There are many sayings in Real Estate, I’m not going to sit here and recite them all as I think you know what I’m talking about, just have a look at the title of this blog. One of them is that there are three things that are required to get you the best possible outcome – Price, Presentation and Marketing. But what about location? How important are schools, shops, cafés, sporting venues and so on to the overall outcome of the sale of your property? Are there ways that you can leverage the location in your marketing to your target audience?

One simple answer, of course you can. That doesn’t mean that Real Estate Agents get this right every time, however, when done well it can make all the difference to the campaign.

What I am not talking about here is mentioning that it is “near shops” or “close to public transport” in the editorial write up and just leaving it there – this couldn’t be further from what I am saying. I’m talking about “selling the sizzle, not the steak” (oops! There’s another one of those sayings). If done well, the overall marketing of the property will take into consideration the buyer’s senses, emotions and feelings and will get the buyer thinking of the lifestyle and benefits of living in that particular property/street/suburb.

I recently read an article (or maybe I saw it on TV?) where the agent actually shot a video of her and her husband “living” in the home for a day! They slept in the bed, got up and brushed their teeth at the glamorous double vanity in the ensuite of the enormous master bedroom and enjoyed cups of coffee in the matching bathrobes on the deck overlooking the ocean – paints a pretty good picture, right?

There are many tricks of the trade that can be used to showcase the location of the property. Photos are the obvious one. This can be from the standard shot of the park down the road, to a series of shots from the house to the local park or CBD (I’ve done this recently with some great results), to drone shots which can show multiple different areas of interest in one photo. The editorial writing is also extremely important when you want to sell the lifestyle of the home. This needs to appeal to the buyer’s emotions and be informative at the same time – too long and the buyer will switch off, too boring and you’ll lose them and if it doesn’t actually tell them anything about the property then you risk them not going any further with their inquiry. In addition to photos and the editorial, I’ve also already touched on video being one of the most recent and effective ways real estate professionals have decided to show off their new listings. Do yourself a favour and Google “Dan Lee Real Estate” – then call me and tell me you didn’t want to buy one his properties.

What does the future hold for marketing location? 3D tours of homes are already a thing and will continue to grow as technology advances and becomes more accessible. Virtual Reality is also something that we are already talking about too. Imagine being able to view the whole property from the comfort of your own loungeroom? I then can’t see why you couldn’t then “attach” to that listing a virtual tour of the beach or bushwalk down the road, the local café or anything else which might excite the buyer in regards to location.

One thing is certain – nothing will stay the same and we will always be looking for the next best thing to market your property and achieve the best possible outcome for our clients.

I’ll leave you with one more saying in Real Estate that you would have all heard before; “buy the worst house in the best street – location, location, location”.

One of the things I’ve noticed over my 15 years of working in real estate is how the expectations of people have changed. It is mostly the first home buyer market I am referring to with this observation. When I was growing up in Albany most of the people I knew lived in a 3 bedroom house, regardless of the number of children that were part of the family. Some of my friends grew up in smaller, two bedroom homes and it was common practice for siblings to share bedrooms. If you were fortunate enough to have a second bathroom/ensuite in your home then that was considered pretty flash living in the 1970s/80s.

Many first home buyers I deal with these days expect that their first home includes 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, multiple living areas, an outdoor entertaining area, double garaging, and the list goes on. They also often gravitate towards brand new or near new homes that come with all of the latest bells and whistles. Many of this young cohort of buyers are making their first home purchase a property of the same caliber that their own parents worked all of their lives to be able to afford, or may never be able to afford.

It makes me wonder why there has been such a change in the expectations of the first home buyer market. In my early days in real estate I remember the time when large land subdivisions started to hit the market, mainly around the McKail area, and residential blocks could be purchased for not much more than $50,000 a pop. This coincided with a lot of project home building companies offering attractive deals to people wanting to have a new home constructed. To add to this, a lot of young people in Albany took the up newly created, highly paid FIFO jobs that became available around this time so suddenly a large number of FHB could afford to buy and invest in large, lavish houses with the latest gadgets and gimmicks. I feel this “era” was a turning point where expectations of first home buyers suddenly changed. As developers continued to release more residential lots to the open market many more people, including FHB, were lured by the appeal of owning a shiny new home, as an alternative to buying an older, established dwelling. This was despite the fact that the rather sudden increase in demand for housing in Albany contributed to land values doubling in only a few years, and then doubling again by the time the WA property boom hit Albany the hardest around 2008.

