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The thought of a lovely, sparkling new kitchen is exciting. The prospect of the upheaval and everything else a kitchen renovation involves can seem very daunting.  However, the right advice and guidance can go a long way in avoiding unnecessary stress and uncertainty. With so many aspects to consider is it easy to become confused, so the best place to start is deciding what you like.  It is easy to be caught up with trends and fashions, but everything dates eventually.  Choose what appeals to you, as you will be the one enjoying it. Look at pictures of different kitchens online or in magazines.  Decide what you like and what style would suit your home and budget.   Take into consideration the age and style of your home as you need your new kitchen to fit in.  Optimise the layout with a nice flow and good functionality.  If you struggle with ideas, you can employ the services of an interior designer or kitchen planner to guide you with your decision-making. Jo Cattermole, owner of Ruby Colour and Design explains, “There are so many different types of kitchens and it really comes down to individual taste, style, function and budget.  While there are specific styles you can follow, my clients generally choose what they love and want, or what they have enjoyed before.  Styles you can consider are traditional, classic, country, art deco, Scandinavian, rustic or industrial. ” While the choices are huge and the colour ranges diverse, it is easy to figure out what you do not want.  Eliminate all those possibilities first to narrow your selection and make your choices easier.  Consider the colour of your flooring; this is something that is less likely to be changed than the colour of your walls and furnishings. With this in mind, the decision between a pre-made kitchen verses a custom kitchen may arise.  Many hardware stores are able to supply you with a range of cabinetry and help you with the layout.  These are all pre-made designs, sizes and colours that slot straight into an empty space.  You can have a pre-made kitchen professionally installed but you also have the option of doing it yourself, which becomes more cost effective. A custom kitchen may be more suitable for someone who is dealing with difficult or small spaces or just wants their kitchen to be more ‘designer’.  These are generally more expensive but a good kitchen builder will have great ideas and advice and can provide images of what your new kitchen will look like.  The cabinetry is custom made to fit and installed by the kitchen builder. Whatever your decision, there are other tradesmen that you will also need to consider.  A plumber, an electrician, a tiler and possibly a plasterer and someone who can flue your range hood, depending on the style you choose. Often when employing a kitchen builder they can also arrange the other tradesmen needed along the way.  This can certainly be less stressful than trying to orchestrate them all yourself. Bench-tops and tiling are also important parts of your kitchen colour choices.   There are many types of bench-tops available so once again your own preferences, taste and budget is what should sway your decision.  As with the cabinetry, consider the colours in the flooring when deciding upon your bench tops, tiling and or a glass splashback.  Like tiles, glass splashbacks are available in a wide range of colours and can be a great focal point in your kitchen. Jo advise that, “Colours can change once they are all put together, so it’s vital to see them together as samples before you start. “ You will need to select the appliances for your new kitchen and figure them into your design.  There are many styles and options with these appliances and they come within a wide price range.  Generally, an oven, cook-top, range hood, fridge and dishwasher are what you will need to purchase.  Many new kitchens these days also have built-in microwaves, so this may be something you decide to include.  Do consider purchasing the same brand for consistency in style and one known for its good quality.  You won’t regret it. Don’t forget about your kitchen sink and tap wear.  Again, there are many options available here too, so choose what you prefer, what will fit your budget and work best in your kitchen space.   Perhaps you would like to have a permanent, filtered water tap or a waste disposal unit installed.  You may also decide on a fridge that has water plumbed straight to it for convenience. With new kitchen lighting, it is important to have this worked into your kitchen plans.  Discuss this with your kitchen builder or electrician.   “Often my clients lean towards feature lighting above a breakfast bar.  This can add to the style of your kitchen and can easily be changed or updated in time,” says Jo.  “Down-lighting is also very popular as it is a modern, yet economical way to light your kitchen.  LED lighting is often used to give a wow factor along kick plates on breakfast bars” Once all the aesthetic decisions have been decided and you are happy with your choices, it’s time to put it all into action.  Jo concludes, “A home should reflect you, not a magazine page or show home.  It is about what you love and the look you desire, no rules I believe.  As we age, our taste can change.   Using colour in our accessories not only gives a touch of ‘you’ it is also an easy and inexpensive way to have a change if you feel like one.” So don’t be nervous.  Throw yourself into the wide range of kitchen designs and choices available.  Collect as many samples as you need, start to visualise your new space and enjoy what reflects you and your home in the best way possible. By Claire Hester. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved. Stock Image


