Out with the old and in with the new! What better way to start 2017 than with a make-over for your most valuable asset?

Whether you’re ready for a complete home renovation or simply want to bring your house up-to-date with a few cosmetic changes, you’ll want to get on top of the latest trends so you can make some wise choices on where to invest your budget. Here are 7 top renovation and décor ideas that could help you make sure your money is well spent.

  1. Get eco-friendly.
    People want more sustainable homes and as eco-friendly renovations genuinely help to make older homes more sustainable, they’re on trend in 2017. Essential considerations are sustainably produced ceiling and wall insulation, the general use of sustainable building materials, built-in waste management systems, rainwater tanks and water recycling systems, solar energy panels, green walls and leafy facades. Roof gardens and passive design elements that provide natural light and reduce heating and cooling costs are also popular. You probably won’t want to go as far as foregoing the dishwasher or air conditioner entirely, but you should invest in energy saving appliances wherever possible.
  2. Create more space and make it more interesting.
    More spacious homes (or homes that appear to be more spacious) are ever popular with home buyers today, so renovations that include extending or adding extra rooms to your home are still great ways to add value in 2017. However, rather than just focusing on knocking all the smaller rooms into one big open plan communal space, the new trend is to also provide options for privacy, with spaces that offer interesting nooks and crannies where people can escape with their personal technological devices and do their own thing.

    Roof rooms and attic renovations are going to be popular in 2017, because they provide opportunities to add a point of interest and difference. The open, spacious look is still the fashion, however finding ways to add character and uniqueness are trendy too.

  3. More efficient storage spaces.
    Investing in upgrading your laundry to create and maximise storage space was a very popular option for home renovations last year, and this is all set to continue into 2017. Maximising your storage areas means you can keep all of your untidy clutter out of sight, which will make your home appear much more spacious and help you keep the look up-to-date, with clean crisp lines. Adding clever storage that utilises any dead space in your home is an easy way to add value, particularly important if your property is a family home.
  4. Terracotta Tiles.
    If you’ve been around long enough to have survived the ‘80’s, you may be very surprised to learn that terracotta is back in fashion for home renovations in 2017. Interior trends are now moving away from the cool tones that have been popular for the last decade and designers are returning to warm colours and natural materials that add character.

    Today’s fashion in terracotta calls for a smooth matte finish with crisp edges and a more finished look. The idea is to add warmth and depth with natural colours and materials, so consider using your terracotta tiles on feature walls or for cladding fireplaces.

  5. Darker Wood Tones.
    If you are tired of the blonde wood look of the world’s recent ‘Scandi’ obsession, you’ll be happy to know that darker wood tones are finally back for homes in 2017. Remembering the current trend is for warm, natural materials that add character, you can now go ahead and use darker wood and natural timbers as feature walls and flooring. Consider adding texture by using it in herringbone tiling on floors, or by choosing interesting darker wood furniture pieces as focal items.
  6. Go natural in the bathroom.
    Updating the kitchen and bathroom in your home is one of the tried and tested ways of adding value and is one of the main motivations for choosing to renovate for many home owners. Bathroom makeovers in 2017 will also follow the new interior design trend that combines modern, clean lines with natural materials and organic warmth. Functionality is also an important consideration to home buyers today, so try and choose materials that are easy to clean and maintain to generate the most value.

    Remember that sinks and baths with classic, elegant, clean lines are always timeless favourites. Add that natural touch by using wood in warm tones for accents and furniture or accessories. Don’t forget the terracotta in the bathroom too – add some extra organic depth with a fern in a terracotta pot or consider a small terracotta sculpture.

  7. Create more curb appeal.
    A garden makeover that creates more curb appeal for your home is still one of the best investments you can make in terms of adding value this year. Garden design is now moving away from that harsh, minimalistic look that has been popular of late and following the new interior design trend of a warmer, more welcoming look that incorporates natural materials.

    Create a more natural style by staying away from geometric design layouts. You can achieve a more authentic, organic feeling in your garden by using recycled materials, free-form decks, stepping stones or meandering pebble paths. Locally sourced is the buzz word of the year, with native plants and shrubs planted in abundance adding charm.

Talk to us about renovation finance and budgeting.

