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When you’re looking to buy a property, a genuine bargain is the ultimate Holy Grail. We all want to buy at less than market value – and this is exactly the reason why it hardly ever happens. Buying off the plan has the possibility of being the one exception, particularly in a rising property market. It offers buyers an opportunity to put down a deposit at today’s prices on a property that is not yet built, in anticipation that it will have significantly increased in value by the time it is completed and settlement is due.

It sounds simple, right? In fact, buying a property off the plan can be a lot more complicated than it may first appear. In this article we give you five tips on how to get it right.

What is buying off the plan?
Buying off the plan means signing a contract with a developer to purchase a property that has not yet been built. Instead of inspecting a completed home, you choose the property by inspecting the developer’s designs and plans, or by visiting a demonstration home or show room. Apartments are the most common type of off-the-plan property purchase, however you can often buy units, duplexes and townhouses that are a part of a larger development.

Tip #1. Do your research.
Putting down your deposit on a property that proves to be worth less than the original agreed purchase price could be a disaster, as you may not be able to get the finance you need to complete the sale. That’s why it is vitally important to do your research very carefully to ensure you’re buying a property that will have the value you expect when the purchase is completed.

To be sure you get it right, you should research the suburb’s capital growth rates and rental yields. You should also find out how many other, similar developments are planned to find out how this will affect sale prices, clearance rates and vacancy rates in the area.

Tip #2. Reference check the developer.
Choosing the right developer is just as important as choosing the right property. Everyone has heard stories about dodgy property developers and the way to avoid being caught out is to reference check them carefully.

Do a background check on the developer for bankruptcy, criminal record, complaints with your local building authority and ask to speak with previous clients. Ask the developer how long they have been in the industry, how many projects they have completed and visit their previous work to inspect the quality. Find out what professional industry associations they have.

Most importantly, ask the developer to provide proof of their financial status. You don’t want to run the risk of the developer going into liquidation before the property is finished.

Tip #3. Be sure of what you’re buying.
When buying off the plan, it pays to be very thorough and detail minded. You need to determine exactly what you are going to be getting for your money, so ask a lot of questions about what is covered by the purchase price and what isn’t. You should be careful to ensure that everything your developer agrees to provide is written down in the contract. Be as detailed as you possibly can in every respect.

Tip #4. Get a solicitor to check the contract.
Because they are so very detailed and comprehensive, contracts for off the plan purchases can be complex and lengthy. To make sure everything is correct, take the contract to a solicitor you can trust to check it carefully. Read it yourself and ask your solicitor to explain anything you don’t understand before you sign on the dotted line.

Tip #5. Pre-inspect prior to settlement.
Another thing that you must remember to include in your contract is a pre-settlement inspection. This will give you the opportunity to go in and check that everything the developer has agreed to deliver is there in the property. You can also take along a building inspector to help you check for defects or finishes that are not up to standard. If everything is not in order, you can delay settlement until the developer rectifies the problem. Including a pre-settlement inspection in your contract is essential to protecting yourself from having to take possession of an uncompleted property. You don’t want to hand over your money until you are completely satisfied you’re getting everything you’re paying for.

If you’re considering buying off the plan, it’s also a good idea to get pre-approval on a loan before you sign the contract. You can then keep this up to date whilst the property is being constructed to be sure you can get finance when needed. We’re here to help you crunch the numbers and make sure it’s the right purchase for you, so please call us today.

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Rentvesting. It’s a whole new word in today’s popular culture, but it also represents a revolution in home buying strategy, particularly for first home buyers and those struggling to move up the property ladder. But what is it? And what are the benefits?

What is ‘rentvesting’?

Everyone agrees that buying your first home is becoming increasingly difficult. The struggle to save up a deposit for your first property purchase is getting harder every year, with home values increasing by as much as 13% or more per year in major markets such as Melbourne and Sydney. The reality is that the longer you wait to buy a property, the more difficult it may become to save a deposit or borrow enough money to be able to afford to buy it.

For many people, being able to afford to buy a home in a location where they actually want to live is making the challenge more difficult still. With the most affordable homes often located in new suburbs or outer suburbs, finding a place you can afford to buy near to your place of work, family or required lifestyle amenities can be completely out of the question.

‘Rentvesting’ is a new buying strategy that’s recently emerged in response to these issues. It entails purchasing your first property as an investment rather than a place to live. Rentvestors typically purchase a property that meets their budget in a location they can afford, then rent a home in a location where they would prefer to live and work. It is frequently more affordable to rent a home in a popular location than it is to buy it, and this basic financial fundamental is what’s behind the rentvesting revolution.

