Selling in winter: everything you need to know

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Year after year, we encounter home owners who are hesitant to put their property on the market during winter due to the common misconception that the market cools down just as much as the temperature. Whilst birds may flock South for the winter, buyers do not!

With the vast majority of home owners being under the impression that the warmer months are the best time to sell your property, what we tend to see is an oversupply of property during summer and spring which means one thing: increased competition. By taking advantage of the fact there are typically less properties for sale during winter, you are inevitably going to capture a larger pool of buyers.

If you are worried that the cold weather and rainy days will keep the buyers away, fear not. A wintery day is not enough to keep serious buyers away which leads us to our next point – quality over quantity. You can be fairly certain that the prospective buyers who do attend your open for inspection on a cold, grizzly day are genuinely motivated and more likely to be in the decision making phase of their property journey.

When selling in winter, it is important that you take presentation into consideration. Creating an atmosphere which is warm, cozy and inviting is highly beneficial during the cooler months and allows you to showcase the feel of your home. Our top tips for holding an open for inspection during winter:

  1. Make up for the lack of natural light – open all window coverings and switch your light globes over to a warm tone and ensure all lights and lamps are working
  2. Turn the heating on well ahead of your inspection
  3. Set the scene and make it cozy – throw rugs, cushions and candles are great tools to create ambiance
  4. Leave spare towels near the front and back doors for those wet shoes trapesing in and out unless buyers are required to remove their footwear
  5. Provide an umbrella stand next to the front door
  6. Keep the gardens as tidy as possible, especially in relation to loose leaves
  7. Be prepared – unless weather conditions are unsafe, we never recommend cancelling an inspection. Remember our earlier point about serious buyers!
  8. Tackle any maintenance issues before putting your property on the market or as they arise, cold weather and rain are more likely to draw attention to damp odors or water damage

 

6 tips to help you find the right real estate agent for you

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Whether it’s your family home or an investment property, making the decision to sell your house – your  most valuable asset  – is an overwhelming decision.  What comes next is just as tough. Naturally, finding the right real estate agent to enlist can be daunting.

Stress less, we have a few simple tips to help you find the right real estate agent for you.

  1. Research at least 3 agents to appraise your property and make sure you stick with your decision to meet all 3 agents before signing any agreements.

2. Before you can decide whether a local agent is the best agent, understand that what you see isn’t always what you get, perception is everything! The agent who drops the most flyers, has plenty of “home open this way” signs out on the weekend or takes over your newsfeed isn’t necessarily the ‘best’ agent. Base your research around the history of the agents you are considering. You need to look at average days on market, sales prices and sales volume in addition to verified customer reviews. Realestate.com.au, reiwa.com.au and ratemyagent.com.au are great sources for accurate information and reviews.

3. As your list begins to get smaller, it’s time to head out and about on the weekend! Attend home opens being held by the agents you are considering meeting with and assess their interactions with you and other prospective buyers. How an agent treats you in someone else’s open home is exactly how they are going to treat the potential buyers in yours (don’t mention you are there to scope the agent out)! You are looking for an agent who is energetic, engaging and educated about the property in question. The agent playing candy crush in the kitchen who casually slips you a brochure or the agent who quite literally follows you around and makes you feel uncomfortable is definitely not the agent for you.

4. During the initial appraisal meeting, these are the things you want to assess or discuss:

-Did the agent spend more time talking about themselves or finding out about your needs and your plans for the future?

-Did the agent propose an actual selling strategy or simply tell you what they believe your home is worth? In order to get the best possible price in the shortest possible time frame, there needs to be a detailed plan. Putting the property on the internet and placing a signboard out the front is not a plan.

-Did the agent propose a marketing strategy designed to proactively target your buyer demographic and get your property in front of the right people? E.g targeted social media posts, advertising overseas (where necessary), targeting investors or young families within a school catchment.

-Ask for some marketing examples from previous property campaigns to see how it appeals to you and if you would be proud to see your home presented in a similar light.

-Even if the agent is not a local agent, did the agent demonstrate knowledge of the area, local attractions and market trends?

-Did the agent provide you with case studies of past scenarios similar to your own?

-Make sure you find out if the agent is part of a team (e.g do they have a PA, sales cadet or buyers agent) and if so, find out who it is you will be dealing with primarily and who will be conducting your home opens. There is nothing wrong with being part of a team however, the last thing you want is to find an agent you love only to realise you are constantly dealing with someone else over the most important issues.

5. After the appraisals, weigh up all of the above in conjunction with how the agent made you feel. It may sound silly but this person is about to become a large part of your life for at least 3 months and you need to feel comfortable and confident.

