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Autumn has arrived and as the weather cools, property markets around the country are starting to heat up. Auction numbers and clearance rates are a bit low for this time of year, but private home sales are going along quite strongly.  Nevertheless, home values are continuing to fall in many areas, and if you’re in the market to buy a home at a bargain price, there are plenty of houses and units up for sale.

Interest rate news
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate at 1.5% during its March meeting. Concern about the impact of the declining housing market on our economy has led to speculation by analysts about the RBA cutting rates by up to 50 basis points (or half a percent) by mid-2020. But right now, it’s a wait and see game and according to the RBA, rates could go either way.

Home value movements
According to Economist, Cameron Kusher at CoreLogic, “…it is looking inevitable that dwelling values will fall further over the coming months.” This is great news for home buyers and property investors who have been waiting for a more favourable time to get on the property ladder.

Some areas are holding value better than others and it pays to do your research before putting down a deposit. The biggest declines in home values over the last month have been in Darwin where prices fell 1.67% and in Perth where they fell 1.46%. As expected, ‘market corrections’ in Melbourne also brought values down by 1% and in Sydney, 0.97%.

Changes to home values were less dramatic in other areas, with regional centres holding value quite well. Brisbane/Gold Coast home values declined just 0.25%, and Canberra 0.19%. However, home values were up in Adelaide by 0.04% and in Hobart by 0.82%.

Property market activity
When property prices are stagnant or falling, conditions tend to favour buyers and vendors are more likely to choose a private sale over an auction to achieve their price. As a result, the number of auctions and clearance rate figures are decreasing as private sales numbers rise. The table below provides a snapshot of the property market at the end of February.

If you’re in the market to buy a home or invest in property, be sure to read our articles this month about how to take advantage of our current buyer’s market  and avoid any risks. If you are wanting to buy a home, a home loan pre-approval is very important in this market, so please call us to chat about your plans today.

Sincerely,
Mike & the Element Finance Team

Valentine’s Day makes us think about loyalty – which is an admirable quality in any relationship. But is your devotion to your home loan provider justified?  It’s important to ask your mortgage broker to help you review your home loan from time to time. We’re here to check the interest rate, review it’s features and make sure it’s still giving you everything you need and desire.

Here are some tell-tale signs that it may be time to part ways with your current lender and start afresh with someone new.

Your home loan is getting old

Without suggesting you go on ‘Home Loan Tinder’ and start ogling a new lender every week, we have to say the days of staying with the same one for 30 years are long gone. If you’ve had your home loan for more than two years, it could be time to review it. The home loan market is increasingly competitive and new products are being released all the time.

For example, take offset accounts. These transaction accounts are linked to your mortgage, and any money you deposit is offset against your outstanding loan balance, saving you money on interest. They just keep getting better and better, with a larger proportion of your loan available to offset.

Another popular option is a redraw facility. This allows you to make extra repayments on your mortgage and save on interest, without committing to a shorter loan term – you can access and withdraw those extra funds at any time.

The honeymoon period is long gone

When you first take out a home loan, lenders may offer you a sweetheart deal to get you in the door. It’s not uncommon for them to waive fees or discount interest rates to new customers – this kind of loan arrangement is frequently referred to as a honeymoon period or honeymoon loan. But once the honeymoon is over, the loan may revert to a more expensive or less convenient loan than you would like. If that’s the case, it’s time to look at new options.

Your lender doesn’t listen to a word you say

Nobody likes to nag. If you’re always chasing your lender about rates or ways to save, it may also be time to hit the bricks. Similarly, if you’re sick of talking to a voice recording over the phone and crave real human interaction, there may be other lenders who place greater importance on giving you the attention you deserve. If this is the case for you, ask us about our home-brand home loans, where we provide you with the after-care service ourselves.

Your needs are not being met

Maybe you’ve scored a higher paying job and want to pay down your mortgage faster. Perhaps you’re adding to your family and temporarily need to rely on one income for a time. If your needs have changed, you may find it more fulfilling to be with another home loan provider and a mortgage that marries with your current financial circumstances and goals.