Investing for your future is something that is becoming far more important these days.  Ensuring you have a comfortable retirement and maintain the lifestyle, you have become use too.  One of the most popular financial investments is property.  Not only can you gain capital growth, you are also going to receive a direct income stream.  Sounds very appealing doesn’t it? With the progression of inflation, your property is likely to go up in value and rents are likely to go up as well.  This means that over time your cash flow improves as you are collecting more rent as your mortgage declines or stays the same. As appealing as it sounds however, a few important factors should be considered before you purchase a rental property.  One of the most important questions is; do you have enough money aside for repairs, maintenance, a bad rent payer or an unoccupied home? When something needs repair or maintenance on your own home, you may be prepared to wait until you have saved the money to have it fixed, but a tenant will not.  It is essential to attend to these matters as soon as they arise as you have a duty of care to your tenants. This may play a role in the type of property you wish to purchase as an investment.  Do you want the added responsibility of maintaining a pool?  Do you want a property that you can see will need re-decorating soon?  Are the appliances in good condition? With this in mind, a thorough ‘Pest & Building’ report when purchasing is crucial.  Body corporate fees may also be something you need to take into consideration. A good tenant is every Landlords dream so having a property that is well maintained and cared for is going to be far more appealing to the astute tenant.  Being a conscientious owner is also a great way to keep a good tenant happy. You may be lucky enough to have a well-paying tenant for years and years but unfortunately, it is not always the case.  Tenants are not always guaranteed to pay their rent on time.  You will need to be able to service the properties mortgage if you find yourself in this position.   You may also lose your rental income in-between tenancies, so please consider this too. Some tenants will also cause more property ‘wear and tear’ than others may and at the end of their tenancy, these issues will have to be rectified. Additional ongoing and additional costs can also come into play.  Insurance costs, council rates, management fees and possibly interest rate increases. These extra and ongoing costs may be regular or may come as a surprise when you least expect it. To maximise the best possible financial outcome, choose the location of your investment property wisely.   Gather good advice from local real estate agents in regards to rental returns and good growth areas.  Have a good look at the amenities, public transport, local schools and day care centres available in the area you wish to purchase. These are all considerations for tenants when looking for a home.  It may also have a bearing on the type of tenant you wish to attract.   Families, students, couples etc. How do you feel about having pets in your investment property?  This question will definitely come up.  In all reality, most people have a domestic pet so it pays to be flexible on this, but ultimately it will always be your decision at the end of the day. A good Property Manager can remove a lot of stress from being a Landlord, so choose wisely.   Find someone you feel is easy to communicate with and will provide thorough feedback regarding any of your tenancies.   It is also their job to ensure that rent is paid on time and any rent arrears are chased up.   Interviewing a few Property Managers to find the right fit is well worth the time. With careful planning and the right investment, you could land a property where the rental income outweighs all of these expenses and still puts money into your pocket. By Claire Hester. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved. Stock Image


