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PPG_Blog_April_image 4_Guide to rental property landscaping

An attractive backyard can initially entice tenants and add value to a rental property. However, care and maintenance of rental property landscaping can be a headache for property managers as well as the tenant. Low maintenance gardens are generally the best option.

Hardscaping – The key to low maintenance landscaping is relying on fewer living plants, without compromising on aesthetics. One solution is to invest in hardscaping. As the name suggests, this is the practice of using stones, rocks, paving, and other hard surfaces instead of grass, plant beds, and flowers. In the end, you get more outdoor living space and don’t have to spend nearly as much time mowing the grass or tending to lawn related issues.

Grass – The debate over the pros and cons of synthetic grass is ongoing. Some people love the idea of artificial turf, while others feel like it’s a ridiculous concept that negatively impacts any outdoor space. However, there’s one point nobody can argue against: Synthetic grass requires very little maintenance over its lifetime. And this is a huge plus for rental properties.

Colour – For landlords, one of the biggest challenges is adding some color to a rental property’s landscaping. It’s unrealistic to expect tenants to plant flowers. The easiest and most cost-effective solution is to plant native perennials. Small beds of perennials will add enough color to a property, without requiring too much attention. Most perennials will need some steady watering when they’re first planted but they typically survive on their own after that.

Creating an attractive yet low maintenance garden is not difficult. Nevertheless, if you feel it’s a bit beyond your DIY capabilities, engaging a professional is well worth the time and money. The benefits will continue for years to come.

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PPG_BLog_April_image 2_house v apartment

According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, there’s not a huge difference in price growth between houses and apartments, although it’s not identical. Over the past ten years, median house prices have increased by over 100%, while median apartment prices increased by around 80%. The REIV graph below provides a great visual perspective.

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There are many pros and cons to the debate of investing in a house or apartment. Whilst houses do perform better in the capital growth department, they generally require more attention in terms of ongoing maintenance than units. Units have much of the maintenance and care of the building and surrounds undertaken through the body corporate.

Houses also generally cost more than units, so units often appeal to first time investors with a more limited budget. The current median price in Melbourne for a home is $826,000, while for a unit it is $583,000.

In terms of rentability, both houses and units are in demand right now. To optimise your investment, it pays to look for places where rental demand is always high, such as around schools and universities, public transport or lifestyle areas with easy access to parks, cafes, shops or beaches.

The right investment choice for you will depend on your financial position and investment strategy. Are you looking for regular long-term income, or do you plan to renovate and sell the property as soon as you can? Before making any decision it’s vitally important to have your investment plan well mapped out.

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PPG_Blog_April_image 1_march quarter breaks new records

Melbourne’s median house price has recorded its strongest quarterly price growth since 2013 to smash the $800,000 barrier for the first time, new data from the REIV shows.
The citywide median increased 7.6 per cent in the first three months of 2017 to a record high $826,000 – up more than $55,000 on December figures.
REIV President Joseph Walton said a range of factors had contributed to significant price growth across the city.
“Melbourne’s property market is experiencing a perfect storm with price increases driven by strong buyer demand, solid population growth, record low interest rates and low stock on market.
“Competition for homes, particularly in Melbourne’s inner and middle rings, has encouraged more vendors to take their home to market with multiple auction records falling this year.
“The city’s buoyant auction market, combined with the strongest private sale market in seven years, has undoubtedly boosted Melbourne’s median house price.”
While increases were recorded across the city, Melbourne’s middle suburbs were the main growth driver with the median house price increasing 6.1 per cent over the quarter to just over $960,000.
House prices in Templestowe in the north-east experienced the largest growth, up 17.6 per cent in the March quarter to a median of more than $1.5 million.
Meanwhile suburbs in Melbourne’s outer ring dominated the list of top growth suburbs this quarter with increases of more than 14.5 per cent recorded in Mount Eliza, Cranbourne North, Kilsyth and Mornington.
Mr Walton added price growth was also recorded at the top end of the market with house prices in inner Melbourne increasing 5.8 per cent to break the $1.5 million mark for the first time.
Solid price growth was also recorded in the apartment sector with the metropolitan Melbourne median up 3.8 per cent to $583,000.
“We’re not seeing any slowing in Melbourne’s property market with demand continuing to outstrip supply.”
Regional Victoria also performed strongly in the March quarter, with the median house price up 4.1 per cent to $377,000.

Information courtesy of the REIV.

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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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RBA

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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RBA

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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