To add value to your home – or just enjoy living there yourself – quality kitchen renovations are always high on the wish-list. But if re-building your inside kitchen seems like a job that’s too big for now think about creating an outdoor kitchen you’ll love – and just in time for a perfect summer filled with lazy evenings by the barbecue. Refinancing on your mortgage can give you access to the funds you need to make these improvements without impacting on your own cash-flow and, if the project is done well, your investment will be sure to pay off.

In fact, many real estate experts say that a well-designed outdoor kitchen can deliver a solid return-on-investment, with some estimating a 100%-200% return on your initial outlay, when it comes to the value it adds to your home. It’s good news if you’re looking to sell in the not-too-distant future and great news for anyone who wants maximum pleasure in this warm summer months ahead.

But creating a great outdoor kitchen takes planning and there are some important things to consider before creating your special outdoor space. 

What’s the Climate Like?

Where you live determines how much use your outdoor kitchen will get – so be realistic. If you’re in a very cold climate, looking at minimising your spend might make more sense. But if you’re in a climate that lends itself to balmy evenings out-of-doors, then your kitchen might just become one of the favourite places in your house. Of course, additions and adjustments can be made as winter approaches too, with fireplaces and coverings extending the life of your outdoor kitchen for year-round use (something to think about while you make your initial design decisions).

How Big Does Your Outdoor Kitchen Need to Be?

Thinking about how many people are in your family and how many people you would love to have at family gatherings is an important thing to think about when designing an outdoor kitchen space so is practical and user-friendly. If you’re looking for a space to have sit-down meals together, you’ll need a table that accommodates everyone you love – and a barbecue big enough to cook the food.

What Materials Do You Plan To Use?

All-weather kitchens need quality materials that are built for outdoor usage. Look for materials that withstand rain and harsh sunlight to ensure that your investment is built to last.

Since this kitchen lives outdoors, you’ll want to use quality materials that can withstand any type of weather. The last thing you need is for it to fall to pieces in the next rainstorm because you skimped on materials. Choosing recycled materials can be good for the environment (keeps them out of landfill) and good for your budget too. Talk to your design specialist about your choices and trim costs without compromising quality.

Is Plumbing Required?

For the perfect outdoor kitchen that is convenient and classy, having a water or gas line integrated with your design is great. Bear in mind that plumbing can be expensive, so crunch your numbers and think about your long-term vision for the space to make sure the decision is right for you. The closer your outdoor kitchen is to the house, the more affordable the plumbing will be.

What Features Do You Need?

Landscaping, access to power, sun/weather protection, plumbing and a pizza oven are all things to consider when planning your dream outdoor kitchen area. Talk to your family about how you would love to use the space – covering everything from reclining and reading, to cooking up a storm, before you commit to the design that suits your lifestyle loves the best.

Make sure you think carefully about the lighting too – to make the most of your space, it needs to be liveable for your needs.

The more bells and whistles your outdoor kitchen has, the more likely it will be to add value to your home, but things do date so if upping your house price is your main motivation get expert advice and create your outdoor kitchen within a couple of years of your proposed selling date before it starts to look old and worn. If the outdoor kitchen is more about a space for you and your loved ones to enjoy in style, then your only limitations should be your budget (and your realistic appraisal of what you will actually use). Talking to your mortgage broker will help you understand how much you can unlock without breaking your repayment budget.

For advice about refinancing your property to build the outdoor kitchen of your dreams, talk to our team at Lending Specialists today and make this summer your best one yet.

Call us on 03 8805 1800 or email: info@lendingspecialists.com.au

 

Summer is here and, for many people, that means taking time away from work to spend more time at home. Whether you’re preparing your home for sale, or want to make the most from your recent property investment and enjoy the healthiest, happiest lifestyle possible, knowing how to make your home clean and fresh the environmentally-friendly way is something that can help trim your budget and improve your well-being. To help make your home a little more eco-friendly this summer, try these handy tips:

1. Light-filled living. When the sun is shining outside, do you really need those electric lights on indoors? Making the most of the natural light is better for your utilities budget – and your health. Because natural light is a naturally good mood enhancer and will save your power bills too. Taking it one step further, an investment in solar power panels is the ultimate way to enjoy a light-filled lifestyle.

