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Financial traps to avoid as a landlord

If you’ve successfully purchased an investment property and secured a tenant, you might think the hardest work is done when it comes to setting yourself up to reach your investment goals. But like any investment, it’s important you keep a close eye on your property and avoid all too common financial mistakes.

We spoke to Carolyn Parrella, Insurance Executive Manager at Terri Scheer Insurance, to learn her view of the most common traps landlords fall into financially, and how you can avoid them.

1. Setting the rent too low or too high

“Before purchasing an investment property, carry out extensive research to help determine an appropriate rental price,” Ms Parella said.

“Setting the rent too high may result in limited interest from prospective tenants, leaving you out of pocket if the property remains empty for an extended period of time.

“However, setting the rent too low may place you under financial pressure, limit your rental income and has the potential to attract unsuitable tenants.

“Find listings with similar features to your property, as this will give you a guide on the rental market in that area.

“If you appoint a property manager, they should be able to provide you with information on comparable properties and advise an appropriate rent for your own investment.”

2. Failing to monitor arrears

“If a tenant falls behind in their rent, it can be a very long and costly process to resolve and could leave you considerably out of pocket,” Ms Parrella said.

“Diarise the dates that your tenant’s rental payments are due and check your bank account on those days.

“If your tenant doesn’t pay on the due date, monitor your bank account on a daily basis. If they fall into arrears a breach notice should be sent for non-payment of rent.

“The number of days in rental arrears before a termination notice can be sent, and the time between presenting the notice and requesting vacation varies around Australia, so it is important to be familiar with your local tenancy laws.

“Regularly monitoring arrears and issuing tenants with appropriate notices promptly may help resolve issues sooner and mitigate any financial loss.”

 

3. Attempting to self-manage a property

Ms Parrella said self-managing a rental property might create headaches for landlords, especially if they’re not able to commit the time or resources necessary (which they might not realise until after they’re in too deep).

“While it can be tempting to save a small percentage of rental income by self-managing your rental property, the benefits of appointing a property manager can far outweigh the costs,” she said.

“Property managers are able to conduct regular property inspections to identify maintenance issues, have systems in place to find and screen prospective tenants, and have access to databases that list tenants with a history of defaulting on rental payments, damaging property and eviction.

“If a dispute arises with a tenant, they are also familiar with the relevant legislation and can follow the correct procedures to help resolve the problem as quickly as possible.”

4. Neglecting maintenance

“As a landlord, once you have been alerted to maintenance issues, it is your responsibility to act on these or authorise your property manager to do so as soon as possible,” Ms Parrella said

“If a maintenance issue arises and you are slow to fix it, you may be legally liable if your tenant injures themselves. It is also important to ensure that all maintenance is completed properly and to appropriate standards.”

5. Inadequate insurance

“Landlord insurance cover can protect investors from many of the risks associated with owning a rental property, provide peace of mind and ease a landlord’s concerns about receiving regular rental payments if their tenant damages the property or absconds,” Ms Parrella said.

“Standard building and contents insurance policies usually don’t cover landlords for these risks.

“Landlord insurance can cover property owners for malicious damage by tenants, accidental damage, legal liability for occurrences on the property that cause death or bodily injury, and loss of rental income as a result of property damage or a tenant absconding.”

Who is buying new housing developments?

by  Holly Jones

26 Mar 2014

This year’s competitions saw favourite contestants Alisa and Lysandra and Brad and Dale, battling it out against two novice couples, Kyle and Kara and Chantelle and Steve, in a race to transform a historic old theatre dating back to 1912 into four stunning multi-level apartments.

The suburb – Albert Park

Albert Park is considered one of Melbourne’s more affluent suburbs. Located on the fringe of the CBD with some water fronting properties, it’s an area made up of mature couples and families, and is a sought after location.

This year’s property is located at 47 O’Grady St and offers the new owners a location which is a 10 minute walk from the beach and 15 minute drive from the city.

The sale

Each year The Block homes attract a lot of attention. Viewers have watched the property transform from a mere shell to four luxury abodes it’s little wonder many of these afficianados want to see the finished properties for up close. The result is a huge open inspection for the fans, followed by private viewings for serious buyers (though a few of the latter might creep through in the former).

David Wood is Director of hockingstuart and will be the auctioneer representing 1/47 O’Grady St for contestants Chantelle and Steve. He says a celebrity property, while drawing a lot of attention, can also attract some cynicism.

“The most important factor to get across with these apartments is the quality of them,” he says.

“They’re finished to a high standard and that can sometimes be missed by potential buyers. You see the contestants on TV but you don’t see the huge team of professionals behind them working on the construction. The building is of the highest quality.”

Everything you see at an OFI is what you get. For an investor looking to rent the property this saves a lot of time and effort.

Who’s looking to buy?

David says there’s a broad range of interest and a range of serious buyers.

