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How to save a deposit: house-sitting

How to save a deposit: house-sitting

One of the toughest parts of realising the dream of owning a home is saving for a deposit. The options seem pretty dismal – subsisting on a diet of beans on toast, never socialising, moving back in with the parents – and are almost enough to prompt a commitment to a life of renting. Of course, you may not have all the comforts of home, but house-sitting can even mean seeing a bit of the world while saving a deposit.

To help the savings grow without resorting to these options, many people house-sit while squirrelling away funds.

David and Ellen, a couple in their mid-20s, have saved almost $25,000 they would have used on bills and rent by house-sitting. It was an especially good financial decision when they were living on a single wage, with David working at the local bike shop as Ellen finished her final year at university.

Before they started house-sitting, David and Ellen were renting a small apartment in Mosman, NSW, and they estimate they have saved $22,000 in rent and approximately $2000 in bills by house-sitting.

Of course, it is much easier if you have flexibility in where you live and for how long, but the real key is an ambition to save.

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Refinancing traps you need to avoid

Refinancing traps you need to avoid

Whether you’re after lower repayments or want to tap into the equity sitting in your home, refinancing can offer a world of benefits. Here are some things to be aware of so that you don’t find yourself hooked into a bad deal.

Honeymoon rates are just thatDon’t be lured by offers with discounted introductory rates unless you’ve calculated the savings over the life of the loan. While a loan with a discounted interest rate seems a tempting offer, it’s only temporary. Once the introductory period is over, the interest will revert to a higher standard variable for the rest of the loan term. It may be more beneficial financially to negotiate a lower interest rate without an introductory discount.

Don’t be fooled by the interest rateFinding a lower interest rate doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve scored yourself a better deal. In fact, a product with more features may cost you a bit more in fees or interest, but could save you more in the long run. Including features such as an offset account will prove valuable as it will allow you to make larger repayments or put any extra cash against the loan. Products without this feature may charge a fee for early repayments.

Be aware of the feesOne of the main purposes of refinancing is to lighten the financial burden, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to cost you. There are many fees involved, which may include discharge and application fees, a valuation fee, land registration fee, and mortgage insurance. You may also be subject to stamp duty depending on what state your property is located in. While these cannot be avoided, you have to ensure that the costs involved are not higher than the savings, to make the process worthwhile.

While there are traps to avoid, a little expertise can take the stress out of refinancing to save you thousands, fund that renovation, or simply find a loan that suits your life a little better. Contact us!

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Exit costs when refinancing

Exit costs when refinancing

Refinancing either a home or business can be a great way to save money if you believe you are paying too much for your loan, but there is more to it than just finding a loan with a lower interest rate and making the change. Before making the switch, ensure the savings you could make outweigh the fees involved.

Here are the different exit costs to consider:

Establishment feeAlso known as ‘application’, ‘up-front’ or ‘set-up’ fees, these cover the lender’s cost of preparing the necessary documents for your new home loan. They are payable on most new loans, and the alternative to not paying this particular fee is being charged higher ongoing fees for the life of the loan.

Mortgage discharge feeCovering your early legal release from all mortgage obligations, this fee is not to be confused with an exit fee. Also known as a ‘settlement’ or ‘termination’ fee, its purpose is to compensate your lender for the revenue it may lose due to the contract break.

Exit feeAlthough loans taken out after 1 July 2011 are not subject to deferred establishment, or exit, fees, those taken out prior may still be. Also known as ‘early termination’ or ‘early discharge’ fees, they can sometimes be paid by your new lender but are normally applied to an early contract exit.

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How to negotiate with your property price

How to negotiate with your property price

Negotiating the best property price isn't a matter of swindling a seller. It’s about doing your homework, knowing what you want, knowing the market and making sensible offers.

When you are buying property, getting the best price can mean the difference between being able to afford it and having to settle for second best. And, of course, a purchaser is often negotiating with a seasoned professional, so any time spent brushing up on negotiating skills is well spent.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For a first-class property price negotiation, the homework starts well before you even let the agent know you are interested.

The first thing to do is get a good understanding of your requirements and circumstances. Aside from the location and type of house you are looking for, this understanding involves finance, of course. 