Over capitalising is one of the greatest dangers when making home renovations, so be careful to set a practical budget and resist the temptation to splurge on too many designer or big brand items. They may make you feel good about what you’ve created, but they won’t add more value and you risk losing money if you decide to sell. If you need help working out how much money you can afford to invest in your renovation project, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Once you’ve set a practical budget, forward planning for how you intend to finance your renovation project is also a wise idea. Depending on how much you plan to spend, there are a variety of finance options that you can choose from, so talk to us before you start your renovation project so we can help you get it organised. Financing your renovations could mean refinancing your home loan to access some of the equity, taking out a line of credit, or perhaps a personal loan. To find out which option is the right one for you, just give us a call for a chat today.

With another Christmas celebrated and already showing up on our waistlines, a common topic of conversation for many of us in January is our New Year resolutions.

Whether it’s a pledge to give up smoking, get to the gym more often, or start (yet another) healthy eating regime, New Year resolutions usually have a self-improvement or healthy living focus. But what about your finances? A healthy financial situation is just as important to your well-being as a healthy diet and exercise regime. Here are a few New Year resolution suggestions for your finances that could make a big difference to your financial health in 2017 and beyond. If one of these appeals to you, please give us a call as we’d love to help you achieve your financial New Year resolutions this year.

“I will make a proper budget and stick to it.”

Did your credit card debt go up or down in 2016? Spending more than you earn is surprisingly easy to do and having to pay exorbitant credit card interest on all of your purchases just makes matters worse. The secret to turning this situation around is to create a proper budget for yourself and stick to it. It’s also a good idea to include repayments on your credit card as a weekly expense in your budget outgoings, so you can work on getting your debts paid off as well.

To create a realistic budget, list all of the things you need to spend money on and how much they cost. The amount you have left over each week is the amount you can afford to spend on the things you want, put into your savings account, or use to pay off your debts sooner. It’s also important to review your budget regularly to see how you are tracking.

If you have multiple credit card debts, or a variety of debts, you may find managing your budget a challenge as a large part of your income may be lost on interest payments. This kind of situation is frequently referred to as a ‘debt trap’. Talk to us about consolidating your debts to reduce your interest payments and make your financial situation more manageable.

 “I will make an effort to achieve my saving goals.”

The ability to save money consistently is a talent that everyone should cultivate. It’s particularly important if you’re saving a deposit for your first home, as a lender will take your savings history into consideration when deciding if you are eligible for a home loan.

If you are the kind of person who finds it hard to stick to a budget, can’t resist impulse purchases, or indulges in ‘retail therapy’, then you may like to consider installing an app on your mobile phone that supports your efforts to save. ASIC’s MoneySmart website offers a variety of excellent free apps designed to help you manage your finances:

  • TrackMyGOALS integrates techniques that are proven to work for successful savers.
  • TrackMySPEND helps you see where your money is really going so you can adjust your spending habits to save more. Even just committing to reducing the number of take away coffees you buy each week can make a big difference over a full year!

“I will stop wasting my money on rent.”

For many people, choosing to rent a property instead of buying one boils down to a lifestyle choice. It may be more affordable to rent a property in a location where you enjoy living, than it is to buy one. But the consequence of this choice is that when property prices rise, you are potentially missing out on some significant capital gains that could be important to your financial well-being later on in life.

What’s more, the money you spend on rent is wasted – you are potentially paying off someone else’s investment when you could be paying off a property of your own. So the question is: do you have enough money for a deposit?

If you have been saving regularly and have some money in the bank, now is a great time to take stock of what kind of property you may be able to afford this year. Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to sit down with you and help you work it out!

Getting on the property ladder may mean that you have to consider a location where you can afford to buy, rather than a location where you prefer to live. It may mean giving up your short commute home from work, or easy access to your friends and family, favourite bars, shopping venues and cinemas. But with property prices rising steadily, the long-term benefits could have a significant impact on your future financial security and retirement lifestyle, so it could be worth it to act now.

“I will review all of my financial accounts, including my home loan”

When was the last time you stopped to think about how much money you are paying on fees every year for your mortgage, bank accounts, credit cards and superannuation plans? Most people would be horrified to discover exactly how much money they lose every year in fees and charges across their financial accounts – so it definitely pays to review them regularly and cancel any unnecessary accounts you hardly ever use and don’t really need.

For example, the fees and charges you pay on your superannuation accounts can be quite high and they often go unnoticed. Over the years, these fees and charges may add up to make a big difference to the balance of your super on retirement. The fact is, if you have more than one superannuation account, you are paying double the fees you need to pay! Consider consolidating all your super accounts into one as soon as you can.

