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You wouldn’t turn up for a job interview in track pants and messy hair would you? The same goes for selling a house. You need to give your house the best possible chance at getting top dollar and it is important to spend the time researching how to maximize your chances at this. Put effort and energy into choosing the right real estate agent, sprucing up the outside of your home and styling the inside. If you do this, you’ll have buyers fighting over your property, which is the best outcome!
The good news is, I’ve done the hard yards for you. Read on to discover a real estate agent horror story, how to choose the right real estate agent, as well as 50 quick tips for preparing your property for sale.

House sale horror story

A real estate agent can make a huge difference to your bottom line at the time of sale. Here’s a personal experience I had that demonstrates this point.
My hubby and I looked at a total of 35 houses before buying our present property. Before we purchased our current home we were ‘hot’ on a derelict old house on one of the best suburbs and streets in our region.
Before the auction we offered the real estate agent $440,000 for the property (it was a downturn!), which we believed was an excellent offer. That offer was declined (and after coincidentally meeting with the vendors after the fact) we discovered that the real estate agent never actually showed that offer to the vendors and proceeded to auction day. At the time we didn’t want to go through the ‘auction process’ because we were getting ‘pre-approval’ from the bank and going to auction would have been to risky for us. We attended the auction on the day anyway and after a few heated moments, one lucky punter secured this property for a song at $390,000.
Hubby and I felt lucky that our offer was never received after seeing the price it went for, but the poor vendors missed out on $60,000 because of this real estate agent!
Here’s the point:
Be aware. Real estate agents don’t always have your best interests at heart. Go with your gut.

How to choose the right real estate agent

Thankfully, there are now some fantastic options for vendors or buyers in terms of finding the right real estate agent. Thanks to sites like RateMyAgent, both vendors and buyers can now get the inside scoop when it comes to selecting their prospective real estate agents.
If you’re looking to sell your property, RateMyAgent’s robust rankings system allows vendors to discover the best agents in their suburb, using different factors such as “most recommended agents”, “highest average sale price”, “number of active listings”, and “total properties sold” to help you make the most informed decision.
The website receives 1,500 – 2,000 verified reviews each week, contributed from vendors and buyers. This site delivers a wealth of information for both property buyers and sellers and delivers feedback on past experiences buyers and sellers have had with that agent.

Sprucing up the outside and inside of your property for maximum appeal

Hopefully you will consider these steps well before engaging an agent to sell your home. One of the most important factors is the outside of your property because first impressions count. If your home does not reflect the beauty that’s inside it, prospective buyers (who are busy!) will simply drive on by.
Consider these top 20 tips for sprucing up the entry to your home:

  1. Invest in a great letterbox with the street number nicely visible
  2. Think about the path leading into your home from the road
  3. Make sure any gates leading into the property are painted, working well and not broken
  4. Consider painting or fixing fences around your property, especially fencing at the front of your home
  5. Make sure fencing secures the entire property as this is appealing to buyers
  6. Consider a door bell at the gate and security lights – these are nice security features that buyers will like
  7. Improve your garden with nice looking plants and well-trimmed trees
  8. Add mulch and flowers to make the garden look even tidier
  9. Keep the lawns mowed and tidy at all times throughout sale time
  10. Fix any broken or dripping taps around the home
  11. Consider a cute garden table and chairs at the front of your home if you have the lawn, room and privacy for this
  12. Consider lighting in the entry to your home which can make the experience of entering a home nicer (e.g. solar powered lighting)
  13. Put down crushed rock, paving or decking to make the entry clean and tidy
  14. Wash down your home (water blast it), clean out gutters and wash the windows
  15. Paint the outside of your home including the roof! There’s nothing worse than a nice paint job and a daggy roof.
  16. Make sure to clean out any ponds or water features that might exist and make sure they are safe for small children who might enter the property
  17. Replace the front door to make the entry feel more grand
  18. Make entering your home a ‘beautiful experience’ for buyers not just a ‘path’
  19. Watch renovation shows, read magazines and get on Pinterest for inspiring ideas for your home’s front entry
  20. If you have a deck leading into your home’s front door have it recoated if it is looking aged

Once you have lured prospective buyers inside your home using a great agent and with an amazing entry, be sure to continue that standard inside! Here’s a great checklist for ensuring you tick all the boxes with buyers. These will get them scrambling to make an offer, or biting their nails at an auction because they don’t want to miss out!
Consider these 30 quick tips to make the inside of your home sing:

  1. Try not to overcapitalise (overspend) on improving the inside of your property – this is the one big mistake of many home renovators
  2. Consider giving your home a new paint job. Many paint companies now offer in-home color design services for a small fee (roughly $150) and this is well worth it.
  3. If you can’t afford new furniture consider covering old sofas to give rooms in your home an instant lift
  4. Definitely consider updating the kitchen and bathrooms – these are big selling points in a home
  5. If you have a few bedrooms in your home that are too large, consider making them into smaller bedrooms. This will greatly increase your sale price.
  6. Keep one large room for the master bedroom.
  7. Consider adding an extra bathroom if there is only one
  8. Update floors with new tiles, laminate or vinyl flooring (the most cost effective option
  9. Put in downlights – these can be installed for free at the moment due to a government incentive
  10. Look online on sites like Pinterest for style inspiration. There’s a whole world of interior designers placing their pictures online. Read interior design blogs too.
  11. Search interior design color palettes online and use those palettes to coordinate colors, furniture and soft furnishings in a room
  12. Declutter your home and add extra storage. People love storage and having storage makes a home look cleaner, more spacious and clutter free.
  13. Remove furniture that might be cluttering up the house. Try to make the house look as spacious as possible.
  14. Get carpets steam cleaned.
  15. Wash down blinds and curtains.
  16. Make sure your home is odour free.
  17. Fix anything broken in the home or that might be making noise (e.g squeaky floors).
  18. If you have the money – hire a stylist who will put hired furniture in your home and make your home over so you get the maximum price for it.
  19. Make sure your open for inspection times showcase your home the best. E.g If your home looks better at night or in the afternoon, make the inspections at these times.
  20. Clean like crazy. Make sure all surfaces including floors, walls and tiles are clean.
  21. Consider baking cupcakes or brew coffee for an inspection as homely smells are inviting and give buyers an instant warm feeling.
  22. Clean bathrooms and kitchens with Eucalyptus or another fresh smelling cleaning product.
  23. Consider burning scented candles on a table. Just make sure you do so away from soft furnishings so you don’t start a fire.
  24. Put on relaxing low volume music to give your home some atmosphere.
  25. Put clean white towels in linen cupboards and bathrooms to make buyers feel like they are in a spa resort.
  26. Consider diffusers in the toilets. These look and smell nice.
  27. Place a bunch of fresh flowers in the entryway. This creates a lovely first impression. Also consider placing flowers elsewhere in the home.
  28. Make sure the shed is well organised and tidy.
  29. Remove rubbish bins and keep them out of site. Put deodorizer in them if necessary.
  30. Make sure all views out of windows inside are pleasant. For example, consider installing lattice to hide a view of a too-close neighbour’s house. Privacy is important to people.

Do you have any great ideas for styling your home? Join the conversation on Facebook. http://facebook.com/savingsroom

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Buying your first home is a great moment in life. No more dealing with landlords, hiding your pet in the shed or wondering if you’re going to get your bond back. Taking the plunge can be daunting for the first-time buyer, so here are a few fast tips for making your dream home transition smooth.

Location, location, location

When looking for a home I believe it’s important not to get too caught up with the Joneses. Avoid paying too much for what could turn out to be an inconvenient location in terms of your lifestyle. Think about what you’d like to get out of your new address. Do you enjoy a quiet regional lifestyle or to be close to work, transport and your favourite city location. Is your chosen location safe for children and are there good schools in the area? Does the home suit your lifestyle? Are you the beach, shopping or cultural type? You’ll be living in your new home for sometime (unless your planning on reselling), so make sure the location is right. At the end of the day, if you want to live there, so will someone else!

What other costs will you cop apart from the purchase price

There are plenty of ways to save once you’ve bought a home. Look for a house that has money-saving features built-in. Good insulation and double-glazed windows can save big dollars on heating and cooling as the years go on. Alarm systems, lock-up garages (and, yes, choosing a good neighbourhood) will lower insurance premiums. A pool might be nice, but it may not be worth the maintenance if you are only using it part of the year and especially if you live near the beach!

Property condition

Make sure the house is in good working order or make sure you have enough in your kitty to repair or renovate the home.
1. Here are a few more questions you might ask:
2. Have repairs to the house been done to a high standard?
3. Is the premise structurally sound?
4. Were there permits submitted for extensions done?
5. Are there hidden dangers like lead paint or asbestos?
6. Are their white ants in the home?
A little money spent on a civil engineer is well worth your time. He or she will inspect and report on the condition of the property before make this big ticket item purchase. Buyers agents, like Templeton Property in Brisbane, are invaluable in offering expert buyers agent advocacy services. You can check out their website here.


Talking to potential neighbours is also a great way to suss out the location itself to reveal both problems and positives in the area. Don’t be afraid to knock on a few doors (literally) to get some first-hand knowledge of what is happening on the street.

