Last year, the Federal Government introduced down-sizing incentives aimed at the baby-boomer set. Add this to rising capital city property prices that give just about everyone an incentive to cash-in on their big home, and it’s not surprising that more and more people are looking for smaller, less expensive places to live.

However, when faced with the challenge of fitting years of accumulated stuff into a space that’s a quarter the size, it’s easy to come undone. In this article, we’ve put together some cool ideas for maximising every inch of your new small space home, to help you make it more liveable and drive up its value.

Get creative with storage

Before we even start talking about cool storage ideas, you’ll want to get tough on yourself and get rid of the stuff you don’t need. Consider a garage sale or selling it on eBay.

Once you’ve paired it back to the things you can’t live without, you can start thinking about incorporating clever storage solutions into the design of your home. Stairs are a hidden bonanza of wasted space that you can reclaim in a variety of different ways (check out these imaginative ideas on Buzzfeed).

Another great tip is to use space vertically, not horizontally – that means thinking of creative ways to make use of your wall and ceiling space instead of the floor. For example, try creating personality with floating wall shelves.

Use your furniture as extra storage Multifunctional furniture is also a great idea – look for a coffee table with a shelf under it for books, or one that converts into a desk. There are plenty of beds and sofas available with hidden storage underneath, and you can position attractive storage baskets to hide your clutter. Want to get even more creative? Consider a vertical wall bed that transforms into a revolving bookcase. Or this wall bed that converts into a home office or study.

Grow up!

If you love your garden, think vertical! There are plenty of fun ideas on Pinterest for small spaces and balconies, from pallet herb gardens to exotic-looking cactus displays. Click here for inspiration.

Conceal the laundry

Why not tuck your washer and dryer away inside a kitchen cupboard and reclaim the laundry for a different use? You might even like to include a fold-out drying rack and ironing board into the design for ultimate efficiency. Another option is to combine your bathroom and laundry into one, so that you can optimise the use of the plumbing.

Recess where possible

You could remodel the toilet and go for a wall-hung throne. By concealing the tank in the wall, you’ll save space and achieve a more modern look. When it comes to the bathroom, recessing cabinets and installing a pedestal basin will free up room. Another tip is to use neutral colours and larger mirrors to create the illusion of space.

Call us about financing your reno!

Renovating can do wonders to improve the liveability of a smaller home and boost its value – we hope these ideas help with your plans. If you’d like to know how you can finance your renovation dreams, please get in touch. You may be able to refinance and use the equity in your home, or you may benefit from a home loan with features such as a line of credit. There are all sorts of other finance options available, so talk to us at Element Finance and we’ll help you set the wheels in motion for your renovation project.

Are you thinking about buying a home and wondering how you’ll cover the mortgage repayments and still have a life? Remember Cousin Jimmy mentioning he was looking for a new pad? Sure, he’s a little ‘unusual’ with his back-scratcher collection and all, but if living with his bizarre hand gadgets means you’ll score some help with the rent, then why not?

Taking on a boarder could be a viable way to help you pay your mortgage, but it won’t all be beer and skittles! If you’re going to take in a boarder, there are some very important implications to consider first, as we explain in this article.

The pros of having a boarder

    • Additional income
    • You can offset your household costs
    • Potential tax deductions for property expenses
    • The social factor.

The cons of having a boarder

  • Loss of privacy
  • Extra responsibilities as a live-in landlord
  • The income may push you into a higher tax bracket
  • You may be subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) when you sell
  • Many lenders don’t take rent from roommates into account when assessing whether you can afford a home loan.

Legalities to consider

The money received from your boarder will generally be considered accessible income by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and you must declare it on your tax return. You may be able to claim deductions for expenses associated with renting out part of your home, such as interest on your mortgage. However, if you rent to a relative at a discounted or less than market rate, it can affect what you can claim. In some instances, payments from a family member for board or lodging may be considered a domestic arrangement and not rental income, so you may not be able to claim tax deductions.

You won’t have to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the rent you charge, nor will you be able to claim GST credits. However, when it comes time to sell, you may not be entitled to the full main residence exemption from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) – generally you don’t pay this when you sell the home you live in. You can find more details via the ATO website, however, it’s wise to speak to your accountant about the financial implications before proceeding.

Precautions

It’s also important to familiarise yourself with your rights and responsibilities, and those of your boarder. Contact your local tenancy authority for advice. You’ll also need to follow the rules about lodging the bond with the residential tenancy authority in your state or territory.

Having a solid contract or tenancy agreement in place will help protect you, should things go wrong. The agreement should stipulate exactly what’s included (e.g. furniture and parking), when and how rent is due, details about notice required and room inspections, and bill arrangements. Also, consider your insurance needs. We partner with some of Australia’s leading insurance providers, so please ask us for help.

