Media Release - 9 November 2017
FIRST HOME BUYER ADVICE AMID THE ENERGY CRISIS
With lenders approving a record $33.9 billion in new housing loans in Australia, the number of dwellings financed by first homebuyers reached the highest level in 92 months in August 2017. The nation is also in the grip of an energy crisis so what should first homebuyers be looking for when purchasing their first home so they can ensure energy-efficiency as well as manageable and affordable utility bills?
First National Lewis Prior principal Brett Lewis says it is about looking at the property inside and out (bigger is not necessarily better - can you afford to heat/cool the place?) as well as its proximity to local shopping centres, beaches or public pools (do you have somewhere to cool off if your electricity is shut down?).
There are three factors Brett Lewis stresses first home buyers should explore - the property itself (swimming pools come with hidden maintenance costs), the area’s infrastructure (local amenities, child-care, schools, beaches) and using your real estate agent’s local knowledge - they’ll have the local expertise when it comes to rates, bills and the community as a whole.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR AS A FIRST HOME BUYER TO AVOID BILL SHOCK
· Is the property close to local shopping centre?
· Is there a local swimming pool?
· How far away are the closest beaches?
· Are there safe –swimming waterholes nearby?
· Distance from schools/work - possible to reduce car usage and save on petrol?
· Is there air-conditioning and is it throughout the house or isolated to one area - what are the running costs?
· Does it have a swimming pool - if so, what are the running costs (does it leak)?
· Are solar panels fitted?
· Does it have a high or low maintenance garden to reduce water bill pressure?
· Does it have a clothesline to ensure clothes drying and reduce dryer bills?
· What rooms face east and face west to maximise morning and afternoon sun?
· Are there trees around the property - do they provide shade?
· Are blinds or screens installed on the windows to block sun?
· Appliances - a dishwasher might seem like a bonus but can you afford to use it?
· Rainwater tanks?
· Which energy source powers the property’s heating?
Your real estate agent is your local expert and will know what the approximate costs of living in the area are - ask questions about bills, suppliers, local businesses that are important to residents of the area.
Media Release - 26 September 2017
NEW REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY RESEARCH REVEALS PROBLEM RESOLUTION MOST VALUED BY CONSUMERS
New research from Canstar Blue into the real estate industry has revealed 31% of consumers value an agent’s ‘problem resolution skills’ as the number one contributor to their satisfaction. The second most significant contributor to their satisfaction, according to 28% of customers, is ‘communication and advice’.
As a result of this research, First National Real Estate Lewis Prior principal Brett Lewis is urging the real estate industry to shift its emphasis to problem resolution and communication over the traditional and historic focus on marketing and agency fees.
“Agents must shift their emphasis from marketing to communication skills as well as problem resolution or perish,” warns Brett Lewis.
First National Real Estate has been presented with Canstar Blue’s ‘Most Satisfied Customers – Real Estate 2017’ Award, the second year in a row the organisation has won the prestigious industry acknowledgement. It was also awarded ‘Most Satisfied Customers – Small Business Real Estate 2017’ by the consumer ratings agency.
“This research confirms that customers value an agent’s ability to anticipate and resolve challenges that arise while selling a client’s home or managing their investment property. This award is testament to the real estate expertise of our 4,600 strong network of real estate agents and their commitment to customer satisfaction,” said Brett Lewis.
Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle, congratulated First National Real Estate on the success, saying, “Good communications and problem resolution are crucial elements of any good real estate service and it is notable that First National Real Estate was the only one to rate five stars in these areas. For topping our ratings for the second year in a row – while also taking top spot in our small business real estate review – we congratulate First National Real Estate.”
Again this year, research and ratings agency, Canstar Blue engaged Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories measuring customer satisfaction. Customers in the survey group were required to have used the services of a real estate agent in the past three years.
In the last two years First National Real Estate has been awarded the following Canstar Blue Awards:
- Most Satisfied Customers – Real Estate 2016
- Most Satisfied Customers – Real Estate 2017
- Most Satisfied Customers – Small Business Real Estate 2017
Media Release - 20 July 2017
NEW FINANCIAL YEAR - YOUR PROPERTY GOALS
Whether you're looking to buy your first home, upsize, sell or invest, there are plenty of changes you can make to reach your property goals this new financial year according to First National Real Estate Lewis Prior principal, Brett Lewis.
‘At First National Real Estate, we're encouraging all of our customers to make (and keep) a property-related goal’ said Brett Lewis.
‘Whether you want to buy your first home or take advantage of new Government incentives to downsize, there are steps you can take to make your property dreams reality this year’.