6. The money! We can’t stress this enough – the agent who appraised your house for the highest figure or quoted the lowest fee should not necessarily be the agent you enlist. Educate yourself on the local market, look at recent comparable sales (try not to focus on what houses are currently listed for, a “for sale” price can be very different to a “sold” price) and quite often, you get what you pay for! An agent with a higher fee who has demonstrated the ability to work in your best interests and get you the best possible sale price could actually see you walk away with more money in your back pocket than the cheapest agent.

By doing your research and weighing up all of the information presented to you, you’ll be in good stead to make the best possible decision.

TOP TIPS TO GET YOUR BOND BACK

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Whether you’ve had a bad experience in the past or you’ve heard horror stories from others, it’s safe to say the prospect of losing your bond (or even a portion of it) can be fairly stressful. Stress less, we have a few simple tips to make sure you’re well prepared for your final bond inspection.

Funnily enough, making sure you get your bond back actually begins at the commencement of your tenancy. When you receive your Property Condition Report (PCR), it’s imperative you go over it with a fine tooth comb and make note of any indiscrepancies and photograph every single crack, dent, chip or other defect which may have been missed in the PCR. It’s also important you pay special attention to the gardens (unless of course you’re in an apartment or villa) and make sure their current state is well documented. It may sound tedious but it can save you in the long run.

Throughout the duration of your tenancy, make sure you report any issues as they arise. Not only can some issues be mitigated if caught early, you wouldn’t want to leave broken window coverings until you move out as things like that can be taken out of your bond.

 

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It may sound silly – but clean as you go! It’s a lot easier to remove soap scum or a little stain as things like that arise than it is after a period of build-up. Similarly, if the property you are renting does have gardens, keep on top of them! Bringing dead grass back to life or pulling months’ worth of weeds in one go is no fun.

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Understand the difference between normal wear and tear and damage to the property. We understand normal wear and tear occurs, after all, the property is being lived in but there is a difference between flaking paint and worn out carpets vs that GHD burn on the laminate benchtop and peeling paint from sticky hooks that never should have been hung.

Be prepared! If you aren’t planning on hiring a professional for a full vacate clean, give yourself adequate time prior to your vacate date to both pack and clean. If you do hire a professional, make sure you check their work before signing off. Don’t forget to book in your professional carpet clean (and pet fumigation where necessary), we also recommend you check the skirting and window coverings after your carpet has been cleaned as dust can tend to rise and settle.

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Give the walls a good clean, we recommend the Sabco Heavy Duty Eraser Pad from Bunnings. It works like a charm every single time! We also recommend making sure all electronic remotes work (air conditioning, garage door etc) and if they don’t, be sure to replace the batteries as this is generally the most common cause.

 

 

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Make sure you are up to date in your rental payments and that you return every single key and access device you were given, these are things which can be deducted from your bond.

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These handy hints should make the entire moving process less stressful and we hope they help, however, the above advice is purely a guide and naturally, individual circumstances may vary.

BEST TIME TO BUY IN FIVE YEARS

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What is really going on in the market? When is the best time to buy? Should you wait a little longer? The burning questions every Perth buyer has can easily be answered.

Before we delve into those questions, we sat back and thought about the market and real estate and what it really all means. In Australia, most properties are seen purely as investments. Sure, we want our homes to suit our needs but money and return on investment always seems to be the driving factor in determining where “home” will really be. When we think of a home, we think of a private place to express ourselves, we think of a sacred space, a place to make memories with our families and a place where we can truly be ourselves. Irrespective of the market, it is important to differentiate between a home and a property.

Now, let’s get on to the market! Due to the decline in housing values over the past five years, Perth properties are now more affordable whether you’re a first home buyer, a growing family or a downsizer which means this is an excellent time to buy. A mistake many buyers are at risk of making is choosing to hold off a little longer to see if prices further decline as there are absolutely no indications that this is going to be the case. If anything, a steady rise is predicted and no one wants to get their proverbial foot into the door of their new home when prices are on the up.

The latest Buy-Rent Index compiled by Curtin University and the Real Estate Institute of WA is further evidence of this.

The Buy-Rent index attempts to measure when it is more financially advantageous to buy rather than rent.

REIWA president Damian Collins said the index showed median house prices in Perth would only need to rise 2.9 per cent annually over the next 10 years for house purchases to be considered more financially viable than renting.

“This bodes very well for Perth buyers, considering the 15-year annual average house price growth rate is 5.1 per cent,” Mr Collins said.

Getting back to the upsizers and downsizers, there is a valid strategy which should certainly be considered. Buy now and secure your dream home or location with the aim of renting the property out for a few years and then move in when you’re ready. It’s a great way to get what you want whilst pocketing some extra cash.

