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.

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Summer is here and Christmas is just around the corner. Our last newsletter for 2016 focuses on maximising those New Year car sales, investment loans and becoming a good landlord, and how you can apply some damage control to your Christmas spending.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has met for their final meeting for 2016, and announced the official cash rate will remain unchanged at 1.5 per cent. We last saw rates fall in May and August this year, which brought the official cash rate to its lowest level in Australian history. The RBA will not meet again until February 2017, so the cash rate will stay at this record breaking low level at least until then.

There is a great deal of speculation about what the RBA’s next move will be. Some forecasters anticipate that rates will now stay on hold until later in 2017 and then start to rise as inflation improves. Others are predicting continuing low inflation and soft wages growth may influence another RBA cash rate cut to as low as 1.0 per cent next year, with the first cut coming as early as February next year. Either way, we can expect to see these very competitive home loan rates in the market for some time.

Regardless of what the RBA decide to do, lenders have been varying their rates outside of the RBA’s rate movements. Over recent weeks we have seen quite a few lenders increase their fixed rates, so if you are considering fixing some or all of your loan, now might be a good time to talk to us.

We are also seeing a more noticeable variance in the rates that are being offered by different lenders in the market. So if you have a current home loan, it’s worthwhile getting in touch to determine if your loan product is still right for your needs.

2016 has been a fascinating year. Global economic influences and developments in the US, such as the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, have caused a bit of uncertainty in the market. But overall it has been a strong year for home values here in Australia. From January to October this year, capital city home values grew by 9.1 per cent. Perth and Darwin are the only cities where values have fallen slightly for the first 10 months of the year.

Compared to the same time last year, combined capital city home values have increased by 7.5 per cent. This is trending up from 6.1 per cent at the end of July this year, with house values growing slightly higher than unit values across the country.

Summer is usually a slower time for Australian property markets, with much activity coming to a standstill over the Christmas period. However, the market activity in most of our capital cities is still quite strong.

According to Australian Property Monitors (APM), Melbourne listed 1173 auctions on Saturday 3 December alone, with a clearance rate of 80 per cent. Sydney also had a strong clearance rate of 76 per cent from 874 auctions on the same day. Other cities with strong auction numbers included Adelaide (160 auctions), and Brisbane (148 auctions), and even Canberra (with 81 auctions).

2016 has been a positive year in our property markets, and this looks set to continue into 2017! With the low interest rates we are seeing at the moment, it’s a great time for those in the market to purchase property, whether you’re a first home buyer, investor or refinancing an existing loan.

As this is our last newsletter for 2016, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family Merry Christmas and a safe and happy festive season. Thank you for your support throughout 2016, it’s been a big year for everyone, and we’re sure you’re looking forward to the break as much as we are! Thank you once again for your ongoing support, and we look forward to connecting in the New Year.

Information sources:
Home values: www.corelogic.com.au
RBA: www.rba.gov.au

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We hope you picked a winner on Melbourne Cup Day last week! We’ve now moved into the busiest time of year in our property markets, so we hope you’re ready to handle the pace this spring.

At its 2016 Melbourne Cup Day meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent for November. The decision was widely expected by analysts and forward predictions are for no further RBA cash rate cuts in 2016.

The RBA may not have cut rates this month, but you can. Many lenders have indicated that interest rate changes do not only depend on RBA changes to the cash rate, but also on other market factors and their actual costs. So if you’re a home owner and looking to refinance to save interest, call us regularly to check the latest home loan interest rate that is available for you.

The RBA last cut rates in August and May this year, which brought the official cash rate to its lowest level in history. As a result, home loan interest rates are very competitive and the good news for home buyers and property investors is that it looks as though they will remain low for quite a while.

That means buying conditions are great this spring. Property market activity is heating up, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, with plenty of housing stock for buyers and investors to choose from. For the week ending October 30, Victoria held 727 auctions and achieved a clearance rate of 76%, whilst Sydney held a whopping 1309 auctions and achieved a clearance rate of 77%.

