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Apr 15, 2024

Nature strips and the mow-go areas

The maintenance of the humble nature strip can often create confusion between tenants (renters) and their landlords (rental providers). Best described as the strip of land between a residential property boundary and the road, the median strip is owned by your local council. But it is the responsibility of the resident/owner to ensure it is kept in a safe and tidy condition. In the case of a strata complex, it may be the case that it is the responsibility of all owners to maintain the nature strip. Checking the owners corporation’s plan of subdivision should determine if it is common property or within an individual owner’s lot boundary. What is their purpose? Besides providing a flat space for the collection of waste and recycling bins, nature strips usually contain a number of underground services (such as street lighting, gas, water, sewerage, phone and internet) and also permit sufficient space for opening car doors for foot, wheelchairs and pram traffic. They also allow increased “line of sight” visibility for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians near driveways and at intersections or curves in the road. They also deliver practical benefits, such as absorbing rainwater and softening the visual effect of the concrete surfaces around them, including roads, footpaths and driveways. That’s why councils insist that nature strips remain fit for purpose and not deteriorate into a public eyesore. What can be done with nature strips? Some people choose to extend their garden onto the nature strip, but it varies from council to council if this is possible under local by-laws. And for good reason. If you’re considering constructing gardens, be sure to tread carefully as insurance issues could arise that may affect your liability if someone were injured as a result of unauthorised changes to the nature strip. Needless to say, obtaining council approval would be prudent before proceeding with your grand plans. It’s likely there are permissible works, but structures such as box gardens, swings or treehouses are usually not allowed. Keep in mind that utility companies may require access to the nature strip, but they are generally only required to backfill with soil and then seed with grass. Should you be concerned about remediation work for your plants, mulch and gravel, it is best to deal directly with the utility company before they begin work. No parking Parking on nature strips is prohibited in most, if not all, areas as it may cause damage to the services below ground if there is subsidence. It can also block pedestrian access and create trip hazards if rubbish or materials for recycling are left in place outside of the designated collection times. It is the responsibility of the resident/owner to rectify any damage on the nature strip. If in doubt, contact your local council for further information. If you are renting - get in touch with your RealWay Property Manager.

Mar 26, 2024

How to succeed at auction

Whether you win or lose in an auction environment, your success rate depends on how you play the game. Employing smart strategies and displaying ongoing patience are two key steps to ensuring that you will succeed at auction, regardless of whether or not you secure the property at bidding time. Do your research From first-time buyers to seasoned investors, doing your homework is an essential component of building or enhancing wealth creation. Auction research means investigating not only median house values in your region, past, present and projected, but also conducting first-hand research for the real estate on offer. Pay particular attention to nearby amenities and future developments. Is the big picture for schools, community centres, transport networks and business centres in good shape? Talk to local council members to assess what’s on the drawing board for public buildings and other essential developments in your neighbourhood or region. Alternatively conduct this research online via available local council communications. Consult the estate agent or property representative   You may be able to glean not only the reserve price but also the agent’s expectations for the final sales result. Find out if the vendor is amenable to prior offers and what figure might be acceptable, in terms of market value and successfully securing the property before the fervour of auction fever takes hold. Read the fine print It is essential that you seek qualified legal advice when reviewing and before signing any real estate contracts. From a legal standpoint, lawyers and conveyancers can highlight any leverage that you can use to your benefit during the lead-up to auction. This includes the possibility of longer or shorter settlement periods, reduced deposits and any personalised terms and conditions. What to do on auction day If you are a first-time bidder or simply an anxious buyer, would you be better off employing a qualified buyer’s agent? Doing so can bring a wealth of knowledge and product services to the auction equation. Buyer’s agents typically seek out properties that meet their client’s criteria and negotiate the purchase of the property chosen, whether by private sale or auction. They may focus on a specific property, or an entire portfolio, depending on the client’s investment needs. If your heart is set on the property in question and you’ve conducted due diligence, many buyers would be wise to engage a buyer’s agent. The chief aim of a buyer’s agent is to bid on behalf of the potential buyer at auction. This is because bidding at auction can be intimidating and emotionally daunting — so it can help to have someone objective to represent your needs in the heat of the moment. Lastly, if you are employing a buyer’s agent, sit back, relax and trust in their expert guidance and auction strategies. If you are doing the bidding, prepare to stick to your game plan, no matter how high the stakes are raised. Exercising caution and control will stand you in good stead for auction success, either immediately or at the next auction.

