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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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


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