Have you ever thought about how the internet has completely changed the way we buy and sell real estate? Many years ago, home sellers would choose to list their home with a variety of real estate agents. Buyers would walk into their local real estate agent’s office and be taken for a drive by an agent. They were often shown properties that were irrelevant to their requirements. It would take at least a week to find an appropriate house to buy. When an offer was agreed to, the real estate agents would have to drive to the seller to get contracts signed.
In the early 90’s, buyers would generally view properties for sale in a real estate agent’s office window. Sometimes they would use a box-like, large mobile phone to call and enquire. Sellers were more knowledgeable and were beginning to recognise the benefits of exclusive agency listings. The only way, however, buyers could view a property was by physically visiting it. There was no internet.
Every activity used a lot of time. Real estate agents took phooks, and had to wait for them to be developed. If the property was advertised in a local newspaper, the photos and blurb had to be physically handed to the editor. Ownership information had to be obtained, with council permission, from floppy discs. Hand written letters were written to owners, and envelopes sealed with tongues!
How the times have changed. The launch of the internet changed buying and selling real estate in so many ways. Real estate agents were given the opportunity to expose properties to a world-wide market. Ownsership information was instantly accessible, and digital photos could be emailed to buyers, newspapers, and be immediately available for potential buyers to view. There was suddenly more time to spend with customers. Today, the internet saves huge chunks of time. Buyers can sift through properties without even speaking to an agent. When a buyer wants to inspect a property they are usually ready to buy. They can even see what the surrounding houses look like on Google Street View. Social media like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter can expose a property virally, and real estate agents can communicate with both buyers and sellers more efficiently. Technology and the internet has changed the way real estate is bought and sold. If you want maximum exposure for your home, choose a real estate agent who uses the internet and is up to date with technology.
Are you finding it difficult to sell your home? Making some affordable and simple alterations to the décor in your home could make a massive difference, and even get you a higher price. Here are some tips to help you sell-
1. Unclutter and depersonalize: Buyers find it hard to imagine living in a house that is cluttered. Create a light, spacious and inviting house. Remove any bits of furniture that make a room feel crowded, and box up those items that are not essential. And think of this packing away process as a head start on what you will need to do before your move.
2. Remove dated window dressings: Old curtains and broken blinds will do nothing to help you sell. Wooden vertical blinds are cheap and easy to install. Use lighter woods for smaller rooms, and use darker woods for larger ones.
3. Redecorate: Give your walls a fresh coat of paint, especially if they are brightly painted. Choose a neutral shade, it makes it easier for the buyer to visualize how they would use each room.
4. Organize your storage: Put anything you do not need in storage and ensure your cupboards are neat and tidy. Stuffed cupboards make the home look like there isn’t enough storage.
5. Make a feature of your flooring: Get rid of worn and dirty carpet. If there is hardwood floorboards underneath , polish them. If not, give the carpet a good steam clean.
If you follow these five tips, with a little effort and at low cost your home will be much more desirable to buyers.
One of the biggest trends in renovating we might be about to see emerge is the mini-makeover.
Think: paints, cupboard handles, tap fittings, wallpapers (yes, wallpapers going up, not coming down) and the polishing of timber floors. Also light fittings and window treatments. Anything that changes the feel and adds a bit of pizzazz without spending the big bucks.
If that sounds like the ’70s revisited, perhaps it is. Hopefully not with such garish results, though. And yes, if you are thinking, ‘hang on, hasn’t everyone been doing this all along?’ In part you are right. But the difference is the mini-makeover will be used by householders to make do for much longer than in recent years.
Why will we see this replace bigger aspirations – at least for now? It’s a meeting of several forces. First, the property market isn’t going anywhere in a hurry at the moment, so the belief that you can do a big reno and flip the property to make a good quid is quickly dissolving. Second, Australians are saving more than we have in years and there’s a propensity to pay down debt. That means making do with what we have and not taking on huge loans to expand our lifestyles. More broadly, employers continue to report that the biggest thing employees are chasing isn’t dollars but work-life balance. Money is still important, yes, but there’s a greater focus on living a life outside of the office, and people aren’t jumping ship for an extra $5,000 or $10,000 like they were a few years ago.
So if they are working less and aren’t prepared to move for a bit more cash, it’s a fairly reasonable conclusion that people will be looking to make their dollar stretch further by extending the life of their current home.
A few weeks ago, most people were banking on a rate cut – and in fact we’ve ended up with out-of-cycle rises by all four major banks and at least five smaller lenders. And with the ANZ Bank now rolling out its own decision at a set time each month, we could be in for some lengthy wait times in each of the coming months to see which way rates will go.
The Reserve Bank makes its announcement on the first Tuesday of every month and ANZ isn’t wheeling out its move until the second Friday, which means a wait of at least three days . So where does that leave borrowers? Slightly confused? Yes. Powerless? No.
If ever the banks were going to start breaking the cycle for rate rises, now isn’t necessarily a terrible time from a consumer perspective, thanks to the amount of information at borrowers’ fingertips about what rates are available in the market, and the relative ease for many to switch providers and make up the cost of doing so by negotiating a lower interest rate from their new lender.
The administrative pain of getting your documents together, filling in some forms and swapping some direct debits is very small when we are talking thousands of dollars saved over the life of the loan.
The very sweet part is that having switched now to loans that will attract no exit fee thanks to the Federal Government’s ban last year, it won’t be that hard – or expensive – to move again should there be a cheaper or better-suited offering elsewhere.
Property investors have rushed back to the housing market, with Australia’s biggest mortgage broker, Australian Finance Group, processing $2.9 billion worth of mortgages last month -up 18.4 per cent on October.
Investors accounted for two out of every five mortgages written in November, a record for AFG and no doubt helped by the interest rate cut last month.
Australia’s first-home market is improving, as buyers regain confidence in the property and financial markets.
Falling house prices in each capital city and in regional areas as well as a cut in lending interest rates are expected to spearhead renewed activity.
A savage slump in first-home loans fuelled by a flood of government incentives during the global financial crisis caused loan numbers to plunge 30 per cent below their long-term average. However, latest research suggests a return in demand is on its way.
According to a housing outlook report, the 60,000 first-time buyers who were “pulled forward” by the GFC incentives have now washed through the market. Data for the first six months of 2011 indicates that although first-home buyer loans declined in year-on-year terms, the rate of decline has slowed. Loans to first-home buyers in the latest June quarter were only 2 per cent below the same quarter the year before.
First-home buyers are vital to the overall real estate market because they provide an impetus for “upgraders” to enter the market. Demand from upgraders is greatest when there is strong demand (to buy) their current dwelling. This needs healthy demand from first-home buyers to provide demand for their existing dwelling and encourage them to move on. First-home buyers’ demand for new whitegoods, furniture and so forth also results in a healthy economic stimulus.
First-home buyer numbers, which have been about 95,000 a year during the past two years, are forecast to climb above 110,000 in 2012 and back to near their long-term average of 131,000 the next year.
There has been an increase in first-home buyer inquiries. As they have spent more time looking at a market with interest rate stability, wages growth and increasing rents, all these factors are encouraging first-home buyers to at least consider the market.
Borrowers should be cautious about taking a fixed-rate home loan now.
The rush of borrowers towards fixed-rate loans at a time when official interest rates have started to fall has Australia’s credit ombudsman worried.
With one interest rate cut in the bag, the ombudsman has urged borrowers to carefully consider the implications of locking in a home loan rate, in particular, the possible ”break cost” if they discharge the loan early to refinance or sell.
Housing finance data released last week showed that fixed-rate loans jumped from 5.6 per cent of all loans in August to 7.9 per cent in September as unusually cheap fixed rates enticed borrowers.
The ombudsman, who handles complaints about non-bank lenders, says although fixed rates are often seen as a way of reducing the risk of rising interest rates, and borrowers should be aware that they may incur substantial break costs in a falling interest rate environment.
In the past, fixed-rate loans have resulted in a spike in complaints when variable rates later drop significantly and people try to refinance.
While exit fees have been banned on variable-rate loans, lenders can still charge break costs on a fixed-rate loan to recover the amount they’ll lose if the borrower leaves early.
If rates are falling and the financier has to re-lend the money at a lower rate, they’re entitled to recompense. The more rates fall, the higher the break cost. These break costs can and do sometimes run into tens of thousands of dollars.
They might be payable if the loan is refinanced or discharged within the fixed-rate period, possibly because the property is being sold; if additional funds are sought, which would require the existing loan to be discharged; and if a lump-sum repayment is made during the fixed-rate period (though some lenders allow you to prepay up to $10,000).
Before signing a contract, borrowers should seek advice on how any break costs would be calculated.
If you’re already on a fixed-rate loan and are thinking about refinancing, ask first for an indicative payout figure, making sure this includes any break cost. Remember that this payout figure might change if you don’t act straight away.
Those who fixed in August and September won’t have cause for regret yet. The typical fixed rate was 6.6 per cent to 7 per cent then and even after the recent rate cut the average big-four variable rate is 7.55 per cent – though some people qualify for discounts of 0.5 to one percentage points.
However, those who locked in about 8 per cent in November 2007, when fixed-rate loans hit a record 24 per cent of all borrowing, know how costly it can be if you need to break a loan early when rates are falling.
A year after they fixed, the global financial crisis hit and rates plummeted, sending break costs soaring.
If you have sufficient space, place a range of matching terracotta pots with plants agains the wall near your entrance. For the average sized doorway use the pots up to a metre high. If your home is an olders style, aged classic cone shaped pots with a rolled rim containing colourful flowers, like geraniums, will give a traditional welcome feeling. For more modern homes tall angular pots that taper downwards are very popular.Try and keep everthing symmetrical.
Often hallways are narrow and dark. If your house suffers from this problem, try painting the walls white to lighten things up, or add a sky light.
Your front door is the first thing your buyers see, so if it needs a lick of paint get out the brushes! You might also consider a new handle or knocker. This is an inexpensive way to update your door.
Guide buyers to your door with a paved pathway. Plain white pavers look terrific against a green lawn. If the steps to your front door look at a little shabby a great trick is to the tile the step rises, rather than ripping everything out and starting from scratch.
In many areas, security and privacy are selling points, so a low to medium wall at the front of your house can appeal to buyers. Dont forget to check with the local council to ensure all building regulations are met.
When selling, the best advice is to keep things neutral. This doesn’t mean living in a world of white. If your living area seems cold, try a colour scheme of rich neutrals like sand and bronze tones. For a cooler feel, look at whites with a blue tinge.
Today’s buyers like large living areas, and open plan living is very popular. If your home doesn’t have a large living space then you will need to make the most of the space you do have. Colour can help, receding colours like blues and greens can make a room appear bigger. How you finish a small room is also important. In a small room, especially one with low ceilings, keep furnishings below waist height and limit the number of pieces in the room. Clutter will make your small room look smaller.
Show buyers how easy it is to live in your living space. These rooms are places for people to communicate and relax, so make sure you arrange your living room to demonstrate this. Consider traffic flow, conversation areas, access from seating to coffee or side tables and task lighting for work or reading areas.
Floors are the most expensive part of any room to replace; buyers know this, so they will want to see quality flooring. It may not be economical to replace worn or inappropriate flooring before you sell, so make the most of what you have. Have your carpets professionally cleaned. Marked or damaged timber floors should be re-sanded and polished.
The kitchen is the one room that can make or break a sale. It is usually the most expensive room in any house, so if you are selling your home prospective buyers don’t want to see a kitchen that needs a total upgrade. This doesn’t’ necessarily mean a total re-fit, there are some small things you can do to make your kitchen more appealing to buyers.
If you have more on your kitchn benches than in the cupboards you need to clear the clutter. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in a drab kitchen, especially if cooking splatters have become a feature! Don’t forget your worn tiles – a little primer and paint can make a huge difference.
Buyers know just how expensive a new oven or dishwasher can be, so they may shy away from your house if they think they will need to spend up big on replacements for these appliances. If your appliances are out of date, consider replacing them. It may be a worthwhile investment.
Swapping cabinet doors can give your kitchen a whole new look. If entirely new doors are outside your budget you can make a huge difference by simply replacing the handles of your cupboads and drawers.
Being a task room, the lighting in a kitchen is something buyers will take careful note of. A good idea is to install fluorescent or spot lights under top cupboard to provide light for the benchtop work area.
Manypeople think that replacing a scratched and stained benchtop is just too costly, but not all benchtop materials are that expensive. This small investment could save your sale!
If your kitchen floor is a little worse for wear, lift the lino and if you have them, polish the floorboards udnerneath. Otherwise lay vinyl flooring, which is easy to clean. Alternatively you may like to use tiles for a contemporary cool feeling