The changing property market and what it means for you

The peak Spring selling season for property has almost finished and it’s been a reality check… particularly in Sydney and, to a lesser extent, in Melbourne.

There were plenty of signs of the slowdown in residential property values… falling auction clearance rates and softer prices.

If you’re thinking of selling in 2018 (or your sale is being carried over from this year) you need to be a lot savvier in the way you sell. For buyers, the turning of the tide in their favour looks likely to continue.

We’ve known this slowdown has been coming for sometime through leading economic indicators but now buyers and sellers need to get their “minds” around the new property environment. Let’s face it, property buying and selling is all about psychology. Those who understand the new environment will be the ones who benefit most.

The saddest situation are those sellers who think good times never go away. They wait so long for an imaginary “fairy godbuyer” that financiers get nervous and individual stress levels rise enormously.

The facts of life are that property does fall, or stagnate, in value. Like every other investment, residential property moves in a cycle up and down. Sure you only crystallise a loss if you have to sell, but that’s no different to any other investment either. So whether you’re buying or selling, here are our tips on how to navigate the current climate.


The key to selling is meeting the market price. The value of any investment is only what a buyer is prepared to pay.

So how do you improve your chances of selling in this market?

. Never, ever buy before you sell

In this market, it’s just crazy and will add to the pressure to sell your existing property quickly and cheaply.

We have a mate who came across a “bargain” in the next street selling for the same price it was 4 years ago. He snapped it up and is now finding his existing house isn’t getting the interest or the offers he was expecting. He’s starting to sweat. He needs a buyer.

. Set a realistic price

Take the time to research what similar homes, on similar blocks, have been selling for in your area.

Set the maximum price you expect your house to go for. In these times buyers are looking for a bargain and want to start negotiating way below the asking price.

We know it can be a bitter pill to swallow but if you’re trading in the same market you’ll probably pick up a bargain on the other side.

Look at the auctions results over the last couple months for similar standard properties in your area and take advice from local agents.  Don’t forget to take in to account the condition of the property as well. Buyers in a soft market will still appreciate a nice renovated kitchen but make it’d done well.

Use the online property websites like for your research and groups like SQM Research which sell reports on sales in your area which can be worth the price.Buyers are smart and in the end you’ll be beaten down to its correct market value, so avoid all the heartache and get the pricing right to start with.

. Choose a good agent

Speak to friends, neighbours and family in your area and see who they recommend. You want someone who is going to take a real interest in your property and put a big emphasis on marketing. Find out what their commission is, where they plan to advertise, and how much extra ads will cost you.

Most of all you wathe an agent to be honest and realistic. So many agents will agree with the value you want for the property so they can sign you up and get the business.

Then they come back with some excuse to cut the price (usually to the true market value) to get the sale.

You want an honest assessment right from the start so you don’t have unrealistic expectations which lead to disappointment and heartache.

. Prepare your property better

First impressions are so important. If the outside of a house looks attractive when people drive by it will encourage them to come inside. The key is the front yard.

Give your home a thorough clean to enhance its appeal. Clean the windows, scrub the bathroom, get rid of any mould patches, and wash grubby curtains or cushion covers.

Pay the most attention to the kitchen, family room, bathroom and master bedroom. They’re the most important rooms to prospective homebuyers.

Faded walls and worn woodwork can kill a sale, a paint job can work wonders. Cracks in the plaster can make the house look rundown. A bit of filler and paint will make a huge difference. The same goes for watermarks on the walls or ceiling where a previous leak has been fixed but the tell-tale signs remain.


. Do your research

Just as sellers are trawling the property websites to judge the sales in particular areas, so should buyers. Also try and go to as many auctions of properties in your target area to get a gauge off activity.

. Get you financing pre-approved

For many sellers under stress, a buyer prepared to settle quickly can be a huge attraction.

It is a huge bargaining chip in a slow market to settle quickly if the price is attractive.

. Don’t get emotionally attached

Easy to say, but we know, hard to enforce. For most of us it does get emotional when we fall in love with a property to live in.

But the property pendulum has swung back in favour if buyers and you need to take advantage of it… you’d be a mug not to.

So drive a hard bargain, be prepared to walk away from the deal… but be realistic.

7 steps to buying a home you can afford

First home buyers are back in the property market.

After being squeezed out in the home buying wilderness for years, the regulatory and banking measures to dissuade investors (particularly from overseas), are starting to have an impact and open the door for first homeowners.

Figures out last week showed the proportion of first home buyers in the property market hit a four year high in July, while their demand for loans for new houses hit a 38 year high.

That’s a great outcome. Now the key is to make sure the home you buy is the one you can afford. Here are seven steps to take to make sure you’re on the right track;

1. Check your credit score and look at your cash flow

Knowledge is power and you want to know how good a customer you will be for the financier if you borrow from them. You can find out how you rate for free at a number of credit score websites.

The higher your score, the better the interest rate on your mortgage you may be able to negotiate. Good credit can mean significantly lower monthly payments, so if your score is not great, consider delaying such a big purchase until you’ve repaired your credit score.

Banks have an advertised home loan interest and then discount that rate according to how good a payer or customer you are. Having multiple other products, like insurance and credit cards, with the bank should also qualify for a discount.

As for monthly payments, experts say a good rule of thumb is to make sure the total monthly repayment doesn’t consume more than 30 per cent of your take-home pay. If it’s higher then have a plan to reduce it over a short period.

Because trading houses is so expensive (stamp duty, real estate commissions, conveyancing fees, moving costs) plan on being in this first home for at least 10 years.

