Benefits of Offset Accounts And Impact On Property Investors

Guest Post by Jelena Djurdjevic

Buying a house can be a stressful process.

Trying to find the right place to live, making sure the property isn’t going to end up costing you a fortune in repairs you didn’t know it needed and actually getting together the money you need to buy it in the first place.

While my husband and I are still trying to get on the property ladder, we’re already thinking ahead and doing our research to find out what kind of deals we could get that would help ease the financial burden.

We’ve even spoken to a financial advisor to figure out what we could realistically afford and when.

It’s not an easy process, and there’s a lot to get your head around, but what’s concerning is that the worry doesn’t stop once you’ve purchased your dream home.

In fact, mortgage stress is surprisingly common, with 29% of Australian households experiencing it.

What’s worse, mortgage stress is set to increase this year, along with defaults.

Offset Accounts

While there are plenty of ways you can minimise the risk of both, such as by sticking to your budget and only getting a place you can truly afford, taking potential interest rate hikes into consideration, and shopping around for the best loan, we’ve been quite interested to learn about the option of having an offset account.

Not heard of it before?

Don’t worry; neither had we.

The basic idea is that you keep your cash in an offset account, rather than a savings account, thereby reducing the total amount you pay on interest each month.

Say you owe $450,000 on your home loan and put $50,000 in an offset account, then you will only be charged interest on the $400,000 by your lender.

So, you can save money on interest, without actually having to pay money into the loan itself.

What you do instead is put that cash into what’s essentially a transaction account that is connected directly to your home loan.

While this may mean that you lose out on the interest you would get from a savings account, it’s still usually a better deal since you’re likely saving more on your home loanand, you don’t have to worry about paying tax on the interest you earn.

What we love about this is that it’s something that could end up saving us thousands in the long run but doesn’t really require much effort on our part.

Plus, it could allow us to pay down our loan faster, while still allowing us access to the savings we have built up in the offset facility.

Yes, you still have access to the money; it’s pretty much a win-win.

It’s ideal if you’re a disciplined saver, which I’m glad to say we both are. However, even if you’re a spender, it could still be a good idea.

If you get your salary to go straight into that account, then the money will immediately impact how much interest you pay, as it’s calculated daily.

Help with Investor Purchase

But what if you’re ahead of us and already own a home, but are looking to upgrade? Or what if you’re a property investor?

Well, there are further advantages of using an offset account

For instance, say you’ve outgrown your current home and want to upgrade to more of a ‘family home,’ while keeping the first property as an investment.

Well, in that case, it could be even more beneficial.

While you may not currently be able to get a tax deduction for interest payment on money borrowed against your existing residence to purchase a new property, you can claim a tax deduction for all interest payments on existing debt on the investment property.

If you take money out of the offset account to help pay for your upgrade, then this will increase the interest payable on your original mortgage.

Since the loan was taken out to acquire a home used strictly for investment purposes, all of this interest cost will be tax deductible.

Lesson learned? . . . . When it comes to money matters, do your homework.

You never know where you could end up saving a ton of money and generally make life a whole lot easier for yourself.

Four things to plan ahead when you are building a home

Guest Post by Trent Anderson

There are plenty of benefits to be had from building your own home.

You get to be involved in the design process, and you have more choices as to location and features.

Of course, you do not need to do the work yourself, you can hire architects, contractors and builders to do that for you.

But, at the end of the day, you have the final say. and, that is a good feeling.

However, if you are going to build a property, you need to make sure that you plan effectively.

This includes thinking about the future, and things that might happen, and not just concentrating on the design features you are dreaming of.

Here are four things that you really should think about planning ahead for.

Is the space you need today what you will need tomorrow?

If you are planning to live in your new home for several years, you need to consider whether the space and layout is designed to meet your needs, today and in the future.

You may be a young working couple now but what if you decide to start a family in the years to come.

It may not even be in your mind right now, but if there is even a possibility of this happening, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the option of creating child friendly spaces.

If you are already middle aged, it’s worth thinking about the potential of living on ground level, should you need to when you get a few years older.

How many electrical sockets do you need?

Obviously, you need to think about the power sockets that you need today, and where they should be placed.

But, it’s also a good idea to consider future needs, if possible.

For instance, if there is a chance that you may want to convert the roof space at some point, make sure that the power supply is available now.

This can help make any changes easier.

Will your new home be pest proof?

photo from Wikipaedia

Depending on where you live, pests can be a major problem.

For instance, in the humid southern states pests such as termites thrive.

This is why it’s a good idea to make sure that you include pest proofing measures as part of the build, including the landscaping of the outside space.

If you need any advice, it’s a good idea to speak to a professional pest control service.

How saleable is the property?

You are only just building your home, and you may not be intending to sell it anytime soon.

No matter what your intentions are now, it’s a good idea to think about what would happen if you did put the property on the market.

It’s fine to incorporate some unusual design features when you build, but being too quirky may mean that you find it difficult to sell the property, if you ever want to.

Building your own home can be exciting, but don’t get carried away.

As much as possible, you should make sure that the home you are building suits your needs for today and for the future.

Picturesque Potential

A Guide to Framing Your Holiday Photos

Guest Post by Hubert Dwight

From static.pexels.com

The holidays are a time of love, fun and creating memories to last a lifetime.

