30 Apr 2019
Laws have been introduced to make it harder for landlords to refuse requests by tenants to keep pets, in most states. However, allowing pets to live in your investment property can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you’ll have a wider pool of prospective tenants, potentially increasing your rental returns and helping you to retain tenants longer. On the other hand, there is also the potential for pets to cause damage. So, what can you do to protect your investment?
Catering for pets in your investment property could help your tenants prevent their pets from causing any serious damage. Here are some great tips for catering for ‘fur-children’ in your investment property!
Modify the property to make it pet-friendly
Since you may not be able to avoid renting to tenants with pets, you may like to add pet-friendly features to reduce the risk of damage to the interior of the property. Providing facilities to help your tenants keep their pets outdoors will minimise the time they spend inside the house, which may save you money in the long-run on maintenance and repairs.
For example, a secure cat or dog door will make it easier for small pets to get out. This will reduce the need for litter trays and discourage them from doing their business inside. It will also eliminate the tendency to scratch at a door or flyscreen when they want to go out.
Include some outdoor features for pets
One necessity for pet owners is a well-maintained fence to keep their fur-children safe when outdoors. Ensure there are no gaps where a pet can easily escape. The risk of a pet getting out is likely to cause your tenants to leave their pets inside the house, rather than in the yard and over time, this is likely to cause the kind of damage you want to prevent.
Another great idea is to provide a pet enclosure or pen in the garden, with a covered area where pets can take shelter from the sun and rain. If your tenant has a large dog, they will think this is a great option and may even pay more to rent your property. Cat lovers will also appreciate a secure enclosure where their cats can enjoy the sunshine and fresh air without being left to run loose – many councils make it illegal to leave a cat outdoors after dark, and busy roads are always a worry.
Additionally, it may be a good idea to modify the garden to make it low-maintenance and suitable for pets. Rather than worry about the pets digging up your expensive landscaping, keep things simple with grassy areas and plenty of bushes and shrubs for shade.
Avoid expensive carpets
With an investment property, it’s best to choose flooring that will be durable and easy to keep clean in the long-run. Carpets are never a great option as they breed dust mites and are a hazard for asthma sufferers – but throw a pet into the mix and things can get smelly! Hard flooring – like tiles or laminate – is likely to be a better option, as it wears better than carpets over time, and is much more resilient to those little accidents which often occur with even the best trained house pets.
If your property already has hard wood floors, simply take up the carpets and get them sanded and polished. Alternatively, there are some great inexpensive vinyl flooring options that look fantastic and are extremely easy to clean and maintain.
Consider taking out landlord insurance
Before tenants with pets move in, it’s a good idea to consider taking out landlord insurance. Importantly, make sure your policy covers damage caused by a domestic pet or animal residing in your property. This is not always the case, so be sure to read the fine print.
Pet-friendly rental properties are often in high demand, and as an investor, it may work to your advantage to allow pets into your property. It will certainly give you access to a wider market of renters, some of whom may be willing to sign longer leases and/or pay higher rents for your property if you cater for their pets the right way.
If you’re in the market for an investment property, or you already own one but are considering renovating or refinancing, we can help you obtain the right loan for your needs. Please get in touch today!
26 Apr 2019
Which home loan is right for you? How can you tell when there’s so many different lenders, loan types and features to choose from? How can you compare loans properly when you’re not sure what you should be comparing?
Finding the right home loan for your situation is a process that can be confusing, particularly for first-timers. In this article, we give you a basic guide for making home loan comparisons and tell you more about the features you may need with your home loan.
Interest rates and comparison rates
Interest rates are one of the factors which determine the cost of your mortgage and how much your repayments will be. Even a small difference in interest rates can make a significant impact on the amount of interest you’ll have to pay over the term of the loan. However, the loan with the lowest interest rate may not necessarily be the cheapest, as there could be additional fees to factor in. This is where the comparison rate comes in.
The comparison rate is an indication of the true cost of a loan, once the interest rate and fees are included. It’s usually expressed as a percentage, which makes it easier for you to compare the real cost of different loan products. When choosing a home loan, it’s important to look at both the comparison rate and the features that come with the loan.
Principal and Interest
This type of home loan requires you to make repayments that cover both the principal (or the amount you borrowed) and the interest at the same time. People buying their own home usually use a principal and interest loan, as you pay down your loan with every repayment until you eventually own the property.
An interest-only loan allows you to only pay the interest you owe on the loan for a fixed period – usually from one-to five years – so the monthly repayment is lower than it would be under a principal and interest loan. At the end of the fixed period, the loan usually reverts to a principal and interest loan, but it is possible to refinance to another interest-only period. People buying an investment property often start off with an interest-only loan because the interest (and therefore the entire repayment) is tax deductible for them. However, they are not considered ideal if you are buying your own home to live in as you will likely end up paying more in interest over the term of the loan and your repayments don’t pay off the original loan amount.
Variable Home Loan
With a variable rate home loan, the amount of interest you pay may go up or down in response to changes in interest rates. This can be a good thing if interest rates go down, as the interest you pay will be less and your repayments will decrease. Another positive is that you can often make extra repayments on a variable home loan, which may help you to pay off your home loan sooner and save some interest over the term of the loan.
Fixed Home Loan
A fixed rate home loan lets you lock in your interest rate for a period (usually 1 to 5 years). The benefit is that you know exactly how much your repayments will be during that time, which can be beneficial if you’re on a tight budget or a fixed income. You’ll also escape any interest rate rises that may happen during the fixed period.
However, if interest rates fall, you won’t be cracking open the bubbly because your home loan interest rate will stay the same and so will your repayments. There may also be restrictions on making additional repayments with a fixed rate home loan.
Split Home Loan
One option that appeals to some homeowners is to fix the interest rate on a portion of their loan and keep the rest variable. This offers the certainty of knowing what your repayments will be on the fixed part of the loan, while you can make extra repayments and enjoy any interest rate drops on the variable part of the loan. It’s a way to get the best of both worlds!
An offset account is a transaction account that’s attached to your home loan. It can save you money on the interest on your home loan and help you pay off your loan sooner because the money in your transaction account is offset daily against your loan balance, and you only pay interest on the difference. For example, if you owe $300,000 on your home loan and there’s $50,000 in your offset account, you’ll only pay interest on $250,000.
A redraw facility allows you to make extra repayments on your home loan and then take out the extra repayments you’ve made later if you need to use the money for a different purpose.
What’s right for you?
The right home loan choice is different for everyone. It all depends on your personal financial circumstances and goals. We’re here to help you decide what is right for you and will make recommendations based on what you tell us about your situation and what you want to achieve. Then we’ll compare the choices from the different lenders and offer you a selection of cost-effective options.
Don’t wait to find out what’s right for you. Call us today for a chat about your plans.
23 Apr 2019
Renovating your home or investment property is a fantastic way to add value. But what’s the right way to finance the renovation project you have in mind?
There are several ways to finance a renovation – the option that will work best for you depends on the size of your project, your budget, financial circumstances and your goals. Your mortgage broker is an expert when it comes to helping you choose the right loan option for any renovation – here’s an outline of some of the finance options we recommend to get your renovation dreams off the ground!
Line of credit
The benefit of a line of credit is that you only pay interest on the money you use. The way it works is that you apply for a line of credit against your home with an approved limit, then simply use the funds as needed.
You can pay off the balance as you go, then use the funds again later for the next stage of your renovation – much like a credit card. If you want the freedom to pay tradespeople or buy materials whenever you need to, a line of credit may be ideal, particularly if your renovations are ongoing.
A personal loan is a good option if your renovation costs are relatively small, or you plan to pay the loan off quickly. With a personal loan, you can secure the finance against an asset, such as property or term deposits, or opt for unsecured finance without collateral (this option usually has a higher interest rate). The application process is usually quicker than for a home loan and the money is deposited into your account for you to use as required.
Interest rates on personal loans are usually much higher than home loans, however we have access to competitive rates, so we can potentially help you save. Depending on how and when you plan to pay back the loan, you can choose a variable or fixed rate option. Many personal loans allow extra repayments so you can pay it off sooner and reduce the interest you’ll have to pay, so talk to us about the right one for your needs.
Construction loans are a great option for larger renovation projects that require a builder. This could include anything from a small extension to a complete knock-down and rebuild. With a construction loan, the lender will use the final value of the property post-renovation to calculate how much you can borrow. Once approved, you can draw down periodic progress payments at different stages of construction.
A construction loan offers significant benefits for larger renovation or building projects:
- You only pay interest on the money you draw down.
- The payments are interest-only during construction.
- Each stage must be inspected and completed before you can draw down the funds for the next stage. This helps to keep your builder on track.
- The loan converts to a home loan of your choice after construction is completed.
Refinance to access equity
When you refinance your home loan to access your equity, you end up with a sum of cash to use as needed or to finance your renovation project. Refinancing your home loan could be a good idea if you’re ahead on your loan repayments, your property’s value has increased, or you’ve paid down your home loan considerably since you took it out. (It may not be a good idea if your property has fallen in value, or your financial circumstances have changed for the worse since you purchased it.)
Refinancing may also allow you to access other useful features such as a line of credit, or a redraw facility – which could be useful if your renovations are ongoing. It’s important to remember you may not be able to access all your equity – so talk with us and we’ll help you work out your borrowing power.
What’s right for you?
Whether you’re planning to make a few cosmetic improvements or give your property a complete overhaul, chat with us about the finance side of things. The right loan choice will depend on where you’re at financially and what you’re hoping to achieve. For example, the finance we recommend for those renovating their own home may be different from what we’d suggest for those renovating an investment property, or those flipping for profit.
If you’d like to find out more, just give us a call today.
16 Apr 2019
Autumn is usually the busiest time of year for property auctions around the country. But this year, many more sellers seem to be preferring private sales to auctions. While the number of auctions may be down, there are still many great homes up for sale and you may have more power to negotiate the price!
Interest rate news
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate at 1.5% during its April meeting – taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude before the Federal Budget was released. The measures that were announced in the Budget to support economic growth are likely to influence the RBAs decisions in coming months. Many analysts are still calling for cash rate cuts, however this is probably a situation the RBA would rather avoid.
Meanwhile, last month some lenders cut rates on fixed rate home loan products. These are highly competitive at present and may be worth considering if you’re in the market for a loan.
Home value movements
Stephen Anthony, Chief Economist with Industry Super Australia was recently quoted as saying: “The housing price correction is really scaring the horses…” But despite this and similar commentary in the media, home value falls have slowed considerably over the past month. The ACT and Tasmania have even been enjoying home value increases in recent months.
A market correction is quite normal following a lengthy period of steady gains. This property market correction may be considered great news by those who have been waiting for a better time to get on the property ladder. Some areas are holding value better than others, so it pays to do your research before putting down a deposit.
Property market activity
The number of auctions and clearance rate figures continue to decrease as private sales numbers rise. The table below provides a snapshot of last month’s property market and home value changes during the last week of March, (according to CoreLogic on April 1).
Pre-approvals are more important than ever
In today’s market, it is very important to see us to get a pre-approval on your loan before you start shopping for a home. Don’t be tempted to put down a deposit before you see us – your borrowing capacity may have been affected by the more stringent lending criteria that have been put in place following the Royal Commission enquiries.
Remember, we have many lenders to choose from and are well placed to help you find the right home loan option for your needs. Please call us today to find out more.
Mike & the Element Finance Team
08 Apr 2019
Some property market analysts are predicting average national home values could fall by 11 per cent in 2019 – and say home values in some suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney have already fallen by more than 7 per cent since they reached their peak in late 2017. Whilst this may seem like gloom and doom to some people, all over the country many prospective home buyers are feeling optimistic and getting ready to grab a bargain.
When it comes to buying a property, supply and demand determines who gets the upper hand on price. So now, with home values and auction clearance rates continuing to fall, is it officially a ‘buyer’s market’ yet?
What is a buyer’s market?
The term ‘buyer’s market’ usually applies when buyers have more power in the property market than vendors (or sellers) and therefore, have an advantage when negotiating the final price for a home. Basically, a buyer’s market occurs when there are more properties for sale than there are people willing and able to buy them.
Signs that we may be encountering a buyer’s market could include:
- Unusually high numbers of properties for sale in any given city, suburb or area
- Low auction clearance rates
- More vendors preferring private sales over auctions
- Property remaining on the market for longer
- Vendors more prepared to negotiate on price.
Does this mean it’s a good time to buy?
A buyer’s market could be a fantastic time to purchase a home, provided you research your purchase very carefully. There are some risks involved, but if you perform your due diligence and select the right property, you should be able to overcome them.
You will need to be careful not to overpay for any home you purchase in a buyer’s market, so the right property market data will be critical to your negotiations. Additionally, if the price of the property you buy should continue to fall, you may potentially find yourself in a negative equity situation – that’s where the home is worth less than you have borrowed to purchase it. But careful research and a 20% deposit could help you avoid this situation too.
Generally, it makes good sense to purchase a home when prices are low. If you plan to live in the home for a while or hold it as an investment property in the long-term, then you will likely be able to wait out the peaks and troughs of home value changes to eventually come out on top.
Should you wait and see if prices fall further?
The problem with taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude is that it may cause you to miss the opportunity to save – home values won’t continue falling for very long. The great thing about a buyer’s market is that there are plenty of properties available and more time to explore them because they’re on the market for longer.
When researching which property to buy, the same rules apply as always – you need to look at what drives demand and capital growth in your area of interest:
- Is the property close to public transport, schools and amenities like shopping?
- Are there good employment opportunities?
- Is the local economy growing?
- Is there steady population growth?
- Is rental demand high in the area?
- Do the numbers add up – will the property give you a good return on your investment?
Get your finance in order first.
In our next article this month, we talk about why it is now so important to get pre-approval on your home loan and to confirm your borrowing capacity before looking to make a property purchase. As always, it’s a good idea to get your finance in order before you consider putting down a deposit or signing a sales contract, so please give me a call today.