“Upsizers and downsizers will always be interested and we get a very strong interest from investors because the properties come fully furnished.

‘Everything you see at an OFI is what you get, for an investor looking to rent the property this saves a lot of time and effort.”

“We see a lot of interest from investors in the Albert Park area in general, and as these properties are good to go, it’s no wonder they catch people’s eye.”

All properties in The Block offer:

  • 3 x bedrooms
  • 3 x bathrooms
  • 2 x car parking spots
  • 1 x access to an inside communal area complete with a swimming pool
  • 1 x roof terrace

As well as the above, they’re fully furnished with towels, art work, furniture rugs, and bedding.

Unique pool attraction

The building spans four levels. The ground floor houses the car parks and the communal pool, and living areas start from level one and work up to the open roof terraces.

“These properties each have two car parking spaces, that’s a rarity in this area and is a big plus to buyers looking to buy a three bedroom property. There’s no denying this is a unique find, not many properties the area can boast an indoor pool suitable for year round use,” he says.

How does it compare to other properties from The Block

This year’s contestants were given free rein to create their own rooms and layouts so each of the apartments is very different in layout, as well as fit out.

“There was a rough design guide for the contestants, but this series left a lot of the decisions to the contestants. Previous years, much of The Block has come down to interiors; this year the layout needs to be taken into consideration by the buyers as the apartments are very different.”

Selecting an agent

Like anyone selling a property, the contestants on The Block need to find the right agent. Steve and Chantelle had worked with agents from hockingstuart in the past, and liked their style. The couple sought advice from ex contestants Jono and Trixie, who had worked with David before and recommended his work.

As a seller, word of mouth goes a long way to let you know you can fully trust your agent, and David says personal referrals are important to agents.

“We can see the building from our office as we’re based in Albert Park, and Steve and Chantelle have worked with our Brunswick office team before. Speaking to other’s who’ve sold to get word of mouth recommendations is an important step and we’re delighted to be on board for our third series.”

Why should buyers go for number 1?

Davis is representing 1/47 O’Grady St, so of course he sees it as the best for buyers. Here’s why:

“Number one is at the front of the building, which benefits from having northern light, large arched windows with plenty of natural light. It faces out onto O’Grady Street but the front rooms look out on to private gardens, not directly onto the street,” he says.

“The rooftop has perfect city views and the apartment itself has been credited with having some of the best rooms, including the master bedroom with one of the largest walk in robes.”

Auction day

This year The Block auction will be held on Tuesday 5 April, 2014 at 5pm.

David is expecting apartment one to sell for around $1.7 million, which compares well with other single fronted, three bedroom, fully renovated properties in the area.

What is a Popi (Property Options for Pensioners & Investors)?

by  Holly Jones

25 Mar 2014

What is a Popi?

A Popi is an agreement between a pensioner (or any senior home owner) and an investor.

The investor pays the pensioner a monthly fee in exchange for the option to buy the pensioner’s home in the future but at today’s price.

Generally, a pensioner is “asset rich but cash flow poor”. They own their own home, which may be worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars, but have to live off an aged pension which is only a few hundred dollars per week.

In effect, a Popi allows the pensioner to receive cash from an investor on a regular basis, and in return the capital growth of the property will be passed on to the investor.

A Popi lets the pensioner receive regular cash from an investor and in return, the capital growth of the property is passed on to the investor

What are the advantages & risks for the pensioner?

There are numerous advantages for the pensioner. A Popi enables them to live their retirement more comfortably, pay for essential services, take a holiday, save for future aged care; the list is endless.

The attraction of a Popi for a pensioner is the monthly cash flow they receive. This allows them to stay in their home rather than shifting, downsizing or even worse, taking out a reverse mortgage. One of the biggest benefits of this monthly payment is that it doesn’t affect their aged pension; they receive their pension entitlements plus the monthly option fee.

The downside is that they miss out on the future capital growth. If the property increases in value, they will only receive what it was worth at the time the option agreement was signed.

As far as children are concerned, as part of the Popi agreement, the executor has to be made aware of the agreement and sign a form. The assumption is that the executor is one or more of the kids but if the kid(s) are not the executor(s), maybe the parents think it’s none of the their kids’ business!

And the investor?

A Popi allows an investor to get into the property market without requiring a deposit or taking out a loan. Providing the investor has sufficient cash flow, all they need to do is pay a monthly fee and they are able to benefit from the capital growth of the property. However, my favourite is that there are no tenant hassles; the pensioner still owns the house and is technically not a tenant.

The downside is that the investor isn’t able to control when they can buy the property; that is controlled by the senior and is triggered when the pensioner wants/needs to sell their home. So a Popi isn’t ideal for people who need maximum control over their investment timelines, or need access to rapid investment strategies.

You can find more detailed information about Popi at www.popiaustralia.com.au, and before undertaking any kind of investment, you should always consult professionals who will be able to assess your financial situation and appetite for risk.

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