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.
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.
If you’re a first home buyer, then you’re about to navigate your way along a path that many have travelled before. Although you’ve heard a lot in the media about first home buyers and received advice from everyone you know, it can still be intimidating.
If you are planning to buy your first home, don’t hesitate. The incentives are changing and have been reduced greatly over the past two years.
Whether you are looking around Cooma, Bega, Merimbula or Eden, as a first homeowner you can take advantage of financial assistance and government incentives. This financial support can help your first home buying experience be more affordable and enjoyable.
First home benefits of up to $24,990 are available, being the $7,000 First Home Owner Grant and a stamp duty exemption of up to $17,990 under the First Home Plus Scheme.
To ensure you don’t miss out on what you are eligible for and to help give you confidence, talk to one of our friendly staff members.