Activity in other markets indicated that buyers are possibly being a bit more discerning about prices. Queensland held 417 auctions for the same period, which is quite high, however they only achieved a low clearance rate of 39%. South Australia held 179 auctions with a clearance rate of 69%, ACT had 93 auctions with a clearance rate of 70%, Western Australia – which is not a big auction market – held 75 auctions with a clearance rate of just 37%. Northern Territory only held 6 auctions with a clearance rate of just 17% and Tasmania 10 auctions with a clearance rate of 33%.

Rises in home values appear to have slowed across all markets during October. In Sydney, home values only rose by 0.62% and in Melbourne, they rose by just 0.78% despite strong activity from buyers in both of these markets. Brisbane/Gold Coast showed an increase of 1.10%, Perth 0.78%, Darwin 2.20%, and Canberra 0.40%. Adelaide showed a decrease of 2.39% as did Hobart, which showed a decrease in home values of 2.05% for the month.

Opportunities are plentiful for first home buyers, next home buyers, refinancers and property investors right now. We’re here to help you make the most of low interest rates and the excellent spring property buying conditions, so please give us a call to chat about your plans. We’ll help you get the right home loan for your needs, with the most competitive interest rate available for you from Australia’s leading lenders. Christmas is also approaching fast and if you’re looking to buy a big ticket item for yourself or your family, we’ll be happy to help you with your finance needs for that too, so please give us a call today.

We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this newsletter. It contains general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Interest rates are subject to change without notice. Lenders terms, conditions, fees & charges apply. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values: www.corelogic.com.au

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Should you switch to a fixed interest rate product?

With the official cash rate at an historical low and the possibility of more RBA rate cuts on the horizon, this is possibly the most frequently asked question of professional mortgage brokers today. Often the question is focused on the timing, with consumers asking if now is a good time to fix their interest rate, or if they should wait to see if interest rates fall even lower.

However, saving money on interest is not necessarily the most important thing to consider if you’re thinking about making the switch to a fixed rate loan. In this article, we talk about the pros and cons of fixed interest rate loans and the real reasons you should consider using one.

What is a fixed rate home loan?

A fixed rate home loan allows you to lock in an interest rate for a fixed term, which means your loan repayments stay the same during the fixed term even if variable interest rates should rise. It allows you to plan exactly how much your repayments will be for the life of the term, making budgeting easier and this is the major benefit of a fixed rate home loan.

Usually you can choose to fix the interest rate on your home loan for a term between 1 to 5 years. After the fixed period ends, the loan usually reverts automatically to the standard variable rate unless you refinance your loan to another product or negotiate another fixed term.

Is switching to a fixed rate product a good interest saving strategy?

For some people, the motivation for switching to a fixed interest rate product is primarily to save money in the event of an interest rate rise. These home owners are looking for ways to save money on interest any way they can over the life of their loan. Their strategy is to go with a variable rate product for now so they can pay the lowest interest possible in the short-term, then switch to a fixed interest rate product to keep their interest rate low when interest rates look as though they are going to rise.

Basically, they are interested in locking their interest at the lowest rate possible when it is most prudent to do so. That’s why we are always being asked if ‘now’ is a good time to fix.

The problem with this interest savings strategy is that no one can accurately predict interest rate movements. That makes it very difficult to know when it might be advantageous to switch, or even if switching will have the desired effect of saving on interest. How do we know when we will save more by using a variable rate product and when we will save more by switching to a fixed interest rate product?

There is really no way to tell. In order to save money on interest by switching to a fixed rate product, variable interest rates would need to rise well above the interest rate you are paying on your fixed rate loan (and fixed rate loans usually carry a higher interest rate than variable rate loans). You also need to consider that if interest rates should fall during the fixed interest term of your loan, you will be missing out on any interest savings you would have received if you had a variable rate loan.

