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February 2018

Tips for buyers - What if I buy the "wrong" house?

If you're looking for a long-term or forever home for your family, you're probably worried about making the wrong decision, ending up with a home that doesn't suit your needs and suffering buyer's regret later on.

There are ways to minimise the risk of buying the wrong house. Some simple but powerful pieces of advice are:

  • Work out what your needs are
  • Don't buy the first house you see
  • Make sure what you see is what you get

A good place to start is assessing the house you currently live in and any other places you've lived in the past. What is missing? What are you looking for in your new house? Maybe you want more space. But think about this long-term. Would a second living area or another bedroom or maybe a study be more useful for your family's needs? You need to approach every feature of the house with a long-term perspective. Sure, you might be happy with the single garage now but what will happen when your three teenagers start driving? Will your family continue to enjoy the pool at home or are your kids more likely to meet their friends at the beach in a few years with you left maintaining a barely used pool?

Sit down with the family and make a list of items everyone would like in the new house and think about how likely it is that these items will still be relevant two, five or ten years down the line. You also need to consider the location. For example, are the older kids able to walk to school? How far is the nearest train station if you need to commute to the city? Are there spaces to walk the dog? Think about all the things you do every day and every week that would make your life a lot more convenient if they were close by.

Once your family is armed with a list of demands, carefully select houses you'd like to inspect and evaluate them according to your list. Don't throw everything overboard because you love the beautifully landscaped backyard so much. And be sure to look at several properties before you decide to buy. There are consistently enough properties on the market for you to take it slow. And don't feel like you need to make compromises if you haven't found your dream home at the third viewing. However, if you still haven't found it after the 30th viewing, you might want to tweak your dream a bit.

If you want to get ahead of the competition, why not sign up for our free VIP property alerts so that we can send you our newest properties before they're even on the market!


February 2018

The perfect tenant

How do you find the perfect tenant? Do you judge them purely on financial criteria, do you take into consideration how much you like them or how much they seem to like the property? There are many different ways of working out whether a tenant is suitable for you and your property.

First of all, the perfect tenant probably doesn't exist but at Prudential Real Estate we have a sophisticated system that allows us to easily assess which tenant will be the best for your property. As part of their application, we receive from the potential tenants a copy of their ID, their last two payslips, most recent bank statement, Medicare card, rent ledger, most recent periodic inspection report and their signed TRA disclosure notice, which allows us to check the applicant's name and rental history against Trading Reference Australia's database of tenants.

All of this data is then fed into the Prudential Tenancy Assessment tool, a computerised method of balancing all the information to provide with a "ranking" for each of the applicants, with "most suitable" at the top of the list

We will also favour applicants

  • who delivered their application and documents in one go (as opposed to those that required chasing or sent docs in randomly)
  • whose employment and income details were found to be correct
  • who have rented with us previously and had a good record
  • who can move in on the earliest date

And we will also take into consideration the positive feeling the leasing officer had when speaking with the prospective tenant either at the open home or on the phone during the application assessment process. This fact-based approach has proven to determine the most reliable tenants.


February 2018

What do tenants look for in a rental property?

Location matters and tenants are often looking to live close to train stations and shopping centres and they often would like some outdoors space, preferably fairly low-maintenance, which suits both you as a landlord and the tenants as you can't expect tenants to look after the garden as they would look after their own. The less they have to do to maintain it, the more likely it is that they use it and leave it in good condition when they vacate.

Internal updates also go a long way. While it might not be necessary to do a full bathroom or kitchen renovation, new appliances or a new vanity might make the room look a lot more inviting. For all rooms of the house it is also important to regularly check the appearance of walls and floors. An old carpet might put off potential tenants, while a freshly painted wall makes everyone feel a lot more comfortable immediately.

The Campbelltown leasing team is on the frontline every day, trying to find the best tenant for your property and their advice is straightforward:

  • Make sure the property is correctly priced (they have the expertise to give you recommendations)
  • Put some money and effort into maintaining your property so that it doesn't look a bit worse with every tenant who moves out and decreases in value over the years. You don't even have to do that much: paint every two to three years, replace the carpets every five years or so and fix anything affected by normal wear and tear, such as windows, lock, taps and other fittings.
  • And, most important during the summer months, install air conditioning! The number one request from tenants during the summer is a cool home - and who could fault them for this! So, getting air conditioning installed will automatically increase the value of your property for potential clients.