Jun 20, 2023

The Benefits of Hiring a Property Manager

Hiring a property manager can be a smart decision for anyone who owns one or more rental properties. Whether you’re a first-time investor with one property or a long-term investor with a portfolio of rental units, a property manager can help you save time, money, and hassle. Here are some of the key reasons why you should consider hiring a property manager. Property Managers handle day-to-day operations First and foremost, property managers can handle the day-to-day operations of your rental properties. This includes everything from screening tenants and collecting rent to scheduling maintenance and repairs. With a property manager on board, you won’t have to worry about dealing with tenant complaints, late rent payments, or emergency repairs. Making sure you comply with your local laws and regulations Another benefit of hiring a property manager is that they can help you stay on top of local laws and regulations. A good property manager will be familiar with the rules and regulations that govern rental properties in your area, including things like eviction procedures, tenant rights, and fair housing laws. By working with a property manager, you can ensure that you’re operating your rental properties in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Property Managers maximise your rental income In addition to handling the day-to-day operations of your rental properties, property managers can also help you maximise your rental income. They can conduct market research to determine the most competitive rental rates for your properties, and they can help you identify areas where you can cut costs or increase your revenue. With a property manager on board, you can rest assured that you’re getting the most out of your rental properties. The benefit of reducing your vacancy rates Another key advantage of hiring a property manager is that they can help you reduce your vacancy rates. Property managers can market your properties to potential tenants, conduct tenant screenings, and handle all of the paperwork and logistics involved in leasing your investment property. With a property manager working to fill your vacancies, you’ll be able to keep your properties occupied and generating income. Maintaining your rental properties Property managers can also help you maintain your rental properties and keep them in good condition. They can schedule regular maintenance and repairs, handle emergency repairs, and ensure that your properties are in compliance with all health and safety codes. With a property manager taking care of your properties, you can rest assured that they’ll be well-maintained and attractive to potential tenants. Providing valuable insights and advice on the rental market Another benefit of hiring a property manager is that they can provide valuable insights and advice on the rental market. They can help you identify trends and changes in the market, as well as help you make informed decisions about your rental properties. With a property manager on board, you’ll have access to their expertise and insights, which can be invaluable in making smart, data-driven decisions about your investments. Helping you achieve work-life balance Finally, hiring a property manager can help you achieve a better work-life balance. Instead of spending your time dealing with tenant issues and property management tasks, you can focus on other areas of your life or your business. With a property manager taking care of the day-to-day operations of your rental properties, you’ll have more time and energy to devote to other priorities. There are many good reasons to consider hiring a property manager if you own rental properties. From handling the day-to-day operations of your properties to providing valuable insights and advice, property managers can help you save time, money, and hassle while maximising your rental income. So if you’re looking to streamline your rental property management and achieve a better work-life balance, get in touch and discover how our team can help you achieve your property investment goals. Are there risks with self-managing my property?

May 3, 2023

Mortgage stress? Tips to help ease the strain

Changes in the property market, increases in the costs of living and rising interest rates can all contribute toward mortgage stress and while repayments on loans or everyday expenses may rise, there are steps that you can take to help ease the pressures of increased expenses. Health check your budget Before cutting costs, it is wise to sit down and look at your budget. It does not need to be a complex task but should involve noting down the income and expenditure of your household and analysing where your funds are being allocated. You may find that it is a great time to renegotiate with your lender on your mortgage, or other providers for insurance, utilities, while trimming unnecessary other expenses. You might also discover that there are some lax spending habits that could be tightened to relieve some pressure. Purchase when you have the affordability If you are looking to purchase a new property, talk with your financial advisor about your affordability range and the impact that rising interest rates and expenses may have. A financial advisor can also talk you through various financial scenarios and negotiate deals for lending. Knowing your affordability and having pre-approval will also mean that when you are ready to buy, the finance is arranged, and you have a limit for the purchase price of your new home or investment. Seek financial advice Should you need to refinance, talk with your advisor about your options and what is available to you based on the current market, equity in your home and investments, rates, and your income. They will be able to provide you with advice and search for the best deal for you. Talk to your lender about your current repayments and if you are paying monthly, there may be more options to change to fortnightly loan repayments which can have the potential to save you interest in the future. Check your property value While you may not be considering selling, it is good to know how much your property is worth in the current market and learn about the trends. Our sales agents can also assist you with advice on potential improvements that may be needed and help you to uncover potential equity in the home that can assist in refinancing or investment opportunities. For a free, high quality market appraisal, contact our agents to learn more about where your property is positioned.

