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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.

Many people begrudge paying for insurance, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing you, your family and your home are protected against unforeseen events is priceless! Insurance provides protection against short term financial hardship and set-backs that could have a serious long term effect on your future financial security.

In this article, we explain the types of insurance you should think about when buying a home. If you’d like to know more, simply talk to us about your requirements, we’re here to help.

Income Protection

This type of insurance provides an income safety net should you become sick or injured and are unable to work and make your home loan repayments. You may also like to consider trauma/critical illness cover, total and permanent disability insurance and life insurance – that way if you are unable to go back to work, you won’t lose your home.

Mortgage Protection 

Mortgage Protection insurance covers the cost of your mortgage repayments if you die, or become seriously ill. It should be noted that it is only meant to cover your mortgage repayments and not any other expenses for you or your family. It may be a wise choice if you already have some other kind of life insurance – say with your super plan.

Building & Contents

Building or home insurance protects against the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home from things that are outside your control, like fire or natural disasters. You can opt for total replacement cover (to rebuild your home as it was prior to the event), or sum-insured cover (coverage up to a certain amount). When you buy a home, your mortgage broker will most likely recommend that you insure the property before settlement day.

When choosing your policy, make sure you have the right amount of coverage, as well as the right type of insurance for your actual needs. Talk to us, as we are an invaluable source of information to help you determine this.

Contents insurance protects your belongings, including carpets, rugs and curtains, in events such as fires, storms or theft. Often it will be bundled together with home insurance. Many people consider it a must-have to protect from those smaller disasters – even a contained kitchen fire could render your home unliveable until you can repair the damage!

How can your mortgage broker help?

We can access some of Australia’s most respected insurance providers, and offer you a competitive price on your insurance needs. What’s great is that we can do it all – from setting you up with a home loan that meets your financial circumstances, and also help you to arrange the right insurance to protect you and your family. You’ll find we can offer a range of options and make it easy. You may also be able to save by bundling insurances together, so please get in touch today! What insurance do you need to know about when buying a property?

Buying an investment property can be a clever way to build wealth for your future. There are government incentives that make this form of investment great for mum and dad investors – such as the potential to claim back losses as a tax deduction.

So, how do you go about finding the right property for your needs, particularly if you’re not an experienced property investor? In this article, you’ll find some insights about what to look for in an investment property. And remember, when you need the right finance for your investment, we are here to help!

Capital growth potential 

Capital growth is the increase in value of a property over a period of time. Investors use a range of strategies to build wealth, and looking for the properties that are most likely to experience significant capital growth, is often high on their radar.

So, how do you find an investment property with solid capital growth potential? Look for locations and suburbs experiencing economic growth. Economic growth creates jobs, which brings more people to an area, which may flow through to the property market via increased demand for housing. Greater demand means more chance of capital growth.

Next, be sure to choose an investment property that is close to amenities such as schools, shopping centres and public transport – when an area is experiencing economic growth, these properties will be in the most demand.

Rental returns

Some investors choose to focus on properties with a high rental yield, rather than just looking at capital growth potential. The rental yield is the rate of income return compared to the costs associated with the investment property. It’s typically expressed as a percentage, and may be calculated as a gross or net figure.

Investors who are following a rental yield strategy will typically look for areas where rents are high compared to the property value. Talk to us as we have access to have access to exclusive property tools to help you locate a suitable area.

Low maintenance costs

As an investor, it’s wise to opt for a low-maintenance property. They not only cost less to keep, but they’re less hassle too. Units can be easier and cheaper to maintain than old houses for example, but keep in mind you’ll most likely have to pay body corporate fees.

Ways to add value 

When choosing an investment property, ask yourself whether there is room for improvement, or ways to add value. You might not renovate it right away, but when you do, be sure to do plenty of research to find out what’s in high demand. Ask your local real estate agents what kinds of property features resonate well with tenants and future buyers in the area.

Choosing the right investment property requires careful research and planning. Luckily, one area you don’t have to worry about is finding the right investment loan for your specific needs. We can take care of finding you a loan product that matches your financial circumstances, while working with your investment goals. Please call us today!What to look for in an investment property

Christmas is such a special time of year! You can feel the magic in the air at shopping centres as the decorations come out, or when you’re driving around and notice people transforming their homes into a wonderland of lights.

If you’re also looking to fill your home with holiday cheer, here are some unusual festive home décor ideas you’re going to love. And remember, if you need finance for a really big gift (like the kind that’s just too large to wrap), please give us a call!

Create an unconventional tree

If you feel like a change this Christmas, why not invent your own tree? Pinterest has plenty of great ideas, like dressing up a ladder as a Christmas tree or using driftwood to create a rustic-looking tree display. Check out the effect here.

Go big with your light display

Instead of spending a fortune on the electricity bill with miles of rope lights, why not turn your pad into a light show spectacular the easy and inexpensive way, with cool options like Target’s Snow Flurry Lightshow Projector, which blasts a bright swirling display of snowflakes onto your home. Otherwise, you could opt for something more subtle. For example, you could line walkways with luminary bags or lanterns to create an ambient effect. Here’s some inspiration.

Make your own snow globes

If you have small children, they are going to love this one! DIY snow globes are easy to make and a great way to create festive cheer. All you need is a small glass jar, a plastic figurine of something Christmassy, glycerin, glitter, water and glue. Simply glue the figurine to the inside of the jar lid, fill it with water and glycerin, add a couple of teaspoons of glitter, screw the lid back on and glue it down if necessary. There you have it, Christmas cheer in a jar! You can even make a winter wonderland terrarium by adding small twigs, pinecones, and cotton wool to the jar and leaving out the water.

Make merry in the throne-room

Why not dress up your toilet with Christmas cheer and give your guests something to talk about? You could make a Santa toilet lid cover and toilet mat, or if you really want to impress them with your Christmas cheer, invest in an LED toilet bathroom night light like this one, available on eBay. It’s motion activated, so your guests won’t have to stumble around in the dark looking for the light switch.

Jazz up your front door

Have you heard of Christmas front door covers? We hadn’t either, but apparently you can give your house a Christmas facelift with a front door mural. There are some really high-quality designs available, and what’s great is that they are removable and reusable. Banners come in all different colours and feature everything from the big man in red to Christmas trees and nativity scenes. Click here to check them out.

What else would be fun for Christmas?

How about a new family car, boat or a jet-ski? Buying that dream home or investment property you’ve always wanted would also be a great reason to celebrate with your family.

We are here to help you have yourself a merry little Christmas indeed, with a loan for a new home or investment, or tailored finance to fit your other purchasing needs. Please give us a call today!Unique Home Decoration Ideas for Christmas


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