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PPG_Blog_March_image 4_defacto

You’ve been in a stable de facto relationship for a while now. In fact, your partner has moved into your property. If something sours and you split up, the home is still yours, right?

In fact when it comes to property settlements, de facto couples have the same rights and liabilities as married couples, so before you take your relationship to ‘let’s move in together’, consider the following:

What is a de facto relationship?

A de facto relationship is defined in Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975. The law requires that you and your partner, who may be of the same or opposite sex, have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. Your relationship is not a de facto relationship if you were legally married to one another or if you are related by family.

Property settlement

In the unfortunate event of a separation, de facto couples have a time limit of two years from the date their relationship ending to make a property claim against a former de facto partner.

Since 1 March 2009, parties to an eligible de facto relationship which has broken down may apply to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court to have financial matters determined in the same way as married couples. After this two-year time period has lapsed you will need the Court’s permission to apply.

Before the Court can determine your financial dispute, you must satisfy a number of criteria.

Safeguards for de facto couples

De facto couples who want financial security can enter into a Binding Financial Agreement at any time during their relationship. Binding Financial Agreements are similar to pre-nuptial agreements, in that a couple can use them to set out how their property and other assets would be divided if they were to part ways.

Couples can also use a Binding Financial Agreement to deal with issues such as spousal maintenance e.g. exempting each other from making a claim for maintenance, or specifying maintenance terms in the event of a separation.

For guidance surrounding your own de facto relationship and settling any financial or property dispute, seek professional legal advice as your first step.

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PPG_Blog_March_image 3_strong auction market

Auctions started strongly in 2017 with 3,214 auctions held in February, the highest February on record. The local government areas of Glen Eira (179 auctions), Boroondara (162 auctions), Kingston (156 auctions) and Stonnington (153 auctions) had the highest number of auctions in February 2017, with all but Glen Eira reporting a clearance rate of over 80 per cent.

There were about 39,200 auctions held in Victoria in the last 12 months with 75.6 per cent selling. The middle Melbourne region recorded the highest number of properties sold by auction in the past 12 months, with around 11,950 sales, and a clearance rate of 77.8 per cent.

At the suburb level, Reservoir had the most auctions for the month, with 40 auctions held in February 2017 followed by St Kilda (38), Richmond (34), Epping (32) and Hoppers Crossing (31). Reservoir (33 sales), Epping (29 sales) and St Kilda (28 sales) had the highest number of properties sold by auction in February.

Thomastown and Williamstown had the highest clearance rates in February, with clearance rates of 100 per cent and 96 per cent respectively.

Information courtesy of the REIV

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At its meeting yesterday, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 1.50 per cent.

Conditions in the housing market continue to vary considerably around the country. In some markets, conditions are strong and prices are rising briskly. In other markets, prices are declining. In the eastern capital cities, a considerable additional supply of apartments is scheduled to come on stream over the next couple of years. Growth in rents is the slowest for two decades.

Growth in household borrowing, largely to purchase housing, continues to outpace growth in household income. By reinforcing strong lending standards, the recently announced supervisory measures should help address the risks associated with high and rising levels of indebtedness. Lenders need to ensure that the serviceability metrics that they use are appropriate for current conditions. A reduced reliance on interest-only housing loans in the Australian market would also be a positive development.

Story Source: www.rba.gov.au

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PPG_Blog_March_image 2_Indoor Plants - Back on Trend

Indoor plants are well and truly back in favour. Just open any interior decorating magazine and you’ll quickly notice the abundance of lush greenery scattered throughout beautifully styled homes.

Not only helping to bring the outside in, indoor plants are great at purifying the air and lifting an otherwise dull or uninviting space.

Fiddle Leaf Fig mania, for example, has taken the interior design world by storm. Loved for their big glossy, leathery leaves, Fiddle Leaf Figs make exceptional house or office plants, particularly in larger areas.

Then there’s the somewhat odd looking String of Pearls with its trailing foliage. This plant seems to be extremely popular hanging from woven baskets or draping across perfectly arranged book shelves. Or there’s the Devil’s Ivy that loves nothing more than being completely neglected!

Yes, indoor plants are experiencing a huge resurgence of late.

But some of us can be a little hesitant when it comes to indoor plants. Just like their friends outside, they can suffer from a variety of issues that can affect their health, well being and appearance – the most common affliction being ‘love’. Many of us kill our indoor plants with too much TLC, either by overwatering or overfeeding them.

So, if you’re going to invest in some indoor plants, may we suggest; start small, read the instructions on how best to care for your plant, and go for a species that is hardy, pet friendly and of course, beautiful!

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PPG_Blog_March_image 1_Stamp Duty Reform– Good News for First Home Buyers

With the aim of improving housing affordability for first home buyers, the Victorian Government has announced several changes to stamp duty costs.

From July 1 stamp duty will be entirely abolished for first home buyers purchasing a property valued below $600,000. Discounts will also be available for property purchases between $600,000 and $750,000 on a sliding scale, regardless of whether they are new or established homes.

As part of a set of changes to make housing more affordable, the state government will also introduce a new tax charged at 1% on vacant residential property to target empty properties across Melbourne’s inner and middle suburbs. Owners will be encouraged to make vacant properties eligible for purchase or rent. There will be exemptions if it is a holiday house, a deceased estate or if the owner is overseas.

Premier Daniel Andrews hopes this will send a strong message that if property pwners are effectively banking an empty property and denying that to the market and contributing to the lack of supply, then there’s something they can do about it.