February 2018

Water charges - the facts

Do you know the minimum criteria for passing on water charges to your tenants?

This is regulated by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 - Sect 39 Water usage charges payable by tenant and NSW Fair Trading. The minimum standards are:

  • the rental premises must be individually metered
  • the charges must not exceed the amount billed for water usage by the water supplier
  • the rental premises must meet required 'water efficiency' standards

If you fulfill these criteria, you can pass on the water charges to your tenants. In order to meet the water efficiency standards, you need to implement measures that ensure that the internal cold water taps, single mixer taps and showerheads have a flow rate of less than 9 litres per minute and that the property has no leaking taps.

More information from NSW Fair Trading.


February 2018

Home is where the heart is

If you don't feel like leaving the house this Valentine's Day, here are some ideas for the classic "dinner and a movie" date within your own four walls.

There are plenty of home decorating ideas out there but if you don't fancy a Festival of Pink and are not a particularly arts and crafts kind of person, you can always settle for a clean tablecloth, flowers (red roses if you're a traditionalist) and/or candles to create a romantic atmosphere for your dinner.

Make sure you prepare a meal that you've tried before so it doesn't end up in stress and disaster. A light two- or even three-course meal is probably best suited for the occasion. Steer clear of food that will make the other person uncomfortable in any way. Unless you know they love hot food, play it safe with spice. Go easy on the garlic and don't serve anything too messy or difficult and you should be alright.

Some great ideas for dinner include mouthwatering meals such as filet mignon with goat cheese and pancetta or lobster stew. And for dessert, you can choose from a myriad of pretty and yummy options such as chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake bites or Nutella stuffed chocolate raspberry cupcakes.

What if you are in an established long-term relationship though, where there isn't one partner trying to impress the other and "win them over" with their culinary skills, who is going to do the cooking? It might be nice for the person who doesn't usually cook to thank the other one on this day by preparing the meal. However, the person with the most cooking experience is probably going to do a better job!

After dinner, you can finally snuggle up on the couch and select from a huge range of romantic movies, with most lists of best Valentine's movies featuring the classics Titanic, Love Actually, When Harry met Sally, Dirty Dancing, Breakfast at Tiffany's and Pride and Prejudice.

You could also surprise your partner with a Valentine's gift, with chocolates, a romantic card and flowers being the obvious choices. As with every holiday and special occasion, there are a lot of people trying to cash in on it and so even Big W has put together a few gift options ordered by categories. One category is "home" and although it's a great idea to give something both useful and romantic it may not be immediately obvious how Brigalow Home Brew Grommets or the Paw Patrol Rubble 3D Decor LED Wall Night Light are an expression of eternal love. But each to their own.

Happy Valentine's Day!


February 2018

Real estate careers - living the dream

Are you interested in property? Do you enjoy dealing with a variety of different people every day? Are you a confident negotiator? Do you have a friendly personality and a business-focussed mind? Are you interested in a career that gets you out of the office? Do you love your local area?

If you shouted "yes!" in answer to all these questions, then you're meant to work in real estate!

There are two main avenues to pursue in real estate. If you're interested in acquiring new listings, presenting them to the market, showing and negotiating sales of properties, you should obtain your Certificate of Registration and look for a sales assistant role in a real estate agency. With more experience, you will gain more independence and will eventually be able to handle your own sales as a real estate agent. Alongside your work, you should complete a Certificate IV in Property Services (Real Estate) in order to obtain a real estate license.

Another path in real estate is property management, which involves dealing with tenants and landlords on a daily basis and looking after all aspects of managing a property, from iproperty inspections to repair requests and any other queries and issues that might come up regarding a rental property. The role is varied and you get to maintain long-lasting relationships with landlords and tenants. Just as for a sales role, you're best advised to obtain a certificate of registration and apply for entry level positions in property management or support roles.

