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Rules of investment

Rules of investment

When you’re trying to secure finance for an investment property, it’s important to keep a few simple rules in mind to make sure you get the best deal possible and will be able to afford the repayments, come what may.

If you’re thinking about purchasing an investment property, it’s important to manage the risks adequately. For example, you shouldn’t rely on rental returns as a guaranteed income to meet loan repayments, as there are times when a property may be vacant or hard to fill immediately and some months the rental return on a property may be diminished by maintenance costs.

“A finance broker will help a borrower find the right product, so that he or she can afford the repayments,” said one helpful adviser. “The adviser will add a two per cent rate hike onto the rate the borrower will be looking to take, to make sure they can still make repayments if, or when, mortgage rates go up.”

With access to property data and trend analysis, a finance broker can pull property reports for you, detailing how the area has performed in the past as an investment, the average median house price or rate of return and how much the property values have increased over the past five or six years. These are details that investors generally can’t access.

Even better, if you meet a local finance broker in the area where you want to invest, he or she will know that particular market and be able to provide a lot of detailed information from working there every day.

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How to Keep your Loan Application on Track?

How to Keep your Loan Application on Track?

Other than the obvious documentation that needs to accompany an application, satisfactory identification and evidence of income by way of pay slips, many lenders will expect to see a reference from your employer, group certificates or tax returns, and records of any investments or shares that you might have.

For the best possible chance of getting the loan that suits your circumstances, you need to tick all the boxes. If an application is not completed correctly, you risk delays in approval, or even being declined by potential lenders.

If you are self-employed, you will need to organise alternative documentation to prove income, such as financial statements relating to the profit and loss of your business going back two years.

Lenders will also want to see bank statements going back a few months in order to track your spending and savings history. Most importantly, you will need to provide the details of your debts.

You must include documents that outline debts, personal loans, credit card liabilities and any expenses relating to dependants. If you don’t disclose this information, your loan will very likely be declined.

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Case study: How to avoid settlement penalties

Case study: How to avoid settlement penalties

Connie Wilson was well on her way to becoming a first-home owner when issues cropped up prior to settlement that threatened to cost him her deposit.

Having found the house she wanted to buy and exchanged contracts for sale, Connie found herself considering a costly settlement extension due to unexpected problems with her deposit.

While she had thought that having a deposit sitting on her account would make the process simple, Connie had not realised that she needed to have the funds in her account for a minimum of three months before a lender would consider them genuine savings.

Her deposit, a gift from her parents, was due to reach the three-month milestone only nine days before settlement. Certain that she would need to apply for an extension, Connie spoke to an accredited finance broker to see how she should go about it.“She had wanted to request a two-week extension on settlement, but I told him not to get the extension,” broker says, “it would have involved substantial penalty interest”.

Rather than having Connie foot a $400 per day bill for an extension, the broker jumped into organising a loan, using the strong relationships and knowledge gained over a decade in the industry to hurry the processes along.“What I did was look at the different panels and the different policies, I called the BDMs and sent detailed scenarios to three lenders so that there were a few options in case one didn’t work out,” the broker explains.

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Guaranteeing your child’s loan

Guaranteeing your child’s loan

Rising house prices are making it increasingly difficult to enter the market. Parents who guarantee their children’s loans can help, but it is important to understand how this can impact the parents’ retirement or investment plans.

Being a guarantor generally means using the equity in your own property as security for your child’s home loan. It can help a first-home buyer to secure finance for a property they can afford but may not have a large enough deposit for, and to avoid the added cost of lenders mortgage insurance.

The risks You may want to help your child but it’s important you don’t go into the transaction blindly. The main risk of guaranteeing the loan is that, depending on the structure of the guarantee, you could be liable should your child default on the payments, either by taking over the repayment schedule or handing over a full repayment. If you can’t make the payments, the lender may sell the home used as security. If this is still not enough, the lender may also require you to sell assets to meet outstanding debt.

Another major risk is a bad credit rating if default occurs. Plus, if you need to borrow money for another purpose, your property cannot be used. If you want to buy an investment property, you can’t use the equity in your home because it’s already tied up in the child’s loan.

Minimising the riskThere are ways to minimise the risks. The most common is using a monetary gift or private loan. It involves borrowing money against your property in your name, and then gifting it to your child. Another way to avoid the risk is to buy the property jointly with your child. This means your name is on the title and you have a certain percentage entitlement. When it comes to guaranteeing a loan, it’s always sensible to speak to a professional. You should also consider asking a legal professional to draw up a formal loan document outlining all conditions of the loan, interest rate and expected repayments.

