Author: admin-realty

Spring Into Action With A Fuss Free Garden Finesse

It’s so easy to ignore your garden through the cooler months.

Most of us aren’t spending much time there, and it’s not exactly the entertainment hub in through winter.

So, it’s not surprising that the panic sets in when the sun starts to heat up a bit and your ‘winter garden’ becomes a ‘spring eyesore’. Particularly if you’re thinking about selling.

Rest assured here are a few simple tricks to refresh your garden without a major overhaul, putting it in great stead for showcasing.

1. Weed – for visual impact

It’s so easy to take a look at your garden, see only weeds, spend a couple of hours randomly weeding a spot in your garden that ‘looks achievable’ only to lose all momentum and head inside for a cuppa.

In reality your garden doesn’t need to be weed free – it needs to be cleverly weeded.

Start with your front borders, and think about where your eye travels. The first metre into a garden bed is the most visible so aim to tidy that first.

Weed and spray paths and cobbles so there is a clean line between where the garden ends and the path begins. The difference you’ll make in a couple of hours will leave you simply ecstatic with your progress – and more likely to continue!

2. Feed that lawn some goodies

A vibrant green lawn is awesome – and a real selling point. If your garden is less that lush you don’t need to rip it up – the right combination of spring feeding and weed control (all packed into one product these days) will add the ‘green green grass of home’ to your garden package.

Don’t be tempted to mow it down to the quick – as the warmer weather approaches this puts stress on the root system. Set your mower to mid height (or ask your lawn guy) and mow more frequently to encourage lush new growth that will pop in photographs.

Side note: having a fabulous lawn detracts from any other weird parts of your garden.

You want something that will put a smile on your face and says ‘we love this home and so will you’ on open day.

3. Get the pots out

Want to get some spring colour into your life? Easy – pop a pot or three on your doorstep or deck.

Head down to your garden centre, have a look at the ‘seasonal potted colour’ stand (you can’t miss it) and then choose a wildly eclectic mass of colour (or a perfectly matching selection) – to suit your personality.

You want something that will put a smile on your face and says ‘we love this home and so will you’ on open day.

Plus, potted colour photographs really well, so your real estate agent will be happy. Easy.

4. Everything is starving

I tend to liken the state of our gardens in winter to the state we can get into ourselves – a bit neglected, lacking in nutrients and overgrown in places.

So, like us, the garden is ready for a healthy feed and it needs your help! But don’t worry about getting flash – a big bag of sheep pellets and some good quality mulch thrown through the beds is all you need to get that garden looking sharp for the warmer months.

5. Strawberries – think edible

Lush strawberries flowing over pots or in garden bed spell ‘home’ to new buyers and it’s time to plant.

The rule of thumb (apparently) is 4-5 plants per person living at your place (or likely to hang around lots) – so you might need a few.

They can be planted anywhere that is sheltered and sunny – so in your garden borders, or overflowing from pots and when the fruit arriving you’ll be showing off that ‘edible garden’ element buyers love to see.

Perhaps most importantly enjoy your spring garden – discover the new buds, welcome the birds arriving and bees tending their crops.

Take some time to celebrate new beginnings and fall back in love with your garden. It will pay you back tenfold!

Kate The Gardener x

 

Kate Rogers

Ensuring Co-ownership Ends In Cheers, Not Tears

You don’t often hear the words ‘bank’ and ‘love’ in the same sentence, but there’s one bank first homebuyers can’t help but love.

That’s because the bank already knows them intimately, cares deeply about their financial future, and has a history of giving more than taking.

Don’t believe me? It’s also a bank they already know well, and probably trust more than any other bank in the world. In fact, they’re already a client whether they like it or not, because they’ve been tapping it for credit time and time again since the day they were born.

That’s right. I’m talking about the Bank of Mum and Dad.

Parents Pty Ltd

Parents obviously want to help their kids break into the property market if they can. Not just because they’re sick of them being at home well into their 20’s or 30’s, but because they see good money wasted on rent that could be put to better financial use in an owned property.