Other roles that deal with rental properties are business development and leasing roles. The business development function is to acquire more landlords in order to add investment properties to the agency's portfolio. The leasing team works on finding suitable tenants as quickly as possible, liaising with landlords and showing the properties to prospective tenants as well as reviewing tenants' applications.

The bigger the agency, the more likely it is to have a number of support functions, such as accounting, administration and marketing roles, in case you're interested in property but prefer to work primarily office-based and are happy to help out behind the scenes without the regular contact with clients and customers.

Another important role is that of the receptionist, who represents the business to all walk-in customers, clients and the general public and is the first point of contact for phone enquiries. This role is suited for you if you're always happy to help and have a friendly and outgoing personality. Receptionists learn a lot about the industry and often go on to pursue careers in sales or property management.

Still interested? Don't hesitate to contact your local Prudential Real Estate office if you have any questions regarding your career. We might be looking for someone just like you to complete our team!


January 2018

Tips for buyers - Money, money, money

The prospect of making the biggest and most expensive purchase of your life can be a bit daunting. After all, you're probably planning to live in your home for a good decade or two and you'll be paying it off for a long time too so this isn't a decision you'd make lightly! Here are some of the most important aspects to keep in mind when buying a property:

  1. Mortgage pre-approval: Before you even start going to inspections, make sure you research the best mortgage option for you and get mortgage pre-approval. This way you know which price range you can afford and, when you find your dream home, you can put an offer in straight away, confident that your bank is going to loan you the necessary money, thereby minimising the risk of losing out on a property because someone else gets their offer in before you.
  2. Beware of the hidden costs: There are numerous costs associated with buying a house beyond the house price. Make sure you have a substantial amount of money set aside for various costs including bank fees, building and pest inspection fees, mortgage insurance, solicitor/conveyancer, removalist, stamp duty and so on. A new house might also bring with it the need for repairs or new furniture so it's better to buy a house slightly less expensive so you don't have the stress of finding that you can't really afford to pay for any of these extras.
  3. Know the market: Do some research on house prices in the local market so you have a better understanding of how much comparable houses cost. Make sure to check the sold property prices rather than the advertised prices as sellers might not necessarily get what they ask for. Once you've found a house you like, make sure you ask questions, such as "How long has the house been on the market?" - the vendor might be desperate to finally sell and you can lower your offer - or "Have there been any other offers? How much did they offer?" - knowing how the negotiations have been going so far will allow you to make a competitive offer without offering more than necessary.

Happy house hunting!


January 2018

Your own pool - pleasure or pain?

As we're experiencing hot days you might start dreaming about a poolside summer. But is it going to be a lot of work to maintain a pool you might wonder?

If you're moving into a property with a pool, it is useful to understand the responsibilities that you have in regards to the pool before you sign your Residential Tenancy Agreement.

As stated in the Tenant's Handbook, "Pool/spa cleaning and maintenance is the tenant's responsibility, unless your Residential Tenancy Agreement states that the landlord will be supplying a regular cleaning and maintenance service".

Maintaining and cleaning a pool can take up to an hour per week. Some of the jobs that are necessary are skimming the pool's surface, vacuuming the pool, cleaning filters, superchlorinating the water and a few other regular tasks.

If you and your family and friends love spending time in the pool, the one hour of work seems like a price worth paying. However, keep in mind that, although there will be many hot and sunny days, there will be days when the weather isn't exactly calling for a splash-about. Also, is there enough time during the week in between homework, sports, household chores, dinner, etc to use the pool regularly? You should also keep in mind that there is a cost involved in maintaining a pool - not only your time but chemicals, cleaning equipment and more. If you make a realistic decision with your whole family, you'll be sure to enjoy your new home!

*Note for landlords:
We wouldn't recommend purchasing a property with a pool as an investment as the appeal it may have to some tenants isn't worth the hassle for you as a landlord. But if you want to rent out a property that already has a pool, it might be worthwhile getting a company to service it regularly for approximately $900.00-1200.00 per year, which is tax deductible for the landlord and justifies any extra rent. This is a better long-term solution than passing on the responsibility to the tenant as they're not very likely to have the knowledge or the motivation to take good care of your pool.