The same rule applies to your credit cards. How many do you really need? What are you using them for? If you have more than one, it may be a good idea to transfer all of the balances to one card using a free balance transfer offer. This not only has the potential to save you a significant amount of money on fees, it could also save you some money on interest and perhaps, help you to pay off your credit card balances sooner. Don’t be tempted to keep all of the old cards though, remember to cancel them as soon as you make the balance transfer.

If you have a mortgage, now is a good time to look at which features and benefits it provides, and if you are using them. Do you really need them? Is your home loan the most suitable for your current financial goals? If not, talk to us so we can see if you could be saving on fees, getting a more favourable interest rate or accessing the loan features you need!

We can help you achieve your financial New Year resolutions

Our role as your mortgage broker is to help you arrange your credit and finance to maximise the money you have. We’re here to help you save on interest wherever possible. Whether it’s time for a home-loan-health check on your existing mortgage, or you would like to find out how much you can afford to spend on buying a property, you’ll find our expertise and support invaluable in helping you to achieve your goals. We are even willing to help you find better ways to manage your debt and plan to build wealth for your future.

Financial success means setting some financial goals and making a step-by-step plan to reach them. With a credit and finance professional on your team, you are much more likely to get where you want to be. If you would like to buy a property in 2017, then we can help you achieve your goal by assisting with everything from setting your purchasing budget and getting pre-approval on your home loan, to supplying you with insightful property market data so you can locate the right home to buy more quickly.

Make sure your New Year is a happy one by talking to us about getting on top of your finances. It is one New Year resolution you’ll find very easy to keep! Call us to make a time today.

 

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It’s nearly clearance sale time at car yards across Australia, as car dealerships try to clear last year’s stock. A vehicle may have only been built a few months ago, but as far as the dealer is concerned it’s now a year old.

The good news is you can capitalise on their eagerness to sell, and that makes the start of the 2017 a great time to find a genuinely sharp price for your new car!

But, to snap up a great car deal in the New Year, you need to be prepared. Here are our steps to help you get ready for the New Year car sales and ensure a smooth ride towards owning your new car.

Research

As with all big investments, you need to do your research before you even consider getting behind the wheel for a test drive.

Start by thinking about the make and model you would like. Consider what your plans might be for the next year or so. Will you have another child? Do you need a certain car for your line of work? It’s also worthwhile considering how you will use the car. Do you need good fuel consumption? Will you take it off road?

There are many factors that can influence you towards a certain make or model – car insurance costs, resale value, warranty and more. Being informed can make the process of test drives and getting your finances in place a lot easier and quicker, as you don’t waste time of cars you know don’t suit your needs.

There are loads of resources out there that can tell you about your ideal car. Why don’t you check out the manufacturers’ website, online reviews, or reliability surveys?

Make plans for your old wheels

What you decide to do with your old car is important when we consider how you are going to finance your new car. If you are relying on the funds from the sale or trade-in of your old car, you need to decide on this before we can help you arrange the finance of your new purchase.

Whilst trade-ins are convenient and generally very straight forward, you don’t always get as good a rate as you might should you go down the private sale path. Either way, knowing how much you have to play with from your old car will help get your new car finance in place.

Get your finance sorted

In most instances, you are better off arranging your own finance through a broker, rather than going through the car dealer. Often car dealers will offer you “amazing deals” on the day that may end up costing you more in the long run, so it pays to have your buying power sorted before you head to the car yard. Plus, having your finance pre-approved also gives you a solid bargaining position, should you need it!

There are loads of different ways you can finance a new car. You can:

  • Get a car loan: This is a common, straight forward option that’s great for most people.
  • Take out a lease: A lease differs to a car loan in that the lender retains actual ownership of the car.
  • Use the equity in your home: If you own your home, you could consider refinancing your home loan to use some of your equity to pay cash for a car. Or you could use your redraw facility if you have been overpaying.
  • Get a chattel mortgage: If you have a company, business partnership or are a sole trader, you can use a chattel mortgage to buy a vehicle provided it is primarily used for business purposes.

We can work with you to determine the option that is most suitable for you, then we’ll do all the legwork to get your finances sorted – so you are ready for the test drive!

Test drive before you buy

Once you have your preferred make and model in mind, and you know how much you can afford to spend on the car, you can go ahead and start testing them out.