With high prices making it difficult for first homebuyers to get a foothold, it’s true they need all the help they can get. And it may just be that co-ownership – as opposed to a guarantor arrangement – could help homebuyers set their families up for the future and allow parents to leave a legacy.

Co-ownership in Australia and New Zealand is usually structured as a tenants-in-common arrangement, where ownership is divided to an agreed share. This enables both parents and first homebuyers to pass on their share of the property to whoever they wish if they die, by naming them in a will.

So how do you ensure co-ownership doesn’t turn from familial love into hate?

A co-ownership agreement should set out how the buyers will govern the ownership over time.

1) Set your terms of endearment

Co-ownership success requires clear terms from the start. For example, what will the property ownership split be? What are the expectations when it comes to mortgage payments if there is a loan attached, and who will take care of ongoing costs like strata, council rates and maintenance?

How might circumstances like employment change for both parties in the coming years, and what happens if one party decides they want to sell up? To avoid the possible breakout of nuclear intergenerational warfare, a co-ownership agreement should set some of these terms in stone.

2) Be sure to mind the banks

If a loan is required to boost co-ownership buying power, locking in a pre-approval is a good idea. However, this means minding the banks. Applying for a loan with first homebuyers means parents will essentially need to go through the motions of applying for a mortgage themselves, as a bank will want them to unveil the nitty gritty detail of their finances and assets to prove they can service a mortgage should their precious progeny default.

Banks will also decide whether the loan qualifies as an owner-occupier loan or an investor loan, influencing the interest rate. At least with a 20%-plus deposit you’ll be able to kiss LMI (Lenders Mortgage Insurance) goodbye.

3) Shop with all eyes wide open

With parents as co-owners, expect logistical challenges getting your reinvigorated family posse to inspections, and tension over more unwanted opinions (otherwise known as wise advice) on why one person’s dream property is another’s nightmare.

Also, a note of warning: a capital injection from parents suddenly puts higher priced properties in more desirable locations within the reach, meaning things can get out of hand as eyes become too big for bank accounts. Set a budget to ensure serviceability adds up, and use the extra assets to build stability rather than stress.

4) Lay down the legal foundations

The transactional legal aspects of co-ownership will be managed by the homebuyer’s conveyancer and the vendor’s real estate agent while the deposit is taken and the settlement progresses. For example, all signatures and the ownership split will be required on the contract of sale. A co-ownership agreement should set out how the buyers will govern the ownership over time.

Be aware that first homebuyers with a significant investment from parents may lose out on government incentives like first home buyer stamp duty concessions, depending on their financial situation, and all co-owners will be assessed on the total outstanding debt if they ever want to apply for an additional loan. Did I mention now is a great time to get those wills updated?

5) Live the dream

Co-ownership opens a whole new world for those first home buyers lucky enough to have parents willing to invest in their financial future. With added financial security enabling them to exit the rental market, it can allow them to build wealth while having the stability of a place to call home.

They can also pay mortgage debt paid off faster if a loan is required. In the end, what could be a better co-ownership result than the Bank of Mum and Dad getting paid back in interest (AKA love), while first home buyers live out their long awaited property ownership dream?

 

Louisa Sanghera

Renovating Property In A Flat Market

How much is too much to spend on a renovation in a flat market?

We are in our 11th year of our property makeover business and I have only seen this type of market twice!  

Right now we are looking at a different return on investment approach to the last few years. At this point in the market, the need is to present your property well, so potential purchasers are not sitting on their hands or alternatively – low balling your offer.

A year ago, investment was at a usual 3 x ROI just in value, not counting efficiency of time costs on sale, as the market is now. Therefore the investment return is switching to the unknown cost of a ‘stale’ property that is sitting on the market.

We are working with vendors to ensure their properties are clean, clear, well maintained and the furniture is fabulous. It is important that these properties appear more appealing than others the same category in order to win the competition stakes.

At times like this it takes careful planning and consideration of the cost of a renovation, as the immediate return may not put the cash straight back in your pocket. Knowing the local market intimately is essential to understand what is selling and why it’s selling in a slow market. Working together with your real estate agent and a property makeover consultant may save you some expensive mistakes.

