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To conclude our three-part series on successful renovations, we have left the best till last – how to get the cash to make it happen! There are plenty of different ways you can fund your renovation and we can talk you through these options to find the one best suited to your budget and project size. Here are some of the options we may discuss with you. Home equity If there is an available amount of equity in your home, you can use this to access credit up to an approved limit. What is equity? It’s the difference between the value of your home and the money you owe. For example, if your home is worth $700,000 and your home loan is $500,000, then you have $200,000 equity in your home. You can generally borrow up to 80% of your home’s value (known as 80% of your Loan-to-Value Ratio). For a home worth $700,000 this would...

What better time than the start of a new year to review your finances and look at ways to do things better in 2015. Start by considering these four tips: 1.Find out how much equity you have Most home owners are pleasantly surprised by what can be achieved by tapping into their equity. Depending on how much of your home loan has been paid off and the capital growth of the property, you could be sitting on untapped wealth that could be used to invest in a second, third, fourth … property! 2. Review your insurance It’s not worth getting caught without insurance when you need it. We can talk you through the benefits of Building and Contents insurance, Life insurance, Mortgage insurance and Income Protection insurance – as well as check you’re insured at an appropriate level and are familiar with the fine print of your policy. 3.Know your borrowing capacity If you know in...

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin) Blowing your budget and sending your stress levels sky high are the usual consequences when you don’t take the time to plan your renovation project from start to finish. A good starting point is to think hard about why you want to renovate and make a list of all you want to achieve. Prioritise this list and include in it things you love to add, but can do without if need be. Think about the functionality of the floor plan and layout before you begin your project and ensure the design of the renovation doesn’t clash with your home’s existing design or streetscape. Don’t focus too much on trends as these come and go; think instead comfort and ease of living. Before you get too involved in a particular design, check building regulations. Look on your local council website or run your proposal past...

The adage ‘never judge a book by its cover’ applies well to an open house inspection because the closer you look at a property the more you might discover. Here’s how to ensure you use the open house to find out as much as you can about the property’s features and benefits. Bring a checklist Think about what is important to you and form a checklist of ‘must haves’ and ‘desirables’. Break this down room-by-room, for example: the bedrooms must have built-ins or the bathroom must have good ventilation. Take notes After a morning of continuous inspections, it’s easy to confuse one property with the next so it pays to take notes and photographs as you go. Attach the floor plan to your notes and be as thorough as possible – include comments or ratings on everything from noise levels and temperature to natural light and wear and tear. Ask questions Good questions to ask the real...

Spend big in the lead up to Christmas then pay for it in the New Year. It's an all too common habit that many of us fall into, leaving us in serious debt by the time January rolls around and should be avoided. Start thinking now about ways to practice safe Christmas spending and you may well avoid that New Year financial hangover. The festive season brings with it many celebrations and dollar spending opportunities, but there's no reason you can't enjoy yourself without overdoing it. Limit credit Know that you have the money before you make a purchase. Pay in cash or lay-by your gifts so that you can keep a handle on where your money is being spent. If you have to pay by credit, try to use only one card. Avoid store cards Store cards may offer convenience and discounts but they don't come cheap. Interest rates can be up to seven...

It has been over a year since the Reserve Bank raised the cash rate, and economists predict it will remain at the historic low of 2.5 per cent until 2015. Australians have enjoyed one of the longest periods of rate stability on record, and when rates do increase, it is expected to be a gradual process with several small adjustments over an extended period. Economist surveyed by AAP believe there is a 46 per cent chance of an increase during the third quarter of 2015, a 21 per cent chance that rates will begin to rise in the first quarter next year, an 18 per cent chance of rates to start rising in the second quarter of 2015 and a seven per cent likelihood of rate hikes from October next year. RP Data reports that national annual house and unit sales have reached their highest levels in four years. While some economists have...

An OECD study of 15-year-olds across 18 countries found that Aussie teenagers rank among the highest for financial skills and knowledge. Understanding concepts like how to budget and manage money are important skills that parents can foster in kids from a young age. Here’s how you can teach your children about saving and spending priorities to help set up good money habits for life. Hands on learning As soon as a child can count they can be shown the difference in value between coins and notes and be encouraged to divide up and count denominations. Whenever you use cash at the shops allow them to help hand it over and check for the right change. Find entertaining ways to teach money habits like age-appropriate books, board games, apps and computer games. Money choices When your child has a bit of their own money (pocket money, cash for chores or gift money) encourage them to try out different...

When it comes to making money from renovation, any old house won’t do. The key to a successful renovation is to choose the right suburb, the right street and then the right property. It can be difficult to make a decent profit if the property is located in an area that doesn’t attract significantly higher prices for renovated homes or if the property ends up costing you more than the likely sale price. Long before you roll up your sleeves and start on the hands-on-job of renovating, here’s what you need to do to spot the true potential of a property. Research comparable sales Make sure the street and suburb where you purchase the property can absorb the price increase you would expect on the sale. Some areas have very little difference in value between an un-renovated and renovated property, which leaves little room for profit even if you do stick to a tight...

The first property you buy doesn’t have to be the one you live in. Starting out with an investment property is one way to get a foothold in the property market and would especially suit the following scenarios. You can’t afford to buy in your favourite suburb You might want to live near beaches or cafes or close to work so you don’t have to waste time commuting. In which case it may be more cost-effective to rent where you want to live and buy an investment property in a more affordable area. There are some investors who have never lived in a property they own, choosing instead to rent in desirable locations they would never be in a position to buy. You haven’t decided what kind of home you’d like to buy You may not yet have a family or you might be expecting to change job locations, so you are not sure...

Record breaking housing construction is still underway, according to research by BIS Shrapnel and Master Builders Australia. The value of residential building work is forecasted to grow from $51 billion in 2013-14 to $68 billion in 2016-17, which will see the number of homes exceed 200,000 during this period. Research shows the construction boom has been sparked by the extended period of low interest rates, which has encouraged builders and developers to address the pent up demand for housing. Home building has not kept pace with population growth for many years, translating to a deficiency of around 100,000 homes says researchers. A growth in high-rise apartments has led the charge but the construction of detached houses is catching up. If you’re looking to buy a home or an investment property, the message is not to wait around. With interest rates sitting at historic lows and construction booming in many of our cities, there are...