Housing Market Recovery Attracts Buyers

As we are now halfway through 2017, the real estate picture in Western Australia is becoming much clearer. The experts are touting this as a transition year for the state, with most of the past reductions in housing prices now behind us. From an overall point of view, investors priced out of the market in the eastern states are looking here for opportunities. At the same time, local buyers are returning as confidence in the general economy also returns.

Low Prices Will Not Be Around Forever

If you have been sitting back looking at the market and wondering if you should step in or stay out, those who know the market well are advising to buy now, as prices will not stay at these levels for much longer. Whether you are a looking for a home to live in or for an investment property, the advice is to look for areas close to schools, transport, shopping and employment to get the best value for money.

Take Advantage of Incentives – They Won’t Be Around Forever

Prices are still low so housing is more affordable and interest rates remain at record lows. The First Home Owners Grant has been increased until the end of the year, and the income threshold for low deposit home loans has also increased, making it easier for first time buyers to enter the market.

Our Advice for First Home Buyers

This is all good news from our point of view as real estate agents. Here at Bunbury Real Estate we have done our best to assist our clients during the difficult times, and we are looking forward to doing the same in what we hope is a long-running, rising market. However, we do have some words of advice for new players, especially those looking for their first home to occupy.

While you are right to study the market in order to understand how it works, it is not the only thing you should be considering. If you were priced out of buying your dream home, but now it is within reach, there will be a certain amount of emotion involved in this search.

Be Clear About Why You Are Buying

Buying a home and buying an investment property are two different types of decisions. The investment property is a considered, calculated move to build wealth, while buying a home is putting down roots, establishing yourself in stable employment and perhaps preparing to start a family. It has a permanence about it that will most likely influence the type of property you are looking for.

Most people in the real estate industry believe that this is the right time to buy. With this opinion supported by market data, you should be asking, not about the market, but why are you buying? Once this is clear to you, we can help you find the right property for your needs.

Don’t Let Your Unoccupied Property Drain Your Finances

If you have one or more investment properties, it is vital that you keep the vacancy rates as low as possible, given the locations and local market conditions. An unoccupied property is a drain on the financial resources of the owner, is more likely to be vandalised and becomes an insurance issue after a specified period.

Getting a Property Leased Quickly Needs Several Approaches

Finding quality tenants quickly in any kind of market is not something that can be achieved with only one strategy. It takes a concerted effort using several different approaches that, when combined, gives the owner the best possible chance of securing a long-term lease.

When we manage a property on behalf of a client, this is the approach we take. At Bunbury Real Estate we use current rental data to keep in touch with the local market and the latest marketing techniques to advertise our properties. We also keep our property owners up to date so their rental price expectations match the market conditions.

Use Accurate Data and Set Firm Targets

This means rental appraisals must be accurate. Data that is months old is not a true reflection of what is happening now. If, for example, the market is slowing down, we need to be advising our clients on current data, or they will be expecting a rental price that was achievable six months ago, but not now.

Getting a property occupied quickly also means setting targets and acting on them. The number of enquiries within the first couple of days the property is advertised is a reliable indicator of how much work will be required to get it leased. If there is little or no interest and we know the property is overpriced, we request a rent reduction from the owner. This usually brings in enough tenants for us to reference check and recommend.

Advertise Any Changes

This brings us to the next important change. There is little advantage in reducing the rent if we don’t advertise it. People who are watching the property but have not enquired may respond to this drop, so featuring it in our major advertising is critical.

Long Gaps Between Leases is a Cost

Our most important strategy is the relationship we have with the property owner. This includes giving good advice and finding reputable tenants. When an owner is reluctant to reduce the rental price, we remind them that every day the property is vacant is a cost to them. An extra $10 or $20 a week will be eaten up in costs if the property is not quickly leased.

If you are self-managing your investment property and losing money between leases, give us a call. We will use our knowledge to get your property leased quickly for the best price in any kind of market.

