Retiring

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Retiring?

The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.

What are the signs that you need a new home?

Moving into a new home can be a hassle. Nobody really enjoys packing up all of their belongings and carting them off to a new place. This can lead many people to stay in their houses for a long period of time, despite their needs or the family's changing over time.

But sometimes moving house is a necessary part of life. Whether it's due to a steadily growing family, children moving out or shifting for a new job, there are many reasons why you might need to relocate.

It's no longer what you want

There may be many things you like about your home, but over time, there may be other things you have begun to dislike.
For instance, perhaps you liked your home's proximity to a nearby primary school for your children.

But if your kids have all grown up and moved out, you might not appreciate the noise anymore.

You're strapped for room

When you bought your home, you may have thought two bedrooms would be sufficient. However, since you moved in, your family might have expanded - rapidly.

If you're so strapped for room that all of your kids are sharing bedrooms, it might be a sign that you need to move on to a bigger house.

Maybe you've accumulated a lot of belongings over the years and your garage is now full-to-bursting, bringing about the need for a home with an attic and other storage capabilities.

Neighbourhood

Over time your neighbourhood can change. The house next door might have once been occupied by a nice family, but has since become rented student accommodation. A busy shopping mall may have been erected at the end of your street. Perhaps the owner of the house next door has now become the neighbour from hell.

These are all good reasons why you might want to consider moving to a brand new area, as being happy in your home is extremely important.

If one or more of these signs is evident in your home, get in touch with a First National Real Estate agent to get closer to finding a house more suitable for your needs.

How can you grow vegetables with a small garden?

There’s no better way to eat healthy, save money and make the most of your property than to plant a garden.

Some home owners may feel overwhelmed by the idea – after all, not everyone is born with a green thumb. However, creating a varied and delicious garden full of herbs and vegetables can be easier than you think.

Herbs

Planting herbs is a great first step for burgeoning gardeners. Best of all, because they require such little space, even property owners with little room can have a stunning herb garden. In fact, herbs can even be grown easily indoors!

For instance, all you need to do in order to always have fresh basil on hand without visiting the supermarket is place a basil plant in a window that gets at least a few hours of direct sunlight each day.

The same can be done with delicious herbs like rosemary, sage, mint and chives.

Veggies

Vegetables like carrots, radishes, onions, tomatoes and lettuce are also very easy to grow for amateur gardeners.

Additionally, just like with herbs, there are plenty of ways to grow fresh veggies if space is an issue.

For example, while garlic cloves are a popular cooking ingredient, they are often too bitter to the taste to cook with when they sprout. But instead of tossing these in the garbage, you can simply place sprouted cloves in a glass of water and grow new sprouts.

These sprouts are not as overpowering as garlic cloves, and can go great in a number of dishes or as a garnish.

Lettuce stems from a head of romaine lettuce can also be used to grow fresh produce. All you need to do is place the intact stem in a bowl with approximately a half inch of water and place it on a windowsill that gets some sun.

Soon enough, new leaves will grow and you’ll be on your way to crafting a delicious salad.

What can I do to create more storage in my home?

Storage space may not be the first thing that jumps to mind when considering must-haves in your home, but as those will little storage space know, a tiny bit of room goes a long way.

Fortunately, there are plenty of crafty ways to give yourself more storage space, whether in the bedroom or the kitchen.

Think vertically

Most homeowners think in terms of floor space, but there is plenty of room being unused higher up.

Whether you invest in tall bookshelves, hooks to hang from walls and doors or simple shelves installed in bare areas, make sure you maximise how much of your vertical space you're taking advantage of.

Stay out of sight

If you have a lot to store, chances are you're worried about a cluttered home. After all, no one likes to look like a hoarder.

Luckily there are plenty of out of the way spaces in which to store items. Under beds is one great option, as guests will not notice if you expertly pack boxes and bins that can easily slide under where you sleep.

Closets should also be utilised to the fullest degree, whether this means taking advantage of the coat closet in the entryway or simply adding shelves to your bedroom closet in an attempt to create more space.

Slim down

Perhaps the best but least popular piece of advice regarding storage is to get rid of what you don't need.

Many people are unable to part with their possessions, even if they're broken or no longer needed. However, holding on to these things makes storage an issue and turns an already stressful time like moving into a nightmare.

Think long and hard about what you can part with and then have a garage sale. Pocketing some extra cash will help soothe the sting of saying goodbye.

Most First National agents have 'Garage Sale' signs that they're happy to let you borrow when you need them. Give your local member a call for assistance on 13 16 66.

How do I approach neighbours about a nuisance?

In a perfect world, all our neighbours would be our friends and we'd regularly trade cups of sugar and lend out lawnmowers with smiles on our faces.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Be it a noise issue, a property boundary dispute or any other problem, there will likely come a time when you'll need to approach a neighbour about some kind of nuisance.