Remember, there are plenty of fish in the sea!

As your mortgage broker, we can access 100s of loan products from a wide variety of lenders. We’ll also know which lenders and products are right for you, considering your personal financial circumstances and goals. Let us be your match-maker!

Don’t stay in an obsolete relationship with your lender. If you’d like to know more, or would just like a home loan health check with no obligation to switch lenders, please get in touch.

Considering buying a property off the plan? It sounds good in theory, with the possibility of stamp duty concessions and other benefits for first home buyers. But in 2018 there were quite a few people who got caught out by the hidden risks. Read on to find out what you need to know if you’re thinking about buying off the plan this year, or if you’re having second thoughts about an off the plan purchase.

What does ‘buying off the plan’ mean?

When you buy ‘off the plan’, it means the property you’re buying is not built yet. Typically, you’ll only have to pay the deposit upfront, then the balance of the purchase price once the property is completed. Because an off the plan purchase is a new build home, you may qualify for stamp duty exemptions or first home owner concessions, depending on your circumstances. (Check your state or territory’s rules online).

What are the risks?

Lenders may offer conditional approval for off-the plan purchases, but they won’t lend you the funds until they have performed a valuation of the property upon completion. In 2018, many buyers were caught out because their off-the-plan property was valued at less than the agreed purchase price and the lender would not lend the amount required to complete the sale.

There may also be other risks with purchasing an off the plan property, including:

  • The final product may differ from your expectations.
  • There may be delays or the development may not proceed. Your deposit should be refunded if this happens, but in the meantime, your money will have been tied up.
  • If the developer holds on to your deposit (rather than putting it in a trust account), your money may be at risk if the developer goes bankrupt.

Terminating an off-the-plan contract

Terminating an off-the plan contract can be tricky, but there may be grounds to do so. For example, if the vendor has engaged in misleading conduct or the developer doesn’t complete construction before the sunset date, you may be able to terminate the contract.

However, if you want to terminate the contract because a lender has valued the completed property at less than the agreed purchase price, you may have difficulty. You could potentially lose your deposit and may have to compensate the developer for any loss.

Seek legal advice about your options if you wish to terminate an off-the-plan contract. More importantly, ask your solicitor to examine any contract before you sign, to ensure you have appropriate exit clauses in place – more about this below.

Selling before settlement date

Some buyers decide they want to sell the property before settlement. This is legal under most off-the-plan contracts and can prove to be lucrative if the property’s value has gone up, but there are risks involved.

Key considerations:

  • Have your conveyancer check that the contract allows for re-sales prior to settlement.
  • Speak to your accountant about the tax implications of reselling the property (you’ll likely be up for capital gains tax).
  • You’ll have to pay stamp duty, additional legal fees and any agent’s commission, so be sure to factor these costs into your calculations.
  • If you find a buyer but your contract with them falls through, you’ll still be bound to settle with the developer.
  • Ask the developer to include a clause in the contract that allows you to terminate it if the completed property is valued at less than the agreed price.

Talk with me before you get started

If you do decide to go ahead with your off the plan purchase, I can help to organise pre-approval on your home loan and help you choose a lender that will work with you on this type of purchase. I can also refer you to a reliable conveyancer or solicitor to help you avoid the legal pitfalls. If you’re having difficulty organising finance to complete an off the plan purchase, please get in touch asap!

We hope you survived all the madness of back-to-school week and returning to work after the summer holidays at the end of January! While February is certainly a busy time of year in most households around the country, it isn’t always the same story in our property markets. The quiet season has resulted in falling home values and low auction clearance rates in almost every capital city around the country.

Interest rate news
This month, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) met for its first meeting for the year and elected to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.5%. Meanwhile during January, some lenders increased home loan interest rates slightly to account for the rising costs of borrowing, while several smaller lenders reduced rates to make their offer more competitive.

Property market activity
Whilst there was a significant drop in new property listings in December 2018, SQM Research revealed the total number of property listings in our major capital cities surged. This is an indication that property is taking significantly longer to sell, with more vendors favouring private sales with no time-limit in order to achieve their desired price.

