Rental yields

    Whilst residential property may win on capital growth potential, commercial property may often be the stronger contender when it comes to rental yields.

    For example, rental yields from residential property are generally around 3 – 5% per annum, which is much lower than with commercial property, which can often return as much as 5 – 12% per annum depending on your choice of investment.

    An additional benefit of commercial property is that rental increases can often be written into the lease and may even be tied to economic factors. This makes it much easier to plan / anticipate the rental returns you will receive on your investment.

    Tenant availability and security

    Whilst rental yields may be higher for commercial property than with residential property, finding tenants may not be as easy. Commercial properties can often sit vacant for months or even years, particularly when the reason for the vacancy is an economic downturn or a long-term tenant has gone out of business. Finding new tenants may often require remodelling or refitting the premises, which can also pose an additional expense.

    However, once you have found a good tenant for your commercial property, they do tend to stay longer and are less likely to default on the rent payments than residential tenants. Residential leases can be as short as three months, where commercial property leases tend to be at least 3 – 5 years or even longer.

    Deposits

    Commercial property investment entry price points may be extremely attractive to the smaller investor, however there are some disadvantages when it comes to putting down a deposit. Lenders are often much more reluctant to approve loans for commercial property investments and usually require a deposit of at least 30%. For a residential property investment, you can often get loan approval with a deposit as low as 5%.

    Maintenance and other property expenses

    This is another area where commercial property investment can often win over residential property investment. With a residential property, the investor is responsible for all maintenance costs and expenses such as repairs and operating expenses like the council rates.

    With a commercial property investment, the tenant is usually responsible for all expenses including general maintenance, repairs and operating expenses such as rates.

    A balanced investment portfolio is best

    When it comes to deciding whether you should invest in residential or commercial property, we recommend that you look at each investment opportunity on its individual merits and do extensive research to determine both its capital growth and rental yield potential.

    A balanced portfolio would most likely include a combination of both residential and commercial properties that have been specifically chosen to meet your personal investment criteria. A balanced approach will also assist in mitigating any risks associated with your investment over time.

    If you’re considering a residential or commercial property investment, then don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’ll help you crunch the numbers to determine if the property you are considering will help you meet your investment objectives. We can also help you to get pre-approval on your loan so you can easily determine which properties meet your buying criteria.

  • What is ‘rentvesting’? And what are the benefits?

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    Rentvesting. It’s a whole new word in today’s popular culture, but it also represents a revolution in home buying strategy, particularly for first home buyers and those struggling to move up the property ladder. But what is it? And what are the benefits?

    What is ‘rentvesting’?

    Everyone agrees that buying your first home is becoming increasingly difficult. The struggle to save up a deposit for your first property purchase is getting harder every year, with home values increasing by as much as 13% or more per year in major markets such as Melbourne and Sydney. The reality is that the longer you wait to buy a property, the more difficult it may become to save a deposit or borrow enough money to be able to afford to buy it.

    For many people, being able to afford to buy a home in a location where they actually want to live is making the challenge more difficult still. With the most affordable homes often located in new suburbs or outer suburbs, finding a place you can afford to buy near to your place of work, family or required lifestyle amenities can be completely out of the question.

    ‘Rentvesting’ is a new buying strategy that’s recently emerged in response to these issues. It entails purchasing your first property as an investment rather than a place to live. Rentvestors typically purchase a property that meets their budget in a location they can afford, then rent a home in a location where they would prefer to live and work. It is frequently more affordable to rent a home in a popular location than it is to buy it, and this basic financial fundamental is what’s behind the rentvesting revolution.

    Technically, you don’t actually have to be renting somewhere to be a ‘rentvestor’. The term also applies to many Gen Y first home buyers. This class of ‘rentvestor’ is typically living at home with mum and dad to reduce their living expenses whilst they save up a deposit for a property purchase. These savvy property buyers may continue to live at home with mum and dad even after they’ve purchased their first property, and perhaps even after they’ve purchased their second.

    What are the benefits of ‘rentvesting’?

    The primary benefit of the rentvesting strategy is that it allows you to get into the property market sooner. As every successful property investor will tell you, the sooner you get into the market, the sooner your property can start generating capital gains and the sooner you can start to build wealth.

    The beauty of this strategy is that in a rising market, you may soon have equity you can use to purchase a second property that’s also in an affordable location. Again it probably won’t be a property you want to live in, but you’ll have two properties gaining equity as home values rise (potentially), two sets of tenants paying down your mortgages for you, and greater tax advantages as well.

    Research is the key to a successful rentvesting strategy

    Buying an investment property first means that you won’t have to compromise on the location when you make your purchase. This can also mean you can make investments that may return you the greatest capital gains. You can literally restrict your property searches to properties that meet your buying criteria of price, affordability and capital growth potential – a luxury that most owner-occupier first home buyers simply don’t have.

    Careful and thorough research is the key to success with a rentvesting strategy. The property needs to deliver a very consistent income and at the same time, achieve steady capital growth. To succeed, you first need to identify a location that provides capital growth potential, then carefully consider the housing stock available within that location and choose one that will best meet your needs.

    Call us to get started

    As your professional mortgage broker, we’re here to help you assess your financial position and work out what you can afford to invest. We can also help you with up-to-the-minute property market data that could give you the edge when selecting the right property for your means.

    For more information about rentvesting, or for an informal chat about your plans with no obligation, please give us a call today. We’ll be happy to help you start rentvesting if it’s the right solution for you.

  • Welcome to our July newsletter

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    With Britain’s vote to exit the EU and all the uncertainty that surrounded our own Federal Election this month, there’s a lot of volatility in our financial markets and our property markets have slowed.

    As predicted by most market forecasters, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.75% once again at its July meeting. The RBA has indicated that it’s waiting for more information before deciding if further cuts to the cash rate will be necessary.

    However, an Aussie dollar that’s strengthening against other currencies in light of global market volatility, combined with a lower than expected national inflation rate would seem to suggest that further rate cuts may be on the horizon. Whilst some analysts are speculating the cash rate could go as low as 1%, others believe a rate cut in August to 1.5% could see the end of the RBA’s easing bias in 2016.

    It is usual for property markets to slow somewhat at this time of year, and the Federal Election also caused a reduction in the number of auctions held at the start of this month. For the week ending Sunday 03 July, there were only 850 auctions scheduled nationally, which is a significant drop since the same time last month when there were 1960 scheduled auctions.

    Auction clearance rates also registered a significant drop in most markets. Queensland held 68 scheduled auctions with a very low clearance rate of just 36%. Western Australia held 30 scheduled auctions with a clearance rate of 38%, ACT held only 27 scheduled auctions with a clearance rate of 54%. NT was also low in activity, with just 9 scheduled auctions and a clearance rate of 22%.

    The larger markets performed a little better however. Victoria had 270 auctions with a clearance rate of 67%, NSW had 365 scheduled auctions with a clearance rate of 78% and South Australia had 70 scheduled auctions with a clearance rate of 62%.

    During June, average home values didn’t show much movement at all. Sydney’s home values increased by just 1.15% and Hobart’s home values increased by 1.81%. Melbourne showed a marginal rise in home values of just 0.77%, Brisbane/Gold Coast also had a marginal increase of 0.11%. All other markets showed marginal declines, with Darwin showing the most significant decrease in home values at -1.55%, Adelaide following with a decrease of -1.27%, Canberra next with a decrease of -1.11%, Perth showing a decrease of -0.79% and Brisbane showing a home value decrease of -0.11%.

    Following the RBA’s decision to cut the cash rate in May, lenders have improved their interest rates for owner-occupier, property investment and commercial property buyers. Interest rates are very competitive and with the property market finally showing signs of slowing down for winter, lenders are offering some great deals to stimulate more business – so please call us today.

  • Welcome Matt Lyons to Element Finance Joondalup!

    Matt, Joondalup Mortgage Broker
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    Please welcome Matt Lyons to Element Finance Joondalup!

    Matt has recently joined Element Finance Joondalup bringing with him 9 years of experience garnered from two large banks and a small Perth broker. More recently, Matt has built several houses and knows first hand the hurdles a home buyer or investor can experience, and he has the ability to break down this process into simple concepts that make the whole process easy to understand.

    After migrating here from England with his parents back in 1993, Matt has adapted to the Australian way of life and enjoys finance, property and investment. It was during his time at The Banks he realised he enjoyed discussing property and creating relationships to deliver a product for the Client that they both understand and meets their needs.

    We are really excited Matt has chosen to join us. If you or any of your friends or family would like to chat with Matt to see how he can help improve your situation, you can contact him directly on matt@elementfinance.com.au or 0401 089 524

  • EOFY: It’s a great time to get your budget under control!

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    Here’s some great end of financial year budget ideas for home buyers.

    Getting your budget under control and your finances in order is absolutely essential to anyone looking to apply for a home loan, but it’s particularly important for first home buyers about to take the first step on the property ladder. Now the end of financial year has arrived and you’re getting all your paperwork together for your tax return, why not take stock of your financial situation and plan your budget for the year ahead at the same time? Here’s a few things to consider if you’re looking to get financially fit for a home loan application in the new financial year.

    Reassess your budget and get serious about your savings.

    When you apply for a home loan, particularly as a first home buyer, it is important to have a thorough understanding of your financial situation and good savings habits. Lenders will want to see an established history of regular savings before they will give you their best rate on a home loan and for this reason, you should take a realistic look at your spending habits and create yourself a budget to ensure your savings will grow at a steady rate.

    Work out how much deposit you’ll need and set yourself a savings target.

    If you set yourself a savings target, you may find it will be much easier to stick to your budget. To set your target, first you’ll need to work out how much you need for your deposit. The amount of deposit you will need will depend on the cost of the property you want to buy, but if you have an idea of the kind of property you want to purchase you’ll be able to set a goal. It’s recommended that you have a deposit of at least 5% of the purchase price, however if you can possibly save 20% of the purchase price you’ll avoid paying Lenders Mortgage Insurance.

    Make an accurate assessment of any debts and ongoing expenses.

    Lenders assess your creditworthiness on the amount of money you already owe, your ability to repay your debts and your capacity to take on more debt. Paying down any credit card debts or personal loans prior to applying for your home loan will improve your borrowing capacity and give you the best chance of loan approval when you apply.

    Even if you don’t have any debt on your credit cards, lenders take into consideration the credit limit on your credit cards and count this as potential debt. So if you have several credit cards, it may be a good idea to cancel some of them now if you are planning on applying for a home loan in the next financial year.

    If you have a lot of debts, think about consolidating them.

    If you take stock of your debts and realise you won’t be able to pay them all off anytime soon, it’s a good idea to look at ways to reduce your interest liability. Credit cards, store cards, short-term personal loans and cash advances all carry high interest rates and this can make them quite difficult to pay down. Getting your finances in order may mean it’s time to consolidate your debts.

    Consolidating your debts means rolling all your debts into one, usually using a loan that has a lower interest rate. If you have quite a few expensive debts it may be possible to roll these into your home loan if you have one, or perhaps a personal loan that carries a lower interest rate overall. This may save you a great deal of money on interest payments, which is money you could use to pay off your debts faster. It could also allow you to spread your repayments over time, making them more affordable. If you want to be eligible to apply for a home loan in the next financial year, consolidating your debts sooner rather than later may be a good idea.

    The end of financial year is a great time to get your finances in order and you never know, you may get a tax refund that could really give a boost to your savings efforts for a deposit for your home! Remember, we’re here to help you get your finances under control so you can save your deposit and get into your new home sooner. If you’re planning on applying for a home loan in the next financial year, don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

  • Renovating for profit: 5 tips to minimise your risks and maximise your gains.

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    Looking to immediately increase the value of your next property purchase?

    Property investment is usually considered a long-term investment strategy, however many investors today are much more ambitious and look for ways to maximise their returns in the shorter-term. One popular way to go about it is to use a ‘renovation strategy’ to instantly increase the value of the property. But whilst it’s certainly true that renovating for profit can bring big rewards when it’s done right, it’s not as easy as it sounds and can carry greater risks. If you’ve been thinking about renovating for profit, here’s 5 tips on how to minimise those risks and maximise your gains.

    1. Make your profit when you buy.

    According to renovate for profit investors, this is the golden rule. In order to profit from a renovation project, you need to make sure that you buy the right property at the right price. It is very important that you do not pay too much for the property in the first place, as over capitalising a property is your biggest risk.

    Do your research and find out what the property is likely to sell for once it is renovated. Subtract the costs of buying and selling, the costs of your renovations, any taxes you may have to pay, and your profit margin. That will give you a budget for the initial purchase price of the property.

    If you can find a property that is at least 20% below market value, then you may be on a winner and it may be worth further investigation.

    2. Look for a property that is structurally sound.

    In order to maximise your return on your renovation dollar, you should look for a property that only requires cosmetic improvements, like painting, interior layout reorganisation, new kitchens and bathrooms, new carpets and a garden makeover. Such renovations are inexpensive and quick to complete, but they generate maximum buyer appeal and that will help to maximise your profit.

    Buyers can’t see structural improvements like a new roof, re-wiring or re-stumping, but these necessary repairs can cost a lot of money and take up a lot of time. You also want to avoid having to deal with expensive problems like termites and subsidence, so make sure you get a building and pest inspection before you buy.

    3. Get professional advice about renovation costs.

    This is particularly important if you are not a DIY renovator and need to use tradesmen to complete the required work on a project. Making your own “guesstimate” will not make you wealthy! If you plan to add rooms, move walls, put in a new bathroom, and paint the entire place inside and out – you’ll need professional help to get it all done in a reasonable time frame. And if you want to make a profit, you’ll need to know exactly how much this will all cost. While you’re still deciding if the property is a good renovate for profit investment prospect, get the builders in to give you a quote so you can be realistic about how much it will cost to make the improvements you want and find out if that will leave you any room for profit.

    4. Make a budget and stick to it.

    Over capitalisation is one of the biggest risks in a renovating for profit strategy. Many people don’t operate to a tight budget and it is very easy to overspend if you don’t plan your budget carefully before you start. If things get out of control and you spend an extra $30,000 more than you intended, it is very unlikely that the end value of the property will increase accordingly to pay you back and you may find yourself making a loss.

    Getting carried away with your renovations is a common mistake, particularly in the décor department. People often make the mistake of going for expensive fixtures and fittings when a more modestly priced version would do just as well. Buyers will seldom turn away from a property if it does not have a top of the range European cooker, but they will walk away if the asking price for the property is $30,000 more than comparable homes in the area.

    5. Get your finance in place for the whole project.

    A mistake people often make is to rush in to buy the property without considering where they will get the money required to make the necessary renovations. That’s why you should talk to us – your professional mortgage brokers – before you do anything. We can help you to organise finance suitable for your entire project from the outset, which can help you to avoid a lot of hassle and expense. Finding the right loan for your needs could help you to save money on interest and avoid expensive exit costs when you sell.

    If you’re looking to buy a property to renovate for profit, give us a call today. We’ll be more than happy to help you work out your budget and make your plans so you can get started sooner. And we’ll help you to get pre-approval on finance that’s tailored to your budget, project, personal financial circumstances and end goals.

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article. General information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Subject to lenders credit criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply.

  • EOFY: Why property investors love tax time.

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    Tips to help property investors maximise their tax returns.

    Don’t you just love getting a tax refund? Whilst nobody enjoys all the paperwork that goes with filing a tax return, getting it right can be rewarding particularly if you’re a property investor. One of the major benefits of investing in property over other asset classes, is support for your investment from the Australian government in the form of tax relief. And of course, if you have a property investment or are considering investing in property soon, you won’t want to miss out on a single cent from any of the deductions that are available to you. Here are some tips to help you maximise your tax benefits this financial year if you are a property investor.

    Make sure you’re claiming every cent you can for depreciation.

    Depreciation is one of the major tax benefits that property investors can claim. Depreciation occurs as an item’s worth becomes less over time as it is used and it wears out. When you’re talking about a tax deduction, depreciation is a method of allocating the cost of an item over its useful life. For example, if your investment property has an oven that is valued at $1,000 and has a ten year life, you can claim $100 against your taxable income for 10 years on that individual item.

    With an investment property, you are only allowed to claim depreciation on certain items against your taxable income. There are two types of depreciation tax deductions that you can claim:

    • Depreciation on plant & equipment: this refers to items within the building like ovens, hot water heaters, air conditioners, carpets, blinds, light fittings and so on.
    • Depreciation on buildings or ‘building allowance’: this refers to the construction costs of the building itself, such as concrete, brickwork, and so on.

    In order to make a tax claim for depreciation, you need a report that identifies all the things that may be claimed against your tax and the current value of each item. This is called a depreciation schedule. Unfortunately, the Australian Tax Office will not allow you to create your own depreciation schedule, you’ll need to employ the services of a qualified Quantity Surveyor to do a thorough inspection to identify what can be claimed and make the necessary valuations on those items. But don’t worry, the cost of preparing your depreciation schedule is also tax deductible.

    Spend money on property maintenance now so you can claim it back right away.

    Every investment property requires maintenance and if you do it in June, you won’t be out of pocket for the expense for very long. If your property’s smoke detectors need servicing, or you haven’t sent the pest control company around for a while, now is a good time to do it. Cleaning, gardening and lawn mowing costs are also usually tax deductible (for you, not your tenant). Any other necessary repairs, maintenance and service costs – like checking the gas and hot water heaters for example, are also tax deductible for most property investors, so consider taking care of any issues before the end of the financial year.

    Get back the other money you hate to spend.

    When you own a property, it sometimes seems like you have to pay out a lot of money for invisible things that don’t have much benefit for you, which can be annoying. Tax time is when you can get your own back, with land tax, council and water rates, property management fees, advertising costs for marketing the property to tenants, body-corporate and strata-title fees all tax deductible expenses. You can also claim back any travel and car expenses directly related to inspecting your investment properties, but do keep a log book and any relevant receipts.

    Remember to claim your finance and insurance costs.

    Generally speaking, you are allowed to claim all finance costs associated with your property investment, including bank fees and charges, borrowing costs and interest on your loans. All insurance costs for your investment property are also tax deductible. So if you talk to us about your insurance coverage now, we can make sure you have the right cover for your current needs just in time for you to put in a claim for the cost with this year’s tax return.

    Remember, if you’re a property investor or are considering investing in property soon, we’re here to help you get your finances right. We can help you access a loan structure that’s right for your ongoing investment strategy and help you access the most competitive rate available for you considering your personal financial circumstances and goals. Give us a call today.

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article. General information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Subject to lenders credit criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply.

  • Welcome to our June newsletter!

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    With wild storms threatening to disrupt property markets all around the country, winter has set in but activity hasn’t cooled!

    The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) met for its June meeting last week and decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.75%. With low inflation rates and the Aussie dollar creeping higher, forecasters are predicting that the next rate cut may come as soon as August.

    Despite a wild start to winter in many capital cities, property markets have been performing well around the country. For the week ending Sunday 05 June, there were 1960 scheduled auctions. Victoria had the highest number of auctions with 959 achieving a clearance rate of 71%. NSW held 654 auctions which achieved a clearance rate of 77%.

    During May, home value growth was strong across all capital cities except for Perth where home values fell by 2.65%. Sydney home values increased by 3.09%, Melbourne 1.63%, Brisbane/Gold Coast 0.21%, Adelaide 0.08%, Darwin 0.74%, Canberra 2.49% and Hobart 2.16%.

    Following the RBA’s decision to cut the cash rate last month, lenders have cut interest rates on home loan products across the board. Call us now to check your rate on your existing home loan, or to switch to a fixed rate product. We can also access some amazing rates if you are a first home buyer, next home buyer, property investor or are just looking to refinance – so please call us today.

  • 5 essential investment property strategies

    Investment Strategy
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    Buying your first investment property can be a bold step to a more prosperous and secure future. But it can also pose risks. The Successful Investor’s Michael Sloan outlines five strategies to help you take the right path.

    Give me the main points

    • Most investors use equity from their home for their deposit – but leave yourself wriggle room.
    • Hire a quantity surveyor to work out a depreciation schedule for your property.
    • Understand the difference between positive cash flow and negative gearing.
    • Do your research. Then do some more.
    • House or apartment? No right or wrong answer here – just more homework!

    Buying your first investment property can be exhilarating (if a little stressful). When done well, property investing can create long-term wealth for you and your family.

    Here are five strategies to consider when you’re starting out. Tactics to help you avoid the mistakes so many novice investors make. Read on!

    My 5 Essential Investment Property Tips

    1. Equity

    Most people use equity from their home to help buy their first investment property. They then use the equity from both their home and investment property to buy their next property. This makes owning a portfolio of properties easier over time.

    For this strategy to work, it’s important to understand how equity works and get an idea where you stand. It’s also important not to over-extend yourself. It’s risky—and ill-advised—to max out your equity if it leaves you in a financially vulnerable position (i.e. with no ‘buffer’ in an emergency).

    2. Depreciation

    Generous tax breaks—including depreciation—ensure your investment property is mostly paid for by the tenant and tax savings. To maximise your potential tax deductions—and savings—engage a professional quantity surveyor to give you a depreciation schedule. It’s not a job for your accountant.

    3. Negative gearing and positive cash flow

    Negative gearing means you pay money towards the property each year since the cost of the property exceeds the income of the property. Positive cash flow, on the other hand, sees you make money from the property each year (i.e. total expenditure—taking into account all costs—is less than total income, including tax breaks). Not knowing how much a property will cost you each week before you buy is a mistake many property investors make.

    Make sure you understand how negative gearing works. It’s the most popular way to start investing in property, but you must be able to ‘top up’ funds each month towards the property. In time, each property will become positive cash flow and you won’t have to contribute additional funds.

    4. Investment property research

    It’s important to get the basics of property investing right. Happily, if you do your research it’s hard to go too far wrong. Always buy in sought-after locations, close to public transport with easy access to decent schools and amenities. This means you should find good tenants without difficulty.

    Also don’t make the mistake of only looking in the suburb where you live (or imagine you might want to live). You can buy anywhere in Australia, so don’t restrict yourself to the house around the corner.

    It’s also wise to diversify your portfolio. Once you buy in one location, it can be tempting to buy again in the same place. However, that approach concentrates your risk—it’s best to diversify.

    5. A house or an apartment?

    This is a whole topic all by itself—and one without a straightforward answer. Both can perform well for you. It’s important to buy what suits your budget and cash flow, and the type of property that’s popular in its area.

    A single-fronted terrace in inner-city Melbourne may be great for capital growth, but it can cost you $300 a week after tax. Cash flow demands like this get people into financial trouble, and it’s out of reach for the average Aussie investor. Only buy what you can afford. This will not only help keep you safe, but may mean you can buy more properties in the future.

  • Heathridge on the move

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    Did you know: the City of Joondalup has one of the hottest suburbs in the state right now – Heathridge.

    Currently Heathridge properties are selling faster than almost all other metro suburbs, second only to Shenton Park and Leederville. Properties in the suburb are currently on the market for 40 days before selling.

    If you are thinking about buying in the area, email leandro@elementfinance.com.au first for your insiders report.

  • Interest Rate Hold

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    With winter setting in and no sign of our property markets slowing, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) met today for its June meeting and elected to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.75 per cent.
    The official cash rate is currently at all-time lows following a rate cut last month. Forecasters are predicting that low inflation figures may prompt the RBA to drop rates again this year, with speculation that another cut may be coming as early as August.
    This is great news for property owners and buyers, with interest rates falling across the board following the RBA’s announcement last month. With plenty of housing stock available on the market, auction numbers high in most capital cities during May and conditions looking good for the remainder of the year, now is a great time to talk to us about your property goals.
    If you’ve had your home loan for a while or are considering making the switch to a fixed rate product, now is also a good time to talk to us. We’ll take a look at your current home loan and do all the legwork to find you a more suitable product for your circumstances and goals, so please call us today.

  • What is a ‘strata title’ property?

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    Strata title is a method of facilitating individual ownership of part of a property – generally an apartment, unit or townhouse. Uniquely, strata title allows for individual ownership of an actual lot or unit whilst sharing ownership of the common grounds on which it is built. The concept only came into being 50 years ago, however there are now more than 270,000 strata title properties providing more than two million homes across Australia.

    Investing in a strata title property can be a smart move – it’s often an affordable way to enter the property market, and can be beneficial in managing repairs and renovations down the track. But whether you’re buying a unit or a townhouse, you should look into the history of the property and its strata scheme before you sign the contract. Here’s a few things you should know if you’re looking at buying a strata title property.

    What is a strata scheme?

    A strata scheme is another name for a strata title development. Basically, it’s a building or group of buildings divided into ‘lots’, which can either be individual units, apartments or townhouses. When you buy a lot, you own the individual lot as well as share the ownership of common property with people who own the other lots. Common property usually includes things such as gardens, roofs, external walls, staircases and driveways.

    Strata living offers a friendly community-style environment, but it’s different from when you live in a freestanding house. There may be some activities that are more restricted, like where to park your car or how to renovate your lot. It’s very important that you’re aware of your responsibilities and obligations.

    Why invest in a strata title property?

    Are strata titled properties better than houses? To help you decide whether you should buy a strata title property, here are the pros and cons:

    Pros

    • The cost of the property compared to the land is cheaper than buying a freestanding house.
    • Maintenance of the property is taken care of via the strata levies, which are paid every three months.
    • The price of strata titled properties is usually cheaper than free-standing houses, so demand for them is higher, which in turn could push up their price in the future.
    • It’s easy to get finance as lending policies for strata titled properties are favourable. Depending on which suburb the property is located in, you can get an LVR (loan-to-value ratio) of up to 95%.

    Cons

    • Strata levies can be expensive, particularly in larger blocks with lifts, gyms and pools.
    • It can be very noisy to live in a strata title apartment since you’ll have neighbours living above and below you.
    • Your unit/apartment could lose significant value, particularly in large blocks, if your neighbour has to sell quickly as a result of divorce or other financial difficulty.

    The owner’s corporation

    The owner’s corporation is one of the major differences between buying a house and a strata title property. The lot or unit owners in the strata scheme make up the owner’s corporation. However, the owner’s corporation also has an executive committee that makes certain decisions on its behalf, including the day-to-day management of the property. Large strata schemes can also appoint a professional strata management firm for the purpose of assisting and overseeing the functions of the owner’s corporation.

    It is a good idea to have your solicitor look at any strata title contract before you sign on the dotted line, as they can be somewhat more complicated than purchasing a freestanding house. If you need a referral, or would like to get pre-approval on your financing before proceeding with your purchase, then give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

  • City of Joondalup Welcomes Ocean Reef Marina Funding

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    This article originally published here.

    The State Government has again pledged its commitment to the exciting and visionary Ocean Reef Marina project, agreeing to sign a new joint Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Joondalup.

    Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard was told of the news on Friday (20 May) during a visit to the marina site with local members Ocean Reef MLA Albert Jacob and Joondalup MLA Jan Norberger.

    The MOU announcement coincided with news that the State Government has also allocated $500,000 to the project as part of its 2016-17 Budget.

    The MOU is a formal agreement that acknowledges a strategic alliance and the shared commitment of the City and the State Government as joint landowners of the site in bringing the Ocean Reef Marina project to fruition.

    Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said the MOU was a vital step in a long process as the City could not deliver a project of this size and complexity on its own.

    “This document will set out the roles of the City and the State Government and how we will work together to resolve ongoing issues, recognising that a collaborative approach is needed to develop the marina,” he said.

    The Mayor said the extra funding would enable the City to continue the planning phase of this complex and multi-faceted project.

    The City is currently progressing the environmental and planning approvals for the Ocean Reef Marina via an amendment to the Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) boundary and a Public Environmental Review of the marine based components.

    Mayor Pickard said the State Government’s financial contribution would enable the City to complete the outstanding tasks required for these processes, as well as finalise the Ocean Reef Marina Structure Plan.

    “It will also allow the City to undertake any additional environmental work as required by the relevant agencies, respond to submissions arising from the public advertising of the PER, MRS Amendment and Structure Plan, and continue our extensive liaison with key stakeholders,” he said.

    “The City has been custodian of the Ocean Reef Marina and championed this project for a considerable amount of time and committed significant resources.

    “The environmental and planning approvals process currently underway is complex and challenging, with some 35 different environmental and planning studies or investigations being undertaken in recent times.

    “This considerable body of work represents a financial investment of approximately $2.6 million, and whilst there is still some way to go, the funding from the State Government is timely.

    “It is anticipated that the MRS Amendment, the PER and the Structure Plan will be advertised for public comment in the latter half of 2016, subject to agreement by the relevant State Government approval agencies.”

    In October 2015 the City requested the State Government to take over as proponent of the project, mindful that it does not have the capacity and resources to build the Ocean Reef Marina on its own and would need the State Government or a public/private partnership to develop the facility.

    “The City is preparing a structure plan in collaboration with the Department of Planning in its pursuit to obtain the necessary planning approvals that would ensure the desired urban outcomes of the Ocean Reef Marina concept plan,” Mayor Pickard said.

    “Moving forward the City aims to work with the State Government to determine how the project is best progressed to construction stage.

    “As land owners, the City would still like to be actively involved in the decision making process and work collaboratively with all stakeholders to produce an approved, financially viable, and publicly supported project that is delivered in accordance with community expectations.

    “I can assure all of our residents and ratepayers that the City remains extremely determined to see the Ocean Reef Marina come to fruition.”

    The Ocean Reef Marina project includes approximately 750 boat pens/stackers, boat ramps and boat trailer parking, hotel/short stay accommodation, residential apartments and single lots, food and beverage outlets, retail and service commercial, public open space and community amenities, an Internal beach, sea sports club and sea rescue facilities.

    FAST FACTS

    2016 – City receives funding from State Government in 2016-17 Budget to continue approval processes. State Government agrees to sign another Memorandum of Understanding with the City.

    2015 – City calls on State Government to become the proponent of Ocean Reef Marina project.

    2014 – Initiation of the Metropolitan Region Scheme boundary amendment by the Western Australian Planning Commission.

    Environmental Protection Authority determined to assess the marine based components (under section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act 1986) via a Public Environmental Review.

    2013 – Submission to the Western Australian Planning Commission of a request to amend the Metropolitan Region Scheme boundary.

    2012- Signing of the Ocean Reef Marina Memorandum of Understanding with the State Government.

    2011 – An amended concept plan was endorsed by Council as the basis for the preparation of the Local Structure Plan for the development.

    2009 – Concept plan seven endorsed by Council for community consultation. Received 95.6% support from the almost 12,000 respondents who made submissions.

    2007- Ocean Reef Marina Committee, Government Steering Committee and Community Reference Group established.

  • 8 things to consider when making a property investment

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    When it’s done right, investing in property can help you to build wealth for your future. In Australia, property is currently a very popular investment and many people are enthusiastically jumping into the market to make the most of the low interest rates currently available. But it takes careful planning for your property investment to be a success. Here are ten key factors to consider before investing in property.

    1. What you want to achieve
    First, determine what your end goal is – it might be financial freedom, to tie up some extra funds, or to live in the property yourself in years to come – and then make a plan that’ll help you reach that goal in a suitable timeframe. Review your plan on a regular basis to make sure you’re on track.

    2. Your preferred investment strategy
    If you’re looking to maximise returns, wise investors focus on buying a property below its intrinsic value in an area with a long history of strong capital growth. Also look for a property that’s unique, special or different, and one that you can renovate or redevelop in order to produce better capital growth.

    3. The type of property
    A good investment is a property that’ll be in continuous strong demand from both tenants and owner-occupiers. This is because tenants help pay off your mortgage, whereas owner-occupiers push up house prices. More people nowadays trade their backyards for balconies, so think about going for an apartment-style property in the inner suburbs.

    4. Buying old or new
    Remember, you’ll often miss out on capital growth for the first few years if you buy a new or ‘off-the-plan’ apartment. This is because you’ll have to pay a premium to the developer.

    Another thing to consider in purchasing a new unit as an investment property, is that many owners in the building will most likely be investors also. It’s best to buy an apartment in a building predominated by owner-occupiers, as they typically look after the building more effectively than investors. The established apartment should also be in a character-filled block that can be cosmetically refurbished, as this can help you increase your rental income and produce some capital growth.

    5. Where to buy
    Location is very important when it comes to your investment’s long-term performance, so look for a property in a suburb that has always outperformed the averages or one that’s being renovated or redeveloped. You’ll usually find it in a lifestyle suburb in a major capital city near the CBD, amenities or water. Then narrow your choices further by choosing the best spots in the suburb.

    6. What you can afford
    You should know how much you can afford to spend and repay before you look for a property. You can do this by talking to us about getting a pre-approved loan and setting aside some funds for acquisition and holding costs, as well as a financial buffer for an emergency or a rise in interest rates.

    7. Who to ask for help
    In addition to us – your professional finance broker – you’ll need expert input and advice from the following people: qualified accountant, independent property strategist, smart solicitor, and if at all possible, an experienced property investor as a mentor. They can all help you ensure that your investment is a success.

    8. The importance of research
    Successful property investors never stop researching the market to capitalise on the best opportunities. You should familiarise yourself with all Australia’s various property markets and not just your local market, in order to find the best potential for profit.

    If you’re looking to invest for the first time or expand your existing property portfolio, or to venture into investment for the first time, contact us today. We’ll help you with your finance and give you referrals to professionals who can help you with the purchasing process.

  • Joondalup adjusting to moderating market

    Joondalup
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    This article was originally published here and although a couple of years old, most information is still valid.

    Northern Perth’s Joondalup region is adjusting to the moderating market of the city.

    The northern beaches Joondalup region includes Burns Beach, Edgewater, Joondalup, Connolly, Heathridge, Kinross, Currambine, Iluka and Ocean Reef. The suburb of Joondalup itself acts as a hub to Perth’s outer northern suburbs.

    The push to establish Joondalup as an urban centre extends back to 1970, with the Corridor Plan for Perth. A number of retail and transport infrastructure initiatives have been implemented around the area in the past 40 years to facilitate urban development and direct activity to Joondalup. Joondalup was highlighted in the West Australian state government’s Directions 2031 strategy as one of two primary centres in the Perth metropolitan area, along with Rockingham.

    The area’s CBD has a strong retail focus and has seen considerable residential development in recent years, with a relatively high density of townhouses and apartments. With the presence of Edith Cowan University, a healthy retail and entertainment district, established parks and in close proximity to the beach and Lake Joondalup, the area has attracted demand from the middle class lifestyle market.

    The greater region of Joondalup had a median house price of $588,750 in March, while units in the area sold for a median price of $415,000. A two bedroom Joondalup apartment in the block pictured below sold for $408,000 in February.

    According to Australian Property Monitors senior economist Andrew Wilson, Joondalup’s appeal to middle income earners has lent the area some resilience against the changes seen in Perth’s market.

    “Joondalup is in the middle price range area,” said Wilson.

    “There’s a bit of a lifestyle market there. With all the new developments that have been established in that area, we’re seeing middle price bracket, executive type buyers.

    “Because of that nature of the market, it tends to be quite resilient. The big picture is that Perth is moderating. The latest data shows that Perth’s market has plateaued.

    “We’re seeing quite a significant upward shift in unemployment in Perth, which has moderated lately.”

    According to data from the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia, listings in Joondalup and the neighbouring Wanneroo jumped earlier this year, up 28% in the March quarter from December.

    Despite Joondalup’s relative strength, its property market must still deal with exposure to Perth’s labour market, said Wilson.

    “The Perth labour market has seen some difficulties with absorbing eastern state migration, which saw rents get pushed up quite sharply in some suburbs of Perth. Perth prices rose 10% last year, and with rising unemployment, we’re starting to see some affordability issues.

    “And the lifestyle market can certainly be affected by job security and affordability issues. But as the economy does pick up and absorb that unemployment, incomes will grow.”

    The slowing mining sector in Western Australia has seen a shift in focus for the region, with the city of Joondalup launching new initiatives to market the region as Perth’s “knowledge capital”. How well the region responds to the state’s shifting economy remains to be seen, but strong infrastructure investment in the area in the past and extending into the future ensures that it will remain a significant urban centre for Perth’s northern corridor.

    Photo courtesy of Wikipedia/Creative Commons.

  • 7 Tips for Maximising the Sale Value of Your Property

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    It’s generally a good idea to protect and improve the sale value of your property, even if you’re not intending on selling in the immediate future. Continuing to invest in and develop the property so that it remains modern and well-maintained will help to grow its value consistently over time. There are, of course, plenty of different ways to enhance its value, but at the minimum, there are a handful of key strategies that are proven to be effective.

    1) Develop the facade
    The first thing that visitors see of a home is its front facade, and a great deal of value can be added to the property simply by making sure that those first impressions are positive. Consider the look of the building itself, the landscaping and the overall condition of the property. For example, make sure the roof is in good repair and looks great – filthy tiles or rusting metal is simply not a good look!

    2) Keep the flooring modern
    Fashions in flooring change frequently, for example carpeted or even lino floors were in fashion not long ago, but these days polished floors or stone is a much more attractive look. You don’t need to tear the floors up every time the fashion changes, but consider making a refresh to the flooring a high priority.

    3) Make sure everything matches inside
    Even if the house is not being sold with the furniture, the furniture that fills a space makes a statement and can help to inspire the creative thoughts in a prospective buyer. Mismatching furniture within a room can make it look busy, small, and unattractive to the eye. Consistency and style will create an open, calm atmosphere, which will inspire far more confidence in a buyer.

    4) Raise the roof
    The desire to have space is a timeless one, and the height of the ceiling can actually have a big impact on the perception of space in a room. If your property has low ceilings and it’s possible to lift them, do so in order to maintain that open, airy atmosphere that is so in vogue at the moment.

    5) Focus in on the kitchen
    It’s very likely that a prospective buyer now is a fan of shows like My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef! That means they are going to want a sizable and well-resourced kitchen to host their dinner parties. What are people looking for in their kitchens? Energy-efficient appliances (taps, ovens, fridges), plenty of storage space and cabinets, and plenty of countertop space.

    6) Is there the ability to add more rooms?
    Properties escalate in price rapidly as more rooms – especially bedrooms – are added onto the building. So, if there is the ability to renovate and add a bedroom or two, an extra bathroom, or additional living space, be sure to consider it. Renovations might have an upfront cost, but the return from that investment generally justifies it come sale time.

    7) Sustainability is so hot right now
    Increasingly, people want to live sustainably, and are willing to pay a premium in order to be able to do so. In addition, savvy home buyers are realising that the more sustainable a building, the cheaper it’s going to be for them in the longer term.

    Ideas to consider include: solar panels, water tanks, thermal warming systems, and great insulation is a must.

    Most of these investments can be made over the medium and long term, which is why it’s worth considering well before you’ve even started to think about selling your home. That way, when you do decide to sell, you’re not going to miss any opportunities by simply running out of time to “do up” the place.

    If you need assistance financing your property renovations, remember we’re here to help. There are a variety of different ways to organise finance for your projects and we can help you to access the right option for your needs, so give us a call today.

  • Investing in Joondalup?

    Joondalup investment property
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    If you are considering buying an investment property in the Joondalup area, research should be very important to you. We have a lot of home loan and property tools available for our clients looking for their next property purchase. Some of these tools are not available to the general public. Just one small way mortgage brokers beat bank branches for investors 100% of the time.

    There is still also some great data readily available to everyone via REIWA and the property websites, like the link below. Keep in touch with Element Finance Joondalup via our Facebook page where we will release some of our private tools soon.

    http://www.realestate.com.au/invest/house-in-joondalup,+wa+6027

  • Joondalup Update: New zoning changes for City of Wanneroo

    City of Wanneroo
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    After a long wait the residents of Girrawheen, Koondoola and Wanneroo have finally had their rezoning formally approved and can now start submissions for subdivision STCA (Subject to Council Approval). Quinns Rocks, Yanchep & Two Rocks are currently still in the consultation stage.

    You can find more information on the City of Wanneroo website or by calling your Element Finance Joondalup home loan expert.

    http://www.wanneroo.wa.gov.au/info/20017/planning_and_building/50/residential_recoding

     

  • Welcome to our May newsletter!

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    The autumn property market is proving to be very busy and full of opportunities for home buyers and investors. We expect lower interest rates will stimulate the market even further, so talk to us about getting your finance in place now!

    The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) met for its May meeting last week and decided to cut the official cash rate by 25 basis points, bringing it to just 1.75%. The move took many forecasters by surprise and brings the official cash rate to an all-time low!

    The RBA decided to make the move in response to low inflation figures and a strengthening Aussie dollar. Forecasters do not anticipate another cut in the immediate future, however the RBA is likely to reserve this option in case it feels the economy requires further stimulation moving forward.

    This is great news for property owners and buyers across the country. Property markets have been performing well, with plenty of housing stock available to buyers. Auction numbers have been quite high across all states, however clearance rates are not as high as last year for most markets, except for Sydney and Melbourne where they reached 74% for the last weekend in April.

    Growth in home values has been good across all cities during April, except for Hobart where home values declined by 5.33%. Sydney home values increased by 2.40%, Melbourne 1.07%, Brisbane/Gold Coast 1.81%, Adelaide 2.03%, Perth 0.47%, Darwin 2.53% and Canberra 1.21%.

    Following the RBA cash rate cut last week, lenders have already started to reduce interest rates, particularly on variable interest rate products for owner-occupier purposes. However, we are also seeing rate cuts across other loan product classes, so if you are looking to refinance, fix your interest rate or invest, talk to us and we’ll shop around to find the most competitive rate for your needs.

    If you already have a home loan, please remember that when rates are on the move, it’s wise to check with your mortgage broker to ensure you’re still getting the best deal available for your needs. We don’t charge for a home loan health check, so please give us a call today!

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter. It contains general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values: www.corelogic.com.au

    Sincerely , Element Finance

  • USA vs Canada International Hockey Giveaway!

    USA vs Canada Ice Hockey in Perth
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    One of the most exciting sporting events ever seen in Perth is returning and we have your tickets! International Ice Hockey Australian Tour are bringing their heart stopping, adrenaline pumping action to our Perth Arena this June and Element Finance have two GOLD STANDARD tickets worth almost $350 to giveaway.
    For your chance to get close to the Ice, enter our competition in 2 simple steps:
    1. LIKE the Element Finance Facebook page
    2. Visit the Element Finance page and comment on this image with the name of the friend you would like to have cheering next to you at the match on 18 June.
    But hurry, competition closes on 24 May. Winner announced 26 May. Don’t forget to get your mate to enter you in the competition too! For full T&Cs, please email mike@elementfinance.com.au

  • What you need to know about moving out of home

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    People tend to live at home with Mum and Dad for much longer these days. But getting out of home into your own place can be a bit of a challenge – both for yourself and your budget. Here’s a few things you need to know before you can make your big move!

    Step 1. Make a realistic budget

    When you step out on your own for the first time, you’ll be shocked by how much everything costs – from the price of avocados, to the monthly gas bills. Your parents will be very experienced in this area, so get them to help you make a realistic list of all the expenses you’ll have when you’re living on your own, and work out a budget for how you’ll manage your finances to cover them.

    Your list should include a weekly or monthly amount for rent, utility bills like gas, electricity, phone and internet, food, clothes, travel expenses to and from work, dental visits, health insurance and ambulance services – in fact, everything that you’ll have to cover off financially to live by yourself.

    Step 2. Save up for the move

    Before you move out, it is wise to get into the habit of living on a budget and saving as much as you can. You’ll also need to have plenty of funds in the bank when you make your move as there are quite a few costs involved with getting into a place of your own.

    First, you’ll need a month’s rent as a bond deposit and a month’s rent in advance on your place. Next you may need money for your utilities – utility companies often require a deposit when setting up an account for the first time. Then there’s the cost of furniture, kitchenware, and the things you’ll need to set up house – like a cupboard full of food!

    Last but not least is the actual cost of moving. You can save money by moving yourself, but bear in mind that if you have to use a removal company, it can be quite expensive and you’ll want to compare quotes from companies to get a good price.

    Step 3. Find the right place

    You may be dreaming of a slick city apartment, but in reality most people can only afford modest accommodations for their first home. It does pay to be very careful about the kind of place you rent – older homes and apartments can be costly to run in terms of heating, cooling and electricity. You can ask the utility companies for advice on this score – they may actually be able to provide you with information on the average costs of running the house you’re looking at.

    You’ll also want to consider whether you want to live on your own or in share accommodation. Sharing is great fun if you shack up with friends or like-minded people your own age, but it can be a nightmare if you find yourself living with strangers who don’t understand your housekeeping habits!

    You can look for share accommodation, apartments, units and houses online on most real estate search sites. Remember to stick to your budget – renting a place you really can’t afford is a sure way to cause yourself financial hardship and end up back at Mum and Dad’s place in short order.

    Consider staying put until you’re ready to buy

    This is the part where we recommend you stay with Mum and Dad until you save up enough money to get a mortgage and buy a place of your own. Saving money when you have to pay rent and cover all of your own living expenses can be very difficult. And paying rent is simply paying off someone else’s investment property when you could be spending that money on buying a place of your own.

    If you need advice about whether to rent now or stay put and buy later, then don’t hesitate to give us a call. A place that’s really your own may be closer than you think. Would it really be that hard to stay with Mum and Dad for a little while longer?

  • Welcome Leandro!

    Leandro de Jesus, Joondalup
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    We here at Element Finance are super excited to introduce to you the most recent Mortgage Broking expert to join our team, Leandro de Jesus.

    If ever there was someone that made discussing finance and home loans truly an enjoyable experience, that someone is Leandro. His genuine enthusiasm to help each and every one of his clients succeed with their property goals is clear in every instance.

    Himself an active property investor, Leandro understands what it can take when it comes to starting or growing your investment portfolio. His first hand experience in the WA property market continues to prove invaluable for his clients. 

    Focus: Leandro is the guy you want on your side for all things property investment. Living in the City of Joondalup, he has an intimate knowledge of the surrounding suburbs. If its discussing home loan structure, negotiating a personalised deal with your lender or connecting you with other property professionals, he has you covered.

  • Can you borrow to grow your business?

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    If you’re self-employed or a small business owner, growing your business can be a challenge. You may find your expansion plans are frustrated by irregular cash-flow, insufficient or out-dated equipment, or business premises that are just too small. Sometimes you may even find yourself missing out on opportunities because you simply don’t have the money to hire the additional staff you need.

    That’s where credit advice from a professional mortgage and finance broker can make a huge difference to your success. Clever financing options can really open up opportunities for small business owners and the self-employed. Here are just a few alternative financing options that you could use creatively to help your business grow.

    Cash-Flow Financing

    Did you know that over 400,000 small to medium sized businesses use cash-flow financing every year? This is a common form of small business loan that is backed by your company’s expected cash flow, instead of using collateral that is based on your company’s assets.

    If your company is going strong and you need an injection of cash to fund growth or capitalise on your opportunities, cash-flow financing may be able to give you access to up to $250,000 based on your business performance alone. You can use the money for any worthwhile purpose – financing for tax purposes, purchasing inventory, managing cash flow, bridging receivables gaps, staffing on new contracts – whatever your business needs.

    Equipment Finance/Leasing

    If you want to be competitive in your business, the right equipment at the right time can be vital to your success. Outdated equipment can really limit your business activities and can cause you to miss out on new opportunities or larger projects.

    There are several different ways you can go about financing the all-important equipment your business requires. For example, an equipment loan – also known as a chattel mortgage – can give you access to finance for just about any kind of equipment from a small truck for your plumbing business to major earthmoving equipment, or even cookers and fryers for your new restaurant.

    Alternatively, you may want to consider a Finance Lease to obtain the equipment you need. Leases and Hire Purchase agreements often carry additional tax benefits* for small businesses and the self-employed, such as input tax credits for rental and other charges that are subject to GST.

    Commercial Property Loans

    Unless your business is totally online or home-based, the right business premises can also be vitally important to your success. For example, being able to afford premises in the right location can really boost the success of a restaurant or retail outlet. With some types of businesses leasing may always be the better option, but actually purchasing premises can provide your business with a valuable asset and significantly increase its resale value if you ever want to sell it as a going concern.

    If you want to purchase premises for your business, we can access a wide variety of suitable loans from lenders who are willing to provide mortgages for commercial property. Like most residential home loans or even property investment loans, it will be necessary to assess the financial situation and circumstances of you and your business to determine how much you can borrow.

    If you require more information about financing options for your business, give us a call and we’ll point you in the right direction. We’ve only mentioned a few of the financing options available and we can help you find out more so you can choose one that’s right for you. Call us today.

    *This article does not constitute taxation advice and you should consult a qualified tax professional to see what tax benefits you can access in your particular business with regard to financing. Your personal and business financial circumstances will need to be reviewed prior to the acceptance of any finance product or offer. Lender terms, conditions and fees may also apply.

  • What’s the right loan type for your property investment?

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    When it comes to financing your investment property, there are several different options that you can use. Choosing the right one will depend on your investment structure and strategy, but there’s no need to spend days or even weeks researching the options. Here are the most popular loan types used by property investors in Australia today.

    Variable Rate Loans

    With an investment loan, interest is generally tax deductible*, so even though it may be subject to interest rate rises, choosing a Variable Rate Loan for your investment property may be a good option, as it will give you flexibility and the ability to maximise your property’s profitability.For example, Variable Rate Loans frequently come with features like the ability to make extra repayments, and redraw facilities. This could help you grow the equity in your property more quickly, which you could redraw at a later date to do renovations and improve the value of your investment, or to use as a deposit to invest in another property.

    Fixed Rate Loans

    If you are investing on a tight budget, a Fixed Interest Rate Loan may be the better option for you. You will know in advance exactly what your outgoing finance costs will be and these will remain the same throughout the fixed interest period of your loan. This might be particularly useful for you if you are ‘negative gearing’ your investment. Whilst the interest on the loan may be tax deductible, the rental income may not initially cover all your costs and fixing the finance costs will ensure you can budget to meet your ongoing financial obligations.

    Split Fixed/Variable

    Using a combination of a split Fixed and Variable Rate Loan could give you the best of both worlds. You can limit increases in your outgoing expenses whilst still retaining the ability to make extra repayments and redraw them when needed. This could be a big help with saving for ongoing costs like renovations and maintenance.

    Interest Only Loans

    Many property investors favour Interest Only Loans as they allow you to minimise mortgage repayments and outgoing costs in the short term. They require you to pay just the interest on the loan – which is usually tax deductible, and this can cost significantly less compared to repayments on a principal and interest loan. This could be a good idea if you are investing on a tight budget and require the rental income from the property to cover all of your finance costs.

    However, with an Interest Only Loan the loan repayments will not pay down the principal of the loan and increase your equity. Instead, you will be relying on rental income and the value of the property increasing over time to make a profit. If the value of the property you choose goes down, or it does not increase very much during the period of time you own it, you could find yourself making a loss on your investment.

    Remember that we’re here to help you find the right loan to meet your personal financial circumstances and investment goals. No matter what kind of investment strategy you are planning on using, we can help you to structure your loans and choose the right loan products to maximise your opportunities. Why not give us a call for a chat today?

    *This article does not constitute taxation advice and you should consult a qualified tax professional to see what tax benefits you can access in your particular case with regard to financing. Your personal and business financial circumstances will need to be reviewed prior to the acceptance of any finance product or offer. Lender terms, conditions and fees may also apply.

  • Welcome to our April newsletter!

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    The autumn property season is in full swing, get pre-approval on your loan now so you can move fast and secure the property you want. With clearance rates down, you may even get a bargain!

    Despite a rising Aussie dollar, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0% during its April meeting last week and it looks as though rates will remain on hold for the foreseeable future.

    Most markets around the country have been seeing steady auction activity over the past month, however both auction numbers and clearance rates are down compared to this time last year, with Melbourne and Sydney scheduling half the number of auctions compared to the end of March 2015.

    Home values only showed slight movements last month, however for the first quarter of this year Hobart proved to be the best performing capital city with home value growth of 6.5%. Most other cities showed home value growth of around 2% for the quarter. Brisbane and Perth were the only cities showing a decline, with Brisbane home values falling 0.1% and Perth 0.9%. Perth’s property market is particularly slow, providing some great opportunities for home buyers and investors.

    Market conditions seem to be swinging back in favour of property buyers in 2016, so now is a good time to talk to us about your property purchasing plans. We’ll help you to get pre-approval on your loan so you’re in a great position to buy, whether you’re a first home buyer, next home buyer or property investor. There are also some excellent deals around if you’re looking to refinance, so please give us a call.

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter. It contains general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply. . Information sources: Auction results:www.realestate.com.au. Home values: www.corelogic.com.au
    Sincerely , Element Finance

  • Do you need life insurance?

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    Did you know that we also offer cost-effective insurance options in addition to finance? We consider it part of our responsibility to you to do whatever we can to ensure you and your family never suffer any financial hardship, or experience any difficulty in meeting your financial obligations. We genuinely care about the welfare of you and your family and are here to support you with insurance options that will meet your specific needs and keep you covered in any eventuality.

    Why do you need life insurance?

    Australians seem to live in the belief that we are all bullet-proof, but the truth is we are just as vulnerable to events beyond our control as the next person. Take Karen for example.

    Karen was a 38-year old office manager working for a manufacturing company. After her divorce, she was left with a mortgage and a 14 year old son to support. Karen was very worried about what would happen to her son if she should pass away unexpectedly, he always worked hard and did well at school and she wanted to make sure he would be able to go on to university.

    Karen took out a life insurance policy for $500,000 – enough to cover her mortgage and support her son if necessary. She also took out an income protection policy in case she ever became temporarily unable to work.

    Less than two years later, Karen went home from work early one afternoon with a bad headache and the feeling she was coming down with the flu. Unfortunately, it was worse than that. Karen lost consciousness later that day and was rushed to hospital. She had suffered a brain haemorrhage and died that evening.

    Under her life insurance policy, Karen nominated her son as her sole beneficiary. He received the $500,000 benefit through a trust fund set up by the trust’s solicitors. Whilst the money may not make up for the loss of his mother, Karen’s son will be able to live securely and complete his university studies without financial hardship*.

