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January 2014

 

Welcome to our January Newsletter


Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed the break and took some time out with family and friends.

With the New Year already well underway, it's a great time to reflect on what happened in 2013 and start mapping out our strategies for 2014.

By the end of 2013, the property market was finally showing signs of movement after four years of slow going. According to the end of year market data, Australia's combined capital city home values increased by 9.8% over the 12 months to December 2013.

Melbourne and Sydney led the way in this recovery, with their growth likely to continue into 2014. Sydney enjoyed growth of 13.7% and Melbourne 6.1%. However, growth was slower in smaller cities and regional markets with all other capital cities only recording growth of 4.5% or lower, suggesting there may still be bargains to be had for those looking to invest.

With interest rates at their lowest for 50 years and no signs of rate increases on the horizon as yet, the property market is still performing well – allowing for the usual relaxation of transactions over the holiday period.

In last three months of 2013, the construction sector continued its expansion with particular strength in new home constructions. This bodes well for first home buyers in 2014.

According to indications from the RBA during their last meeting in December 2013, further rate cuts in 2014 are not out of the question and these will be determined by the performance of the economy as a whole and indicators such as the level of the Australian dollar and rising unemployment figures.

According to market analysts, unemployment figures in 2013 were starting to reach levels that may affect the investment property market as a higher unemployment rate often accompanies a lower level in demand for housing. 

We'll have to wait until the RBA's next meeting in February to see if higher unemployment rates and a high Aussie dollar result in a further rate cut bonus for us in 2014.

If you’re looking to purchase a home or investment property in 2014, it’s a great time to take advantage of lower interest rates and the recent property market recovery. It’s also a great time to conduct a home loan health check – so please give us a call to discuss your plans, aspirations and financial goals for 2014!

Sincerely, the Team at Great Aussie Dream

 
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Time for a home loan health check?


In 2013, we’ve been enjoying the lowest interest rates in several decades. So what does this mean for you and your personal goals? Not only is it a good time to talk to your mortgage broker about the possibility of purchasing a new property, it is a great time to look at your existing home loan to determine whether or not it is still the best product available to suit your needs. Here’s some important things to consider when conducting a home loan health check.

Have your circumstances changed?
If it’s been a few years since you organised your home loan, take a look at your circumstances to see if they have changed. Have you paid off your car loan? Received a pay rise?

If you’ve received a pay rise, for example, you may prefer a home loan that lets you make additional repayments so that you can pay it off sooner. Earning more money may also make you eligible for a greater range of lending products – so it’s important to talk to your mortgage broker about how your current income affects your borrowing power.

Do you need different features and benefits?
Your current home loan may have been the best option available when you first purchased your property, but our priorities tend to change as we get older. You need to regularly look at your home loan’s features and benefits to see if they are still right for you considering your situation now and into the future.

Think about your plans for the future. Have you acquired a new partner or started planning a family since you initially organised your home loan? Do you need to plan ahead for expenses like getting married or taking time off work to have children? Are you considering doing a renovation or extension on your home or investment property?

Home loans can be set up with a range of different features to cater for different eventualities.  You can get offset accounts to help you reduce interest, redraw facilities so you can make extra repayments and withdraw them later if you need them … it may even be possible to add fee-free credit cards, home insurance discounts or overdraft facilities to your home loan. Talk to your mortgage broker about your plans for the future to make sure you have the right home loan for needs.

Unlock your equity to invest.
If you’ve held your home loan for a while and are interested in making some investments in 2014, then refinancing your home loan to unlock the equity in your property to invest again may be a good idea.

The amount of equity available in your property is calculated by subtracting the loan balance from the property’s current value. Determining the current value may involve you or the lender having your property valued. You can then use the equity in your current property as a deposit for your next property purchase – or even to purchase stocks and shares if you wish.

Many property investors finance their first investment property using the equity in their own home as a deposit. This is a great way to get started as a property investor to help generate wealth for your retirement. 

Let us help you.
Interest rates are at their lowest levels for several decades and this alone is a great reason to ask your mortgage broker to give your home loan a health check right now. A professional mortgage broker is the best person to ask to see if you’re paying too much interest on your current mortgage and look at all the alternatives available to you considering your personal financial circumstances.

