Running out of space

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Running out of space?

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.

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.


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.


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.

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
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