Aside from meaning that when you do eventually make an offer it will be taken seriously by the seller or their agent, having finance sorted out means that you can be sure of what your stamp duty and associated costs are, and exactly what price range you can consider.

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Explainer: fixed-rate loans

Explainer: fixed-rate loans

When purchasing a property, borrowers can decide between fixed-interest loans that maintain the same interest rate over a specific period of time, or variable-rate loans that charge interest according to market rate fluctuations.

Fixed-rate loans usually come with a few provisos: borrowers may be restricted to maximum payments during the fixed term and can face hefty break fees for paying off the loan early.

 With interest rates at an all-time low, taking the option of locking in an interest rate on your home loan to guard against possible future fluctuation may be attractive. However, it pays to know the ins and outs of fixed-rate loans before committing to one.

However, locking in the interest rate on your home loan can offer stability.

“For those conscious of a budget and who want to take a medium-to-long term position on a fixed rate, they can protect themselves from the volatility of potential rate movement,” the finance broker says.

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Can your profession save you on your home loan?

Can your profession save you on your home loan?

When it comes to saving on your mortgage, some of you may not have to look further than your job. If yours is a profession that classifies you as a ‘low risk’ borrower in the eyes of lenders, then you may be entitled to special discounts.

Doctors take the cakeLenders have their own target lists of professions, but doctors are the big winners. “They'll get waived LMI, lower interest rates and, in many cases, banks will even go outside of their normal policy to get their loans approved,” says the finance broker. “However, not all medical professionals, such as psychiatrists, chiropractors, vets and pharmacists, are accepted by all lenders so it’s always advisable to confirm.”

The lucky onesAccountants, lawyers and teachers are commonly eligible for home loan discounts, or particular loan types without fees, based on their professions. “The benefits differ depending on specific professions,” finance broker explains. “It depends on what industry the lenders decide to target as it’s a constantly changing situation, so what’s here today may not be around tomorrow.”

How the perks work

Simply being in a certain profession won’t automatically save you on your home loan. To qualify you must apply with a lender that offers your profession a special discount and meet that lender’s criteria. You’ll often need to provide evidence of membership of a certain industry.

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How a guarantor can help you secure finance

How a guarantor can help you secure finance

When you’re desperately trying to save up a deposit for a home and just see the prices of property climbing and climbing, it’s difficult to remain patient. But there is another way: a guarantor can help.

If you don’t have a substantial deposit for a home loan, there are still a number of ways to obtain credit. These are known as family pledges and there are two types available to borrowers: service guarantees and security guarantees.

"Service guarantees are less common that security guarantees" explains finance broker. They involve a family member guaranteeing all of the repayments on a loan, as well as being named on the property title.

A drawback of this approach is that it usually means first home buyers are not entitled to any government grants. A more popular option is a security guarantee. Borrowers who have a limited deposit often use this approach. In this situation, a relative or friend (usually a borrower’s parent or parents) is prepared to use the equity in his or her own home to guarantee the deposit of the borrower.

For example, for a total loan amount of $600,000, in a security guarantor situation the borrower/s would take on the debt of 80 per cent of the value of their loan, which would be $480,000, in their own name/s.

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Rentvesting - enter the property market without sacrificing your current lifestyle

Rentvesting - enter the property market without sacrificing your current lifestyle

Rentvesting’ is the term coined for when you purchase a property for investment purposes in an affordable location and continue to live and rent in the area of your choice. An example of how the market is evolving, it is a wealth creation strategy that is popular among the younger generation due to the flexibility it offers in comparison to being an owner-occupier.

For this strategy to work, you’ve got to be a good saver and there needs to be a focus on delayed gratification, advises the broker. “It’s all about living within your means. Don’t spend big at the start while you’re building it up. Step away from the mentality of negative gearing and tax minimisation and buy neutrally, or ideally, a positively geared property as this provides higher rental yields.”

As property prices continue to rise, purchasing in a centrally-located or sought-after area is out of reach for the average working millennial. Instead, many are opting to rent rather than buy as it means not having to compromise their inner city or beachside lifestyle. But for those who are still eager to enter the market, there is a way to get the best of both worlds.

