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Juggling several debts can be stressful. If you’re struggling to keep on top of your debts or you simply want to save money on interest, we can help you solve the problem and get some peace of mind. Here are 3 ways your mortgage and finance broker can help you deal with your debts so you remain in control.

1) We can help you consolidate your debt

With debt consolidation, the idea is you take out a new low-interest loan and use it to pay off all your high-interest debts. We usually recommend one of two debt consolidation options.

Option 1: Refinance your home loan

In this scenario, you would refinance your mortgage and access some of your equity to pay off your debts.

Pros

  • Home loan interest rates are lower than those for most other types of credit.
  • One convenient repayment that’s easier to manage.
  • You can spread your repayments out over time to make them more affordable.
  • You may be able to make extra repayments and pay off your debt quicker, thereby saving money on interest.

Cons

  • Home loan terms can be 25 or 30 years. If you’re not careful, you may end up paying much more interest on your debts, even though the home loan interest rate is lower. Ask us to crunch the numbers for you.
  • If you use the equity in your home to pay off your debts, you will have less money when you sell your home.
  • If you turn all your unsecured debts (like credit cards) into secured debt (like your home loan), in a worst case scenario, you could lose your home if you get into debt again and can’t meet the repayments.

Option 2: Take out a personal loan

You could consolidate by taking out a personal loan with a competitive interest rate and using it to pay off all your other debts.

Pros

  • Interest rates for personal loans are generally lower than those on credit cards.
  • One convenient repayment.
  • Spread the repayments out over time to make them more manageable.
  • At the end of the loan term, all your debt will be paid off.

Cons

  • Personal loans come with higher interest rates than home loans (you may be better off by refinancing your home loan – ask us to crunch the numbers for you).
  • If you are struggling financially, it may be more difficult to secure a competitive interest rate.

2) We can compare interest rates on any kind of loan

We can help you find competitive interest rates on other kinds of loans, besides your home loan. Want us to compare interest rates on your personal loan? Not a problem. How about your car loan? We can access a wide variety of lenders to help with that too.

To help you manage your debts, we may be able to refinance your existing loans to a more competitive interest rate, or a longer loan term that reduces the size of your repayments. Bottom line is you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by checking in with us.

3) We can help you create a budget and savings plan 

Having a solid understanding of your income and expenses will help you remain in control of your finances. We can help you set up a budget to pay off your debts and create a savings plan to reach your goals. We’ll also give you tips, like how eliminating credit cards could save you money, or how budgeting apps work.

The last thing you want is for your debt to spiral out of control. As your mortgage and finance broker, we can explain whether debt consolidation is financially worthwhile, compare the market to find you the most competitive interest rates and help you find ways to budget and save. Please get in touch with us at Element Finance today.

Loan refinancing is a strategy used by property investors to access funds – usually to grow or improve the value of their property portfolio. The right time to do it largely depends on your strategy, plans and equity. In this article, we highlight some of the key considerations for this strategy and how savvy investors often use the funds. If you’re considering investing in property or taking the next step in your investment journey, remember your mortgage broker is a great source of information and support, so please don’t hesitate to give Element Finance a call.

Why refinance?

Refinancing your loan allows you to access the equity in your property. Equity is the proportion of the property you own – for example, if the property is worth $500,000 and you owe $200,000 to the bank, then you have $300,000 in equity.

Savvy property investors use their equity for a variety of different purposes:

  • To renovate and add value to an investment property
  • As a deposit for their next investment property
  • To fund their lifestyle and living expenses.

Another popular reason to refinance is to secure a more competitive interest rate or a loan that better suits your needs. There may be loan features that can improve your interest savings or cash-flow, like offset accounts and redraw facilities. It pays to talk with your mortgage broker and reassess your property investment loans regularly, to ensure you’ve got the right loan to maximise your financial benefits and tax advantages.

Key considerations

1) Market value and equity
Generally, the right time to refinance your investment property is when the equity has grown sufficiently to take the next step in your investment strategy, or to fund your renovation plans. To get an idea of the value of your property, and how much your equity has grown, you’ll need to compare public sales data for similar properties in the area. Ask Element Finance for a free suburb and property profile report with the latest on-the-market information.

You could also ask real estate agents for an estimate (make sure you hit up at least three different agents) or pay for a professional property valuation. Keep in mind that a lender’s valuation will be on the conservative side of any estimates, and a formal valuation will be required by the lender before they will allow you to refinance.

2) Consider the costs
Switching lenders and refinancing your investment loan can help you achieve your goals, but there are costs involved. These may include break fees or discharge fees, establishment fees for your new investment loan, and valuation fees. Speak to Element Finance and we’ll run you through the costs and help you decide whether refinancing is worthwhile right now, or if it may be better to wait until your equity has grown further.

3) Investigate how the market is performing
Part of the decision about whether to refinance will depend on how the property market is performing for your investments. National dwelling values have been falling in many capital cities in recent months, while regional dwelling values have been edging higher. That may mean the location of your investment property will be a key consideration when deciding to refinance.

It’s important to be aware that if do you refinance after your property’s value has decreased, you may be facing negative equity territory. This is when the value of your investment falls below the outstanding balance on the mortgage. In this situation, it may be better to wait until the market recovers before you refinance.

