Young couples

How can I renovate a bathroom on a shoestring budget? Along with the kitchen, bathrooms are one of the most important assets of any property so it pays to invest wisely in...
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Young couples

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’s the difference between an Agency Agreement and a Contract of Sale?

An agency agreement is the contract between the seller and real estate agent. It outlines details such as the agent’s fee (commission), the length of time the agreement will last (typically three months), the estimated selling price and any marketing arrangements. There are two main types:

  • Exclusive Agency Agreement – your property is listed for sale with just one agent exclusively
  • Open Agency Agreement - your property can be listed for sale by more than one agent at once
A Contract of Sale is the agreement entered between the person selling a property and the buyer of the property. It covers things like what is included in the sale, the title, whether there is a mortgage over the property, important legal details, and the length of time between paying the deposit and the settlement (when the balance must be paid, the keys are handed over, and you can move in).

How do we choose the right real estate agent?

You should look for a real estate agent who will put your interests first and is a good communicator.

Real estate agents can be a great resource when looking to buy your property. They know the area, and will look out for the right property for you. Our agents are always up for a chat at open for inspections, or simply give your local First National Real Estate office a call.

Click here for more information of choosing the right real estate agent.

Click here to find the First National office in your area.

What’s the role of a real estate agent and for whom do they work?

The real estate agent has been selected by the seller to sell the property and maximise the owner’s price.
  • The agent organises marketing, open for inspections, passes on offers received, and negotiates with multiple buyers under the instructions of the owner
  • The agent does not take instructions from prospective purchasers but is obliged to communicate all offers received, regardless of whether he or she feels they are appropriate
  • The agent receives a commission, based on a percentage of the sale price, as payment for their services

How can a real estate agent help us achieve our goal of owning a family home?

Real estate agents can be a great resource when looking to buy your property. They know the area, and will look out for the right property for you.
  • Our agents are always up for a chat at open for inspections but remember, at an open home, the agent’s main task is to promote their customer’s home and attend to the questions of prospective buyers
  • An agent can usually devote more attention to your wish list if you call them during the week or drop into your local First National Real Estate office for a chat
  • Ask your First National agent if they can add you to their Utopia database. This assures you’ll receive priority notifications as new listings matching your wish list come on the market
Our agents are also more than happy to help those of you who may want to sell your current home AND buy a new one. Having the one friendly contact working for you on both fronts can simplify the process for you.

Click here to find the First National office in your area.

Are we better off buying an old home or building a brand new home?

Buying old
  • When buying an older property, you can move in straight away, unless you are planning major renovations
  • Older properties are sometimes cheaper than new ones, depending on the location and condition of the property
  • Older homes offer charming period features and, often, higher ceilings, quality timber floors and unique architectural features
  • Older properties may need renovation of major systems such as heating/cooling, wiring, plumbing, roofing. But, they can offer significantly more margin for turn around and profit
  • What you see is what you get – assuming you’ve conducted proper building and pest inspections

Building new
  • With house and land packages, there’s always a range of different floor plans and prices to choose from. If you’re not creative or don’t have a challenging piece of land to build on, they can be a great solution
  • New homes are designed to suit today’s fashions and lifestyles. They’re more likely to appeal to a wider audience when the time comes to sell
  • New homes are generally more eco-friendly so your energy bills will be much cheaper
  • However, there is the risk that the builder/developer may not deliver exactly as proposed. It’s vital you seek an established company with a good reputation.

How much can we afford to borrow?

How much you can borrow depends on your salary, as well as how much deposit you have saved. If you already have a mortgage on another property then the equity you’ve accumulated will be a factor lending institutions consider.

Click here for our Mortgage Calculator

How do we get a home loan?

Contact a local bank or a mortgage broker for free advice.
  • If you’re buying your first home, research the different types of loans and interest rates available. There are a lot of lenders out there, so it’s best to do your initial research online
  • If you feel overwhelmed with the multitude of options and financial terms, a safe and easy solution is to talk to a mortgage broker. They don’t charge, will come to you, and usually offer a wide range of different loan options
  • Speak to more than one broker to compare advice and, if you feel it necessary, speak to a financial advisor

How can I renovate to get the greatest return?

Renovating a property can pay dividends, but you owe it to yourself and your wallet to make sure whatever projects you undertake offer a high return on investment, says First National Real Estate.