January 2018

New year, new house, new life!

If you're thinking about making a fresh start this year, it helps to be aware of the entire process of purchasing a home. Here's a brief summary of the battle with the paperwork and the legal and financial aspects of your buying journey.

The first step you should take is to get mortgage pre-approval. Do some research to find the best mortgage provider for you, fill in the paperwork they request and they will pre-approve you for a certain amount. Doing this before you start the serious property hunt means that you can confidently make an offer when you find the right property.

Once you find the house of your dreams, you put in an offer. After you've put in the offer, there might be some negotiations about the price and then, hopefully, your offer will be verbally accepted by the vendor. For the legal work - ie the contract, mortgage and any related paperwork - most people choose to employ a conveyancer or solicitor, who will also arrange a building inspection and a pest inspection.

Up until the point where you exchange contracts, the agreement is not legally binding. You will need to sign the contract and pay a deposit - sometimes this is as little as 0.25% of the purchase price and sometimes it can be as high as 10% of the purchase price.

After signing the contract, in most cases, there is a five-day cooling-off period in NSW. During this time you would finalise your loan, check your building and pest report and make the final decision to go ahead or not. Note: you can get out of the contract if you give written notice during the cooling-off period.

A couple of weeks after you've exchanged contracts you'll arrive at the big day: settlement day! This is when you pay the rest of the sale price and become the legal owner of the property - hooray! On this day you will receive your keys and can move in.


Communication is key

August 2017

Should you bother your agent with small details such as the fact that you don't like where they put the signboard?

The main reason vendors change agents is because the first fails to sell the property. However, sometimes the seller has had some other issues with the agent before they arrive at the decision to change.

Often these are small things that vendors don't bother talking about, but they are part of the overall relationship - or lack of it. Changing agents costs time and money and often this can be avoided if agents and sellers talk to each other more often and more frankly. This is important because poor communication can affect sales outcomes.

As the vendor you should let the agent know what's on your mind from the beginning. Remember, the first couple of weeks of marketing can set the scene for a positive relationship – or its opposite.

Often the problem is that many of the issues seem too trivial to mention – the signboard is in the wrong spot, the agent keeps bringing purchasers in through the side balcony door instead of the front door, or perhaps they turn up with a purchaser with only sixty minutes' notice instead of several hours. These issues often add up to lack of confidence in the agent.

So don't grumble to yourself but rather have a chat with the agent if something is bothering you! Professional agents will want to get it right and will appreciate your input - especially when done in a spirit of goodwill. They understand that although they sell houses every day, most of their clients will do it only a few times in a lifetime and can find it very stressful.

Here at Prudential Real Estate we always keep you updated on any developments regarding your property and we welcome and value any input from you. Our agents understand that, although they sell houses every day, many of our clients will only do it a few times in their lifetime and that it's an important event for them. It is our aim to make this process as smooth and stress-free for you as possible.

It helps if you feel confident in your ability to choose the right agent. You need to be able to trust them in order to establish good communication. Check out our advice on how to choose the right agent on page 5 of our brochure How to sell your house for thousands more.


How important is the garden when selling your property?

August 2017

The garden plays a big role in the presentation of your property, and the better your property looks in the photos, the more people are going to attend the viewings. As our brochure How to sell your house for thousands more points out, the tidy appearance of the outside areas plays an important role in getting your property ready to shine on the market.

When preparing your garden, start with the obvious: Make it look well cared for by mowing grass, raking leaves, weeding, and having trees and bushes trimmed. You don't want potential buyers looking at your garden dreading the amount of time they need to invest to get it into shape! One of our experienced Sales Consultants, Bobby Reynolds, often advises sellers to invest in a bit of mulch and a few colourful potted plants. These small improvements don't cost much but make your outdoor area immediately look more inviting.

Outdoor entertainment areas are often on the wishlist of potential buyers so, if you do have an outdoor BBQ or a pergola, make sure they are free of clutter, clean and presented in a way that people can imagine having their friends around for a meal. In Bobby's experience, it is important that buyers form an emotional attachment to the property so it's great if your garden is presented in a way that allows them to imagine their happy future there.