Return on investment

While you may not be thinking of selling yet, it is still a good idea to research what the property might be worth down the track. People’s circumstances frequently change without warning, so keep this big picture stuff in mind. Fluid plans are always the best kind. Other factors to consider are future council plans and developments in the area. While a new shopping centre nearby might increase the value of your property, a coalmine may not, for example.
Do you have any tips for purchasing your first home? Be sure to add them in comments below

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Purchasing a home and taking on a home loan is a big undertaking, so it’s important to have a detailed understanding of the process involved and the terminology that comes with it. For some people, entering into a home loan can be almost like learning another language, as many of the terms are completely foreign. If this sounds like you, don’t fret – below you’ll find a number of common home loan terminologies deconstructed and demystified.

Variable Loan

If you choose a variable loan, the interest rate will vary during the life of the loan, meaning your repayments could increase or decrease at any point in time. Despite the lack of security, this is a popular type of loan with home owners as interest rates are likely to be slightly lower than what you would receive for a fixed loan.

Fixed Loan

With a fixed loan, interest rates and repayments are ‘locked in’ for a set period of time (usually between 1-5 years). This type of loan is ideal for those who wish to know exactly how much they will be paying, whether this be for security or budgeting purposes.

Split Loan

Want to hedge your bets? Take your borrowing and split it between a fixed and variable loan. Many lenders will allow you to dictate the percentage of the split, whether you decide to go for 50/50, 80/20 or 20/20.


The principal is simply the total amount of funds you are borrowing.


Want to be able to put an offer in on a property, knowing you are all approved to get a home loan? Before you even find your new home, you can do the necessary paperwork and ascertain whether a particular bank will approve your future loan application. The property market can move notoriously quickly and those with pre-approval have a distinct advantage over those whose finance may fall through.

Lender’s Mortgage Insurance

Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is an insurance premium payable by home owners who are unable to provide a deposit of 20% or more. LMI acts as an insurance policy for lenders, in case borrowers are unable to make their repayments.

Offset Account

An offset account is a transactional bank account that is linked to your home loan. Whatever money you deposit in that account is offset against the outstanding loan balance, thereby helping you to reduce the amount of interest payable on the loan. Many banks, such as Heritage Bank, offer offset accounts to accompany their home loans and to help customers reduce their overall debt levels.
Terminology can be tricky to remember, and confusing to understand in detail even if you do happen to remember the actual name. This is where financial professionals can be helpful in explaining each item to you, and offering fact sheets or glossaries with a breakdown of all terms that might be involved in your home loan.

The Home Loans Glossary

Are you new to the world of home loans? What was the most effective way for you to learn all the new concepts? Comment below to share your thoughts.

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There are a lot of people who’ll tell you that having investment properties is a smart use of money and can create an extremely efficient secondary income stream. However, anyone looking to buy an investment property has to be willing to do their due diligence during the investigative stages, and doing so is doubly important for first-timers. Here are a few things you should know for sure when purchasing your first investment property.

Rental potential

If you’re looking to turn the investment property into a rental, make sure you get an agent or independent company to perform a rental appraisal for you. This will give you a realistic idea of what you could fairly charge per week in rent for the property. If you plan to go through an agency, you should try using sites like localagentfinder.com.au to find the best balance of real estate agent commission and letting fees to maximise your returns.

How much it is worth

The price a property sold for and what it’s actually worth are rarely the same number. Take the time to have the property evaluated by a certified, independent valuer to assess its actual total value. You can then use that information to negotiate on price. Consider anything you’ll have to do to the place once you’ve purchased it, including any potential renovations, repairs, alterations, and additions.

How the local market looks

Activity in the surrounding areas can have an immediate impact – positive or negative – on the local property market. The best way to find out about this is to get amongst it yourself. Find out if gentrification is something that has already occurred or might in the future. You should also be taking the time to trawl through statistics on your chosen area; look at the historical crime rate and rate of employment, for example. Any local demographic information will be extremely useful in gauging market trends.

Competition in the area

One of the most important things that this research will tell you is whether or not the local market is currently saturated with investors. That’s the last thing you want because it’s going to severely diminish your ability to generate fruitful rental returns. One thing you should definitely be doing as part of your research is to contact the local council. They’ll be able to tell you how many homes in your area are owner-occupied.

Returns vs gains

You should also be considering your options; are you going to pursue rental returns or capital gains? Most investors would tell you to focus on the latter because, while rental income is going to help you hang onto the property, it definitely isn’t going to help you buy another investment property. You should be focused on capital gains in the early stages because this could lead to equity for a second and third property faster than chasing high rental return.

These are just five of the things you should be considering prior to buying your first investment property. Keep them in mind when doing your research and you’ll be generating that sweet secondary income stream in no time.