    Is your current insurance enough?

    Most people have some form of insurance in their super – but is it enough? The good thing about a life insurance policy is that it pays out a lump sum in the event of your death that your beneficiaries can use as they see fit. Other forms of insurance cover for specific events such as loss of employment, illness or permanent disability can also be arranged to cover your obligations.

    Karen’s example tells us that planning your insurance requirements carefully can make all the difference, not only to you but to the life and future of your loved ones. If you’d like to find out more or get some advice on which insurance options would be suitable for you and your particular situation, then please give us a call. We’re happy to discuss your requirements without any obligation and when you’ve made your decision, help you to find the most cost-effective insurance solution for you.

    *This example is based on a real insurance claim, however names have been changed. Grounds for making a claim and the level of benefit can vary from one insurance policy to another depending on the terms of the policy. We can help you arrange insurance that is right for your needs. The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances, financial needs or objectives. Before acting on any information, you should seek the appropriate financial advice and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or other offer document prior to acquiring any financial product.

  • How to avoid paying too much interest

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    Many people don’t think twice about paying interest on everything they purchase. For a lot of people, it’s just the price they have to pay for convenience and getting the things they want in life. And when you’re borrowing money to make money, as with your home loan, your interest repayments may be considered a necessary evil if you want to get ahead.

    But does paying interest always make sense? If you’re not very careful, the interest you pay can end up costing you more than you can afford. Here’s three simple ways to help you keep your interest liabilities under control.

    1. Don’t use a credit card

    Many people think they just couldn’t live without their credit card. But in terms of interest payments, this is the most expensive form of debt there is. If you really think about it, if your credit card interest is 20% per annum, you’re paying 20% more for everything you buy if you take a year to pay it off. Do you really want to be doing that?

    We recommend that wherever possible, you make your everyday purchases using cash and only use your credit card in the event of an emergency. This may mean saving up for larger purchases rather than buying them immediately with your credit card. When you do have to make a purchase with your credit card, you should try to pay it off as soon as you can – within the interest free period if at all possible. Some credit cards offer 55 days interest free on purchases, so choose one of these if you can.

    2. Pay less interest on your home loan

    There are several ways to reduce the amount of interest you pay on your home loan. You can make repayments more often – say weekly or fortnightly instead of monthly, you can use a mortgage offset account, or you can make extra repayments on your home loan to reduce the interest payable. All these measures together can accumulate to cut years off your home loan and save you tens of thousands of dollars on interest over the life of your loan.

    Another way to reduce the interest you pay on your home loan is to keep it up to date – so you don’t pay the lender more interest than is strictly necessary. We recommend that you contact us for a free home loan health check every year, or at least every two years. That way you can always make sure your home loan has the lowest interest rate available to you.

    3. Consolidate your debts

    You see advertisements for debt consolidation on TV all the time – they are usually aimed at people who are in trouble with debt. However, there’s no need to wait until you’re in trouble to consolidate your debts, you can do it now to reduce the amount of interest you have to pay.

    Consolidating your debts means rolling all your debts into one, usually using a loan that has a lower interest rate. If you have a home loan, for example, you could refinance in order to use some of the equity in your home to pay off all your other debts and access the lowest interest rate available.

    If you don’t have a home loan and have quite a few expensive debts like credit cards, car loans, or store credit, it may be possible to roll these into a personal loan that carries a lower interest rate overall. It also allows you to spread your repayments over time, making them more affordable. If you want to eventually end up debt free, consolidating your debts is a good place to start.

    As your finance and mortgage broker, we’re not just here to help you find the right solution for your home loan. We can help you with all your financing needs including budgeting, debt management and debt consolidation. We consider it a vital part of our service to save you money on interest – so you can use your money to enjoy a better lifestyle or invest it to build wealth for your future.

    For assistance or more information about reducing your interest obligations, please give us a call*. We’ll be happy to help.

    *Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product.

  • Do you have a valid will?

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    Have you given any thought to what will happen to your assets when you pass away? Recent statistics have shown that approximately 45%* of us do not have a valid will. Most people don’t know that if you die without one, the government in the state in which you live will determine how your estate is divided up.

    Dying ‘intestate’ – the legal term for dying without a valid will – could mean that you don’t get to choose which people inherit your estate, particularly if they are not directly related to you. But most importantly, it could mean that large assets like your home and other property do not go to the people you want to take care of the most after you’ve gone.

    What is a valid will?

    A will is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. In order for it to be valid, your will needs to comply with certain legal criteria. For example, you must be over the age of 18 and of sound mind to make a will, it must be in writing, it must be signed by you and witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries of the will and you must have ‘testamentary capacity’.

    Testamentary capacity means that you must be fully aware of the extent of your debts and assets and the will must take into consideration all the people who would normally be expected to benefit from your estate. Because of these requirements, it is advisable to seek legal advice when preparing your will, as you may require professional guidance on everything that must be included.

    For your will to remain valid, it needs to be kept fully up to date with your current circumstances, so you should update your will every five years and every time your family or financial situation changes. For example, your family situation may change if you get divorced, remarry or your children get married, or if you have a new grandchild. Your financial situation may change if you become unemployed or retire, purchase a new property, change your investments, incur additional debts or the value of your estate increases or decreases for any reason.

    What happens to your home loan if you die?

    Unfortunately, your debts do not disappear when you pass away. The person who inherits your property will also inherit your mortgage repayments. What’s more, in the event of your death, the lender has the right to demand repayment of the loan in full from this beneficiary, which may mean the property will have to be sold off quickly to repay the debt.

    In order to ensure that your beneficiaries are not left struggling to pay off your home loan or other debts, we recommend that you consider Life Insurance or perhaps, Mortgage Protection Insurance. (We can provide you with cost-effective insurance options, so talk to us if you need help).

    How do you prepare your will?

    You can prepare your own will by obtaining a legal will kit from any Australia Post Office. However unless your family and financial situation is very straight forward, we recommend that you seek professional legal advice to ensure your will is legally sound and cannot be contested in court. (If your will is not legally sound, the court can overturn it and divide your assets as they see fit).

    If you do not currently have a valid will, we can help by giving you a referral to a reliable legal adviser. As mentioned earlier, we can also help you to arrange suitable insurance options so that your loved ones are not left struggling to repay your home loan or other debts after you go. We’re here to help you make the future secure, both for yourself and your loved ones, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call today if you require assistance.

    *Source: http://www.tag.nsw.gov.au/wills-faqs.html

  • What are the costs involved with buying a home?

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    Saving up your deposit is the first step in buying a home and when your bank account balance starts to look good it’s easy to get excited. But it pays to be realistic. Exactly how much money is enough? In this article we take a look at some of the upfront costs involved with buying a home to help you set a proper savings goal before you make your move.

    The deposit you contribute towards your mortgage is only part of the funds you need to purchase a property. Many first-time buyers assume that 10% of the purchase price will be enough to cover everything, but unfortunately that isn’t necessarily the case. There are many costs involved in purchasing a property, let’s take a look at other things you need to think about as part of your purchase.

    1. Deposit on your mortgage

    It used to be possible to borrow nearly 100% of the purchase price of the property, and use your savings to cover the other expenses, but these days that’s usually no longer the case. Most lenders require you to have at least 5% of the purchase price to put towards your mortgage. Depending on the home you want to purchase, the lender may even require you to put 10 – 20% of the purchase price towards your mortgage. Have a chat to us about different lender’s criteria to ensure you know what you can afford.

    2. Stamp duty

    Stamp duty is a cost that varies from state to state and it is calculated against the price of the property you wish to buy. We can help you calculate approximately what your stamp duty costs will be on the price range of home you’re looking at, so talk to us when you’re planning your budget.

    3. Lenders mortgage insurance

    Unless you have a deposit of 20% or more to contribute towards your mortgage, the lender who is providing your loan will require you to pay lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI). Unfortunately, the cost of this will also vary. LMI is calculated according to how much deposit you have, how much you intend to borrow and how much the home costs to purchase.

    4. Borrowing costs

    There are a range of different fees that apply to getting a mortgage. These differ from lender to lender and loan to loan, but generally speaking, you will need to allow for things such as application fees, lender valuation fees and a settlement fee. Some lenders also charge for legal supervision at settlement and document processing. Again, ask us what these costs could be with your chosen lender, and we’ll help you to fit them into your budget.

    5. Pest and building inspections

    Getting a building and pest inspection usually costs around $400, but this will vary depending on the size of the property. It really is worth the expense because it could cost you a lot of money to fix any problems the property may have after you purchase it. By getting a building and pest inspection before you buy, you’ll know exactly what you’re up against and have the opportunity to choose a different property if it looks like you can’t afford the repairs.

    6. Conveyancing

    You will need to employ a solicitor or conveyancer to legally transfer ownership of the property you are buying. They will also perform all the property and title searches necessary and take care of the documentation. Conveyancers can also explain sales contracts, take a look at your section 32, auction terms and any other legal elements of purchasing a property so that you fully understand what you’re getting into.

    7. Insurance

    Your lender may require you to take out building insurance on any property you wish to purchase. This is not only an upfront cost, it is ongoing and you’ll need to maintain this cost annually. You have the freedom to shop around amongst the various insurance carriers to get yourself a good price. Once you move in, it is also a good idea to get contents insurance as well. Usually the two can be bundled together so you can save on purchasing them individually.

    8. Moving-in costs

    Many people get so excited about getting their first home they forget to calculate their moving in costs and include them in their budget. Remember that you may need to hire the services of a removalist to move in your stuff, and that can be expensive! There’s also likely to be items of furniture you’ll need to buy and most people want curtains and blinds at the windows.

    You’ll also need to pay to have your utilities connected. These may include telephone, internet, gas and electricity.

    9. Contingency funds

    Last but not least, it’s important that you have some funds put aside for any unexpected expenses. Of course, it’s difficult for us to predict what these may be, but you never know when you might encounter a problem. Perhaps you’ll have a blocked drain that requires a plumber, or light sockets that don’t work and require an electrician. It’s all part of the fun of owning a home!

    Although this may sound daunting, remember, we’re here to help you budget to purchase your property and help to make sure there are no hidden surprises. If you’re getting ready to purchase a home, please don’t hesitate to give us a call for a chat. We’ll help you determine whether you’ve saved enough money to cover your deposit and all your expenses. We can also help you get pre-approval for your home loan so you can get started on searching for your dream home! Please call us today.

  • Welcome to our March newsletter

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    Summer is over and now that we’re entering the busy autumn selling season, our property markets are picking up and resuming the hectic pace we saw last year!

    Last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) met for its March meeting and as widely expected by analysts, decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0%. Whilst the RBA is not ruling out a further cut in rates this year, it looks as though the cash rate will remain at this level for some time.

    Property markets are going strong, with auction clearance rates picking up around the country. For the week ending February 29, there were 1,327 auctions recorded in Victoria with a good clearance rate of 75%. In NSW, there were 872 auctions with a clearance rate of 73%, Queensland 175 auctions with a clearance rate of 58%, South Australia saw 118 auctions with a clearance rate of 73%, ACT had 72 auctions with a clearance rate of 70%, Tasmania had just 9 auctions with a clearance rate of 60%, NT had 10 auctions with a clearance rate of 63% and Western Australia held 47 auctions with a clearance rate of 44%.

    Whilst last year saw some very rapid rises in home values, this month growth has been slower. Sydney home values increased by just 0.47%, Melbourne 0.30%, Brisbane & Gold Coast 1.30%, Adelaide 1.88% Darwin 0.40% and Hobart 2.85%. Perth and Canberra showed small declines in home values over the last month, with Perth showing a 1.13% decrease and Canberra 0.16%.

    Many lenders have been making changes to their interest rates outside of the RBA cash rate movements. Recently we’ve seen small increases in interest rates on commercial property loans and investment property loans. However, interest rates remain very low overall and buying conditions look particularly good for owner-occupiers – great news if you’re a first home buyer or looking for your next home.

    Remember, we’re here to support you with all your finance needs. If you’re thinking about getting into the market this autumn, then give us a call and we’ll help you to get pre-approval on a loan so you’re in a great position to buy. If you’re an investor, don’t be put off by any small rises in rates – we’re here to help you find the most suitable loan for your needs, so call us today.

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter. It contains general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values: www.corelogic.com.au

    Sincerely , Element Finance

  • What’s the best way to finance a new car?

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    Are you in the market for a new car? If you are, you’ve probably been shopping for the make and model you want already! But what about your car financing? There are quite a few car finance options available that most people don’t know about. Talking to us could help you find a new way to finance your car purchase that saves you money. One thing is for sure, you don’t want to jump straight in with the finance a car dealership offers without checking out your other options first! This article tells you more about the car finance options we can provide.

    Why you should check out all your options first

    When you buy a home, your home loan is considered a ‘good’ form of debt because you are purchasing an asset that is most likely appreciating and making you wealthier. But when you purchase a car, you are purchasing an asset that is depreciating and this is considered ‘bad’ because it is costing you money – so it is really important to minimise your borrowing and the amount of interest you have pay. Here’s some car financing options that could help you to do just that!

    Option 1 – get a car loan

    A car loan is a straight forward option that’s great for most people. With a car loan, the funds are secured against the car and you can usually pay it down at about the same rate that the car depreciates at. You can get flexible contract terms ranging from two to seven years, and a choice of fixed or variable interest rates. You may also get to trade-in your old car or use a deposit, which can considerably reduce your monthly repayment amount.

    Because the loan is secured against the car itself, you can usually get a lower interest rate compared to other borrowing options like a personal loan for example. We don’t usually recommend a personal loan to buy a car, because next to credit cards, they carry the highest interest rates of any type of loan available in Australia because they are unsecured debt.

    Option 2 – take out a lease

    A lease differs to a car loan in that the lender retains actual ownership of the car. They purchase the car on your behalf and you lease it back from them, paying a fixed monthly rental for the term of the lease. At the end of the lease, you can pay a ‘residual value’ final payment and take ownership of the car, trade it in, or if the residual is larger than a payment, refinance the residual and continue leasing.

    The benefit of this method of buying a car is that you can reduce the size of your payments by increasing the residual amount you have to pay at the end. Plus, you know what your payments will be in advance. Leasing may also allow you to get a better car than you may otherwise be able to afford.

    Additionally, the GST that is usually contained in the car’s purchase price is claimed back by the lender, which reduces the purchase price for you, and could further reduce your payments.

    A lease also has some tax benefits if you are self-employed or a business owner, particularly if you usually use the car for business purposes. You can even make advance lease payments for tax deduction or cash-flow purposes. (Check with your accountant to ensure this applies to you).

    If you are a salaried employee of a company, you can also enjoy some tax relief by using a novated lease. In this kind of lease, your employer pays the lease payments from your pre-tax income. You can take the vehicle and lease with you if you switch employers and you always retain the equity you build up in the vehicle, not the employer. (Again, you should check with your accountant to ensure a novated lease will give you a tax benefit.)

    Option 3 – use the equity in your home

    If you own your home, you could consider refinancing your home loan to use some of your equity to pay cash for a car. Having cash in your hand when you go out to purchase a car could help you to negotiate a better price, which could save a great deal of money.

    You may think that using the equity in your home to buy a car is a good idea if your home has substantially increased in value since you purchased it. However, you need to be aware that if you take some equity out of your home loan, your home loan repayments will increase. Whilst this is unlikely to increase the cost of your home loan repayments more than covering the monthly repayments on a car loan in addition to your home loan, you need to consider that you will be paying the home loan for an extended period of time. It could be as much as 30 years, which may end up costing you a lot more in interest and repayments than a regular car loan over five years, for example.

    Option 4 – a chattel mortgage

    Many people have never heard of a chattel mortgage and that’s probably because it’s usually used by businesses. If you have a company, business partnership or are a sole trader, you can use a chattel mortgage to buy a vehicle provided it is primarily used for business purposes.

    A chattel mortgage is great if you use the cash method of accounting in your business, as it allows you to claim the GST in the vehicle’s price up-front. That means you can claim some or all of the GST charged in the purchase price of the car as soon as you lodge your next BAS, rather than over the term of the loan. You may also be able to claim the interest charges on your chattel mortgage as a tax deduction and also depreciation on the car. (Of course, you’ll need to check with your accountant first.)

    With a chattel mortgage, the lender advances funds to purchase a car and you take ownership. Then the lender takes out a ‘mortgage’ using the car as security for the loan. This mortgage is registered with ASIC and once the contract is completed, it is removed giving you ownership of the car. You can finance the chattel mortgage over two to five years, arrange for a residual value to reduce the cost of your payments, and use a trade-in or cash as a deposit to further reduce your payments.

    If you’re planning on buying a car, it pays to talk with us about which option will be most beneficial to you. Car dealerships can only provide one kind of finance and they don’t have an obligation to take your personal financial circumstances into consideration and recommend what’s right for you. If you’ve been shopping for a new car of late, just give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk you through all of the car financing options available for you.

  • What is a depreciation schedule and why do I need one?

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    Are you thinking about investing in property this year? One of the reasons why investing in property helps you to build wealth is that it offers you various tax deductions. But many first time investors are unaware of all the tax deductions that may be available.

    One of the tax deductions you can claim on your investment property that is frequently overlooked, particularly by first time investors, is depreciation. For this you need to organise a depreciation schedule when you purchase the property, so you can start claiming the tax break as soon as possible. In this article we explain what a depreciation schedule is and how to obtain one.

    What is depreciation?

    Depreciation occurs as an item’s worth becomes less over time as it is used and it wears out. When you’re talking about a tax deduction, depreciation is a method of allocating the cost of an item over its useful life. For example, if your property has an oven that is valued at $1,000 and has a ten year life, you can claim $100 against your taxable income for 10 years on that individual item.

    With an investment property, you are only allowed to claim depreciation on certain items against your taxable income. There are two types of depreciation tax deductions that you can claim:

    • Depreciation on plant & equipment: this refers to items within the building like ovens, hot water heaters, air conditioners, carpets, blinds and so on.
    • Depreciation on buildings or ‘building allowance’: this refers to the construction costs of the building itself, such as concrete and brickwork.

    What is a depreciation schedule?

    In order to make a tax claim for depreciation, you need a report that identifies all the things that may be claimed against your tax and the current value of each item. The report must separate all the different items into the two categories mentioned above, and each item depreciates at a different rate.

    Each property will be different from the next and will contain a wide variety of different items that fall into these categories. The amount of tax benefit you receive will depend entirely on the property you purchase. Many experienced property investors will deliberately choose properties that will give them the most depreciation benefits.

    When should I get a depreciation schedule?

    You should create a depreciation schedule as soon as possible after settlement, preferably before tenants move in. This will allow you to maximise your tax benefits and will help you to avoid causing disruption to your tenants.

    If you didn’t get a depreciation schedule when you first purchased your investment property, you can still get one now and start claiming your deductions moving forward.

    How do I create a depreciation schedule?

    When you purchase a property, all the assets within the property are not itemised by value. What’s more, the government will not take your word for the value of the items. That means you can’t create a depreciation schedule yourself.

    In order to claim any tax deductions, you will need to employ a qualified Quantity Surveyor to do a thorough inspection to identify what can be claimed and to make valuations in order to create a depreciation schedule for you. This is the only way you can legitimately claim tax deductions for depreciation.

    If you purchase a brand new property, preparing a depreciation schedule is much easier as the value of the items can be easily determined. If you have an older property though, things become more complicated and that’s another reason why it is important to use a reliable professional.

    A Quantity Surveyor will prepare your depreciation schedule report with a view to maximising your financial position in relation to your property assets. And their fees are fully tax deductible. If you need help locating a professional Quantity Surveyor, then please give us a call and ask us for a referral.

    This article looked at just one way you could benefit financially from purchasing an investment property, but there are many reasons you may want to invest! If you’re thinking about getting into the investment property market this year, then give us a call.

    We’re here to help you get your financing in place, but we can also help you put together the team of professionals you need to invest profitably. Now is a good time to get started on your plans for the year, so get in touch

  • Welcome to our February newsletter!

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    Now the school year has started and we’re all back at work, it’s time to get ready for a great year ahead in our property markets. It looks as though market conditions will be more favourable for buyers this year, and we’re excited about helping you make your next move in 2016!

    Last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) met for its first meeting for 2016 and decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0%. According to RBA Governor Glenn Stevens in his statement after the meeting, the RBA Board is waiting for more economic data to come in before deciding if further cuts to the cash rate are necessary.

    The RBA cut the official cash rate in February and May last year, bringing it to historical lows. However many economists and market analysts are predicting that another cut is on the horizon in 2016 and is most likely to occur mid-year.

    As expected, property markets around the country have not been seeing much activity during January. Summer is traditionally a slower time of year for property sales and this has been reflected in low auction numbers, with only 336 auctions reported nationwide for the final week of January.

    After a very fast and furious year in 2015, NSW only saw 59 auctions in the last week of January, with a clearance rate of just 45%. It is interesting to note that 22 of these properties were passed in, indicating that sellers may be struggling to achieve their expected price.

    Victoria held 151 auctions with a clearance rate of 71%, Queensland held 60 auctions with a clearance rate of 50%, South Australia held 97 auctions with a clearance rate of 68%, Western Australia just 29 auctions with a clearance rate of 56%, Canberra had 27 auctions with a clearance rate of 78% and Tasmania held 12 auctions with a clearance rate of 13%.

    Clearance rates are significantly lower than we were seeing last year, indicating that the rapid rises in home values we saw in 2015 are slowing considerably, which is good news for first home buyers. During January, Sydney’s home values only increased by 0.51%. However they are still up by 10.52% compared to this time last year. By contrast, Melbourne’s home value growth is still strong, showing a 2.47% increase in January and a 10.97% increase over this time last year.

    Other property markets showing a strong performance in January were Hobart, with a rise in home values of 4.67% last month, and Canberra with a 2.76% rise. All other cities showed very marginal movements of less than one per cent.

    We can expect to see auction numbers rising again towards the end of February and a busy month in March. Real estate search sites are showing a good supply of housing stock with Domain currently listing over 363,300 properties on the market for sale nationwide.

    If you’re planning to purchase a property in 2016, whether you’re a first home buyer, next home buyer or a property investor, we look forward to talking with you about your plans. If you’re thinking about refinancing your home, now is also a very good time to talk with us, as the lenders are offering very competitive rates across the board and some interesting incentive deals. Whatever your plans for 2016, remember we’re here to support you and help you reach your goals, so please give us a call today!

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter. It contains general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply. . Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values: www.corelogic.com.au

    Sincerely , Element Finance

  • February’s adrenaline giveaway from Element Finance Fremantle!

    WIN a rally adventure
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    GIVEAWAY TIME! This one is a MASSIVE prize guys. Here is your opportunity to become RALLY CHAMP for a day.

    This is an awesome introduction to the adrenaline-fueled world of rally driving in real competition vehicles. Take your choice of rally car from a fleet of Australian Rally Championship spec super cars, including the Subaru WRX STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.

    You are given four rally driving sessions behind the controls of a minimum of two different cars over the rally driving dirt circuit layout, for a minimum of 28 laps of the ‘Rally Practice Stages’. You’ll be taught mind-blowing professional rally driving techniques which, in addition to getting the most out of these high-performance rally driving vehicles on the day, will also make your everyday driving safer and more enjoyable.

    Finally, to top off the rally driving course, you’ll be strapped into the co-driver’s seat and taken for a humbling rally hot lap blast by one of our professional rally drivers, and these guys don’t hold back!

    For your chance to test your driving skills and your nerves, enter our competition with these 2 easy steps:

    1. LIKE the Element Finance Facebook page
    2. Visit the Element Finance page and comment on this image with the name of the person you think makes the best (or worst) co-driver/navigator on road-trips.
    But hurry, competition closes on 23 February. Winner announced 24 February. For full T&Cs, please email mike@elementfinance.com.au

  • Moving up – could an apartment be your first home?

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    Are you in the market for your first home? Perhaps you’ve been dreaming the classic home buyer’s dream of a little house with a garden and a white picket fence? If this sounds like you, then you may have found that your property searches in 2015 were unrewarding – with the property market running hot and stiff competition for every opportunity.

    Could it be time to revise your vision and start thinking about buying an apartment instead? A higher level of availability could make a trendy little apartment a great first step onto the property ladder! Whilst it may not be your first choice of property, an apartment could be a good way to get started and it could prove to be much more affordable for many first home buyers in 2016.

    Why buy an apartment?

    Depending on the size and location, apartments do tend to be less expensive than houses and this often means they make better entry level properties. Because they cost less, you will require a smaller deposit to get onto the property ladder. In the case of a new build apartment, you may be able to purchase off the plan and this could potentially save you money on stamp duty as well.

    Generally speaking, maintenance costs are usually less on an apartment than on a house, simply because there is less to maintain. This can be a distinct advantage when buying your first home on a tight budget. This is particularly true if you buy a newly built apartment where all of the appliances, fixtures and fittings are brand new.

    Additionally, many analysts believe that there may potentially be an oversupply of newly built apartments in many capital cities both now and over the next two years. This may have the effect of keeping prices down, making apartment and unit properties even more affordable.

    A constant supply of new apartments may also restrict price growth on older, more established apartments. This may give you the opportunity to get a bargain buy and add value by renovating.

    What to look for in an apartment purchase

    Location. If you want to make sure that your apartment will appreciate in value whilst you own it, you should try to buy one in a location that will be popular with everyone and not just yourself. Look for a location that is close to public transport, cafes, restaurants, shopping and lifestyle amenities.

    Before you consider buying a property in an outer suburb or a rural location, have a chat with us about the potential for rental and capital growth. An inner city or suburban location is usually more popular with first home buyers, but if you find an opportunity you can afford in an outer lying area, it is a good idea to do some careful research to help you make a wise decision.

    Boutique. It is often true that apartments in smaller, boutique developments tend to be more attractive to renters than really large apartment block developments. Unless the apartment is really great – with an excellent facilities, location and local amenities, you may like to choose an apartment in a smaller development if you can. Of course, budget is a major factor but if you have the choice, go for a smaller apartment in a boutique development over a larger apartment in a really big block.

    Parking. Off-street parking can be very important to some property buyers, so try to buy an apartment that comes with its own designated parking space if you can. If you can get one with a lock-up garage as well, then that’s even better! If you find an apartment you like that doesn’t have parking, carefully consider the availability of parking in the area and nearby the block.

    Size. Apartments come in all shapes and sizes, but many first home buyers will be looking at one-bedroom apartments. If this is the case, look for one that is larger than 50sqm internally as some lenders may not want to finance an apartment that is smaller than this.

    If your budget will stretch to a two-bedroom apartment, then go for it. You may be able to rent out the extra space to help pay off your home loan – which could be a bonus.

    Easy lift access. Apartment buildings that do not have a lift and require you to walk upstairs to reach your apartment can be very inconvenient. New build apartments usually have lifts, but consider carefully before you buy an upper floor apartment that doesn’t have one!

    Balcony. People like to be able to get outside when they’re at home, so look for an apartment with a balcony or private outside area if you can. Even a small outside area will make your apartment more attractive to potential buyers down the track and this may have a positive effect on your resale value.

