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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.

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Success in the property investment game relies on your ability to locate and purchase exactly the right property for your budget and buying strategy.

If you live and work in one of Australia’s major capital cities, you are probably finding this task increasingly difficult in your local market as both prices and competition continue to increase.

The answer may be to look further afield. Australia is made up of many different property markets which work together to provide property investors with a full range of investment choices. And diversifying your assets across interstate markets could help you to minimise your risks and maximise your capital gain and income potential. Here are eight tips for making successful interstate property investments to help you build wealth for your future.

1. Do your research.

Whether you’re investing interstate or locally, thorough research is vitally important. You need to become fully familiar with the market you buy into to be confident about your purchasing decisions and avoid expensive mistakes. Your research should cover four basic steps:

Step 1: If you are considering investing interstate, start by researching all the markets across Australia to find which of them provide areas with properties that generally meet your budget and buying strategy, then compare these with each other until you have just a few that you find attractive.

Step 2: Once you have located an interstate market that may be suitable for your investment, research it carefully to identify a general location within that market that meets both your affordability level, rental yield and capital growth objectives.

Step 3: Research the streets and properties within the area you have identified to pinpoint an opportunity to make your property purchase. If you need help formulating a buying strategy, call us for a chat.

Step 4: Research the individual property you select very carefully before you put down a deposit or go to auction. Get building and pest inspection reports together with a comprehensive condition report so you can make an accurate projection of your costs of ownership, including maintenance planning and potential depreciation tax deductions.

2. Buy with your head and not your heart.

Don’t dismiss an interstate location simply because you wouldn’t want to live there yourself. Some investors also make the mistake of choosing a property investment location because it is their favourite holiday destination or somewhere they’d potentially like to retire one day. Always remember that choosing an investment property is a business decision and you should base your decision on potential investment returns, not on personal preferences. To choose a profitable location for your property investment, always focus on the numbers and research data.

3. Visit the location.

Travelling interstate to view investment opportunities may be inconvenient, but no matter what you may hear from other investors, buying a property sight unseen could be risky. Take the time and effort to at least visit the location. You may be able to claim the travel costs as a tax deduction (but talk to your accountant first). If you can’t stay there long enough to locate, inspect and buy a property yourself, then consider interviewing a local buyer’s agent while you are on your initial visit. This will allow you to quickly engage a trustworthy representative to help you in case you can’t get back there yourself when you find the right opportunity.

4. Partner with a good property manager.

Whilst you are visiting the interstate location, it is also a good idea to identify a good property manager in the area and engage their services as well. Managing a property from interstate is not easy and may cost more than you anticipate in travel and expenses. Property management costs are usually tax deductible for most property investors, so ask your accountant if the numbers stack up to allow for a property management company to be included in your budget for the interstate property you are interested in purchasing.

5. Line up a local conveyancer.

Whilst it is possible to use your regular conveyancer or solicitor to help you purchase a property interstate, the costs may be higher than using a conveyancer that is located near to the interstate property you wish to purchase as their expenses to complete the process may be greater. Conveyancing rules, regulations and practices also differ from state to state and your usual conveyancer may be unfamiliar with these differences. Ask us if you need assistance locating an interstate conveyancer.

6. Note the different legal requirements.

Each state has different legal requirements for the purchase and transfer of properties. If you are buying interstate you should talk with a qualified conveyancer or solicitor to make yourself aware of differences in:

  • Property titles and transfer requirements.
  • Local and national planning controls.
  • Rules regarding the purchase of property for foreign investors (if you are from overseas and not a permanent resident).
  • Terms and conditions required for sales contracts.
  • Terms and conditions imposed on auctions.
  • Cooling off periods.
  • Permitted uses, zoning certificates and heritage overlays.
  • Body corporate rules and constraints.
  • Rental and tenancy rules and agreements.
  • Rules and regulations when buying off the plan.

7. Research the costs.

Stamp duties, land taxes and other government costs like transfer fees vary from state to state. Council rates can also be widely different from one location to another and you may be surprised by how much. When purchasing interstate, it pays to research these costs well ahead of time so that you can factor them into your budget and avoid funding or cash flow difficulties.