When it comes to the main driving force behind the reviving market, growing families are leading the way due to the affordability in popular suburbs which are seen as upgrades or dream final destinations. The stigma around subject sales is certainly one which needs to be broken. If you are in a position where upgrading means you would have to sell your current home and you’re letting the fear of your potential sale price hold you back, it’s important to assess the saving and investment potential of your desired new home and analyse the benefits versus losses.

With the differential between the low, middle and high areas of the market decreasing, now is the time.

Statistics sourced from thewest.com.au

MARKETING YOUR PROPERTY TO SELL

 

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It’s a cliché but it’s true, you can’t sell a secret. Or to put it more accurately, you can’t sell a secret for a premium price.

There is a big difference between simply marketing your property and marketing your property TO SELL. Gone are the days of hammering up a generic “For Sale” sign and placing a four line advert in the local paper. Don’t get us wrong, signage and print media are still relevant when it comes to advertising your property in today’s day and age, however, it takes a far more measured approach to achieve a great outcome.

Right about now you’re probably thinking one of two things, either “a good agent will have a database of buyers they can market our property to” or “we already have so many expenses, we really don’t want to pay for advertising”. It’s important to understand that whilst almost every agent will have a database of buyers at their disposal, you are far more likely to gain a better result when your property is placed in competition versus isolation – we’ll explore this a little more later on. When it comes to the expenses associated with advertising your home, it is crucial to understand that the marketing component is an investment in not only your eventual sale price, but also the terms and conditions of the sale.

Getting back to competition versus isolation, it is vital to create competition amongst buyers due to basic human behavioural traits and beliefs and the need to create urgency – especially in today’s market. An excellent example of this is walking down a popular café strip in search of a cup of coffee. One coffee shop has a line out the door and the other is virtually empty. Which coffee shop will the vast majority of people enter? The really busy one because the immediate perception is that the coffee must be better. That same perception needs to be created with your property, it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough people through the door to create competition, whether it be perceived or real.

How do you ensure you get enough people through the door? Simple! By implementing a strategic marketing plan designed to put your property in front of the right audience. The aim is to drill down to the demographic of your likely purchaser and target that group of individuals via multiple advertising platforms with a high level of frequency which means that your particular property is being placed in front of that specific buyer group more than once.

Advertising campaign requirements and components will differ depending on the price range, location, main features and age of your property. Any agent who is worth their weight in gold will be able to construct the right advertising campaign for your property based on these factors together with market trends. When interviewing potential agents, make sure their proposed marketing campaign is on your list of questions and carefully review all proposals.

 

2019, the Year of Recovery

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As active players in the Perth property market, we have seen multiple signs of recovery in the latter half of 2018. We aren’t the only ones who have noticed with other credible sources including Premier Mark McGowan and Real Estate Institute of WA President Damian Collins both speaking out about the direction the Perth property market is headed.

Let’s start with some good news for Investors. Over 2018, Perth’s best quality was its rental market, said REIWA president Damian Collins. Perth’s successful rental market is expected to keep its momentum going through 2019 due to steady population growth and a slowdown in new building construction, according to REIWA data.

Mr Collins said that during 2018, the steady median rent of $350 per week, increased leasing activity, and decline in listings and vacancy rates all contributed to Perth’s rental success.

“With population growth in WA expected to remain stable and new dwelling commencements slowing, available rental stock should continue to decline. This should see competition amongst tenants increase, putting further downward pressure on the vacancy rate, which recently dropped below four per cent for the first time in four years,” Mr Collins said.

Mr Collins also noted that Perth’s median rent price has remained at $350 per week for 19 consecutive months, which is the longest period of consistent rents in Perth since REIWA began collecting rental data in 2001.

“If listings continue to decline and leasing volumes remain healthy, we should see the overall median rent price increase in 2019 for the first time since September 2014,” Mr Collins said.

Moving onto the sales market, Mr Collins said “While we expect sales activity in 2019 to largely reflect what we’ve seen this year, there is a possibility that rising consumer confidence levels, coupled with improved housing affordability, could translate into increased sales volumes in 2019. If weekly sales remain at current levels or better, Perth’s median house price could improve during the next 12 months.”

According to The Sunday Times, the State’s domestic economy expanded 1.1% in 2017-18, a considerable turnaround given the 7.1% drop during 2016-17 after four consecutive years of decline.

More good news? WA could be set to reclaim it’s AAA credit rating due to the $4.7 billion GST reform package. Premier Mark McGowan tipped a turnaround in the property market stating “It is actually a good time to buy a house, I would encourage people. Prices are low yet economic activity is picking up and so that will inevitably be followed by demand for housing.”

