The Ballarat property update

Regional living has received plenty of coverage from the Melbourne media during the COVID outbreak. Stories of “mass migration” to our major regional centres give the impression that the opportunities to either invest or be an owner-occupier are limited. 

Besides Greater Geelong, Ballarat is our largest and closest major regional city. Ballarat offers excellent infrastructure and is well-serviced with first-rate transport, hospitals, industry, education, the arts, and sporting facilities.

Melbourne’s proximity is one of the main attractions, only 1 hour and 23 minutes by rail or road. 

But interestingly, the press hype may leave potential investors or new residents with second thoughts, so a Ballarat agent we work with shared some valuable insights.

  • The influx of “city folks” he feels is not as significant as the press states.
  • Stock levels are improving slightly, but there is still a demand shortage.
  • Some excellent properties are coming on the market now.
  • He sees growth in the eastern Melbourne side of Ballarat and around Wendouree.
  • Local buyers are still dominant, but city buyers are pushing up prices through the sale process – but they are not necessarily prevailing. 
  • By Melbourne price standards, there are some excellent examples of 3 bedroom mid-century homes selling for $375-$575k on good-sized land blocks. 
  • Prices have risen, and whilst rental yields have come down, Ballarat is still achieving a reasonable return compared with Melbourne.
  • There is still strong demand for rental properties; this agent estimates just a 1.3% vacancy rates – so rental yields may increase as a result. 

His summary is interesting – the influx of Melbourne investor/buyers is not as prevalent as the press’s impression. But he feels the Melbourne investor’s interest is pushing up prices that locals must and do meet. 

Our thoughts are that Ballarat still offers significant investment or living potential with good demand, growth prospects and a solid rental market. 

Call us at ela Property Advocates to discuss investing in regional cities and help you make good property decisions. Call Guy Angwin 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0419 740 351. Web: www.elapropertyadvocates.com.

Attention property investors! Ignore the new Residential Tenancies Act at your peril

Here’s an excellent summary published by the REIV on the Residential Tenancies Act changes we wanted to share with you written by Gil King, CEO, Real Estate Institute of Victoria

The looming changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) in Victoria are significant, and it’s critical for landlords to get across them.

Symbolic of the sweeping reforms is a title change for landlords following the 29 March 2021 introduction of the new act. From then, landlords will be known as Residential Rental Providers, and with that new label comes 132 changes to the tenant/owner relationship, including increased cost, obligation and consequences for the owner.

While many of the reforms are reasonable, and indeed are requirements that smart and reasonable investors already obliging on, it’s the volume of change occurring at once that could be overwhelming. The fact that they arrive after an extremely difficult 12 months, courtesy of COVID-19 and its rental moratorium, makes things more challenging for some investors.

Concerned with supporting everyday property investors, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria has prepared a guide to help ensure property owners are up to date on the raft of changes.

Leasing a property: Restrictions will apply on the information requested from applicants. Some restrictions will help to avoid discrimination, while others could hide material information, such as bond history. Talk to your agent about strong reference checks as a counter measure.

Modifications: Renters will be able to make prescribed minor modifications, like fixtures and fittings, without your consent. Consent will still be required for structural modifications, though some requests cannot be reasonably refused, and may need to be carried out by a suitably qualified person.

As a landlord, you have the right to ask for any changes to be restored at the end of the tenancy, and it’s still the renter’s duty to redress any resulting damage to the property. A restoration bond can also be requested to cover the future removal of fixtures for more extensive or impactful modifications.

Property conditions and maintenance: You will need to ensure rented premises are provided and maintained in good repair, and in a reasonably fit condition for occupation. This is irrespective of whether the renter knew about any disrepair before signing the lease, amount of rent paid, or the age and character of the building.

Before March, make sure you get up to date on the minimum standards and guidelines on wear and tear, energy efficiency ratings and ventilation checks, as detailed in the Regulations. It’s also important to look into the ongoing service requirements for appliances such as air conditioning units and heaters.

During the period of the lease, it’s a renter’s responsibility to provide you with notice of any damage or faults immediately.