Serious Buyers Are Like Gold – Make Their Decision An Easy One

Deciding to sell your property is always difficult, but if you are serious about attracting buyers, you must do several things to keep them interested in what you are offering. A serious seller must view everything from a buyer’s point of view and identify what is most likely to put them off a property and go elsewhere. This requires sellers to treat the event as a business transaction and keep their emotions in check.

We Know What Will Turn Buyers off an Inspection

Fortunately, we can help with this. After years of experience in handling property transactions, our staff members at Bunbury Real Estate have seen and heard almost everything to do with buying and selling real estate. We can spot what buyers will not like almost immediately, so we offer a few suggestions for sellers who are having trouble with the process.

Exterior Appearance Must be Attractive

The first thing that will keep buyers away is the overall appearance of the property. Everything must be clean and tidy, so make sure the lawns and gardens are well maintained. Wash the outside of the dwelling and paint anything that looks shabby. Remove any rubbish and clean out garages and sheds.

Clean and Tidy Inside with Everything Working

The inside must also be clean and tidy, and everything should be in working order. That means that air-conditioning units, ceiling fans, heaters, kitchen fixtures such as cooktops, ovens, range hoods, dishwashers, et cetera, must work if a curious buyer turns them on. There must be no leaking taps, toilets that don’t flush properly or other annoyances a seller may ignore that a buyer will not accept.

Get Rid of Those Awful Smells

Are there any unpleasant smells inside the dwelling? A seller who is also the occupant may not notice pet smells in the carpets or cigarette smoke in the curtains, but buyers will. Get them professionally cleaned, and make sure your pets are not present during an inspection.

Buyers Dislike Clutter – Clean it Out

It’s alright to be untidy and clutter up a dwelling when you are living there, but buyers want to see how much space is available and this is impossible to show if rooms are filled with your stuff. De-clutter down to the essentials, and if you don’t know how to do this, find someone to help you. It will be worth the effort.

Buyers Have a Budget – Don’t Annoy Them by Keeping the Price a Secret

Finally, listen to the advice of your agent about pricing the property. It is our job to know the market in the area, and we will recommend either a fixed price or a range to attract the right buyer. Properties that are listed on line without a price will be quickly scrolled through to get to the next desirable property.

Our role is to get you the best possible price for your property in the current market. Help us to help you by following these few simple instructions.

Looking To Share Your Rental? This Could Be Helpful

Accommodation is a major cost that puts pressure on most household budgets, and the most common way of spreading that cost around is to share space in your home with other people. If you are offering to share with a relative or long-term friend, you already know a lot about them, their ability to pay the rent and to be a responsible housemate.

House Sharing with Strangers can be Rewarding

Often though, sharing arrangements involve rental properties and total strangers. The fact that these arrangements usually work out well for everyone is testimony to the inherent goodwill in most people. Lifetime friendships and many romantic relationships are often forged in these circumstances. However, there are other times when things begin well but deteriorate quickly.

Check the Legal Issues First

If you are already renting a property and need some help with the rent, there are a few things to know before you invite someone else to share. You have already signed an agreement that sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy. If you sublet without first securing the approval of the lessor, you may be in breach of that agreement.

Tenant is Responsible for any Nuisance or Illegal Activity

We cannot give any guarantees here that approval would or would not be given as every case is different. If Bunbury Real Estate was managing the property, we would contact our lessor for approval. If that was given, we would advise our tenants that they are responsible for anyone they allow onto the premises. They must make sure that anyone there does not create a nuisance for neighbours, or use the premises for anything illegal.

Select Housemates Carefully

We would also suggest that they treat the search for a housemate like a job interview. For security, arrange to meet applicants somewhere public like a park or café. Spend some time with the different applicants, as you are assessing if they will fit into your home environment.

Get some background information by asking specific questions. Do they smoke, for example, or play their music loud? Do they have any pets who need to be included, how much space do they need for their possessions; do they cook or entertain friends?

Very Important – Check References for a Positive Sharing Experience

Our most important requirement would be to get references from other tenancies or share houses they have occupied. These documents are easy to fake, so take that next step and make personal contact with the referees. This could prevent all sorts of problems.