Going into negotiation for your new property can sometimes seem a little daunting, so making sure you have a good understanding of the process is vital.  You want to feel comfortable with the negotiation and what price you are offering for the home. Having a good understanding of the market in the area you are looking in is very important.  It is a good start if you feel the home is competitively priced with similar, local properties on the market.  You can achieve this by looking through current sold properties online or through a local real estate agent. There are two ways to begin the negotiation process; verbal or written.  Different states may proceed with things differently although the selling agent will advise which is best.  The advantage of a written however is, it eliminates any confusion concerning the offer or its conditions.  The seller is also more likely to take the offer more seriously as it seems more tangible. When you first meet the selling agent, they will ask you a series of questions.  This will help them to understand your situation, budget and needs.   You may also require them to allow you to have a couple of viewings of the property.  It is also a good idea to have seen a financial advisor or mortgage broker prior to making any offer.  This will give you a good understanding of your financial position. Make sure you ask the selling agent how they intend to take offers on the property.  Remember that this is a negotiation, so go into it knowing what the maximum price you’re willing to pay for a property is.  A valuation of the property probably isn’t necessary as this is generally part of your loan process. Making an offer on a property with a price can be done when you feel comfortable with your decision; however an auction property is quite different.  If you are interested in an auction property, you may find it beneficial to attend a few auctions before the one you want to bid at.  This may help you check out strategies used by other buyers and get a feel for the whole process. Prior to buying at auction, ensure you have done all your inspections and make sure all your terms and conditions have been checked out by your solicitor.  Auction contracts are unconditional upon signing, unlike a private treaty contract where you can meet your conditions along the way.  Deposits on auction properties are generally 10% of the purchase price, so make sure your funds are available. If you have purchased through a private treaty contract, you will have a certain amount of time in which to satisfy the terms and conditions.  This is something you can work out with the selling agent.  They will also have an understanding of the best terms and conditions for the seller.  Generally they work in increments of 7 days, 14 days or 21 days to complete your pest and building reports and obtain satisfactory finance. Once these dates have been decided on, a settlement date will need to be supplied.  Generally this may be 30 days, 45 days or 60 days, but again the selling agent will advise if certain dates are better for the seller. You will also be required to pay a deposit.  This is generally an initial deposit upon signing the contract and then a balance deposit once the contract has gone unconditional (all terms and conditions have been satisfied).  This deposit can be no more than 10% of the purchase price. Having terms and conditions that work well for the seller will create a strong contract for you to put forward and one that is likely to be accepted.  Good luck! By Claire Hester. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved. Stock Image


You’re selling!  When the time comes to sell your home it can often feel overwhelming.  Where do you start?  Even within your own area you may find there are many real estate agents to choose from, so even this decision can seem daunting. The right real estate agent can offer an abundance of good advice.  They can advise on the value of your home in the current market, to any improvements that may help your property become more appealing to a buyer.   There are however a few other factors that you may like to consider. Choose a local agent.  A local agent is going to have a better understanding of the area you are selling in and what it has to offer a potential buyer.  They need to be familiar with all local amenities – schools, day care centres, public transport, recreational facilities and shopping.  These are all important questions for someone new to your area. A local agent is also more likely to have a thorough understanding of property values in your area.   They will know the past sales and also what is currently on the market. Good sales ethics.  Good ethics are very important.  Dealing with someone you feel you can trust and talk openly with to sell your most important asset.  They need to deliver good communication with clear and precise answers to your questions.   Do they have good online reviews?  Sometimes word of mouth is worth its weight in gold and people love to share their experiences – good and bad. How do they plan to ‘market’ your home?  You may want to get online and have a look at how your local agents advertise their sale properties.  Look at the photography they use and also how they convey the properties features.   Are they simply throwing it out there to the viewers or are they using a good marketing strategy.   Do they have a good database of clients?  Do they use other forms of online marketing like Facebook or Instagram?   Are they enthusiastic about selling your home? With all of this taken into consideration, the final and most important thing to consider in choosing an agent is their negotiation skills.  A good negotiator can be the difference between simply selling your home compared to achieving a great price for your home.  This should be their main object as you have employed them to do just that. By Claire Hester. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved. Stock Image

Dec 7, 2017 FIRST HOME DREAMS....

Is owning your own home something you dream about?  To be out of the rental market where you have to deal with inspections being carried out regularly and the looming chance your owner will sell and you will be on the move? Maybe this dream can become a reality.  With interest rates at an all-time low, perhaps meeting with a mortgage broker would be beneficial.   They can offer advice on the best steps to take to get you into a favourable position to obtain a mortgage.  Mortgage brokers will not only assess your financial position but also shop around for a mortgage that will best suit you. There are many benefits to owning your own home.  Firstly, it’s a fixed address and that provides a greater sense of security.  You also don’t have to ask permission to hang a picture on the wall and can fix, change or alter anything you like.  Any improvements made to your home are also likely to increase its value.   It can also bring future wealth as you are investing into your own asset rather than paying ‘dead money’ in rent.   First home buyers are also eligible for stamp duty concessions in some States and Territories. It is however, important to set realistic goals and to stick to a manageable loan.  You are better off in a smaller house you can call your own, than a larger and perhaps flashier rental property.   Think of your first property purchase as a stepping stone to your ideal home.  As your mortgage begins to decline, your property value will increase; and so will rental prices. So don’t procrastinate! If you need to get that deposit account started, do it now.  Decide where you may be able to cut back and save those extra dollars.  Keep your mind focused on your goal.   If you need to engage a mortgage broker, pick up the phone.  There are many good mortgage brokers so make the most of their free service. An experienced real estate agent will be able to provide you with good advice when it comes to finding a suburb that best fits your budget and needs.   They have a good understanding of house prices, what various areas have to offer and the whole buying process. There is a lot of help and advice available, so don’t be nervous.   Make your dream a reality! By Claire Hester. Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved. Stock Image


HOW TO maximise your property's sale price!

How to get your property SOLD! This issue outlines 3 proven ways to ensure a successful sale for your property. Selling property can be an emotionally charged experience, from the initial excitement of making the decision to sell, through to the thrill of seeing your property sell for a higher than expected price. Once you have made the decision to sell, it is important to understand what you can control and what may be outside of your influence. For example, by selecting a local, qualified agent, you will have access to the latest market trends and information, however external market influences such as interest rates and the economy can fluctuate daily. Selling Price: - Setting a realistic asking price is essential to attract the right buyers and encourage them to seriously consider your property to purchase. If you start with an unrealistic price, you may be pricing yourself out of the market. If the market is strong, it pays to be conservative with your price range estimates as it is likely to increase interest from serious buyers, creating more competition and potentially securing a successful sales outcome sooner. - To assist you in establishing a fair market price for your property, the best source of local knowledge, market information and recent sales history is most likely to be your local agent. Property Presentation: - Although this may sound obvious, a well-maintained and well- presented property is likely to sell faster and for a much higher price than a poorly maintained property. Overgrown gardens, crowded and cluttered rooms, dirty interior or weathered exteriors are likely to deter potential buyers and increase their bargaining power when negotiating price. - When preparing for property inspections and sale consider soft lighting to brighten rooms, tidying the outside and cleaning the windows. It can pay huge dividends when you pay attention to the small details. Property Profile: - If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an effective property marketing campaign could be worth thousands more. - Prospective buyers are busy and they have likely looked at tens or even hundreds of properties online and at 'Open for Inspections'. How can you make sure your property stands out in a crowded market and leaves a positive, favourable impression with serious buyers? As you have invested time and money in preparing the property, why wouldn't you also invest in high quality photography to showcase the properties unique features? There are many other factors that can influence a successful sales outcome for your property.  To find out how to set the right sales price, prepare your property properly and market it to its best potential, we recommend partnering with a trusted real estate agent who has local expertise, has successfully listed and sold properties in your area and is an effective communicator who understands your needs. At House 2 Home Real Estate we are focused on helping you achieve the price you want when selling your property.  We will work with you to understand your selling requirements and develop a selling and marketing strategy that works for you. Successful Sale Checklist: - Is the market heating up or cooling down? - Do your price expectations match market reality? - How many similar properties are available in the area? - What is the recent sales history of similar properties? - Is your property clean, tidy and well-presented? - Are the outdoor and garden areas clean and tidy? - Are the windows cleaned? - Is the interior clear of clutter and well lit? - Have you used high quality photography for marketing purposes? - Does your agent have an effective marketing strategy to drive qualified inquiries? - Have you identified and engaged a trusted agent who is skilled in negotiation to advise you on the best-selling strategy for your property? Uncertain of the answers? Contact us today for a selling strategy that works for you


Many investors gravitate towards purchasing off-the-plan developments due to the perceived benefit they offer.  Off-the-plan developments are often marketed as an easy way to enter the property investment world and the glossy brochures can certainly make them look an attractive choice.  Being new builds, investors can maximise depreciation and minimise maintenance costs, which assists with boosting returns. Although this seems promising, due diligence needs to be exercised before signing the contract.  Here are some tips before purchasing an off-the-plan development as an investment. Be wary of guaranteed rental returns. Many developers offer a rental guarantee to entice investors.  It can sound like an attractive option at the time - the market rent may be $350 a week, the guarantee $500 a week.  Sounds too good to be true?  That's because it is.  Once the rental guarantee expires, the investor is forced to accept rent at the market value. Due to it being significantly lower, this may cause financial problems for investors relying on a high cash flow. A further consideration is that guaranteed rental returns are rarely an extra - rather their cost is factored into the sale price. Don't rely on capital growth. Capital growth by definition is speculation.  Many investors are attracted to off-the-plan developments as they get to purchase at today's prices then not have to settle for an extended period of time - by which values may have increased.  This is an appealing notion for investors - they gain capital growth before they've even settled.  Despite this, it's important to acknowledge that short term capital growth is not always guaranteed.  Often it's the opposite - an investor will pay a premium price only to find that it is valued considerably less at the time of completion. More competition. With both Brisbane and the Gold Coast at risk of a unit oversupply, investors need to consider they may face vacancy issues or declining returns once projects are completed.  It's no secret that investors make up a huge portion of off-the-plan purchases, which means the competition to rent out your apartment will be high. There have already been reports of investors discounting rent or offering enticements to tenants in over-supplied inner city areas. As with any investment, it's important to do your research and crunch the numbers prior to making a purchasing decision.  Off-the-plan developments can be a risky investment for the inexperienced investor, especially if caution is not exercised.  It's important to consider all aspects and decide whether the development supports your investment strategy.


If you've been thinking about selling your house at some point in the near future, you'll want to start getting ready as soon as possible. For many homeowners, this includes grabbing a set of tools from the shed and getting your hands dirty. For others, it just means calling a tradie. Selling a home in Australia's competitive real estate market can be facilitated by having a fully functional, aesthetically attractive home. Simply offering the lowest price on the block is not enough to make a lasting impression. When potential buyers are viewing several homes in your neighbourhood, you'll want yours to be the one that stands out for the right reasons. This process can be facilitated with the assistance of a local real estate agent who knows what competition you may be up against. They can help you save money by focusing on the tasks that are most important for boosting your home's value. With the solid advice of a local real estate agent, you can make your house as close to turnkey standards as possible. A turnkey home is a house where a buyer can move right in without the need for any initial repairs. Many buyers don't want to put more money and effort into a project after having already gone through the lengthy process of purchasing a home. The following are ten simple ways that you can approach turnkey status and improve your property's value before putting it on the market. 1. External Wall Repair and Painting The first thing that a potential buyer will see is the exterior of your home, so it's worth making sure that your home looks its best outside and in. Properties that appear dilapidated, old, or ugly just won't make the cut. There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint to make your home look fresh, modern and more universally appealing.  You may wish to shy away from overly bold shades such as lime green, or you'll make your house stand out for all the wrong reasons. It's a good idea to consult with your real estate agent or a designer before you get started. There are also virtual painting programs online that can give you a preview. In addition to giving your home a paint job, you should also examine the exterior for visible signs of damage. Walls made of weatherboard may have panels that need replacing. Brick homes may need to have small gaps filled in with fresh mortar and rendered walls can do with fresh concrete to fill in gaps. These small improvements will make a property look like new without the need for major renovation. 