Notice to vacate: A notice to vacate can still be given for a valid reason, including the property’s sale, change of use or demolition, or if you’re intending on moving into the property. If a renter intentionally or recklessly causes damage to the property, endangers or threatens you, an agent, a neighbour, or contractor, you can provide them with a notice to vacate.

There are substantial changes to these laws and impacted owners should reach out to their property managers to discuss.

Renter-initiated bond claim: Bond claims can now be made individually by the renter or owner. If a bond claim is made individually, the Residential Tenancy Bond Authority must notify the other party, but if no response is claimed, the bond will be paid out to the applicant.

To ensure any property damage is paid for by the renter, it’s important that you work with your agent to ensure end of lease inspections are conducted promptly, and bond claims completed in the required time frame.

Penalties: The new reforms will see some fines more than double, while other penalties will sit at ten and even up to 24 times the previous fine cost.

At the REIV we’re seeking urgent clarity from the government on the compliance program, and how decisions will be made to invoke these penalties.

Timing: Some of the new requirements only apply to tenancy agreements entered into on or after the 29 March 2021

The changes aren’t as simple as picture hooks and pets, as some reports have suggested.
They will be significant for the sector and impact renters and owners equally.

Residential Rental Providers, in particular, would be wise to work with their property manager to understand the new requirements to help ensure they continue to get value and enjoyment out of their property investment.

Is it better to sell my investment property with or without tenants?

What are the pluses and concerns of selling your property with or without tenants?  

Generally, a tenant does not present a property at the same level as a vacated or professionally styled property. This leaves the property owner to guesstimate if the loss of rent (possibly four to five months) will be surpassed with an improved sale price? 

It’s not a one size fits all answer, but here are some points for you to consider: 

If your tenant remains during the sales campaign:

  • Having a tenancy agreement in place could make your property attractive to investors, as it’s already a guaranteed income source. 
  • If you sell your property to another landlord, your tenants won’t need to move out. 
  • The vendor’s cash flow is maintained until the settlement.

Good tenants can also reflect how the property has been treated; having long-term tenants looking after the property may drive interest.

  • Where tenants have mistreated the property or won’t play ball with the presentation, it may be necessary to give notice in line with current legislation
  • With tenants in place, last-minute inspections can also be a headache

If you decide to sell your property vacant : 

  • Access is easy for maintenance, repairs, painting etc. 
  • Professional styling can take place, resulting in quality photography for the marketing campaign.
  • Open for inspections (OFI’s) or last-minute private inspections are easier. 
  • However, there will be a loss of income – here’s an example:
    • Two weeks to prepare the property – e.g. painting, floor surfaces and repairs.
    • One month for an auction campaign or
    • One to two months for a private sale campaign
    • Settlement is generally two to four months.  
    • There may be up to 5 months of no income, which is a significant dent in your income stream. 

The generally held industry opinion is that a well presented vacant styled property sells quicker, and the final result may offset any loss in rental income during this time.

If you are unsure whether to sell your property with or without a tenant, call us at ela Property Advocates.  We will discuss tenancy scenarios and help you make good property decisions. Call Guy Angwin 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0419 740 351 Web: www.elapropertyadvocates.com.

What is an acceptable deposit when buying real estate today?

The Reserve Bank governor Michele Bullock has signalled the end of cheques approaching with COVID speeding up digital banking and hastening the decline of old fashioned paper payment methods. “The level of cheque usage has now fallen to such low levels that there is an active discussion about the future of the system.” 

How can you pay a real estate deposit today?

Cheques are still valid, but our view is they will go in the next 12-24 months. When a personal cheque is written – typically, the full deposit funds are covered on the following Monday, the first working day of the week, or a date agreed in the sale contract. A bank-issued counter cheque is another way to pay a deposit – usually blank and filled in by the purchaser when the amount is known.

During COVID, handling of cheques (or any contact paperwork) was practically eliminated, and electronic transfers took over. Today, one large Melbourne real estate group uses an electronic transfer system for almost 95% of all deposit transactions. Generally, a purchaser will pre-arrange with the selling agent the electronic payment method before an auction or purchase.

What’s the legal position?

According to the REIV, the general rule is still a 10% deposit for purchasers. There are no laws that set the amount of deposit for a property sale – but the vendor and the purchaser must agree.

