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.

As with all markets there are peaks periods and softer selling times. This generally flux awaits with the seasons. So what opinions do you have if your property has been on the market for a while but hasn’t sold coming into a traditionally quieter period like winter. Well first of all, you can’t sell a secret so if you really want to sell then your property needs to be on the market. You may decide that you need to adjust your price so that you have a better chance of finding that buyer. And there is a 3rd option which a lot of owners consider as a strategy which is lease to sell.

 

Lease to sell when you actually take the property off the market, look at leasing your property say on a 6 – 12 month lease and then bring your property back to market in the summer or better months. It’s not popular amongst potential tenants however the benefits for the owner is that it brings in income, offers possible tax deductions and may allow you to achieve the price you need to get in a better selling time. Of course it depends on your circumstances and it’s not for everyone especially owner occupiers. However it is food for thought and good to know that there is more then a couple of options available. To learn more about this contact one of our experienced sales representatives.

A Market Appraisal or a Market Opinion should be a document provided by a Real Estate Agent or Sales Representative to an owner of a property or business that suggests a price that the property or business could sell for in the current market. I stress the word “should” as I often speak with people who have had a Real Estate person out to their home who have not provided them with a written appraisal.

In WA, all Real Estate Agents and Sales Representatives are governed by the “Real Estate and Business Agents Act 1978” & the “Real Estate and Business Agents and Code of Conduct 2016”.

Part 6/26 of the Code of Conduct specifically refers to:

“Duties regarding opinion of market price” and I quote;

“If an agent or sale representative gives a person an opinion as to the current market price of real estate of a business, the agent or sales representative must not act as an agent or sales representative for the person unless the agent or sales representative gives the person the following in writing –

  • a statement of the opinion;
  • the reasons on which the opinion is based;
  • if available, information regarding the sale of similar real estate or businesses, supporting the opinion.”

So other than the legal requirements that an agent should provide you with the appraisal or opinion in writing, there are some more practical reasons, such as, how is the person to know how the agent or sales representative came to their price? Are they just guessing? How does your property compare to others in the area? If these questions aren’t answered by the agent or sales rep in the written Market Appraisal then I would be very hesitant to go any further with that person.

After all, if you go to market with most likely your biggest asset, the first thing a prospective buyer is going to do is their due diligence. So why would you as an owner not do the same thing? If an agent comes to your property and doesn’t provide you with a written Market Appraisal/Opinion, what else aren’t they going to do? What else don’t they know?

A question real estate professionals, (myself included) are constantly asked by prospective buyers and even just the general public (because let’s be honest, Australians love real estate, they love talking about real estate and want to know what’s going on with real estate) is, ‘is now a good time to buy’. The naysayers out there are always capable of giving you a reason (or more) of why not to get into the market or why not to start or grow an investment portfolio, however, today we are going to look at some of the reasons why you should be!

After the Global Financial Crisis hit and Western Australia’s prices fell sharply, the prices reached a stable point in the market at which there wasn’t a great deal of moment in the market either up or down – especially in the postcode of 6330, which is what we are focusing on today. The market in Albany has remained stable after a huge drop in prices after the GFC. History tells us that what goes up must come down and what goes down must come up in relation to property prices. So, looking at what history tells us, the next move should really be up, the question is really when?

The RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) Board decided to keep the Australian Cash Rate at a record low of 1.50% at their board meeting on the 6th of March 2018, which was in spite of a strengthening global economy and the unemployment rate decreasing. This means that for the average Australian looking to get themselves a Home or Investment Loan, the time has never been better.

Albany’s rental market remains strong with the average rental value being $349 per week and the average price of a house in the ‘Albany Urban Area’ being $380,000. Rental vacancies are also low, which is great news for investors or would-be investors. To give you a ‘live’ example of ‘why rent when you could buy’ is a property that I have on the market at the moment. A 2 bed, 1 bath, brick & tile duplex unit in Mckail that is currently leased for $230 per week and on the market for $199,000 – with figures like this, it doesn’t take a genius to work out which would be the better situation.

I could go on giving you more facts and figures like the ‘Albany Urban Area’ is still down 1% on the last 10 years or that the Sydney & Melbourne markets have slowed (which can ultimately be a good thing for WA property owners in the future), but I won’t do that, I’ll just say this instead, given the choice between owning property in 6330 or not at this current time, I know which one I’d choose.