When interviewing candidates, be sure to ask plenty of questions and request references from previous landlords (even if it’s someone you know). Being clear from the start will help you avoid issues down the track. Talk openly about your expectations about things such as:

  • privacy
  • paying rent
  • noise
  • cleanliness
  • overnight guests
  • Lastly, before they move in, fill out a condition report and take photographic evidence.

Becoming a live-in landlord can help you pay off your mortgage and cover living expenses, whilst also allowing you to claim tax deductions in some instances. However, there are important implications to consider, which is why it’s so important to consult your accountant or financial planner first. If you’d like to know more about your finance options for purchasing your home, please speak to us at Element Finance. We can help you find a home loan that suits your specific financial needs and goals – and perhaps make it affordable without Cousin Jimmy’s contributions!

When done right, investing in property can help you to build long-term wealth, and who doesn’t like the idea of an additional income stream? (Imagine what you could do with that!) The really great thing about property investing is that just about anyone can understand the principals. If you’re thinking about building wealth for your future this way, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to go about it. We’ve kept it super simple and you’re bound to have questions, so please give us a call to find out how we can help you make it work!

Step 1: Talk to us about your borrowing power

The first step involves a friendly chat with us about the finance set-up. We’ll run through your personal financial circumstances and help you determine your borrowing power – which is the amount a lender may be willing to lend you. Your borrowing power may be very different for an investment property than for a home to live in yourself.

Like all property purchases, you’ll need a deposit. If you already own your home and it has appreciated in value, or you’ve paid down your mortgage somewhat, you may be able to refinance to access equity to fund it. We can explain how this works and the kind of loan that will best suit your situation. We can also organise pre-approval so that you can set a purchasing budget and be confident a lender will come through with the finance when the time comes to start investing.

Step 2: Formulate an investment strategy

Ask yourself what your ultimate objective is – do you want to build a big investment portfolio of 10 properties or more and make a business out of it? Or are you more interested in concentrating on paying off your own home, perhaps using an investment or two on the side to generate some money to do it?

We recommend seeking advice from your financial planner or professional tax advisor when formulating your investment strategy. Maximising tax advantages is a big part of property investing and knowing what they might be in your personal situation is key. Ask us for a referral if you don’t already have a professional on board.

Step 3: Set your budget

There are many costs to factor into your budget when buying an investment property. The financial side of a successful property investment is a balance between costs, income, tax deductions and how they affect your overall cash-flow. The costs to factor in may include the following:

Initial costs

    • Deposit
    • Loan establishment fees
    • Lenders’ mortgage insurance (if you have less than 20% deposit)
    • Stamp duty (calculators are available here)
    • Conveyancing and legal fees
    • Building and pest inspection reports
    • Quantity Surveying fees – to create your Depreciation Schedule for the fixtures in the property, so you can maximise your tax deductions (after purchase).

Ongoing costs

  • Rates/government taxes
  • Insurance
  • Mortgage repayments
  • Body corporate fees
  • Utilities not paid by the tenant
  • Property management fees
  • Repairs and maintenance costs.

Step 4: Do your research 

The key to buying the right investment property is to spend plenty of time researching. Property investors usually focus on two key financial returns – capital growth potential (which is the growth in the property’s value) and rental yield (the income the property will generate from the tenants).

These factors are driven by supply and demand, so try to find a property that will be in high demand by tenants and future potential buyers. Ask us for assistance with the right property market data to inform your property searches.

Once you’re set on a property, be sure to organise building and pest inspections. You’ll want to know that the property is structurally sound and free of unwanted guests before making an offer or going to auction.

Step 5: Finalise your finance

The final step involves us helping you secure an investment loan that suits your financial circumstances and goals. Ask us to get you pre-approval on a loan for the specific property you want to buy before you make an offer or buy it auction, so you can have a realistic ceiling price to work with during the negotiations.

This step is the most important one of all if you’re buying at auction – you will be required to put your deposit down on the spot and it is not refundable if the lender does not agree the property is worth the price you paid and won’t lend the amount you need to complete the purchase. If you are buying under offer, we recommend you include a ‘subject to finance’ clause in the sales contract, to cover this contingency.

If you’re thinking about joining the thousands of Australians building wealth for the future through property investment, don’t wait to give Element Finance a call. Our mortgage brokers are here to give you expert guidance about investment loans and structuring your finance. Talk to us today!

Can you believe it’s already May? If you’ve been thinking about a 2018 property purchase, here’s why now is a great time to go for it. Firstly, the cash rate remains unchanged at a record low level. Secondly, home values and auction clearance rates are falling in many markets around the country, so conditions look like they’re starting to turn in favour of buyers. And last, but not least – there’s plenty of housing stock to choose from in the busy autumn selling season, so why not go for it?