The buyer may pay the full deposit or a part deposit, with the remainder paid by a date specified in the sale contract. Cheques are still a good part of the real estate transaction process; however, electronic transfers are rising to the extent cheques will all but disappear – following paper contracts.

If you are paying electronically, discuss the payment with your bank pre-auction or pre-purchase – because you will often have a daily limit in place, which may be awkward.  

We think the Reserve Bank’s view is spot-on as agency groups move towards electronic deposit methods.  

At ela Property Advocates, we help you work through the deposit alternatives and help you make good property decisions. We source, assess and negotiate on your behalf. Call Guy Angwin 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0419 740 351 Web: www.elapropertyadvocates.com

Some outstanding results in A Grade suburbs

A-grade properties tick all the boxes for their prospective buyers, and despite differing price points, the fundamentals underpinning the property’s value are still the same.

Located close to shops, amenities and the local “village”, A-grade properties are found on good streets and never main or arterial roads. Usually, they also had an excellent aspect – north to the rear being the best; and are more resistant to downturns in the market.

Here are three very different quote price range properties we have observed recently that show just how strong today’s market is for A-Grade suburbs:

South Melbourne

  • Single fronted Victorian cottage 
  • In sound condition (renovated circa 2010)
  • Two bedrooms
  • Small land size 79m2
  • Original quote range $850,000 – $900,000
  • Quote range revised upwards to $900,000 – $950,000
  • On market $935,000 
  • Sold before the auction for $1.2 million

Flinders 

  • Holiday home 
  • Very liveable condition
  • Three bedrooms
  • Land size 1,011m2
  • The original quote was $1.25 to $1.375 million.
  • Quote range revised upwards to $1.3 – $1.4 million
  • Five bidders
  • Sold at auction $1.825 million 

Armadale 

  • Edwardian home in original condition
  • Needing total refurbishment 
  • Rose Street address 
  • Four bedrooms 
  • Land size 919m2
  • Original quote range was $3.8 – $4.1 million 
  • Quote range revised upwards to $4.0 million to $4.4 million 
  • Six bidders
  • Declared by the auctioneer on the market at $4.0 million with a vendor bid 
  • Sold at auction with intense bidding $5.8 million

What’s the common thread here? All three suburbs are A Grade!

They reinforce our message that if you buy in an A-Grade precinct, history will most likely repeat itself, and there will be good competition again when properties like this come up for sale.

At ela Property Advocates, we help you make good decisions and will source, assess and negotiate on your behalf. Call Guy Angwin 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0419 740 351 Web: www.elapropertyadvocates.com

Would you like to invest in property?

For most things requiring a great outcome, generally, a high level of planning is essential. When you consider that property is amongst the highest dollar value purchases for most people, it’s not something to take lightly. Whether you are starting or investing in another property, here’s our shortlist of essential considerations:

What is it you want to achieve?. Investment property is just one of many asset classes – but more a long term investment. If you are trying to build wealth over your lifetime, well researched and well-chosen properties have historically proven to be a sound investment.

Emotion vs investment.  To be blunt, investing is about making money. It’s essential to keep the emotion out of your decision making. For example, that glamorous high-rise off the plan tower apartment with pool, gym, and amenities looks impressive. Still, its overall returns historically have generally not matched an inner city-established property. 

Financing:  Many investors will need support from their lending institute. Meet with your bank and discuss how they can help you. The discussion will open up ideas on the budget and type of property you can invest in.

The property shortlist.  There are many property classes; here are a few to consider depending on your budget:

  • Residential- house, apartment or flat
  • Commercial/Industrial
  • Retail shops 
  • Special accommodation; like a caravan park or student housing
  • Agricultural
  • Industrial/factory/warehousing 
  • Land banking for the long term family plan. 

Professional services.  See your tax accountant, solicitor and financial planner and ask for advice on the best investment structure for you. There are many possibilities, and your goal is to (legally) minimise tax and set up a structure for the long term.  

At ela Property Advocates, we help you make good decisions. Call or meet us, and we will discuss the extensive list of property investment pros and cons for your consideration. 

ela Property Advocates: Guy Angwin 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0419 740 351 Web: www.elapropertyadvocates.com

Are you an Australian citizen living overseas and want to buy property in Australia?