8. Talk with your mortgage broker early.

Good credit advice when investing in property is critical to your success as an investor. Getting pre-approval on a loan for a purchase in a specific location is not only a good idea for budgeting purposes, it will make you aware of any postcode or location restrictions imposed by the lender on the area you are considering. Some lenders impose these restrictions on hundreds of locations around the country to minimise their risk of loss. Where you buy can have a significant effect on how much money a lender is prepared to let you borrow, so it pays to talk to us early about your purchasing plans.

We’re here to help you get things organised if you’re planning to invest in property interstate. Just pick up the phone and give us a call to discuss your plans, we’ll be happy to help you get the ball rolling.

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Summer is approaching fast and everyone is looking on AirB&B or Stayz.com for the perfect house to spend the holidays.

As you scroll through the listings and your eye wanders across all the gorgeous homes in Australia’s most idyllic holiday spots, you’ll also notice the breathtaking prices they command during the peak season. If you’re a property investor, you may find those high price tags make it very hard to resist the idea of investing in a luxury holiday rental property yourself. But is it really going to be a good money spinner?

Three things make a profitable holiday rental property. The right location, the right property and a luxurious fit out that brings your guests back time and time again. So what do you need to do to get set up for a high-yield holiday rental investment?

Choose the right location.

Yes, it is easy to make big dollars from a property by the sea in the height of summer, but you need to look at the total potential rental return across the entire year. Making a decent profit from a holiday rental investment requires a location that will attract holidaymakers all year round, not just in summer.

Ask yourself: what does the location have going for it as a holiday destination year round? Try and choose a location that offers people something special. Australians love the great outdoors and if your investment property is in a location of great natural beauty, it’s likely to be a winner.

A destination that is under three hour’s drive from the nearest capital city and international airport will not only attract local guests, it will attract people from interstate and maybe even overseas. If there is also a regional airport nearby, then all the better.

Choose the right property.

When choosing a property for a holiday rental investment, the first thing you need to take into consideration is the property’s accessibility to the local attractions and tourist hot spots. For example, if you’re investing in a property at a beachside location and want a maximum rental return on your investment, make sure it’s actually close to the beach and not on the other side of town near the highway entrance and the take-away food drive-thru.

Be careful to choose a property that offers a resort-style atmosphere. Avoid anything that is too suburban or ordinary in favour of a property that offers something different, like good views and wide open spaces.

Consider a property that offers plenty of room inside, with at least one sitting room separate from the kitchen living area. It should also have a separate laundry and wet area and of course, plenty of bedrooms. For a luxury holiday rental, a decent outdoor area is a must and a swimming pool will be a major attraction if you can manage it.

Set your property up to attract high paying guests.

Setting up your holiday rental property so that is practical and hard wearing is a good idea, but the trick is to do it in a way that looks luxurious, stylish and expensive so you can attract the highest paying guests. If you want to make the most profit from your investment, you need to make your place look absolutely fantastic in your online advertising photos and make sure it excites and delights your guests when they walk through the door.

Holidaymakers paying top dollar expect better levels of comfort and luxury in a holiday house rental than they do from their own homes. They will expect to find a good dishwasher, a great cooker and a large fridge in the kitchen at the very least. A modern flat screen TV and Wi-Fi is a must.

Your guests will also expect a king-or queen sized bed in the master bedroom and at least one other room with a double bed. Flexible sleeping options that will help them reduce costs by sharing with more people or another family are also a good idea.

Keep the decor simple, stylish and eye-catching – ask a local decorator for advice if necessary and try to create a look that compliments the location. Don’t be tempted to use your holiday rental property as a depository for all the old furniture the family doesn’t want. Red flags are outdated TVs, daggy curtains, garish duvet covers, cabinets with trinkets, clunky second-hand lounge suites, too many ornaments, ugly brown wood shelves, nanna-style light fittings, and horror of horrors, industrial or pub style wall-to-wall carpet.

Combining tourism and hospitality with your property investment can be a great idea if you do it right. If you’re considering buying an investment property in a holiday hot spot, let us know and we’ll help you crunch the numbers to see if it will be a good investment for you. Getting your finance right can make a big difference to your bottom line when investing in any kind property, so call us today to discuss your plans.