2. Living air purifiers for better health. Don’t stock up on costly, chemical-based air fresheners from the supermarket. Instead, try living indoor plants that add a soft, green touch to your space and make your air better to breathe too. Look for plants such as aloe vera, spider plants (one of the easiest indoor plants to grow), snake plants and Peace Lily and say bye-bye to air nasties.

3. Go native.  Planting native species of plants in your garden is a great idea for lots of reasons, including attracting native birds and bees to your backyard. But from a money-saving perspective, it’s all about saving on your water bill. With a gorgeous native garden, you’ll improve the value of your home – an investment in time and effort that will pay off in the long-term.

Drought-resistant plants make sense for Australian gardens – especially those in hotter climates. Talk to your local nursery staff for expert advice on plants to suit your garden in stress-free style and watch your water usage plummet.

4. Create a vegetable patch. Australian backyards (or front yards) are great places to grow a wide variety of summer fruits and vegetables.

Snake beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, rockmelon, summer greens and rockmelon are just some of the lovely foods you could be picking from your own garden this summer. Talk to your local nursery to see what you can still plant or buy as seedlings to fill your garden with delicious things to eat.

Check out the guide to summer vegetables in your region here:  summer gardening

5. Get active. Warmer weather is the time to be out and about – so if you can choose walking over driving, just do it and save on petrol and wear and tear on your vehicle. Remember the slip, slop, slap rule if you’re in the sun and make sure you stay hydrated with cool, clear water. And that petrol money you might have spent? Tuck a few coins in a piggy-bank each time you trade a car trip for walking. You’ll feel better, you’ll help the environment and you’ll save money as well.

6. Cut out the cleaning chemicals. Harsh chemicals that get poured down our sinks and into our waterways are wreaking havoc on our environment. And they are costing a lot of money. Exploring natural alternatives can mean an initial investment in some different tools than you’re used to having around but trading that traditional mop for a steam mop means clean, healthy floors that don’t need anything more than water and some old-fashioned muscle. Other cleaning tricks using natural ingredients include white vinegar, baking soda, lemons, natural salt, liquid soap.

7. Forget the tumble-dryer and make the most the fresh air and sunshine to dry your wet washing. It’s easy, it’s free and it’s healthy.

Making small changes to the way you live inside your home not only improves your health – it improves your environment for anyone who enters it, including your pets. And with the money you save on chemical cleaners, petrol, processed foods and high energy bills, you can create your own weekly savings jar and use that money to add to any loan payments, including your mortgage repayments. Small steps really do make a big difference.

For advice about how your new-found savings can help you repay your mortgage faster, talk to our team of home loan experts at Lending Specialists. on 03 8805 1800 or email: info@lendingspecialists.com.au

 

Selling your property is one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll ever make and it’s important to manage it properly to get the best possible result.

Not so long ago, the only real way to sell a home successfully was to choose a professional real estate agent and let them do the hard work for you.

Yes, they took a commission that often added up to tens of thousands, depending on the sale price of your property, but it meant that marketing and actually showing it off at open inspections was handled by someone with more expertise – and a solid database of potential buyers.

In today’s online world, though, the way we reach out to connect with potential buyers has changed and the democracy of the internet puts marketing opportunities in the hands of average vendors – just like you. With that evolution continuing to have an impact on the traditional real estate world, the real estate industry is at the beginning of a genuine shake-up, which has seen a number of DIY-style companies spring up in recent years.

From Purple Bricks to forsalebyowner.com.au  – and the variations in between that include diysalesandleasing.com.au and buymyplace.com.au  –  there are now other ways to sell and buy properties, without handing over a large chunk of your sale price to a real estate agent.