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Explainer: interest-only loans

Explainer: interest-only loans

Borrowing to buy a property and repaying only the interest for a set period can be a great choice for some, beause interest-only loans can offer the right candidate financial flexibility while they invest. There are, however, some very important risks to take into consideration.

With interest rates at historical lows, interest-only loans may sound more appealing than ever because they offer the opportunity to enter the property market with lower repayments. In saying that, care must be taken, because interest-only loan repayments do not pay down the actual purchase price of the property or reflect a realistic repayment on a standard mortgage.

 “If you’re only repaying the interest on a loan, you’re not building up the equity on your home during that period.”

For an interest-only loan to be part of an effective property investment plan, borrowers must be comfortable that a property’s value will increase substantially. If the value doesn’t increase by more than the interest paid, they may end up losing out on the equity front.

Eventually, interest rates will rise again as the market ebbs and flows and, once a loan reverts to principal-and-interest repayments, borrowers who are unprepared may find themselves in a financial struggle.

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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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The perfect property at an affordable price - it’s not a myth

The perfect property at an affordable price - it’s not a myth

So you’ve found your dream home, but it’s in need of a little TLC. While others may see this as a deterrent, this is actually a great opportunity to nab the house of your dreams at a price tag that’s within your means. Here’s how to tactfully negotiate the price without ruining your chances of securing the property.

• Never enter a negotiation empty-handed Whether it’s hiring inspectors for a building and pest report, or obtaining quotes from tradespeople, obtaining facts and figures will give you ammunition when requesting a price reduction.

“Even if it costs you extra, it’s worth getting all the information before making your offer. People often underestimate how much repairs will cost,” says the real estate agent.

• Separate your emotionsThe most tactful way to negotiate is to eliminate all emotions, advises the real estate agent. “Try to separate yourself from the outcome and present your side logically. The owner is under no obligation to accept what you offer, no matter how well you present your points. So if things don’t go your way, being negative won’t do you any favours.”

• Remember this is someone else’s houseNegotiation is a two-way street, so in order to come to an agreement, concessions will have to be made on both sides. “Try to understand what is important to the owner,” advises the real estate agent. “What can you offer to counteract the price reduction you’re after? Perhaps a longer settlement period so they can find a new home? It’s little enticements like this that can often be much more valuable than a couple of extra dollars.”

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Small business finance without the bank

Small business finance without the bank

It can still be difficult to make a case to a bank when looking for finance to start a new business or invest in the growth of an existing one. The good news is that applying for commercial finance through a bank is far from the only option.

Personal loansA relatively young enterprise that doesn’t have a track record of success may not be looked upon favourably by banks, which make lending decisions based on risk. A lack of documented history doesn’t aid a business loan application, so for those who still want to go through the bank they use for transaction accounts, a personal loan could be the way to go.

The downside may be slightly higher interest rates and lower loan amounts, but a personal loan can provide a good buffer for start-ups and application is relatively easy.

Private funding Private funding is when individuals lend generally through a trust account. While it can be a little more costly than the average business loan, it carries the advantage of flexibility.

“If it’s a ridiculously difficult deal to put together, with no banks wanting to touch it due to not having the appropriate documentation or being outside LVRs” says the finance broker. “In saying that, however, I would strongly recommend speaking with a broker who has experience in private lending because, as a consumer, you’re kind of flying blind and you need to know that they’re going to be trustworthy.”

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How to refinance to renovate?

How to refinance to renovate?

Refinancing your assets to renovate a property is a significant decision that will hopefully improve your standard of living or add substantial value to your property. It isn’t as straightforward as you might expect. The type of renovation proposed goes a long way to dictating the loan required. If the wrong loan is chosen, you could be left with a pile of unexpected debt.

Know your budget

Before considering refinancing, you need to have a clear idea of your budget.

If you underestimate your budget, you run the risk of getting knocked back from your lender, according to finance broker.

“I know a lot of homeowners who have estimated a budget of say $100,000 to do renovations, only to discover it will cost a lot more,” the broker says

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Why your business loan was rejected

Why your business loan was rejected

Due to the risks involved, strict guidelines are imposed on business finance, so securing approval can be difficult. Here are a few mistakes to avoid to increase your chances of approval.

