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.

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.

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