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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

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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