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first home buyer, next home buyer or a property investor, deciding between a brand new home and an established one is an important choice that every property buyer needs to make.

Both choices give you a huge range of options, but it’s a decision that could be very important to your future prosperity. So will you choose a brand new property – perhaps buy one off the plan or build the home of your dreams? Or would you prefer an established home in a location you love? To help you decide which one is the right choice for you, in this article we’ve provided you with five good reasons to consider buying a new build and five good reasons to think about buying an established home.

Why buy a new build?

1. Lower maintenance costs.

One of the most attractive things about a newly constructed property is that they are brand new. You don’t have to worry that the hot water heater is about to wear out or you’ll have to come up with the money for a new roof next year.

Of course, a property with no maintenance issues means no maintenance costs – at least for the first few years – which will be very appealing to landlords everywhere. It’s also a big bonus for first home buyers and anyone who can expect cash-flow to be tight in the first few years of home ownership.

2. First home buyer grants and other incentives.

In most states of Australia, there are grants and other government incentives to assist first home buyers when they buy a new build home. These incentives may include the first home buyer’s grant and/or stamp duty savings. It should be noted that these benefits do vary from state to state so to find out more, please visit the government website here.

3. Tax benefits for investors.

If you’re a property investor there could be some tax benefits whether it is a new build or an established home. One of the things you may be able to claim on your tax is depreciation on certain aspects of your property and its contents. These tax benefits tend to be greater and easier to claim on a new build property where the building, fixtures and fittings are all new than with an established property where they may be a number of years old.

For more information about how to claim depreciation tax benefits on your investment property and find out exactly what you can claim, please talk to an accountant or visit the ATO website here. If you don’t have an accountant who knows about property investment, just ask us for a referral.

4. Higher rental yield potential.

People love to live in a brand new property where no one has ever lived before. New build properties make attractive homes because they usually come with all the latest mod-cons, great insulation and the latest energy efficient appliances. You may even find that tenants are willing to pay more rent for a new build property than they would for a similar established home, simply because they know the actual costs of living there will be less.

5. Build the home you really want.

Building your own home, buying off the plan or purchasing a newly completed home may allow you to obtain a home that better suits your needs and lifestyle. It’s a great way to get that dream home you’ve always wanted! Whilst it is often possible to renovate an established home to meet your family’s unique requirements, designing a new one specifically for your purposes may provide better value for money and may be a much more attractive idea to some.

Why buy an established home?

1. Renovate or extend to add value.

Unlike a new build property, an established home may give you the opportunity to renovate or extend which could help you to instantly add value and increase your equity. This can be a very effective wealth-building strategy if you do it well.

2. Be sure you’re not paying too much.

One of the problems with buying a new property off the plan or building your own home is that it is difficult to know exactly what the value of the property will be when construction is completed. This represents a risk because it is possible that you may end up paying more for the property than it is actually worth.

With an established home, it is much easier to obtain an accurate valuation at the time of purchase, so you can be more confident that you are paying the right price. You also get the peace of mind of inspecting the finished property before you buy it.

3. Location.

Building a new property depends on the availability of vacant land for the development. This is most often found on the outskirts of cities. Established homes are more likely to be easier to rent and easier to sell because they are usually located in areas where people actually want to live, which tends to make them more popular with both tenants and property buyers.

4. Historical charm and outside space.

There are people who love a character home and would quite simply prefer to purchase an older, established home rather than a new build. It can be argued that these homes could have better capital gain potential because they are each a piece of history that is unique and becoming increasingly rare. It is also true that land allotment sizes used to be much larger, providing buyers of older established homes with bigger gardens designed to accommodate families with children and pets.

5. Move in sooner.

You never know for sure how long it will take to build a new home. Unforeseeable circumstances can often cause frustrating delays and even something as simple as bad weather can add months to the project. On the other hand, you can buy an established home very quickly. The entire process of locating the right property, buying it and moving in could take as little as three months, maybe even less.