While the appeal of a new home is attractive to many, the shine of a freshly constructed home only lasts for a limited time as trends change and new products become available to fit houses out with. In other words, all new homes eventually become ‘old’, or at least dated compared to the latest and greatest versions that continue to become available in to the future.

My advice to those starting out in the housing market is to start off with a modest purchase of an older home with a cheaper price tag, but in an area that is close to either the CBD or other popular attractions such as the beach or sought-after schools. You would be wise to even consider buying a unit or duplex half, as they are often more affordable because they come with less land. Buying the worst house in the best street is a classic way to make the most of your investment as more of the purchase price is tied up in the value of the land (which will appreciate over time) and less in the value of the dwelling (which will only depreciate over time, unless you keep spending money on renovating it regularly).

After you have taken the plunge and bought your first property, you should then work hard at paying down the mortgage so in turn, you build up equity in your property. One of the good things about not having a massive mortgage with a first home purchase is that you may still be able to afford to go on holidays and enjoy a few luxuries because the financial pressure of your mortgage is not sucking your finances dry, and if your situation unexpectedly changes, you don’t have the huge financial burden of a large amount of debt weighing over your head.

Once you are more financially secure you can then look to upgrade. People who make money in real estate generally do so not by selling their properties, but rather by holding on to them over time. Treat your first home purchase like a stepping stone, and when you are ready to move on, keep it as an investment property where the future tenants help pay off the remainder of the mortgage, and use the equity you have built up over time to help secure a larger or more modern property when it’s feasible.

Building a property portfolio is not something that you can expect to achieve quickly. However, if you can resist the temptation of buying or building a large, new home with all of the trimmings first up, and instead start off with a small first home purchase as early as you can afford to get in to the market, you will be on your way to setting yourself up for financial stability in the future.
The friendly team at Merrifield Real Estate are always happy to chat to FHB and help guide them through the often daunting process of buying their very first property.

It’s amazing how an election result can change people’s confidence in the real estate market. Weeks leading up to the election, enquiry had slowed considerably. Maybe more so this time as one of the major policies was going to have a direct impact on the market, being Labor’s push to have negative gearing and capital gains reform. The slowing of enquiry is a normal trend and having been in real estate for over 16 years, this pattern happens each and every election. However what’s happened since then is an increase in activity. I have read that enquiry for home loans in the week after the election result is up and buyer inspections have improved. Maybe it’s just timing with expectations on interest rates to reduce and other policy changes that will allow more relaxation on borrowing. Only time will tell on that.

What all this shows is that confidence is such a big thing when it comes to taking action. Interestingly there are some articles from some so called experts out in the media saying that markets have hit the bottom and that capital growth will soon return. I can only say to be very careful in believing this. Personally, I don’t think this is correct, based on supply and demand, business confidence, employment figures and seeing that the Reserve Bank has no option but to move interest rates to get inflation to the target it needs too be. There are just too many factors to prove this and while I am happy to be proven wrong, I doubt this will happen.

The reality is that there are markets within markets. You have a national market made up of big cities, then broken down to markets in different suburbs, markets within different regional areas, market’s within different property types, the list goes on. All have different driver’s that either make the market good, bad or otherwise.

One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t believe everything in the media. If the polls are anything to go by in the latest election, then you can’t believe anything the media puts out. Plus remember, they are there to sell papers and get clicks online, whether the information is credible or not. So if you want to know what’s really happening on the ground, talk to the people in the industry, the people that are living and breathing the trends. If governments, media and the like do that, maybe they’d get a better understanding of what matters to people most.

After 44 years in Real Estate I can honestly say Home Opens do work but it depends on the activity in the market.

In 1970, when I first started in Real Estate, I had Home Opens on Saturday and Sunday for two hours at each property, this is what we did then. Today sales reps can do 10 a day but only for half an hour at each home.

The number of clients visiting your home opens can vary from 0 to 50. I can honestly say that opening 8 homes a day and not seeing a sole makes for a very long lonely day. Each home open requires putting out 2-5 home open signs, just to take them back down in 30 minutes. However, it’s not always like that, recently I completed a home open at Goode beach during the school holidays and 29 people visit the home. Having such a huge volume of people meant I couldn’t talk to everyone or get an indication if anyone was interested in buying the home. That is extreme, however we are there to present the property and give the public an opportunity to inspect out of working hours at a time that is convenient to them. Its also a great opportunity for us to interact with buyers and to see if they need assistance with selling their current home.

On average we generally have 2 or 3 groups through each home open. I usually have 4 or 5 homes open on every second Saturday, this gives me a chance to expose all my listings on a roster basis. We don’t usually hold home opens on tenanted properties as a sign of respect to the tenant.