Here are First National’s three tips for the financial year
1. Prospective buyers - stash away a deposit
Not having the deposit is the number one roadblock for property buyers, as outlined in the recent Housing Affordability Report by CoreLogic. Although you aren't required to have a 20 per cent deposit to buy a home, it certainly helps to have a substantial deposit before taking out your first mortgage because there will be no need for expensive, ongoing, mortgage insurance.
Whether you want to buy soon or in the future, non-property owners who are looking to get on the ladder should start saving towards a deposit in 2017. This goal may impact lifestyle choices but there are simple ways to save, including:
2. Homeowners - purchase an investment property
- Your monthly budget should reflect income and expenses
- Reduce ‘lifestyle’ choices by taking lunch to work
- Eliminating unnecessary spending
- Ensure your bank accounts maximise benefits for you
- Take advantage of the Federal Government’s First Home Super Saver Scheme
If you already own a home, this could be the year to purchase an investment property. Property investors enjoy the benefits of:
- Reasonably secure returns
- Owning an asset with a potential to grow in value
- Leveraging their existing property equity to facilitate an investment loan
- A reliable income from rent payments
‘You don't necessarily need to be a property owner to become an investor’ said Brett Lewis.
‘“Rentvesting” - the practice of renting out your main residence in one place and purchasing an investment property in a more affordable area was also identified as an emerging trend in the CoreLogic Report’. 3. Sellers - make a smart renovation
If you are not planning to sell your home in 2017, it is the perfect time to make renovations that will increase your home's value. A fresh coat of paint or new light fixtures will add value to a home but be careful not to over-capitalise. The main game is to prepare your home now in preparation to sell.
Work with a real estate agent in order to understand what buyers are looking for in your local market. First National Real Estate is Australia’s largest independent network of real estate agents, with nearly 400 offices throughout Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu.
Media Release - 6 June 2017
COULD LOCAL BUYERS GET CAUGHT PAYING A FOREIGN INVESTOR'S TAX BILL?
Government initiatives aimed at restricting foreign ownership may give the impression of helping affordability for local buyers, however there are potentially hidden risks, according to First National Real Estate Lewis Prior principal, Brett Lewis.
Previously, legislation required buyers of properties worth more than $2 million to withhold 10 per cent of the purchase price and send it to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), if the vendor was a foreign resident for tax purposes. Now, any property worth $750,000 or more is affected and the Withholding Tax will increase to 12.5 per cent from 1 July 2017. However, the previous threshold and rate will apply for any contracts that are entered into before 1 July 2017, even if they are not due to settle until after 1 July 2017.
‘Naturally we support the intent of the changes but it is essential that lawyers and conveyancers proactively ensure their clients abide by the new laws’ said Brett Lewis.
‘If buyers don’t retain the 12.5 per cent withholding tax, they could find themselves liable for a penalty from 1 July, which could be the full 12.5 per cent of the purchase price as well as interest. Nobody would want that.’
To avoid potential settlement delays and complications, owners who are selling properties worth more than $750,000 should obtain a clearance certificate from the ATO to prove they’re an Australian resident for tax purposes. However, the lift in the number of properties affected by the changes could increase the length of time it takes to obtain a certificate.
‘Now that many more properties fall into the Government’s tax net, there’s great concern about the potential for extended delays acquiring clearance certificates, which used to take anywhere from a few days to four weeks’ said Brett Lewis.
‘Vendors would be well advised to apply for the certificate the moment they appoint a conveyancer and real estate agent. This will assure that the moment a sale price is agreed with a buyer, there will be no impediment to completing a contract of sale and the buyer will have confidence they are not placed at risk.’
Other significant changes affecting property brought down by the Budget are:
- Foreign investors will no longer be able to access the Capital Gains Tax exemption (CGT) on their main residence in Australia, with the new rule commencing from budget night but grandfathered on existing properties until June 30, 2019.
- Developers will no longer be able to sell more than 50 per cent of apartments off the plan to foreign investors (when the development has more than 50 units)
- Foreign residential property investors who leave properties unoccupied, or not genuinely available on the rental market, for at least six months per annum, will face an annual levy of at least $5,000
- Any failed off the plan purchases by foreigners will now once again be considered new, thereby overcoming previous limitations
‘The threshold for foreign resident capital gains tax withholding will soon stand at a level that is impractically low’ said Brett Lewis.
‘Seventy six per cent of foreign investors buy in New South Wales or Victoria and spend $1.6 million on average. The new threshold will unnecessarily expose a large number of property transactions to excessive bureaucracy.’