Whether you’re considering buying a new build or an established home, we’re happy to help you weigh up the merits of your choice of property. We’ve helped many first home buyers, next home buyers and property investors to make wiser property purchasing decisions and of course, choose the right home loan to help them make the most of their personal financial circumstances and achieve their goals. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you make the right choices, just give us a call today.

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Getting a mortgage locked in can be a major hurdle when buying a property, whether you’re a home buyer or an investor.

For some, it can be a very anxious time and it’s easy to understand why you might try to avoid the stress of doing it again for as long as you can. However, sticking with the same loan for too long can be a mistake. In this article we talk about some of the benefits of refinancing your mortgage and some of the strategic reasons why you should regularly consider making a switch.

#1. It pays to change with the times.

Mortgage products can become outdated very quickly and it’s important to check regularly to make sure your home loan product hasn’t become a bit of a dinosaur. It really can pay to take the time just to see what’s out there in terms of mortgage features.

Some products offer features that could save you money outside of your mortgage. For example, fee free transaction accounts or low-rate credit cards. Other mortgage products may offer rewards, incentives or even more flexibility. Or perhaps you could be benefiting from more features on your home loan like the ability to make extra repayments and redraw them if you need to, or an offset account that helps you maximise your savings and saves you money on interest.

#2. Minimise your interest bill.

Interest rates also change frequently, with lenders making adjustments in response to economic influences, RBA rate movements and policy directives from industry bodies such as the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). And smaller lenders and new lenders in the market place often offer lower interest rates than the big banks, just to attract new business. So it really does pay to compare your interest rate against a range of other options from time to time.

A recent study showed that borrowers who held the same home loan for more than ten years could easily have paid thousands more in interest than borrowers who monitored their interest rate and switched mortgage products every two to three years. You might wonder how that can be true but consider this, if you have a $500,000 mortgage and can manage to reduce the interest by just one percent, over 30 years you could save $100,000 in interest repayments. Switching regularly could potentially help you achieve results like these for yourself.

#3. Capitalise on rises in home values.

The interest rate you may be eligible to receive depends on a number of different criteria and these can change over time. A great example of this is your loan to value ratio (LVR). Your LVR is calculated by dividing the amount of your home loan by the current value of your property. (This is effectively a measure of how much equity you have in the property.)

Generally speaking, the higher your LVR, the greater the risk to the lender and that’s why they usually apply a higher interest rate to loans with an LVR above 80%. As you make your regular home loan repayments and the value of your property grows over time, your LVR constantly improves. If your property has risen in value or you have made significant headway on paying down your loan, you could find your LVR has improved considerably and you could now be eligible for a better interest rate.

#4. Maximise improvements to your circumstances.

An improvement in your personal circumstances could also make you eligible for a better interest rate. Perhaps your credit score has improved over time. Maybe you have had a significant salary increase since you purchased your home, or you have paid off other debts and loans and your financial commitments have been reduced.

Everyone’s circumstances are different and there are lots of ways that time can cause them to change. A consultation with your mortgage and finance broker will soon reveal how any changes to your personal circumstances may influence your interest rate on a new loan.

#5. Make your investment work harder for you.

Purchasing a home can be a very emotional experience and it’s easy to forget that your home is more than just the cosy haven where you live. It’s a valuable asset and an important investment that can help you build wealth.

When you pay down your mortgage and at the same time, the value of the property increases, you build equity in the property that you may be able to access by refinancing. You can use these funds to invest in another property, make another form of investment such as stocks and shares, or to increase the value of your home through renovation. These are just some of the popular wealth building strategies that refinancing can help you to achieve.

Another way you can use refinancing to save money on interest and improve your financial situation is by consolidating your debts. The interest rate you pay on your mortgage is the lowest interest rate available – much more attractive than the interest rate offered on credit cards, car loans, personal loans and store credit.

If you’re interested in refinancing your home loan, just give us a call. We’ll help you decide if it’s the right move for you and work out the numbers to ensure the costs don’t outweigh the benefits. We’ll also help you to find a new loan that has the right features for your needs and offers you the best interest rate available for you considering your current personal financial circumstances. Call us today.


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