Apr 14, 2023

Tips to getting your bond back at the end of your lease

One of the areas that can cause challenges when renting is the end of the tenancy. It can be a stressful time searching for a new home, packing, moving and then needing to clean and repair any damage to the property you are vacating. There are a few things that you can do to ensure that you are on track to getting your bond back and finalising the tenancy so that you can move on to your new home with minimal fuss. Check the copy of your ingoing report Prior to handing back the keys to the property, check the ingoing report for the condition when you commenced the tenancy. If you have misplaced your copy of the report, contact the property management team and have a copy emailed. Walk through each room of the property and make a list of any areas that might need attention. It may be chips or marks to paintwork, stains to carpet or damage to other areas of the property. If there is damage that needs to be repaired, qualified trades can carry out the work and repairing these items prior to vacate or communicating this with your property manager can help with being prepared and addressing any concerns. Carry out a vacate clean also (known as a bond clean) A vacate clean can be quite different to a regular weekly clean and requires more deep cleaning of areas that may not get attention week to week. Some common areas that are often missed are range hoods, light fittings, ceiling fans, curtains and blinds, windows, and door tracks. If you choose to do the cleaning, work through room by room to ensure that nothing is missed. Alternatively, to save time you may choose to hire a professional cleaner. Hiring trades during the vacate can mean that you have more time to focus on moving into your new home without the stress of knowing that you still need to clean the property you are vacating.  If you hire a professional to do your bond clean, you can provide the property manager with a copy of the receipt.  People who specialise in bond cleans will know every detail that needs to be cleaned.  If you are doing the bond clean yourself and have any questions about the standard that needs to be achieved, a quick call to your property manager may save you needing to retrace your steps. Pay any outstanding rent and bills Check with your property manager prior to vacating for any outstanding rent and bills like water usage. If you are breaking your lease, there may also be penalty fees that apply, and these can be paid in advance rather than have them taken out of your bond. Lastly, make sure that you return all the keys on time on the day of the vacate so that you aren’t liable for any extra costs for rent. Refer to a copy of the keys that you were provided at the start of the tenancy to make sure that you are returning all keys to the property. If you would like further tips or a guide during the vacate to getting your bond back fast, contact our property management team who are happy to help. First time renting? Tips and planning techniques.

Nov 23, 2022

Dispute resolution and your investment

When it comes to owning an investment property, it is inevitable that at some point, things will go wrong, and disputes may arise between you and the tenants. A qualified and efficient property manager will be well-trained in conflict management and dispute resolution and will largely be able to resolve any disputes on your behalf. For large conflicts that may occur, they will know which avenues need to be taken to achieve a resolution through the tribunal. Disputes can occur from a range of scenarios relating to maintenance, rent increases, property condition and one of the more common areas, vacate inspections and bond disputes. Set expectations from the beginning Like the start of any relationship, it is important to set expectations in the beginning and avoid potential conflict down the track. Many disputes can occur due to miscommunication and a lack of understanding of the expectations, and this is where it is beneficial to provide information to the tenants at the beginning of a tenancy on the expectations around rent payments, maintenance and repairs, property upkeep and inspections and the vacate. Find a resolution with the tenants Our property management team provide guidelines and thorough information to tenants at the start, throughout and at the end of their tenancy and will address any issues as soon as they arise. They will communicate with you throughout the dispute to discuss the ramifications of inaction, and compliance with the legislation of both parties and make suggestions that may find an amicable resolution. The property management team will also keep thorough notes on file of the timeline of the dispute and how the matter was resolved so that should the dispute go further, they have everything documented to represent you at the tribunal. Stay on top of repairs and maintenance A core area of disputes in property management comes from repairs and maintenance and there are certain requirements in each state to ensure that your investment property meets the requirements to an acceptable standard. It is important to stay on top of repairs and maintenance and your property manager will advise you of future work that they feel may be needed. Capital works may need to be carried out at the property and it is wise to budget for this. One of the benefits of staying on top of repairs is that it can help achieve a higher rental yield and many of the costs can be claimed at tax time. You will also attract more great tenants to your property if they can see that it is well-maintained. If you would like to know more about our how our property management team can reduce the stress in your investment, contact us for a chat. If you are wondering if you need a property manager for your investment property - consider the benefits.

