Element Finance has had a long and involved history with Kiva – loans that change lives.
Kiva are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.
So far to date, Element Finance Fremantle have had the privilege of helping over 500 hundred individual entrepreneurs build their own businesses and their way out of poverty. We really want to increase our involvement over the coming months and so we have made a pledge – for every new loan Element Finance settles, we will fund a brand new Kiva loan in that borrower’s honor. As an Element Finance client, YOU will be a borrower and a lender!
By joining us in our pledge, you will be helping us give as many as 250 deserving entrepreneur the leg-up they need every single year. This is truly exciting for us and we are looking forward to keeping you updated as we continue our journey with Kiva.
You may want to get involved with Kiva individually and we would encourage you to do that. You can find out additional information at http://www.kiva.org/team/element_finance
27 Aug 2015
Buying a home is a very exciting time – particularly if you’re climbing on to the property ladder for the first time! When you finally get your deposit together, it’s really easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to budget for the other costs associated with buying your home, so here’s a quick checklist of things to include when planning your finances for your big move.
The cost of taking out your home loan
When you take out a home loan, you’ll need to budget for the extra costs involved with getting it set up with the lender. These costs will vary from loan to loan and lender to lender, depending on your personal financial situation and the type of loan you take out. As your mortgage experts, we will advise you on these costs and help you to plan your budget. Generally speaking, these extra costs may include:
Home loan application fees: most lenders charge a home loan application fee to cover the costs of legal contracts, property title checks and credit checks.
Mortgage establishment fees: in addition to the application fees, most lenders also usually charge an extra fee to cover the costs of setting up the mortgage in their banking systems.
Property valuation: before they can grant you a mortgage, your lender will need to get an independent valuation of your property – both the land and the buildings and improvements. It is important to note that the lender will not accept your valuation – even if you have paid an independent valuations expert to produce it for you.
Mortgage registration fees: all mortgages must be registered with the government and a registration fee will apply. Ask us to help you calculate how much this will cost for your particular property.
Lenders Mortgage Insurance: if your deposit amounts to less than 20% of the purchase price of your property, you will be required to take out Lenders Mortgage Insurance by law. It is important to note that this insurance is for the lender in case you default on your loan – it does not cover you in the event you cannot make your repayments.
Costs involved with purchasing a property
Purchasing a property can be quite a complicated process and it is easy to forget to budget for the costs of covering all the details involved. If you’ve located the property of your dreams, here’s what you need to cover off to make it yours:
Building inspection fees: if you decide a particular property might be the right one for you, it pays to do proper research on it by obtaining a building inspection report and a pest inspection report. These will give you an accurate picture of the condition of the property and help you assess the likely costs of maintaining it moving forward. These reports are very important to your purchasing decision, so get them organized early on in the buying process.
Government fees: before a property can become yours, you’ll have some government fees to pay like Stamp Duty and Registration of Title/Land Transfer Fee. Depending on where you live, and your personal eligibility for any concessions, the amount you may have to pay will vary. Talk to us and we will help you work out your costs in this area.
Legal fees: each property purchase requires the legal transfer of ownership of the property to you and for this you will need to employ the services of a Solicitor or Conveyancer. If you don’t have one lined up, let us know and we will give you a referral to a reputable legal adviser.
Home & Contents Insurance: your new home will be your most valuable asset and it’s very important that you organise the appropriate insurance cover to protect you against disasters like fires, floods and theft. The building insurance section of your cover needs to be taken out when you put down your deposit to make sure you are covered while the transaction is going through.
Mortgage/Income Protection Insurance: we recommend that you also budget for an insurance product that will cover your mortgage repayments in the event you are unable to work due to sickness, injury or some other unforeseeable event that causes you to lose your income. We can help you plan for your insurance needs and obtain cost-effective cover that’s right for you.