But to figure out if selling your property without a traditional real estate agent is the right move for you, here are some important points to think about:

 

Things To Consider When Choosing A Real Estate Agent To Sell Your Home

Connections

With the right choice of a quality and experienced real estate agent working with you, you have the power to tap into their database of potential buyers in the area.

Professional agents know the market and are used to buying and selling properties each week, so they know a lot about setting the right price and attracting buyers who might submit offers that go beyond that.

 

Stress-free open inspections

Engaging a real estate agent means that you can leave the labour-intensive work of being present at open inspections to them and their team, while you are working, enjoying time with family or dealing with other aspects of your planned sale.

 

Negotiation Power

Experienced agents are also great negotiators – and that could mean the difference of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands of dollars – to your sale price.

 

Protection

Using an agent does protect you in many ways, as their experience ensures they can help you to set a realistic price range that helps you get that sought-after top value for your property.

 

Support For Best Sales Techniques

Unless you are sure about the best possible sale method for your property, using a real estate agent can help you hone in on the right option to suit the style of your home and the market conditions at the time. From private treaty, to auction, or expressions of interest – selecting the sales method for your home can help attract the right buyers and can have a very real impact on the eventual sale price.

 

Paperwork

Preparing a contract of sale and working through the paperwork that is needed to sell a property can be stressful and time-consuming. If your hourly rate in your own job or business is a handsome one, it’s worth balancing the value of your time with the value a professional real estate agent can deliver when they work for you to sell your home.

Remember – Real estate commissions can leave a dent in your sales price but to be realistic about the value they can bring, ask yourself some hard questions about whether you feel capable of tackling every aspect of the agent’s usual workload before deciding to save money on agent fees when selling.

 

Selling Your Home The DIY Way

With a range of DIY-style selling options available to today’s savvy vendors, it’s important to do your own personal due diligence and read online referrals and reviews for the companies building a local reputation in your area.

At the end of the day, a good sale needs lots of potential buyers and the emotional push that genuine competition inspires.

Before signing a contract to DIY sell your home, look at sales records and compare them to sales from traditional agents selling similar properties. Then ask question about their marketing packages to try to compare apples with apples.

If you have a lot of social media connections to push the DIY marketing along, it could be a viable option that could see you get the sale price you hope for.

No agent’s commissions can mean huge savings – especially if your property is in the higher end of the spectrum. But do be clear about your commitment to take prospective buyers through for open inspections – and still be sure to present your home in the most stunning way possible to ensure potential buyers that do come through stay interested.

And remember, you need to know details about the property such as land and room sizes, location and accessibility to schools and amenities, any council approvals, comparisons with other properties on the market in your area. Also, try to establish a connection with the buyers, find out what they are looking for in a property and point out how your property can help fill that need.

  

Purple Bricks

A quick check of the Purple Bricks website tells you all you need to understand about their pricing model for selling properties. It’s not a DIY model – the people working for you to sell your property are real estate agents who manage the process for you – but they specialise in transparency and fixed fees. Want to take your home to auction? That will be $5870, including GST. Think private treaty suits your property better? The flat fee is $4500, including GST. There is more specific info about prices in different states and territories across Australia but the variations are minor and the model is appealing to a growing number of Australian vendors (and buyers) who believe that flat fee pricing for real estate sales leads to a more accessible real estate market.

To find out if this model is right for you, visit www.purplebricks.com.au for more information.

Preparing your home for sale is a big step and one that leads you towards a new chapter of your life. If you’re upsizing, downsizing, relocating or taking a fresh look at your investment property portfolio, talking to experienced mortgage brokers can help you understand what finance and refinancing options are available to you.

 

To find out more about the home loan you might need for your next property move, talk to our team at Lending Specialists today on 03 8805 1800.