“Millennials aren’t interested in purchasing a property in the outer suburbs and then having to commute into the CBD,” says finance broker. “Rentvesting allows your rental income to cover the mortgage expenses, so you can keep living the lifestyle you want without it costing you any money.”

A recent Mortgage Choice survey highlighted an increase in ‘rentvesting’ from 21 per cent of investors to 37 per cent over the past twelve months alone. But while this strategy may appear ideal to many, it’s not suited to everybody.

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The home loan approval process

The home loan approval process

Following the lodgement of a home loan application, hopeful borrowers are often keen to know what will happen next and how long it will take for them to receive the verdict. The bad news is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The good news, however, is that a solid application is the key to keeping the approval time short.

Before offering conditional approval, your potential lender will need to make an assessment of your application and conduct a valuation of the property. Of course, having a valuation that is acceptable to the lender done in advance will expedite the process.The amount of time it takes for you to receive a response to your home loan application can vary. An answer is usually received between two days to two weeks, depending on a range of factors.

“For a reasonably straightforward application, it’s 48 hours to a final approval. But, depending on how complex the circumstances are, it can take longer than that,” explains the finance broker.

“With valuations, the intention is to support an application rather than to make or break it,” the broker says. “There are a few things that can result in an application not being approved based on valuation, like zoning, property size, or if the condition of the property is poor enough that major repairs would be required before it could realise its market value.”

The lender will also assess your capacity to repay the loan amount you have requested. This is where all of the information about your salary and liabilities come into consideration, and where accurate and complete information is essential.“The credit review by the lender can include a bit of to-and-fro between the customer, the broker and the lender due to the lender’s request for further information as that credit review takes place,” the broker says.

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Explainer: income protection insurance

Explainer: income protection insurance

How would you pay your mortgage if you were unable to work?

Insurance for something you can’t see or touch, such as your income, may seem strange. When considering insurance, it’s common for people to pass it off as a pesky added fee involved in owning a car, running a business or protecting a house against damage. Income insurance, on first glance, can seem like another costly precaution that’s unlikely to prove useful.

But when you think about how your income facilitates your lifestyle, it’s often at the top of the list in regards to things that you can’t afford to lose. Cars and houses can be replaced, but losing an income, perhaps for life, could see both lost.

Income protection insurance covers salary loss due to injury or sickness. Unlike workers compensation, it applies to injury or sickness at any place or time. And, unlike government allowances, it pays in accordance to your earning capacity.

“If someone is injured under worker’s compensation, for the first few weeks they receive a higher rate, but then it drops. Therefore, people’s standard way of living is sacrificed if they depend on this form of protection,” says the finance broker.

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Why property investors need savings

Why property investors need savings

Urgent maintenance is an unavoidable aspect of being a landlord, so having a cash buffer set aside will help you deal with any unexpected problems.

When renting out an investment property, having access to extra cash is vital for two reasons:

●          to cover the cost of the mortgage should you lose your employment or rental income; and

●          to cover the costs of maintaining the property, giving it the best chance of remaining tenanted

Ideally, your buffer would sit in an offset account against your mortgage, so that you have immediate access to the money while at the same time reducing the principal, and therefore the total interest payable on, your loan.

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How to pay off your home loan faster and save big bucks

How to pay off your home loan faster and save big bucks

Reducing the life of your loan isn’t difficult; there are many simple things you can do to cut years off your mortgage. Here are some tips that will help you be mortgage-free sooner than planned.

Make sure you have the right type of loan

Ensuring your loan allows extra repayments without penalty will let you to make the most of bonuses or funnel small extra payments to reduce the loan principle more quickly, saving on interest immediately, while an offset account will use your savings or living expenses to reduce your principle, while still allowing you to access these funds from a transaction account.

Small extra repayments

One of the most obvious ways to pay off your home loan quicker is to make extra repayments. Depositing lump sums, such as a tax return or work bonus, will always be beneficial, however it doesn’t always take large amounts or windfalls to make a substantial difference – planning for regular, small cash injections can have a great impact over the life of a loan.