Professional mortgage brokers have access to a number of different lenders, so we are in a great position to help you compare loan products and choose one that suits your personal financial circumstances. We can also help you to decide if locking in a fixed interest rate on a mortgage is the right move for you. A saving of just a few basis points on your home loan now could add up to big savings over the life of your loan, so it’s definitely worth your time to talk to us about a home loan health check. Why not give us a call today?

 
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Why DIY renovations could cost you more.


If you’re thinking about purchasing property to renovate for profit, or you’re thinking about renovating an existing property to increase its value, you may need to think twice about doing the renovations yourself. Getting it wrong could cost you a lot more than you gain!

Many people believe that doing renovations themselves will save them money, when in fact it may end up devaluing their house because they simply lack the experience to do a professional job. Botched renovations and home improvements can seriously devalue your property and make it more difficult to sell.

According to a recent report, 75% of all homeowners have attempted their own repair or renovation at some time, with over one in five bungling the job! In 2013, Australians spent more than $380 million on hiring tradesmen to put right botched home improvement projects.

Doing it yourself to save money can be an effective strategy if the job is a small one or you know you have the right skill set for the project. It’s important to be realistic about your capabilities and take the time to plan properly and thoroughly before embarking on any home improvement project. Here’s a few things to take into consideration.

How much time do you have?
If you’re planning on renovating a house and doing the labour yourself, chances are you have probably underestimated the amount of time it will take you to complete the project. Generally speaking, the longer a project takes to complete, the more it will cost.

Estimating time, materials and costs is probably the most difficult part of any DIY project. It’s easy to underestimate how much your materials will cost unless you can create a detailed list of everything that’s required and go to the trouble of costing it out with a supplier. If you perform this exercise, you may find that doing it yourself does not save as much money as you expect because tradesmen enjoy discounts on materials that are not available to the general public. In addition to performing a thorough costing yourself, always get several professional quotes on any project. That way you can be realistic about costs and ensure you are getting real savings by doing it yourself.

Also remember that you must get council approval for any structural work, extensions or additions and a proper building permit can take as long as six months. Check with council before you do any work as even removing the front fence or painting the exterior of your house may require a permit.

Getting it wrong can cause your alterations to be deemed illegal – particularly if they contravene the building regulations. If you don’t get the correct permits before commencing any work, you may be required to reinstate your property back to the original condition or make additional changes to satisfy council requirements and this could be expensive. You may also find yourself in the position of having to pay hefty fines.

Consider the dangers involved.
Qualified building contractors are required to have insurance to protect themselves and their workers in the event that anything should go wrong. If you are doing the renovations yourself, check with your health insurance provider to see if you are covered in the event of injury during the renovation.  

Additionally, if you accidently cause damage to your property in the process of performing a renovation, the mistake could prove costly. Renovations are often not covered by existing house and contents insurance. Talk to your insurer before you begin your project to discover exactly what is and isn’t covered and arrange extra coverage to cover the works, equipment and any insurable events that may arise during the project. Many insurance companies will only insure a renovation project if a registered builder is engaged to do the work –so it pays to check your insurance before you begin any DIY work.

Leave the hard stuff to the experts.
As a rule of thumb, leave anything that requires a certificate to a qualified expert. Always use a qualified electrician to perform any work on the wiring and get a proper plumber if you plan to do any works on the pipes. Most councils require this kind of work to be completed or at least checked and certified by a properly qualified professional, and the consequences of getting it wrong can be dire.

Plumbing is a particularly tricky DIY project if you don’t have the proper training. Improper installation of your pipes could lead to water leaks, drips or burst pipes causing untold water damage throughout your property. It could also cause mould to grow inside your walls – which is a serious health hazard. If you do botch the job and end up with black mould growing in your walls, having it rectified could cost a lot more than having a plumber do the work in the first place.

If you’re planning to renovate or extend your home, we can help with finance options to help you afford to get it right the first time! For more information, contact us today.

 
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6 tips to secure your home this summer


Nothing ruins a holiday like coming home to find your house has been broken into while you were away. You work hard to acquire and maintain your home, so anything you can do to minimise the risks is a good idea. Step one is to have adequate insurance in place to cover your home and valuables, but here are a few handy reminders about keeping your home safe and secure this summer.

