Author Archives: welovebendigo

Take your house to the next level with landscaping

If thinking about selling your home, you’d be wise to spend some time on landscaping to improve its kerb appeal.

No matter how stunning the inside of your home is, if you’ve neglected your front yard it could seriously devalue your property.

Attractive and well-planned landscaping can give your property the edge over others and help win over buyers’ hearts, which is important in a competitive market.

Consider property style

Before doing anything outside you should think about the type of garden that would fit in best with the existing architectural style of your property.

Research online what suits your property style – do you have an older cottage style home suited to flower beds, or a modern home better served with a minimalist design?

Pay attention to the lawn

If you have any lawn at your property then start to bring it up to scratch as soon as you start thinking about selling, because it can take time to bring it back to life.

Start watering, mowing, weeding and doing what is required to create a thick and healthy lawn that would make your neighbours jealous.

Make a tree plan

Trees have some many benefits, but they need to be planned carefully to ensure that they don’t take over your entire yard or disturb plumbing.

When planning where to plant trees you should first consider where you would like to create privacy or shade. If you require more shade in the summertime then deciduous trees are good options because they lose their leaves and let more light in during winter months.

Opt for low-maintenance

Whatever you do to your garden, try to keep it simple. Most people want a garden that requires minimal fuss so don’t go overboard with planting or installing fancy water features. Simply aim for a garden that looks neat and tidy and requires minimal long-term upkeep.

Consider bringing in the experts

Bring in a professional landscaper who has an eye for what looks good and can tell you the most suitable plants for your yard based on climate and property size.

You can do the heavy-lifting in the garden yourself to save money but a few hours of advice can provide you with ideas that you may never have been able to come up with on your own.

It’s time to take advantage of low interest rates

Australians are enjoying lower interest rates than ever before, with the recent cuts from the Reserve Bank meaning that some homeowners are shaving thousands of dollars off of their mortgage.

So, what can you do to make sure that you are making the most of a low interest rate environment? And is there anything you should be doing now to put yourself in a better financial position for the future?

Find the best deal

The official cash rate set by the Reserve Bank may have dropped, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your lender is passing on the full savings to you.

Many lenders have decided to pass on at least a portion of the recent cuts however, with a rare few even dropping their rates to below 3 per cent.

The interest rate isn’t the only thing to consider when comparing home loans but it’s a good place to start. If you’re unhappy with what your lender is offering then now is the time to have a chat and try to negotiate a better deal.

It can take a bit of research and negotiation skills to find the best home loan, but you could make considerable savings in the long run.

Get ahead

You could just enjoy lower repayments each month, but since you’re probably already used to paying a higher amount in interest each month you could use your new savings as extra repayments on your home loan.

It may not seem like much, but every extra bit you can pay on your loan helps you reduce your debt quicker, which means you’ll end up paying even less interest over the life of your loan.

Seek good advice

Interest rates are just one part of the equation. There are a lot of different types of home loans out there that suit different individuals based on their specific circumstances.

It’s best to talk to a quality mortgage advisor who can find a loan that’s going to work best for your personal situation. Taking the time to find the right home loan product could help you make considerable savings.

5 simple ways to modernise our home

Wondering how you can bring your home into the year 2019? Even if your home was built last century, it can be made suitable for modern day living by making a few simple tweaks that don’t need to break the bank.

1. Try a new colour scheme

Colour has a huge impact on how a property looks and feels, meaning there’s no easier way to give a property an instant face-lift then to add a slick new coat of paint.

You can’t go wrong with light neutral colours like whites and greys for a modern look. An accent colour can work well too – however, make sure that it matches in with the home’s existing materials and décor.

2. Give the kitchen a face-lift

The kitchen is central in most homes, so any updates here will be well worth the effort.

If your current kitchen is falling apart then a brand-new one could be money well spent. However, you can make an old kitchen feel like new again with some basic cosmetic changes such as painting cabinet doors or replacing handles. New appliances can also go a long way to modernising an old kitchen too.

3. Improve storage

Modern homes have less of a tendency to have clutter lying around, simply because they have a well thought out place for everything.

If you get frustrated by piles of clutter building up in your home then try to come up with solutions such as cabinetry or shelves so that everything can be stored away when it needs to be.