    Views. Apartments with nice views, or at least a sunny outlook tend to be the better buy. If you are buying off the plan, take particular care to consider what the outlook will be. If there are plans to build another apartment block right next door, you may find yourself with limited sunlight or a view of your neighbour’s bathroom if you’re not careful.

    Do your research and get pre-approval on your financing

    As with any property purchase, it is really important to do your research before you put down your deposit. Try to find out if there are a lot of new apartment developments planned nearby in the future as this will affect the value of the apartment and may limit capital growth. If you are buying off the plan, it is particularly important that you get a professional independent valuation on what the value of the apartment will be when it is finished.

    Before you put down your deposit on any property – particularly if you will be buying off the plan, please talk to us about the financing to make sure it will be possible to arrange the amount you need to complete the purchase. Remember, having 10% of the purchase price for a deposit does not necessarily mean that a lender will automatically let you borrow the rest!

    We’re here to help you work out your financial position and get pre-approval on your loan so that you can search for your first home with confidence. Even if you’re some time away from having your deposit ready, it could pay to chat with us about your plans – we may even be able to help you get there sooner. Please get in touch on the details below.

  • Best fixed rate in Australia?

    Element Finance Guarantee
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    Rates on hold – but for how long? If you are thinking about fixing your home loan rate, call us today. Element Finance guarantee to beat any advertised 1-5 year fixed interest rate from ANZ Australia, NAB, Westpac & St.George Bank. Probably most others too! This is a limited opportunity so get in touch now to see just how easy it is to save. Element Finance has em covered.

  • Attention accountants!

    Accountants: lets chat!
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    Are you an experienced accountant that regularly works with property investors? We need to hear from you if you are comfortable discussing and assisting clients with some of the following:
    Taxation returns for investment property holders
    Debt minimisation strategies
    Asset protection via trusts and other vehicles
    Tax planning
    Assisting with record keeping
    Craft beer

    Element Finance are keen to establish a reciprocal referral relationship with a reliable and knowledgeable accountant. If you want to hear from a lot more investors and would also like to have confidence your clients’ finance is always done right, get in touch now, we need to talk.

  • Adding a swimming pool – is it a good investment?

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    Now that the hot weather is well and truly here, wouldn’t it be marvellous to have your own swimming pool in the back yard? Not only are they a great way to keep cool in summer, they make great entertainment for the kids and can be a stylish addition to your home. However, as a home owner, there’s more to consider than just keeping cool and having fun. Below are some questions to think about before taking the ‘plunge’.

    Why do you want a swimming pool?

    It’s true that adding a swimming pool to your home may be considered an investment – but is it an investment in your lifestyle or your future? You may consider adding a swimming pool to your home for the benefit of family and friends, to make it more attractive to renters, to increase your home’s value, or to make it easier to sell.

    Whatever your primary motivation may be, most home owners will be concerned about adding value to the property, as your home is likely to be one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. We therefore recommend that you seek professional advice before going ahead with your swimming pool plans, just to make sure you don’t overcapitalise or buy a pool that isn’t right for your property.

    Who is the target market for your home?

    Many people love swimming pools and homes that have them can be very attractive to families with older children – so if they are your target market you may want to go ahead with your backyard oasis plans. Pools are also a great idea for investment properties that are rented out as holiday homes, as people may look for a pool when making their selection for a place to visit in their time off.

    Busy professionals and property investors, however, may prefer a property without a swimming pool. This kind of purchaser tends to look for a property that requires as little maintenance as possible. Tenants have been known to neglect home maintenance and may not be prepared to take the time and trouble to keep a pool sparkling clean – so if tenanting the property will be the eventual goal, a pool may not be a good idea.

    Are pools popular in your location?

    Another factor to consider is the location of your home. For example, if your property is in an area that is already popular with families – close to good schools, universities, sporting facilities and other amenities that families require – then a pool could make your home even more attractive.

    Outer suburban properties that are in a hot weather location and are some distance from the beach may also benefit greatly by the addition of a swimming pool. If adding a pool will also add a measure of convenience, then so much the better!

    Another thing to consider about the location is your local climate. A swimming pool in a place that is prone to very hot weather will get a lot of use. But if the property is in a location that has a cooler climate, then adding a swimming pool may not make good sense.

    Will it add more value than it costs?

    The answer to this question will differ in every case and has much to do with the pool you choose and how well it integrates with your existing property. As with any home improvement or renovation, it is important not to overcapitalise – if you spend too much money, you may not get back the cost of your renovation when you sell.

    Pools come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and price points. The trick is to choose the one that will suit your particular home and budget. To help you to determine how much you should spend, you could do some research to compare the values of homes in your area with and without a swimming pool. This will help you to create a realistic budget and avoid spending too much money.

    Local real estate agents may also be a good source of information. You can show them your plans and ask them to give you an opinion on the value of your home before and after the pool is installed so you can see if you’ve got the budget right. They’ll be able to tell you whether adding a swimming pool is a good idea or not, according to what their buyers want and also give you an opinion on the style of pool you should choose to make sure it does not detract from the value of your home.

    Would other renovations add more value than a pool?

    If your primary concern is adding value to your home, then you may want to consider whether other renovations would add more value than a swimming pool. Does your home need a new kitchen? Have you considered adding another bedroom or a second bathroom for example? Is the home fitted with up-to-date, energy efficient appliances? These kind of improvements may be more important than adding a swimming pool in terms of value.

    If you want to add a swimming pool to your home, or would like to make other renovations to facilitate your lifestyle or add value, then we’d love to help. There are several different ways to arrange the finance and we can help you to decide which one is the right option for your particular financial circumstances and goals, then help you to get it all set up. We can also provide you with referrals to other professionals you may need for advice. We’re here to help you with all your property plans and dreams, so please give us a call today.

  • Is buying a property your New Year resolution?

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    2015 was a fantastic year for property in Australia. Our major property markets saw some significant capital gains and many property sellers made a good profit. There were also record numbers of auctions around the country – but competition was fierce and if you were looking to buy, securing the property you wanted wasn’t always easy.

    2016 promises to be another competitive year for property purchases, so if you want to get in on the action, you’ll need to be on top of your game. If your New Year resolution is to buy a property this year, here are some things you could do to help you succeed.

    1. Identify a goal

    It’s very easy to make a New Year resolution, but most of us do this every year and very seldom stick to it. That’s because a New Year resolution needs to be very specific if you want to achieve anything.

    Having a vague resolution such as “Buy a property” isn’t going to get you over the line. You need a more specific goal like “Buy a 3 bedroom house near X before June 30” or “secure an investment apartment in X before Y”. Adding a sense of urgency to your goal will motivate you to keep on top of what you need to do to make a successful purchase. Below we talk about some of the steps you will need to undertake to reach your goal – you may find that it will help to schedule these activities in your diary so that you don’t put them off.

    2. Be ready to act

    Procrastination is the enemy of success. There are often thousands of properties on the market and if you don’t know where you want to buy or what type of property you’re searching for, you’ll find yourself procrastinating about which properties to view.

    The answer is to sit down, make some decisions and then do your research. If you are buying a property as your own home, you can consider which suburbs will be convenient for you in terms of work, whether you need to be near public transport, whether you need an apartment or a house. If you are looking for a property investment, you’ll need to consider properties that meet your investment strategy, have good capital growth potential and are easy to tenant.

    3. Set a realistic savings budget

    Good money habits are very important if you’re planning to get a home loan this year. Lenders don’t just look at how much of a deposit you have, they assess your ability to save and make repayments.

    Taking on a home loan is a big financial commitment and you will also have the added expense of maintaining your property, paying rates, insurance and other expenses on top of your mortgage so you will need to demonstrate that you have your budget under control and are a good saver.

    To set a monthly savings target, you could start by making a list of your expenses. It’s important that you are realistic and make a comprehensive list, so that you understand where your money is going and where you can cut back if necessary when you get a home loan.

    4. Get your financing in place

    We suggest you talk with us about getting pre-approval on your home loan before you start looking at properties you might like to buy. Establishing a price limit for your purchase is key.

    We will help you to fully understand your financial position and help you to determine how much you can borrow and as a result, what kind of property you can afford to buy. Setting a realistic savings budget first (as mentioned in point 2 above) is an important part of this process.

    It’s a good idea to make talking to us a priority, as it could make all the difference to your success. If you know exactly what you can afford, you will save yourself hours of time looking at property listings and save days making inspections on homes.

    5. Get a professional team on your side

    Let’s face it, buying a property isn’t easy. Having a professional team on your side could make all the difference to your success. You’ve started out by getting a professional mortgage broker (well done), but you may also need help from other professionals as well (and in many cases, we can help you by providing a referral).

    Buyer’s Agent: If you are short of time, you may want to consider engaging a reputable Buyer’s Agent. They can do a lot of the leg work in locating you suitable properties to view and make a big difference when it comes time to buy.

    Real Estate Agents: If you don’t want to go with a Buyer’s Agent, you may like to get in touch with reputable real estate agents in the areas you want to buy.

    Conveyancer: When you locate the property you want to buy, it will pay to have a Conveyancer or Property Solicitor lined up so that you can move quickly.

    Inspectors: When you locate a property you want to purchase, you’ll need to get building and pest inspections done before the auction date. Line up your inspectors beforehand and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and hassle in locating them when you need them.

    Remember, we’re here to help you keep your New Year resolution to buy a property in 2016! It won’t be easy, but we’re sure you’ll find it’s worth the effort. We’re ready to help you assess your financial position, and help you get pre-approval on your home loan so that you can start the process of locating an opportunity and making a purchase. Give us a call today and let us help you get started.

  • Welcome to our eMag for 2016

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    Happy New Year! We hope that you and your family enjoyed a very relaxing holiday break and managed to get into the great outdoors to enjoy this lovely summer weather.

    Are you ready for another fantastic year in our property markets? 2015 was a fast and furious year that favoured property owners and sellers in almost every capital city. However, many analysts are predicting that our property markets will improve for buyers this year, with conditions starting to look much more favourable for first home buyers and owner occupiers.

    This is largely due to a reduction in property investment activity in response to the tightening of controls on investment lending by the Australian Prudential and Regulatory Authority (APRA) in June last year. Activity from foreign property investors also slowed in the last quarter of 2015.

    Both of these factors have contributed to reduced competition for properties. This has caused a slow-down in rapid rises in home values around the country, but particularly in Melbourne and Sydney where markets were running hot all year.

    Sydney home values increased by 11.47% during 2015, but they were down by 2.37% for the final quarter. Melbourne values were up by almost 11% for the year, but fell by 1.70% for the final quarter.

    Other capital cities saw more modest movements in home values for the year. Brisbane/Gold Coast saw a 4.57% rise in home values and Canberra saw home values increase by 4.09% for the year. In Perth, home values decreased in 2015 by 3.73% and Darwin also saw home values fall by 3.63%. Hobart also showed a marginal decrease in home values for the year of 0.72% and Adelaide showed an overall decrease of 0.13%.

    During December, there was still a great deal of activity going on in most states. Auction numbers were surprisingly high for that time of year, however clearance rates were much lower and many more properties sold prior to auction than was usual for the year.

    With many people only just returning from holidays, we can expect property market activity to be continue to be quiet for the remainder of January. However, with interest rates remaining at historical lows, and further rate cuts looking likely in 2016, we can expect general property market activity to be busy again this year, with large auction numbers already on the horizon for February and March.

    Whether you’re a first home buyer, looking to refinance or are planning to invest in property this year, we’re here to help you formulate your plans and access the right financing for your needs. We look forward to assisting you to achieve your goals in 2016, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call to get started today.

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter. It contains general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply.

    Sincerely , Element Finance

  • Perth property market in 2016. Time to buy?

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    Happy New Year! We hope that you and your family enjoyed a very relaxing holiday break and managed to get into the great outdoors to enjoy this lovely summer weather.

    Are you ready for another fantastic year in our property markets? 2015 was a fast and furious year that favoured property owners and sellers in almost every capital city. However, many analysts are predicting that our property markets will improve for buyers this year, with conditions starting to look much more favourable for first home buyers and owner occupiers.

    This is largely due to a reduction in property investment activity in response to the tightening of controls on investment lending by the Australian Prudential and Regulatory Authority (APRA) in June last year. Activity from foreign property investors also slowed in the last quarter of 2015.

    Both of these factors have contributed to reduced competition for properties. This has caused a slow-down in rapid rises in home values around the country, but particularly in Melbourne and Sydney where markets were running hot all year.

    Sydney home values increased by 11.47% during 2015, but they were down by 2.37% for the final quarter. Melbourne values were up by almost 11% for the year, but fell by 1.70% for the final quarter.

    Other capital cities saw more modest movements in home values for the year. Brisbane/Gold Coast saw a 4.57% rise in home values and Canberra saw home values increase by 4.09% for the year. In Perth, home values decreased in 2015 by 3.73% and Darwin also saw home values fall by 3.63%. Hobart also showed a marginal decrease in home values for the year of 0.72% and Adelaide showed an overall decrease of 0.13%.

    During December, there was still a great deal of activity going on in most states. Auction numbers were surprisingly high for that time of year, however clearance rates were much lower and many more properties sold prior to auction than was usual for the year.

    With many people only just returning from holidays, we can expect property market activity to be continue to be quiet for the remainder of January. However, with interest rates remaining at historical lows, and further rate cuts looking likely in 2016, we can expect general property market activity to be busy again this year, with large auction numbers already on the horizon for February and March.

    Whether you’re a first home buyer, looking to refinance or are planning to invest in property this year, we’re here to help you formulate your plans and access the right financing for your needs. We look forward to assisting you to achieve your goals in 2016, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call to get started today.

  • Consolidate your debts for a happier New Year!

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    It’s  that time of year when we spend up big – buying presents for our family and friends, eating out, decking the halls with Christmas decorations and even going away on holidays. This can be a very stressful time for those of us on a tight budget. And it can be particularly stressful if you already have debts that you’re struggling to pay down.

    If you’ve been worrying about how you’ll manage your debt repayments next year, then help is at hand. Debt consolidation is one of the services we offer and we can look at ways to help you to re-arrange your finances to make things more manageable and eliminate the stress.

    Are you stuck in a credit card trap?
    Few of us on a responsible budget waste money on unnecessary spending, but credit balances have a horrible way of building up over time. The higher your balance, of course, the more interest you have to pay and that’s where things can start to get stressful.

    It’s not difficult to get to a point where reasonable repayments are suddenly just enough to make the interest repayments and do nothing to pay down the balance. Credit card interest can be as high as 20% per annum or even more in some cases, and meeting these interest obligations can cut deeply into your monthly income – which in turn causes you to use your credit cards and run up more debt.

    If you have personal loans, car loans or have used store credit as well as your credit cards, then things can really start to become difficult. We call this kind of debt ‘bad’ because it is expensive and does nothing to help you build wealth for your future – as opposed to a home loan which is a ‘good’ form of debt because it helps you build wealth and equity over time.

    What can be done to break the vicious cycle?
    Once you get into a situation where a large proportion of your income is going on paying your credit card interest, it can be difficult to break the cycle. The answer is to consolidate or collect all your debts into one, giving you a single repayment that carries a much lower interest rate than your existing credit cards and other forms of ‘bad’ debt.

    By consolidating your debt and organising a new way to finance it, you can also spread out your repayments over time and that also helps to reduce the amount of money that goes out from your monthly pay packet. This will mean that you can use your income to pay off your debt and support your lifestyle instead of spending it on huge interest repayments. You may even find yourself in a position to save some money!

    Two ways we can help you consolidate your debt
    The idea of debt consolidation is to take out a new, low-interest loan and use it to pay off all of your old high interest debts – like credit cards, store credit and expensive car loans. There are basically two options for this kind of debt consolidation:

    1. Refinance your home loan and use some of the equity to pay off your debts.
    2. Take out a personal loan with a lower interest rate to pay off your debts.

    Home loan interest rates are currently the lowest interest rates available in Australia. Refinancing your home loan to consolidate your debts means taking out some of your equity and this will increase your home loan repayments. But as they will be spread out over a long period of time, and home loan interest rates are much lower than credit card interest rates, this should work to lower your overall monthly repayments considerably and help you to get ahead.

    The other alternative is to take out a personal loan to consolidate your debts. Personal loan interest rates are several percentage points higher than the average home loan, but they are generally less than what most of us are paying on our credit cards.

    In addition to lowering the amount of interest you have to pay, a personal loan will allow you to choose your loan term to spread your repayments out and make them more manageable. This kind of debt consolidation gives you the added advantage of seeing your actual debt being eliminated – at the end of the loan term your debt will be completely paid off and you’ll be debt free!

    Give us a call – we’ll be glad to help!
    If you’d like to talk to us about consolidating your debts, please don’t hesitate to give us a call now. Our aim is to help you to find a way to make your monthly repayments more reasonable and free up more of your income so you can live comfortably and worry-free.

  • January Summer fun giveaway from your favourite Fremantle Mortgage Brokers

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    The temperature is UP here in Fremantle and Perth so its time to hit the water – in style! This month,Element Finance are giving you AND a friend the chance to get into the Indian Ocean in the most unique way we can find – on a Jet X-treme jet board! For your chance to dive like a dolphin into the deep blue, enter our competition with these 2 easy steps:

    1. LIKE the Element Finance Facebook page
    2. Visit the Element Finance page and comment on this image with the name of the person you want to fly across the water with.
    But hurry, competition closes on 18 January. Winner announced 19 January. For full T&Cs, please email mike@elementfinance.com.au

    More Jet X-treme action on youTube: https://youtu.be/sizsqhHLk68

  • Is it time for a home loan health check?

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    unnamedWe’ve just been through the busiest time of year in the property game. If you’re interested in purchasing property, then spring is when you’re usually flat out researching the market, viewing properties and attending auctions. But now that summer is here and the busy period is slowing, it’s a good time to review your financial position and the financial products you’re already using. Are they still the best options available for you?

    A regular home loan health check is an important part of the ongoing service we provide to you and it’s particularly important if you’ve had your loan/s for a while. In this article we look at the reasons why you might want to review your home loan right now and how you could benefit from talking to us.

    What is a home loan health check?
    The term of your home loan may be as much as 30 years, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it for that long. A home loan health check is a service that we like to perform for you on a regular basis. It entails a short discussion about how you use your loan and a basic review of your financial circumstances. It gives you the opportunity to ensure that your home loan is still the best product available for you – because let’s face it, things change.

    These days its common practice to review your home loan regularly. New financial products come onto the market all the time and it’s a good idea to compare the loan you have with what’s available now. Perhaps you now need a different type of home loan, or you could save money on repayments. Maybe your lender has raised your interest rate and you’d like to see if you could do better. The idea behind a home loan health check is to make sure you have the right product for you and to give you peace of mind that you’re not paying too much or missing out on any benefits.

    These are the questions we consider during your home loan health check:

    • What are your financial goals and objectives for the year ahead?
    • Have your financial circumstances changed?
    • Are you paying a higher interest rate than you have to?
    • Are your fees too high, is there a way to cut them down?
    • Does your home loan give you the features you need?
    • Are you paying for features you don’t use?
    • Are you interested in accessing your equity?

    Why should I get a home loan health check?
    Even though the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has kept the official cash rate on hold for most of the year, interest rates have been on the rise due to changes in banking regulations. Things have changed for both home owners and property investors in terms of how much your home loan costs in interest rates and this alone gives you a very good reason to check that you’re still getting the best rate available for you considering your personal financial circumstances and goals.

    The fact is, whilst most lenders have raised their interest rates over the last two months, some lenders have raised their rates more than others. If you’ve had your loan for a while and your interest rate went up recently, we can compare your current home loan with other products from a wide variety of lenders to see if you could benefit from refinancing your home loan with a different lender.

    Refinancing to a home loan with a lower interest rate could potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. And if you’re considering refinancing to a different loan, why not take a look at your other finances at the same time to see if refinancing could help you there as well? For example, if you have credit card debts, you could take out a little equity when you refinance to pay them off and save yourself a lot of money on expensive credit card interest.

    What are your property purchasing plans for 2016?
    If you have any plans to purchase property in 2016, getting a home loan health check now could help you determine your financial position and help you achieve your goals. This is true if you’re planning on moving to a larger home, or even if you’re just thinking of renovating your existing home.

    If you are a property investor or are planning to invest for the first time in 2016, we highly recommend that you get in touch. Recent changes to banking regulations regarding investment lending/borrowing have really changed the game and you may benefit from discussing your options.

    You may think that you are now unable to move forward with your property investment ambitions, or perhaps you are uncomfortable with your current financial structure. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! We’ll do our best to help you get past any impediments and help you look at ways to continue to strive for your property investment goals.

    Why not call us now to get your home loan health check underway? It will be of great assistance to your property plans in 2016, cost you nothing and may even save you money! We’re here to help you make sure you’ve got the right financial products for your needs, personal financial circumstances and goals, so please give us a call today.

  • Buying your dream holiday home – will it make a good rental property?

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    Summer is finally here and it’s the time of year when we all start dreaming of owning our own holiday home and enjoying endless sunny days by the sea. But is buying a holiday home really a good financial decision? Is there a way to make a holiday home purchase work as an investment as well?

    We’re all guilty of spending part of every holiday gazing into real estate agent’s windows and wondering if (or when) we’ll be able to afford our own slice of paradise. And if you take out a holiday home rental when you go away on holidays, you’ll be fully aware of how much they cost and the great returns they can bring! However, owning your own holiday home and owning an investment property in a holiday location are two very different propositions.

    Buying a holiday home for yourself
    If you are buying a holiday home entirely for your own use, your primary considerations will always be about how you and your family will use the property. You’ll be looking at the location to assess whether or not it will facilitate a good holiday for your family members – is there enough accommodation for the whole family, does it provide the sporting options and facilities your kids will want, is it close to your relatives if that is important to you?

    Buying a holiday home for your own use could be a good financial decision if you have the funds to pay the mortgage on your second home without the assistance of rental returns, and you buy in the right location. However, the right location is key to ensuring your purchase proves to be an increasingly valuable asset over time.

    When choosing a location that will help your property increase in value, here are some points that might help:

    • The property is within a two hour drive of a capital city or airport
    • The location has lifestyle facilities such as shopping, quality cafes and restaurants
    • The location offers attractions such as vineyards, watersports, amusement parks etc.
    • The market is not oversupplied with holiday homes that can’t be sold or rented.

    Buying a holiday home as an investment
    When buying a holiday home for investment purposes, your considerations and objectives will be different than if you were buying a property for your own use. That’s because the primary purpose of an investment property is to earn you money, not provide you with a second residence. When buying any investment property, it is very important not to make an emotional decision – profit should always be your first consideration.

    Several things determine whether or not a property may make a good investment:

    • Will it be easy to find tenants?
    • Will it earn enough rental returns to cover your costs?
    • Will it provide you with a capital gain over the period of time you plan to own it?
    • Can you cost-effectively improve the property to increase your capital gains?
    • Does the property have the access and lifestyle considerations that make a good holiday home? Will these attractions develop further in the future?

    When making your property investment, you also need to remember that getting a regular rental return from a holiday investment property may be more difficult than with an ordinary investment property. That’s because demand for holiday homes tends to be seasonal. It may be easy enough to find tenants during the peak summer holiday season, but it might not be so easy to find them year round – especially for seaside purchases.

    So, where does that leave you in terms of enjoying your holiday investment home for your own use occasionally? Trying to get the best of both worlds – a holiday home for your family that is also an investment that covers its own costs – may prove to be difficult. However it may be possible to rent out the property some of the time to help cover some of your costs.

    Call us to chat about your plans
    We’re here to help you decide what option is right for you. We’re always happy to crunch the numbers for you to see if your plans are financially sound. We’re also happy to help you structure your loan and find the right financial products to maximise your investment property buying power. If you’ve been dreaming about a holiday home of your own, or are planning to buy an investment property in 2016, then please give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

  • Welcome to our December newsletter

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    Christmas is just a few weeks away and we’re all looking forward to a summer break after a very fast-paced year in our property markets. Our last newsletter for 2015 focuses on your goals, financial health and getting ready for another busy year in 2016.

    The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) met for their final meeting for 2015 last week, but there was no rate cut to give mortgage holders an early Christmas present. The official cash rate remains on hold at 2.0 per cent.

    The RBA will not meet again until February 2016, so the cash rate will stay at this level at least until then. The question is, can we expect further rate cuts in 2016? Home value growth looks set to slow down next year and this may give the RBA room to make a further cut. Analysts predict that the sluggish performance of our economy over the last year may prompt a move, but according to RBA Governor Glenn Stevens, this will depend on the economic data.

    Sanity appears to be returning to the Sydney and Melbourne property markets, with both showing declines in home values and auction clearance rates during November. This is good news for first home buyers, and for property investors trying to enter the market.

    In Sydney, home values fell by 1.37 per cent during November, but were still showing growth of 12.82 per cent over this time last year. Melbourne home values declined by 3.45 per cent, but were up by 11.82 per cent year on year. Canberra was down by 0.50 per cent but showed an increase of 4.52 per cent year on year. Hobart was down by 2.38 per cent, but showed an increase year on year of 1.12 per cent. Adelaide home values rose by 0.69 per cent last month and by 3.27 per cent year on year. Perth home values increased by 0.33 per cent last month but declined by 4.13 per cent year on year. Brisbane and the Gold Coast saw a rise of 0.44 per cent and a rise of 4.45 per cent year on year.

    Despite the RBA keeping the official cash rate on hold, interest rates have been on the move in October and November. Lenders have increased rates for property investment loans in line with APRA’s regulations and some lenders have also made slight increases to home loan interest rates for owner occupier home loans.

    In this issue, we’ve included an article about getting a home loan health check and if you’ve had your loan for a while, we believe this is really important. We can assess whether your home loan is still the right product for your needs, personal circumstances and goals and shop around to compare your loan to what’s available on the market now to see if we could save you money. If you’re a property investor, we’re also very happy to help you formulate your plans for 2016, so please give us a call today.

    We’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very happy holiday season and a safe and prosperous new year. We look forward to another great year of working together to achieve your financial goals in 2016.

    The information provided in this newsletter is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs.

    We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter, and you consider whether the information is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply.

    Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values:www.corelogic.com.au

    Sincerely , Element Finance

  • Top 5 reasons to consider refinancing

    Top 5 reasons to consider refinancing
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    A home loan isn’t just a debt, it’s a great financial tool that you can use to build wealth and facilitate your lifestyle. That’s why few people keep their original home loan for the life of the loan – it pays to keep it up to date to meet your needs as circumstances change.

    Refinancing your home loan means replacing it with one that better suits your current needs – and it’s something you may consider for a variety of different reasons. Here are the top four reasons why you might consider refinancing your home loan.

    1. To save money on your home loan repayments

    The top reason why people talk to us about the possibility of refinancing their home loan is because they may now be eligible for a better interest rate. Cutting back on the interest you pay could reduce your repayment amount and save you a considerable amount of money over time.