If you are wondering if we sell homes from home opens, the answer is Yes! In the past 4 months I have sold 2 homes as a direct result from home opens.

One thing I have noticed in recent years is how differently younger buyers act compared to their older peers. Younger more technologically minded buyers stalk everything on the internet viewing all the photos, google street maps and anything else they can get their hands on BEFORE inspecting a property. Younger buyers look online for home open schedules and only inspect properties that suit their needs. On the other hand, older buyers are more willing to come along to a home open after seeing one advert in the paper which contains minimal information.

Website advertising and social media has had a huge impact on real estate with so much contact received by emails and text messages. For us that means less and less face to face contact with people. Personally, I love interacting with people, talking about their lives and finding out how I can assist them. This is the reason I still complete home opens, for me, the opportunity to meet more people is worth the risk of a few lonely weekends.

My opinion by Kevin Marshall Real Estate Agent.

With so many properties flooding the Albany rental market recently we are seeing a dramatic change in rents being gained across the board and changes in tenants requirements when searching for that perfect rental home.

In the past many people were happy to simply have a roof over their head; however with ever growing tenant knowledge and increased expectations on Lessors simply having a roof over your head is not something tenant will settle for.

More than ever we are finding that Tenants are searching for a property with more, more, more! Having lawn mowing included, easy care gardens/yards, allowance of pets or neutral interior colour schemes. With so many newer builds around the older style properties are in some circumstances less attractive to tenants and experience trouble in gaining longer term quality tenants.

As Property Managers we are noticing that Tenants are demanding properties to be kept in excellent condition and repairs are expected to be carried out in a timely manner. When these items are not done by Lessors the rents start to fall as the property falls into disrepair and tenants move on.

To ensure that your property is always tenanted to quality, long term tenants we recommend you complete the following;

–          Complete regular maintenance and general upkeep as required;

–          Complete larger repairs as soon as they become apparent so the job doesn’t become that large that it is out of reach to complete;

–          In older style properties install insulation to help with heating/cooling costs;

–          Look to value add with good quality heating/cooling systems (ie. airconditioners, fireplaces, gas heating etc);

–          Consider painting, flooring & window treatment upgrades every 10 – 15 years – these are tax deductible and can be used as depreciation for 10 years;

It is always advisable to have a ‘repair fund’ available to use in the event of emergency maintenance needing to be completed. Items such as hot water systems and water leaks will always occur when you least expect it and cannot be put on hold till you have funds available.

By keeping your investment in good repair you are ensuring that the property is presented in its best possible condition which in turn will attract quality tenants wanting a long term property. When the property is not kept in good condition you open yourself up to issues surrounding ‘wear and tear’, may have less desirable tenants and a higher vacancy rate overall.

This is a question that anyone working in finance, real estate, building or any other industry that involves housing would get asked regularly – I know that I do.

“We were thinking we would just renovate and possibly extend the house, that way we will get some more room and we would all fit.”

“My parents are getting old, so rather than them going into a village or care we were thinking of converting the back area of the house into a Granny Flat.”

I’ve recently completed, well, almost completed, a full renovation of my home. The reason for the renovation was due to a maintenance issue in a wet area. Rather than just try to fix the issue and “match” all of the tiles and so forth in with the rest of the home, I decided to start from scratch and upgrade whilst I was at it.

No matter the reason, people are always going to want to weigh up their options when it comes to renovating or selling. Here are some things you should consider before taking the next step.

COST.

I know this seems obvious, however, sitting down and carefully construction a budget and pricing everything up at the start can potentially save you thousands of dollars. There are many things that you will need to consider before starting a renovation;

–          What materials will you use?

–          What trades will you require?

–          What will you renovate and what will you retain?

–          Are you capable of DIY or will you need to get registered tradespeople in?

–          Where will all of your personal belongings go whilst you complete the work?

–          Where will you live whilst the renovation is going on?

All of the above will impact on cost and until you have answers to these questions it will be extremely challenging to come up with a carefully constructed budget.

There is obviously a lot to consider.

TIME.

Renovating or extending can take months and even years depending on how organised you are and if you have enough money to complete the work required. I often go into client’s homes that have started renovations “years ago” and are still working on them. Even if you outsource the work, you still need to have your finger on the pulse. Furniture will need moving and it may not fit on the property which means moving it somewhere else. Trades may cancel on you or they may not “line-up” and alternative arrangements may be required. Products may not be available. Unforeseen hiccups may appear during the destruction/construction process – and these are just to name a few.

