Wish you could take longer holidays and spend more of the summer in the great outdoors? Caravanning is a great way to make the most of your holiday budget and is increasing in popularity. Last year, we Australians made more than 11 million trips and spent more than 51 million nights in our caravans and campervans! If you’ve just bought a caravan, or you’re in the market for one, here are some great tips to make the most of your trips!
1. Plan ahead.

One of the biggest mistakes first-timers make is not booking a site in advance in the camping hot spots. The most popular locations can be booked out months ahead, so secure your site in each place you want to visit before you set off. If you’re on a budget, there are a number of free camping sites around Australia – check them out at www.freecampingaustralia.com.au

2. Allow enough time to get there in daylight.

Towing a caravan takes practice. You have to reduce your speed, allow for the wind factor and avoid creating a traffic jam that goes on for miles. It pays to start early to avoid heavy traffic and so you can arrive at your destination and set up whilst it is still light.

3. Practice reversing.

Reversing the caravan is a difficult skill to master so we recommend you practice at home. It helps if you have a partner to give you directions – walkie talkies can be a big help and will save you yelling and attracting an audience.

4. Get caravan insurance.

When you’re towing your own accommodation, it pays to get an insurance policy. Check out insurance that covers you for loss or damage anywhere in Australia due to accidents, storms, impact, vandalism, fire and theft. It’s also a good idea to ensure it covers your caravan contents.

5. Don’t leave the Esky outside.

Don’t make this newbie mistake! The interior space in a caravan is limited, so when bedtime rolls around, you might be tempted to put the Esky outside the door. This attracts the local wildlife and in the morning, there is no food left or your campsite is destroyed. If there is no room for you and all of your foodstuffs inside the van, put them in the car at night.

6. Laundry facilities may be limited.

There will come a time when you have to do some washing. Most good caravan parks provide laundry facilities, but it’s Murphy’s Law that everyone will want to use them at the same time. Consider doing your laundry at night. Remember to bring your own pegs.

7. Don’t rely on the kids for company.

Caravan parks offer great amenities for the kids. You can usually let them do their own thing without worry, but you’ll probably only see them when they’re hungry. Bring a good book.

8. Plan your meals.

If you’re going somewhere off the beaten track, there may be no local shop if you run out of essentials. Always bring plenty of fresh drinking water – the local water may not be drinkable.

9. Don’t depend on a campfire.

Don’t count on using a campfire to cook with. In many locations, campfires are prohibited or there may be fire bans. If it rains, you may not be able to light a fire. If your van doesn’t have cooking facilities, bring a BBQ.

10. Bring a first-aid kit.

It should include band-aids, bandages, antiseptic, sterile wipes, sunburn ointment, insect repellent, insect sting lotion, and burn cream. You should also include tweezers, scissors, safety pins and a knife.

In the market for a new caravan?

This is a great time of year to buy a new caravan. And if you need finance, talk to us! We can help you with a suitable loan for all kinds of large purchases – not just home loans. There’s still plenty of time to take advantage of the great summer weather and you’ll be surprised how quickly we can get a loan organised for you. Give us a call at Element Finance Joondalup and Fremantle!

If you’re buying a property or considering refinancing your home loan in 2018, you may be asking yourself whether to fix your interest rate or not. Many people think about switching to a fixed interest rate mortgage when interest rates are low, in the belief that it will insulate them from future interest rate rises. In some instances, this approach could prove worthwhile, but not always and perhaps not for your situation. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of fixed, variable and split rate home loans to help you make an informed decision in 2018. If you’d like to explore your home loan options, please get in touch.

Are interest rates at their lowest and will they go up?

The official cash rate, as set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), is what traditionally determines the base rate lenders use to set their home or investment loan interest rates. It has been at an historic low of 1.5 per cent since August 2016 and many experts are predicting it to remain steady throughout 2018. Tim Lawless, the head of research at property data analytics group CoreLogic, said the RBA would likely keep interest rates on hold during 2018, with an interest rate drop unlikely.

At this point, it would seem interest rates are indeed at their lowest. So, does this mean a fixed rate product would be a better option than a variable home loan? It could be, but not necessarily!

Pros and cons of fixed interest rates

With a fixed rate home loan, you can lock your interest rate in for a set period (usually 1 to 5 years). The advantages are that you can anticipate exactly what your repayments will be, and budget accordingly. Refinancing to a fixed rate mortgage may also be worthwhile if you are on a tight budget and need certainty about the cost of your repayments. You may pay a bit more in interest in the long run, but it could be worth it for the peace of mind.

The disadvantages of fixing your home loan? Fixed rate loans usually, but not always, have a higher interest rate and cost more than variable rate home loans. So, unless interest rates go up beyond what you’re paying at your fixed rate during your fixed period, you won’t make any savings compared to a variable rate loan. If there are interest rate drops, you won’t get the additional savings as you would if you had a variable rate loan.

There may also be limitations on making extra repayments on a fixed rate loan. In some instances, you may still be able to make extra repayments to pay the loan down quicker, but they may be capped at a low amount or there could be fees involved. Sometimes, redraw facilities may not be permitted on fixed rate loans, and there could be break fees if you refinance or pay off the loan within the fixed rate period.