    When you first apply for your home loan, your financial circumstances are one of the factors that influence the home loan interest rate available to you. As your personal situation improves over time, you may be able to refinance to get a better interest rate.

    Additionally, you can often get a better interest rate by switching lenders. For example, the big four banks recently made a move to raise interest rates outside of RBA movements. However, not all lenders raised rates at the same time, with many of the smaller lenders keeping their rates between 0.20 and 1 percent lower than the bigger lenders.

    If your lender raised your rates recently, now may be a good time to ask us to shop around for a better deal that could save you money.

    2. To access your equity

    Property investment is currently one of the most popular ways of building wealth for your future. Whilst saving the deposit to purchase a second property may be difficult for many, rapid rises in property values in recent years have provided an opportunity to refinance in order to access some of the equity in their homes to use as a deposit instead.

    The equity in your home is calculated by subtracting the amount you owe from the current value of your home. In order to refinance to access your equity, you will need to have your home valued to determine its current value.

    Accessing your equity will increase the amount you owe on your original property and increase your mortgage payments. However, if you use the equity to make a property investment, you will have the opportunity to capitalise on home loan value increases on two properties over time and this has the potential to help you increase your wealth in the long run.

    Other uses for a lump sum in cash are literally endless – you could use your equity to buy your family a boat, a caravan, the overseas holiday you’ve always wanted or even use it to invest in a business or stocks and shares. However, we encourage you to act responsibly and only access your equity for lifestyle reasons if you can genuinely afford it. That means talking to us to help you discover your real financial position and if accessing your equity is a good idea for you.

    3. To renovate or extend your home

    Renovating or extending your current home to meet the needs of your growing family or changing lifestyle is often a better option than purchasing an entirely new home. By renovating or extending, you will be able to create the home that exactly meets your needs and if you’re careful about the improvements you make, perhaps even increase its value at the same time. Even though you will need to access your equity, you may be able to improve the value of your home to offset this cost.

    Maintaining the value of your largest asset is important. So even if you don’t want to extend your home, keeping it up to date and in good repair is something you should consider periodically. If your home could do with an update, don’t hesitate to talk with us about refinancing to renovate.

    4. To consolidate debts

    Your home loan interest rate is probably the lowest form of interest you will need to pay on any loan in Australia. Credit card interest rates can be as much as four times higher than your home loan interest rate and this can make credit card debts difficult to pay off. Other expensive debts like car loans or personal loans can also prove to be a drain on your finances.

    If the value of your home has increased over the last couple of years, it may be worth considering accessing some of the equity in your home to pay off your more expensive debts. This could dramatically reduce the amount of interest you have to pay on your overall debts each month, offering you some financial relief and helping you to enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle.

    It’s a far better idea to be in a position to save money each month rather than waste it on expensive credit card interest repayments. By refinancing to consolidate your debts, you could possibly find yourself in a position to save money to make other investments or even pay off your home loan sooner. Ask us to help you crunch the numbers to see if using your home loan to consolidate your debts will be a good idea for you.

    Ask us if refinancing is the right move

    If you have plans or goals for your future then remember, your home loan can be used as a financial tool to help you reach them. We’re here to help you make the most out of your home loan, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call for a chat about what you want to achieve and how refinancing your home loan could help to get you where you want to be. We’re always happy to spend the time with you to help you make the right decisions to reach your financial goals, so please call us today.

  • WIN an ipad Air 2

    WIN an ipad air 2
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    Christmas is in the AIR and so that means our BIGGEST giveaway ever is happening. We have a brand new iPad Air 2 64GB with wifi and cellular valued at $1,000 PLUS a $100 iTunes voucher here in the office ready to wrap for you. For your chance to get your name on the Christmas label, enter our competition with these 2 easy steps:

    1. LIKE the Element Finance Facebook page right here
    2. Visit the Element Finance page and comment on iPad image with the name of your favourite (or least favourite!) Christmas carol.

    But hurry, competition closes on 18 December. Winner announced 19 December. For full T&Cs, please email mike@elementfinance.com.au

  • Do you have the right insurance protection?

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    Many Australians may not have adequate income or mortgage protection insurance cover in place to service their home loan repayments and living expenses in the event they lose their job, or suffer a serious illness or injury that would make them unable to work. In fact, while most of us have car insurance, it’s been estimated that only 6% of us have our own income adequately covered! 

    As your mortgage broker, we adhere to certain ethical lending practices that are required by law. One of these requirements is to do our best to ensure you suffer no hardship when it comes to repaying your home loan. That’s why we always discuss your insurance arrangements with you when you apply for a home loan through us.

    What is income protection insurance?

    There are several different types of insurance that you could use to cover yourhome loan repayments in the event you were unable to earn an income. One option that our home loan customers take out is income protection insurance. We can help you to choose a policy that’s tailored to your particular needs and protects you in a variety of different ways, including:

    • Extended illness
    • Involuntary unemployment
    • Kids injuries
    • Holiday injuries
    • Permanent disability

    There are several different types of insurance that you could use to cover yourhome loan repayments in the event you were unable to earn an income. The cost of income protection insurance is usually tax deductible for most people (you’ll need to check with a qualified tax adviser to see if this is the case for you). However, not all insurance policies are tax deductible.

    Other types of insurance policies that you could use include:

    • Loan or mortgage protection insurance
    • Life insurance/total and permanent disability insurance

    Why should you get insurance cover?

    Taking out a home loan can be an expensive exercise, there’s the deposit, application fees, inspections, conveyancer – the list goes on. Income or mortgage protection insurance can just seem like an additional expense that you can choose to avoid. But what you need to consider is: can you afford not to have it?

    If you couldn’t work for six months, how would you support yourself and yourfamily? Would your savings be enough to cover your home loan repayments for an extended period of time, or would you be at risk of losing your home?

    You may think that nothing will happen to you that may cause a significant interruption to your capacity to earn an income, but consider these facts:

    • More than 50,000 people are hospitalised every year due to transport accidents. 81% of these people are working age and need to spend more than 5 days in hospital. ii
    • 126,800 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year. iii
    • At the end of 2014, more than 150,000 Australians were unemployed for six months or more. iv

    As you can see, there are plenty of events in life that could affect your capacity to earn a regular income. Planning for the unexpected could be very important to your well-being, your family and your financial future!

    Getting your protection organised

    We can help you find an income protection policy that provides the level of cover you need according to your personal situation and financial circumstances. Getting it organised could be as easy as giving us a call.

    So don’t spend another moment worrying about what the future may bring – if you need to arrange insurance cover or want to check if your cover is adequate, please give us a call today. We’re here to help you decide exactly what insurance you need and help you find the cover to suit.

  • Discovering what you need from your home loan

    Discovering what you need from your home loan
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    Home loans are changing with the times. You can now get home loans in a variety of different forms, all with different facilities and features. Deciding which home loan suits your needs can be quite daunting and that’s where sound advice from your professional credit adviser can be invaluable. We’re here to help you sort through all the different home loan options and help you choose the one that’s right for you. But where do you start? What features do you need to consider?

    Choosing the right home loan

    Before you start shopping for a home loan, why not sit down and discuss your personal circumstances, financial situation and goals with us? Once we identify what’s important to you, it will be easier to decide what features and facilities you might need from your home loan

    While the first question some clients ask us is ‘what is the best interest rate I can get?’, choosing your home loan isn’t just a matter of picking the one that has the lowest interest rate. The home loan with the lowest interest rate isn’t always the least expensive option when you take into consideration fees, charges and some of the advantages you might get from a loan with features that better suit your needs. These may include:

    • The ability to make additional repayments
    • Interest only options
    • Lump sum repayments
    • Offset account
    • Transaction account/credit card facilities
    • Redraw option
    • Split loan option.

    Two common facilities that could help you save money on your home loan include transaction or savings offset accounts and redraw facilities. We get quite a few questions about these features, so let’s have a look at these in a bit more detail below.

    Transaction or savings offset accounts

    One of the newer and increasingly popular financial products on the home loan market is a transaction or savings offset account and most lenders have one on offer. Whilst they may not come with the lowest interest rate on the market compared to your basic home loan product, they may help you to save money on how much interest you have to pay and may also help you to save on bank fees you would usually pay for your transaction account and credit card.

    A transaction or savings offset account can be used like an everyday bank account, but it is linked to your home loan so that the money you have in it reduces the amount of interest you have to pay on your home loan. In other words, the money in your offset account counts against the amount you owe on your home loan – so the more money you have in there, the less interest you have to pay on your home loan!

    You use the account like you would your ordinary transaction account – your salary is paid into the account and your spending comes out of it. With good budgeting, you can really make it work to reduce your interest obligation and help you pay off your home loan sooner. This kind of account can also help you save money on overall banking fees as they usually offer fee free use of ATMs, credit cards and more.

    Redraw facilities

    A home loan with redraw facilities is a popular choice for many home buyers. It allows you to make extra repayments and gives you the option of withdrawing those extra repayments at a later date if you need the funds.

    Usually redraw facilities are only available with variable interest rate loans, as other types of home loans like fixed interest rate home loans or basic home loans do not give you the option of making extra repayments.

    Every extra repayment you make to your home loan goes toward reducing your term and therefore the amount of interest you will need to repay over the entire life of the loan. If you make extra repayments diligently every month or even every fortnight, you could save years on your mortgage term and thousands of dollars in interest over time. Even an extra $50 a fortnight could have a dramatic affect!

    However, redraw facilities give you a safety net in the event that you should ever need to access the funds quickly. A home loan with redraw facilities can give you almost instant access to your money when you need it – say your fridge goes on the blink or your car needs some major repairs, you’ll know you can get at your money right away.

    What type of home loan is right for me?

    There’s a home loan type available for just about any property purchase. If you want a home loan with a low interest rate and no redraw or offset facilities, credit card or transaction account then a basic variable rate home loan may be the right choice for you.

    However, if you need to make sure that your home loan repayments will stay the same every month for the foreseeable future then a fixed rate home loan may be your best option.

    Variable rate home loans usually come with the best range of features and although your interest rate may go up or down, you can make savings on your home loan by using the features wisely. It’s also possible in many cases to arrange a split home loan, which allows you to hedge your bets on interest rate rises by having part of the loan at a fixed interest rate and part on a variable interest rate.

    As mentioned earlier, the first step in choosing a home loan is to talk with us about your personal circumstances, financial situation and goals. Getting to know you and how you will use your home loan will help us to guide you through the maze of choices when it comes to selecting your home loan. If you’d like to find out more, or just chat about your plans, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We’re here to help you get started.

  • Welcome to our November newsletter

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    We hope you are enjoying the beautiful spring weather and backed the winner on the Melbourne Cup last week! It’s hard to get down to business with so many festivities going on – but spring is traditionally the busiest time of year in property markets around the country and this year is no exception!

    Many analysts were predicting a rate cut in November, however the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) have elected to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0 per cent for another month.

    This is the sixth month in a row that the RBA has kept rates on hold after cutting rates to historically low levels in February and May this year. This extended period of stability on interest rates is having a positive effect on our economy, with the Australian dollar mostly holding at a more acceptable level and boosting our tourism and export markets. Employment is also growing and consumer spending is improving.

    Home loan interest rates have been on the move during October, despite the RBA keeping the cash rate on hold. These interest rate movements were initiated by the big four banks largely to protect their shareholder’s interests, with rate rises following from many other lenders.

    The rapid rises in home values that we have been seeing in Melbourne and Sydney are finally starting to slow in response to the upward movement in rates and the changes in investor lending regulations by APRA coming into effect over the last six months. This is good news if you’ve been struggling to get your deposit together for your first home or a property investment.

    Home values in Sydney only increased by 0.28 per cent during October. Melbourne home values increased by 0.64 per cent and Brisbane/Gold Coast improved by 0.16 per cent. In Adelaide home values rose by 1.47 per cent, in Canberra they rose by 1.48 per cent and in Hobart 1.44 per cent.

    Only Perth and Darwin showed declines. Home values in Perth fell by 2.76 per cent in October and by a marginal 0.13 per cent in Darwin.

    The number of properties on the market is currently quite high – as is to be expected for this time of year. Auction numbers were up in most states last month, however it should be noted that private sales are now becoming more popular than auctions in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Auction clearance rates were down across the board, indicating that there may be less competition and buyers may be more discerning about property prices.

    The table below shows the relevant auction numbers for each state and corresponding clearance rates, for the week ending Sunday 1 November:

    STATENo. of AUCTIONSCLEARANCE
    Victoria61165%
    New South Wales136164%
    Queensland18658%
    South Australia14658%
    Western Australia4956%
    Northern Territory567%
    ACT13069%
    Tasmania1033%

    If your bank increased your home loan interest rate last month, then it may be a good time to give us a call to get a home loan health check. Not all lenders have increased their rates, and some have increased them less than others, so we can shop around to get the right deal for you. We can also access some great rates for property investors and first home buyers, so if you’d like to check what home loan options are available for you then please don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

    The information provided in this newsletter is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information you should consider the appropriateness of the information with regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au Home values: www.corelogic.com.au

    Sincerely , Element Finance

  • Securing a mortgage if you are self-employed

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    1.50% offinvestment interest ratesThere are around 21,000 new businesses founded each year in Australia. And with a little over 2 million actively trading businesses country-wide in June 2014, there are plenty of good reasons to run your own small business.

    We often get approached by self-employed clients and prospects enquiring about their home loan opportunities. And whilst many banks have tightened their credit policies when it comes to the self-employed, with the right help, there are still plenty of options available.

    What are some things you need to consider as a self-employed borrower?

    Know your numbers
    Your self-employed status does not have to impact negatively on your borrowing potential, although the amount of information you can supply will ultimately decide which products are available to you.

    Lenders calculate how much they are willing to lend using a combination of your credit score, salary (income) records, and their affordability calculations. If you are self-employed, your overall income and financial situation may be more complicated, so it is important to establish a solid track record of low expenses and high income.

    Build a good record
    Requirements vary depending on the lender but, generally, self-employed borrowers will need both to have been in business and to have held an ABN for at least two years.

    On top of the usual loan application documentation, lenders may also require you to produce BAS statements, tax returns, bank accounts and perhaps a declaration from your accountant. Being concise and providing correct and accurate information to the lender will increase your chances of a positive outcome.

    Do your taxes and reduce debt
    Keep your taxes up to date so you can always show your most recent income history. And make sure the tax assessments are paid. Self-employed applicants are more likely to have their tax portals checked for anything outstanding.

    It’s also a good idea to eliminate or reduce your other (personal) debt. Lenders don’t just look at the balance, even if its zero – they count the limits on your credit cards and assess them as risk or funds you owe!

    Understand your options
    The good news is that lenders do have loans for self-employed people, contractors and business owners. In theory, self-employed borrowers have access to exactly the same range of mortgage products as everyone else, so long as you are able to put down the necessary deposit and substantiate your income you have a good chance of getting an advantageous rate.

    One option to consider is a Low Documentation (Low Doc) Home Loan. These are designed for self-employed customers and small business owners who may not have access to the financial statements and tax returns usually required when applying for a home loan.

    ‘’Low doc’’ simply means alternative forms of income confirmation (bank statements, financial statements etc) as opposed to PAYG slips and tax returns. With tax returns, we can also help you pursue a full documentation loan at standard rates.

    Have a strategy
    We recommend you consult with us, your mortgage broker, to formulate a plan for securing your loan well before buying your property. This allows you to build your serviceability based on expert advice and years of experience.

    If you are self-employed, or know someone who is, and would like to learn more about your options, please get in touch with us on the details below.

  • First home buyers – myths exposed!

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    One thing we love most about our profession as mortgage brokers is assisting our clients in achieving their financial dreams. We know that for many of you, buying your first home may be the biggest financial decision and commitment you ever make.

    However, for some First Home Buyers, the whispers and stories they hear about buying a property encourage them to stay at home, or continue to rent, rather than get their feet on the property ladder. So, the purpose of this article is to dispel some of the “stories” we hear from those of you who are new to the property game.

    Let’s take a look at some of our frequently asked questions from first time purchasers:

    I need to pay off all my other expenses before I can apply for a home loan.
    Not true! You can still secure a home loan if you have an existing student study debt, or a car loan. When a lender is assessing your ability to service a loan, they certainly look at your current expenses such as any outstanding loans or credit card limits – but just because you might have one or both of these expenses, does not mean you won’t get your loan approved.

    Lenders look at your whole financial situation – your income, your expenses and other debts, the valuation of the property you are wishing to buy, and the percentage of that value you are hoping to borrow from them – before they determine your suitability to pay off the loan.

    The parental guarantee scheme no longer exists
    False. Security Guarantees are still an option for first home buyers, but not with all lending institutions in Australia.

    A lender’s Security Guarantee is essentially a parent or family member acting as a guarantor to your mortgage, giving you the extra financial support needed to maximise your chances of meeting the requirements of the bank.

    The parental guarantee scheme can give you a head start by making it easier for you to get into your home with help from others, and can be used to buy a home or invest.

    You need a 20% deposit to buy your first home
    Whilst this true in some cases, the size of the deposit you need to put down is actually dependent on various factors, including: what you are looking to buy, where you are purchasing, your current income and expenses, and which lender and product suite you choose to go with.

    There are loads of lenders out there who will lend up to 90% of the purchase price, or even 95%. However, if you borrow over 80% of the total price of the property, you may be required to take out Lender’s Mortgage Insurance, or your interest rate might be slightly higher.

    It’s cheaper to rent
    It can be line ball, and again, there are many variables to this equation – such as where you buy, where you are renting, and which loan option you choose to go with.

    We really can’t dispel this myth in a short newsletter article as there is a lot to take into consideration: rental price, bills, purchase price, stamp duty and other transaction costs, the expected mortgage interest rate, how much it costs to run and renovate the property, expected capital gains – and so on.

    If this is one question you have asked yourself, we recommend you get in touch with us to talk about your specific situation. With interest rates at record 50-year lows, and some great pockets of purchasing opportunities, it might be a good time to take the plunge, or at least do a little research to inform your decision!

    We hope that this article answers some of your questions. And we’re sure you have more! Get in contact with our expert team on the details below and we will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have. Good luck and we hope to help you secure your first home soon!

  • The true cost of a Spring spruce up

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    Spring is here! The sun is shining, the weather keeps improving, and with it often comes that urge for a thorough spring clean. With a more stable climate, and Christmas holidays looming in the not too distant future, October is a very popular time of year for home improvements and renovations.

    And let’s be honest, we’ve all watched a few episodes of The Block and to produce a whole room in just one week looks easy, right?

    Wrong. Before you get in your car and race down to your local Bunnings or Masters, before you call in the chippy to add that second level, or the bulldozer to dig the family pool you’ve been promising since summer 2010 – here are some quick pointers to make sure your spring spruce up runs on time, and most importantly, to budget.

    Determine what work needs to be done
    Take the time to walk around your home or investment property and decide what “needs to be done now” in terms of property maintenance and security, and what would be a “nice to do”. If you have big plans that will require council permission, make sure you ask the experts for input and advice. Use this time to plan what schedule you would like the work to follow, and if you are using multiple tradespeople, what order you need them to work to so that the process is as efficient as possible.

    Remember, little things can make a big difference. It’s important to decide early if you are after a full blown renovation, or just a simple tidy up. Sometimes doing something quick and easy like changing a light fixture or painting the walls can breathe a big burst of fresh air into your home.

    Set a budget, then add a little buffer
    If you’ve never renovated before, it can be difficult to know where to start with estimating your budget. Step one – ask a lots of questions. Use tradie’s expertise to anticipate costs for all facets of the renovation or landscaping. If you’re just doing something small like a paint job, or some planting, think about the costs of materials, and time investment. Write all this down in a clear budget – there are loads of free templates online. Once you agree to your expenditure, it will provide clarity and ensure things don’t spiral out of control.

    It’s also wise to allow a 10-15% buffer either side of your total projected costs – as a ‘just in case’. With unpredictable weather, or other commitments, it pays to cover yourself should things push out.

    Secure financing, if you need to
    Once you set your budget, you will know how much money you need to spend to get set for spring. There are loads of ways you can finance your renovations: dip into your savings (or the bank of mum and dad), take out a home equity loan, redraw from or refinance your current mortgage, use your credit card or take out a personal loan.

    Which option is right for you will depend on your individual circumstances, and what you want to achieve. That’s where we come in. Please get in touch with us on the details below and we will help you determine which option best suits your needs and serviceability. Once this is done, you are one step closer to calling in the builders and making your renovation dream a reality.

    Track your spending
    So you have made a budget, and you have organised the funds. Now, you need to stick to it. We suggest you use a simple spreadsheet to track your expenditure. Remember, your budget needs constant attention. Make sure you continually assess what has been spent on all aspects of the project. Using the spreadsheet will allow you to easily and quickly see when and where costs are starting to blow out – so you can jump on the front foot.

    Enjoy it
    The sun is out, you’re investing in your home or investment property, it’s an exciting time and we wish you well! Remember, good planning and sticking to your budget will help to make this an enjoyable and successful experience.

    If you’re planning to renovate or spruce up your home this spring, we can help with finance options! For more information, contact us today.

  • Welcome to our October newsletter

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    We hope you are out and about looking at properties in the fantastic spring weather! Yes, the busy spring property season is well underway – and there’s plenty of great housing stock available. If you’re in the market to buy right now, the good news is that APRA’s recent tightening of controls on investment lending seems to be having a positive effect on home price rises!

    At its October meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at the record low rate of 2.0 per cent for the fifth month in a row. Market analysts are undecided about the RBA’s next rate move, with some predicting a further rate cut in 2015 and others speculating that there will be no more rate changes until late 2016 – both of which mean, of course, that buying conditions will remain good for quite some time for first home buyers, refinancers and property investors alike!

    APRA’s new controls have had some effect on interest rates, both for Owner Occupier loans and Property Investment loans. If you’re in the market to buy your first home, upgrade or refinance, you can now access some of the lowest interest rates ever on record as lenders continue to adjust rates downwards to encourage business growth in this area. For property investors, some home loan interest rates have risen slightly, but still remain excellent value and easily accessible to those with an adequate deposit and good financials.

    Auction numbers were down recently, because of various public holidays and major sporting events. Additionally, with market conditions starting to favour buyers a bit more, private treaty sales are becoming more popular and are reducing auction numbers in some states. Buyers are definitely out and about, however competition at auctions is not as fierce as it was during the autumn selling season – which was unusually busy because of very high interest from investors, particularly Chinese investors.

    The table below shows the relevant auction numbers for each state and corresponding clearance rates, for the week ending Sunday 4 October 2015:

    StateNumber of auctionsClearance rate
    Victoria9068%
    New South Wales56771%
    Queensland11864%
    South Australia3271%
    Western Australia1075%
    Northern Territory433%
    ACT2054%
    Tasmania450%

    As mentioned earlier, there has recently been indications that home value growth is starting to slow down – which will come as a big relief if you are in the market to buy a property, particularly in Sydney. In most markets, home value price movements were very marginal this month, with only Melbourne showing a significant increase of 2.42% over last month and 14.22% over the last year.

    Sydney showed a marked change in home value price growth, only increasing by a very marginal 0.06% this month, but still showing a rise of 16.72% over last year. Brisbane/Gold Coast home values rose by 0.83% last month and 4.88% over the previous year. Adelaide home values went down by 1.17% last month and 0.30% over last year. Perth was up by 0.50% last month but is still showing a fall in home values of 0.90% over the same time last year. Darwin is also showing declines in home values – down by 0.31% this month and 3.92% since last year. Hobart’s home values fell by 1.93% last month and 0.59% since last year. On the bright side, the Canberra market is starting to pick up again, showing a 1.00% increase over last month and a 0.59% increase since this time last year.

    With interest rates on the move and becoming more competitive, now is a great time to talk with us about a home loan health check to ensure you’re getting a competitive rate in today’s environment. We’re also very pleased to offer our assistance to those of you looking to build wealth for the future by investing in property. Remember, we’re here to help you with your financing needs according to your personal financial circumstances and goals, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call for a chat today.

    The information provided in this newsletter is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information you should consider the appropriateness of the information with regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values:www.corelogic.com.au

    Sincerely , Element Finance

  • Spring is Here!

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    Spring is here and we’re all looking forward to the busiest time of year in property markets around the country! If you’re planning on getting in on the action, we’re ready to find you a great deal on your financing – so whether you’re looking at refinancing your existing mortgage, buying a new home or planning to invest give us a call!

    There has been a lot happening in our financial markets this month, with volatility in our share markets and interest rates on the move even though the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0 per cent during its September meeting.

    APRA’s increased supervision on investment lending has caused a general rate adjustment for both owner-occupier home loans and property investment loans. While some lenders are raising the interest rates on their property investment loans by 20 – 50 basis points in line with APRA’s restrictions, they are simultaneously reducing their interest rates on owner-occupier loans by a similar margin.

    This is great news if you’re a first home-buyer looking to get into the market this spring. It’s also great news if you’ve been considering refinancing an existing loan – you can now access some of the lowest rates on record and you could potentially save a lot of money on repayments. If you’re looking to invest, or refinance a property investment, we have identified lenders who are offering some great rates, so please give us a call.
    Melbourne and Sydney property markets have remained hot throughout winter, whilst most other markets succumbed to the usual winter slow period. Things are now starting to pick up again with auction numbers starting to increase for the week ending August 30.

    In Victoria there were 1185 scheduled auctions with a 78% clearance rate, while in NSW there were 1083 scheduled auctions with a 78% clearance rate. These auction figures really outstrip activity in other states. (However it should be noted that in areas outside our two major capital cities, many vendors prefer private sale over auctions).

    In Queensland there was 159 auctions with a 58% clearance rate, South Australia offered 100 auctions with a 65% clearance rate, Western Australia 34 auctions with a 67% clearance rate, and Canberra had 47 auctions with a 68% clearance rate. Tasmania scheduled only 8 auctions and recorded a clearance rate of 75% and Northern Territory held just six auctions with no results.

    Since last month, changes in home values have been marginal around the country. Sydney showed an increase in home values of 1.14% over last month and 17.55% over this time last year. Melbourne showed a marginal decrease over last month of 0.03% but was still up by 10.59% over this time last year. Brisbane and Gold Coast was up by 0.34% this month and 4.29% over this time last year.

    Adelaide was up by 0.67% this month and 1.79% since last year, Perth is showing declines – 1.26% since last month and 1.79% over this time last year. Darwin was up marginally by 0.34% this month but is down by 4.57% over this time last year. Canberra seems to be trending downwards with a 1.69% decrease in home values this month and a decrease of 0.86% year on year. Hobart showed a fall in home prices of 1.13% this month, but was up 1.5% over this time last year.

    If you’re excited about the property opportunities coming up this spring, and you should be, then we’d love to chat about your plans. We’re here to help you organise the most beneficial financing arrangements for your property purchasing needs according to your personal financial situation and goals. So please don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

    Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au/auction-results
    Home values: www.corelogic.com.au/research/monthly-indices.html

    Sincerely, Element Finance

  • APRA: Changing the property investment game

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    Over the past few months, there has been a lot of chatter in the media about APRA tightening controls on lending for investment property purchases. And as property investment is one of Australia’s most popular ways to build wealth for the future, it has understandably raised a lot of questions from our clients about how this will change the game for those currently looking to invest. But what is APRA actually doing and why? How will it affect your capacity to get an investment property loan if you’re looking to buy this spring?

