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.

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.

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.

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

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.


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