The costs of moving in
When the big day arrives and it’s time to move in and start enjoying your new home, things will run much more smoothly if you plan ahead for the associated costs. Of course, these will vary widely from person to person and home to home, so planning will very much depend on the property you buy. Here’s some things you’ll need to budget for:
Utility costs: setting up your gas, water and electricity supply may require you to pay a deposit. Plan ahead and talk to your suppliers about the costs and getting things operational on the day you move in. Remember, you can talk to several different suppliers to get a more competitive rate.
Body corporate fees: if you are buying an apartment or a strata title property, it is likely that you will have to pay monthly body corporate fees. We recommend that you check out these fees when you are planning to buy your property as they can be quite significant, particularly if the property is in need of a lot of maintenance or repair. The first month’s fees will be due as soon as you have settled on the property.
Council rates: these rates cover the costs of your garbage collection and other services provided by your local council. The cost involved will vary depending on the value of your property so you should check with the council to determine these costs and budget accordingly.
Ongoing maintenance: all homes require ongoing maintenance and you should remember to budget for any eventuality. When you rent, your landlord pays for anything that goes wrong, so if the hot water stops working they replace it. If something goes wrong in your own home, you have to fix it yourself so it’s wise to set aside a little money for emergencies.
Moving costs: depending on where you live it could be quite expensive to organise a mover to get your things to your new home. We recommend that you get quotes from three reputable carriers and be sure to ask them to include insurance costs in their quotes.
Getting your home set up: this is the fun part! Remember that when you move in, you’ll need furniture and a full pantry. Make an allowance in your budget for the things you’ll need to get set up in your new home and really enjoy the fact that it is now yours!
Remember, as your mortgage experts, we’re here to help you with organizing the finances for your new home. We’re happy to help you with every aspect of buying your new home, from confirming the costs and helping you work out your budget, to planning your insurance needs and we’ll even give you referrals to other reliable professionals you may need to consult. And of course, it is our job to shop around to find you exactly the right loan for your personal financial situation and goals, so please give us a call today.
20 Aug 2015
If you’ve only taken out your home loan in the last few years, refinancing is probably the last thing on your mind. But having a set-and-forget attitude to your home loan is not ideal! Leaving your home loan unchanged for its entire term could mean you miss out on substantial savings, or opportunities to make your money work harder for you to build wealth for your future. In this article, we look at the top 5 reasons why you might want to consider refinancing your home loan.
1. To pay less on your mortgage repayments
Refinancing can often reduce the amount of your mortgage repayments – and this is probably the number one reason why people consider refinancing. Everyone would like to save money on their home loan repayments – since they usually account for around 30% of our income every month.
If you’ve had your home loan for a while and interest rates have fallen, you could access a better rate and this will reduce the amount you have to pay for each mortgage repayment. Even if interest rates have not fallen since you first took out your loan, you can sometimes access a better rate if your personal financial situation has improved in that time.
Accessing a better rate can not only reduce your home loan repayments, just a slight drop in interest rates could potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
Refinancing could also help you to reduce your mortgage repayments if you extend the life of your home loan. For example: Say you have been paying off your home loan for ten or fifteen years. You could potentially refinance the outstanding amount over a 30 year term, thereby substantially reducing your monthly repayment amount.
2. To extend or remodel your home
If your family is growing and you need a few more bedrooms or a bit of extra space, buying a bigger house is not always the ideal solution. Many people refinance their home loan to access funds to extend and remodel their existing home, rather than go through all the upheaval of moving.
Renovating, remodeling and extending is a great way to get the home you want. What’s more, it can potentially increase your home’s value at the same time. So even though you may be taking out some of the equity you have in your home to do the extensions, the resulting increase in value of the home could potentially increase your equity again and help you to recoup some of the costs.
3. To consolidate debts
We often talk about the difference between types of debt. A home loan is a ‘good’ type of debt because it carries a relatively low interest rate and can be used to build wealth. Other types of debt can be ‘bad’ because very high interest rates can trap you into continually paying interest instead of paying off your debt. These debts are usually things like credit cards – which can often carry an interest rate of 20% pa or more, car loans, store credit and so on.