Interest Rate News

This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 1.5 per cent, and it’s widely believed any change to the cash rate is still some way off. Meanwhile, some banks have dropped interest rates on investor and interest-only mortgages in recent months. If you have an investment property, it’s worth checking in with us to see whether your investment loan is right for you. We may even be able to find you a more competitive rate.

Property Market News Across the combined capital cities, home dwelling values fell by -0.31 per cent over the month ending April 30. Hobart was the outstanding performer, with home values rising 1.16 per cent. Canberra was next with a rise of 0.64 per cent, followed by Darwin at 0.58 per cent and Adelaide at 0.06 per cent. Perth and Brisbane experienced marginal home value reductions of less than .05 per cent, whilst Sydney home values fell 0.36 per cent and Melbourne saw the biggest monthly home value reduction of 0.45 per cent.

Auction activity increased across the combined capital cities in the week ending Sunday April 29, however clearance rates around the nation are showing significant declines. In Victoria, there were 1,419 auctions with a 66 per cent clearance rate. NSW held 975 auctions, but only 58 per cent of stock sold. In South Australia there was a 62 per cent clearance rate on 134 properties, and in Canberra, 92 properties went to auction and 64 per cent sold.

Clearance rates were even lower in other states. In Queensland, 305 properties went to auction and 42 per cent sold, whilst Western Australia saw 44 auctions take place, returning a clearance rate of only 38 per cent, and Tasmania had the lowest clearance rate of around 33 percent, but only eight properties went to auction.

Winter is coming!

It can be a dreary time of year in the property market. So why not take advantage of the busy autumn selling season while it lasts? With auction clearance rates generally softening, you may be able to negotiate a fantastic deal for a new home or investment property. Whether you’re a first-home buyer, next home buyer or investor, Element Finance can provide expert advice about all your finance needs. Please get in touch to arrange pre-approval on a loan for your next property purchase today!

When renovating for profit, the golden rule is minimal expenditure, maximum return. The key is to focus on renovations that will maximise your property’s value, whilst not costing you the earth. Here are 6 smart renovation ideas that will resonate with prospective buyers and help you get great returns when you sell. Remember, if you need assistance with financing your renovations, we can offer you competitive loan choices! We do all the leg-work for you, so you can focus on transforming your property into something extraordinary.

Curb Appeal

First impressions are everything. When it comes to renovating with resale in mind, you want your home to have that ‘wow’ factor as soon as buyers see it. Consider the view from the street – the front façade, fence, garden, windows, roof and driveway. Spruce them up and make them work together to add charm.

Kitchen

Renovating the kitchen is one of the most effective ways to add value to a property. Many buyers like the idea of having the kitchen done for them, so that they can just move in and enjoy it. If you have a larger budget, you might like to opt for a custom-made kitchen that’s made-to-order to suit the home. Alternatively, there are some great modular kitchens available at reasonable prices. New cabinetry, appliances, benchtops, and a striking splashback will do wonders for your home’s sale price.

Bathroom

Renovating bathrooms with modern fixtures and fittings can also drive up the value of a property. If your bathroom is passable but just needs some love, you could simply respray the tiles, fixtures and fittings, rather than redoing the whole lot. Another idea is to redo the tiling yourself, and update only the fixtures that need replacing, whether it’s the bathtub and vanity, or basins and shower screen. If you only have one bathroom, consider adding extra bathrooms to your property, as this can boost a property’s value.

Flooring

Installing new flooring can make a big difference to the appeal of your home, and therefore its value. There are plenty of great budget flooring options out there that look attractive. Vinyl planks and laminate flooring for example, are both popular, durable, budget-friendly products that you can install yourself. When choosing your flooring, remember your target audience. If your market is a family or property investor, wall-to-wall carpets may not be the best option. Remember the golden rule, minimal expenditure, maximum return.

Paint

It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to transform a property! A 1960’s home with retro mustard wallpaper can look instantly modernised and refreshed with a new lick of paint. Best of all, a paint job can be relatively inexpensive, particularly if you do the painting yourself. If you want to give your property a lift and appeal to the majority of buyers, be sure to go for a neutral colour scheme that won’t date quickly.

Additional bedrooms

If the space allows, adding more bedrooms to your property is another way to increase its value. While you may be up for a sizeable outlay in the tens of thousands, the financial rewards come sale time can also be big (in some cases, several hundreds of thousands). Remember, properties are typically valued based on land size and the number of bedrooms – the first, you can’t change, but the second you can. If you need help with finance for major structural renovations, speak to us about your options.

If you’re looking to renovate to boost your property’s value, remember – careful budgeting and planning is key. We’re here to help with that, as well as to help you work out the right option to finance your renovations. You may be able to refinance your home loan to access equity to complete the project. Alternatively, we can walk you through the other finance options available to you, depending on your financial circumstances and goals. Please get in touch with your Element Finance mortgage broker in Joondalup and Fremantle and we’ll help you get the transformation under way!


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