Even at the quoting stage, this is an extremely time-consuming process. Let’s just take the example of flooring. There are so many different options for flooring now it is mind boggling – carpet, timber boards, tiles, vinyl, vinyl planking, floating floors, parquetry, polished concrete and the list goes on! So where would you even start?

My renovation, just on the inside of the home, took roughly 12 months and this was working after hours and on the weekends, practically every chance I got. So be prepared for long hours and hard work if you are going to try and tackle it yourself.

KNOW HOW.

I’ve touched on this already, however, if you have zero experience in the building industry and you are starting from scratch when it comes to renovating, well, it will probably end up costing you more time and money than say if a carpenter or an electrician decided to renovate their own home.

Sure, you can learn and there are thousands of YouTube videos and tutorials on the internet machine that can get you started, but at the end of the day, we often learn through making mistakes and learning from those mistakes – unfortunately in this case though, mistakes can be very costly.

RESALE.

At the start of this article I talked about your reason to renovate. Even though you may not be renovating to sell the property for a profit like all of the reality TV shows, resale should be something that you keep in the back of your mind.

It is so easy to overcapitalise when you are doing a renovation or extension and as a Real Estate Salesperson, I see this all of the time – I may have even done it myself! This also comes back to planning and cost as I eluded to earlier.

I also think it is important that you create something that other people will like so that when you do go to sell the property at a later date, you are going to maximise your profit. There are many ways to get inspiration and ideas when choosing design, products, materials, colours and styling (just to name a few). Things like Pinterest, Instagram and other social media platforms are great for inspiration and can be helpful when looking for the latest trends in styling. You could also consult with builders, interior designer and other real estate professionals.

One thing is clear in my mind though, whether you decide to consult the expects, go it alone or a bit both, you should always have one eye on the future.

TO SELL.

Whether you decide to renovate or sell, my suggestion would be to get expert advice from professionals in their respective industries.

Real Estate Agents are experts in property and the current marketplace. Real Estate Agents can provide you with up to date advice and data from properties that have sold in your area that are similar to your property or that would be similar after say, a renovation. Real Estate Agents see often hundreds of homes a year and should be keeping up to date with the latest building trends and products that are available. Real Estate Agents are often in communication with a big number of tradespeople and can suggest people for you to get into contact with. Real Estate Agents should be in the know when it comes to what buyers are looking for in certain areas.

So, whether you are thinking of renovating, extending or selling, call a Real Estate Agent that you can trust and that has the experience to guide you through the process or suggest people that can. After all, we are taking about your money, time, and probably your single biggest asset, please don’t leave it to chance.

The new school year has kicked off for 2019 across the country, and for those out there who are parents to school aged children, I’m sure you heard the collective sigh as all the children found their way to their new classrooms and settled in for the first day of the first week. We’d all made it through the chaos leading up to this first school day of the year and are now back in to a routine again.

While I was dropping my son off to school for his first full week of primary school (he’s just entered pre-primary) I was reminded how fortunate I am to have a personally fulfilling and financially rewarding career that still offers flexibility in the hours that I work. I did not have to push my son out of the car at the school gate and rush off to be in the office for an 8.30am to 5pm work day. Instead I was able to accompany my son to his classroom and wait our turn to meet his new teacher. I was then able to stay around and help him settle in to his new environment and meet some of his peers and the other parents who were also lucky enough not to have to rush off.

As a real estate salesperson, I am in control of my own “business”, as I can generally plan my working hours around my personal commitments.  If there is a meeting for parents at my son’s school or a sports carnival or a fund raising activity happening, I can juggle my work appointments to attend these various activities and have the best of both worlds.  Considering the large number of working mums and dads there are in the workforce these days, there are very few jobs that offer this flexibility that the real estate industry does.

Don’t get me wrong – to be successful in the industry you must be prepared to put in the hours, use a lot of initiative and be intrinsically self motivated. However, if you are organized and careful with time management then you can have a very satisfying career in real estate and still be very much a part of your children’s day-to-day lives.

Even though I am my own “boss” and ultimately responsible for my own success in the industry, unlike being self-employed, I still work for an agency who takes away a lot of the responsibility that I would otherwise have to bear if I worked for myself. For example, the agency provides me with an office and unlimited access to associated facilities such as printing, scanning, IT and postal services. The agency also provides extensive support in a variety of different areas (eg administrative and marketing), professional insurances and administers staff leave entitlements and superannuation.  Being part of an agency within the real estate industry also provides a sense of comradery and lots of moral support – plus there are the annual Christmas Parties, staff birthday celebrations, footy tipping competitions and other various social activities that come with being part of a group of people all working for a common cause.