What you want is a reliable, easy-going person to help with expenses, not a lazy troublemaker. When the people who share your rental are compatible, you will have no trouble with your property manager, and there will be more money in your pocket at the end of the month.

Does The Ability To Read The Market Guarantee Success?

To be successful in real estate requires the patience to research the market and the available properties, the financial knowledge to raise the necessary capital to purchase property and the ability to make an informed decision at the right time. If this all sounds like a big task, it probably is, but ordinary people have been buying and selling real estate for decades and many of them have become very wealthy in the process.

Is Real Estate a Cyclical Risk?

Some have, unfortunately, had the opposite result. They may have just missed the bottom of the market, waited too long to buy, and paid a premium price, then cashed in when the market was still climbing, leaving thousands of dollars on the table. They may have lost their nerve at a crucial time in the real estate cycle or have been unable to raise the capital when the market was at rock bottom.

Whatever the reason for success or failure, those who love dealing in real estate continue to take calculated risks to have a place in the market and a piece of the action. The professional sales staff members at Bunbury Real Estate have a range of properties for sale now in the local area that would suit first home buyers, investors, large families or small lot buyers.

Is a Cautious Decision Always the Best One?

We would also recommend caution before making any decisions. Dabbling in real estate to make quick returns and looking for a long-term home are two entirely different scenarios. The first one has no attachment to what is purely a business decision, while the other has invested emotions, hopes, dreams and some fears, along with their money.

Buying and Selling for Different Reasons Makes Comparisons Difficult

The home buyers are looking to put down roots, and if, when they decide to sell, there is a nice profit involved, that is a bonus. The Dabbler is looking for excitement, the thrill of the chase and the possibility of a quick and lucrative turnover. They are both in the market but for completely different purposes, and for this reason, cannot be compared with each other.

Technology Provides Ready Access to Data

What the Dabblers have in their favour in this age of technology is ready access to mountains of data that shows how the market is performing. Does this make it easier to predict the market highs and lows? Possibly, but events that happen far from our shores now influence our financial markets and, therefore, our real estate markets in ways that are sometimes surprising, even for experts.

What we can all agree on is that real estate is still an exciting industry to be involved in, but whether buying or selling, think before you act is still good advice.

What To Do When Tenants Vacate And Leave Their Possessions Behind

Currently in Australia, around 35% of households are rentals. Most of the people in these rentals observe the conditions of their rental agreements, paying their rent on time and treating the properties with respect. Of the small proportion that do not, some simply abandon their rental and their possessions, often leaving no forwarding details.

Breaking the News to the Owners

These actions create a significant problem for the rental agents. First, they have to advise the property owner that the tenant has gone, possibly owing rent. Then they have to explain that, by leaving their possessions behind, the property must remain vacant until due process has taken place.

Fortunately, at our agency, this does not happen often, as our tenant selection process is quite rigorous and includes employment and reference checks. However, after all our years at Bunbury Real Estate we expect the unexpected and have procedures in place to deal with these situations.

In Western Australia, there is a legal process that must be followed to clear the property for the next tenants. The first move is easy, as we are permitted to dispose of perishable foodstuffs within two days. After that, it gets a little more complicated.

State Government Certificates and Official Notices Required

We then assess the estimated value of the remainder to separate them into “goods of little or no value” and “goods of value”. For the former, we apply to the state government for an Abandoned Goods Certificate. This protects us from any claims by the tenants should they return to collect their possessions. We must give the department the details of the tenants and the property, as well as an itemised list and colour photographs. We then wait for official notice that we can dispose of the property.

Agents Required to Safely Store Goods of Value

For goods of value, and important documents, we must immediately arrange to store them in a safe place and manner for at least 60 days. Using the appropriate departmental forms, we must notify the tenant at their last known contact address of our intent concerning their property. We must also advertise this intention in a state wide newspaper. This allows someone with a legal right to the goods to collect them within 60 days.

Auction of Unclaimed Goods Permitted after Due Process

If the goods are not claimed within 60 days, we have the legal right to sell them on auction, and recover any removal, storage and sale costs. We then pay any balance through the Magistrates Court to the Rental Accommodation Fund, discharging our liability. If we are owed back rent or damages from the tenancy, we can make a claim from this deposit.