Refinancing could allow you to access funds to pay off these expensive debts once and for all. By rolling all your debts into your home loan, you will be paying them off at a lower interest rate. You could also save yourself money every month on interest payments, simplify your situation by only having one payment to make, and beat the interest trap of credit cards and other expensive forms of credit.
4. To access the equity for other purposes
The equity you build up in your property is a valuable asset. We mentioned earlier that a mortgage is a ‘good’ form of debt because it can be used to help build wealth for your future. That’s because your equity increases as you pay down your mortgage and property values go up – and this can potentially give you access to funds you would not have had if you did not have a mortgage.
That means your mortgage really can be used to facilitate your lifestyle and build wealth for your future. By refinancing, you could access your equity and use the funds for a deposit on a property investment, to invest in stocks and shares, education costs, to support your children in purchasing their own home or for a wide variety of other reasons.
5. To fix your interest rate or switch to a different mortgage product
Switching to a fixed interest rate loan, (or a different type of loan that offers additional benefits) is another popular reason for refinancing a mortgage. As time goes by, your needs change and it could be that another mortgage product like a fixed interest rate loan would be more beneficial for you.
The number one benefit of a fixed interest rate mortgage is that your mortgage repayments will remain the same for the length of the fixed term – usually 1, 3 or 5 years. This gives you more peace of mind because it makes it much easier to plan your budget.
Many people think that switching to a fixed interest rate mortgage will save them from future interest rate rises. And whilst this is true to a certain extent, fixed interest rate mortgages are often a bit more expensive to start with than your standard variable rate home loan, so interest rates would probably need to rise considerably before you came out in front.
There are also many other mortgage products on the market that may have more beneficial features than the home loan you have now. For example, redraw facilities or a mortgage offset account. If your current home loan simply doesn’t offer you the flexibility you need, then by all means talk to us about some alternatives.
Talk to us now about your annual home-loan-health-check
About this time every year, we like to encourage you to talk to us about a home-loan-health check.
A frequent home-loan-health-check is necessary to ensure that your current home loan is still the best home loan product available for you. We recommend that you have a chat with us at least once a year to see if the lending environment has changed or refinancing may be beneficial for you in some other way.
If you’d like to organise your home-loan-health-check, just give us a call. We’re here to help you assess your home loan’s performance and ensure that it is still the right mortgage product for your personal financial circumstances and goals now and into the future.
12 Aug 2015
Winter is usually the quiet period for property market news, but with the recent tightening of controls on investment lending by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), there has been a lot happening, particularly with interest rates.
Even though the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0 per cent during its August meeting, interest rates have been on the move. Due to APRA’s increased supervision on investment lending, the big 4 banks have all raised their interest rates on investment loans. We expect that many other lenders will also be raising rates on investment lending in the coming weeks, with rises varying between 25 and 50 basis points, depending on the lender.
Whilst property investment interest rates have been going up, many lenders have also moved to shave a few basis points from interest rates on owner-occupier loans, so interest rates on many of these loan products are coming down! And that means we’re still looking at some of the lowest interest rates in history overall.
This news does not seem to have had much effect on our property markets. Activity is still quite high for this time of year. For the week ending August 2, there were 787 auctions recorded in Victoria with a clearance rate of 78%. In NSW there were 825 auctions with a clearance rate of 76%. Queensland held 144 auctions with a clearance rate of 58%, and South Australia 75 auctions with a clearance rate of 68%.
Other states showed less activity, with Western Australia holding 23 auctions with a clearance rate of 40%, Northern Territory 13 auctions with a clearance rate of just 17%, Canberra 41 auctions with a clearance rate of 72% and Tasmania only 8 auctions with a 43% clearance rate.
Home values showed increases for most of our capital cities. Sydney home values were up by 3.30 % over last month and up by 18.35 % over this time last year. Melbourne is also doing very well, with home values rising by 4.91 % over the last month and 11.48 % over this time last year. Brisbane/Gold Coast also showed increases, with home values rising by 0.43% over last month and 4.36% over this time last year. Canberra showed an increase of 0.29 % month on month and 1.21% over this time last year and Hobart was also up by 1.06% this month and 2.51% over this time last year.