Pros and cons of variable interest rates

Variable rate home loans usually have slightly lower interest rates than fixed rate home loans (but again, not always – it pays to ask us to shop around). If interest rates fall, your rate will usually fall too, as they tend to move with changes to market interest rates. Often, you can make extra repayments with variable rate home loans, allowing you to pay down your mortgage faster and potentially save money on interest. You can also access a range of handy features with variable loans, such as offset accounts or redraw facilities.

The disadvantage of variable rate home loans is that if interest rates rise, yours will too – but as Tim Lawless from CoreLogic says, that’s unlikely to happen in 2018. Budgeting can also be trickier, as your repayments will fluctuate if interest rates do change.

Another option – split your home loan

If you want to hedge your bets, you could consider a split rate mortgage. This is where you fix part of the home loan, while the rest is variable. In this way, you can mitigate some of the risks of interest rate rises while benefiting from useful features and extra repayment options. If you’d like to know more, talk to us and we’ll explain whether a split mortgage could be beneficial to you.

Call us before you decide

“Should I switch to a fixed rate home loan?” is one of the most common questions we receive from customers. It all comes down to your personal financial circumstances and what works for you – it’s not just about beating interest rate rises. If you’ve had the same home loan for a while or your fixed term is coming to an end, refinancing to a different loan product or lender may be worthwhile in any case. Speak to us and we’ll explain your options. We may be able to find you a better interest rate, or different loan features that could help you save money. Talk to us at Element Finance Joondalup and Fremantle about your financial situation and we’ll help you decide what move is right for you!

Residential property investment has long been popular among Australians, but far fewer venture into commercial property – like office buildings. While residential real estate may be more familiar, there are many benefits of commercial property investment, which is why it’s worth considering as a viable investment option. In recent times, we’ve seen strong demand for offices, coupled with short supply in some areas, which may help to make it a profitable investment. In this article, we explain why it may be worth considering commercial property investment as part of your property investment strategy.

The pros of commercial property investment

Commercial property investing can offer significant cash flow benefits. Some commercial properties offer rental returns of more than 8 per cent, compared to the current median rental yield across the combined capital cities of 3.32 per cent (based on CoreLogic data). What’s more, commercial properties usually offer greater rental certainty due to the long-term nature of leases. Commercial leases often run for between three and 10 years, and agreements usually contain a term for set rental increases in line with inflation.

With commercial properties, there are also fewer ongoing expenses involved. Tenants usually cover most maintenance, rates, insurance and body corporate fees, unlike with a residential property, where the owner foots the bills. Another perk is that if the tenant puts in a new fit-out at their own expense, the improvements may increase the value of your property without it costing you a cent.

The cons of commercial property investment

It can sometimes be difficult to find new tenants for commercial properties, so as an owner, it’s important to be prepared to cover the expenses if the property is untenanted for an extended period.

Economic factors can also heavily impact on the health of a commercial property investment. For example, economic downturns, high unemployment or poor business confidence could affect demand. That being said, research and choosing the right commercial property in the right location can usually mitigate these risks, just like with residential property.

What should you research? As with any property purchase, research is key to finding the right investment opportunity. Be sure to research local prices and market conditions, any council restrictions or zoning regulations that could affect your investment, and upcoming infrastructure developments.

In terms of location, think about the property attributes your tenant might desire. Is it in close proximity to transport hubs? Car parking? Perhaps it’s close to other complimentary businesses? Always remember the rules of supply and demand – it’s best to make sure there isn’t an oversupply of similar properties in the neighbourhood.

What are the benefits of choosing an office for first-time commercial property investors?

Office buildings may offer a less daunting entry point into commercial property investing for first-timers because of the strong demand at present. According to the Colliers International Office Demand Index (Quarter Four, 2017), Australia’s major office markets are set for a strong start to 2018, on the back of increased demand and activity in 2017.

Colliers measures demand in terms of demand and supply per square meter. In the final quarter of last year, office property markets nationally recorded a 19 per cent year-on-year increase in enquiries (demand), from 415,737sqm in the last quarter of 2016, to 492,947sqm in the final quarter of 2017. Increases were seen across all segments of the market and overall, there were 942 deals for 785,252sqm of office space in 2017. Ask us for a copy of the report if you are interested!

For some investors, buying commercial property such as an office can be a sound investment strategy. If you already own residential investments, expanding into commercial property investment may allow you to diversify your portfolio and generate an attractive income. If you’d like to find out more about your finance options, please speak to us. Commercial property finance can be more complex than residential finance, but we can walk you through the process and find a commercial property loan that ties in with your unique financial circumstances and goals. Contact your Element Finance mortgage broker in Joondalup and Fremantle if you need support. We’d love to hear from you.

Christmas is just around the corner and isn’t it a wonderful time of year? It’s a time for family and friends, a little self-indulgence, of recognising how hard you’ve worked all year and rewarding yourself for your efforts. If you’ve been contemplating a property purchase, why not make that dream a reality? We can help you secure the finance you need, so please get in touch!

