Last year, the Federal Government introduced down-sizing incentives aimed at the baby-boomer set. Add this to rising capital city property prices that give just about everyone an incentive to cash-in on their big home, and it’s not surprising that more and more people are looking for smaller, less expensive places to live.

However, when faced with the challenge of fitting years of accumulated stuff into a space that’s a quarter the size, it’s easy to come undone. In this article, we’ve put together some cool ideas for maximising every inch of your new small space home, to help you make it more liveable and drive up its value.

Get creative with storage

Before we even start talking about cool storage ideas, you’ll want to get tough on yourself and get rid of the stuff you don’t need. Consider a garage sale or selling it on eBay.

Once you’ve paired it back to the things you can’t live without, you can start thinking about incorporating clever storage solutions into the design of your home. Stairs are a hidden bonanza of wasted space that you can reclaim in a variety of different ways (check out these imaginative ideas on Buzzfeed).

Another great tip is to use space vertically, not horizontally – that means thinking of creative ways to make use of your wall and ceiling space instead of the floor. For example, try creating personality with floating wall shelves.

Use your furniture as extra storage Multifunctional furniture is also a great idea – look for a coffee table with a shelf under it for books, or one that converts into a desk. There are plenty of beds and sofas available with hidden storage underneath, and you can position attractive storage baskets to hide your clutter. Want to get even more creative? Consider a vertical wall bed that transforms into a revolving bookcase. Or this wall bed that converts into a home office or study.

Grow up!

If you love your garden, think vertical! There are plenty of fun ideas on Pinterest for small spaces and balconies, from pallet herb gardens to exotic-looking cactus displays. Click here for inspiration.

Conceal the laundry

Why not tuck your washer and dryer away inside a kitchen cupboard and reclaim the laundry for a different use? You might even like to include a fold-out drying rack and ironing board into the design for ultimate efficiency. Another option is to combine your bathroom and laundry into one, so that you can optimise the use of the plumbing.

Recess where possible

You could remodel the toilet and go for a wall-hung throne. By concealing the tank in the wall, you’ll save space and achieve a more modern look. When it comes to the bathroom, recessing cabinets and installing a pedestal basin will free up room. Another tip is to use neutral colours and larger mirrors to create the illusion of space.

Call us about financing your reno!

Renovating can do wonders to improve the liveability of a smaller home and boost its value – we hope these ideas help with your plans. If you’d like to know how you can finance your renovation dreams, please get in touch. You may be able to refinance and use the equity in your home, or you may benefit from a home loan with features such as a line of credit. There are all sorts of other finance options available, so talk to us at Element Finance and we’ll help you set the wheels in motion for your renovation project.

Are you thinking about buying a home and wondering how you’ll cover the mortgage repayments and still have a life? Remember Cousin Jimmy mentioning he was looking for a new pad? Sure, he’s a little ‘unusual’ with his back-scratcher collection and all, but if living with his bizarre hand gadgets means you’ll score some help with the rent, then why not?

Taking on a boarder could be a viable way to help you pay your mortgage, but it won’t all be beer and skittles! If you’re going to take in a boarder, there are some very important implications to consider first, as we explain in this article.

The pros of having a boarder

    • Additional income
    • You can offset your household costs
    • Potential tax deductions for property expenses
    • The social factor.

The cons of having a boarder

  • Loss of privacy
  • Extra responsibilities as a live-in landlord
  • The income may push you into a higher tax bracket
  • You may be subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) when you sell
  • Many lenders don’t take rent from roommates into account when assessing whether you can afford a home loan.

Legalities to consider

The money received from your boarder will generally be considered accessible income by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and you must declare it on your tax return. You may be able to claim deductions for expenses associated with renting out part of your home, such as interest on your mortgage. However, if you rent to a relative at a discounted or less than market rate, it can affect what you can claim. In some instances, payments from a family member for board or lodging may be considered a domestic arrangement and not rental income, so you may not be able to claim tax deductions.

You won’t have to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the rent you charge, nor will you be able to claim GST credits. However, when it comes time to sell, you may not be entitled to the full main residence exemption from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) – generally you don’t pay this when you sell the home you live in. You can find more details via the ATO website, however, it’s wise to speak to your accountant about the financial implications before proceeding.

Precautions

It’s also important to familiarise yourself with your rights and responsibilities, and those of your boarder. Contact your local tenancy authority for advice. You’ll also need to follow the rules about lodging the bond with the residential tenancy authority in your state or territory.

Having a solid contract or tenancy agreement in place will help protect you, should things go wrong. The agreement should stipulate exactly what’s included (e.g. furniture and parking), when and how rent is due, details about notice required and room inspections, and bill arrangements. Also, consider your insurance needs. We partner with some of Australia’s leading insurance providers, so please ask us for help.

When interviewing candidates, be sure to ask plenty of questions and request references from previous landlords (even if it’s someone you know). Being clear from the start will help you avoid issues down the track. Talk openly about your expectations about things such as:

  • privacy
  • paying rent
  • noise
  • cleanliness
  • overnight guests
  • Lastly, before they move in, fill out a condition report and take photographic evidence.