4. Keep things consistent

Small details like fixtures and fittings can help pull together the styling of a home.

Try to keep things like tap-ware, door handles, light switches and outlets consistent throughout the home so that nothing detracts from the overall aesthetic.

This means that if you decide to update one item, like a fan for example, you should either keep with the same style as other fans already in the home or aim to update all of them to keep a standard look throughout the property.

5. Invest in better lighting

Clever lighting can turn an old gloomy corner into a modern statement. Table lamps or hanging pendants can add an attractive feature to a room, particularly when used well in entranceways or above dining tables or kitchen islands. Test warm vs cool lights to ensure you have a good balance of practicality as well as a pleasing aesthetic.

Modern homes also tend to have options when it comes to lighting. Rather than having just one light to service an entire room, many homes now embrace multiple light fixtures, so think about the different activities that take place in a room and allow for lighting that can be easily adjusted to suit.

Pay Attention to these things on your Property Hunt (because a lot of people don’t)

Looking to buy a home now or in the near future? Start your house-hunting journey with a clear plan in mind.

Think about the type of property you want, and where it should be located, along with things like bedroom sizes and finding a space for the kids to run around outside.

You’ll likely end up with a long list of property wants and needs, but make sure you don’t forget to consider things a lot of people don’t:

The neighbourhood

Check out things like traffic, noise and neighbours. They’ll have an impact on your enjoyment of a property once you move in. If you want to be close to a good cup of coffee, check out the local cafes and shopping precincts.

If you use local public transport or prefer to commute on foot or pedal, are there ample footpaths or bike paths around? Those with kids will also want to ensure there is access to good schools and places kids can enjoy.

The floor plan

You may have been dazzled by an open home you visited on the weekend, but did you pay attention to the types of rooms that it had, what sizes they were and how they fit together?

Unlike things like paint colours and door handles, floor plans can be tricky to change, so you want to make sure a property is practical for your use.

Settling for something that doesn’t quite work for your situation can result in expensive renovations, which in reality often take longer than expected to start and complete.

Where you’ll park

Because a lot of people that turn up to open homes tend to park on the street, and not at the property itself, they may not pay attention to where they can park.

Whether needing a garage, a carport or if street parking is OK, check that those spaces can comfortably accommodate vehicles, bikes, boats, vans, trailers and other storage requirements.

City-dwellers may also want to check parking zone restrictions as well.

Do I need Insurance if I Rent?

Are You Covered?

You don’t need to own a home to benefit from having insurance. In fact, you may be in a very vulnerable position if you’re not covered!

If you’re a tenant that is under the impression that having insurance is the sole responsibility of their landlord, you may be surprised to learn that a landlord will only have insurance to cover damage to the building – and not necessarily to cover damage to your belongings.

The damage wasn’t my fault though!

Renters that don’t have insurance may find themselves in financial hardship if anything were to go wrong at the property, whether it is a fire, flood or other catastrophic event. Whilst you may be able to seek compensation for goods damaged at the fault of a property defect, some cases can be difficult to prove.

These kinds of events are usually unexpected and it can be a real struggle to replace everything you own if you don’t have insurance to cover the financial outlay.

But I don’t own enough to warrant insurance.

Your valuables may be worth more than you think to replace. If you own a bit of furniture, a few white-goods and electronics, along with a decent wardrobe, then you will probably find that the cost to replace all of this comes to thousands of dollars. Smart phones and electronics alone are worth upwards of a thousand dollars each.

Some types of insurance cover may also cover you for extra things you might need such as temporary accommodation, pet protection or legal liability of someone who injures themselves while at your property.

What cover should I get?

Everybody’s insurance needs are different. Shop around to find a cover that protects you and your specific needs. Use insurance comparison sites to compare what is out there and make sure you understand what each policy does and doesn’t cover and what excess is payable for types of claims.

If you do have contents insurance, when was the last time you reviewed your policy? Regular updates to your policy ensure your recent purchases don’t leave you out-of-pocket should you need to make a claim unexpectedly.

4 Reasons to be UPBEAT about the Property Market

It’s been a tumultuous year for the property market so far, but after an interest rate cut and major regulatory and policy changes, the market looks set to take a turn for the better.