For the last weekend of January, Victoria held only 44 auctions with a 59% clearance rate, however there were 850 private sales. NSW held 17 auctions with an 82% clearance rate, and there were 963 private sales. ACT held 17 auctions with a clearance rate of 82% but there were only 56 private sales. South Australia held 142 auctions with a 42% clearance rate and private sales reached 229. Western Australia held 57 auctions with a 40% clearance rate and there were 335 private sales. Queensland held 24 auctions with a 71% clearance rate, but there were a whopping 832 private sales. Northern Territory had no auctions and 7 private sales, whilst Tasmania had only one auction and 155 private sales.

Home value movements
When property prices are stagnant or falling, conditions tend to favour property buyers as vendors are more likely to negotiate. According to figures released by CoreLogic, vendors are now having to offer bigger discounts to sell their properties – the median discount was 6.1 percent across the last three months to the end of January 2019.

As a result, during January home values fell in every capital city month-on-month, except Canberra where there was a small increase of 0.22%. Victoria experienced a drop of 1.60%, NSW 1.35%, QLD, 0.26%, SA 0.34%, WA 1.06%, NT 1.69% and Tasmania 0.16%.

If you’re in the market to buy a home or invest in property, there are certainly bargains to be had. Thorough research can help you determine locations that are still experiencing capital growth. If you need help with finance or would like to consider refinancing your current home loan, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Sincerely,
Mike & the Element Finance Team

How are your New Year Resolutions coming along? If you’re serious about achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself, creating a plan is the way to go. Of course, making a plan is easy when you’re talking about losing weight or exercising more (the world’s most popular choices for NY Resolutions every year), but achieving your property goals may take some professional support from your mortgage broker. Here’s how we can help.

NY Resolution #1: “I’m going to buy my first home in 2019!”

Buying your first home is exciting and 2019 could be the year to do it. Home values have ceased their rapid rise for the time being and home loan interest rates are still low.

Here’s how your broker can help you get on the property ladder for the first time:

Creating a budget for your purchase and a savings plan for your deposit.

Exploring alternative ideas for a deposit (like a guarantor’s home loan, for example).

Providing advice about clearing debt and/ or improving your credit report to make you a more attractive prospect for lenders.

Explaining your borrowing capacity (how much you can afford to repay and how much a lender will lend you based on your income and expenses).

Going through any grants, concessions or other initiatives like the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme to get you into your own home sooner.

Explaining the different types of home loans and how you can use them to save money.

Comparing the market to help you find the most suitable home loan for your needs.

Referring you to reputable professionals such as valuators, conveyancers and solicitors, accountants etc.

Organising pre-approval on your home loan so you know how much you can spend and save time on your property search.

Overseeing all the loan application paperwork.

Offering support throughout your entire home ownership journey and beyond. We can answer your questions at any time to ensure your home loan remains competitive.

NY Resolution #2: “I’m going to move into my next home in 2019!”

Upsizing, downsizing, sea-change, tree-change – whatever your motivation for moving into your next home in 2019, just ask us to help you make it happen! Even if you already know the drill for purchasing a home, it’s worth having a professional on your team when buying your next place. There’s a lot more to consider. Ask us about:

Using the equity in your current home as a deposit for your next home.

The costs involved.

Bridging finance.

Property and suburb reports to help guide your purchasing decision.

NY Resolution #3: “I’m going to invest in property in 2019!”

A goodie for 2019! We can help with:

Working with your accountant and/or financial planner on your investment strategy.

Structuring your loan correctly to maximise the tax effectiveness of your investment.

Comparing the loan market to find the right loan products to meet your investment strategy.

Getting loan pre-approval and ensuring your loan application goes smoothly.

Crunching the numbers (for things like your anticipated rental yield or out-of-pocket costs).

Comprehensive suburb and property reports to help you choose the right property.

Accessing equity in your home or from another investment property to use as a deposit.

Offering referrals to reputable property managers and other professionals.

If you have a 2019 property goal, give me a call!

A goal without a plan is just a wish, so let’s start planning and make your goals a reality this year. Please get in touch with us at Element Finance today!


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