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

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

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

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

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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!


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