1) A new Government scheme

This year’s federal election brought with it a lot of uncertainty around property, particularly as many potential buyers and sellers were holding out to see whether or not the Labor government’s controversial changes to negative gearing would get the go-ahead.

With Scott Morrison’s liberal government winning the vote, negative gearing is here to stay, and their election promise of a First Home Loan Deposit Scheme will be introduced from January 1 next year.

The new scheme will allow eligible first home buyers to purchase a house with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent. It is set to be capped at 10,000 loans per year and will be available for single applicants earning up to $125,000, or couples with a combined income of $200,000.

While the scheme may not appeal to all first home buyers (after all it means there will be more to pay off long-term), it will be able to help them move into a new home faster and save them from having to use Lenders Mortgage Insurance.

2) Looser lending rules

Getting mortgage approval can be a big hurdle, however the APRA have recently announced it will relax serviceability assessments for new residential mortgage loan applications, so that home buyers will be able to borrow more.

The changes will eliminate the ‘stress test’ on loans where borrowers had to show they could afford repayments on a rate of 7.25 per cent. This is quite high considering most owner-occupied rates now sit closer to 4 per cent.

Scrapping the stress test means banks can assume the rate will be the rate they actually charge on their mortgages, plus a 2.5 per cent buffer in case of future rate rises.

3) Rate cuts

In June the RBA changed the official cash rate for the first time in almost 3 years, bringing it to an all-time low of just 1.25 per cent.

Most lenders have followed suit and dropped their variable rates too, meaning many people’s home loans repayments are a little cheaper.

The average mortgage holder should be saving about $58 a month, or $700 a year if their lender has passed on the full cut.

4) Improved sentiment

All of the above mentioned points lead to a more confident property market. With more buyers coming out of the woodwork, sellers will see better competition for correctly priced homes.

The rise in buyer activity may be subtle in the early months, but there’s certainly a lot to be optimistic about for both buyers and sellers.

4 ways to Save Money on Renovations

There’s no doubt that renovating a home or investment property can be an expensive ordeal. In reality, you can save money without giving up on quality workmanship, however this is rarely achieved without sticking to these main strategies.

1. Budget like your life depends on it!

Research is key here. Know the intricate details of your renovations before you start, price up the worst-case scenario and get quotes. Renovators often set the budget, then try to fit everything into it, but usually have a blow-out. By working the other way, and knowing the price of things, you then set the budget you need, and can work towards finding that budget.

It’s also vital to put aside an SOS fund to account for unforeseen costs.

2. Renovate in stages

Blow-out costs occur when you change your mind, or if you don’t truly know what you’re working with. For example, you may need to update electrical or plumbing if renovating a n old kitchen or bathroom – does this mean the whole house needs rewiring or re-plumbing?

Reduce stress by breaking the project into smaller tasks by laying out step-by-step plans of your overall renovation goals, and know the costs of each step so that you can manage your budget as you go.

3. DIY where you can

If you’re capable of manual labour or know a licensed trades person, you can save considerably. However, be mindful that a DIY gone wrong, can end up costing more in the long run.

Even cleaning up yourself can save you money!

4. Take your time to do it right

Researching takes time when done right. But, when done right, can save a lot of money. Small blow-outs add up, so if you’re budget conscious, make sure you have time up your sleeve to know what you need to know!

Pros and Cons of Renting a Furnished Property

If you’re thinking about moving to a new town or city without moving your current furniture, you may be considering the option of renting a home that is already furnished.

Furnished properties can be ideal for those who want the flexibility of not owning any furniture, or who only want to rent for a short period. It can sometimes be more financially viable to store furniture if only moving for a short period of 3 or 6 months.

How do you know if a furnished rental property is right for you? And have you considered the pros and cons?

Pros:

– You don’t need to move bulky furniture, potentially saving you from the expense of removalists or having to enlist the help of friends when moving.

– Your time-frame may be much more flexible because your packing and moving will be less time consuming.

– A furnished property means that you’ll have little to no expensive outlays. If you have no furniture, it can be expansive and cumbersome sourcing furniture to fill a non-furnished rental property. Leasing a furnished rental could be a good short-term option, at the least, to help you save up for your own furniture.