This process is fair to everyone, including the property owner, who can have the property tenanted again after 60 days. No agent can just seize abandoned property as compensation. This legal process protects everyone involved, and any ongoing disputes are settled in court.

Clean Up Your Property For The Best Sale Price

Every property owner wants the best price possible when they list their home for sale. The properties that sell the quickest for the best price usually have something about them that makes them stand out. A great position, extra space, special features, proximity to transport and employment, and a property that is immediately liveable are the attributes most sought after by buyers.

It is the last attribute that seems to escape the notice of some sellers. As property agents ourselves, we are constantly amazed at the state of some properties we are asked to list for sale. While we understand that everyone has the right to live in their home the way they want to, there are some things that should be done before they ask our staff at Bunbury Real Estate to present it for inspection.

Easy Changes Have the Most Impact

Often the changes needed to get the best price are the easiest to do, so we offer some suggestions for sellers who need a bit of guidance. The first thing to do is increase the street appeal. Mow the yard, weed the gardens, clean the paths and driveways with a pressure hose, trim trees and shrubs that overhang or obstruct the front of the house.

A Clean Exterior and Some Minor Repairs Work Wonders

Now that the house can be seen clearly from the road, does it need cleaning? Wash the walls and windows, clear out the gutters, do minor repairs such as replacing damaged insect screens, broken steps or unstable hand rails. If it still looks shabby, a coat of paint in a modern colour scheme will have buyers stopping at the front gate to look further instead of just driving by.

The “Wow” Factor for the Interior

Now to create a “wow” factor once they get through the front door. This means starting with clean floors, walls and windows. Again, paint is the cheapest way to improve the interior of a dwelling. It covers the stains that won’t wash off, and by using the latest light reflecting colours, any rooms that need extra light will immediately get a lift.

Replace Anything Worn, Torn or Shabby

If the floor coverings are stained or ripped, replace them. Dirty, shabby or faded curtains should be taken down and disposed of. Replace them with the latest blinds. There are so many different styles now available that even the humble roller blind will be an improvement on old curtains.

Kitchen and Bathroom – A Quick Respray

Kitchens and bathrooms are more expensive to rework, but replacing old kitchen appliances with new stainless steel ones has an immediate impact. If money is an issue, respraying the cabinets, bench tops, tiles and bathroom fixtures, and installing new tap wear may be enough to finish off the upgrade.

Neat, clean, tidy, no pests or unpleasant smells, no rubbish in the yard – that is all it takes to get the best price.

Tenants – Accidental Damage And How To Deal With It

All of us through life at one time or another are going to break or cause something to break. It is not intentional. There are certainly going to be times in a tenanted property’s life when it is going to suffer a few bumps and bruises.

The important thing, just like any damage such as storm damage, is to deal with it quickly.

Bunbury Real Estate adhere to the guidelines set down by the Residential Tenancies Authority, commonly known as the RTA.

Who Is Responsible for Arranging Repairs

We, as the agent in our managed tenancies, are responsible for the arrangement of any repairs being carried out. Only with our written permission should a tenant attempt to carry out or arrange any repairs themselves.

If the damage exceeds a certain value it may be possible to claim the repair bill on insurance. This will obviously still incur some sort of excess which will need to be paid. Whoever is deemed responsible for a given event must carry out these repairs within a reasonable time.

If either party deems this time has lapsed they may issue a Notice to Remedy Breach (Form 11)__ _which allows 7 days for the work to be completed. If the matter is still not resolved, it is advisable for both parties to come together to discuss the issue. If the issue remains unresolved, you may apply for a _Dispute Resolution.

Obviously, this last paragraph relates to extreme cases only and it is not considered a normal or regular situation within our ranks. During this time we honour and respect the Rules of Entry_ _although in extreme cases a tenant is more than happy to allow our repairers to be admitted.

What is Accidental Damage?

To make things crystal clear, we offer some examples of who is responsible for what. If a tenant is playing cricket in the backyard and hits the ball through the window – this is the tenant’s responsibility.