    What is APRA? 
    First of all, we should explain APRA and the role it plays in the finance industry. APRA is the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and it acts as Australia’s finance industry watchdog. Their role is to regulate the behaviour of lenders, banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance companies, private health insurance agencies and the superannuation industry. Their mission is to establish and enforce standards and practices to ensure that our financial industry remains stable, efficient and competitive.

    APRA is concerned that the property market is becoming overheated, particularly in Sydney. This follows home price growth of over 18% in the Sydney market over the past year. APRA is concerned that an overheated market may be subject to rapid price adjustments and this could not only destabilize our entire financial industry, but prove to be extremely risky for the average residential property owner or investor.

    What restrictions has APRA imposed?
    APRA is primarily concerned about the rate at which the big four banks have been issuing property investment loans. In order to cut it back, they have done two things:

    • Increased the capital reserves the big banks are required to hold for their exposure to residential property mortgages; and
    • Enforced their requirement that the bank’s investment lending does not grow by more than 10% annually.

    The result is that the big four banks have raised interest rates on property investment loans. They have also tightened their lending criteria, so that property investors may now require a larger deposit and must be in a financial position to meet their repayments in the event of significant interest rate rises in future. They are also discouraging interest only property investment loans as these are considered more risky in a property market that may be subject to rapid declines in home values.

    How will this affect you if you’re looking to invest now?
    First of all, let’s look at interest rates on property investment loans. While it’s true that some banks have raised interest rates on property investment loans, these rate rises only represent a 20 – 50 basis point rise, meaning that the increased interest rate on property investment loans is only a half a percent or so higher on average than most owner-occupier loans. When you take into consideration that interest rates were down to all-time historical lows anyway, this will not prove to be much of a deterrent to those of you looking to invest in property this spring.

    Additionally, not all of the lenders are at risk of exceeding APRA’s requirement that investment lending does not grow by more than 10% annually. This means that many of the smaller lenders have not raised their interest rates on property investment loans very much – in fact, some of them have not raised their rates at all.

    This is where it really pays to have a good mortgage broker on your team. If you are planning to purchase an investment property this spring then talk to us and we will shop around to find you the most advantageous rate!

    What about the tighter lending criteria – how will this affect you?
    If you are about to purchase an investment property, then the bank’s tightening of lending criteria may have some effect. It is likely that the amount you can borrow has recently been reduced by 10-15% for the same level of income. Additionally, the big four banks will most likely require a 20% deposit, whereas in the past they would have accepted 10%. (Some smaller lenders are still approving investment property loans with a 10% deposit, so if necessary ask us to shop around.)

    The result is that your purchasing power may be reduced and if you want to invest this spring, you may have to look at purchasing a less expensive property. For most property investors, this will prove to be only a minor stumbling block – after all a 15% reduction in your buying power isn’t very much. You may have to work a little bit harder to find a suitable investment, but at the end of the day you will most likely be able to find something that suits your budget.

    Good advice is now more valuable than ever
    The fact is, it’s more important than ever to be able to get good advice about your loan structuring and a mortgage broker who is able to shop around amongst a wider variety of lenders to get you the best rate the market has to offer.

    We’re happy to say that’s our job! Since the APRA restrictions have come into play, we have been able to help several clients find great financing options for their investment property purchases and lower rates for those looking to refinance. We’re confident that we can help you too. If you’re in the market to purchase a property this spring, then give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • Australia’s Best Beaches

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    Spring is finally here. But if you’re anything like us, you can’t wait for summer to arrive so that you can hit the beaches with family and friends for some swimming, surfing, boating and even sailing! To give you a taste of what’s in store, we’ll refresh your memory about some of Australia’s favourite beaches so you can start planning your escape!

    Byron Bay, NSW
    One of the most truly amazing beach destinations in NSW would have to be Byron Bay. It was once an undiscovered hippy community but these days, has blossomed into a hot tourist destination. Byron sports a series of beautiful, long stretches of typically uncrowded beach where you can surf, lie in the sand, snorkel or swim in absolute peace. There’s the nearby picturesque Byron Bay lighthouse to enjoy, plus some great eateries and cafés in the town itself. It makes a great get-away year round.

    Noosa, QLD
    There are literally so many gorgeous beaches in Queensland that it’s hard to choose just one or two. Noosa is the obvious choice, giving us a showcase of everything the spectacular Sunshine Coast has to offer. Nestled in a fantastic beachside resort, Noosa Main Beach is a patrolled beach that makes it perfect for families, swimming, sailing, and more. Right off the beach you can often see pods of dolphins and whales migrating up and down the coast. And on the shores, you can see Koalas and other wildlife easily accessible to passers by. Just a short walk away, Noosa Park headland is home to the Noosa Festival of Surfing every March.

    Cottesloe Beach, WA
    Located between the Perth central business district and the port of Fremantle in Perth’s western suburbs, this fantastic city beach is only 15 minutes from the city center and has to rival Bondi as one of our most popular city beaches. Offering clear sparkling waters and amazingly bright white sands, Cottesloe is the perfect place to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean. It also has a reputation for some of the best seafood in the country… yum!

    Wineglass Bay, TAS
    One of Australia’s most beautiful beaches is the spectacular Wineglass Bay, which is located in Tassie’s amazing Freycinet National Park about three hour’s drive from Hobart. Considered one of the top ten beaches in the world, Wineglass Bay is a simply gorgeous curving stretch of sand that is contrasted against pink granite cliffs and sparkling turquoise waters. Fishing, sailing, sea kayaking and rock-climbing are all popular past times in Wineglass Bay, but we want to go there to just soak up the sun and spectacular scenery.

    Casuarina Beach, NT
    Darwin offers a host of lovely beachside destinations to choose from – which is a good thing in place with such hot and humid weather. Casuarina Beach is a popular choice, located on the doorstep of the northern suburbs, it’s just a short stroll to your choice of nature reserve and mangroves, or the City Mall where you can find ice cream, coffee shops and the wave pool. Another popular beachside destination is the Mindil Beach Market which kicks into life every year between May and October.

    Apollo Bay, VIC
    Surprisingly enough, Victoria has quite a few gorgeous beaches to choose from, but we’re picking Apollo Bay because it’s at located along the Great Ocean Road, a truly spectacular 90 minute drive from Melbourne. Apollo Bay beach itself is a lovely stretch of sand, but other attractions in the area will have you up and about, rather than lazing in the sun. Just up the road is the Twelve Apostles, a set of spectacular limestone pillars that rise up out of the Southern Ocean against the backdrop of the Port Campbell National Park – a sight not to be missed!

    Glenelg Beach, SA
    Glenelg is not just one of Australia’s best city beaches, it’s also a spectacular tourist destination offering fantastic shops, restaurants and bars at its gorgeous marina and jetty precinct. In fact, there’s an amazing choice of beaches just minutes from Adelaide’s city centre including Brighton Beach, West Beach, Henley Beach and more. Walk just 20 minutes north from Henley jetty and you’ll discover the Grange, complete with romantic coastal dunes and an historic jetty.

    Getting ready to enjoy the spring and summer months may include an investment in a sailboat, speed boat or even a caravan to get you and the family out and about enjoying the spectacular lifestyle our fantastic country has to offer. Don’t forget that we’re here to help if you require financing for any personal assets – we do more than just home loans. It you want to make a purchase to help you make the most of our upcoming summer months, just give us a call!

  • Pre-approval vs Subject to finance

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    What is pre-approval and what is subject to finance? Many first home buyers believe you don’t need pre-approval if you intend to use a subject to finance clause in the sales contract when you find a property to buy. But that’s not the case! In this article we explain why it’s a wise move to get pre-approval on your home loan and use a subject to finance clause as well if you can.

    What does ‘pre-approval’ mean?
    When you’ve saved your deposit and you’re ready to purchase your home, it’s a wise move to talk to us about getting pre-approval on your home loan. Pre-approval is where a lender confirms how much money they may be prepared to lend to you to purchase a home, based on the deposit you have saved, your income, expenses and your personal financial situation.

    Getting pre-approval on your home loan is intended to give you clear guidance on how much money you can spend, so that it makes it easier for you to shop for a suitable home in your price bracket. It is important to remember that the amount you are pre-approved for is the maximum amount a lender believes that you can currently afford to borrow according to your personal circumstances.

    If you intend to purchase a property at auction, it is important to get pre-approval on your home loan before you attend the auction so that you can be reasonably comfortable that you can borrow the required funds. Getting pre-approval will give you a bidding limit and help you to be reasonably sure that everything will go smoothly with the transaction.

    It is important to note that even with pre-approval, a lender can still decline a loan application if they do not like the property you are looking to purchase. If they feel it is over-priced or something is wrong with the property, they will not approve your final loan application. However, getting pre-approval significantly reduces the risk of this occurring.

    Additionally, some real estate agents and vendors will not take you seriously if you do not get pre-approval on your home loan before you approach them, particularly when you are buying off the plan or are considering building a new home. Remember, they are frequently approached by time-wasters and ‘tire-kickers’ – getting pre-approval will help them to realize you are a serious buyer.

    Benefits

    • Getting pre-approval is free and gives you considerable peace of mind, especially when bidding at an auction.
    • Your pre-approved home loan is usually valid for up to three months.
    • It helps you set your maximum spending limit – particularly important at an auction.
    • It shows real estate agents and vendors that you are serious about purchasing a home.

    What does ‘subject to finance’ mean?
    When purchasing a property outside of an auction, the bank will always perform an independent valuation of the property to find out its current market value before agreeing to lend you the money you need to purchase it.

    When you make an offer on a home, you will be required to make the offer in writing and this is called a sales contract. In this contract, you have the option to include a clause that says your offer is ‘subject to finance’. This means that your offer is conditional upon the lender approving the amount of finance you will need to purchase that particular property. If the lender does not approve the amount of financing required, you can withdraw your offer without losing your deposit or being any worse off.

    You need to remember that property sellers and real estate agents are naturally out to get the maximum amount of money for a property that they possibly can. This can often mean that the asking price of a property exceeds its market value and also the amount of money a lender will allow you to borrow for that particular property.

    It is important to note that a lender will only allow you to borrow what the valuation says the property is worth – even if you have been pre-approved to borrow more. That’s why it’s important to get pre-approval and use the subject to finance clause in your sales contract as well if you can! If the lender’s valuation turns out to be less than the asking price, you can always go back to the vendor and use the valuation to get a better deal.

    Benefits

    • You may think a property is a good price, but using a subject to finance clause in the sales contract gives you additional peace of mind that you’re not paying too much.
    • Using the subject to finance clause gives you room to withdraw your offer if the asking price exceeds the lender’s valuation on the property.
    • It can often help you to negotiate a better price if the lender’s valuation is lower than the asking price.

    Things to consider

    • Sometimes a real estate agent will look less favourably upon your offer if you use the subject to finance clause in the sales contract. Always remember to mention that your financing is pre-approved to help mitigate any negative view. 

    Remember, if you have any questions about the property purchasing process, we’re here to help. We understand that getting you pre-approval on your home loan is important as it can save you a lot of time and hassle when searching for your new home. If you’re currently in the market for a new home, then please give us a call and we’ll help you get your pre-approval organised.

  • What is Comprehensive Credit Reporting?

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    In March last year, an amendment was made to the Privacy Act 1988, which allowed regulation reforms to be applied to the way credit-related personal information can be collected about you by lenders. The new system is known as ‘Comprehensive Credit Reporting’ and has brought Australia in line with the rest of the world regarding the way consumers are assessed by lenders when applying for credit and home loans.

    The new rules have now been in effect for over a year, and most lenders are using Comprehensive Credit Reporting as part of their day to day operations when assessing you for a loan. This article looks at how Comprehensive Credit Reporting affects you and your capacity to borrow.

    How have things changed?
    Previously, lenders were only allowed to access negative information about your credit history. By ‘negative’ we mean that they were only able to access information that indicated if you had any major credit infringements, credit payment defaults, bankruptcy situations and declined applications for credit. This information did not give lenders a very good picture about your current financial situation and was only of limited use when making assessments on major credit applications like home loans.

    Comprehensive Credit Reporting is designed to give lenders enough information about you to assess if you can afford to take on more debt and how much you can afford to repay. Lenders now have access to more data about you more often, which gives them a better picture of your current personal financial situation.

    Information that credit providers can collect about you now includes account information including when an account was opened and closed, your credit limits on credit cards and loans, the type of credit accounts you hold (such as credit card or personal loan), as well as 24 months repayment history on any credit accounts you hold. They can also check on your overdue debts and payment defaults, the number of recent credit applications you have made recently and any publicly available information such as personal insolvency information, court writs, court judgements and directorship information.

    What does this mean for you?
    The new Comprehensive Credit Reporting system gives you more power to demonstrate your creditworthiness to mortgage lenders and other credit providers. It allows your recent good credit behavior to be taken into consideration and any adverse financial events to be overcome more quickly. It is also faster and easier for you to establish a credit history and compile a Credit Report.

    On the downside, it is more important than ever before that you pay your bills on time. It is also important that you avoid making multiple credit applications before you decide on your credit provider as these will show up as minor defaults. If you’re not careful, you could accumulate a lot of minor defaults that could add up to make it appear as though you are under financial stress – and that may make it more difficult for you to get a home loan approved or make you ineligible for the lowest interest rates.

    Make sure your Credit Report is accurate
    Your Credit Report is compiled by a credit agency and is made available to lenders when you apply for a loan. Understanding your Credit Report and making sure it is correct can help to ensure your loan application goes smoothly.

    Lenders will use your Credit Report to assess risk before they decide to give you a loan. We recommend that you obtain a copy of your Credit Report and make sure that is completely accurate. You can download a copy of your Credit Report once every 12 months for free from a variety of different credit reporting agencies – we recommend Veda or Dun & Bradstreet.

    Once you have your Credit Report, you can address any negative information that should not be on there and take action to have it removed. Occasionally, your Credit Report can contain information that is very old, untrue or contain fraudulent entries that simply belong to someone else – so it pays to give it careful attention before you apply for any loans.

    If you obtain your Credit Report and discover you have a low credit score, you can improve the situation over time with the right behavior:

    • Take action to remove any incorrect entries.
    • Always pay your bills on time or before the due date.
    • Pay down your existing debts.
    • Keep unused bank accounts open.
    • Reduce your credit limits – cancel any credit cards you don’t need.
    • Don’t make multiple applications when you are shopping for credit – talk to us about choosing the correct provider before you submit any loan applications.

    Comprehensive Credit Reporting is good for Australian consumers as it helps lenders to be fair when assessing you for a loan. If you would like to discuss your Credit Report with us, we’re happy to help. Remember, we’re here to help you get the best deal available for your personal financial situation and goals for your mortgage and other financing requirements, and your Credit Report is an important part of the application process. Please give us a call today for a chat.

  • RBA decides to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.0 per cent – September 2015

    Rates on hold - August
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    As we head into spring and Australian share markets experience some volatility following falls on the Chinese stock market last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia has decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0 per cent during its September meeting today.
    Most analysts were expecting rates to stay on hold due to the RBA’s comments after its August meeting, indicating that it would look to maintain the status quo. However there is considerable speculation that further rate cuts may be on the cards this year, possibly in October or November.
    Rate cuts in February and May this year have already brought interest rates to all-time lows. This has stimulated rapid price growth in property markets, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, causing the RBA to be reluctant to cut rates further right now.
    However, global market activity is causing an upward effect on the Australian dollar, further compromising our export markets. And despite encouraging improvements to employment figures, economic growth has been slower than expected and analysts agree that if these trends continue the RBA will have no choice other than to cut rates again.
    Since the recent APRA tightening of lending rules surrounding property investment loans, there has been a great deal of activity on interest rates, both for owner-occupier and investment loans. This has stimulated lenders to come out with some very competitive rates, with great deals available across the board. To find out more, please get in touch. When interest rates are changing, it’s a great time for a home loan health check, so do give us a call today.
    Source: www.rba.gov.au

  • Element Finance Fremantle reunites with Kiva lending

    Kive and Element Finance Fremantle
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    Element Finance has had a long and involved history with Kiva – loans that change lives.

    Kiva are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

    So far to date, Element Finance Fremantle have had the privilege of helping over 500 hundred individual entrepreneurs build their own businesses and their way out of poverty. We really want to increase our involvement over the coming months and so we have made a pledge – for every new loan Element Finance settles, we will fund a brand new Kiva loan in that borrower’s honor. As an Element Finance client, YOU will be a borrower and a lender!

    By joining us in our pledge, you will be helping us give as many as 250 deserving entrepreneur the leg-up they need every single year. This is truly exciting for us and we are looking forward to keeping you updated as we continue our journey with Kiva.

    You may want to get involved with Kiva individually and we would encourage you to do that. You can find out additional information at http://www.kiva.org/team/element_finance

     

  • The extra costs of buying a home

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    Buying a home is a very exciting time – particularly if you’re climbing on to the property ladder for the first time! When you finally get your deposit together, it’s really easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to budget for the other costs associated with buying your home, so here’s a quick checklist of things to include when planning your finances for your big move.

    The cost of taking out your home loan
    When you take out a home loan, you’ll need to budget for the extra costs involved with getting it set up with the lender. These costs will vary from loan to loan and lender to lender, depending on your personal financial situation and the type of loan you take out. As your mortgage experts, we will advise you on these costs and help you to plan your budget. Generally speaking, these extra costs may include:

    Home loan application fees: most lenders charge a home loan application fee to cover the costs of legal contracts, property title checks and credit checks.

    Mortgage establishment fees: in addition to the application fees, most lenders also usually charge an extra fee to cover the costs of setting up the mortgage in their banking systems.

    Property valuation: before they can grant you a mortgage, your lender will need to get an independent valuation of your property – both the land and the buildings and improvements. It is important to note that the lender will not accept your valuation – even if you have paid an independent valuations expert to produce it for you.

    Mortgage registration fees: all mortgages must be registered with the government and a registration fee will apply. Ask us to help you calculate how much this will cost for your particular property.

    Lenders Mortgage Insurance: if your deposit amounts to less than 20% of the purchase price of your property, you will be required to take out Lenders Mortgage Insurance by law. It is important to note that this insurance is for the lender in case you default on your loan – it does not cover you in the event you cannot make your repayments.

    Costs involved with purchasing a property
    Purchasing a property can be quite a complicated process and it is easy to forget to budget for the costs of covering all the details involved. If you’ve located the property of your dreams, here’s what you need to cover off to make it yours:

    Building inspection fees: if you decide a particular property might be the right one for you, it pays to do proper research on it by obtaining a building inspection report and a pest inspection report. These will give you an accurate picture of the condition of the property and help you assess the likely costs of maintaining it moving forward. These reports are very important to your purchasing decision, so get them organized early on in the buying process.

    Government fees: before a property can become yours, you’ll have some government fees to pay like Stamp Duty and Registration of Title/Land Transfer Fee. Depending on where you live, and your personal eligibility for any concessions, the amount you may have to pay will vary. Talk to us and we will help you work out your costs in this area.

    Legal fees: each property purchase requires the legal transfer of ownership of the property to you and for this you will need to employ the services of a Solicitor or Conveyancer. If you don’t have one lined up, let us know and we will give you a referral to a reputable legal adviser.

    Home & Contents Insurance: your new home will be your most valuable asset and it’s very important that you organise the appropriate insurance cover to protect you against disasters like fires, floods and theft. The building insurance section of your cover needs to be taken out when you put down your deposit to make sure you are covered while the transaction is going through.

    Mortgage/Income Protection Insurance: we recommend that you also budget for an insurance product that will cover your mortgage repayments in the event you are unable to work due to sickness, injury or some other unforeseeable event that causes you to lose your income. We can help you plan for your insurance needs and obtain cost-effective cover that’s right for you.

    The costs of moving in
    When the big day arrives and it’s time to move in and start enjoying your new home, things will run much more smoothly if you plan ahead for the associated costs. Of course, these will vary widely from person to person and home to home, so planning will very much depend on the property you buy. Here’s some things you’ll need to budget for:

    Utility costs: setting up your gas, water and electricity supply may require you to pay a deposit. Plan ahead and talk to your suppliers about the costs and getting things operational on the day you move in. Remember, you can talk to several different suppliers to get a more competitive rate.

    Body corporate fees:  if you are buying an apartment or a strata title property, it is likely that you will have to pay monthly body corporate fees. We recommend that you check out these fees when you are planning to buy your property as they can be quite significant, particularly if the property is in need of a lot of maintenance or repair. The first month’s fees will be due as soon as you have settled on the property.

    Council rates: these rates cover the costs of your garbage collection and other services provided by your local council. The cost involved will vary depending on the value of your property so you should check with the council to determine these costs and budget accordingly.

    Ongoing maintenance: all homes require ongoing maintenance and you should remember to budget for any eventuality. When you rent, your landlord pays for anything that goes wrong, so if the hot water stops working they replace it. If something goes wrong in your own home, you have to fix it yourself so it’s wise to set aside a little money for emergencies.

    Moving costs: depending on where you live it could be quite expensive to organise a mover to get your things to your new home. We recommend that you get quotes from three reputable carriers and be sure to ask them to include insurance costs in their quotes.

    Getting your home set up: this is the fun part! Remember that when you move in, you’ll need furniture and a full pantry. Make an allowance in your budget for the things you’ll need to get set up in your new home and really enjoy the fact that it is now yours!

    Remember, as your mortgage experts, we’re here to help you with organizing the finances for your new home. We’re happy to help you with every aspect of buying your new home, from confirming the costs and helping you work out your budget, to planning your insurance needs and we’ll even give you referrals to other reliable professionals you may need to consult. And of course, it is our job to shop around to find you exactly the right loan for your personal financial situation and goals, so please give us a call today.

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  • Do you need to refinance your home loan?

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    If you’ve only taken out your home loan in the last few years, refinancing is probably the last thing on your mind. But having a set-and-forget attitude to your home loan is not ideal! Leaving your home loan unchanged for its entire term could mean you miss out on substantial savings, or opportunities to make your money work harder for you to build wealth for your future. In this article, we look at the top 5 reasons why you might want to consider refinancing your home loan.

    1. To pay less on your mortgage repayments
    Refinancing can often reduce the amount of your mortgage repayments – and this is probably the number one reason why people consider refinancing. Everyone would like to save money on their home loan repayments – since they usually account for around 30% of our income every month.

    If you’ve had your home loan for a while and interest rates have fallen, you could access a better rate and this will reduce the amount you have to pay for each mortgage repayment. Even if interest rates have not fallen since you first took out your loan, you can sometimes access a better rate if your personal financial situation has improved in that time.

    Accessing a better rate can not only reduce your home loan repayments, just a slight drop in interest rates could potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

    Refinancing could also help you to reduce your mortgage repayments if you extend the life of your home loan. For example: Say you have been paying off your home loan for ten or fifteen years. You could potentially refinance the outstanding amount over a 30 year term, thereby substantially reducing your monthly repayment amount.

    2. To extend or remodel your home
    If your family is growing and you need a few more bedrooms or a bit of extra space, buying a bigger house is not always the ideal solution. Many people refinance their home loan to access funds to extend and remodel their existing home, rather than go through all the upheaval of moving.

    Renovating, remodeling and extending is a great way to get the home you want. What’s more, it can potentially increase your home’s value at the same time. So even though you may be taking out some of the equity you have in your home to do the extensions, the resulting increase in value of the home could potentially increase your equity again and help you to recoup some of the costs.

    3. To consolidate debts
    We often talk about the difference between types of debt. A home loan is a ‘good’ type of debt because it carries a relatively low interest rate and can be used to build wealth. Other types of debt can be ‘bad’ because very high interest rates can trap you into continually paying interest instead of paying off your debt. These debts are usually things like credit cards – which can often carry an interest rate of 20% pa or more, car loans, store credit and so on.

    Refinancing could allow you to access funds to pay off these expensive debts once and for all. By rolling all your debts into your home loan, you will be paying them off at a lower interest rate. You could also save yourself money every month on interest payments, simplify your situation by only having one payment to make, and beat the interest trap of credit cards and other expensive forms of credit.

    4. To access the equity for other purposes
    The equity you build up in your property is a valuable asset. We mentioned earlier that a mortgage is a ‘good’ form of debt because it can be used to help build wealth for your future. That’s because your equity increases as you pay down your mortgage and property values go up – and this can potentially give you access to funds you would not have had if you did not have a mortgage.

    That means your mortgage really can be used to facilitate your lifestyle and build wealth for your future. By refinancing, you could access your equity and use the funds for a deposit on a property investment, to invest in stocks and shares, education costs, to support your children in purchasing their own home or for a wide variety of other reasons.

    5. To fix your interest rate or switch to a different mortgage product
    Switching to a fixed interest rate loan, (or a different type of loan that offers additional benefits) is another popular reason for refinancing a mortgage.  As time goes by, your needs change and it could be that another mortgage product like a fixed interest rate loan would be more beneficial for you.

    The number one benefit of a fixed interest rate mortgage is that your mortgage repayments will remain the same for the length of the fixed term – usually 1, 3 or 5 years. This gives you more peace of mind because it makes it much easier to plan your budget.

    Many people think that switching to a fixed interest rate mortgage will save them from future interest rate rises. And whilst this is true to a certain extent, fixed interest rate mortgages are often a bit more expensive to start with than your standard variable rate home loan, so interest rates would probably need to rise considerably before you came out in front.

    There are also many other mortgage products on the market that may have more beneficial features than the home loan you have now. For example, redraw facilities or a mortgage offset account. If your current home loan simply doesn’t offer you the flexibility you need, then by all means talk to us about some alternatives.

    Talk to us now about your annual home-loan-health-check
    About this time every year, we like to encourage you to talk to us about a home-loan-health check.

    A frequent home-loan-health-check is necessary to ensure that your current home loan is still the best home loan product available for you. We recommend that you have a chat with us at least once a year to see if the lending environment has changed or refinancing may be beneficial for you in some other way.

    If you’d like to organise your home-loan-health-check, just give us a call. We’re here to help you assess your home loan’s performance and ensure that it is still the right mortgage product for your personal financial circumstances and goals now and into the future.

  • Element Finance Fremantle August Update

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    Winter is usually the quiet period for property market news, but with the recent tightening of controls on investment lending by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), there has been a lot happening, particularly with interest rates.

    Even though the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0 per cent during its August meeting, interest rates have been on the move. Due to APRA’s increased supervision on investment lending, the big 4 banks have all raised their interest rates on investment loans. We expect that many other lenders will also be raising rates on investment lending in the coming weeks, with rises varying between 25 and 50 basis points, depending on the lender.

    Whilst property investment interest rates have been going up, many lenders have also moved to shave a few basis points from interest rates on owner-occupier loans, so interest rates on many of these loan products are coming down! And that means we’re still looking at some of the lowest interest rates in history overall.