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How to select a business loan

How to select a business loan

There are different types of business loans to suit different stages of a business lifecycle and different business needs, and selecting the right one can speed up the application process and minimise costs.

Finance for a start-upFor a start-up company with no trading business or cash flow, it can be quite difficult to secure a business loan. An alternative is to take out an investment loan against the equity of your home or property.

“A lot of the banks don’t have much of an appetite for start-ups, so an investment loan would be a good alternative for anyone wanting to fund a new venture,” advises the finance broker. “It provides flexibility and you’re more likely to secure approval.”

Finance for quick cash flow Similar to a line of credit, a business overdraft can be drawn down to a certain limit, but is specifically a commercial loan that is priced accordingly - and more favourably for the business. A great option for those unspecified cash flow requirements that go with owning a business, it provides the flexibility of accessing funds without much prescription.

“There are a lot of unknowns that arise in business that even the best business plans can’t cater for,” says the finance broker. “This type of financing takes care of those unforeseen things.”

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How to pay off your mortgage faster

How to pay off your mortgage faster

When was the last time you looked closely at your loan, the progress you are making on paying it off and how it compares to others in the market? Analysing your mortgage could mean savings for you, as well as the opportunity to pay it off more quickly, invest in other assets or reach financial freedom sooner.

Make smaller payments, more oftenTo cut the size of your payments, make more of them. This could even see you pay off your loan faster, and therefore pay less interest overall. If you pay your mortgage monthly, consider changing to fortnightly repayments. For example, if your mortgage equates to $2400 a month, cut this in half and pay $1200 each fortnight. As well as having more manageable payments to make, by the end of the year you will have paid off $31,200 rather than $28,800.

Pay just a little bit extraA minimum repayment is just that – for most loans there is no reason you can’t pay more, whether here and there or regularly. By rounding up to a full number or contributing an extra $100 or even $10, you’ll significantly reduce your mortgage. It may also be worth considering putting all bonuses, tax returns and gifts into your mortgage.

Don't decrease repayments when interest rates fallEven if your repayments are lowered when fees and interest rates decrease, it doesn’t mean that’s all you have to pay and, by keeping your repayments at the same level when interest rates are lower, you will pay down more of the principle with each payment and make speedy progress on your loan.

Offset itIf you can, use an offset account. A mortgage offset account is linked to your loan and the interest payable on the loan from month to month is calculated by deducting what is in your offset account from your current loan. For example, if your mortgage is $500,000 and your offset account has $10,000 in it, you will only pay interest on the remaining $490,000. An offset account will save interest while still giving you access to your savings. It also means investors can preserve the tax deductibility of the mortgage.

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When Would I Refinance My Mortgage?

When Would I Refinance My Mortgage?

Whenever it makes financial sense to do so.

Heard about mortgage refinancing? In the past, most people who took out a mortgage doggedly continued with it until they had paid it off. These days, people refinance their mortgage much more frequently. The average duration of a home loan in Australia now is just 4-5 years. Here we look at some of the reasons people in Australia refinance their home loan.

Mortgage refinancing reasons: lower rate

The most common reason for people to refinance their mortgage is to get a better deal. But be careful you don’t become interest rate-fixated. When you refinance your home loan, you need to consider fees and charges as well as the interest rate. You often have to pay charges for exiting your current home loan, plus charges for taking out the new mortgage. You need to be sure that in refinancing your home loan that you’ll be better off in the long run after taking into account all costs.

Mortgage refinancing reasons: more flexibility

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How to avoid extra home loan fees

How to avoid extra home loan fees

Exit and early termination fees can put the brakes on plans to sell, to refinance, and to renovate or purchase an investment property. Here’s how to avoid them from the start.

Fees charged for the early repayment of variable-rate loans were phased out by government reforms in 2015. However, fixed-rate loans may still carry these fees, and both fixed-rate and variable-rate home loans taken before the reforms may still impose penalties for early repayments. Those pre-reform loans may now still be running.

“In most instances, for most lenders, fixed-term loans had a term of five years,” the finance broker explains. “That will be the case for most borrower’s pre-2015.”

If you took out a loan before 2015 and have decided to sell, it can be difficult avoiding early termination fees for fixed-rate loans, as they protect your lender against the loss of the interest they reasonably expected to earn on your finance.