Technically, you don’t actually have to be renting somewhere to be a ‘rentvestor’. The term also applies to many Gen Y first home buyers. This class of ‘rentvestor’ is typically living at home with mum and dad to reduce their living expenses whilst they save up a deposit for a property purchase. These savvy property buyers may continue to live at home with mum and dad even after they’ve purchased their first property, and perhaps even after they’ve purchased their second.

What are the benefits of ‘rentvesting’?

The primary benefit of the rentvesting strategy is that it allows you to get into the property market sooner. As every successful property investor will tell you, the sooner you get into the market, the sooner your property can start generating capital gains and the sooner you can start to build wealth.

The beauty of this strategy is that in a rising market, you may soon have equity you can use to purchase a second property that’s also in an affordable location. Again it probably won’t be a property you want to live in, but you’ll have two properties gaining equity as home values rise (potentially), two sets of tenants paying down your mortgages for you, and greater tax advantages as well.

Research is the key to a successful rentvesting strategy

Buying an investment property first means that you won’t have to compromise on the location when you make your purchase. This can also mean you can make investments that may return you the greatest capital gains. You can literally restrict your property searches to properties that meet your buying criteria of price, affordability and capital growth potential – a luxury that most owner-occupier first home buyers simply don’t have.

Careful and thorough research is the key to success with a rentvesting strategy. The property needs to deliver a very consistent income and at the same time, achieve steady capital growth. To succeed, you first need to identify a location that provides capital growth potential, then carefully consider the housing stock available within that location and choose one that will best meet your needs.

Call us to get started

As your professional mortgage broker, we’re here to help you assess your financial position and work out what you can afford to invest. We can also help you with up-to-the-minute property market data that could give you the edge when selecting the right property for your means.

For more information about rentvesting, or for an informal chat about your plans with no obligation, please give us a call today. We’ll be happy to help you start rentvesting if it’s the right solution for you.

Please welcome Matt Lyons to Element Finance Joondalup!

Matt has recently joined Element Finance Joondalup bringing with him 9 years of experience garnered from two large banks and a small Perth broker. More recently, Matt has built several houses and knows first hand the hurdles a home buyer or investor can experience, and he has the ability to break down this process into simple concepts that make the whole process easy to understand.

After migrating here from England with his parents back in 1993, Matt has adapted to the Australian way of life and enjoys finance, property and investment. It was during his time at The Banks he realised he enjoyed discussing property and creating relationships to deliver a product for the Client that they both understand and meets their needs.

We are really excited Matt has chosen to join us. If you or any of your friends or family would like to chat with Matt to see how he can help improve your situation, you can contact him directly on matt@elementfinance.com.au or 0401 089 524

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Tips to help property investors maximise their tax returns.

Don’t you just love getting a tax refund? Whilst nobody enjoys all the paperwork that goes with filing a tax return, getting it right can be rewarding particularly if you’re a property investor. One of the major benefits of investing in property over other asset classes, is support for your investment from the Australian government in the form of tax relief. And of course, if you have a property investment or are considering investing in property soon, you won’t want to miss out on a single cent from any of the deductions that are available to you. Here are some tips to help you maximise your tax benefits this financial year if you are a property investor.

Make sure you’re claiming every cent you can for depreciation.

Depreciation is one of the major tax benefits that property investors can claim. Depreciation occurs as an item’s worth becomes less over time as it is used and it wears out. When you’re talking about a tax deduction, depreciation is a method of allocating the cost of an item over its useful life. For example, if your investment property has an oven that is valued at $1,000 and has a ten year life, you can claim $100 against your taxable income for 10 years on that individual item.

With an investment property, you are only allowed to claim depreciation on certain items against your taxable income. There are two types of depreciation tax deductions that you can claim:

  • Depreciation on plant & equipment: this refers to items within the building like ovens, hot water heaters, air conditioners, carpets, blinds, light fittings and so on.
  • Depreciation on buildings or ‘building allowance’: this refers to the construction costs of the building itself, such as concrete, brickwork, and so on.

In order to make a tax claim for depreciation, you need a report that identifies all the things that may be claimed against your tax and the current value of each item. This is called a depreciation schedule. Unfortunately, the Australian Tax Office will not allow you to create your own depreciation schedule, you’ll need to employ the services of a qualified Quantity Surveyor to do a thorough inspection to identify what can be claimed and make the necessary valuations on those items. But don’t worry, the cost of preparing your depreciation schedule is also tax deductible.

Spend money on property maintenance now so you can claim it back right away.