If you don't have an outdoor entertainment area, you don't have to build one from scratch, of course, but try to use what you have to ensure that buyers see the potential. For example, if you have a paved area outside, declutter it, clean it and include a table and chair setting. Also, ensure that any areas that get shade are marked as outdoor relaxation areas simply by adding chairs, this could be your front porch, or even just in a secluded corner of the garden.

If you want to find out more about how to prepare your property for the market at low cost, contact your local Prudential Real Estate office and ask us for our brochure 73 Quick & easy fix-ups to sell your home faster & for more mone.


Emergency? Don't panic!

July 2017

It may seem difficult to distinguish between an urgent repair and a regular one but when you compare the consequences of a burst water pipe and a dripping tap, it becomes quite clear that a dripping tap can't possibly be considered an urgent repair as it doesn't interfere with your life, it won't cause any permanent damage to the property and it doesn't affect your health or safety in any way. It still needs to be reported to Prudential Real Estate but it's not the same level of urgency as a burst water pipe, where there's potential damage to the property if parts of the property have been flooded and where you have to switch off the water and therefore will be unable to go about your regular life.

But what do you do in this situation? Consider this scenario:

You have a pretty restless night on the weekend as you keep being woken up by a storm. When you sleepily walk into the kitchen to make yourself a cup of coffee in the morning, your feet are suddenly wet! You look down and realise that the kitchen is flooded! Then you feel the draught and realise that a kitchen window must've been smashed by a tree branch during the storm. As you stand there, shivering, you wonder vaguely what to do. Is this an emergency? After all, you still have running water and electricity ...

The answer is: Yes! In fact, this scenario includes several of the issues that are described as urgent repairs in your Residential Tenancy Agreement. You are dealing with flooding and storm damage and the broken window means that the house is not secure.

But, you think, it's Sunday and no one will answer the phone at Prudential Real Estate! That's ok. In a case like this, you should go ahead and call a tradesperson yourself so that they can fix the issue. We provide a list of tradespeople who will be happy to help you get your life back to normal.

Have you ever needed to call someone for an emergency repair? Tell us what happened and we might publish your story on our website.


How to keep warm during the winter

July 2017

If you complain about being cold at home, people will probably tell you to put draught stoppers in front of your doors, wear slippers or to use an electric blanket in bed. When gathering together advice on how to keep warm, we came across a few items that we wouldn't have thought of immediately:

Drink: Although a cup of tea or coffee or a drink can make you feel warmer instantly, apparently caffeine and alcohol lower your body temperature so you're better off staying away from them and keeping warm with hot drinks such as herbal tea or hot chocolate.

Food: Make sure you consume healthy fats and carbohydrates as digesting these types of food keeps your body warm. Stews, soups and porridge are great for keeping you warm.

The oven: Try to use the oven for cooking your dinners. Eating the food you've prepared will obviously warm you up but your kitchen will also be nice and warm as the oven works like a heater! Have drawn-out meals in the kitchen to make the most of the warmth.

Candles: A big fire would obviously have a major effect on the temperature in your home but have you tried lighting candles? They are much smaller but might have a big impact, for example warming your hands if you place them on your desk while typing or writing.

Clothes: This is an obvious one but it might be worthwhile being reminded to keep your head warm by wearing a hoodie or beanie and to ensure as little skin is exposed as possible as your body loses heat through the skin. Also, try swapping a big winter jumper for several thinner layers as they are better at trapping your body heat.

Rugs: Cover your floor, especially the areas you use a lot to keep your feet warm.

Curtains: This one is simple but effective: Open the curtains during the day to let the warm sunshine in. Close the curtains at night to keep the cold air out.

The fan: As warm air rises, it makes sense to reverse the fan to push the warm air back down. Keep it on a slow setting though so you don't stir up a breeze!

And if all this fails, you can still soak in a hot bath before bed, get out your hot water bottle, or do some jumping jacks every half hour - that'll be sure to keep you nice and warm, and energised too!