Monthly Archives: June 2016
When hot chocolate is disappearing off the supermarket shelves, and families are rugging up and heading off to the ski fields for holidays, what about selling your home?
Tradition tells us winter is a difficult time to sell. Buyers are huddled under blankets, watching TV or roasting chestnuts on an open fire, thinking it too cold to venture to an open home.
However, while temperatures rise and fall, the reasons for people buying and selling properties continue – job changes, transfers, promotion, pregnancy, marriage and death in the family. Rain, hail or snow, people are always buying and selling houses.
There are always people looking to buy, and some regional centres such as Adelaide Hills even report that the market during winter can be just as active as any other time of the year.
“We also find that when the weather is mild and cold we always have more people at our open inspections than when it’s lovely weather,” said Kim Shorland of Harcourts Adelaide Hills.
“This is because more people spend time out and about pottering in their own gardens during autumn spring and autumn.”
True, nationally less homes sell in the winter, but this can create several advantages for the seller.
With less properties on the market, buyers who need to move quickly are more likely to compromise on certain aspects of their preferred home.
They are more likely to be genuine buyers, and with less homes available for sale, they are therefore likely to pay more.
As always, presentation and pricing are the key to a quick sale, but what are the specific keys to presenting your property in the best light during the cooler months?
- If you have a fireplace, make sure it is stoked with firewood, has a clean chimney and is crackling away at inspection time. Light it ahead of time, so the room is at a cosy temperature. If you have air-conditioning, crank up the heat so the visitors can experience your home as a warm haven. Portable heaters can pre-heat a room, but should be packed away before the visitors arrive.
- Because all windows are typically shut for extended periods, sometimes in winter a home can get musty or left with residual cooking smells. Pick a time before inspection to open the windows and maybe turn on ceiling fans, and allow some fresh air in. Leave enough time to warm things up again before the open house.
- To create a warm feel, position winter essentials such as blankets, doonas, pillows and quilts tastefully and appropriate throughout your home.
- Choose your open homes to coincide with the best light and sun, for example, east-facing windows may attract a lot of light in the morning. Ensure all your windows are as clean as possible to allow maximum light.
- Bake a cake or brew coffee just before inspection, to give your home an even warmer feel.
- Your garden may be a little duller during winter, so consider adding winter pots of colour to brighten things up. Also, take the time to strip the moss off pathways and other garden surfaces such as pots and walls.
- If you have an outside fire pit, make sure it is lit and giving off plenty of flame (if the weather allows).
With little in the way of the extreme winters experienced by some countries, when selling a home in Australia chances are, you won’t have to worry about shovelling snow and de-icing pathways in preparation.
To understand the best time to sell, look at market conditions rather than the weather report. As your Harcourts Sales Consultant will tell you, focus on the market and your ability to present your home to potential sellers, no matter where the mercury is sitting in the temperature gauge.
There is no sugarcoating the fact that if you are a low-income earner, buying investment property will require a lot of discipline and sacrifice.
There are a number of challenges to overcome, but although income level is a factor when it comes to borrowing money for investment, there are a lot of other aspects at play, many within your control.
Investing in property remains one of the most effective ways for those on average or lower-than-average fixed incomes to build wealth, so there is every reason to research and dare to dream.
With discipline and planning, those earning a relatively low income can position themselves as a candidate to qualify for an investment loan by paying attention to their credit rating, saving for a deposit and searching for the right investment property.
In a nutshell, your credit rating is about how you demonstrate a healthy degree of financial discipline over a number of years.
Today, all major lenders have access to virtually everyone’s credit history, and although each apply slightly different criteria, most will consider the following factors:
- Stability of employment history
- Regularity of deposits into savings or transaction accounts
- Level of existing liabilities or debts, including credit cards
- Paying bills on time and in full.
The better you perform in these areas over an extended time, the more likely you are to qualify for a loan.
Saving for a deposit
It’s easy to say; harder to achieve, but saving 5-10% of the property value for your deposit will increase your level of suitability to the lender. The act of saving a deposit also proves to the lender that you have the discipline to service a loan.
To avoid paying lenders’ mortgage insurance (LMI), an investor typically needs 20% deposit, plus enough money to cover up-front costs of stamp duty, legal fees and other government charges.