When this situation arises, it's important to keep your cool and follow some general guidelines in order to keep the peace and have your home remain a sanctuary, not a battleground.

Timing is key

If a problem arises, it's a good idea to speak with your neighbour sooner rather than later. This will give you less time to stew on something they may not even be aware of.

With that said, if you're angry, it's probably a good idea to hold off on approaching a neighbour until you've had some time to cool off.

Either way, when you do approach your neighbour, do so at a convenient time that will give you ample opportunity to talk. Banging on someone's door in the middle of the night is not ideal.

Cordial is better than cranky

A neighbour that keeps you up at all hours of the night with blaring music may lead you to write a nasty note or yell some choice words over the fence, but this strategy has the potential to backfire horribly.

After all, it's not as if your neighbour will suddenly pack up and leave overnight. You have to live next to this person, and if you start a feud, it could turn your homelife into a living hell.

That's why it's important to be polite and reasonable in all dealings with your neighbour. Honey really does attract more flies than vinegar in the end.

What are the best insulation options for my home?

Insulation is an often-overlooked piece of the homeowner puzzle. Not only can it keep you warm during winter and cool during summer, it can do wonders for your energy bill.

With this in mind, if you find yourself making decisions regarding the type of insulation to use inside your home, it can pay off to understand exactly what the pros and cons of each option are.

Fibreglass

Perhaps the most well-known type of insulation, fibreglass is created using rock slag, recycled glass, quartz sand, soda ash, limestone and boron. This insulation comes in blankets, segments and loose fill.

It can be found at your local hardware store, and is probably the most widely used insulation material by DIYers.

Wool

Comprised of either new or recycled sheep wool, this type of insulation is often blended with other preservatives and materials to make it stronger. It is also usually treated to make it resistant to pests, mould and fire.

Wool is slightly less effective than fibreglass at containing heat, but the chemicals it is treated with make it more fire-resistant.

Synthetic

Synthetic insulation can come in various forms, including polyester and polystyrene. Polyester is more affordable than fibreglass while offering the same heat-containing properties, while polystyrene is actually better than fibreglass at containing heat.

Both types of insulation are long-lasting, but are also vulnerable if exposed, especially to water. Additionally, polystyrene can shrink over time.

Foam

Made out of urea and formaldehyde, foam insulation is pumped or injected into existing walls before it dries and becomes a solid shape.

This can be very beneficial to homeowners who do not wish to remove wall linings or cladding. However, foam insulation can lose its heat-containment strength as it dries, and is not suitable for brick homes.

These are only a few of the options available for home insulation, and regardless of which you choose, it's important to take effectiveness and cost into account, as chances are you'll be living with the choice you make for quite some time.

What do I need to know when buying an apartment off the plan?

Buying ‘off the plan’ provides investors with the opportunity to buy some of the best-positioned apartments within a complex. When the market is rising, it can also sometimes offer property investors a capital gain by the time construction is completed.

Here are some tips to help you make sure you make the decision that’s best for you:
  • Make sure you look carefully at the displays that developers make available. These will show examples of carpets, tiles, kitchen fittings and finishes, colour schemes and general fittings.
  • Ask about previous projects that the developer has completed. Arrange an inspection to make your own judgment as to the quality of construction
  • Ask residents of the developer’s previous projects how happy they are with the property they purchased
  • If you’re not confident you understand floor plans, consider asking an architect to assist you with your decision making
  • Banks generally wont provide unconditional approval of your property loan when you buy off the plan. If the market moves downwards, between your purchase and settlement, you will need to be prepared to find additional funding
  • It is a good idea to include a finance clause in your contract and get a valuation ‘as-if-complete’ when you’re getting your initial approval. This will allow you to gauge how the property stands within the current market, as well as how the bank views the area and the property’s potential
  • Get legal advice before signing a real estate contract. Make sure you understand delivery timeframes, sunset clauses, size variation clauses and confirm that you are buying what you believe you are buying
By conducting your due diligence and taking your time, you can take advantage of what off the plan purchasing can offer buyers; a way to secure a quality property in the future, at today’s price.

Should I get a building and pest inspection?

Building and pest inspections typically cost around five hundred dollars but are a vital part of the due diligence process when buying a house. When buying an apartment, a strata inspection report may be more appropriate, depending on the size and construction of the block. Remember though that almost all inspection reports reveal some form of problem, particularly with older properties.