 

If you’re planning to put your property on the market, it’s important to know what the associated costs are – to help you make the best possible decisions about sales strategies and marketing budgets.

Of course, fees can vary depending on your agent, other deliverers of professional services (such as conveyancers and solicitors) and your finance broker. So, to help you have a basic understanding of what selling your home may cost you, take a look at these ballpark figures.

To keep the number-crunching simple, we’re using the example of an ‘average’ occupied home – selling for $500,000 and cost estimates at the lower-end of the scale.

 

The Cost of Selling Your Home

On a property selling for $500,000, understanding these typical costs can help you set your budget.

Although there are some ways to trim that budget, it is definitely a case of proceeding with caution.

 

How To Save Money When You Sell Your Home – Choosing An Agent

When it comes to choosing an agent who deserves that handsome commission, we recommend talking to friends and family who have sold recently and consider their experiences about their chosen real estate agents. Make sure you look for one who can show you fantastic recent sales results and answer the important questions you have about how they plan to sell your property. Sometimes the commission can be negotiated down, but can this can backfire as it may leave the agent disgruntled and less enthusiastic about getting you that great sales result.

Marketing expenses can often be trimmed so be sure to talk to your agent about why they want the specific marketing strategy they are proposing – and how it will work for your property. Often, expensive marketing campaigns – especially print campaigns in local papers – are more about marketing their own real estate business rather than selling your home. So be careful.

In today’s increasingly digital world, an overwhelming percentage of home-buyers begin their house hunting online, and, unless the words and images they find there are compelling, they won’t even bother coming to see the house in person. Make sure your agent explains their digital marketing strategy – and that you are impressed by it. It really is the foundation for a successful property sale.

 

Conveyancing Costs

Solicitor and conveyancing fees can vary, depending on who you ask, but when it comes to the legalities of looking after one of your most valuable assets, it’s important to know it is being handled by experienced professionals – and that might mean paying more. 

 

Repairs

How much you allocate to pre-sale repairs and tidying is up to you, ultimately, but a good real estate agent should be able to give you some general ideas and advice on how to present your property in the best light. Over-spending on any major renovation work is never recommended but presenting a property that is clean and tidy is always the right choice. If that means your budget goes on getting rid of weeds, garden rubbish and dead trees, as well as professional cleaning and carpet steam-cleaning inside and maybe some touch-up painting, it is well worth it to help attract the right buyers. The only exception is if your house is aimed at the ‘knock down and rebuild’ market.

 

Mortgage Fees

A relationship with a trusted professional mortgage broker is always a positive thing for anyone with a mortgage. Knowing what fees you might incur in relation to moving on from your mortgage thanks to a house sale is important and they can help you do a proper assessment of your home-selling budget. And with that sorted, happily, hopefully you can plan your next property loan as you prepare to move on to even greener pastures.

 

For advice about what selling your home means for your mortgage – and how to prepare for your next finance application – talk to our Lending Specialists today on 03 8805 1800.

 

Whether you’re refinancing your existing home loan, or about to apply for a new mortgage to enter the property market as an investor or home-owner, choosing a professional mortgage broker is an important step in the path to your real estate success.

But, as with any service provider you hope to do business with, making sure they have the expertise you can trust is critical to a positive relationship. And when it comes to guiding you through one of the most important financial decisions of your life, having faith in the experience of a mortgage broker who offers the right advice and support is vital.

To help you make a decision about working with a mortgage broker, make sure you ask these questions:

1. How much experience as a mortgage broker do you have?

This question is, perhaps, the most important. These days, many newcomers to the industry are very inexperienced and that can lead to a lack of understanding regarding the complexity around loan advice and the different criteria individual lenders have. By choosing an experienced mortgage broker, you are more likely to have a smooth, positive loan application experience.

2. How is a mortgage broker different than a bank?

3. Are you a member of the Mortgage Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) or Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA)?