Consider your financial circumstances before making the switch

The decision to switch to a fixed interest rate loan should be influenced by other factors besides the possibility of any substantial saving on interest. The point of a fixed interest rate loan is to help you budget your household expenses more effectively, particularly for the first few years you own a property when your finances may be tight and budgeting may be difficult. As an added bonus, you are temporarily protected from interest rate rises. If interest rates do increase during the fixed interest term of your loan, you will have until the end of the fixed interest term to plan how you will manage to cover the increased payments on your loan when the fixed term ends.

Switching to a fixed interest rate loan may not be a good idea if you need flexibility. If you are planning to sell your home in the near future, increase your loan or redraw from it, make extra repayments or refinance to access equity, staying with a variable rate home loan could actually save you money. Fixed rate home loans usually have sizeable penalties if you need to make changes or pay off the loan during the fixed term of the loan, which could cost you many thousands of dollars.

The split option is designed to help you hedge your bets

Many lenders offer a home loan product that gives you the capacity to split your loan between both the variable and fixed interest rate options. This could give you the advantage of partial protection in the event of interest rate rises, but could also offer you facilities like an offset account which could be very beneficial if you are a good saver, plus the ability to make extra repayments and redraw them if you need to.

It is important to remember that with a split loan, you are still locked into the product for the length of the fixed rate term. If you needed to sell your home or repay the fixed portion of the loan early for any reason, you would still be required to pay a stiff penalty.

To find out if switching to a fixed interest rate loan is the right move for you, it is a good idea to talk to a professional mortgage broker about your personal financial situation and goals. We’re here to help you understand which products are right for your needs and help you to choose an option that saves you the most amount of money possible. Call us today.

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Spring is here and it’s also the start of the busiest time of year for our property markets! Auction activity is already heating up in our largest capital cities – are you ready for the rush?

At its September meeting last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.50 per cent. The decision came as no surprise to analysts as the RBA cut the cash rate by 25 basis points just last month, bringing it to all-time lows.

Positive economic growth figures for the June quarter of 3% combined with improved jobs and salary growth data, indicate the RBA’s easing measures are starting to have the desired effect. Whilst the RBA would prefer the Australian dollar to be weaker against other global currencies in order to stimulate growth in our export markets, the US Federal Reserve is tipped to be considering an interest rate rise at their September 20 meeting this month. This could potentially create a downward trend in our dollar, eliminating the need for further rate cuts from the RBA this year.

Following last month’s RBA rate cut, lenders have been reducing interest rates on a wide variety of owner occupier home loan and property investment loan products. However, some have only passed on part of the rate cut, which prompts us to motivate you to check your interest rate with us to see if you still have the most competitive loan product for your needs!

Activity in our largest property markets is already picking up after the Winter slowdown. Victoria held 826 auctions during the week ending September 4 and achieved a clearance rate of 79%. NSW also had a big week with 715 auctions and an 84% clearance rate. Other markets were slower to respond to the arrival of Spring, with QLD holding 135 auctions with a clearance rate of 58%, SA 73 auctions with a clearance rate of 81%, and ACT had 76 auctions with a clearance rate of 78%.

The Perth and WA property market has been quite weak for some time and the trend is expected to continue during 2016. For the first week of Spring only 26 auctions were held and they only achieved a clearance rate of 17%. NT and Tasmania have also been slow to get started, with NT holding just 6 auctions with a clearance rate of 40% and Tasmania holding 7 auctions which achieved no sale.

Home value movements were very conservative this month, with Sydney achieving an increase of 1.44%, Melbourne 1.49%, Brisbane/Gold Coast 0.47%, and Perth 0.20%. Larger gains were seen in Darwin at 4.07% and Canberra 2.77%. Adelaide saw a slight decline in home values of 0.96% and Hobart’s home values fell by 0.88%.

Many of you in the market to purchase a property this Spring have already talked to us about arranging pre-approval on your home loans. If you haven’t called us yet, pick up the phone and get onto it so you don’t risk missing out on the home of your dreams during the Spring rush! Rates are great following last month’s RBA cut so it’s also a good time to discuss your refinancing plans, fix your interest rate or get a home loan health check on your existing loan. Give us a call today!


Copyright 2016