If you are ever a client or associate of Merrifield Real Estate I hope you notice that we are a happy bunch of workmates who strive for success in all that we do, while still enjoying a laugh whenever the opportunity arises (mostly at the expense of each other!).

With 2018 now done and dusted we now look forward to 2019. So what does 2019 hold in the real estate world? Well we know in February we can expect the Banking Royal Commission findings to be fully released with a number of recommendations. It’s pretty obvious what some of these will be as we are already seeing tighter lending criteria’s and brokers/banks put under the microscope. With less money being lent then there is going to be less buyers in the market place and the amount they can access will be less meaning the higher end of markets will start to decline first. Downturn markets in Sydney & Melbourne will continue as the cost of a home being 9 times the average income which is unsustainable and we may see buyers focus on other markets like Western Australia and regional Western Australia where prices are more affordable.

The reserve bank has it’s hands full with declining property markets, oversupply of units/apartments, developers funding limits and off the plan sales on the east coast are just some of the issues it will face. Furthermore with interest rates already the lowest they have been since the mid 1900’s, I would expect things to remain the same in the first half of the year. With some pressure on banks as to the cost of money then we may see an increase in rates later in the year and this could be out of cycle like 2018.

Of course we have a Federal election in 2019 due in the first half of the year with much commentary towards a change in government. One of the major potential policies is around negative gearing and removing the benefit of this which 2.1 million Australian’s get and of which 1.5 million of these are mum and dad investors which only own 1 investment property. What impact will this have if it does happen? We can only be guided by history when this was tried in the late 1980’s which was a disaster and reinstalled 18 months after it was abolished. So hopefully things are left as is and a better focus would be on the multi nationals paying their fair share of tax is a better alternative.

Then we have the US President, Donald Trump, and what decisions he makes and how that impacts on Australia and property. Being that Australia has a major trading relationship with China I expect there to be some impact at some stage from the US/China tariffs but what these will be is anyone’s guess. As announcements get made on Twitter on the run, who knows what we are in for. I doubt even the President knows.

Locally in WA, we will finally have a better share of the GST which should allow for more investment into the State, though from my understanding, this money will be used to pay down debt and put into infrastructure projects in Perth rather than regional WA. I am biased when it comes to regional WA as I believe that without mining, agriculture, tourism and other industries in the regions that Perth would have the opportunities it gets.

And within the industry we are going to have challenges such as the strata reform that’s on its way and how that is implemented. The strata titles act hasn’t changed since 1985 so it will be interesting to see the outcome of these changes. Stamp Duty reform needs attention in my opinion, as it’s just a tax for the sake of having a tax. There has to be a better model! And I’d like to see our over 55’s purchasing or selling property given incentives especially war veterans that have served our country and deserve to be looked after better. We look after first home buyers but how about we look after the people that have worked hard all their life, paid their taxes and contributed to our country for so long.

It’s going to be an interesting year that’s for sure. There’s never a dull moment in real estate (that part will never change) and I am looking forward to 2019.

The Ups & Downs / The Booms & Busts

I have seen a very interesting industry develop over the past 40 years. In that time, I have witnessed downturns in the late 1970’s, a boom from 1986 to 1987, a downturn in the 1990’s and a mini boom in 1999, followed by the big boom from 2007 to 2008. We have been riding a roller coaster with no wheels on since then.

Sure, real estate is busy and it always is; however, a re-occurrence of the boom days is nowhere in the future that I can see. Sales reps who are putting in the hours are doing well but unfortunately, approximately 60% of the industry is and will always be in a part time situation.

A noticeable change in the industry is the female sales consultant/principals as they are accepted as being more professional/more likely to be easily accepted into the industry. Female clients tend to trust the female sales personnel and are readily accepting when buying and selling.

The industry differs from towns to cities as agents have different operations and procedures. The country agent usually knows more people in the community – friends’ children go to the same schools and they’re in the same social scenes. The local agents tend to befriend their clients before and after the deal is done to move on after the deal is done. City agents on the other hand are less committed to mixing with their clients and tend to move on after a sale is done, rarely getting repeat buyers.

I had 2 years’ experience in real estate in Perth after selling the business in Albany to Jeremy Stewart. I stayed in Perth for 4 years and found it hard due to the lack of socialisation between the client and the agent. I then moved back to Albany to be near family and luckily went back to Merrifield Real Estate where it was accepted that real estate in the country is very informal, like I had never left.