In other states home value movement was not as strong. Adelaide’s home values decreased by 1.13% this month, but they are still up by 3.40% over this time last year. Perth’s home values didn’t show much movement – they rose by 0.09% this month but are down by 0.27% over this time last year. Darwin showed an increase of 0.39% this month but are down by 5.25% over this time last year.
With lenders moving to adjust interest rates on both investment and owner-occupier loans, you may want to talk to us to find out how these changes may affect you. If you already have a home loan or property investment portfolio, we can work together to give your loans a health-check to see if they are still the best financial products available for you. We’re here to help you organise the most beneficial financing arrangements for your property purchasing needs according to your personal financial situation and goals. So please don’t hesitate to give us a call – we’re always happy to help.
The information provided in this newsletter is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information you should consider the appropriateness of the information with regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values:www.corelogic.com.au
06 Aug 2015
With interest rates at all-time record lows, property has recently become very attractive to a wider range of investors. The media is full of articles and commentaries talking about using property to help fund retirement, with many even talking about it as a means to completely replace an employment income so they can quit work early.
Whilst property investment has a proven track record as being a comparatively safe way to build wealth for the future, is it really possible to use property as a means of finding financial freedom and funding your retirement? And if so, how do you go about it?
Here’s an outline of two commonly used property investment plans:
Plan A – Living off the rental income
Many people create an investment property portfolio with the notion that one day, the properties will be all paid off and they will be able to live on the rental income. But if you are planning to fund your retirement this way, you’ll need to take into consideration that this rental income will be subject to income tax and some of it will also be required for property management, maintenance, insurance and rates. In other words, a sizeable chunk of the income your properties produce – around 50 – 60% – will be used up before you can allow for your living expenses.
In theory, it ought to be possible to create a property investment portfolio large enough to cover all these expenses if you start soon enough and plan carefully from the outset. How much income you will need is up to you. Considering you will lose at least 50% of the income to tax and expenses, then if you want an after tax income of $100,000 you will need to plan to have a portfolio of properties that is generating at least $200,000 a year.
Plan B – Living off the equity
Many property investors take the approach that paying off the loan completely is not ideal. Instead, they simply reduce the loan to value ratio as far as they can and then fund their retirement living expenses by borrowing against the equity if and when they need it.
Acquiring funds this way does not attract income tax*, which is one of the main benefits of this plan. However it should be noted that every time you withdraw some of your equity, the repayment amount and interest due on your loans will rise.
As long as your properties continue to experience capital growth and the rental income keeps pace with the rises in your repayments, this plan may seem like an endless cash machine. But if market conditions create a situation where both rents and property values fall dramatically, you may find yourself in a position where your equity declines so much that you can’t borrow any more money, or you may need to start selling off your properties in order to meet your repayment commitments – which may not be ideal.
Of course, selling off your properties to fund your retirement is also a possibility. However, you will need to take into consideration capital gains tax and carefully plan ahead to ensure you have generated sufficient potential funds to meet your needs.
Get professional advice before you start
The truth is that using property to fund your retirement is not as simple as it sounds – there are many variables involved. But one thing is for sure, if you want to use property to gain financial freedom in the future, then you need to have a plan. And the sooner you start to implement your plan, the more likely it is that you will achieve your goal of funding your retirement with property.
Before you take the plunge and start buying up investment properties, it is very important that you get some expert advice to help you formulate an investment plan that is right for you. If you want to be a successful property investor, then it pays to have a team of professionals who can advise you along the way and help you to avoid making costly errors. This team might include a financial planner, tax specialist, property manager and certainly us – a reliable team of mortgage experts.
If you’re thinking of using investment properties to build wealth and perhaps, fund an early retirement, then give us a call now. We can not only help you with the right financing, we can also refer you to some of the experts you will need to create your team of professionals and formulate a firm plan for success. So please give us a call today!
*This article does not constitute tax advice. The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. Tax issues relating to property investment can be complicated and you should always consult an accountant or qualified tax adviser. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice.