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Some of you may have heard that APRA has cracked down on investment lending, influencing many lending institutions to review their investment lending policies.

But we imagine for the majority of you, it’s a case of “APRA, who?”.

In short, APRA are making some changes to investment loans, and we thought you would like to know if and how these changes impact you. In this article, we take a look at APRA and what they’re doing to keep borrowing conditions stable for you as an investor.

What is APRA?
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of the Australian financial services industry. Their role is to regulate the behaviour of lenders, banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance companies, private health insurance agencies, and the superannuation industry.

APRA plays a critical role in protecting you, and the financial well-being of the Australian community, by upholding standards of trade in the financial industry. Their mission is to establish and enforce standards and practices designed to ensure that under all reasonable circumstances, financial promises made by institutions are met and that our financial industry remains stable, efficient and competitive. As a consumer, APRA’s activities ensure that you have a reliable, fair financial industry and you can go about your day to day transactions and investments with confidence.

What are APRA’s new measures regarding property investment lending?
In December 2014, APRA wrote to all deposit-taking institutions (such as banks and other lenders) setting out sound lending standards, particularly for investment lending, that included a benchmark for the 10% maximum growth of residential investment mortgages. This occurred because of concerns over the number of people entering the property investment market and the stability of lending for this market considering current economic conditions.

Their particular focus is on restricting high loan-to-value and high loan-to-income lending, which may be risky for consumers if there should be a rapid or sudden decline in housing values or the property market in general. They also perceive the rapid growth in property investment lending as risky insofar as Australian consumers may be ‘placing all their eggs in one basket’ and they would prefer to encourage investment diversity amongst consumers.

By taking these measures, APRA is looking to make property market conditions safer for you as a consumer. By slowing down investment lending, APRA is also looking to slow down the rapid growth in property prices, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney where property prices are considered to be overheated by many property market analysts.

What does this mean for property investment borrowing?
Many lenders and financial institutions are changing their criteria for property investment lending in order to meet APRA’s requirements. Most major banks have announced that they will be cutting the discounts available on investment loans, which means that interest rates on new investment loans could be slightly higher than interest rates on owner-occupied home loans.

Additionally, most lenders have tightened up their criteria for investment borrowing. Many are focusing on loan-to-value ratios, meaning you may require a larger deposit than previously and may find it more difficult to leverage properties or access equity to invest further if you are already an investor.

Can I still get a property investment loan?
As your professional mortgage broker, your financial well-being has always been our number one concern. One of our primary responsibilities has always been to assess your personal financial situation and goals, and ensure that any loan we offer to you suits you, your financial goals, and your expenses.

Before applying for a loan for you, we always take into consideration whether or not you would be able to service your loan in the event that interest rates should rise and recommend insurance products such as mortgage protection insurance and income protection insurance to mitigate the risk of you not being able to meet your loan repayments if faced with a hardship situation.

Plenty of lenders are still offering property investment loans to borrowers who qualify under their new property investment lending criteria. It is likely that you will still be eligible for a loan and if you are looking to use property investment as a means to build wealth for your future, you should talk to us about your plans and investment goals sooner rather than later.

We’re here to help you work out if property investment is right for you. We have access to a wide variety of lenders and we’ll shop around amongst them to find you the most favourable loan considering your personal financial circumstances and investment goals. Call us today.

For more information on APRA, please visit their website, or speak to us.

Happy New Financial Year! We hope that tax time is not proving to be too tedious for you and you’re looking forward to getting a great tax refund this year. We’ve had loads of refinance and investment related queries lately, so this month’s newsletter is focused on property investment.

First, let’s start with the interest rate situation. At its July meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at 2.0 per cent. This decision was widely expected by analysts and we should be able to look forward to stable interest rates for the remainder of the year. However, the situation in Greece is affecting global markets and we will have to wait and see how this influences the RBA with regard to our monetary policy moving forward.

Winter is here and property markets around the country have slowed as a result. Even the Melbourne and Sydney markets are showing significantly reduced auction numbers. However, the combined capital city clearance rate was still 78.1 per cent, which was the strongest result since the beginning of June, showing us that property buyers are still in the market and activity is still quite high for this time of year.

Around the country, there were only 1,273 reported auctions last week, mostly due to the winter weather in southern/eastern states and school holidays. This compares to 2,249 auctions the week prior, so you can see how much market activity has slowed.

Sydney held the highest number of auctions at 566 recorded results, with a clearance rate of 84.5 per cent which is very high. Melbourne followed with 527 auctions with a clearance rate of 76.7 per cent. The next highest number of auctions was Brisbane which held 74 auctions with a clearance rate of 68.9 per cent, then Adelaide with 57 auctions and a clearance rate of 75.4 per cent. Perth held just 20 auctions with a clearance rate of 20 per cent. Canberra held 57 auctions with a clearance rate of 75 per cent.

Home values are up across the board for all capital cities, except for Perth and Darwin. Sydney home values were up by 2.75 per cent over last month and up by 16.23 per cent over this time last year. Melbourne is also doing very well, with home values rising by 2.92 per cent over the last month and 10.24 per cent over this time last year.

As expected, growth in other markets has been slower, but quite steady in most cases. Brisbane/Gold Coast home values were up by 1.76 per cent for the month and 3.51 per cent for the year. Adelaide was up by 0.39 per cent for the month and 4.46 per cent for the year. Canberra home values were up by 0.58 per cent for the month and 2.44 per cent for the year and Hobart home values were up by 1.79 per cent for the month and 0.85 per cent for the year.

Perth’s home values were down by 0.35 per cent for the month and 0.86 per cent for the year and Darwin showed a decline in home values of 3.93 per cent for the month and 2.93 per cent for the year. Reference CoreLogic.

Auction number projections are showing that property market activity should increase again after the school holiday period has ended. So if you’re in the market to purchase a property, now is a good time to talk to us. The start of the new financial year is also a great time to get your annual home-loan-health-check, so please give us a call today.

Your home loan is the biggest financial commitment you’ll ever make and taking the time to ensure you can always meet your repayments – no matter what – is very important to your future financial security, your lifestyle and your family too! In this article we take a look at mortgage protection insurance to see if it could be the right option for you.

What is mortgage protection insurance?
Your mortgage is a commitment that won’t wait for anything – you always need to make those repayments no matter what happens. The consequences of not being able to meet your repayments can be quite severe, including the bank foreclosing on your home loan and selling your property to recoup the debt.

Mortgage protection insurance – sometimes called loan protection insurance – is a policy that you can take out in order to protect your capacity to make your mortgage repayments. Policies can usually be arranged to cover your mortgage repayments in the event you lose your job, or suffer a serious illness, injury or even death.

How is mortgage protection insurance different to LMI?
Mortgage protection insurance is very different from Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). LMI is designed to cover your lender (the institute providing your loan) – not you. In the event that you cannot make your repayments and the lender needs to foreclose on your loan, LMI covers the lender for any losses they may make when the property is eventually sold. Even though your lender may require you to take out LMI as a condition of granting your loan, it is important to note that LMI does not cover you if you cannot make your home loan repayments for any reason.

Do I really need mortgage protection insurance? Is it just another expense?
It is important that you think about how you would meet your loan repayments if something should go wrong. Some people have income protection insurance that covers their income in the event they cannot work for a while or lose their job.  This is fine as long as it will be enough to cover both your living expenses as well as your loan repayments – but it doesn’t necessarily cover serious illnesses, permanent disability or death.

Others may have a life insurance policy which could pay out a lump sum in the event of death or permanent injury or disability. However, life insurance policies do not cover you for eventualities like unemployment or less serious illnesses.

It is important that you have insurance cover for every eventuality. And it’s also important to make sure that you’re not under-insured. We recommend that you give yourself an insurance health check to be sure that any insurance you have will be enough to cover your loan repayments and other expenses, no matter what happens.

We can help you to assess whether or not your existing insurance is enough to cover your loan repayments as well as your living expenses. This is not only important in terms of making your home loan repayments, it could be very important to the well-being of your family as well.

It is also important to note that in some instances, mortgage protection insurance may be tax deductible, particularly if you’re taking it out for an investment property. You should check with your accountant to see if you can claim mortgage protection insurance as a tax deductible expense.

How do I organise cover?
Talking about your financial situation and commitments is part of the process we undertake when helping you to apply for a home loan, so going one step further to help you assess your insurance requirements at the same time is easy. We have a reliable, cost-effective insurance partner, so we can also help you to organise an affordable mortgage protection insurance policy if you need one.

Simply discuss your situation with us and we will organise a free quote that is tailored to your requirements, or refer you to one of our partners.

Remember, as your local Fremantle mortgage broker, we’re here to help you get the home loan that’s right for your requirements and suited to your personal financial situation. Making sure you have adequate insurance cover for your needs at the same time you take out your home loan is part of our service. We genuinely care about your financial future and your well-being, so please don’t hesitate to talk to us about your insurance requirements today.

With interest rates at historical lows, property investment is rapidly becoming one of the most popular ways to build wealth to secure your financial future. But how do you find a property in a location that will give you good capital growth and help to ensure the investment is a success? In this article, we take a look at what makes a good investment location – both for residential and commercial properties – and how to find one.

Location, location, location!
Choosing the right location is one of the most important factors in the success of a property investment. The right location can differ according to the kind of property investment you choose – commercial or residential. However, in both cases, the principal is to find a property that will be popular with tenants both now and into the future, as this will support your requirement both for a steady rental income and future capital growth.

What to look for in a commercial property location
With commercial property, you will need to assess the purpose of the property and if the location will be good for that particular business. Retail commercial property should be in a location that provides a steady stream of passing trade and is easy to reach via public transport or car. There should be plenty of car parking available and if possible, the location should already be enjoying good trade. Locations that are busy will create competition amongst potential tenants and this will always be good for capital growth.

For more industrial commercial properties, good road links and parking, ample space and excellent facilities are more important than passing foot traffic. You’ll need to ensure that the purpose or possible uses of the building are acceptable under local council zoning laws so that there is no restrictions on the type of tenants who may use it. Importantly, you’ll want to make sure the property is not too far away from a city or port – particularly if it is a warehouse or manufacturing building.

What to look for in a residential property location
You may think that it will be easier to find a suitable location for a residential property investment, however competition for good locations is on the rise. With residential property, you’ll also need to find a location that provides all the attributes a tenant will be looking for – just like with commercial properties, however their requirements will differ.

Apartment living is rising in popularity, particularly for working people with no families. If you’re choosing an apartment, make sure it has good public transport facilities, is close to amenities such as restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

Houses are more popular with families, and for an investment like this facilities such as parks, schools, and easy access to public transport are important. Suburbs that are already popular with tenants because of the quality and easy access to such facilities may be in short supply and therefore expensive, so look at adjoining locations that may be up and coming.

For both apartments and houses, the availability of work nearby for tenants will help to ensure its popularity with tenants and this adds up to capital growth potential. Properties that are a long way from employment may be less expensive and easier to secure, however rental returns may be much lower and the potential for capital growth reduced.

How to find the right location
All property investment requires careful research to find the best locations with optimal capital growth potential. Most people start with online research and by making contacts within reliable real estate agencies so they are alerted when investments with potential become available.

The first step is to look for areas where income levels are high and occupancy rates are good. Real estate agents and reputable buyer’s agents are a reliable source of this information, but it’s also a good idea to subscribe to a property market data service that will give you the information you need at your fingertips. (We can put you in touch with a reliable service, so just ask us.)

Try to avoid areas where future oversupply of properties may become an issue. This is particularly important when considering investment in an apartment – to avoid mistakes, check with the local council to find out how many developments are in the pipeline for the area as this may have a significant effect on values.

Houses appeal more to families and may carry better capital growth potential. Look for areas where infrastructure development is either good or planned for the near future.

Popular schools always attract competition for houses, so you may want to research which are the best schools in the areas you are considering and look for property nearby. University locations also create a reliable source of tenants and income, and often offer good entry level investment opportunities.

Remember, before you consider any property investment, it’s a good idea to set your budget and get your financing pre-approved. We’re here to help you get on the right track with your property investment plans, so give us a call today.

Over the last 18 months, our hot property markets have been driving rapid increases in home values, particularly in larger markets. This has placed established properties beyond the reach of many home buyers and as a result, we have been seeing a corresponding boom in new housing construction across the country.

For the year from March 2014 to March 2015, there were 210,484 new dwelling approvals which is a healthy 11.2% increase over the previous year. And whilst the most recent figures for April this year show a slight decline in apartment approvals, there were 10,130 new house approvals which was an increase of 4.7% over the previous month.

Thinking of building a new home? Talk to us.
From these figures, it’s clear that more and more people are finding it attractive to build a new home rather than compete in today’s hot property market for an established house or apartment.

And why not? Building your own home not only has the potential to save you money, it gives you the opportunity to get the home you’ve always wanted – one that’s tailored to your personal needs and requirements with all the bells and whistles you may not be able to afford in an established home at today’s prices. New homes also help you plan your finances with confidence, with low maintenance costs and no major repair expenses in the foreseeable future.

Obviously there are some drawbacks to building a new home, compared to buying an established property. The construction process takes time and you may have to wait a while before you can move in. Additionally, if you’re building in a new housing estate, it may be some time before features like schools and shopping amenities catch up with the measure of convenience you’re currently enjoying in an established suburb.

Financing a new build is also a bit different to financing for an established home. Instead of a straight forward mortgage, you may wish to consider a Construction Loan product that can help take the hassle out of the building process.

Construction Loans – how do they work?
With a regular mortgage, you pay a deposit and the lender pays the remainder at settlement in a lump sum – it’s fairly simple and straight forward. Construction Loans differ from regular mortgage products as they pay for the project in stages, paying your builder as construction progresses through each stage – slab, roof, lock-up and completion. Additionally, Construction Loans usually last for the period of construction only.

The major benefit to a Construction Loan is that you only draw down on funds as you need them. This can mean big savings on interest as you only pay interest on the money you use at each stage. And once construction has been completed, you can often nominate which home loan product the Construction Loan will revert to, moving forward – ie. A standard variable rate loan or a fixed interest rate loan.

Another thing to take into consideration when building your own home is purchasing the land. If you purchase the land first, you will usually require a regular mortgage for the land portion of the purchase and then apply a Construction Loan to the build only. The loans can be arranged separately, but are usually bundled together, particularly with a house and land package deal you may purchase from a developer.

There are quite a few different Construction Loans on the market and each of them can be structured differently. We’re here to help you obtain the best loan product/s for your individual needs, so before you commence the process of building your own home, it’s wise to spend a little time with us to get the right financing lined up for your needs.

What else do you need to think about?
Just as with a regular home loan, you will require a deposit before you can commence building your dream home. The amount of deposit you need will vary according to the cost of the project and the lender’s requirements, so you should talk to us about how much of a deposit you will need.

Before you commence your build, you should also be very careful to establish exactly what is covered for the price, as there could be other expenses that you need to budget for. We recommend that you also have some contingency funds set by, just in case of unforeseen expenses that may not be covered by your Construction Loan.

Talk to us for more information
Building a new home may be a great idea for you and your family, depending on your personal financial situation and circumstances. If you’d like to find out more, or explore your loan options and establish your budget for a new build, why not give us a call? We’re here to help you discover if building a new home is a viable option for you and to help you get pre-approval on a suitable financing package before you begin. A short chat could help to take a lot of the hassle and uncertainty out of the process, so why not give us a call today?

Copyright 2016