Becoming a live-in landlord can help you pay off your mortgage and cover living expenses, whilst also allowing you to claim tax deductions in some instances. However, there are important implications to consider, which is why it’s so important to consult your accountant or financial planner first. If you’d like to know more about your finance options for purchasing your home, please speak to us at Element Finance. We can help you find a home loan that suits your specific financial needs and goals – and perhaps make it affordable without Cousin Jimmy’s contributions!

When done right, investing in property can help you to build long-term wealth, and who doesn’t like the idea of an additional income stream? (Imagine what you could do with that!) The really great thing about property investing is that just about anyone can understand the principals. If you’re thinking about building wealth for your future this way, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to go about it. We’ve kept it super simple and you’re bound to have questions, so please give us a call to find out how we can help you make it work!

Step 1: Talk to us about your borrowing power

The first step involves a friendly chat with us about the finance set-up. We’ll run through your personal financial circumstances and help you determine your borrowing power – which is the amount a lender may be willing to lend you. Your borrowing power may be very different for an investment property than for a home to live in yourself.

Like all property purchases, you’ll need a deposit. If you already own your home and it has appreciated in value, or you’ve paid down your mortgage somewhat, you may be able to refinance to access equity to fund it. We can explain how this works and the kind of loan that will best suit your situation. We can also organise pre-approval so that you can set a purchasing budget and be confident a lender will come through with the finance when the time comes to start investing.

Step 2: Formulate an investment strategy

Ask yourself what your ultimate objective is – do you want to build a big investment portfolio of 10 properties or more and make a business out of it? Or are you more interested in concentrating on paying off your own home, perhaps using an investment or two on the side to generate some money to do it?

We recommend seeking advice from your financial planner or professional tax advisor when formulating your investment strategy. Maximising tax advantages is a big part of property investing and knowing what they might be in your personal situation is key. Ask us for a referral if you don’t already have a professional on board.

Step 3: Set your budget

There are many costs to factor into your budget when buying an investment property. The financial side of a successful property investment is a balance between costs, income, tax deductions and how they affect your overall cash-flow. The costs to factor in may include the following:

Initial costs

    • Deposit
    • Loan establishment fees
    • Lenders’ mortgage insurance (if you have less than 20% deposit)
    • Stamp duty (calculators are available here)
    • Conveyancing and legal fees
    • Building and pest inspection reports
    • Quantity Surveying fees – to create your Depreciation Schedule for the fixtures in the property, so you can maximise your tax deductions (after purchase).

Ongoing costs

  • Rates/government taxes
  • Insurance
  • Mortgage repayments
  • Body corporate fees
  • Utilities not paid by the tenant
  • Property management fees
  • Repairs and maintenance costs.

Step 4: Do your research 

The key to buying the right investment property is to spend plenty of time researching. Property investors usually focus on two key financial returns – capital growth potential (which is the growth in the property’s value) and rental yield (the income the property will generate from the tenants).

These factors are driven by supply and demand, so try to find a property that will be in high demand by tenants and future potential buyers. Ask us for assistance with the right property market data to inform your property searches.

Once you’re set on a property, be sure to organise building and pest inspections. You’ll want to know that the property is structurally sound and free of unwanted guests before making an offer or going to auction.

Step 5: Finalise your finance

The final step involves us helping you secure an investment loan that suits your financial circumstances and goals. Ask us to get you pre-approval on a loan for the specific property you want to buy before you make an offer or buy it auction, so you can have a realistic ceiling price to work with during the negotiations.

This step is the most important one of all if you’re buying at auction – you will be required to put your deposit down on the spot and it is not refundable if the lender does not agree the property is worth the price you paid and won’t lend the amount you need to complete the purchase. If you are buying under offer, we recommend you include a ‘subject to finance’ clause in the sales contract, to cover this contingency.

If you’re thinking about joining the thousands of Australians building wealth for the future through property investment, don’t wait to give Element Finance a call. Our mortgage brokers are here to give you expert guidance about investment loans and structuring your finance. Talk to us today!

A small property could potentially make a great investment, provided you choose the right one. The key to success with any investment property is thorough research. In this article, we take a look at how to research and choose the right small space property to give you the investment returns you’re looking for.
Pros – why choose a small space apartment or unit?

There are lots of benefits to buying a smaller property such as an apartment or a unit. Houses often have a higher entry price point due to land value, so you could potentially buy an apartment or unit with a smaller deposit. Ongoing costs for apartments and units can be a lot less too – council rates are usually higher on a house and in many states, you’re also required to pay land tax on an ongoing basis. With a unit or apartment, costs are limited to strata and body corporate fees.

Maintenance is also a cost that must be taken into consideration. If you purchase a house, all maintenance issues are your responsibility, whereas with an apartment or unit, many of these costs are covered by the body corporate.

These factors mean that a unit or apartment may be more favourable from a cash flow perspective – which is great, particularly for first time investors. Additionally, if you do your research carefully, you could potentially locate an apartment or unit in a location set to make both great capital gains and solid rental returns.