It’s always a good idea to take someone with you for a second opinion, and if possible, for you choose the test route (rather than the usual one the car salesperson uses). Take your time, test out the various features of the car, and use the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Check the price and inclusions

Whilst it may sound great, look great and drive well – it always pays to shop around. Why not take a look at the same car at a few different dealerships?

It is hard, but try not to get sucked into those ‘one day only specials’ at the car yard, as usually you can get a similar special on another day once you are more informed.

Car dealerships are required to quote in full. Make sure you are being quoted for everything – registration, fees, stamp duty, etc. It’s also worth being aware of any ‘extras’. This can include leather seats, tinted windows, extended warranties, etc. If these are not part of the standard model – they will cost you more!

And then you are done, nearly!

Congratulations, you are a happy owner of a new car. Once you have found the right car, don’t feel pressured to sign anything until you are 100% happy. Check all the paper work, and make sure all the details are correct, to your expectations, and complete. We can help you with this if needed, just give us a call. Finally, before you drive your car out of the yard make sure you have car insurance – imagine having a bingle on the way home from the lot!

If you’re planning on buying a car, talk with us about which option will be most beneficial to your financial circumstances. Just give us a call, we’ll be happy to talk you through all of the car financing options available for you.

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Your loan has settled and you are officially the proud owner of an investment property. Well done!

No doubt you want the rent to start flowing in so you can pay off your mortgage, and to have a smooth and stress free time as ‘landlord’. If that’s the case, it’s time to start looking for good tenants!

Did you know that better landlords attract better tenants? It’s pretty simple really. When you consider your rental property is a business, then your tenants are your customers. You’re providing a service, and they are paying for that service. Wouldn’t you want to keep your best customers for as long as possible?

The first thing you need to decide is if you want to be a “do-it-yourself” landlord, or go down the path of hiring a property management company. There are benefits to both options, but if you are a new “do-it-yourself” landlord, here are a few tips on how to be a great landlord, and in turn, keep your renters happy, for longer!

Welcome them in style

As the saying goes, first impressions last. As your new tenants move in, it’s a great idea to make the process easy and seamless for them from the start. Why not write them a welcome letter? Leaving your tenant a brief note, as well as echoing how happy you are to have them, will set the tone the relationship. Remember to include your contact details!

You could also consider stocking the bathrooms or kitchen. This could be as simple as buying some soap or tooth paste for the bathroom, or some dish washing detergent for the kitchen. Such a small investment can really make a difference to those first few days in a new place.

Ensure both parties understand the lease

To build a harmonious lease/lessor relationship, it’s important that you are both on the same page from day one. To ensure this is the case, it’s always a good idea to walk your renters through the lease. By walking your tenant through the lease it provides the opportunity to answer any questions they may have about any of the clauses in it. This helps to build trust, and importantly, makes it easy for both parties to follow the lease guidelines.

Whilst it is important to have a collaborative relationship with your tenant, at the end of the day, it is a business relationship. If a problem is to arise, it’s vital to follow the guidelines outlined in your lease – as that’s what everyone signed! This way, should they have any objections, you can make it clear that you are within your rights, or vise verser.

It’s also advisable to keep electronic copies of everything – receipts, invoices, bills. You never know when you may need to refer to them down the track.

Be professional and available

It might sound like common sense, but dressing neatly, presenting yourself well and responding promptly can go a long way to keeping your tenants happy!

Ultimately, if your tenants need to talk to you, then you need to be reachable. Tenants should always be provided with multiple means to contact you. Plus, if there was a leaky pipe, you would want to know about it before real damage was done.

Whenever a tenant calls or emails you, be sure to respond as soon as possible. Remember any interaction with your tenant is like a business interaction, so it’s important to think of what you would expect from a business – efficiency, accessibility, approachability. If you know you are going to be away, tell the tenant that you may not be able to respond as quickly.

Be a human

We need to remember that tenants are people too. Good landlords exhibit all the traits that form a good working relationship – open and honest, transparent, good communication. Showing empathy, exercising compassion and making sure you listen to your tenant’s concerns can really go a long way.

If you want to be a good landlord that attracts tenants who stick around, it’s also vital that you are respectful of their privacy.

A good landlord is consistent. A lot of frustration and miscommunication can occur when rules and decisions are changed on a whim, or without reasoning. It pays to be reliable, helping to build trust and understanding.

By following these easy tips, you are on your way to being the best landlord your tenants have ever had! If this all sounds like too much hard work, get in touch with us and we can refer you to a property management company.