You are able to receive a waiver or fee reduction, although you rely on the discretion of your lender to receive one. Having a good repayment history and being a long-term customer helps.

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Investing in a holiday house?

Investing in a holiday house?

Before you take the leap into a holiday-home investment, it is essential that you consider all angles. This means taking your heart out of the equation and giving thought to rental returns - which means location really is king.

When deciding whether or not to buy a holiday house or unit as an investment, you would be best served to consider location first. In fact, location has a great deal to do with the success of your investment property if you will be renting it as a holiday destination. You need to make sure that your property location matches up with market demand. Things to consider are travel time and expense, rent rates, local attractions and activities.

Deciding whether the investment holiday property you want will be as lucrative as you think often requires the advice of an expert, particularly for investors who aren’t as familiar with the area as residents may be, so investors would be well served to seek advice instead of taking a gamble.Contact us now!

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How do I know I'm getting a good deal from my lender?

How do I know I'm getting a good deal from my lender?

With so many products offered by various lenders, it can be quite perplexing trying to figure out whether or not you’ve scored yourself a good deal on your home loan.

While doing your research and comparing what’s out there in the market is one of the most obvious ways to find out whether you’re sitting on a good deal, it can be a time consuming practice and an overwhelming experience for those without specialist knowledge of the mortgage sector.

“It’s good to shop around, and yes you can use comparison websites, but because lenders call like products different names, it can get very difficult comparing apples with apples,” advises the finance broker. “Brokers know the special names and pricing, so it’s worthwhile working with one as not only will it save you time but you’ll also get a well-rounded understanding of the advantages of each product.”

That understanding of each product’s pros and cons is essential, because the best deal isn’t necessarily just the one with the lowest interest rate. It ultimately comes down to finding a loan that suits your plans - whether those plans are to pay the loan off as quickly as possible, to use it to fund renovations or investment down the track, or to pay the lowest total interest and fees over the life of a loan – and to finding a lender that will provide that loan at the level of finance required.

“Imagine you’re wanting to buy your dream home. Now, different lenders will lend varying amounts based upon the same criteria,” says the finance broker. “So that could mean that the lender with the sharpest rate may lend $200,000 less than the one with a slightly higher rate. If you really want that property, you’re going to have to go with the one with the higher rate, which may only make a few thousand dollars difference a year in interest repayments.”

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Why your broker asks so many questions

Why your broker asks so many questions

Ever wondered why mortgage brokers have to ask you so many questions about your financial circumstances? It’s to ensure that fraudulent applications don’t slip through the cracks and that your loan suits your needs now and your plans for the future.

Brokers can face claims against them if they submit inaccurate documentation, regardless of whether falsities are the brokers’ intention, a mistake or the result of a client’s dishonesty.

It is your broker’s job to find out everything they can about your financial situation and your goals for the future. Not only does the process help to identify fraudulent application activity, it also ensures that they are serving your best interests.

You will definitely be asked to provide proof of identification as well as details about your income and spending habits. Your broker will want to discern how much you can afford to borrow. You will need to prove this by way of payslips or proof of income.

You will be asked to provide information regarding your dependants, any lawsuits you may be involved in and whether you have filed bankruptcy, and you might be asked twice, by your broker and by the lender.

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How can I secure cash fast?

How can I secure cash fast?

Small business owners know all too well that the unpredictable nature of the industry can sometimes mean that quick access to cash flow is needed.

Solution #1: equipment finance

For many small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, income and cash flow are heavily reliant on functioning equipment. So for restaurant owners who find their delivery truck has suddenly decided to call it quits, turning to equipment finance could be the best solution.

“Supported by most major and subsidiary lenders, rates are offered competitively at around five to eight per cent. Where a chattel mortgage, a mortgage on a commercial vehicle, is elected, borrowers own the asset from day one and can claim payments upfront, which enables greater cash flow within the business as well as interest and depreciation add backs,” says the finance broker. “Ultimately, I would recommend this solution as they are safe, structured and can have tax benefits associated with ownerships.”

Solution #2: unsecured business cash loan

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