Most clients come from the country and we all adjust to the country way of life. Local agents are very passionate about giving good service follow up and have good local knowledge on all aspects of real estate and real estate land/residential/commercial/rural/rentals and strata, whereas, in the city, it is all about farming areas. They have suburbs allocated to each rep whilst we have a town, surrounding towns and a county to look after. Once clients buy or sell in the country, clients tend to stick to the same sales consultant for many years.

The industry has changed so much in my time in real estate. In my early days, there was no fax, mobile phones, internet or social media such as Facebook. It was all done by post; it was slow. The industry is now a vast, mobile industry and can be done by the mobile phone and at home. As everyone has access to all the information, we have now become specialists in negotiating. Welcome to the modern technology. Real estate is a fast, fantastic industry. We love it.

I started 44 years ago in 1974. Look at the following changes – the progressive changes I observed from 1974 to 2018.

  1. Everything was done by post
  2. No mobile phone were available, only landlines
  3. 2-way radios were used in cars and we had a base at the office
  4. The outstanding fax machine was invented – changed the industry
  5. Then the brick: our first mobile phone – life changing
  6. Photocopy was being introduced
  7. Then colour was introduced
  8. Colour copiers arrived
  9. The year 2000 comes and the internet came to change our lives
  10. Then Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google
  11. To the present social media

If it was not done ASAP, it was not done quick enough. To write a contract and have it done the same day is fantastic. Before, it took up to 3 weeks to get a contract done. The next 10 years will be interesting.

Have you ever been told by a Real Estate professional or another type of expert that Social Media has no place in Real Estate? Or, that it’s a dying medium that won’t last? Or, that it won’t take off? Or, people are sick of it! Or, no one actually pays attention to that stuff…

Frankly, I’ve heard them all and well, I’m afraid to say, it’s all absolute garbage.

Let’s start with some facts:

  • Around 60-69% of all Australians are active social media users
  • According to the ABS, there are now approx. 25 million Australians
  • Facebook’s recent data shows there are now approx. 15 million Australians active on Facebook
  • Of the 15 million Facebook users almost 7 million people are 40 years of age or older (Social Media isn’t just for the Millennials, Gen Z & Gen Y)
  • The Social Media Statistics for September 2018 suggest that there are 15 million “Unique Australian Visitors” to YouTube per month. The same statistics also say that there are;
    • 9 million Instagram users
    • 6.4 million Snapchat users
    • 6 million WhatsApp users
    • 4.7 million Twitter users
    • 4.5 million LinkedIn users

If that many Australians are using Social Media regularly, can it be ignored? The simple answer is, no. Should it be the only source of advertising and marketing for Real Estate, also, no.
It is however, an amazing opportunity that cannot be ignored. I know for a fact that I have gained new business and sold property directly or indirectly from Social Media. It is an amazing platform to work in conjunction with all of the other media platforms.

When speaking with a Real Estate professional, and this goes for Property Management, Sales, Commercial, Business or any other type of Real Estate, you should be asking them what they are doing on Social Media and what types of campaigns and advertising strategies they use. What is their presence on Instagram like? Do they have a Facebook Business Page and if so, how many followers do they have? Is their business and their staff on LinkedIn with up-to-date information? If not, you have to ask yourself if they are the most professional and up-to-date company to help you with, most likely, your biggest asset. It’s serious right? Why would you sell your home or rent out an investment property with a “professional” who thinks putting a tiny add in the paper and sign out the front of the home is the “way it’s done” when 60-69% of all Australians are active social media users and only 36.5% of Australians are reading print newspapers?

Don’t get me wrong, newspapers still have their place in the advertising world – especially if your age demographic is more “pre-baby boomers” and “baby-boomers” like Albany in WA (median age of population being 43yrs with 21% of the population being over the age of 65) or Busselton in WA (medium age of population being 51yrs with 30.8% of the population being over the age of 65) , just to name a couple. In comparison, Perth (LGA) has only 9.7% of the population being over the age of 65.

Social Media is well and truly here. It’s not a secret. So why aren’t you asking the question? What is your Social Media presence?
#merrifieldrealestate #kylesproxton

SOURCES: SocialMediaNews.com.au, statista.com, Roy Morgan, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census.

It’s no secret that property prices in Albany have been on the decline since the peak of the market in 2008.  Many people I speak to have noticed this downwards trend in price and have been holding off with their plans to purchase a property until the market has reached its lowest point.  This is understandable as no-one likes the thought of paying “too much” for a property.