4) Other considerations
The investment lending landscape has seen many changes in recent times. In April, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) announced the 10 per cent limit on bank lending to property investors (in place since 2014) would be removed for lenders that could demonstrate prudent lending. As a result, we’re seeing interest-only investment loans becoming easier to obtain, and interest rates being reduced by some lenders. That means now may be a good time to reassess your investment strategies and refinance requirements.

Talk with your mortgage broker first
If you’d like to access equity to grow your investment portfolio or renovate, or you just want to know you’re getting the best deal, it’s worth having a chat with your mortgage broker. You’ll find we are a wealth of information – and it’s always best to make a fully informed decision. If the time is right for you to take the next step in your investment journey, we’ll help you find the right refinance option to help you achieve your goals. Call Element Finance today!

Co-housing is a way of living that offers many benefits, especially for seniors. If the concept is unfamiliar, you may be conjuring up images of a 1970s hippy commune, but rest assured you won’t have to wear tie dye t-shirts or become a vegan to be accepted! In this article, we explain what co-housing is, where it originated, and provide an example of a co-housing community in action in Tasmania. Remember, if you’re considering downsizing or making living arrangements for your retirement, we’re here to help you find the right finance for your needs.

What is co-housing?

Co-housing is defined as “an intentional community” of private homes built around shared facilities. These common spaces may include a common house with a shared kitchen and dining area where residents can cook and eat together.

There may be community gardens, playgrounds and recreational spaces. Some co-housing developments may even include communal swimming pools and movie rooms for residents to enjoy.

Each household in the community is independent and fully equipped with its own amenities, including private kitchens and baths. However, the idea behind co-housing is for neighbours to be part of a collaborative community.

Co-housing differs from regular retirement villages in that the community is owned and managed by the residents who live there.

The key benefits of a co-housing community are that residents may have the opportunity to collaborate over how it is set up, what amenities it includes and how much it costs.

Where did the idea originate?

The idea of co-housing started in Denmark in the 1960s. From Scandinavia, the concept spread to other parts of Europe, on to North America, and over to New Zealand and Australia.

Co-housing initiatives are now popping up in many parts of Australia, reinvigorating the concept of community. Seniors’ co-housing has been suggested as an alternative to aged care or retirement villages for those wishing to age in place.

What are the benefits?

Enthusiasts believe co-housing offers the following advantages:

  • More meaningful relationships with neighbours.
  • A feeling of belonging, in that you’re part of a community.
  • Reduces loneliness and isolation by connecting you with others.
  • A collaborative culture of sharing and caring.
  • Maintenance tasks are divided among the community.
  • Decisions affecting the community are based on the consensus.
  • You still have privacy, as well as the support of your neighbours as needed.
  • Reduces household bills, as expenses for shared space are divided between residents.
  • Depending on your community, it may be less expensive than other housing options.
  • Reduces your environmental impact thanks to a “greener” approach to living.

An example of a co-housing community in action

Cascade Cohousing in South Hobart is a great example of a thriving co-housing community. Established in 1991, there are currently 22 adults, ranging in age from young families to retirees, and six children living in 15 privately-owned properties (on strata title).

There’s a central common house with a shared kitchen, dining area, lounge, laundry, workshop and TV room. Three nights a week, the residents get together for a meal, and once a month they hold body corporate meetings and working bees for maintenance. There are fun activities on offer like film nights, games evenings and gardening.

You can find examples of other established and emerging co-housing communities on the Cohousing Australia website.

If you’re entering the next phase of life, co-housing may be the way to go. As your mortgage broker, we can help you secure the finance you need to start your exciting new chapter in an existing co-housing community, or even work with you and your chosen ‘community group’ to set one up. Please talk to us at Element Finance about your retirement lifestyle plans and goals today!

We hope you are embracing the arrival of winter and enjoying the cool change. In recent weeks we’ve seen conditions for property buyers improving, with fewer homes reaching the reserve price at auction and values trending downwards in many markets. During the colder months, there are usually fewer buyers doing the rounds, so there could be some red-hot deals for you to snap up. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new home or investment property this winter, please give us at Element Finance a call.

Interest Rate News

As expected, the Reserve Bank of Australia kept the cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent again this month. There is some speculation that rates could start to rise toward the end of the year, provided the RBAs measures to improve inflation, employment and wages growth start to take effect.

Some local analysts are anticipating that lenders will soon start to raise rates outside of RBA movements, due to the rising costs of borrowing. Interbank lending rates (the rates that apply to Australian banks when lending money to each other) are on the rise in line with global money markets and are likely to affect home loan interest rates across the board at some point this year.

There is some good news, however. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has lifted the 10% limit on property investment credit growth for eligible banks from July 1. This has resulted in some lenders cutting rates on interest-only loans already, so if you’re in the market for a property investment loan please call Element Finance.

Property Market News

Whilst our property markets had a healthy number of properties up for auction throughout May, clearance rates declined considerably and there was a general softening in home values.