All signs point towards an improved Perth property market in 2019. The year is drawing to an end and Christmas is on the horizon however we are yet to see any signs of the market slowing down with an increase in available properties for sale and a significant decline in our rental vacancy rate which now sits at just 2.4%.

*All figures are accurate at the time of publication. Sources include The Sunday Times, The West Australian, REIWA and Smart Property Investment

New credit reporting changes and what they mean for you!

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Once again, we sat down with Finance Specialist Terry Gardiner in order to provide you with the latest information on the implementation of Positive Credit Reporting.

Applying for a credit card, a loan or buying goods and services on credit? No matter who you are, your credit report can either make or break your application.

Let’s break it down from the beginning!

What is a credit report?

Whenever you apply for a loan or credit, providers will check your credit report. It’s created by a credit reporting body and documents your credit history e.g. how many times have you applied for credit and which loans were opened, your history of making repayments, defaults and how much debt you have available. Credit reporting bodies or credit providers may condense your credit report into a credit score. Your credit score compares you to other borrowers and assess your creditworthiness to help credit providers to decide who to lend to and how much to charge for interest.

What’s changed this year?

New credit reporting changes which commenced 1st July, 2018 provide a clearer picture of your credit history. These changes may make it easier for some people – or harder – to get credit or a loan.

As of 1st July 2018, recording positive credit information on credit histories is mandatory for all credit providers. This is intended to allow lenders to better assess this risk using a clearer picture on any potential borrower’s credit history. It could be beneficial for people who have the means to take on a loan, however, it could also reveal a few blemishes in the past such as one or two missed payments.

Negative credit reporting in Australia operated until March 2014, which was based around only making a note of negative credit events. Lender’s based assessments of a potential borrowing applicant solely on whether the applicant had any negative reports on the credit history, such as missed repayments.

Australia switching to comprehensive credit reporting (CCR) has brought a credit reporting system in line with other OECD countries, many of which have some form of positive credit reporting. It’s common practice in the USA and UK for consumers to use a positive credit rating as leveraging looking for a loan of any sort and CCR will potentially allow for Australians to do the same.

The system was originally recommended in 2014 and the Government subsequently imposed deadlines for CCR. The major four banks were required to provide 50% of the credit data to credit bureaus by July 2018 and 100% by July 2019.

Potential Benefits of Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR)

  • Recent positive behaviour is registered which may balance out some previously negative slip ups.
  • People with a very ‘thin’ credit file or a very short history of credit will now potentially have more information in their file concerning their creditworthiness which may make it easier for baked with then put it to them.
  • The credit scores of individuals may not be significantly impacted by just one single negative event. Instead it will generally take the credit report listing repeated missed payments or a general pattern of credit stress to impact on an individual’s credit rating.
  • An individual’s credit score or credit rating is potentially more accurate and comprehensive compared to a credit score that was constructed using negative reporting.

Potential benefits of CCR for lenders

  • Having access to more comprehensive pictures of consumers and their credit related behaviour could support more responsible lending.
  • Lenders can differentiate their products and offers using the new, comprehensive depiction of consumer credit worthiness and consumer behaviour in general.
  • CCR allows lenders to identify credit stress or over-committal at a much earlier stage, potentially leading to fewer bankruptcies and financial stress.

What are some ‘positive’ things a customer could do to boost their creditworthiness?

  1. Pay your bills on time – always, and no exceptions. Direct debit is a great option to ensure timely payments with no room for forgetting. Remember both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ repeated behaviour is shared with the credit bureaus under CCR.
  2. Regularly check your details with the three credit bureaus (Veda, D & B and Experian). Consumers are entitled to a free copy of the credit file once a year and it is vital to check the accuracy of information. The report will list all credit enquiries current/past addresses any default/bankruptcies and in some cases, positive reporting data to.

Why do we think traditional lenders have been slower to implement CCR?

If you are a traditional lender, one of your major competitive advantages is your customer data, making this accessible to other lenders is not easy sell. No bank wants to make it easier for new innovative lenders to win market share. There’s also the argument that the banks own this data rather than the consumer.

How can consumers protect their credit report?

Your credit file is an incredibly important and valuable asset – identity theft (where a person uses your personal details to fraudulently apply for credit in your name) is a growing trend across Australia. Be aware of how much information you provide to social media websites (e.g. date of birth, addresses etc.) as well as taking care of physical ID’s like your driver’s licence as those details can aid fraudsters in assuming your identity.

Terrence Gardiner is a Credit Representative (No. 399006) of Money Quest Australia Pty Ltd, Australian Credit Licence 487823.