Not knowing your credit score

Many consumers may not realise the importance of a credit score. Not only is it taken as a reflection of your ability to make repayments, it also highlights your financial history which is why understanding what it is and how it can be improved can be vital.

“I have seen cases where businesses were oblivious that they had a credit default until it was time to submit an application,” says finance broker.

Lack of planning

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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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Selling your home? Here are the first steps to take

Selling your home? Here are the first steps to take

There is more to selling your home than putting up a ‘For Sale’ sign on your front lawn. Here are the first things you should check off your list to help you get the largest return from your investment and to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.

Choose a quality agentAsking family and friends who have purchased or sold a property about their experience is a great way to ensure the agent you’ve enlisted will provide quality service, explains the accredited finance broker. “A website and promotional material will always highlight the agent in the best possible way, but word of mouth and past client reviews will show their true colours,” she says.

Make sure the agent specialises in your area and is someone you feel comfortable around as they don’t just negotiate prices on your behalf, they also act as a mediator and represent you as a vendor.

Prepare the paperworkGetting together all the documents required is a tedious yet necessary part of the process. Before a property can be marketed for sale, your agent requires a copy of the Contract from your legal representative, explains the broker. From a disclosure document to a home loan pre-approval, ensure all the paperwork is prepared in time to ensure it all runs smoothly.

Don’t take things personallyRemember this is a business transaction; don’t feel insulted if you receive feedback on the property that doesn’t match how you feel about your home. To ensure you come out with the best deal, remove all emotion and think of your house as a commodity.

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How to avoid paying too much for a home

How to avoid paying too much for a home

Knowing what a property is worth is central to avoiding paying too much for it.

Set a benchmark

Comparing nearby properties that have sold recently is the best way to assess an acceptable price for the property you are looking at and provides a valuable bargaining tool when you are negotiating with a seller or agent. Make sure the properties are comparable, with a similar land size and number of bedrooms, for example, so you aren’t measuring apples against oranges.

“Your mortgage broker can give you a list of sales in the area and then you can drive around and look online to do a quick comparison. If you can find one or two similar properties then you can be sure of what the property is worth,” advises the finance broker.

Keep in mind current market conditions

The property market is always changing, so doing this research once and sitting on it for a few months will offer little help. Going to open homes and auctions regularly will give you an insight into the current state of the market and how much certain properties are going for.

Expand your search

“My number one tip is to look at properties in the suburb next to the one that you want,” says the finance broker. “We find that first-home buyers in particular usually end up buying in the more affordable suburb next door to the one that they first wanted to buy in.”

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Steps to Buying an Investment Property

Steps to Buying an Investment Property

Step 1: Speak to an expert Finance Broker

When considering an investment property, your first port of call should be your finance broker.  An expert finance broker can help you achieve your investment property goals.  They will review your assets and liabilities to determine how much you can borrow, which will, in turn, give you a general idea of your target price range, so you can narrow your property search within your purchase budget.

Step 2: Budgeting

Just like buying your first home, when purchasing an investment property, it’s essential to budget.  If you’re unsure of the best way to budget for an investment property, speak with your mortgage finance broker, they can help you to get on the right path. Step 3: Important conversations

Your mortgage finance broker will discuss your plans and your circumstances with you to determine what you can afford.  Your broker will also provide statutory documentation to initiate the lending process and work out for you what loan products will be appropriate in your circumstances.

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Finance made simple

Finance made simple

When a busy doctor who had worked with banks to set up finance for her investment properties visited a mortgage finance adviser, she walked away with three more properties and a newly simplified finance structure that saved her money.

Lisa Collins*, a doctor who had purchased six investment properties while working with bank loan officers, called on a mortgage credit adviser to help her streamline the loans attached to the assets.

“As I started working more closely with her, I discovered there was a complex web of loans attached to the portfolio,” says the credit adviser. “So it made sense to try to rationalize and simplify the loan structures. At the time, she had loans with three different banks and didn’t know which properties were used to secure individual loans.”

Each time Collins bought a new property, she took out a new loan. As a result, there were multiple loans attached to each property, as she had accessed the equity in the existing properties to purchase additional properties. As well, many of the properties in the portfolio were cross-secured, creating a very complex arrangement.

“The problem we faced was that any refinancing would almost certainly have involved a massive exposure to lenders’ mortgage insurance,” says the credit adviser. “But she had a huge plus in her favour: as a doctor, she was able to take advantage of a benefit some lenders give doctors so they don’t have to pay mortgage insurance.”