A new coat of paint, built-in wardrobes and replacing carpet with hardwood floors may make a home more attractive to renters and buyers, but not all renovations are created equal.

Focus on kitchens and bathrooms

An open plan living room may set prospective buyers to salivating, but kitchens and bathrooms tend to be of greater importance. This means it can pay off big to update your kitchen and bathrooms with new fixtures and appliances.

Of course, completely redoing a kitchen or bathroom can be an expensive endeavour, so don’t gut a space if a simple facelift will do. Upgrading appliances, installing new lighting fixtures and refinishing surfaces can go a long way.

Avoid high-price items

A swimming pool may be a luxurious and sought-after amenity, but it very rarely equals a significant return on investment.
Firstly, installing a swimming pool will cost you plenty. Secondly, many home buyers are simply unwilling to pay the extra costs that come with maintaining a swimming pool. For every buyer a pool might attract, many more may be turned off by it.
Also keep in mind the safety issues and higher insurance premiums that often come with swimming pools.

Appeal to a wide variety

Renovations can be a great way to express your personal tastes and passions, but remember that renovations that maximise return should appeal to the largest number of potential renters and buyers possible.

This means avoiding design choices that may turn off most people even if they please you. Changes and styles that last and appeal to a wide variety of people are a much better investment than singular renovations that might age poorly.

What are the most cost effective renovations?

Performing a few renovations here and there can even help you to add some value to your home or investment property - an important step if you're thinking of selling soon!

Here are three budget renovations you might want to think about:

Refresh and repaint

Have you ever walked through your home and spotted countless chips, scratches and marks on your walls and ceilings? Perhaps your wallpaper has begun to peel or mould has gotten the better of your bathroom paint?

A few licks of paint throughout your home can do wonders. It's also an inexpensive and creative way to make your home look new again. Repaint cupboards, walls, ceilings and drawers to freshen up the interior of your home.

Tidy up the backyard

Green thumb or not, it's easy to get right into your backyard and give it a makeover. All you will need are some gardening tools, a few helping hands and a skip to tidy up your backyard and get it looking neat and tidy.

Topsoil, bark and plants are cheap additions to your backyard and can turn your garden from an overgrown patch into a manicured entertainer's paradise.

While you're at it, why not re-stain and refurbish some of your neglected outdoor furniture?

Replace fixtures and fittings

Have a look at the most-used items in your home and determine whether they're in need of replacement. Items such as taps, door handles, wall switches and light fittings can all easily become worn down over time due to overuse.

However, they're also not that expensive to replace. You might want to update some of these to ensure they tie in with the new decor in your home and are more functional.

Remember, DIY renovations require you to stick to a strict budget. Always keep this in mind when you're purchasing tools or hiring extra help.

Which adds more value to real estate? Potted gardens or garden beds?

If you're searching for an easy and relatively inexpensive way of adding value and appeal to your home, then look no further than your own backyard.

By putting a few hours and some hard work into your outdoor space, you can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home or create a functioning vegetable garden. This can go a long way towards improving appeal, especially when you've placed your home on the market.

However, one of the questions many people ponder is whether to have a potted or garden bed. Each option has its own pros and cons, but it's ultimately dependent on the size of your backyard and how much time you're willing to put into caring for it.

Potted gardens

One of the biggest perks of installing a potted garden is that they are easily removable.

This means they can be moved around into sun or shade, and are also a great option for renters who wish to take their plants with them when they move.

Potted gardens are the best choice for those with limited land size, such as people living in apartments, townhouses or units.

However, this type of garden needs a lot of regular watering, as the pots can dry out quite quickly.

Garden beds

If you have the space for it, a garden bed can be a great addition to your home. You can get creative with shapes and sizes, or even consider installing a vegetable garden to take advantage of the rich soil.

Digging up your own garden can be slightly cheaper than a potted one, as you won't have to buy potting mix, tubs or planter boxes. They're also better at retaining water, as they're directly in the ground.

You can also use compost in your garden beds, which gives your plants added nutrients while they're growing.

Garden beds require a lot of maintenance, as you'll regularly need to weed them or top up the mulch. Otherwise, you might face unsightly overgrown weeds popping up here, there and everywhere!

Remember that both options - potted or not - need some sort of regular maintenance. Be sure you can put the time and effort in to keep your garden looking great.
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