A building and pest report will provide crucial guidance as to the condition of the property you are considering and can be useful in price negotiations, if significant problems are present. Here are some tips on understanding and responding appropriately when you receive your report:
  • Don’t be shocked if your report is in the order of 30 or more pages. That’s normal.
  • The presence of ‘past termite activity’ should not be viewed as a deal breaker. What is important is the extent of the damage and whether there is evidence that corrective action has been taken. Naturally, if current termite activity is present, this is potentially serious and needs to be fully assessed and dealt with
  • It is the building inspector’s job to point everything out that he/she sees to ‘cover’ themselves. It’s important you calmly read through the information and understand what it means
  • If you have a question, phone the inspector. They will often be happy to discuss their findings and explain their relevance.
  • If major faults have been found, discuss these with your real estate agent. It may be possible to negotiate a suitable adjustment to the agreed property purchase price.
  • Be realistic. A small range of typical faults may not be fair grounds to renegotiate price

How do I work out market value so I don’t overpay when buying real estate?

"Market value" is whatever a willing buyer will pay for a property when it sells.

While this advice doesn’t help new buyers, or even experienced buyers, there are ways to work out what you should pay for a property. Here are our tips:
  • Use technology. Many real estate websites provide suburb median prices and recent sales details. Remember that a median price is only indicative of the middle price in a suburb; it may not reflect the value of the property you are considering
  • Ask real estate agents
  • When buying an investment property, rental returns are the key factor in determining value. 5 per cent gross rental return is considered the ‘rule of thumb’ which essentially converts to $1 in weekly rent for every $1,000 spent buying a property
  • Obtain a valuation. Formal valuations can cost between $500 and $1,000 but a licensed valuer must support his or her indicative price with solid comparative market evidence

What are the free online resources that every real estate investor should know about?

SOURCE: propertyobserver.com.au

The rise of the internet over the last 10 years has changed property investing materially – and the number of free resources that you can access right at your fingertips, any time of day or night, is astounding.

Here are some recommended “go to” free real estate websites and resources for pushing your investments that one step further.

GOOGLE ALERTS

Much-used and much-loved, Google Alerts can be set up for news on any area of your liking. Property Observer editor at large Jonathan Chancellor suggested in his speech at the Home Show that setting up alerts for your chosen suburb or locality plus keywords like ‘infrastructure’ or ‘government spending’ are possible approaches to ensure you buy in ahead of the pack. This scrapes local news online, as well as other commentary, and sends it straight to you.

You can set them up to be as frequent or infrequent as you like, all you need to do is send them to your Google account. You may want to also consider using an RSS reader or a bookmarking system.


A FAVOURITE LISTINGS WEBSITE

While it’s suggested that you peruse a number of listings websites (not all agents list on every portal), it’s worthwhile having a favourite that you can check in on regularly. Whether it’s realestateVIEW, realestate.com.au, Domain, Homely, Homehound or another, be active in viewing them. Property price guidance might come from sites like onthehouse. Keep an eye on areas of interest, new listings in your price range and even how much properties are renting for – this will quickly show you changes in the market, and what is selling. You’ll also get an idea of the active agents in the area. This brings us to…


AGENT RATING WEBSITES

It’s good to know the active real estate agents you can call and speak to, and potentially list your property with in future. RateMyAgent is one of these sites, that shows you which agents are the busiest and selling the most and provides some localised data.


GOOGLE EARTH AND MAPS

Such an easy portal to use, Google Earth and Google Maps will tell you a huge amount of invaluable information and orientate you instantly. Whether it’s using the Street View portal to get a better look at just how close it is to the main road, and whether you can see any graffiti in the pictures, it can also show you how close the property is to the nearest school, shops, public transport and even how close the suburb is to the capital. This is a first stop when researching a new area.


LOCAL TENANCY PORTALS

If you’re a landlord, then get yourself armed with information. All of the legislation is online, and now there are even hubs that provide guides and assistance for landlords and investors. Consider spending some time on different Tenants Union websites as well, these help quickly show you common renters’ concerns and how you might assist as a property owner. You will also want to have the details for your local tribunal on hand.

Legislation by state and territory:

New South Wales

Queensland

Western Australia

South Australia

Northern Territory

ACT

Tasmania

Victoria


INVESTOR FORUMS

Investing in property doesn’t have to be a lonely task and that doesn’t mean you always have to spend money to attend groups and meetups. A number of forums exist for you to speak your mind with other property buyers, and naysayers. From Somersoft to renovation forum Home One, whatever your investment tastes there’s something for you. A number of industry experts are often also online and able to answer questions via the forums.


TELEVISION RE-RUNS

Missed that episode of The Block that everyone’s discussing (it gets tense when it’s up against My Kitchen Rules)? Or want to get some background on Location Location Location? They stream them through their websites, and at least include past seasons for you to get your fix.


BRAND NEW AND COMING SOON RESOURCES

The National Building Code of Australia is soon to be freely available online under new changes - great news for owner builders and anyone considering a structural renovation. And, in the last year, we've seen a crop of new websites offering useful assistance in all areas of investing. Genworth launched their LMI Toolkit in November last year, and new website and app realAs believes they have the algorithm that will accurately determine what a property will sell for (with a success rate of usually within 5%). Another startup, Next For Sale, allows potential sellers to list before they are actually sellers.
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