With interest rates so low, if you are thinking about purchasing an investment property now is a good time to talk to us about it. It’s also a great time to look at any existing investment loans you have, to determine whether they are still the most suitable for your investment needs. Why not give us a call?

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Christmas is just a matter of days away and for many Australians, they’re likely to be the most expensive days of the year.

According to the Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan Research, we’re expected to spend over $48 billion in the lead up to Christmas 2016, so the Christmas shopping frenzy is bound to put a dent in a few credit cards!

Nobody wants to be a scrooge at this time of year, but it doesn’t pay to throw all caution to the wind. Here’s five great tips that can help you apply some damage control to your Christmas spending spree without giving up the simple joy of giving.

1. Make a list and check it twice.

Impulse purchasing is one of the worst spending traps during the Christmas shopping season. And it can be a particular problem if you’re one of those shoppers who just can’t resist buying a present for yourself every time you buy one for someone else. Making a list is a great way to stay focused on buying only what you need. It can also help you avoid the temptation to shower yourself with gifts when you should be waiting to see what Santa brings you first.

Take a sensible approach by making a list of everyone you need to buy a present for and putting a budget for the gift next to each person. It may be a good idea to download a budgeting app like TrackMySpend from ASIC’s MoneySmart website or Christmas Gift List from Google Play. These apps will help you keep track of the gifts you’ve bought, how much you’ve spent and how much you have left in your budget for further purchases.

2. Online shopping is not naughty, but nice.

With your carefully prepared list in hand, it’s time to hit the shops, right? Not necessarily. Visiting the stores makes it much more difficult to resist the temptation of buying things you don’t really need. And a trip to the shops can often be an expensive exercise in itself – you’ll probably need to pay for car parking, festive season snacks, not to mention plenty of energy drinks to keep you going. Shopping online can be an excellent way to save!

In order to maximise your savings, try doing a web search for discounts or coupons that you can use for the specific gifts you want to purchase. If you Google the item itself, you can often find several vendors and choose the least expensive – but make sure you include shipping costs when you are comparing prices and check the delivery period.

Social media is also a good way to grab a bargain, as retailers will often offer exclusive discounts to loyal followers. Simply look up the social media sites for your favourite brands and see what they have on offer.

3. Collaborate with family and friends.

If you ask most people, they’ll tell you they prefer quality over quantity when it comes to receiving gifts. If you can’t afford to buy an expensive item, then why not consider pooling your resources with some other family members? This could potentially save you a lot of money and at the same time, ensure you give great gifts that are genuinely appreciated.

Many larger families choose to take the Secret Santa option to reduce costs at Christmas. Rather than spend a lot of money buying an inexpensive (and probably useless) gift for each and every family member, consider putting everyone’s name in a hat and drawing one each. This will allow you to spend your budget on one decent gift, rather than risk overspending by trying to get a little something for everyone.

4. Buy your gifts wholesale or in bulk.

Everyone wine connoisseur knows that buying one excellent bottle of wine from the local bottle shop can be a bit expensive, but a whole case of the same wine can bring the price down considerably, particularly if you go direct to the supplier. Great wine can make the perfect gift for some people, but of course if you have many people to buy for and would rather not give alcohol, there are many kinds of gifts you can buy wholesale direct from the supplier or discounted in bulk.

Some ideas could include scented candles, body lotions and bath oils, t-shirts and caps, diaries and stationery sets, jewellery, exotic tea or coffee beans, glasses and tableware, artwork and ornaments, chocolates and sweets, lipsticks and make-up, perfume and aftershave – the list is literally endless! Simply go online and search for bulk suppliers of the kind of items that will make great gifts for your particular friends and family members.

5. Save on interest for bigger gifts.

If you plan to use credit to purchase your Christmas gifts this year, take a close look at your credit card statement and check how much interest you’ll be paying on your purchases. If your credit card interest is high, consider looking for an alternative card that offers a lower interest rate. You may even be able to find a card that offers you an interest-free period on a balance transfer from your existing card, so you could end up saving yourself some money there too.

If your Christmas Shopping List includes some big ticket items this year – perhaps it’s a new jet ski, family boat, a new car or even an overseas holiday – then talk to us about the most cost-effective way to finance your purchases. There are many options that could end up costing you much less in interest than a credit card, with flexible repayment terms that could help to make your purchase more affordable. Our job is to help you find the most suitable option available considering your personal financial circumstances and goals, so give us a call today.


Copyright 2016