    This news does not seem to have had much effect on our property markets. Activity is still quite high for this time of year. For the week ending August 2, there were 787 auctions recorded in Victoria with a clearance rate of 78%. In NSW there were 825 auctions with a clearance rate of 76%. Queensland held 144 auctions with a clearance rate of 58%, and South Australia 75 auctions with a clearance rate of 68%.

    Other states showed less activity, with Western Australia holding 23 auctions with a clearance rate of 40%, Northern Territory 13 auctions with a clearance rate of just 17%, Canberra 41 auctions with a clearance rate of 72% and Tasmania only 8 auctions with a 43% clearance rate.

    Home values showed increases for most of our capital cities. Sydney home values were up by 3.30 % over last month and up by 18.35 % over this time last year. Melbourne is also doing very well, with home values rising by 4.91 % over the last month and 11.48 % over this time last year. Brisbane/Gold Coast also showed increases, with home values rising by 0.43% over last month and 4.36% over this time last year. Canberra showed an increase of 0.29 % month on month and 1.21% over this time last year and Hobart was also up by 1.06% this month and 2.51% over this time last year.

    In other states home value movement was not as strong. Adelaide’s home values decreased by 1.13% this month, but they are still up by 3.40% over this time last year. Perth’s home values didn’t show much movement – they rose by 0.09% this month but are down by 0.27% over this time last year. Darwin showed an increase of 0.39% this month but are down by 5.25% over this time last year.

    With lenders moving to adjust interest rates on both investment and owner-occupier loans, you may want to talk to us to find out how these changes may affect you. If you already have a home loan or property investment portfolio, we can work together to give your loans a health-check to see if they are still the best financial products available for you. We’re here to help you organise the most beneficial financing arrangements for your property purchasing needs according to your personal financial situation and goals. So please don’t hesitate to give us a call – we’re always happy to help.

    The information provided in this newsletter is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information you should consider the appropriateness of the information with regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values:www.corelogic.com.au

     

  • How do I use property to fund my retirement?

    How do I use property to fund my retirement?
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    With interest rates at all-time record lows, property has recently become very attractive to a wider range of investors. The media is full of articles and commentaries talking about using property to help fund retirement, with many even talking about it as a means to completely replace an employment income so they can quit work early.

    Whilst property investment has a proven track record as being a comparatively safe way to build wealth for the future, is it really possible to use property as a means of finding financial freedom and funding your retirement? And if so, how do you go about it?

    Here’s an outline of two commonly used property investment plans:

    Plan A – Living off the rental income
    Many people create an investment property portfolio with the notion that one day, the properties will be all paid off and they will be able to live on the rental income. But if you are planning to fund your retirement this way, you’ll need to take into consideration that this rental income will be subject to income tax and some of it will also be required for property management, maintenance, insurance and rates. In other words, a sizeable chunk of the income your properties produce – around 50 – 60% – will be used up before you can allow for your living expenses.

    In theory, it ought to be possible to create a property investment portfolio large enough to cover all these expenses if you start soon enough and plan carefully from the outset. How much income you will need is up to you. Considering you will lose at least 50% of the income to tax and expenses, then if you want an after tax income of $100,000 you will need to plan to have a portfolio of properties that is generating at least $200,000 a year.

    Plan B – Living off the equity
    Many property investors take the approach that paying off the loan completely is not ideal. Instead, they simply reduce the loan to value ratio as far as they can and then fund their retirement living expenses by borrowing against the equity if and when they need it.

    Acquiring funds this way does not attract income tax*, which is one of the main benefits of this plan. However it should be noted that every time you withdraw some of your equity, the repayment amount and interest due on your loans will rise.

    As long as your properties continue to experience capital growth and the rental income keeps pace with the rises in your repayments, this plan may seem like an endless cash machine. But if market conditions create a situation where both rents and property values fall dramatically, you may find yourself in a position where your equity declines so much that you can’t borrow any more money, or you may need to start selling off your properties in order to meet your repayment commitments – which may not be ideal.

    Of course, selling off your properties to fund your retirement is also a possibility. However, you will need to take into consideration capital gains tax and carefully plan ahead to ensure you have generated sufficient potential funds to meet your needs.

    Get professional advice before you start
    The truth is that using property to fund your retirement is not as simple as it sounds – there are many variables involved. But one thing is for sure, if you want to use property to gain financial freedom in the future, then you need to have a plan. And the sooner you start to implement your plan, the more likely it is that you will achieve your goal of funding your retirement with property.

    Before you take the plunge and start buying up investment properties, it is very important that you get some expert advice to help you formulate an investment plan that is right for you. If you want to be a successful property investor, then it pays to have a team of professionals who can advise you along the way and help you to avoid making costly errors. This team might include a financial planner, tax specialist, property manager and certainly us – a reliable team of mortgage experts.

    If you’re thinking of using investment properties to build wealth and perhaps, fund an early retirement, then give us a call now. We can not only help you with the right financing, we can also refer you to some of the experts you will need to create your team of professionals and formulate a firm plan for success. So please give us a call today!

    *This article does not constitute tax advice. The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. Tax issues relating to property investment can be complicated and you should always consult an accountant or qualified tax adviser. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice.

  • What do APRA’s property investment lending changes mean to me?

    APRA
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    Some of you may have heard that APRA has cracked down on investment lending, influencing many lending institutions to review their investment lending policies.

    But we imagine for the majority of you, it’s a case of “APRA, who?”.

    In short, APRA are making some changes to investment loans, and we thought you would like to know if and how these changes impact you. In this article, we take a look at APRA and what they’re doing to keep borrowing conditions stable for you as an investor.

    What is APRA?
    The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of the Australian financial services industry. Their role is to regulate the behaviour of lenders, banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance companies, private health insurance agencies, and the superannuation industry.

    APRA plays a critical role in protecting you, and the financial well-being of the Australian community, by upholding standards of trade in the financial industry. Their mission is to establish and enforce standards and practices designed to ensure that under all reasonable circumstances, financial promises made by institutions are met and that our financial industry remains stable, efficient and competitive. As a consumer, APRA’s activities ensure that you have a reliable, fair financial industry and you can go about your day to day transactions and investments with confidence.

    What are APRA’s new measures regarding property investment lending?
    In December 2014, APRA wrote to all deposit-taking institutions (such as banks and other lenders) setting out sound lending standards, particularly for investment lending, that included a benchmark for the 10% maximum growth of residential investment mortgages. This occurred because of concerns over the number of people entering the property investment market and the stability of lending for this market considering current economic conditions.

    Their particular focus is on restricting high loan-to-value and high loan-to-income lending, which may be risky for consumers if there should be a rapid or sudden decline in housing values or the property market in general. They also perceive the rapid growth in property investment lending as risky insofar as Australian consumers may be ‘placing all their eggs in one basket’ and they would prefer to encourage investment diversity amongst consumers.

    By taking these measures, APRA is looking to make property market conditions safer for you as a consumer. By slowing down investment lending, APRA is also looking to slow down the rapid growth in property prices, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney where property prices are considered to be overheated by many property market analysts.

    What does this mean for property investment borrowing?
    Many lenders and financial institutions are changing their criteria for property investment lending in order to meet APRA’s requirements. Most major banks have announced that they will be cutting the discounts available on investment loans, which means that interest rates on new investment loans could be slightly higher than interest rates on owner-occupied home loans.

    Additionally, most lenders have tightened up their criteria for investment borrowing. Many are focusing on loan-to-value ratios, meaning you may require a larger deposit than previously and may find it more difficult to leverage properties or access equity to invest further if you are already an investor.

    Can I still get a property investment loan?
    As your professional mortgage broker, your financial well-being has always been our number one concern. One of our primary responsibilities has always been to assess your personal financial situation and goals, and ensure that any loan we offer to you suits you, your financial goals, and your expenses.

    Before applying for a loan for you, we always take into consideration whether or not you would be able to service your loan in the event that interest rates should rise and recommend insurance products such as mortgage protection insurance and income protection insurance to mitigate the risk of you not being able to meet your loan repayments if faced with a hardship situation.

    Plenty of lenders are still offering property investment loans to borrowers who qualify under their new property investment lending criteria. It is likely that you will still be eligible for a loan and if you are looking to use property investment as a means to build wealth for your future, you should talk to us about your plans and investment goals sooner rather than later.

    We’re here to help you work out if property investment is right for you. We have access to a wide variety of lenders and we’ll shop around amongst them to find you the most favourable loan considering your personal financial circumstances and investment goals. Call us today.

    For more information on APRA, please visit their website, or speak to us.

  • Property investment mistakes you MUST avoid.

    Fremantle Property investment mistakes you MUST avoid.
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    Property investment has always been popular in Australia. However, like all forms of investment, there are loads of variables involved and it’s easy to make expensive mistakes. Building wealth through property investment can be a lot of work – particularly if you’re new to property investment and are not aware of exactly what’s required. In this article, we outline some of the common mistakes made by first time property investors so you can plan ahead to avoid them.

    Not doing your homework
    Many people make the mistake of buying a property simply because they like it, or think it is a bargain. But not every property makes a good investment. When you find a property that you might like to purchase, it is very important that you do your research to ensure it will give you the return on your investment that you will need. Ask yourself these questions, and importantly, take the time to research the answers carefully:

    • Will it be easy to find tenants/will the property be in high demand?
    • What rental income can I expect?
    • Does the property have strong capital growth potential? Is it in a growth suburb?
    • Am I paying the right price? How long will I have to hold the property before I can make a profit by selling it?

    Not factoring in all of the costs
    Cash-flow is a very important factor when you plan to invest in property – and it’s the area where many first-time investors come undone. It’s not only important to factor in all the costs of buying the property, you must also factor in all the costs of running the investment and maintaining it from the outset.

    When you research the rental income you can expect from a property, you will first need to know exactly how much rental income you will need to cover the costs of holding it. The actual costs will vary from property to property – if you purchase a new home, for example, you will not need to factor in much by way of maintenance costs at first. But if you purchase an older property, you will need to make an estimate of what work is going to be needed and when, and how much this will cost and factor that into the budget.

    Ask yourself these questions:
    • Will the rental income be enough to cover the costs of a property manager, advertising for tenants, regular general maintenance, council rates, building insurance and landlord’s insurance?
    • How will I cover the costs of large repairs – say if the hot water system needs replacing quickly?
    • How will I cover the costs when the property is untenanted and there is no rental income? How long is the average vacancy time in this area? How long will I have to budget for?

    Not getting the property management right
    A property manager is the liaison between you as the landlord, and your tenant. First time investors often believe that managing their own property will save them money. However, it should be remembered that your property management costs are usually tax deductible and few people have the skills to not only find tenants quickly, but choose the right ones.

    Property managers find your tenants, vet them by performing credit checks and then collect the rent every month. They deal with tenant requests, organise regular maintenance and pursue action when disputes arise. They keep track of rents in your area and make sure your rent keeps pace with the market.

    In short, a good property manager will help you maximise the return on your investment and save you from many sleepless nights. However, some property managers are better than others, and fees vary. You should carefully research your property manager before engaging them – ask around, check references and make sure they have the resources to do a good job. If you need help with this, ask us for a referral.

    Not talking to a tax professional
    Did you know that you should obtain a depreciation schedule as soon as you purchase the investment property, preferably at settlement? Not many people do. It’s a document that helps your accountant determine how much you can claim back on tax each year.

    One of the major mistakes people make with investment property is not planning ahead to make the most of their tax deductions. In order to ensure you understand what you can and cannot claim, you need to talk to a tax professional and/or accountant early on in the process. Getting it right will help to ensure you come out ahead and enjoy substantial savings. Getting it wrong will cost you money you may never get back. We have many expert contacts in this area so if you need a quality referral to an accountant, please get in touch.

    Getting the finance wrong
    Before you commence your property investment journey, it is wise to make a plan about what you want to achieve – your financial goals for the future. We recommend you sit down and talk to us about getting the right financing to achieve these goals. Taking a haphazard approach to financing your first, and then subsequent investments, could cost you more money, limit the amount of investment properties you can acquire and even be a recipe for disaster if something goes wrong.

    We can’t stress enough how important it is to formulate a plan before you begin, and talk to us about your financing before you even consider making a property purchase. We will help you set up the financing arrangement that is most advantageous to you – considering your goals and your personal financial circumstances.

    If you’re thinking about making a property investment, why not talk to us? We are happy to take the time to discuss your plans, get you pre-approval for your financing and introduce you to a team of other professionals who can help you to avoid these expensive mistakes above! Give us a call – we’re here to help.

  • Element Finance Fremantle July Update

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    Happy New Financial Year! We hope that tax time is not proving to be too tedious for you and you’re looking forward to getting a great tax refund this year. We’ve had loads of refinance and investment related queries lately, so this month’s newsletter is focused on property investment.

    First, let’s start with the interest rate situation. At its July meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0 per cent. This decision was widely expected by analysts and we should be able to look forward to stable interest rates for the remainder of the year. However, the situation in Greece is affecting global markets and we will have to wait and see how this influences the RBA with regard to our monetary policy moving forward.

    Winter is here and property markets around the country have slowed as a result. Even the Melbourne and Sydney markets are showing significantly reduced auction numbers. However, the combined capital city clearance rate was still 78.1 per cent, which was the strongest result since the beginning of June, showing us that property buyers are still in the market and activity is still quite high for this time of year.

    Around the country, there were only 1,273 reported auctions last week, mostly due to the winter weather in southern/eastern states and school holidays. This compares to 2,249 auctions the week prior, so you can see how much market activity has slowed.

    Sydney held the highest number of auctions at 566 recorded results, with a clearance rate of 84.5 per cent which is very high. Melbourne followed with 527 auctions with a clearance rate of 76.7 per cent. The next highest number of auctions was Brisbane which held 74 auctions with a clearance rate of 68.9 per cent, then Adelaide with 57 auctions and a clearance rate of 75.4 per cent. Perth held just 20 auctions with a clearance rate of 20 per cent. Canberra held 57 auctions with a clearance rate of 75 per cent.

    Home values are up across the board for all capital cities, except for Perth and Darwin. Sydney home values were up by 2.75 per cent over last month and up by 16.23 per cent over this time last year. Melbourne is also doing very well, with home values rising by 2.92 per cent over the last month and 10.24 per cent over this time last year.

    As expected, growth in other markets has been slower, but quite steady in most cases. Brisbane/Gold Coast home values were up by 1.76 per cent for the month and 3.51 per cent for the year. Adelaide was up by 0.39 per cent for the month and 4.46 per cent for the year. Canberra home values were up by 0.58 per cent for the month and 2.44 per cent for the year and Hobart home values were up by 1.79 per cent for the month and 0.85 per cent for the year.

    Perth’s home values were down by 0.35 per cent for the month and 0.86 per cent for the year and Darwin showed a decline in home values of 3.93 per cent for the month and 2.93 per cent for the year. Reference CoreLogic.

    Auction number projections are showing that property market activity should increase again after the school holiday period has ended. So if you’re in the market to purchase a property, now is a good time to talk to us. The start of the new financial year is also a great time to get your annual home-loan-health-check, so please give us a call today.

  • Do I need mortgage protection insurance?

    Loan Cover
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    Your home loan is the biggest financial commitment you’ll ever make and taking the time to ensure you can always meet your repayments – no matter what – is very important to your future financial security, your lifestyle and your family too! In this article we take a look at mortgage protection insurance to see if it could be the right option for you.

    What is mortgage protection insurance?
    Your mortgage is a commitment that won’t wait for anything – you always need to make those repayments no matter what happens. The consequences of not being able to meet your repayments can be quite severe, including the bank foreclosing on your home loan and selling your property to recoup the debt.

    Mortgage protection insurance – sometimes called loan protection insurance – is a policy that you can take out in order to protect your capacity to make your mortgage repayments. Policies can usually be arranged to cover your mortgage repayments in the event you lose your job, or suffer a serious illness, injury or even death.

    How is mortgage protection insurance different to LMI?
    Mortgage protection insurance is very different from Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). LMI is designed to cover your lender (the institute providing your loan) – not you. In the event that you cannot make your repayments and the lender needs to foreclose on your loan, LMI covers the lender for any losses they may make when the property is eventually sold. Even though your lender may require you to take out LMI as a condition of granting your loan, it is important to note that LMI does not cover you if you cannot make your home loan repayments for any reason.

    Do I really need mortgage protection insurance? Is it just another expense?
    It is important that you think about how you would meet your loan repayments if something should go wrong. Some people have income protection insurance that covers their income in the event they cannot work for a while or lose their job.  This is fine as long as it will be enough to cover both your living expenses as well as your loan repayments – but it doesn’t necessarily cover serious illnesses, permanent disability or death.

    Others may have a life insurance policy which could pay out a lump sum in the event of death or permanent injury or disability. However, life insurance policies do not cover you for eventualities like unemployment or less serious illnesses.

    It is important that you have insurance cover for every eventuality. And it’s also important to make sure that you’re not under-insured. We recommend that you give yourself an insurance health check to be sure that any insurance you have will be enough to cover your loan repayments and other expenses, no matter what happens.

    We can help you to assess whether or not your existing insurance is enough to cover your loan repayments as well as your living expenses. This is not only important in terms of making your home loan repayments, it could be very important to the well-being of your family as well.

    It is also important to note that in some instances, mortgage protection insurance may be tax deductible, particularly if you’re taking it out for an investment property. You should check with your accountant to see if you can claim mortgage protection insurance as a tax deductible expense.

    How do I organise cover?
    Talking about your financial situation and commitments is part of the process we undertake when helping you to apply for a home loan, so going one step further to help you assess your insurance requirements at the same time is easy. We have a reliable, cost-effective insurance partner, so we can also help you to organise an affordable mortgage protection insurance policy if you need one.

    Simply discuss your situation with us and we will organise a free quote that is tailored to your requirements, or refer you to one of our partners.

    Remember, as your local Fremantle mortgage broker, we’re here to help you get the home loan that’s right for your requirements and suited to your personal financial situation. Making sure you have adequate insurance cover for your needs at the same time you take out your home loan is part of our service. We genuinely care about your financial future and your well-being, so please don’t hesitate to talk to us about your insurance requirements today.

  • We are hiring!

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    Our ongoing growth has created an exciting opportunity for the right person. Element Finance are on the look out for a gun Admin and Personal Assistant for our Fremantle office. If you know someone with experience and interest in property and finance who would enjoy a fun, challenging and high-energy role then point them this way now! http://www.seek.com.au/Job/28905728

  • Finding the perfect investment location

    Finding the perfect investment location
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    With interest rates at historical lows, property investment is rapidly becoming one of the most popular ways to build wealth to secure your financial future. But how do you find a property in a location that will give you good capital growth and help to ensure the investment is a success? In this article, we take a look at what makes a good investment location – both for residential and commercial properties – and how to find one.

    Location, location, location!
    Choosing the right location is one of the most important factors in the success of a property investment. The right location can differ according to the kind of property investment you choose – commercial or residential. However, in both cases, the principal is to find a property that will be popular with tenants both now and into the future, as this will support your requirement both for a steady rental income and future capital growth.

    What to look for in a commercial property location
    With commercial property, you will need to assess the purpose of the property and if the location will be good for that particular business. Retail commercial property should be in a location that provides a steady stream of passing trade and is easy to reach via public transport or car. There should be plenty of car parking available and if possible, the location should already be enjoying good trade. Locations that are busy will create competition amongst potential tenants and this will always be good for capital growth.

    For more industrial commercial properties, good road links and parking, ample space and excellent facilities are more important than passing foot traffic. You’ll need to ensure that the purpose or possible uses of the building are acceptable under local council zoning laws so that there is no restrictions on the type of tenants who may use it. Importantly, you’ll want to make sure the property is not too far away from a city or port – particularly if it is a warehouse or manufacturing building.

    What to look for in a residential property location
    You may think that it will be easier to find a suitable location for a residential property investment, however competition for good locations is on the rise. With residential property, you’ll also need to find a location that provides all the attributes a tenant will be looking for – just like with commercial properties, however their requirements will differ.

    Apartment living is rising in popularity, particularly for working people with no families. If you’re choosing an apartment, make sure it has good public transport facilities, is close to amenities such as restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

    Houses are more popular with families, and for an investment like this facilities such as parks, schools, and easy access to public transport are important. Suburbs that are already popular with tenants because of the quality and easy access to such facilities may be in short supply and therefore expensive, so look at adjoining locations that may be up and coming.

    For both apartments and houses, the availability of work nearby for tenants will help to ensure its popularity with tenants and this adds up to capital growth potential. Properties that are a long way from employment may be less expensive and easier to secure, however rental returns may be much lower and the potential for capital growth reduced.

    How to find the right location
    All property investment requires careful research to find the best locations with optimal capital growth potential. Most people start with online research and by making contacts within reliable real estate agencies so they are alerted when investments with potential become available.

    The first step is to look for areas where income levels are high and occupancy rates are good. Real estate agents and reputable buyer’s agents are a reliable source of this information, but it’s also a good idea to subscribe to a property market data service that will give you the information you need at your fingertips. (We can put you in touch with a reliable service, so just ask us.)

    Try to avoid areas where future oversupply of properties may become an issue. This is particularly important when considering investment in an apartment – to avoid mistakes, check with the local council to find out how many developments are in the pipeline for the area as this may have a significant effect on values.

    Houses appeal more to families and may carry better capital growth potential. Look for areas where infrastructure development is either good or planned for the near future.

    Popular schools always attract competition for houses, so you may want to research which are the best schools in the areas you are considering and look for property nearby. University locations also create a reliable source of tenants and income, and often offer good entry level investment opportunities.

    Remember, before you consider any property investment, it’s a good idea to set your budget and get your financing pre-approved. We’re here to help you get on the right track with your property investment plans, so give us a call today.

  • New home & construction loans

    New Homes & Construction Loans
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    Over the last 18 months, our hot property markets have been driving rapid increases in home values, particularly in larger markets. This has placed established properties beyond the reach of many home buyers and as a result, we have been seeing a corresponding boom in new housing construction across the country.

    For the year from March 2014 to March 2015, there were 210,484 new dwelling approvals which is a healthy 11.2% increase over the previous year. And whilst the most recent figures for April this year show a slight decline in apartment approvals, there were 10,130 new house approvals which was an increase of 4.7% over the previous month.

    Thinking of building a new home? Talk to us.
    From these figures, it’s clear that more and more people are finding it attractive to build a new home rather than compete in today’s hot property market for an established house or apartment.

    And why not? Building your own home not only has the potential to save you money, it gives you the opportunity to get the home you’ve always wanted – one that’s tailored to your personal needs and requirements with all the bells and whistles you may not be able to afford in an established home at today’s prices. New homes also help you plan your finances with confidence, with low maintenance costs and no major repair expenses in the foreseeable future.

    Obviously there are some drawbacks to building a new home, compared to buying an established property. The construction process takes time and you may have to wait a while before you can move in. Additionally, if you’re building in a new housing estate, it may be some time before features like schools and shopping amenities catch up with the measure of convenience you’re currently enjoying in an established suburb.

    Financing a new build is also a bit different to financing for an established home. Instead of a straight forward mortgage, you may wish to consider a Construction Loan product that can help take the hassle out of the building process.

    Construction Loans – how do they work?
    With a regular mortgage, you pay a deposit and the lender pays the remainder at settlement in a lump sum – it’s fairly simple and straight forward. Construction Loans differ from regular mortgage products as they pay for the project in stages, paying your builder as construction progresses through each stage – slab, roof, lock-up and completion. Additionally, Construction Loans usually last for the period of construction only.

    The major benefit to a Construction Loan is that you only draw down on funds as you need them. This can mean big savings on interest as you only pay interest on the money you use at each stage. And once construction has been completed, you can often nominate which home loan product the Construction Loan will revert to, moving forward – ie. A standard variable rate loan or a fixed interest rate loan.

    Another thing to take into consideration when building your own home is purchasing the land. If you purchase the land first, you will usually require a regular mortgage for the land portion of the purchase and then apply a Construction Loan to the build only. The loans can be arranged separately, but are usually bundled together, particularly with a house and land package deal you may purchase from a developer.

    There are quite a few different Construction Loans on the market and each of them can be structured differently. We’re here to help you obtain the best loan product/s for your individual needs, so before you commence the process of building your own home, it’s wise to spend a little time with us to get the right financing lined up for your needs.

    What else do you need to think about?
    Just as with a regular home loan, you will require a deposit before you can commence building your dream home. The amount of deposit you need will vary according to the cost of the project and the lender’s requirements, so you should talk to us about how much of a deposit you will need.

    Before you commence your build, you should also be very careful to establish exactly what is covered for the price, as there could be other expenses that you need to budget for. We recommend that you also have some contingency funds set by, just in case of unforeseen expenses that may not be covered by your Construction Loan.

    Talk to us for more information
    Building a new home may be a great idea for you and your family, depending on your personal financial situation and circumstances. If you’d like to find out more, or explore your loan options and establish your budget for a new build, why not give us a call? We’re here to help you discover if building a new home is a viable option for you and to help you get pre-approval on a suitable financing package before you begin. A short chat could help to take a lot of the hassle and uncertainty out of the process, so why not give us a call today?

  • How to make an offer on a property

    How to make an offer on a property
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    In a hot property market like we’re experiencing at the moment, it can be difficult to beat the competition at auction. And with auction clearance rates running at around 80% in most capital cities, it’s clear that the majority of bidders miss out on the property they’ve chosen when the auction gavel comes down. So, how can you avoid going to auction? What can you do to secure a property when you don’t have deep enough pockets to outbid the competition on the day?

    A good strategy is to try and secure the property by making an offer prior to auction day. Whilst many vendors will prefer to allow the market to dictate the best price for their property, many are open to offers before auction day.  Here are a few tips to help you make an offer that’s accepted and avoid the hassle and inflated prices that auctions can create.

    1. Do your homework
    Before you make an offer, you need to decide on an offer price. Start by researching recent sale prices of comparable properties in the area. This will give you a starting point for setting a fair offer price on the property you wish to purchase and give you a good idea of the vendor’s price expectations. It will also tell you if the property is in your budget and worth more of your time.

    Next, research the property itself by obtaining building and pest inspection reports. If there are any problems with the property you can cite these as reasons why you are offering a bit less.

    Another factor that you may need to research is demand for properties of this type in this particular area. Demand sets the price of a property and it may be high for a variety of reasons – schools may be particularly good in the area, the area may be about to undergo attractive infrastructure development projects like better public transport links or a new shopping center and so on. If demand for the property is likely to be high, you may need to make a higher offer to succeed.

    If your research does not help you come up with a reliable offer amount, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. A valuations expert can help you assess what the property is worth in today’s market. If you need a professional valuation, ask us for a referral and we’ll be happy to help.

    2. Get to know the real estate agent
    Negotiation is a two way street – so it is important to have a good working relationship with the real estate agent who is in charge of negotiations on behalf of the vendor. Make sure they see you as a serious buyer and they will be more respectful of your requirements and negotiations.

    Remember that the real estate agent has the knowledge that can help you work out how best to play your hand. Here are some questions you can ask to help you formulate your offer strategy.