We are working with someone who bought an apartment 12 months ago and whose investment has taken a slight hit, but she’s not planning on selling for at least 2 years and so an imminent kitchen renovation budget is undergoing some scrutiny before work commences.

So despite market uncertainty, we must weigh up our heads, our hearts and our wallets to come to a decision that works for the individual situation.

Our client is installing a new kitchen, widening some doorways to create space and flow into a butlers pantry/laundry area. The cabinetry will be a pale grey shaker style for impact and she’s chosen some quality appliances to match with an eye on being ahead of the competition when she does sell.

However some compromise is required and so the benchtop will be a simpler base range Caesarstone saving $4,000 on her original choice and another $1,000 on two mixer taps that are more Nissan than Mercedes Benz. That’s $5,000 saved in total, more will be shaved by tiling rather than splashbacks and the kitchen will still be stunning and a great investment that will give her a few years of enjoyment while she lives there. Plus her property is more likely to sell when the time comes with a decent renovation.

So despite market uncertainty, we must weigh up our heads, our hearts and our wallets to come to a decision that works for the individual situation.

All in all, the due diligence and makeover blueprint must be followed in order for all investment to be done wisely. You can talk to us about that more.

Photo credit: Topsco Worktop Specialist

 

Belinda Woolrych

Top Tips for Purchasing a New Development in Australia

There are pros and cons to purchasing a new development in Australia.

On the one hand, you have complete control over design points and in some cases even the plan. On the other, you are dealing with builders, timelines and the tricky navigation of numerous decisions.

There is also some significant research that should come into play before making your decision. What is the surrounding community like? Some people focus so much on plans, design and build; they forget to make sure they will like the area around the new development. Location, location, location is always a premium consideration.

To help, here are some guidelines to consider before leaping into a new development.

Make use of a real estate agent
Utilise the skills, knowledge, and report of an agent who frequently deals with builders understands local communities and is brimming with valuable information. In most cases this isn’t even costing you anything, the seller is paying the agent after all!

Research the builder
It’s always good to ensure you are using a trusted builder who produces high-quality work. You can even dig a little deeper with licensing boards, previous customers and court records to ensure there haven’t been any complaints. After all, you don’t want to be registering the next one!

Consider your budget
You no doubt know how much your budget is, the key is deciding what you will spend it on.  You can change your bathroom tiles, but you can’t change your suburb. An extra bedroom might be a better choice than real timber floorboards. One can be upgraded at a lower cost than the other down the track.

New construction legalities can be complicated so ensure you understand what you are about to sign.

Suit your environment
Don’t build a tower next to villas. Avoid pricing yourself out of the neighborhood. You also don’t want to be the house with a lackluster front garden when everyone else’s is immaculate. Try to fit in so that your neighbours don’t dislike you before they even meet you.

Be clear on your floor plan
The best way to understand room sizes is with a measuring tape. Never assume you know how big something is just by hearing the size. Measure it out, compare it with an already established area, so you really know how big (or small) areas will be.

Better get a lawyer, son
Always get a lawyer to look over the contracts. New construction legalities can be complicated so ensure you understand what you are about to sign. If you or your lawyer have any queries, don’t be afraid to raise them with the builder or agent.

What are the warranties?
If there are warranties on materials and workmanship make sure you know what they are or what conditions may apply to them. The timelines may be different for each of them, so it’s good to know what is and isn’t covered.

Inspections
Just because the development is new, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be inspected. An independent inspection, which you are present for, is a great move. New homes can have just as many issues as old homes, and you will want to know about them before you sign on the dotted line.

Shop around on the loan
Lenders and agents sometimes come as part of the package for new developments, but it doesn’t hurt to shop around yourself. Acquiring quotes from alternative options confirms whether or not you have the best deal.

As with anything, information is power. The more you have means, the more prepared you are. This ensures that the process of building your new development goes well while preventing further issues for you down the track.