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Hubby and I were late starters when it came to property. We purchased our first property using a first home buyers grant in our mid-30’s, which were two very rundown cottages in country Victoria, with an elevated outlook and an ever-so-slight view of the Grampians.
The day we moved in the lawns were waist height and I remember watching my husband in a mowing and whipper-snipping frenzy of grass, twigs, leaves and dust. As I watched from the kitchen window, holding our newborn, I wondered if he’d make it back from that jungle that was our new lawn. I pictured all kinds of catastrophes mainly of the snake-bite kind and end-the-day-in-hospital kind. I was a long way from NZ, the homeland of my youth, where the only animal that could hurt you was a Weta, which might scratch you.
Eventually he returned to our equally rundown kitchen for a celebratory champers. The day was far from the elated happiness one would normally feel on receiving the keys to one’s first home. I had an impending feeling of doom that day with that gut-wrenching, deep-in-the-stomach sickness questioning ‘what have we done?’ But nonetheless, we clinked our glasses together with the perma-smile hope and jittery excitement that comes with buying one’s first home.
Like so many young investors now, we couldn’t afford to purchase in the city, so we purchased our investment property first. We simply wanted to ‘get in the game.’ We happened to be living in the regional area we planned to holiday in down the track, so that worked out well for us. We got to live in our investment property while we renovated it for the first few years. The first home buyers grant was vital in helping us achieve this goal. We still have these properties to this stay and they have also been pivotal in helping us to secure our present dream home.
That was back in 2005, but recent reports have shown a worsening situation.  Rising property prices are having a long-term impact on young investors especially in the under-30s age group.

Here’s a staggering fact according to a recent survey by iView Research:

  • 18% of Australians believe they will never be able to afford to buy their own home.
  • Young people are delaying or ruling out home ownership altogether

The result of this trend is that prospective young investors are getting savvy with it and coming up with creative new ways to buy their first home.

Here’s a summary of what iView’s survey unveiled

  • Aussies are prepared to make cutbacks where they can
  • Many are working harder to get together the deposit for a home
  • Young adults are trying new strategies to enter the property market
  • High property prices are forcing young Aussies to get creative
  • The ‘Aussie dream’ of owning home is dwindling further

Here are some interesting first home buyer statistics based on that survey

  • 24% of young buyers are finding ways to save more to purchase property
  • 20% are finding ways to increase their income
  • 19% would choose a property based on eligibility for a first home-owner grant
  • 14% would buy jointly with friends and family
  • 12% would change their expectations on size, quality or location
  • 51% of respondents expect prices to rise in the next 12-24 months.
  • 40% are expecting prices to remain steady
  • 9% are expecting property prices to fall
  • First home buyers should ignore property speculation
  • Focus on what you can control – saving for a deposit.
  • Focus on long-term capital growth not short-term price fluctuations

According to Tim Lawless from RP Data, first home buyers comprised just 11.8% of all owner occupier housing finance commitments and this is a record low.

The the first home buyer situation by State

The most severely affected states have been NSW, VIC, QLD and the ACT at less than 12% of all owner-occupier housing finance commitments. Trends in SA, WA and TAS have been better with the number of first home buyer housing finance commitments moving higher over the past few years. Note: There are many online resources for investigating your first home buyer options. For example, if you live in WA you could try Homestart first home owners page to get started on your homeowners journey or read more at Wikipedia.

Reasons for low interest in investing

  • Housing value First Home Buyers grants generally – changes to amounts and legislation have affected home buying decisions
  • First time buyers are buying an investment property and renting in an area closer to where they work and play.


Information about first home buyer grants for each state may be accessed via the links below

Have you had an experience with a First Home Buyers Grant in your State you’d like to share? Please send us your comments below.

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Selecting the right property for your business is essential to your success, as the space represents your business and provides a space within which your business will grow. However, this involves a lot of planning and a number of key financial decisions. Here is a checklist of the things you should consider to help you plan and choose the right commercial property for your needs:

1. Research your market to determine the right location for your business

Research is necessary to assist you in making the right decisions for your business. This will help you to clearly define what your objectives are and this can be your guide to ensure that you get your targeted return on investment.
Knowing your market well by conducting market research will help you determine the right location for your business. Remember that your business location will not just impact upon your staff but also your suppliers and customers.
Accessibility, proximity and visibility are important factors that you have to keep in mind when you are choosing the location for your business property. Properties that are within accessible proximity to staff and customers will impact your business’ ability to retain customer loyalty and recruit employees.

2. Time to find the right property in your chosen location

After you have determined the right location for your business, you have to find the physical property itself. You can get a trustworthy real estate agent to help you secure the physical property for you. You can ask your friends for referrals or check out the local newspaper ads. You can also v