    • Why is the vendor selling?
    • What price is the vendor expecting?
    • What are the vendor’s requirements regarding settlement? Do they want a long or short settlement, do they need to extend their stay in the property?
    • Is this an investment property or the vendor’s home?
    • Have they already bought elsewhere?

    The answers to these questions will help you decide how to proceed – or even if you will proceed to make an offer at all.

    3. Formulate an offer strategy
    Once you are fully informed, you will need to think carefully about how to present your offer. By now, you should have an upper price limit firmly fixed in your mind based on your estimate of the property’s value and your budget. No matter what happens during the negotiations, never go above your upper price limit. It’s easy to be influenced by your emotions and the clever negotiating tactics of the real estate agent, so this is a hard and fast rule you should always stick to.

    If you are hunting for a bargain, it may be tempting to make a ridiculously low offer for the property. However, this could be a mistake because the real estate agent could dismiss you as a serious buyer. If you have a legitimate reason for making a low offer, be sure to tell the real estate agent why you are offering a reduced price so that they continue to take you seriously.

    If you really want to obtain the property, you will need to make a genuine offer.  A good idea is to offer a bit below your estimate of the value of the property. This will mean your offer is taken seriously and give you some room to negotiate upwards if the vendor does not accept your first offer.

    Do whatever you can to make your offer more attractive to the vendor. To do this you could offer to meet the same terms they would receive at auction, offer a larger deposit, meet their settlement terms or offer to extend their stay in the property after sale.

    4. Be ready for the negotiation process
    The negotiation process will begin once you submit your offer in writing to the real estate agent. Verbal offers are not acceptable – your offer must be in writing and signed by you before they can present it to the vendor.

    Once this is done, the vendor will either accept your offer, reject it completely or come back with a counter offer. If they reject your initial offer or come back with a counter offer, then you can raise your offer price – or walk away. The choice is yours.

    Sometimes the real estate agent will tell you they have already had a better offer and use it to get you to raise your offer price. Do not allow this commonly used tactic to influence you to offer above the limit you have set for the property. Make sure your subsequent offers are reasonable and fair.

    Remember, auctions cost money so it can often be in the vendor’s best interests to avoid going to auction too. Once the vendor accepts your offer, you will be asked to sign a contract agreeing to the purchase and the negotiations are done!

    5. Be confident
    Negotiating can be a nerve-wracking experience, so it is important that you are confident about the offer you make. Doing your homework will certainly put you in a position to negotiate confidently – or walk away if the situation just isn’t going to beneficial to you.

    Be sure of your budget and never exceed it. Putting yourself in a difficult financial situation simply to secure a particular property is not worth the ongoing financial pain. To help yourself negotiate from a confident place, talk to us about your budget and we’ll help you to get pre-approval on your financing to give you more negotiating power.

    Remember, we’re here to assist you in any way we can. Come in and talk to us about your plans and we’ll help you to secure your financing ahead of time. It’s a great time to be in the market for a property, so call us today.

  • How do you increase your borrowing power?

    Increase your borrowing power
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    With interest rates at record lows and property values experiencing steady growth, property investment is now one of the most popular ways to build wealth for your future and retirement. But getting the financing in place to fund your wealth building plans can be a hurdle. So how can you increase your borrowing power to help you take advantage of current opportunities? In this article we take a look at some of the things that banks and lending organisations take into consideration before approving your investment loan.

    1. Minimise your existing debts
    One of the first things that lenders look at when assessing you for an investment loan is the level of debt that you are already maintaining. In addition to your existing home loan, they also take into consideration any other debts you may have including personal loans, car loans, student loans, credit cards, store credit financing, outstanding bills and so on.  The more of these you have on the go, the more impact it will have on your credit score with a lender.

    By minimising your debts and the number of repayments you have to make, you can help to increase your borrowing capacity when the lender makes an assessment.  If possible, it’s a good idea to pay off as many of these debts as you can before you submit an application for your investment loan. Another strategy might be to roll all of your smaller debts into just one personal loan or a loan with lower interest rate than credit or store cards, for example.

    If you have an existing home loan, you might already be happy with the interest rate – so it’s worth finding out if you can roll your debts into your existing home loan to free up your borrowing capacity in the future. Talk to us and we will help you to determine if this is an option and if it will have the desired effect on your capacity to borrow for an investment property.

    2. Minimise your outgoing expenses
    Lenders also take a look at your expenses and use these to make an assessment of your capacity to repay a loan. You may think that this won’t be an issue with an investment property because your tenants will be paying rent to help cover the mortgage expenses, but this is not the case. Lenders take into consideration the worst case scenario – what will happen if your investment property remains vacant for long periods of time? How will you make your loan repayments then?

    Take a look at your regular outgoing expenses and do everything you can to minimise them. Do you really need that expensive gym membership? Could you make do without that second car? Could you cut back on your pay TV subscriptions? Most of us are regularly paying for luxury items we don’t really need, so be ruthless with your budgeting strategies.

    3. Reduce your excess credit limits
    Another thing the lenders take into consideration before approving your investment loan is your capacity to get into more debt. That means that your credit cards could be reducing your borrowing capacity, even if you have a zero balance.

    For example, if you have one credit card with a $20,000 limit and two more with $10,000 limits, this will have a considerable impact on the amount of money you can borrow – even if you owe nothing on those cards. In some cases, a lender could take these credit card limits to mean that you have a potential debt of $40,000 against your name. It might not seem fair, but they will often calculate what you would have to repay if you actually used up those limits and add that to your outgoings.

    In order to increase your borrowing capacity, it is therefore recommended to cancel the extra credit card and loan facilities that you don’t really need. You’ll also save money on annual fees and this could help to minimise your outgoing expenses, as mentioned earlier.

    4. Keep your financial records up to date
    One of the most common reasons why property investors find their borrowing capacity is limited is because they don’t have up-to-date financial information to prove their income and financial position to the lender.  Your tax return is the best proof of your financial position and earning capacity that you can provide to a lender, so it is very important to keep them on file.

    In many cases, lenders only ask for three or four payslips or bank statements as your proof of income, but this may not provide an accurate view of the bigger picture. If you are self-employed, or have a low base salary but earn commissions or bonuses for example, a few payslips or statements alone will not accurately convey what you actually earn and this may reduce your borrowing capacity or make you ineligible for the best interest rate deals.

    You may also have additional income from existing investment properties, stocks and shares, or even a border in your home. To be sure the lender can make an accurate assessment of your income and earning capacity, you need to be able to provide plenty of documentation about these other sources of income as well as your regular job.

    5. Access the equity in your existing property to increase your deposit
    If you already own a home or some investment properties, accessing the equity can help you secure finance for another property purchase. Your equity is the difference between what the house is worth on today’s market, and how much you owe against it.

    Put simply, your property’s equity will increase both as you pay off your mortgage and as the property’s value grows. For example, if your $500,000 property increases in value by 10% over the two years you own it, that’s an extra $50,000 in equity – and you can also add in any reduction you have made to the mortgage from your repayments.

    Depending on your financial circumstances, it may be possible to refinance your mortgage to access that money. This will help to increase your deposit amount for your investment property and also help to increase your borrowing capacity. Just ask us and we’ll help you determine if this is the case.

    In order to access the equity in your existing property, you will first need to obtain an accurate valuation from a reputable valuations expert. We can help you with this so don’t hesitate to ask us for assistance! The lender will also obtain a proper valuation, so this is an important step when you are considering accessing your equity.

    You might also want to consider ways to add to the equity in your existing property by making improvements or renovations. This can be a fast way to increase your borrowing capacity so you can get into your next investment sooner.

    Don’t wait to get started with your property investment plans!
    If you’re thinking about making a property investment, why not come and talk to us about strategies to increase your borrowing power before you start the buying process? We’re here to support you in your ambition to use property to responsibly build wealth for your future and retirement, so give us a call today.

  • Your essential guide to property research

    Property Research
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    When you’re buying a property, careful research is the key to success. From making the initial decision about how much you can afford to spend, right down to locating the right property and making your purchase, doing your research to make sure you’re fully informed will help to ensure you make a profitable investment that will be a real financial asset for you now and into the future. But where do you start? In this article we outline the research steps you need to take when climbing on to the property ladder.

    Property Research

    Property Research

    Step 1 – financial research
    The first step in buying a property is setting your budget and organising financial approval for a home loan. Researching how much you can afford to spend is as simple as listing all of your assets – including the cash you may have on hand for a deposit – and working out your expenses. This will show you how much you can afford to spend on a deposit and home loan repayments.

    Once you’ve completed this basic research of your financial position and decided your budget, it’s time to talk to us – your local mortgage broker. We’ll sit down with you to discuss your financial position, your goals for the future and then help you choose a mortgage product that’s right for you. We’ll then research the home loan market for you and select the loan options that best suit your objectives and give you the best rate.

    Step 2 – What type of property do you want to buy?
    Once you have your budget firmly in mind, it’s time to decide what type of property you can purchase. Obviously the amount of money you have to spend will influence what type of property you look at purchasing, but there’s a lengthy list of options and you need to do some research to help you choose the one that’s right for you.

    Are you interested in buying an apartment, a unit, a house or perhaps a commercial property? If you are purchasing the property as your own home the decision will be influenced by your personal needs. But if you are purchasing the property as an investment, then you may consider all property types as suitable – as long as they give you the return on your investment that you need for it to be financially viable and profitable.

    Step 3 – Where do you want to invest?
    If you’re buying a property as your own home, this step will be about researching a suburb that best suits your personal lifestyle and the future needs of your family. But if you’re buying an investment property, it pays to look further afield and consider the locations that have good capital growth potential and will give you the best return on your investment.

    Saavy investors spend time researching to find areas with capital growth potential and then focus on finding properties in these areas that are within budget. This requires access to good property market data that gives you figures on the latest trends. If you need help accessing this kind of information, then just ask us.

    Research suburbs that are showing steady capital growth, and suburbs adjacent to ones that are already popular. Don’t be afraid to consider properties in other capital cities that may have better capital growth potential than the city in which you live. If you are buying an investment property, consider locations that will be popular with tenants – suburbs with good schools, public transport links, shopping centres, amenities and access to the CBD.

    Step 4 – Locate the property and research its viability
    Once you have an idea of your budget, the type of property you want to buy and general locations you may want to invest in, you can start researching to find suitable properties to inspect.

    If you’re purchasing an investment, you will need to research each property very thoroughly before you decide on one to purchase. First you’ll need to determine the right price for the property so that you don’t pay too much. You can do this by researching the sale prices of comparable homes in the area to see how yours stacks up.

    Next you’ll need to do some research with real estate agents to determine what kind of rental return you can expect on the property you have chosen. It’s important to determine whether or not the rental return will cover all the expenses – including the mortgage – so that you can work out if it is a financially viable investment for you and suits your budget and investment goals.

    If you’re looking to purchase a property soon, this guide will help you get started on your essential research. Of course, you can get started on the first step of researching your budget and organising pre-approval for your home loan right away, just by talking to us.

    We’re here to make sure you get the best home loan product and rate available for you, considering your personal financial situation and goals. There are many competitive home loan products available on the market right now, so it’s a good time to get started. Give us a call today.

  • How Do You Rate Your Bank or Mortgage Broker?

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    At Element Finance Fremantle, we ask 100% of our clients what they think our Mortgage Brokers can do to improve their service for them and for all their clients. It is one of the most important ‘elements’ of the process, ensuring we are always improving our systems and service. We really value constructive feedback although it is enjoyable to receive testimonials as glowing as this from Candice last week:

    “Mike was extremely professional and met our every need. Will definitely be recommending element finance to others in the future.”

    It lets us know we are on the right path and definitely doing the right thing. If you were ever asked, how would you review YOUR bank or broker’s service?

    Excellent Service in Fremantle

    Excellent Service in Fremantle

  • Can we fix it?

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    CBA have this week released their economic forecast expecting interest rates to rise a full 1%  over the next 18 months. With the lowest rates home loan rates you have probably ever seen, is it time to FIX IT? Call Element Finance Fremantle today to discuss the benefits.

    https://www.commbank.com.au/content/dam/commbank/corporate/research/publications/economics/forecasts-economic-financial/2014/270614-Forecasts_EcoFin.pdf

    Fix your interest rate?

    Fix your interest rate?

  • RBA Rates On Hold

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    At its July meeting today, the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to maintain the official cash rate at 2.5 per cent, as predicted by most market analysts. Keeping the cash rate unchanged is in line with the RBA’s intention to create a period of stability on interest rates.
    At the start of the new financial year, we can usually expect Australia’s property market to slow down for the winter months ahead. However, the period of stability on interest rates has created a lot of activity in the housing market, with auction numbers in most capital cities remaining high throughout June.
    Analysts say that the continuing property market activity is being led by investors who are taking advantage of the low interest rate environment to boost their portfolios. However, the high numbers of properties remaining on the market during this traditionally quiet time of year means there are plenty of opportunities for those looking to make a purchase.
    Our loan market remains very competitive, with many lenders still introducing low fixed rates, along with great variable rate options. First home buyers, as well as those looking to refinance and invest, can expect some great deals ahead of the predicted rise in interest rates later this year or early next year. If you’d like to find out how to take advantage of the current low rates to reach your goals this financial year, then talk to us today.

  • Home Loan Interest Rates Likely To Stay Put For a While

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    The Reserve Bank appears more downbeat on Australia’s economic growth prospects, suggesting interest rates could be on hold for even longer.

    The minutes of the central bank’s June board meeting highlight the RBA’s concern about how the tough federal budget and expected falls in mining investment could impact the economy.

    Although March quarter economic growth was stronger than forecast, that was mainly driven by solid mining exports which were not expected to be sustained, the minutes said.

    “The expectation of substantial falls in mining investment, below-average growth of public demand and non-mining investment remaining subdued for a time implied that the pace of growth was likely to be a little below trend over the rest of this year and into the next, before gradually increasing,” the minutes said.

    Economists said the RBA appeared to be less confident about Australia’s growth prospects, raising the prospect of the central bank moving even further away from hiking rates.

    “At the top of the RBA’s concerns appeared to be the sharp decline in mining investment and the fiscal consolidation set to occur,” St George economist Janu Chan said.

    “The range of concerns from the RBA and recent indicators suggesting a loss of momentum in the June quarter is suggesting that a rate hike is still some months off.”

    The RBA has kept rates at the record low of 2.5 per cent since August.

    During its June meeting it repeated its familiar line that “the current accommodative stance of policy was likely to be appropriate for some time yet”.

    RBC Capital Markets head of economics Su-Lin Ong said “modestly dovish” minutes maintained the view that the RBA will sit on the interest rate sidelines for a while.

    “The RBA’s long-held narrative has been for low rates to assist in supporting the rates-sensitive sectors of housing, consumption, and non-mining investment as mining-driven capital expenditure begins to drag more heavily on activity,” she said.

    “In today’s minutes that confidence appeared less so.

    “History tells us that during times of uncertainty, the RBA tends to sit on its hands and await further data and developments.

    “This is consistent with an extended period of steady cash, which we expect will continue well into 2015 with a modest tightening cycle unlikely to begin before the June quarter.”

    CommSec chief economist Craig James said the RBA had played down the recent good GDP growth figures, making it clear that rates are stuck in neutral.

    “The Reserve Bank has downplayed a number of factors that alternatively could have lent support to a change in monetary policy stance,” he said.

    To ensure your home loan is still competitive, contact an expert mortgage broker from Element Finance Fremantle for a free analysis.

  • Timing Doesn’t Have To Be Everything – Bridging Finance in Fremantle

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    Ready to build or buy now, but haven’t yet sold your old property? Bridging finance could be the answer to keep the ball rolling.

    Trying to sell one property and buy another can be quite a daunting and emotional process, especially when the timelines of both projects don’t match up perfectly.

    Avoid sale stress

    Generally, people can be a bit nervous or anxious, but it’s an education process for them.

    One of the services that Element Finance Fremantle have offered clients in the past is assistance in applying for bridging finance, despite the fact that they don’t financially benefit from handling them. A bridging loan is usually just an extension of the loan amount on a regular home loan, and it can cover the purchase price or construction costs of a new property while your old one is selling.

    Most lenders offer a period of interest-only repayments on bridging loans, allowing borrowers to get into their new home sooner without having to start paying off a full mortgage before selling the old one.

    The team at Element Finance Fremantle are also well accustomed to negotiating rates with banks to get appropriate deals for their clients so they don’t necessarily need to refinance to make savings when interest rates fall.

    They use their knowledge and other banks’ rates to drive rates lower. So occasionally, clients don’t even have to change their bank. Credit advisers can often just negotiate a better deal to keep the banks honest.

    Call or email Mike at Element Finance Fremantle now to help you find you the best deal with the least headaches. (08) 6323 2350 mike@elementfinance.com.au

  • Lending & Tax Time: Jargon Explained

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    Well, the tell-tale signs that we are near the end of the financial year are upon us! Advertisements for EOFY sales are everywhere we look, search parties for those mislaid receipts, and the usual tax time property jargon such as “depreciation” and “negative gearing” being bandied around the water cooler.

    Real estate at tax time has its own language and terminology which can be very confusing, particularly if you’re new to the investment process. Element Finance Fremantle has put together a guide to the key phrases used at this time of year when we are thinking about your property investments, and what that means for your tax!

    Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
    A capital gain, or capital loss, is the difference between what it cost you to acquire an asset and what you received when you disposed of it. Selling assets such as real estate is the most common way you make a capital gain or capital loss. In other words, you make a capital gain when you sell a house for more than you paid for it.

    You pay tax on your capital gains. So, when you make money from the sale of a property, it forms part of your income tax and is not considered a separate tax.

    Most real estate is subject to CGT. This includes vacant land, business premises, rental properties, holiday houses and hobby farms. Your ‘main residence’ (family home) is generally exempt from CGT unless you rented it out for a time or it’s on more than two hectares of land.

    If you are a property owner, capital gains tax may become an issue when you make a profit from selling your property. But there are a couple of standard exemptions which could assist. For more information, we can help you with a referral to an accountant, or visit the Australian Tax Office website.

    Negative Gearing
    The term ‘negatively geared’ sometimes causes confusion, especially among people new to the intricacies of property investing. Negative gearing occurs when the costs of owning a property – interest on the loan, bank charges, maintenance, repairs and capital depreciation – exceed the income it produces. Simply, at the end of the day, the investment property in question will run at a loss and you need to make up that shortfall from your own pocket.

    Negative gearing can be used as an investment strategy in order to reduce your taxable income, maximising available tax benefits. If the property becomes cash flow positive (see below), this profit is added to your taxable income and you may have to pay more tax depending on the structure of your investments.

    Depreciation
    Like the name suggests, depreciation is the decrease in value of an item over time. An example of a depreciating asset is your car, which is said to reduce in value a great deal from the time you drive it out of the dealership.

    When it comes to investment properties, depreciation can certainly work in your favour. If your investment property depreciates, you can claim against the decreased value of your investment. Negative gearing and depreciation allowances are popular ways to reduce your tax liability. There are various rules around this in all States, so please speak to a professional, or we can get you in touch with the experts!

    Cash flow positive
    The reverse of negative gearing, your investment property is considered to be cashflow positive if your income generated from the property is greater than your outgoings – after you’ve taken into account tax deductions. Tax deductions include things like interest paid on your loan, depreciation, maintenance and service costs.

    Equity
    Equity is the difference between what your residence or investment property is worth and how much you owe on it.

    Put simply, if your property is worth $300,000 and you still owe $100,000, you have $200,000 in equity. Over time, as you reduce the amount you owe on your home or the value of your home grows, your equity increases. Equity is a very good thing to have as it can be used to leverage further property purchases without your having to save a new deposit.

    Of course there are lots more real estate and legal terms you will come across at tax time and when investing in property. We recommend you seek professional advice. Contact us to learn more on 6323 2350 or mike@elementfinance.com.au

    Tax jargon explained

    Tax jargon explained

     

  • Thanks for the love, Damien

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    As a Mortgage Broker, Element Finance Fremantle don’t only help people buy their dream home or investment properties. We also continuously monitor our clients’ loans to ensure they still have a great deal. When their lender has ceased to be the best value, we offer options to improve that, including refinancing their loan to a new lender for a better deal. We also help refinance when our clients need to consolidate debt or need to access equity in their home. We helped Damien and his family into their first home a few years ago and now that their situation has changed, we assisted again by getting an even better suiting loan for them. Here is what Damien has told us about his experience this week:

    Mike, once again, listened to our needs and delivered exactly what we were looking for. His follow up, attention to detail and enthusiasm made the refinancing process extremely easy and smooth. Thanks Mike! Damien Kelly

    We truly appreciate all feedback we receive and especially love hearing great testimonials like this one from Damien. Have a look at what some more of our recent clients have had to say http://elementfinance.com.au/testimonials

    Fremantle Broker Review

    Fremantle Broker Review

  • Insurance Explained

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    Insurance

    When taking out a home or investment loan, there are many insurance products that are relevant and all have a different purpose. Choosing the right cover or combination of insurance products can be very confusing. This article describes the insurance products that you may need to know about if you’re considering taking out a mortgage.

    Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI)
    Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is in place to protect your lender if you default on your mortgage repayments. It is usual for your lender to charge you a fee for LMI if they are lending you 80% or more of the purchase price of your property. It is a one off payment made to your lender when you set up your loan.

    It should be noted that LMI does not cover you if you should have a problem repaying your loan. In the unfortunate event that you cannot make your repayments and your home is repossessed and sold, LMI covers the gap between what the property is sold for and what is still owing to your lender.

    With LMI, the fee is added to the total of your loan and paid off as part of your monthly mortgage repayments. Even though LMI may help you secure a lo-doc loan or a loan with a small deposit, you will still have to meet all the statutory credit checks to ensure you can meet your mortgage repayments when you apply for your loan.

    Mortgage Protection Insurance
    Home buyers often confuse Mortgage Protection Insurance with LMI but it is a completely different product.

    Mortgage Protection Insurance is taken out by you to protect your home in the event that you are unable to meet your mortgage repayments due to sickness, injury, unemployment or death. (LMI is designed to protect the lender.) It should be noted that Mortgage Protection Insurance only provides cover for your mortgage and if you require coverage for other expenses in case of sickness, injury, unemployment or death you should consider the other forms of insurance listed below.

    Like most personal insurance products, Mortgage Protection Insurance requires you to pay a premium either annually or monthly. The size of your Mortgage Protection Insurance premium will depend on the size of your home loan and how much of it you need to cover. Cover will vary depending on the provider, so be sure to read the PDS carefully so you understand what you are covered for.

    Total and permanent disability insurance (TPD) & Life insurance
    Total and permanent disability insurance cover is designed to give you a financial safety net if a permanent serious injury or illness makes it impossible for you to continue to work (depending on the the definition of the policy). It usually covers the costs of rehabilitation, debt repayments and the future costs of living, but this varies according to the provider. Life insurance usually only pays an agreed lump sum in the event of your death.

    TPD insurance can often be taken out as part of Life insurance cover. You may have this cover with your superannuation, or you can organise it as a separate insurance product if you don’t. Remember that Life insurance only covers you if you die, so TPD insurance should be considered as a separate issue.

    Income protection insurance
    Income protection insurance is usually only designed to cover you if you are temporarily unable to work. It can usually be arranged so that it covers you for up to 75% of your normal income, until such time as you’re able to return to work or for the prescribed benefit period on your policy. It can be arranged so it covers you for illness and redundancy, depending on the policy and provider.

    Income protection insurance is a good idea if you don’t have money saved to act as a safety net in the event you’re out of work. It could be used to cover the costs of day to day living and your mortgage.

    Landlord’s insurance 
    If you purchase an investment property and want to rent it out, Landlord’s insurance can cover you for accidental or malicious damage to your property and any contents that you may have leased to your tenants for their use. It’s a great way to get peace of mind when you’re placing your most valuable asset in the hands of tenants!

    Individual policies for Landlord’s insurance can vary greatly from provider to provider – in some cases it may be considered an add-on to building insurance or home insurance, so be careful to choose the product that’s right for your needs and particular circumstances.

    Building insurance/home and content insurance
    Building insurance is a product that you can take out if you are constructing or renovating a home, or if you wish to insure the building separately to the contents of your home. Home and contents insurance usually covers both the home and the contents.

    This type of insurance product usually covers you for disasters like fire, flood, and damage caused to your home, garage and sheds due to accidents. It is designed to provide you with adequate cover in the event you need to repair or rebuild your home after an insurable event has occurred.

    Policies for all these insurance products and what they cover vary a great deal from insurer to insurer. You should always read the product disclosure statement carefully before you take out any insurance product or policy, and ask questions of the provider to make sure you get the cover you need.

    The various insurance cover you need will depend on your personal financial situation and the eventualities you need to cover. For more information or a referral, please get in touch today.

  • Getting In Front of Home Loan Repayments

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    Find out why more Aussies are ahead on mortgage repayments and how you can be too http://yhoo.it/1gC1bum

    Home loan strategy

    Home loan strategy

  • Home Loan Clients Love Element Finance Fremantle

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    …..and Element Finance Fremantle loves our home loan clients! We especially love receiving such great feedback from you after your loan has settled. Thanks very much, Andrew, for your kind words this morning.

    “Mike and the team achieved something we could never have done alone. Communication between all parties were constant and extremely helpful. Mike was always a step ahead and had things moving along without being asked. He predicted our needs and provided solutions to our problems. Even with such a complicated situation we had, Mike worked at it until we got the result we needed. We felt looked after and important as a customer. Even more impressive was the level of service during and after settlement,making sure everything has run smoothly throughout. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending Element finance to anyone who is in need of a complete service broker who will do everything to help from offer to settlement and beyond. Thanks again Mike and the team for all your help.” – Andrew Threadgold, Tapping. 2 April 2014

    Read more client testimonials here.

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  • Rates remain on hold for April.

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    Now is a perfect time to compare your home loan with what is available in the market. Phone our Fremantle office on 96323 2350 and our team will let you know how much you could be saving.

    Rates on hold for April

    Rates on hold for April

  • Element Finance Fremantle Expand Their Offering

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    Watch out! Element Finance Fremantle have expanded their offerings to more than just home loans and investment loans. We are now able to help with EXTREMELY competitive Chattel Mortgages, Commercial HPs, Finance Leases and Novated Leases, Motor Vehicle & Car Loans and more.

    If you or your business plan to purchase a car, truck or trailer, earth-moving or construction equipment, manufacturing or farming plant & equipment call Element Finance first.

    Plant  & Equipment

    Plant & Equipment Finance Available

  • Room With A View

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    I can think of dozens of places where a room like this would be ideal to capitalise on Fremantle’s many stunning vistas. What would you rather be overlooking, park, ocean, river, golf course or beach?

    Made for Freo

    Made for Freo

  • Need some inexpensive real estate additions? How about this solution?

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    Shipping containers as permanent homes are becoming more popular with a couple being completed right here in Fremantle recently. They don’t have to look like boxes either with elaborate contemporary designs easily achieved. Have you seen any great examples? Would you live in a shipping container?

    Is Fremantle the perfect city for this?

    Is Fremantle the perfect city for this?

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