Every investment property requires maintenance and if you do it in June, you won’t be out of pocket for the expense for very long. If your property’s smoke detectors need servicing, or you haven’t sent the pest control company around for a while, now is a good time to do it. Cleaning, gardening and lawn mowing costs are also usually tax deductible (for you, not your tenant). Any other necessary repairs, maintenance and service costs – like checking the gas and hot water heaters for example, are also tax deductible for most property investors, so consider taking care of any issues before the end of the financial year.

Get back the other money you hate to spend.

When you own a property, it sometimes seems like you have to pay out a lot of money for invisible things that don’t have much benefit for you, which can be annoying. Tax time is when you can get your own back, with land tax, council and water rates, property management fees, advertising costs for marketing the property to tenants, body-corporate and strata-title fees all tax deductible expenses. You can also claim back any travel and car expenses directly related to inspecting your investment properties, but do keep a log book and any relevant receipts.

Remember to claim your finance and insurance costs.

Generally speaking, you are allowed to claim all finance costs associated with your property investment, including bank fees and charges, borrowing costs and interest on your loans. All insurance costs for your investment property are also tax deductible. So if you talk to us about your insurance coverage now, we can make sure you have the right cover for your current needs just in time for you to put in a claim for the cost with this year’s tax return.

Remember, if you’re a property investor or are considering investing in property soon, we’re here to help you get your finances right. We can help you access a loan structure that’s right for your ongoing investment strategy and help you access the most competitive rate available for you considering your personal financial circumstances and goals. Give us a call today.

We recommend that you seek independent financial and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article. General information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. Subject to lenders credit criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply.

Buying your first investment property can be a bold step to a more prosperous and secure future. But it can also pose risks. The Successful Investor’s Michael Sloan outlines five strategies to help you take the right path.

Give me the main points

  • Most investors use equity from their home for their deposit – but leave yourself wriggle room.
  • Hire a quantity surveyor to work out a depreciation schedule for your property.
  • Understand the difference between positive cash flow and negative gearing.
  • Do your research. Then do some more.
  • House or apartment? No right or wrong answer here – just more homework!

Buying your first investment property can be exhilarating (if a little stressful). When done well, property investing can create long-term wealth for you and your family.

Here are five strategies to consider when you’re starting out. Tactics to help you avoid the mistakes so many novice investors make. Read on!

My 5 Essential Investment Property Tips

1. Equity

Most people use equity from their home to help buy their first investment property. They then use the equity from both their home and investment property to buy their next property. This makes owning a portfolio of properties easier over time.

For this strategy to work, it’s important to understand how equity works and get an idea where you stand. It’s also important not to over-extend yourself. It’s risky—and ill-advised—to max out your equity if it leaves you in a financially vulnerable position (i.e. with no ‘buffer’ in an emergency).

2. Depreciation

Generous tax breaks—including depreciation—ensure your investment property is mostly paid for by the tenant and tax savings. To maximise your potential tax deductions—and savings—engage a professional quantity surveyor to give you a depreciation schedule. It’s not a job for your accountant.

3. Negative gearing and positive cash flow

Negative gearing means you pay money towards the property each year since the cost of the property exceeds the income of the property. Positive cash flow, on the other hand, sees you make money from the property each year (i.e. total expenditure—taking into account all costs—is less than total income, including tax breaks). Not knowing how much a property will cost you each week before you buy is a mistake many property investors make.

Make sure you understand how negative gearing works. It’s the most popular way to start investing in property, but you must be able to ‘top up’ funds each month towards the property. In time, each property will become positive cash flow and you won’t have to contribute additional funds.

4. Investment property research

It’s important to get the basics of property investing right. Happily, if you do your research it’s hard to go too far wrong. Always buy in sought-after locations, close to public transport with easy access to decent schools and amenities. This means you should find good tenants without difficulty.

Also don’t make the mistake of only looking in the suburb where you live (or imagine you might want to live). You can buy anywhere in Australia, so don’t restrict yourself to the house around the corner.

It’s also wise to diversify your portfolio. Once you buy in one location, it can be tempting to buy again in the same place. However, that approach concentrates your risk—it’s best to diversify.

5. A house or an apartment?

This is a whole topic all by itself—and one without a straightforward answer. Both can perform well for you. It’s important to buy what suits your budget and cash flow, and the type of property that’s popular in its area.

A single-fronted terrace in inner-city Melbourne may be great for capital growth, but it can cost you $300 a week after tax. Cash flow demands like this get people into financial trouble, and it’s out of reach for the average Aussie investor. Only buy what you can afford. This will not only help keep you safe, but may mean you can buy more properties in the future.


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