"You can simply pay the tax or you might go see a real estate agent,” he said.

According to Treasurer Tim Pallas, the stamp duty changes would help about 25,000 Victorians purchase their first home.

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18-03-2017 10-52-06 AM

Interest only loans are becoming increasingly popular. ASIC data indicates that one in four owner-occupier loans in Australia is now interest only, and two out of three investment loans.

With an interest-only loan, the lender issues a standard mortgage but agrees to a term in which the borrower pays only the interest, which means monthly repayments are lower than a traditional principal and interest loan. Over the term of the interest-only loan, the loan principal is unchanged.

One of the main benefits of paying interest-only on a loan is that the repayments will be smaller. For home buyers, this is a brilliant opportunity to use these savings to pay down other higher interest loans before reverting your attention back to the home loan. For investors, the extra interest paid can have tax benefits i.e. interest can be claimed against income to reduce the taxable amount.

The most important thing to remember when choosing interest only is that the principal will not reduce. If your property does not increase in value, neither will your equity, and if your home decreases in value you could be left paying a mortgage that’s worth more than your property.

Additionally, you will pay more interest over the life of the loan, and you’ll eventually have to pay the principal. However, for your average home buyer an interest only loan can be a great short-term strategy.

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At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 1.50 per cent.

Conditions in the global economy have continued to improve over recent months. Business and consumer confidence have both picked up. The Australian economy is continuing its transition following the end of the mining investment boom, expanding by around 2½ per cent in 2016. Exports have risen strongly and non-mining business investment has risen over the past year. Most measures of business and consumer confidence are at, or above, average. Consumption growth was stronger towards the end of the year, although growth in household income remains low.

The outlook continues to be supported by the low level of interest rates. Financial institutions remain in a good position to lend.

Conditions in the housing market vary considerably around the country. In some markets, conditions are strong and prices are rising briskly. In other markets, prices are declining. In the eastern capital cities, a considerable additional supply of apartments is scheduled to come on stream over the next couple of years. Growth in rents is the slowest for two decades. Borrowing for housing by investors has picked up over recent months. Supervisory measures have contributed to some strengthening of lending standards.

Story source: www.rba.gov.au

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PPG_Blog_Feb_image 4_choosing the right builder

If you’re in the market for a brand-new house or significant renovation, you should shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home. Here are some factors to consider to help you choose the right builder:

  • Competency – Can your builder meet your every need from the beginning of the building process until the very end? Is the builder surrounded by an efficient and professional team that can respond to your questions and needs in a timely manner? These questions are incredibly important and you need to be sure your chosen builder can expertly handle every step of construction from start to finish.
  • Reputation – Another important question to ask when determining how to choose a builder is whether or not the builder has a reputation for excellence in the community and the industry. Has the builder won any awards or received any good reviews among previous homeowners and within the industry? Is the builder a part of any nationally recognised organisations for home building? Can the builder show you recently completed properties? At a minimum, it is advisable that your builder is a current member of the industry’s peak body – the Master Builder’s Association (MBA).
  • Price – Of course price is a big factor and should be a major consideration, but not because it’s the highest or the lowest. When tendering for a project, look for the most detailed explanation of the price and also a consistency when comparing multiple quotes.
  • Trustworthiness – In general, building a new home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. One of the most important steps in how to choose a builder is determining if they are trustworthy; you want someone you can trust to make the best possible decisions and work on your behalf. Your satisfaction should rank among the builder’s top priorities.

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Stress-free Moving

PPG_Blog_Feb_image 2_stress free moving

Most of us have moved home at some stage in our lives. And research shows that it can be extremely stressful, on par with divorce and bereavement for many people.

Being organised and as efficient as possible will go a long way in reducing anxiety and stress. Here are 5 top tips for a hassle-free move:

1. Budget – gain a clear understanding of the costs you will incur so you are not hit with any hidden surprises.

2. Create a checklist – if you know you cope poorly when pressured by time, try creating a schedule of tasks. Start as soon as you can and tick off jobs once they are completed.

3. Hire a professional removalist – When you are moving house you are placing all your worldly goods in the hands of your removal company, so make sure the company transporting your belongings is professional and experienced. Consider hiring professional packers too.

4. Treat yourself – if possible take breaks and allow some time to enjoy yourself and relax. Eat well and try to get ample sleep.

5. Survival kit – before moving day try packing a survival kit of essentials. This can contain items that will get you through the move day unscathed e.g. toiletries, phone chargers, bottles of water and snacks.

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PPG_Blog_feb_image 1_REIV seminar

Looking to buy a property in Melbourne for the first time but don’t know where to start? You’re not alone! And for that reason, The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) is holding a free homebuyer’s seminar on Wednesday 19 April.

The seminar is an exclusive opportunity to hear from expert property professionals on how to go about purchasing a home in the Melbourne market. Key topics to be covered include:

· A local market overview

· All things finance

· Understanding the contract of sale.

This is a fantastic occasion to gain a greater understanding of the process involved in finding the right home for you. There’s a lot to consider when buying real estate and it’s the biggest investment you are likely to make over your lifetime. When armed with the right information the process seems much easier and far less stressful.

The REIV seminar runs from 6-8pm on the 19th April and will be held at The State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne. Seats are limited so to register to attend call 03 9205 6666 or go to www.reiv.com.au

The seminar is supported by Bendigo Bank and Parke Lawyers.

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