An Australian couple living overseas recently asked us for advice about buying a property in Australia. They are confident, successful business people but haven’t purchased a property in Australia for some time and have been working overseas for a decade.

They felt confident to make the purchase themselves but asked if there were any pitfalls in buying an apartment in one of Melbourne’s better beachside suburbs to use for 3-6 months of every year.

We surprised them a little when we outlined the potential pitfalls, money traps and complexity, in buying the type of property they were seeking.

We asked: “before you purchase have you considered ?………” 

  • The outdoor entertainment area’s orientation. Important to maximise the sunlight and outdoor living.  
  • The builder’s reputation and build quality – there are potential future costs if you get this wrong and if pest and building inspections are not done.
  • Cladding issues – owner’s Corporations are required to replace combustible cladding in Australia. Do the apartments you are looking at have flammable cladding, and what will it cost to replace? 
  • Will you be able to access quality properties within walking distance to the beach and shops? They are in short supply and sometimes sold off-market. We can access those off-market properties. 
  • Neighbours – for a lifestyle choice, the precinct neighbourhood buildings must be considered. Do you know your neighbourhood?
  • What percentage of properties are rented compared to owner-occupied.
  • Future development – are there any plans for adjoining properties that may impact your quiet enjoyment.
  • How good is the car parking?
  • Is there a storage cage?
  • Is the property you want to buy are overpriced? We use a comparable property method to advise you on the value.
  • Negotiation/bidding. Can you bid or negotiate effectively from overseas? On your behalf, we bid/negotiate the price, settlement and any special conditions. 
  • Solicitor/Conveyancer. Do you have a reliable solicitor/conveyancer?

If you’re an Australian citizen overseas wanting to buy in today’s market, you will benefit from the support and advice ela Property Advocates can give you. Call us at ela Property Advocates to help you with either selling OR buying a property. Guy Angwin 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0419 740 351.

It’s a competitive real estate market – so be creative.

The supply of quality properties remains short and always a challenge to secure. We are still offered off-market homes that don’t even make it to a sales campaign; however, they are generally an off-market for a reason, and buyers will have to have their wits about them to succeed and not get caught up in the hype that comes with an off-market.

Last Saturday marks the first time in over a year where listed auctions have hit over 1,000. Sure, some of last weeks auctions rolled over to this week, but perhaps vendors too have been enticed by a healthy market.  

Right now, the market has to work more efficiently than ever before, forced by the COVID stop-start environment and demand. As a result, We are experiencing some creative approaches by agents to fulfil their client’s needs. 

For Vendors, where agents see intense competition, they often recommend pulling forward the auction. Agents methods vary, for example :

  • pull forward an on-site auction
  • conduct a boardroom auction 
  • conduct a zoom auction 

Today there are no holds barred (See our blog from last week; here’s the link https://elapropertyadvocates.com/2021/02/14/how-the-real-estate-industry-is-transforming/

Here’s another creative example that happened at a Brighton East auction recently:

The adjoining neighbour was “maybe” thinking of selling depending on the result. The auction ended successfully, with strong underbidders. The agent had prepared the neighbour for a full OFI based on the pre-auction competition – the agent and his team skilfully switched everyone next door. The neighbour’s property also sold and saved the owner marketing fees of around $8,000 and all the stress and anxiety that goes with open for inspections and an auction day. 

In another case, an interstate buyer missed out on one of two identical new-build duplex homes. Post-auction, he and his agent knocked on the owner-occupier neighbour’s door, made a strong offer – and the neighbour accepted it!

An effect of COVID has been a build-up of demand and caused a stop-start market. These market conditions may continue for some time, which means you have to be agile, informed and well prepared to succeed.

And creativity – no matter where it comes from – a vendor, a buyer, an agent or an advocate, will possibly play a part in your success.

Call us at ela Property Advocates to help you with either selling OR buying a property. Guy Angwin. 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0418 740 351. http://www.elapropertyadvocates.com.

How the Real-estate industry is transforming

What a dramatic but positive transformation the real estate industry is going through!