For the week ending Sunday 03 June, (officially the final weekend in the busy autumn selling season), Victoria held the highest number of auctions at 1161, achieving a clearance rate of 62 per cent. NSW was next with 1001 scheduled auctions and a clearance rate of just 52 per cent. QLD held 273 auctions with a clearance rate of just 43 per cent. ACT held 107 auctions and cleared 66 per cent, and SA held 105 auctions and cleared 68 per cent. WA only scheduled 29 auctions and achieved a clearance rate of about 25 per cent, NT 11 auctions with a clearance rate of about 50 per cent and Tasmania only scheduled three auctions with no sales recorded.

According to CoreLogic, home values were softening in our larger property markets during the month ending May 31. Sydney home values fell by 0.22 per cent during the month and were showing a decline of 4.21 per cent since this time last year. Melbourne’s home values fell by 0.50 per cent but were still up by 2.22 per cent from this time last year. Canberra’s home values fell by 0.10 per cent last month but were up by 2.28 per cent YoY.

Home values also fell in Darwin by 0.22 per cent in May and are down by 7.88 per cent from this time last year. They also fell in Perth by 0.14 per cent in May and were down by 1.84 per cent since this time last year. Adelaide and Hobart are the only markets showing increases – Adelaide’s home values were up by 0.50 per cent in May and by 0.62 per cent since this time last year and Hobart is still proving to the outstanding performer, with home values up by 0.81 per cent in May and by 12.71 per cent since this time last year.

Winter is generally a quiet season, so we can expect to see a further slowing in auction numbers, clearance rates and home value rises in the next few weeks. This may provide a chance to pick up a bargain for those willing to brave the cold weather. If you need pre-approval on a loan as a first-home buyer, next home buyer, or property investor, please get in touch with Element Finance today!

Bidding at an auction by phone is becoming more popular. You may have noticed these bidders – mysteriously whispering into their phones and then bellowing out bids with unwavering confidence. Whilst some of these people are buyer’s agents, others are just experienced property buyers bidding on behalf of friends or family.

Why bid at an auction by telephone?

There are many reasons why you may prefer to bid at an auction by phone, rather than attending in person. These may include:

Geography: You may want to bid on a property that is rural or located interstate. Or you may want to bid at several auctions being held on the same day and can’t attend them all in person. If that’s the case, you may be better off organising someone to be there for you and work with them over the phone.

Nerves or inexperience with bidding: A lot of people feel nervous about bidding for themselves – it’s a normal reaction. It’s also normal to feel intimidated by other bidders, particularly if you’ve come face-to-face with some competitive types! Bidding over the phone can help you remain objective by keeping the excitement of the situation at arm’s length.

Avoid overspending: It’s easy to get carried away by the excitement at an auction and bid above your budget. If it’s a property you really want, it’s hard to stop adding another thousand when the object of your desires is only a few meters away – that’s why they often hold auctions at the property’s front door! It’s easier to stay in control if you place your bids remotely, because you can give your bidder an absolute spending limit.

What are the pros and cons?

Auctions can be loud and stressful, and bidding by phone can take a lot of the anxiety out of the experience. When the auctioneer starts spruiking and the crowd gathers, you won’t be distracted as you try to sort the sticky-beaks from the serious bidders. You’re more likely to remain calm on the other end of the phone, and go about things in a business-like fashion.

By the same token, not being able to see the other bidders can be a disadvantage, as you won’t be able to read their body language and gauge the competition. That’s where communication with your stand-in is essential! You may even like to use Skype, FaceTime or a similar app, so that you can “see” the competition during the auction.

How do you go about organising it?

The first step is to check that phone bids are accepted by the auctioneer, agent and vendor. If they are, you’ll most likely have to register and fill out a form beforehand nominating a stand-in to bid on your behalf. Then it’s simply a matter of nominating someone to bid for you. You may also like to organise your solicitor to be available in the event that yours is the winning bid.

What happens if the property is passed in and you want to negotiate?

If the bids do not meet the seller’s reserve, the property may be passed in or withdrawn from auction. If you are the highest bidder, you’ll have first dibs on negotiating with the seller. Your agent or contact on the other end can do this for you whilst you’re still on the phone, or can pass over the phone to the auctioneer or seller so you can speak with them directly.

How do you pay the deposit and sign on the dotted line if you succeed? When you fill out the paperwork to nominate your stand-in, you can specify how you’ll pay the deposit on the day if successful (usually 10 per cent of the purchase price). You can authorise the agent or auctioneer to complete a signed blank check, provide a signed bank cheque for 10 per cent of your maximum bid, authorise the stand-in to pay the deposit on your behalf, or transfer the money into the agent’s trust account.

In terms of the sale contract, you can nominate the authorised bidder or auctioneer to sign on your behalf. Alternatively, you may like to be present and go along to sign once the phone bidding is over, or tee up your solicitor to represent you beforehand.

Bidding at auction by phone could be a less stressful way of securing your dream home or investment property. It can also be more convenient if you’re not close by. Remember, organising pre-approval on a loan before the auction is vital, so please get in touch with your mortgage broker at Element Finance Fremantle and Joondalup. With any luck, you’ll hear those magical words on the big day – “sold to the bidder on the phone!”


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