4. Do you have your own Credit License, or are you a Credit Representative?

5. What do you need to know about me in order to find the loan that suits me best?

6. Do you charge me a fee for your services for handling my finance application?

7. What commissions do you get paid, as my broker?

8. How many different lenders do you work with?

9. What deposit do I need before applying for a home loan?

10. What is a comparison rate?

11. What information do you need from me, in order to process my application successfully?

12. What steps do I need to take to secure finance and go to settlement?

13. If I choose a variable rate, do I have the option to fix my  interest rate in at a later stage?

14. If I choose a fixed interest rate, can I lock my fixed interest rate in before settlement?

15. How long will it take to go through the loan application process from start to finish?

16. Can you explain what Lender’s Mortgage Insurance is?

17. How does having a default on my Credit Report impact my ability to obtain a loan?

18. If I apply for a home loan under your recommendation and I am turned down – will that affect my credit rating?

19. How can I ensure my home loan application is successful?

20. Can you share any testimonials from previous clients?

For more information about the finance you need to buy or refinance your dream property, talk to a member of our Lending Specialists’ team today on 03 8805 1800 or email me at barry@lendingspecialists.com.au.

In the real estate industry, innovations are few and far in between, but as the online world continues to change the way houses are marketed and potential buyers can house-hunt, further disruption to the way people sell and buy houses is giving the industry a shake-up that may have a huge impact on the way people do business.

For an industry that hasn’t evolved a lot in decades, the time seems very right.

As proof that disruption is here to stay, investments in real estate tech start-ups reached an all-time high in the last year, and although traditional real estate agencies might not welcome the way things are shifting, the signs are that consumers are more than ready for change.

To understand what disruption to the real estate industry looks like – and what it might mean for your future property sales – it’s important to understand some background statistics.

Bye-Bye Middle Man – How To Avoid Real Estate Sales Commissions

In the US market, figures from the US Census Bureau revealed that, in 2016, around 51% of all home-buyers found the property they ended up buying online.

In the same study, though, it showed that 88% of buyers still used a real estate agent to take care of the transaction.

Today, though, as new players, such as the UK-founded Purple Bricks, enter the Australian market, property buyers and vendors have a choice to avoid the extra cost of real estate agent commissions by choosing to transact property under a flat fee model.

As far back as 2013, a study by Oxford University suggested a 98% chance that artificial intelligence would replace real estate agents in the future. With that prediction in mind and the move towards block chain technology that makes digital transactions more secure.

The truth is that, any business that sets to simplify the real estate buying and selling process and guide buyers towards handling the paperwork themselves, is on a winner. For vendors themselves, the avoidance of hefty commissions heading the way of real estate agents could mean more money in your pocket.

Real Estate Industry Work Habits Are Changing

The rise of co-working spaces across Australian suburbs is further evidence that the way we do business today has already changed. Traditional office space is an outdated concept, thanks to the convenience of modern technology that makes working remotely a breeze, and so it seems logical that, when it comes to the way real estate agents can now work without the expensive rent and office upkeep costs on maintaining a traditional office space, those reduced overheads could mean a future with more competitive commissions that can save you money.

Simply by downsizing their office space, traditional real estate agencies could save an estimated 30% of their revenue. Savvy real estate agents prepared to do business differently and find new ways to interact with their vendors and buyers, could still enjoy solid profits, as well as benefit from the potential winning clients by reducing commissions.

In an article in the Australian Financial Review earlier this year, an example of how the Purple Bricks model works was given using property developer David Fam. When he put his $3 million mansion on the market and made a decision to sell using Purple Bricks, he paid just $6780, rather than the $60,000 he would have paid if he’d chosen a traditional agent with a 2% commission deal.

Slowing Property Market Ripe For Change

Predictions of a slowing real estate market make the industry ripe for change. Other players in the game include forsalebyowner.com.au and buymyplace.com.au, and although there will always be a steady market of high-income, time-poor vendors happy to stick with the status quo of traditional real estate agents who do everything for them, the disruptors to the industry will make their mark – and that could mean great opportunities for buyers and vendors.