What people have to realise is that very few can pick when it’s the bottom of the market at the time it occurs. This is because no-one has a crystal ball and can know for any certainty what the market will do too far in advance.  Generally speaking, sales evidence in Albany over the last 12 months suggests that property prices have started to level off.  However, it can only be confirmed that we are seeing property prices at their lowest AFTER they start to rise again, where one can look back they can see that people are paying more for similar properties than they did previously.

If you consider the positives, there are many really good reasons to buy in Albany at the moment.  Interest rates are still relatively very low, there are great incentives available for first home buyers, there are a lot of properties on the market for sale and many very motivated sellers who are keen to receive offers from buyers, to name a few.  Also, traditionally buyer activity increases over the summer months in the region so that property you have had your eye on may get snapped up before you know it at any time now.

If you are in a position to buy a property but have been sitting on the fence over recent months rather than doing something about it, my advice is to bite the bullet and get on with your plans before you are one of those who I catch saying “if only I had bought that property back then”.  Yes, on one hand, you could hold off purchasing now and MAY save an extra few dollars if the market values fall a little more (although there is no guarantee the property you want is still available later on). But on the other hand you could make an offer on something you like now, possibly have a little ‘win’ with the price, and then start enjoying the benefits of an increase in capital growth when prices do rise again.

And if you are someone who has to sell a property to purchase your next, please remember that the values are always relative as long as you buy and sell in the same market. In this case, wouldn’t you prefer to buy when there is lots of choice available (like right now!), rather than the opposite scenario?

Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time in Singapore and found out that it is one of the richest places on the planet. So why is this so and what can we learn? First of all there is construction everywhere with buildings going up and vacancy levels very low. It’s a popular place to do business with it being the hub into Asia and a diversity of business. The cargo ships off the coast were queuing up to get in and out of port to export product which is a sign the economy is doing well.

Shopping centres everywhere with many outlets to shop at with retail thriving (no worries about online competition here just a focus on customer service). Free entertainment with man-made structures to attract people like the Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands and the Ferris Wheel. With the Grand Prix due soon there, it is a place that is very events focused with these events attracting people from afar. So if you hold an event make it mind-blowing. There is no Uber just a taxi system that was affordable for everyone ($3.70 flag fall and $0.22 cents per km). There are trees, plants, shrubs, vines everywhere for a city. So there is a major focus on environmental which is a major attraction.

So there are lots of good economic drivers which supply a variety of jobs and everyone wants to work. No handouts in Singapore. Yes it is expensive mainly thanks to 10% service charges and 7% GST on top of that but you know what? Businesses can all compete and thrive, roads are in top condition, streets are clean, easy to get round and there are no security concerns. You can walk around without feeling like you are going to get mugged. People are happy.

So what can we learn to help our property markets here in Australia? You need economic drivers that provide diversity and variety. You need a steady amount of supply and demand with new construction. You need man-made structures to attract people and help substantiate sub markets and opportunities. You need regular events that people must see not boring same, same.  You need good infrastructure for people to get there. You need to feel like you’re secure and safe. And you need a willingness to get on with things and get it done. Get rid of bureaucracy.

If all this happens, then there is only one way for the property market to go. And that is up.

The Royal Commission into misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was established on the 14th of December 2017 in Australia and as the name of it suggests, is there to investigate whether criminal or legal proceedings against the wider Financial Industry should be referred to the Commonwealth.

Some of the major findings by the Royal Commission so far have been the forging of documents, a “bribery ring” involving an incentive program and underestimating and in some cases, just not including at all, a borrower’s “living expenses”.

All of this all sounds really bad, and it is, but have any of us stopped to think about the ramifications of such a Royal Commission and what impact this will have from a Macro & Micro Economic standpoint? For the most part, I suspect no. Most people I speak with are left speechless that the Financial Industry could do this to us, I mean the Commonwealth Bank posted a full-year cash profit of $9.8bn last year, the least they could do is the right thing?

Which is why I understand, why the public are so outraged. The big four banks post huge profits and this seems to come at any cost, however, when we want to buy a new car, house or invest in shares using a margin loan, this is more than often the first place we go. Why?

Someone once asked me “what is an acceptable profit for a bank?”. The reason they asked me this question was because I naively said that, or something to the effect of “the bank makes too much money”. At the time, I had only just started my banking career (a decade or more ago) and the person who asked me that question was my bank manager at the time. I remember trying to think of an answer and my manager seeing the perplexed look on my face saying “if you were going to borrow a lot of money or deposit a lot of money with a bank wouldn’t you want them to be so secure that you would never lose that money or asset?”. She had me snookered – what could I say to that? She was right. If I was going to borrow half a million dollars or deposit $100k into a Term Deposit, I would want to be certain that it wasn’t going anywhere.