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What to do when your loan is declined

What to do when your loan is declined

If you don’t receive approval don’t give up. Speak to a professional mortgage adviser and keep your dream alive.

Connie Collins had found her dream home and made an offer, which was accepted. Now all she had to do was get her loan approved and she would be on her way to settlement.

Connie approached a lender directly to gain approval for finance. Her application took three weeks to process but, in the end, was declined. Not wanting to give up, Connie went to her local Mortgage Credit Adviser for help.

With the finance clause on the property expired, Connie was in danger of losing the property. Rather than requesting an extension for her finance, her credit adviser opted to lodge the application with a different financial institution that she was confident would approve it fairly quickly.

With a deep understanding of the financier’s polices, Connie’s credit adviser was able to present everything that was needed with the initial application to get the loan across the line. He submitted the loan application for Connie at 8.30am and, by 11am that day, the loan was approved.

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When should I find a finance broker?

When should I find a finance broker?

When saving a deposit to buy a home, many people have a goal amount in mind that they need to save before they meet with a mortgage broker who will help them secure the finance.

If this is you, you’re doing it wrong. From day one, when you first think ‘I could maybe buy a house if I worked hard and saved a lot’, you’re ready to have a mortgage broker on your side.

A mortgage broker’s knowledge of the loan and property market will help you work out how much you will be able to borrow, which determines the size of the deposit you will need to save.

They will also be able to help you develop a realistic timeline to save your deposit and find ways to pay down debts faster, and provide creative solutions that will help reach your goals sooner.

You may also be pleasantly surprised to find that you are closer to your goal than you thought. The tools in a mortgage broker’s belt that can help you realize your dreams more quickly and efficiently include lender’s mortgage insurance, specialist lending products, land loans and, for investors predicting significant rises in property prices, interest-only loans.

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Refinancing a business

Refinancing a business

Does your business need refinancing or restructuring? As this tale of a business with urgent liquidity problems shows, having a credit adviser managing the project can be the key to success.

When a cotton grower in central Australia lost his financier during a period of aggressive expansion, he was facing a liquidity crisis and approached a mortgage broker who approved equipment and commercial credit to help restructuring the business and securing a new backer.

“His current financier was shutting down its operations across the state. Not only had he lost his account manager, he’d also lost his whole direct line of resources to his business, right at a critical time,” explains the finance adviser.

“It was quite a complex business. It had multiple entities with multiple assets and private investors, and had a lot of moving parts in addition to the expansion plans. So there was a lot of due diligence and lot of work in terms of understanding the client’s current business structure and requirements, and creating the structure that would be required going forward to satisfy all parties, including new banks.”

Before putting the business out to tender, the credit adviser and his client worked on creating cost efficiencies and were able to turn a critical situation into a foundation for growth.

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Buying a property with friends

Buying a property with friends

There are many considerations when buying property jointly, so speak to an expert early to make sure you’re doing it the right way.

If you’re looking for a creative way to overcome being locked out of the property market by rising prices, buying a house with a group of friends may be a solution. It can also be a minefield though, so here’s how to avoid a blast.While the excitement of banding together in such a life-changing moment can put everyone on a bit of a high, you need to plan for situations in which things might go wrong.

It’s essential you have all been completely upfront from the start about what you want to achieve by purchasing property together, as well as your personal expectations about timelines for purchasing the property, paying it off and selling it. And all of this must be documented in a co-ownership agreement.

Your mortgage finance broker can refer you to a solicitor of conveyancer with experience in working on co-ownership agreements, who can advise and create yours and make sure it is suitable, providing the necessary legal protection for everyone involved.The big question will be what structure your ownership takes. There are two options: joint tenants and tenants in common. Joint tenancy is the most common ownership structure in Australia, as it is how most family homes would be owned. However, because friends are less likely to share assets and long-term debts than a couple, and less likely to will their assets to each other, the ‘tenants in common’ model would usually be more suitable for this situation.

Under this model, each person owns a specified share of the property’s value. These shares may be equal, but need not be. So, if you are willing to contribute $500,000 to the price of a property, but your two friends are not quite at that stage and only comfortable contributing $250,000 each, you could own a 50% stake while they each own a 25% stake. Keep in mind, each stake is in the property’s value, not control of the property. Legally, under this model, each owner has the right to full access to the entire property.The co-ownership agreement created in collaboration with your conveyancer should set out how the costs of maintenance and insurances are divided, as well as how sale proceeds will be divided.

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