Interest Rate News

Thankfully, there was no pre-Christmas surprise this month from the Reserve Bank of Australia. The board decided to leave the cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent. The central bank’s board will next meet in February 2018.

Property Market News

On the whole, national dwelling values were largely steady in November. Again, Melbourne seems to be proving more resilient than Sydney, with dwelling values up 0.52%. In contrast, Sydney’s housing market saw prices fall -0.72% in November. Canberra’s dwelling values rose by 0.86%, while Hobart experienced 0.64% growth. Things are looking up for property owners in Perth, where values rose by 0.21% in November. The city recorded the first rolling quarterly capital gain since late 2014 (up 0.3% in the three months to November). In Brisbane and Adelaide, there was less fluctuation (0.07% and 0.01% growth respectively). Darwin, like Sydney, experienced a fall in property values – the month-on-month change was -0.42%.

In the week ending December 3, there were 3,276 auctions held across the combined capital cities. According to CoreLogic, the preliminary clearance rate was 63.5% – up from the previous week’s clearance rate of 61.6%. Auction volumes remain in line with last year’s figures, but this time last year the clearance rate was much higher, at 72.3%.

Melbourne and Sydney’s clearance rates picked up compared to previous weeks. In Victoria, there were 1,800 scheduled auctions and a clearance rate of 67%. New South Wales held 1344 scheduled actions and cleared 62% of the stock. Meanwhile, the ACT had the highest clearance rate – 76% on 105 scheduled auctions. Tasmania only held 11 auctions and cleared 67% of stock, while South Australia had 148 scheduled auctions and 65% of properties sold. In Western Australia, 61 properties went to auction and 46% went under the hammer. Queensland held 395 auctions and the Northern Territory had 17. Both had clearance rates of 36%.

As the sun sets on 2017, we’d like to take the opportunity to wish you a safe and happy festive season. Remember, now is a great time to purchase a new property for the New Year, or to re-evaluate your mortgage. If you’d like advice about finding a mortgage that suits your financial circumstances and plans, we’d love to help! We’ll do the hard yards for you, so that you can concentrate on the fun stuff this summer, like playing beach cricket and being with the family. Here’s to an exciting 2018 – hopefully one that includes an exciting new property purchase! Welcome to our December Newsletter

If you’ve been dreaming about purchasing your own place, but a niggling voice in the back of your mind has been offering up objections, we’re here to tell that voice to pump the breaks, champ! In this article, we tackle some of the common objections first-home buyers may have to buying right now, and explain why you should talk with us today.

Objection 1: “I don’t have a big enough deposit”

If you’ve been working hard to save a deposit and feel like it’s never going to be big enough, we have some exciting news for you! Size doesn’t always matter, especially not in this scenario. Being approved for a home loan is not necessarily dependant on how much of a deposit you have, but rather your capacity to repay the mortgage. There are all sorts of options available to aspiring homeowners who don’t have a 20% deposit.

Some lenders still offer home loans for up to 95% of the purchase price. The borrowing criteria can be more stringent than other types of loans, but if you have a clear credit history, stable employment, a solid income, minimal debt and are in a good asset position, you may qualify. Most home loan providers will want to see evidence you’ve saved at least 5% of the purchase price, and you may have to pay Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance with this type of loan – but you’ll have your foot on the property ladder! Speak to us to find out whether this kind of loan could work for you.

Another way to get a foot on the property ladder could be to ask your parents or a family member to be your guarantor. This is when they use the equity in their property as security for your loan. The right time to buy your first home is as soon as you can afford to do so!

Objection 2: “I think the market will downturn”

Whilst the property market does go up and down in cycles, “timing the market” is not as important as “time IN the market”. The sooner you buy a property, the sooner it will be possible for it to start to experience capital growth (which is the term we use to describe how much your property goes up in value whilst you own it).

There is always a possibility that your property will go down in value after you purchase it. However, you need to remember it has only gone down in value ‘on paper’ – you won’t actually lose any money unless you sell it. Market fluctuations are common and it is likely it will have recovered in value by the time you want to sell.

Choosing the right home in the right location can help protect against property market fluctuations and improve your chances of long-term capital growth. When you locate a property you’re interested in buying, we can help you check its capital growth potential with a free property market report – so please ask us.

Objection 3: “I can’t afford a home where I would want to live”

Most people don’t get to buy their dream home the first time around – it’s a goal you can work towards once you get on the property ladder. If you can’t afford to buy your dream home in your preferred location, you could look for something in another location, consider a smaller property that’s more affordable, or opt for a fixer-upper that has potential but just needs a little love. Another option that’s becoming increasingly popular is to rent-vest – rent where you want to live and buy an investment property somewhere else. That way, you can grow your nest egg to enable you to eventually buy the home you want.

There’s no time like the present to chat with us about your plans and finance options. Please get in touch and we’ll explain your borrowing capacity, home loan options and help you get pre-approval on your loan so you can start looking for a property to buy sooner. Is now the right time to buy your first home?

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