 

 Urban.com.au

How To ‘Set and Forget’ Your Garden

September is a perfect month to prepare your garden to cope as summer approaches.

Having a well-presented and appealing garden can be easily achieved and doesn’t have to be a daily, or even weekly chore. Invest a little time now in getting organised and then you can ‘set and forget’ your gardens to look after themselves with minimum maintenance for years to come.

Implement these 6 steps and you will be well on the way to a ‘set and forget’ landscape:

1. Declutter
To create low maintenance gardens, start by digging out (not whipper snipping or poisoning!) the weeds. If you get it right the first time, you dramatically reduce the chance of them coming back. Make sure you remove all roots and bulbs. For weeds like onion weed and oxalis, you need to get rid of the surrounding soil to prevent the bulblets from picking up where the parents left off.  Before you start to declutter, make sure you have organised mulch to go straight onto your garden bed. Otherwise, you’ll be doing exactly the same thing next month.

Remove all dead foliage that is still attached to your plants. This will improve air circulation and free up space for new growth. Leaf litter is actually really good for your soil, but if you don’t like the look of it in your garden beds, it’s a great addition to the compost heap.

Prune larger plants by first removing dead, diseased or spindly branches. When pruning, cut just above new shoots and constantly stand back to ensure a nice even shape.

TOP TIP: Save yourself time, effort and green waste fees by tip pruning plants while they are still young. This will give a more even and compact shape as they grow larger and reduce the amount of heavy pruning required down the track.

2. Bring in some good soil
If you are planning a new garden or improving an old one, good soil can work wonders. For a new garden, mix your new soil with the old using a pitch fork or a rotary hoe. To improve the health of existing plants, spread some of the new soil around the drip line of each plant. Always go for an organic blend of composts and manures.

Fresh soil will provide a steady flow of nutrients and hold in moisture. Nurseries and landscape suppliers will have great soil blends to suit your area and garden type. Improving the soil will help enormously on your journey towards ‘set and forget’!

Weed mat works in areas where you don’t want anything at all to grow, but it is problematic in garden beds.

3. Get the edge
The most affordable garden edge is a spaded trench edge, but it is also high maintenance. Any material that provides a clear separation between lawn and garden is going to reduce maintenance. Timber, cement or brick edging also works well and looks tidy.

Use existing paths and driveways to form part of the garden edging if fitting. If your gardens go right up to the edge of your home, make sure you consider drainage options like agricultural (ag) pipe and gravel. For a more natural look, bush rock is a great choice and can easily be placed and moved.

4. Yucca’s no more
I guess Yuccas look cute when they are young, but they certainly do not grow old gracefully! Their foliage is sharp, they become overgrown very quickly and they can cause all sorts of problems for fences and retaining walls. Dracenas are similar in appearance but have softer foliage and can give a lovely tropical look.

If you have Murrayas in your gardens, then you are stuck with regular hedging. Murrayas can look great and are fast growing but they are high maintenance. Lilypillies, Metrosideros, Grevilleas and Indian Hawthorn are great screening plants and if tip pruned and fertilized during their first year, are attractive and low maintenance.

Lomandra is a strappy and tough native grass that is used often in parks and nature strips. For a home garden, the best varieties are Lomandra ‘Tanika’ and ‘Nyalla’. Liriope muscari is another lovely strappy leaved plant. If strappy turns to scrappy after a couple of years, just cut the whole lot back to the ground and enjoy the new growth.

Native plants can live with neglect, depending in your location, but a little attention to help them through their first summer, will ensure longevity and appeal for years to come.

5. Use mulch, lose the weed mat
Mulch improves soil, suppresses weeds and holds in moisture. The best mulch for a low maintenance garden is pine bark or cypress mulch. It’s much cheaper to collect mulch with a trailer or have it delivered. Australian recommendations are for 5cm thickness. It’s important to keep this depth near the base of plants, but you can certainly spread thicker in the bare sections.