Rapid adjustment through COVID regulations and a malleable industry that is always looking for improvements has led to far greater efficiencies and transparency. 

For example, let’s look at Auctions. Who would have thought the 4 week standard campaign could be reduced to only 3 weeks and be equally effective?

Geordie Dixon Director from Jellis Craig Hawthorn said: ” A 3-week campaign today is enough to conduct the right number of open houses and market a property”. 

Some agents are pulling forward an auction and conducting a boardroom or on-site auction if there is healthy competition. We observed a Brighton East family home auction run by Matthew Pillios, Director, Marshall White Bayside, pulled forward a week from Saturday to Wednesday. The agent judged that competition was healthy and that the auction could not wait. The result? Seventy people attended on a Wednesday, six bidders and an outcome well above the estimate.

Technology has played a big part in making the industry more efficient:

  • Zoom auctions became essential during the lockdown and today are still in use.
  • Easy distribution of “paperwork” such as the Contract of Sale and Section 32 took weeks before – now they are sent same day upon request. 
  • Logging of prospective buyers is done electronically at the door; follow-ups efficiently managed by agents and reports generated.
  • Listings and printing of materials are now sourced in a fraction of the time. 

Today Vendors are also under positive pressure to get properties prepared in quick time. Agencies are so focussed on efficiently preparing a property in a short period. They have a team of tradespeople and stylists ready with agreed competitive pricing to cut listing times.

The market today, post-Covid lockdown, is a fast-paced, efficient market benefitting vendors and buyers alike.

Buyers in today’s environment must stay abreast of the positive changes and need to know:

  • The best time and process of making an offer
  • If confronted with a Boardroom Auction – how does that work, what to do?
  • When at the Auctions – how and when do I bid to be competitive?

Call us at ela Property Advocates to help you with either selling OR buying a property. Guy Angwin. 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0418 740 351. http://www.elapropertyadvocates.com.

A new build home vs. a period home

We are often asked by our family home buying clients “what is better to buy, a “new build” (modern) home or period home”?. It’s not easy to answer as no two clients have the same brief for their property search. 

Clients generally fall into one of three categories.

1.A Modern Property: (no more than five years old)

These clients are all about the now, proximity to schools, floorplan flexibility heating/cooling, substantial natural light, car parking etc.  

2.A Period Property: 

These clients are more focused on capital growth, be inner city, proximity to schools, quality streets, and neighbours (also in a period style). A less than perfect floor plan is ok, average or above-average land content for the precinct, close to public transport/shops, and may consider a renovation in the future.

3.A Renovated Period Property. 

These clients want the best of points 1 and 2. An inner-city property with a period façade, renovated interior, and landscaped gardens. A modern floorplan seamlessly connected to an outdoor entertaining area. An average or above-average land content for the precinct, and close to public transport/shops.

The choice between one or the other depends mostly on the individual’s emotional, financial and family needs. We know from historical data that period properties have held their value better than any other property type. 

Does it mean that buying a new property is a bad idea? No, you have to be more careful about what you buy and look for and incorporate as many of the following in your search criteria.

  • A timeless façade 
  • Will the façade still appeal to buyers in 25 years 
  • Ideally architecturally designed by a renowned architect 
  • Distinctive timeless exterior features 
  • A functional floorplan, taking into consideration that two home offices may be the future norm
  • Excellent connectivity between zones, in particular, the outside garden/pool area
  • Natural light throughout
  • Spacious walk-in robes 
  • Quality everything 
  • Perhaps even a basement with an underground car park

If it’s a well-designed house with the above elements, in 25 years a “classic new build” house will always have added value in addition to the value of the land only. For example, modernising surfaces can easily be achieved in 25 years, but trying to incorporate the “classic” elements in the future may not be achievable.

Conversely, in 25 years, an inferior “new build” that lacks most of these elements may even be demolished – with all the value in the land only.

So our advice is that if it’s a new build you are looking for its better to buy an architect-designed “new classic” than a house that may have only land value in 25 years.

If you are unsure about buying “new-build vs period home” and need some guidance, call Guy or Geoff at ela Property Advocates. Guy Angwin. 0412 022 998 or Geoff Briscoe 0418 740 351. http://www.elapropertyadvocates.com.