2. Upgrade Doors and Windows Aside from looking stylish, new doors or windows make your home more energy efficient and can lead to more affordable household running costs and a more environmentally-conscious property, which many buyers are attracted to. 3. Landscaping and Yard Lighting Buyers love an attractively landscaped yard and it doesn't take too much money to fix yours up if you have the space for it. A household's yard is considered to be a good indicator of the total amount of effort given to the property: dead plants, messy gardens, or boring yards can be a fast turn-off. Investing in new soil, rocks, shrubs, ground cover, trees, and mulch can help transform your yard; making it appear fresh and inviting. An appealing yard will help sell the property because it invites buyers to picture themselves spending time outside during the pleasant seasons of the year. This can be done on your own if you have a green thumb, or you could enlist the services of a professional landscaper. Be sure to focus on yard lighting as well, because some buyers will only have the time to drive around after dark. Night lighting can create a modern, chic look for your garden. 4. Interior Flooring It may seem strange, but the floor is one of the first things that buyers look at upon entering a property. People expect their homes floors to be contemporary, clean, and stylish. Old, musty carpeting will definitely not do your home any favours. Although hardwood floors are perennially popular and easy to care for, a high quality carpet can also be quite attractive and create a warm atmosphere. Be sure to fix any flaws in your flooring and be prepared to replace carpets if they are ancient. 5. Kitchen Upgrades The kitchen is one of the most important communal areas of any home. Buyers want a functional work space that includes good taps, cupboards, and bench-tops. It's a common mistake for sellers to overdo kitchen upgrades with fancy granite or marble bench-tops and all-new stainless steel appliances. Although this looks sleek and modern, some buyers will be turned off by these types of upgrades because they will automatically assume that the house is more expensive as a result of them. In any case, be sure that all appliances are in working condition and that the kitchen looks tidy and attractive. 6. Bathroom and Toilet Repairs As with kitchen upgrades, it's possible to go crazy renovating a bathroom space with all-new showers, toilets, tubs, and cabinetry. This may not be necessary to add value to your home, provided that your bathroom is in proper working order and fresh in appearance. A good bathroom space will be both functional and aesthetically appealing. Small repairs like painting the walls and replacing tile grout can work wonders. Clean out your exhaust fan and repair chips in the bathtub or sink to make fixtures look like new. It's also worthwhile in some cases to replace old light fixtures with more user-friendly or energy efficient models. 7. Internal Lighting Fixtures The cost of lighting fixtures can vary greatly, but if you have old-fashioned hanging lights with paper lampshades, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Lighting is really important when selling your home, as no buyer is going to want to live in a dark space. Down-lights look good in most environments and lighting can be used to play up other pieces of decor in the home. Energy efficient lighting can also boost a property's appeal. 8. Painting Interior Walls There are certain trends that come and go in interior design. You may have noticed that many new model homes come with coloured, feature walls rather than blank, white ones. Buyers can interpret a white-walled home as being boring and devoid of character, while the right colours can be exciting. However, it's important to take care with your paint choices, as something too outlandish may hinder the potential buyers ability to see themselves in your property. If you're using colour, be sure that all the colours blend well together and match other design aspects of your home. Accent walls and textured brush techniques can add visual interest to your property, but consult with an interior designer if you are unsure. 9. Roof and Foundations The structure of your home may not be as apparent to buyers at first glance as many of these other factors, but a poor inspection report due to flaws in your roof or foundations could break your sale at the last moment and cost you much more. It's important to have a professional come in to inspect home ahead of time, so that you can repair any structural flaws. Buyers will want to be satisfied that their new home is safe and built to last. 10. Heavy Cleaning and Organising A heavy, thorough cleaning can work wonders on any property. This part of the process will be cheap, but it will take some considerable time and physical effort to do right. Focus on cleaning all the places of the property that you can see, as well as all those hidden corners that you can't see. Get behind the stove and refrigerator and move furniture to clean what lies underneath. A clean, tidy home with everything in working repair will help you get the best possible selling price. If you're going to hold inspections whilst still living in the property, be sure to organise all clutter. Remove all your personal belongings, such as family photos, that will hinder the buyer's ability to put themselves in the house. Get storage boxes and consider getting short-term off-site storage for all your items that don't fit neatly into cupboards. Remember buyers will be opening everything and looking everywhere, and neatness (however obsessive) suggests a house that is in good order. How to Get Started Although this list may seem overwhelming, if you attack one task at a time and enlist the help of professionals (if needed), you'll soon achieve your sales goal. Rather than falling into non-action, it's better to focus on tasks that don't require too much fiscal investment or energy at first. By the end of your efforts, you'll be confident that you've done everything in your power to boost your homes value and attract buyers. It's also helpful to seek out the expert opinion of an estate agent before you start tackling unnecessary tasks. A good real estate agent will know exactly which of these tasks should be prioritised, taking your local market competition into consideration. By LocalAgentFinder Viewed online 18th July 2016 at https://www.localagentfinder.com.au/blog/top-ten-tips-to-increase-your-homes-value-before-selling/