If a tree branch goes through the same window in a storm, even if the putty loosens up and the window falls out – this is the landlord’s responsibility. Having said that, often accidental broken glass, including shower glass, is covered under insurance.

If a tenant goes on a rampage and kicks holes in walls and doors, this is called malicious damage. Some insurance companies do not cover damage caused in this way.

We will address malicious damage in following posts.

Rent or Buy In Bunbury

The number one question we have to answer is should you buy or rent a property when you live in, or move to our beautiful part of the world. The picturesque countryside and the amazing ocean views along this part of Western Australia are to die for and are well sort after. The staff members of Bunbury Real Estate feel very blessed to reside in this part of the country.

The ratio of property to viewings for either rent or sale is amazing. It is a big decision to make – do you rent or do you buy?

Sort Out Your Finances

The first thing you must do is to have a good hard look at your finances to see what you can afford. The average median price of a home in this area can set you back anywhere between $350,000 and $710,000 depending on the style and size of home you are seeking and which part of this area you wish to settle in. Obviously, coastal properties attract a higher value due to their rare and unique qualities.

Repayments on $350,000 at 5% interest will attract repayments of around $450 per week. Repayments of $700,000 at the same interest rate are around $920 per week. The average rent on the other hand can range between $350 and $450 per week.

The attention you give to this one thing may be all you need to help you make your decision about whether to rent or buy. For those who wish to go deeper, you need to consider if you want an asset which may tie you down or the freedom of renting.

Asset vs. Freedom

Most of us know that owning the right real estate can only be a good thing. Without a doubt it is the safest place to invest your money. What you must understand is that buying real estate is termed a long-term investment. This means that the longer you hold your asset the more value it will achieve.

Yes, it has been known for property to double or even triple its value in a very short period of time but real estate usually takes about a 7-10 year cycle to gather any real momentum.

As a tenant you are free, within the confines of your lease, to vacate at will and move to another home without the worries of selling your current home before moving and juggling all that it entails.

A coastal change can happen in the blink of an eye when you are a tenant.

 

Handling Damage to Rentals

As a lessor of a property, you want your tenant to take good care of the premises during the entire tenancy period. But there is no guarantee that there will be no damage to the property at the end of the lease agreement. Even if you have made sure that the tenant is responsible and of good reputation, there are accidental damages that could happen to the premises.

Differentiate Types of Damages

As a lessor, you should know that damages to rental properties are not all the same. It can be accidental such as when the tenant accidentally spills wine on the carpet or upholstery, or when a window gets accidentally broken. There is also malicious damage, where the tenant acted irresponsibly, leading to the damage. One good example is a tenant kicking the door to force it open. If the tenant acted with ill will, then you can consider this as malicious.

Another type of damage is regular wear-and-tear, which the tenant can do little to prevent. This can include paint colour fading and diminishing quality of floor surfaces and other furniture in the premises.

Make Clear Lease Provisions

To help ensure that the tenant will take good care of the property during the term of the tenancy, it is important to make clear provisions in the lease agreement. Sit down with the tenant to discuss their responsibilities under the agreement.

Be as specific as possible with the provisions that you provide in the lease. For instance, if you do not want tenants to punch holes into the walls, state so in the lease. You should also let the tenant know the repercussions of breaking the provisions involving alterations and damage to the property. Typically, the security deposit is kept to cover for any damage that the tenant caused. If the tenant knows this, then they will be more careful not to damage any part of the rental.

If you are not up to explaining or sitting down with the tenant, our property manager at Bunbury Real Estate can handle the discussion with the tenant.

Conduct Regular Inspections

It will help to conduct regular inspections to see if the tenant is in fact taking care of the rental property. At Bunbury Real Estate, we can help you with all aspects of the management of your investment property, including inspection of the premises. You can leave it to us to set up a schedule with your tenant for the regular inspection.

Inspections will give you a better insight on how the tenant is treating the property. In addition, the inspection will also let you know if there are parts of the premises that will need repair or preventive maintenance.