For more information about the finance you need to buy your dream property, talk to a member of our Lending Specialists’ team today on 03 8805 1800 or email me at barry@lendingspecialists.com.au.

When the findings of the latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) survey were released earlier this year, it showed that many younger Australians were worried about their ability to save for loans.

Australia’s most comprehensive household survey has tracked the social and economic circumstances of more than 17,000 young people since 2001.

The results of the latest survey revealed that home-ownership for under-40s had taken a significant drop since 2002 – and also that, for those with mortgages, those home loans were not being paid off at the same rate they used to be handled.

One key factor is that wages have remained quite stagnant, with very little growth in recent years.

For many young people, it’s another challenge to face when saving for your home but it is not impossible to overcome.

To help you save money for your first home deposit, try these practical tips to help you secure a mortgage faster.

Set a goal

By having a clear financial goal, it’s a smart way to get your finances in better shape.

Once you work out the deposit amount you need – and talking to a mortgage broker or using an online mortgage calculator can give you a more detailed understanding of how much you are eligible to borrow – you can work towards saving that amount.

By knowing where you need to be, you can make smarter decisions about some of the sacrifices you might need to make on the journey. Yes, that new outfit or holiday might seem like fun, but if you want a first home even more, you’ll soon make realistic decisions about the long-term impact your spending decisions can have.

Open a savings account

By directing savings into a separate bank account consistently, you’ll have the pleasure of watching your savings build. If you choose an account with a good interest rate and consider the money in this special account as off-limits, you can watch the money accumulate and feel good about it – knowing that each additional deposit is bringing you closer to your home-ownership dream.

Budget for long-term success

Budgets shouldn’t be overwhelming. Create a list of your typical expenses each month, then allow for some miscellaneous expenses that invariably occur. Next, make a list of your expected income for the month ahead and calculate the difference between the two amounts. Using spreadsheet software, such as Excel, can help but pen and paper can work just as well if you prefer doing things that way.

If your expenses add up to more than your income, it might be a good motivation to talk to a financial counsellor, or be strict with yourself and think of ways to trim your outgoings. You might also be able to increase your incomings. If it’s time to ask for a raise, or look for a better job with a higher salary, think about it. If that is not possible and you are committed to the idea of your savings, taking a second part-time job could be another way to improve your savings. Be realistic and budget for the unexpected, such as car problems, the way sickness may impact your ability to earn, or other unforseen circumstances that might impact your earnings/expenses.

Negotiate a better deal with your utility companies, try walking more in your local neighbourhood, instead of jumping in the car every time you need something from the shop. You’ll spend less on petrol and you’ll be less likely to impulse buy when you don’t have your car to load your shopping into. Consider shopping for groceries in bulk to save money – choosing bulk rolls of toilet paper, for example, can save you money in the long-term.

Avoid using credit

Credit cards are designed to make it easy for you to spend money.

And when you don’t pay your bill on time? The interest costs you even more.

If you’re saving for a long-term goal, such as a house, now is not the best time to spend on other unnecessary items, such as new appliances or a new car. Be realistic about your savings goals and don’t fall into the trap of using credit to get what you don’t really need. In the long-term, you’ll be grateful you stayed focus on your bigger goal of owning a home.

With the spring selling season well underway, it’s the ideal time to get your house looking its best to help it make the best possible impact on the property market.

Whether you’re downsizing or upscaling, selling your current home and getting the highest possible price is a great way to help your financial situation, so for more chances of a stress-free and successful sale, try these tips.

8 tips for a great spring property sale

  1. Declutter and clean

Before you make your next move, plan the packing process now.

If you’ve got items that you don’t use regularly stored away, clear the clutter today.

If you haven’t used it in the last 12 months, ask yourself if it has genuine sentimental value – and consider donating it. Get rid of items you don’t really like and when it comes to things that are broken or damaged – simply throw them away.