2. Have cash for a deposit

Technically you can negotiate any deposit with the vendor. These days it can be as low as 5 per cent and is often contingent on the length of the settlement. A general rule of thumb is the shorter the settlement the smaller the deposit can be negotiated.

But your financier may stipulate a higher deposit so that you have greater equity in the property to protect the value of the home loan from any falls in property values.

Just remember if the deposit is less than 20 per cent the financier will often require you to take out mortgage insurance which will cost about 0.5-1 per cent of the value of the loan.

3. Plan for surprise expenses

Even if you can afford the monthly payment, be aware of hidden costs. Buying a home means stamp duties, legal fees, insurance and council rates that can add up to hundreds of dollars per month.

For people who have come from renting, these extra costs can be a shock so make sure you’re well prepared and have a bit of a slush fund in the household budget.

Don’t forget to inquire whether you qualify for a first homeowners grant and for stamp duty concessions in your State.

Simple savings strategies from Kochie. 

4. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Once you have the financial budget in order and decided to take the plunge into a first home determine how much you can afford to spend and stick to that limit.

Talk to the bank about a pre-approved loan up to a certain limit before house hunting, which demonstrates to you, the real estate agent, and to vendors how much you can afford. When you’re in a bidding battle with other potential buyers a vendor will usually take an offer from those with a pre-approval letter before those without one.

Remember though, you don’t have to spend every cent up to the approved loan. It’s generally good practice to aim for a home that costs less than the maximum approved amount.

5. Find the right real estate agent

Always remember real estate agents are working for the vendor. The higher the price they can get out of you, the more they receive in commission from the seller.

Having said that, finding a good real estate agent who understands your needs, can pay large dividends in the long run. Reach out to friends for recommendations, and interview several options to determine their level of experience and expertise in the suburbs you’re interested in.

Buyer’s agents are becoming popular. They act for you and do all the legwork of finding the perfect home, and dealing with real estate agents … for a fee. It can be a flat fee or a percentage of the value of the property.

Your can also hire a buyer’s agent to simply bid at an auction on your behalf.

6. Start the hunting within your price range

Start off by determining your general needs — where you want to live, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, and certain school zones you’re trying to be in.

Then, become your own expert. Technology has empowered people like never before to do a lot of the searching online, and to really understand the market before actually going out in person.

Websites like have become research essentials.

7. Put in an offer you’re comfortable with

Buying a home is a very emotional process. It’s important to remain rational and stick with your price limit while buying. A lot of times people get caught up in bidding wars, and will go way over what their price limit because they love the house so much.

Don’t just put in an offer because you’re emotionally drained and desperate to finish the process. Expect to miss out on a few homes before you find the one.

If you’ve found the right one, make your bid quickly. There may not be much room to negotiate or drive the price down, as you’ll likely be facing competing offers.

The pros and cons of the bank of mum and dad

With sky-high property prices in capital cities across the country, the pressure on parents to shell out for their kids to buy a house is also on the rise.

Now, we understand the appeal of giving your kids a financial leg up onto the property ladder, but we don’t always recommend it.

When it comes to buying a house, our belief is our adult kids are big enough and ugly enough to look after themselves.

We don’t think it’s selfish to prioritise your retirement over boosting your kids onto the property ladder… after a lifetime of hard work you’ve certainly earned it.

If you do go down this road, here are five ways that you can help your kids get what they want without sacrificing your own retirement goals.


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1. Educate them

Teaching your kids about money should be a priority, particularly when they’re young.

Instilling good saving habits early on is the best financial gift you can give them, and they’ll thank you when the time comes to start saving for a deposit.

Pocket money is a great way to teach your kids valuable lessons about saving and the value of money. Give them incentive by matching their savings dollar-for-dollar when getting them started and encourage them to set financial goals.

2. Put up a family guarantee

This tactic means you’ll be putting the equity in your house up as security for theirs, so it might not be a comfortable solution for many.

Financial planner and director of Financial Spectrum, Brenton Tong, says that solid rules must be put in place to reduce the risk if you choose adopt this approach.

“E.g. As soon as their debt has been reduced and their property has gained sufficient value, they have to refinance you out.  If they fall behind in repayments, they have to sell rather than tapping you for more money,” he says.

3. Buy with them

This option can either make or break your relationship with your child, so tread carefully when considering it.

Brenton says if you’re going to do it, it mustn’t be because they want a pricier property, “they need to learn to compromise and live within their means”.

Ideally, you should help them with the deposit only, that way you won’t get stuck with mortgage repayments if things go pear-shaped, your child will be on the property ladder and over time, you’ll both walk away with equity when the property value increases.

4. Lend them money through a third party

Unless you’re willing to part with the money for good, it’s best not to lend them money privately. To avoid putting a strain on your relationship, have a third party administer the loan on your behalf.

This puts clear rules in place for repayments and takes the pressure off you both. As Brenton says, “safer for you, safer for your relationship.”

5. Tell them to toughen up

A controversial alternative for some, but one we stand by – tell your kids that they have to suck it up and go it on their own.

It’s never been easier to borrow money in today’s economy and interest rates are at record lows. As parents, we paid 17 percent interest, went without the flashy cars or gadgets and put overseas travel to the side until we built a stable financial foundation for ourselves.

And there are plenty of millennials doing it the same way… it can be done.

“Sometimes, making sure your kids know there isn’t any help coming can be the greatest help,” says Brenton.

We believe a good financial education can be just as effective as shelling out cash when it comes to giving your children what they want. It’s also much less risky.