If the prospect of saving a 20% deposit is inconceivable, you can consider other methods to avoid LMI (which usually costs between .5 and 1% of the loan amount), such as approaching a family of friend to be a guarantor to help you complete the deposit.
Guarantee loans allows another person, usually a family member, to use the equity in their own home as additional security for a portion of your loan amount, and are available from several banks and lenders.
Type of investment property
By finding the right type of property, an investor can also increase their chances of qualifying for a loan. Lenders are more likely to lend money on a property located in an area of predicted capital growth, good buyer sentiment and demand, showing higher than average rental yield, and of course, at a good price.
The good news is that the lender will also take estimated rental income that would be generated from the investment property into account when estimating your borrowing capacity. If the property has a relatively high yield, such as 3-5%, then this boosts your ability to service the loan.
If you’re investing in property to generate wealth, you should consult a range of professionals including an accountant, financial planner, a local mortgage broker and agents.
Low-income earners face a daunting task when it comes to entering the investment property arena, but every long journey began with taking the first step, and many of reached their goals.
An open home is one of the most effective ways of marketing a property and attracting interest from a wide variety of buyers.
Some of the many advantages are:
- You have plenty of time to ensure your property is tidy and ready for inspections
- You can control the viewing times
- Open homes can create plenty of activity, even in a slow market
- Interest and activity can trigger urgency with buyers
- The sales consultant’s time is put to best and most effective use, and they will have the opportunity to talk to numerous people about your property
- Comments from open home visitors can provide feedback on price, presentation, sales appeal, etc.
How can you prepare for an open home?
Your sales consultant will do all the marketing necessary to attract the maximum number of visitors to your open home. However, it is the seller’s responsibility to present their home in the best possible light.
Here are 10 quick tips on how to make your property “open home ready”:
- Declutter – an overcrowded room looks unappealing and smaller than it actually is.
- No one likes the idea of living with other people’s dirt. If your home smells good and looks clean you are creating a great environment for viewers.
- Keep decorations simple and don’t display family photographs. You want buyers to visualise their own things and family in your home, not yours.
- Make each room count. Give each one a purpose so that your viewers can see how they could use it. Don’t leave any room as a storage place.
- First impressions count and last. Think about the first aspects that potential buyers will see – like fencing, the letterbox and the driveway.
- Remember the small things. Check light switches to make sure they work. Fix any doors or cupboards that don’t close. Fix leaky taps.
- If you can, give your walls a fresh coat of paint. Choose neutral colours to avoid individualising your property too much.
- Fresh flowers and soft music playing in the background give a good impression.
- If cold outside, have a fire going or heaters on.
- Fresh coffee on the stove, vanilla in a slightly warm oven or on a hot element, or aromatherapy oil burners give a very inviting smell and can sweeten stale and musty homes.
You can be assured your Harcourts Sales Consultant will ensure all open home visitors sign a register with their contact details. This is for security reasons as well as to follow up later for feedback on your property.
If you have chosen to market your home without disclosing a price, under no circumstances will your Sales Consultant talk to a potential buyer around your price expectations.
A sales consultant’s first duty is always to the seller and you deserve to have the best opportunity at achieving the highest amount of money that a buyer is willing to pay.
The Harcourts Foundation continues to be a powerful influence for good, recently breaking the significant milestone of $4 million in raised funds since its launch in 2008.
On many occasions, whenever an auction hammer falls, a home buyer signs a contract, or an employee sacrifices to give, somewhere in the Harcourts organisation, another few dollars are raised. Bit-by-bit, millions have been raised and many lives continue to be positively affected.
Since the first donation eight years ago, over 700 grants have been made worldwide.
Managing Director of Harcourts, Mike Green, said that as a real estate group with a 127-year history, Harcourts is an established and recognised name within many communities across 10 nations. He said that the Foundation continues to be a key to Harcourts’ future.
“The Foundation is one of the key ways we express our values and connect with our communities, and it really is at the heart of our core values,” said Mike.
“A common thread in every city and town where we have Harcourts offices – whether in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or the USA – is that there are people and organisations with legitimate needs.
“We are grateful that we can contribute to our communities, and meet some of those needs, and give real, tangible, expression to our values.