  1. Remember to lock up
    Opportunistic thieves take advantage of unlocked homes. Locking up sounds obvious, but in summer we frequently leave doors and windows open to catch the breeze and it’s easy to forget to check they are locked – particularly if you’re only going out for a short while. It only takes a few minutes for an accomplished thief to go through your house and make off with your most important valuables.

    Always take the time to lock-up, even if you are only going out in the back yard. Install window locks and if you like to leave your windows open, it pays to install security mesh screens on your windows as well.
    Remember, many insurance policies will not cover a burglary if your home is left unlocked. If you are in the habit of leaving doors and windows open in summer, check your policy and switch if necessary.

  2. Be careful with your keys
    Many people hide a spare key to their house outside in the garden so they can let themselves in if they lose or forget their key. Thieves know all the best hiding spots, so we recommend you leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbour instead. Always make sure family members keep their keys in a secure location and avoid putting name and address tags on them in case they are lost. If you have teenagers, make sure they understand they are never to give their keys to a friend.

    Never give a key to a tradesman or visitor. Keys can be easily copied and this is one of the most common errors people make. Thieves will pay a lot of money to get copies of your keys which provide fast access to your home.

  3. Seem like you’re at home
    If you’re going away on holiday, ask the post office to hold your mail. You may also ask a friend or neighbour to collect and throw away any junk mail. Don’t let it pile up as this will make it obvious that you’re not around to collect it.

    Remember to get someone to come and mow your lawn if you are going to be gone for any length of time. You could also ask a friend or family member to house-sit for you whilst you are gone.
     Another great tip is to put internal and external lights on timers so it seems like you’re at home. You may also like to offer neighbours the chance to park in your driveway so people are always coming and going while you are gone.
     
  4. Don’t provide the tools
    Thieves are quite opportunistic and will use whatever is on hand to gain access to your house. Make sure there are no bricks or other debris lying around your garden that a thief could use to break in. Remember to lock up your garage or garden shed so thieves do not use your own tools and ladders to force an entry. Don’t forget that your lawnmower and whipper snipper are quite valuable items and may be targeted if you don’t keep them safely locked away.

  5. Install an alarm
    One of the best and most reliable forms of alarm system is a dog. Burglars will avoid homes with dogs because of the noise they make and the danger of being bitten. Even a ‘beware of the dog’ sign can make them think twice about targeting your home.

    Alternatively, there are a variety of inexpensive window and door alarms available from your home hardware store. Thieves hate noise, so they are usually a very effective deterrent. If you want a more comprehensive system, get a quote from a security company who will also monitor your alarm system for you. That way you’ll keep your home safe and secure all year round.
 
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Wine review

Hoddles Creek 1er Yarra Valley Pinot Blanc 2011

This marvellous drop from Hoddles Creek Estate is just perfect for creative food and wine matching and great for summer entertaining. Pale in colour with a vibrant hue, the bouquet offers superb hints of pear, lemon zest and anise. Containing high levels of acidity, it’s taut and racy on the palate and has a long and juicy finish. If you can’t find the 2011 vintage don’t hesitate to try another year.



Rating : 4.5 stars
RRP : $34.99

 

App review

Todoist

This great new app from “Doist” is designed to simplify and organise your workday. It lets you manage your daily tasks from your inbox, browser, desktop or mobile device and automatically synchronises across all of your devices so you always have up to date access. It’s a great way to stay on top and be more organised and productive in your job and personal life. You can manage projects of any complexity by creating nested tasks, adding deadlines and assigning priorities. It even lets you use colour coding and provides a visual tracking system of your own productivity trends.



RRP : FREE
Available on :  Optimised for native iOS environments including web, Android Phone, Android Tablet, iPhone, iPad, Windows, Mac OS, Chrome, Firefox, Gmail, Outlook and Thunderbird.

 
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Contact us

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Aussie Dream

T 1300 72 68 48
F 02 4733 4115
E info@gad.com.au

www.greataussiedream.com.au

Australian Credit Licence Number: 387787 | ABN: 84129326352

 

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