Cons – how small is too small?

Some developments offer studio and one-bedroom apartments of less than 50sqm. Many lenders are reluctant to finance these properties, and also some small space properties in high rise, high density developments, so it pays to discuss any property you may be considering with your mortgage broker before you sign a contract or put down your deposit.

Research is the key to success.

So how do you know for sure that a location will be in high demand for small space renters in the long term? Small space apartments and units are often in high demand in locations that are close to the action for singles! These may include the city centre and other busy employment hubs, universities, areas with vibrant nightlife, or excellent public transport facilities that provide fast and easy access to these amenities.

To find out what you need to know about a particular location, start by talking with local real estate agents and property managers. Essentially, you’ll want to find the answers to these questions about your chosen location:

  • How is the local economy doing? Is there employment growth?
  • What is happening that will affect supply and demand of small space property in the area in future? Are there many new developments in the pipeline?
  • What is the historical growth of property prices in the area?
  • What are the current rental yields on properties similar to the one you are considering?
  • What is the median price of properties in the area?

We can also provide you with a comprehensive report on any location or suburb of interest. We have access to specialised data from Australia’s leading property market data supplier, CoreLogic that specifically targets small space apartments and units.

How to analyse the market data.

You’ll want to analyse the data you collect to find a location with positive capital growth and solid rental yields to maximise the profit potential of your investment. (If you need help, please ask us as we have a great deal of experience!) Some other good indicators of these include:

  • Days on the market. How quickly do properties sell in the area?
  • Vacancy rate/demand to supply ratio. Is there much competition amongst renters?
  • Rental yield. What percentage of the price of the property can you collect in rent?
  • Auction clearance rates. Do sellers need to reduce the price to get a sale?
  • Limited available property. This could suggest that demand exceeds supply and this is likely to drive future capital growth.

Ask us to help you crunch the numbers!

There are always reasons for and against investing in any type of investment property. The right investment choice for you will depend on your financial position and investment strategy. If you’re considering in investing in property for the first time, a small unit or apartment could be a good way to start, so talk to us and we’ll help you crunch the numbers to see if they add up!

Remember, a good mortgage broker can be an invaluable resource when investing in property. We’ll help you choose the right loan that will not only serve your needs now, but set you up for further investments in the future. Talk with us at Element Finance Joondalup and Fremantle – we’d love to help you get started with a little property investment today!

Buying your first investment property is exciting, but it also comes with new responsibilities. When you’re on your L-plates as a new landlord, it’s important to be aware of your rights and obligations and those of your tenants. Here are some of the essential things that you should know.

1) Go it alone, or use a property manager?

When you’re a new landlord, managing your own property could have a steep learning curve. Working with a good property manager will not only teach you the ropes, but they’ll do all the hard work for you – like finding tenants, lodging bond forms, collecting rent, doing inspections and making sure things run smoothly. If there are any issues, the tenant will contact them directly, which could save you a lot of hassle. They’ll also keep you informed of your rights and responsibilities, giving you peace of mind that you’re doing things right.

Before choosing a property manager, be sure to check their online reviews or ask them if you can reference check their other clients. Otherwise, ask us! We are well connected and are more than happy to provide a referral to any reputable local suppliers that we may know. Property management costs are usually tax deductible for property investors, so also check it out with your accountant.

2) Familiarise yourself with the legislation

As a new landlord, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities and adhere to the relevant legislation in your state or territory, even if you use a property manager. For example, in some states, you must provide tenants with a new tenant checklist before they sign the tenancy agreement, and you can be fined for not complying. You can find helpful information about each state and territory’s specific requirements on the TenancyCheck.com.au website, available here. Be sure to also check with your state or territory’s relevant government department.

If you have a Property Manager, it’s their job to help you understand the legalities, so if you’re not sure, ask them to fill you in!

3) Understand the importance of the bond

The bond is a security deposit that protects you if the tenant damages the property, leaves it unclean, or fails to pay rent or bills that fall under their obligation. In these instances, you or your agent may be able to claim the bond money to cover your expenses at the end of their tenancy. The bond is usually about four weeks’ rent, but in some instances, it may be more.

Once the bond is collected, you must provide the tenant with a receipt and lodge the money with your state or territory’s residential tenancies authority (known by different names in each state/ territory). Be sure to check with your local authority about how soon the money must be lodged. This authority will hold on to the bond until the tenancy is up and pay it back to the tenant when the property is vacated, provided there’s no money owing for damages, unpaid rent or other costs. If there is a dispute about the bond or you want to claim compensation for damage that exceeds the bond, you can apply to the relevant tribunal within your state or territory.

Buying an investment property is exciting and rewarding. If you’re not confident about going it alone, you can rest assured that there are professionals out there to help make sure things run smoothly. In terms of finance, we’re here to help you find a loan that meets your current financial needs and ties in with your future investment goals. We’ll compare the market and set you up with a loan that ticks all of your boxes, so please get in touch today! 3 things every new landlord needs to know


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