Knowing all of this, what impact is the Royal Commission having on borrowing money to buy a house for example? I can tell you one thing, the banks are now definitely calculating our living expenses, to the dollar I am told. They now all want to see genuine savings, in your bank account, not that motorbike you just sold. Forget about 15 years Interest Only loan terms on an investment property loan, not going to happen – you’ll be lucky to get 5 years and good luck trying to extend it beyond that, you’ll most likely have to start paying Principal & Interest.

So, in other words, if you are looking to get your first home or upgrade your first home to get into something a bit bigger for the family, I hope that you fit the lenders new lending policy, or it is going to be much harder to borrow money. I’m not saying that it is all the Royal Commission’s fault, because it isn’t, but please don’t think that there won’t be any blow back, because we are already seeing it now. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to be the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank who is going to be the most effected financially or the leader of the Greens who was the first to propose a royal commission into banking “several years ago”. No. It will be the Mum’s and Dad’s, the first home buyers and the “middle class Australians” who now no longer fit the “banking guidelines” to borrow money for their first or second home or who need to work that much harder to save for a deposit or to show they don’t spend too much money because the “computer says no”.

Maybe I’m being a little dramatic or maybe I’m not but…

Be careful what you wish for.

My combined experience at selling real estate and working as a strata manager has lead me to the realisation that most people do not fully understand strata title, including owners that currently own strata title property.  More of a concern is that the most sales people do not understand how to correctly read and interpret a strata plan, and so are often giving misleading or incorrect advice to their buyers and sellers.

The strata plan notates the division of ownership between each individual lot owner within a strata scheme and the strata company. Therefore the plan also specifies what each lot owner is responsible for maintaining and what the strata company is responsible for maintaining (the exception may be the responsibility of insurance as the strata company may vote to hold a joint insurance policy to insure all of the buildings within the strata plan, as well as the common property).  Many older strata plans are set up so that lot owners do NOT own their buildings (as they are owned by the strata company), and instead they only own the cubic space within the walls of the building inside or defining their lot.

There are also by-laws that apply to strata title which need to be read and understood in conjunction with the strata plan to fully understand the rights of each owner within a scheme. By-laws can be unique for each strata scheme, which is why it is unwise to assume that the way one scheme is set up and operates is the same as any other scheme.

Some people are worried about buying strata title property because they have a fear of the unknown (eg by-laws) or have heard stories of strata owners who have had their strata scheme poorly managed.  This is a shame as there are many benefits to owning a strata title property, such as access to shared services like swimming pools/saunas/spas, gardens and playground equipment, BBQ areas and other recreational facilities. Also, the cost of buying in to strata schemes is usually comparatively less than the cost of buying in to non-strata freehold title properties.

If you’re thinking of purchasing or selling a strata title property and wish to discuss any aspect of it then contact the strata specialist at Merrifield Real Estate.

Selling Houses Australia, Love it or List It, The Block. The list goes on of TV shows that has captured the attention of Australian population. Property is an interest to a lot of people in this country and they can’t get enough of watching these shows. But what can we learn about the changes they make?  Pretty simple is that presentation of homes is the key to achieve maximum results. So what do they start out with? They de-clutter the house and use nice simple furniture when remodeling the home. Neutral colours are used throughout rather than outrageous feature walls. Even the flooring has modern updated colours whether it’s vinyl, carpet or tiles. Majority of the work done is cosmetic rather the structure.

Floor plans are important and most buyers want open plan living today so create as much space as possible. Spend time getting kitchens & bathrooms right. These are key areas of the house that people spend a lot of time in. Today’s people are time poor so make things easy.  First impressions count so get the outside of your property looking amazing otherwise you can forget how good inside looks as you won’t even get people in the front door. Mow the lawns, edge the paths, don’t have overgrown plants, mulch the gardens, add some colour with creative planting, pressure clean pavers or roof tiles,  get rid of useless features and keep it simple. Once again nice clean colours to give it street appeal will get attention. You want to the best property in the street not known as the worst property in the street.

It’s really not rocket science but you would be amazed at the amount of property owners that expect top dollar or cant sell there properties due to presentation. So if you are thinking of selling, why don’t you tune in to some of these shows and learn how the experts do things. Education is the key and as I say, if your not prepared to learn then how can you expect to get a different result.