Unwanted paperwork can be shredded and put in the recycling bin and clothes that no longer fit (or are out of style) can be either sold at a garage sale or via online selling sites, or donated for someone else to love.

If you have large items of furniture taking up space in your place, consider storing them temporarily in a friend’s garage, or professional storage hire facility, to give your place some space that will be more attractive to potential buyers.

When it comes to cleaning, paying attention to small details can make a big difference.

  1. Eliminate odours

Simply masking smells with air fresheners is not enough to rid your home of unwelcome odours.

Pleasant scents, such as freshly-cut flowers, the smell of cinnamon, the smell of fresh apples in a bowl on the dining table or of freshly-baked bread, are all positive touches.

  1. Keep it neutral

While that mint green feature wall might have seemed on-trend a few years ago, your new buyer might not love it now. Many buyers like the idea of having a blank canvas to let them add their own touches. By painting your walls in neutral tones, you’ll create a better sense of space and a broader appeal.

If you are painting, don’t forget to repair any holes in the walls first, and look at the ceilings and the trims – not just the walls.

  1. Finish those repairs

If your home improvement projects have been on hold, it’s time to get them finished.

Buyers don’t like seeing unfinished projects in a home or garden, so by taking the time to repair the little things you’ve been ignoring for so long, you’ll boost your chances of attracting more buyers.

  1. Freshen up your fixtures

Replacing light fixtures, bathroom mirrors, rusty old taps, dripping shower heads and tatty looking cupboard hardware can all be replaced for very little money – and it can make a big difference in the visual appeal of your property.

  1. Make an entrance

The first thing potential buyers will see when they inspect your property? Your front door. Make an entrance welcoming for a positive first impression. That might include painting the door if needed, replacing any damaged hardware and minimising clutter, such as too many pot plants.

  1. Staging matters

If you haven’t got the budget for professional staging, you can still make a difference with a careful eye and some planning.

Placing furniture to optimise the feelings of space and light can help your home look more spacious and inviting. And if your furniture items aren’t attractive? Consider hiding them away in storage and renting some artwork and nicer furniture during the sales campaign period.

  1. Understand your real price

By looking at recent sales results for properties that are similar to yours, you’ll understand the potential your own property has.

Exploring comparable sales and being aware of market influences that may have an impact gives you the knowledge you need to make a realistic assessment of your sales potential – and that information can be vital to help you understand how much to spend on some pre-sales repairs and refurbishments.

Remember, you do have some control. By giving your property the best possible chance to look its best, you can improve your chances to get a better sale price.

Think a house is beyond your home loan budget?

Don’t worry – apartment living could be your budget-friendly solution, but before you sign on the mortgage application dotted line, it’s sensible to weigh up the pros and cons of living in an apartment to make sure it’s the lifestyle you’ll love.

The reality is that, although apartment living has some definite benefits that offer some perfect reasons to move in and enjoy, they’re not for everyone.

To find out if apartment living is right for you, look at these potential positives and negatives of life lived in an apartment.

 

The Pros of Apartment Living

Low-maintenance lifestyle

The body corporate is king and when major maintenance issues occur with the building, some of it comes under their jurisdiction. Of course, in your own apartment, holes in the carpet, repairs to leaky taps and what happens when your window gets stuck, are all maintenance issues that you need to deal with in the same way you would in any house. When it comes to outdoor space, though, even ground-floor apartments have little to worry about when it comes to landscaping and, if you’re up high, doing the garden each weekend could be as simple as watering a pot-plant or two.

Amenities for all

Depending on the age and luxury of your apartment building, buying into an apartment lifestyle can come with some serious perks. A common activity room with pool tables or table tennis tables can add some entertainment fun and access to a communal swimming pool or shared gym can save you hundreds in gym memberships. Some complexes also have barbecue facilities, undercover parking, storage cages and great security systems that add benefits to your daily living.