Oct 30, 2022

What to expect when buying an established apartment

In choosing to purchase a property, you are investing in one of the biggest purchases in your lifetime. It is important when outlaying considerable finance for an essential purchase that you look for a property that will suit your needs. While some buyers will look for a house or townhouse, or house and land packages to build or purchase an apartment off the plan, the other option to consider is buying a property that is established. Many styles of established apartments are in high demand in some areas such as heritage or art deco properties however in purchasing properties like these, you will need to consider potential repairs, renovations and improvements that may be needed. Property features and conditions In recent years there have been trends to renovate older apartments which may mean that you can walk into a home without needing to carry out any work. It is important to still check these improvements to identify issues that may have occurred with budget DIY work and may lead you to spend on repairs faster than you plan. Check the features of the property and if they check all the boxes that you need and want when purchasing a property or if is there a possibility to modify some of the rooms or fixtures affordably to refurbish the home to your requirements. Layout and space Will the floorplan of the home lend to the interior design and space that you need? Many older apartments will have a more spacious layout with larger room sizes than more modern or new build apartments and the opportunity to adapt rooms to suit your design and living requirements. Appeal and character An older apartment may have more character and appeal for buyers, especially if it has been restored and maintained over the years. One consideration when purchasing an older apartment is the strata levies and potential capital works and it is important to investigate any restorative work that may need to be carried out on the property due to the age and possibility of challenges such as rising damp. Additional features and amenities Established apartments are less likely to have the amenities that newer builds will have and when looking to buy, check for additional inclusions like storage options, gardens and common areas, parking, internal laundries and the structural integrity of the building and balconies. If items like storage or internal laundries are not on the property, can they be installed or added to rooms in the property and are gardens and commons areas maintained through a body corporate employed gardener and cleaner? If you would like to know more about these options when purchasing a property, chat with one of our sales team and they can walk you through the property and talk about potential options that will help you make your decision. Are you considering downsizing to an apartment?

Aug 30, 2022

Avoiding rental stress in a rising market

Rising costs and tighter rental markets can mean that the cost of rent increases can prove challenging, especially if you need to be in certain areas for work, schooling or near to family or community groups. Some things that are great to consider if you are renting are factors such as budget, affordability, and lifestyle. Consider your budget When working out the affordability of a property, consider your income and day-to-day expenses. Have a detailed plan of what is coming in and what is going out to have transparency around how much rent you can afford. If you have your budget set, it will help when looking for properties within the price range that you can manage. You might like to have an ideal rent price in mind and also a stretch goal price that is a small percentage higher in case there is something that meets your expectations but is still in your affordability range. Talk with your agent or owner In the housing market, it is inevitable that at some point prices will increase. If you have been issued a notice for a rent increase, familiarise yourself with other properties in the area to increase your awareness of what is happening in the market. In many cases, while rents may rise, most property managers and owners will consider the rise in market rates, your length of tenancy and your tenancy history before increasing the rent. If you have been a reliable and long-term tenant of a property, you may like to try and negotiate with the agent, or your owner based on your tenure and the condition of the property. Negotiate where possible When rents rise, other living costs for day-to-day expenses can also increase. This is a good time to investigate your current plans and contracts such as phones, internet, insurance, and utilities and see if you can find a more affordable option. The provider that you have been with for some time may not always be the best option and a call to talk about your options or look for a better deal can be a worthwhile investment of your time to ensure that you are saving the most that you possibly can on those living expenses. Alternatively, the Queensland Government has created a very useful website to easily check available competition within the energy market, providing estimates on how much each company charges.