Cons:

– Depending on the market, the rent for a furnished property can be higher. Compare furnished vs non-furnished properties, and weigh up the long term difference. Additionally, costs could escalate if you’re looking for newer, more modern or stylish furniture packages.

– Without having a say in the styling of furnishings, your new rental property may not reflect your personal tastes. You may have to decorate the property to a degree, to enhance your own style and make it a home.

– Furnished properties are often harder to come by. Owners may feel they’re taking a bigger risk when furnishing their property for tenants, and in some areas, furnished properties can be very popular. If a furnished property is what you need, you will need to be diligent in knowing when new rental properties come onto the market, and have your application ready to go.

How Confident are you when Bidding at Auction?

Some people love the excitement of bidding at auction and the chance to snare the property of their dreams, but their confidence can give others the jitters, causing them to miss out on a property due to the fear of bidding under the hammer.

New research from Westpac’s Home Ownership Report has found that over half of next home buyers (56%) admit to feeling to scared to bid at auction, and further to this, 46% say they don’t feel confident they know what to do.

Auctions are a popular way to sell property around the country and many buyers could be missing out on some great deals. If you’re a buyer who is apprehensive about bidding, it could be time to face those fears with a little bit of knowledge and know-how. Our top five tips for getting into the auction action are:

#1 Attend other auctions!

Nothing gives you a better idea of what to do at an auction than to see them first-hand. A great way to break down any fear is to first understand the rationale. By attending auctions of properties in the area you’re looking to buy, you can witness the process by watching the auctioneer, reading the provided T&C’s, observing actual bidders, and familiarising yourself with agents in the local area. Understanding terminology, getting an idea of the best place to stand and what a buyer should say and do play a big part in conquering your fear.

#2 Research the market

Keep an eye on the local property market so you can get to know price trends and the values of different housing types. Having this knowledge behind you at auction time can prevent you from over-bidding and help boost confidence in determining what price a property may sell for at auction, making bidding less of a daunting process.

#3 Set your limits

After you have done some research and due diligence (such as a building and pest inspection) on a property for auction, set yourself a bidding cap and don’t waiver from it. Bidding over your cap can mean having to beg family and friends to make up the extra and is not an advisable strategy.

#4 Get help

If you’re still nervous, consider asking someone to bid on your behalf. A buyer’s agent can attend an auction with you, or talk to you over the phone and bid on your behalf.

#5 Don’t worry about anyone else

One of the keys to being successful at auction is not to worry about what everyone else is doing. Have a goal and a price in mind and remember to stick with it.

How to Reduce Your Heating Needs this Winter

Tempted to reach for the heater as the temperatures start to drop?

Cooler weather tends to lead to a big spike in most people’s home energy bills, not only from the heating systems they use but also from things like extra hot water consumption and cooking.

Here are some valuable tips on keeping costs down this winter:

• Shorten showers – Hot water is a big source of energy usage in the home, so the less you use the more you will save. Some Hot Water Systems have energy saving features that can help keep costs down, but if you’re one for lingering, have a soft towel and dressing gown ready so you’re more likely to want to get out in a timely manner.

• Know when to open curtains – Open curtains during the day to make the most of the best free heat source around – the sun! Remember to close curtains at night to keep warmth from escaping.

• Turn down the thermostat – Its recommended that thermostats are kept at a temperature of 18°C to 20°C during winter, with each degree higher increasing energy consumption by about 5% to 10%.

• Keep your feet and head warm – This is where most body heat is lost. Placing rugs over floorboards or tiles can insulate, and wearing warm clothes, socks and slippers can make you that much cosier.

• Seal up gaps – Prevent cold drafts by sealing around windows and doors. Door snakes can be handy for under doors, or rolled towels if you don’t want to buy extra goods.

• Use fewer rooms – When using heaters, try to concentrate on just a room or two and close off doors to rooms that aren’t in use.

• Get out the blankets – Aim to keep the person warm, not the room. Flanelette sheets, additional bedding, blankets on the couch, whatever it is, it’s you that wants the warmth, not the wall clock or kitchen sink!