A single’s paradise

If you live alone as a first-home buyer or empty-nester, having a smaller space, surrounded by the company of others in neighbouring apartments might be just what you need to feel happy and secure.

Save money on bills

Compact apartment living usually means less money on bills for heating and cooling. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should leave the heating on all night or turn all the appliances on – even when you’re not there – but with a sensible approach to the way you use the utilities, there are potential savings to be made.

Sound good? It can be. And, of course, saving for a deposit on a lower-priced apartment offers a saving right from the start, with a smaller mortgage meaning lower repayments for a long time. But it’s not all positive and before you make a decision to live anywhere, it’s good to understand the potential downsides to make sure your move is a happy one.

 

The Cons of Apartment Living

Less room to move

The main difference between apartment living and being in a house is the fact that there is, usually, less space. Yes, that means less space to look after and keep clean but the flip-side is less space for furniture, family treasures and, often, no outdoor space to call your own.

Lack of privacy

Apartment buildings can seem crowded and that means a lack of privacy that can be annoying for some. Getting used to hearing sounds from the other side of your bedroom wall isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so make sure you check it out properly – and preferably at different times of the day and week – to get a clear sense of what it will be like to live there permanently. That reality also impacts on your freedom to make noise too. No more late night sing-a-longs to your favourite tunes without disturbing the neighbours.

Lack of autonomy

Want to add some improvements? You might not be allowed. The same body corporate that can seem a plus when it comes to maintenance issues can be a pain when you want to improve your property and discover that it’s not allowed. Do your research about how far freedom goes before committing to the purchase.

Parking

Many new developments have plenty of parking for visitors and residents but some older blocks have apartments with no car space. Check with the conveyancer to see what’s on the title before you buy. If the block you’re looking at comes without secure parking, make sure you understand the local council restrictions and what the expense of permits and local parking might be.

Despite the cons, apartment living is, for many people, the most logical way to get a foot in the door of the increasingly competitive market. If you’re at a stage in life where apartment living might be right for you, explore the options. It could be the boost you need to set you on a positive path of property ownership. 

If you need advice for a home loanbusiness or commercial loanself-managed super fund loan, or an investment home loan, speak to a broker at Lending Specialists. We have a wealth of experience under our belt and a robust network to connect you to the right industry professional for the loan you need.

You get your car serviced and you probably go to the dentist regularly – but what about checking on your most significant financial commitment?

Home loans and major personal loans should never be ‘set and forget’.

By asking yourself some serious questions about your current loans, making sure that your financial commitments are in good health shouldn’t be too stressful – and the rewards can last a lifetime.

Understand the basics

Could you answer, without checking paperwork, exactly how much you owe on your home loan, what your interest is, how long you have left on your loan and how much of that is interest?

If you don’t know the basics of your home loan, it’s worth checking – or getting a professional to do it for you – to help ensure you are accessing the best possible deal for your budget.

Small changes = big savings

Refinancing a home loan can be a very simple process and with the potential to save yourself thousands of dollars over the life of your loan, it’s always worth exploring. Sometimes, getting a better deal on your interest rate is as easy as ringing your lender to tell them you are looking at moving. They will often jump through hoops to retain your business and, depending on the structure of your loan that could mean offering you a better deal over the phone.

This home loan checklist will help you find other ways to analyse your home loan to see if it’s a great time to speak to a mortgage broking specialist and get a better deal.

Whether you are about to hit the market to purchase your first home, or if you are looking to downsize or move, or even take the first steps towards an investment property portfolio to set you up for a secure retirement in style, fine-tuning your current home loan with a regular health check is critical.

A professional financial advisor is a great place to start and point you in the direction of building better wealth by giving you more opportunities to save.

If you need advice for a home loanbusiness or commercial loanself-managed super fund loan, or an investment home loan, speak to a broker at Lending Specialists. We have a wealth of experience under our belt and a robust network to connect you to the right industry professional for the loan you need.