Our team spends a lot of time removing weed mats from garden beds and the integrated weeds that have grown right through it! Weed mat works in areas where you don’t want anything at all to grow, but it is problematic in garden beds. It suffocates the soil, is very difficult to plant into, lifts at the edges, doesn’t stop all weeds and can strangle the base of your plants. Did I mention that we don’t like weed mat?

TOP TIP: To really give the weeds a hard time, use a layer of sugar cane mulch before spreading your pine bark.

6. Water wisely
So, you’ve planted your new plants, are determined to water every day but your enthusiasm is challenged by the latest Netflix series! Plants in a nursery are used to being watered at least once per day, are fertilised weekly and potted up regularly. It can be a real shock for plants to go from that environment to yours.

A watering system with an automatic timer is the way to go and it doesn’t have to be expensive.  Start with a timer that attaches to the tap, a roll of poly tubing, pegs to secure into the ground and dripper attachments. Drip or bubbler attachments are preferable to a spray set up, as they direct the water right where it is needed and less water is wasted. For new plants, I recommend watering every day for a week, then 2-3 times per week until your plants are growing and established.

Most of us want lovely outside spaces to enjoy, but not all of us have the time or inclination to spend every day working in the garden. If you put in some work now by following these 6 steps, you’ll save yourself a lot of work later and be rewarded with beautiful, low maintenance landscapes.

 

Christine Dodd

Getting A Jump On The Spring Market

The spring market a hot topic right now with homeowners who are thinking about selling.

Listing your property in the spring market is the traditional approach due to the fact that the weather is starting to get better. Gardens can normally be made to look their best and all in all I think our properties are generally enhanced by the season.

There is another theory, and that is  about getting a jump on the competition. Think of it this way, if there are less properties on the market then there are less on the buyers’ list to choose from, therefore you could be in a slightly better control position as a seller by getting a head start now.

If you were to wait until spring yes, it’s a traditional time to sell and buy, however with more properties on the market, there is more choice around and therefore you’re potentially not in as good a spot to drive a sale.

You will need to allocate time to moving or processing the inventory list for sale, for donation, and for rubbish.

To help you get organised on that pre-spring presentation, you can download our free resource, De-cluttering and Makeover Hours Allocation, which can help you allocate your processes or ‘doing’ time. You will need to allocate time to moving or processing the inventory list for sale, for donation, and for rubbish.

The contents of the furniture require the same processing, so you will need to have allocated time to call up the various recipients of donations, or the waste/recycling service providers to discuss and organise, manage and finally to make it happen.

The same format of the list can be used to allocate the amount of time required to your project by each area of the home. You can then transfer this information to your diary and call up your willing helpers to book them in!

To find out more, go to www.papillonstyling.com.au. If you need a helping hand, we can assist you by coming up with value add ideas and running the project for your home.

 

Belinda Woolrych

Mark Tuckey: How To Choose Key Pieces Of Furniture For Your Home

I’m often asked what are the key pieces of furniture a person should invest in for design longevity in their home and why?

There’s heaps of what I call fast-fashion and disposable furniture out there for the short term, and there’s the forever furniture pieces that have a high quality build, using high quality materials, made to be heirlooms.

The majority of Australians love to entertain so investing in a good quality dining table is a great place to start. It’s a statement piece and the focal point of the living/ dining area. We love designing dining tables as they bring the family together and make a house feel like a home.

Choosing the right dining table is a solid foundation to build on so make sure you choose a classic design that won’t date, won’t break and is a great quality product made to stand the test of time.

Once you’ve invested in a timeless piece, you can simply update your smaller more affordable homewares to stay on top of the latest trends.

I love timber because it has its own inherent beauty, what we make is as much to do with the timber we use as the design itself, you don’t have to over design when you’re using timber because it’s a beautiful material. We use a lot of Australian hardwoods, American Oak, all sustainably managed timber or recycled and our designs are very much inspired by the materials at hand.

The advantage of solid timber furniture is that you can always sand it back and refinish any damage. It’s in a league of its own, will last and be loved for generations, becoming part of the family.

Having timber in modern homes can really soften the environment, it really does work in a modern, hard edged property, bringing in a timber element will warm it up.