“I get to hear many stories of how our grants make a difference. It’s inspiring when you learn of children being given opportunities otherwise unavailable, the underprivileged receiving a hand-up, or volunteer organisations buying new, vital equipment.”
Within the four countries in which the Harcourts Foundation operates, over 50% of the offices make a donation with each property sold, and Harcourts employees everywhere are rising to the challenge of raising more funds for their local communities through innovative and creative ways.
With the Foundation’s Board of Directors, coordinators, Accountants and Regional Ambassadors all donating their time and expertise, 100% of all funds raised continue to go directly to the charities where they are needed most.
Two of the major recipients of Harcourt Foundation grants are White Ribbon Australia and beyondblue.
The Foundation has granted nearly $187,000 to White Ribbon Australia. Most of the funds have been raised through the “Walk a Mile in their Shoes” fund-raiser, held across Australia.
Libby Davies, CEO of White Ribbon Australia, paid tribute to the Foundation’s fundraising enthusiasm.
“The ongoing support from Harcourts Foundation has helped to raise vital funds for White Ribbon’s Breaking the Silence Schools Program.
“This White Ribbon initiative educates young children about respectful relationships. By engaging with children at an early age we can create a positive change and combat the prevalence of violence against women”. Libby Davies CEO White Ribbon says.
“We are delighted by support from the Harcourts Foundation and hope together we can continue to raise awareness and create social change” said Davies.
CEO of beyondblue, Georgie Harman, said she is very grateful for the Harcourts Foundation donations, between 2012 and 2016, of just over $165,000 which is being used to support people with depression, anxiety and their families.
“We really appreciate the efforts made by individuals, and corporate and community groups to donate much-needed funds to help us provide services, information and support for people in need.
“Our Support Service, staffed by trained mental health professionals is available 24/7 to provide short-term, solutions-focused counselling for people in need by phoning 1300 22 4636 or online chat atwww.beyondblue.org.au/get-support.”
While large, national organisations such as White Ribbon Australia and beyondblue have received significant donations from the Foundation, most of the grants continue to be directed toward a wide range of local, community organisations that are quietly going about, doing their work.
You can read about these gratefully received donations on the Foundation website at:www.harcourtsfoundation.org.
As you read this article, Harcourts people and offices somewhere are raising more money or planning fundraising events, with $5 million firmly in their sites. Stay tuned for more good news from Harcourts Foundation.
Thanks to a special collaboration between Apple and Harcourts, Australia could be on the road to a healthier, fitter real estate industry.
The new fitness project, launched at the recent Harcourts South Australian annual awards, is focused on Harcourts staff using the new Apple Watch and an app called Harcourts Wellness.
The project represents a continuation of a strengthening relationship between Harcourts and Apple, which started last year when Apple featured a case study on their website, recognising Harcourts’ cutting-edge mobile technology using the iPhone and iPad.
Harcourts Wellness uses the pre-installed Activity app on the Apple Watch, allowing wearers to measure burnt calories through movement, exercise and standing.
Harcourts’ Head of eBusiness, Gregg Toyama, said the new project will give the 200 participating Harcourts Sales Consultants and staff the ability to track their activity day-to-day and provide them a bird’s-eye view of their lifestyle.
It’s a timely project, with a recent Australian Bureau of Statistics report showing that rental, hiring and real estate industry was the nation’s 10th fattest employment sector, with 63.7 per cent of workers in this field either overweight or obese.
“Like so many people in the real estate industry, Harcourts staff are very busy – whether it be attending meetings, doing a listing presentation or signing contract – and allocating time in a busy schedule for exercise is a challenge,” Mr Toyama said.
“By using the Harcourts Wellness app on the Apple Watch, our people will be continually updated with their activity rate, and whether they are achieving their predetermined goals. It’s like wearing a little coach on your wrist.
“We believe that this technology presents us with an opportunity to not only improvement health and well-being of our staff, but also bring a positive energy to our culture.
“Already in South Australia we will be running friendly competitions within and across offices, with leader boards, where each staff can see where they rank.
“Some offices have changed their meetings to include a time of standing and movement – all small changes, but over the course of a year, it can make a big difference to individuals’ fitness.”