Remember to keep things simple. Start by getting the foundations right and build from there.

Your home should be a place of comfort, a safe space for relaxation and winding down so a classic and comfortable sofa is also key. A high quality lounge can stand both the test of time and the general wear and tear of such a high traffic space. We suggest going for something that’s neutral in style, and comfortable to sit on. You want to be happy having this piece in your living room for years and years to come.

I’d recommend choosing a sofa that can be reconfigured if you’re not yet in your ‘forever’ home, our Box Sofa is a great example as you can add an armless section which can be configured to work on the left or the right hand side and it comes in various sizes and materials to suit.

Lastly, we all love to sleep. A strong, solid timber bed that’s going to last is essential. A bed is the focal point of any bedroom so choosing the right piece will create a statement, as well as connect this room to the rest of the home creating a nice sense of flow.

Remember to keep things simple. Start by getting the foundations right and build from there. Your core furniture should be minimal in form, with a focus on quality and function. We tend to keep things light and neutral to showcase the character and warmth of our timber furniture. Then we finish things off with a pop of colour using cushions, art and objects to reflect our mood, soften and make things a little less serious.

You will spend many years living with your key pieces of furniture and so you’ve got to make a choice that you’re comfortable with. At the end of the day your home is your retreat from the world, your own personal domain and so follow your heart, and what really resonates for you, not your head.

I got into this business to do something environmentally friendly and to be involved in a creative process, where you think something up, make it and then see someone happy to own it. I like to get up each day and do something I enjoy, so when it got time to be serious about life I thought to myself ‘if I was a billionaire what would I do’? And I like making things. It’s as simple as that.

 

Mark Tuckey

Downsizing or Rightsizing – Helping Empty Nesters Make The Right Move

So how is ‘Rightsizing’ different to ‘Downsizing’?

Let me explain: Downsizing (verb). to make (something) smaller. Rightsizing (verb). to convert (something) to an appropriate or optimum size.

There’s an assumption that when children reach adulthood, they will have their own lives and move out of the family home. Their parents will instinctively ‘downsize’ and discard the possessions they’ve accumulated over the years, sell the house, and move into a smaller home that’s easier to maintain. Often it does not happen this way and we see people choose to live in their homes until the very end. The question is, is downsizing the right decision for all and what are the options?

Ultimately, your next move isn’t about downsizing or upsizing: it’s about what I like to call ‘Rightsizing’. It’s about minimising your stress levels and living in a property that suits your current needs. This could mean purchasing a smaller private property, living in an over 55’s community, a retirement village or even building a new granny flat in your backyard!

It is said that major change has a similar effect of trauma and I can say I have certainly seen this in many of our clients who leave it somewhat too late to move.

The change cycle follows the process; denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance.

Our agent has indicated without this spend, the property in its current condition would sell for $1.5m, but with our spend of $220,000 the property will achieve $2.2m.

Immobilisation and denial is where I meet most of my clients.  “I don’t know where to start”, “I don’t know who to trust”. Most of our downsizers (or rightsizers) are stuck in the cycle of “It’s too hard, so it is easier to stay”.

There’s far more to this than what we find in a normal real estate transaction. People at this stage require nurturing, patience, understanding and they are also often the most loyal.

We have an example we are working on right now.  Our client built the house with her husband 45 years ago.  Right now it is extremely tired, one of the most in repair I have seen for quite some time.  Being such a large family home, the requirement to spend money to get it to a presentation standard was at the high end.  Our agent has indicated without this spend, the property in its current condition would sell for $1.5m, but with our spend of $220,000 the property will achieve $2.2m.

This is an enormous emotional rollercoaster for our client, after starting with trepidation at the Initial Appraisal we have carefully taken her through the required changes are we are getting through the project.  She will absolutely love the result and the freedom to finally release herself of the overwork and the worry of a large family home. She has bought a beachside apartment – and she can’t wait now!

If you are considering leaving your family home and making the next move, you can find out more in my book Rightsize Your Home: The Empty Nester’s Guide to a Stress-Free Downsize

 

Belinda Woolrych