Displaying these memories can make our house feel like a home and remind us of these times and what better way to display your holiday memories than hanging them on the wall?

Though framing pictures can seem rather daunting, there are many ways to make it simpler and fun.

Placement

Placement is key when hanging photos.

You don’t want them to be hidden away in a dark corner, rather, you want them placed to compliment the room.

Try hanging the photo in a well-lit area without much clutter, as we don’t want to overpower the room, just accessories it whilst displaying happy memories.

Frame choice

You want to pick a frame that compliments the room and the photo, whether that is large or small, simple or ornate,  etc.

Make sure the frame is the right size for each photo. For example, get an A3 frame for an A3 photo.

You have the choice of a ready made frame, or a custom picture frame.

There are so many options and choices to choose from, so just have fun!

Complement it, don’t overpower it

The photograph itself is where you want the focus to be, not the frame.

If you do choose to go a more complex route with your frame, you can find subtle ways to complement the photo.

For example, you might choose a textured frame that works to complement (but not detract from) the work.

A textured frame can provide a room and the work with more personality without overwhelming and add can accentuate the feel and style of a room.

From www.pexels.com

Colour

Depending on whether your pictures are in colour or black and white, there are different frames and choices for each.

Colour photos give you a lot more to work with in terms of frame design – you can keep it simple, or you choose to play up the colour scheme of your photos with a complementary framing colour scheme.

With black and white photos, however, you’re limited to a greyscale colour palette.

That is, generally speaking, black and white photos work well with either black, white or silver frames

Matboards

Matboards are cardboard surrounds for your photographs that come in an array of colours and can be as slim or as wide as you choose.

Photos are usually full of detail, and a matboard can provide a visual “breathing space” between the photo and the frame, this helps the frame design look balanced.

They also provide protection from the glass.

In humid environments picture frame glass can experience condensation which  can cause your photographs to stick to the glass permanently.

How to frame them

The holidays can sometimes mean a lot of photos and you have the choice of framing them all singularly or in a multi-window frame.

Whilst framing them all in a multi window frame is very convenient and perfect for larger rooms such as living rooms, they aren’t as moveable as singular window frames.

 

With so many creative options to choose from, you can really express yourself and display your holiday photos with style.

Framing these holidays memories should be fun and enjoyable but when in doubt, you can always ask professionals for help.

Planting Shrubs

A lot of gardening web site tell you that you need to improve all your garden soil before you start planting.
Well in the case of shrubs I take a different approach, which has worked well for me.

Starting

The ground of a typical site following the build is in pretty poor condition.

Little top soil so even the weeds are struggling to survive.

A week before planting I look to kill all the weeds using  a weedkiller containing Glyphosate. (If you want a non chemical solution I would suggest using a steam gun) You are aiming to kill the roots , not just the foliage.

I normally follow up with a second weedkiller the day before planting.

Planting

Rather than improve the whole area and give potential weeds a break I concentrate on the area where the weeds will spread over the next 2-3 years.

I dig a hole around 3-4 times the diameter of the shrubs pot and around 100mm deeper and place the plant on a bed of compost in the hole.

I then backfill around the rootball with a mixture of 50% compost and 50% material excavated from the hole.

If you have got a worm farm it’s a good idea to include a couple of trowels of that material, with a few of the worms.

Make sure the backfill is firm so the plant doesn’t move around.

Mulch

Rather than buy expensive wed mat I simply use a layer of newspaper, typically at least 3 sheets thick with generous overlaps.

I then cover the paper with a mulch, either gravel, or bark as in the photo.

If you are doing a big garden don’t buy your mulch by the bag, it’s cheaper to buy it by the cubic metre from a garden supplier.

 

 

Sweater Weather Wonderland

5 Tips for Preparing Your Backyard for the Winter

Guest post by Hubert Dwight

Image courtesy of www.vintageindustrialstyle.com

If you love nothing more than kicking back in the yard with a beer or a glass of wine, you might start to dread the approach of winter.

When the days are short, many of us struggle to get any use out of our yards at all, because it’s already dark by the time we’re winding down.

This can be frustrating, but the solution is simpler than you think.

Winterising the garden means more than just shutting off hoses and laying down mulch.

If you create an all-weather entertaining space, for example, with plenty of heat and light, it won’t matter what time of year it is.

You can relax with friends or enjoy a little quiet time whether it’s the height of summer or a blustery fall afternoon.

Keep reading for some advice on how to transform your garden into an all year round retreat.

 

Romantic Lighting

The biggest priority, particularly if you want to use your garden after dark, is light.

You need plenty of illumination for safety and security, but it doesn’t have to look coldly functional.

When shopping for garden lights for your home, try to combine clear, bright spotlights with much softer diffused lighting.

Be creative. You can string fairy lights from the trees or install old-fashioned lampposts. You can even build spotlights into your deck or patio.

 

Reliable Heating

The other essential part of winter gardens is a reliable heat source.

It doesn’t have to be some huge, expensive system.

There are plenty of sleek and chic patio heaters which don’t take up much space or consume all that much energy.

HeatStrip, for instance, produces slimline, minimalist heating units which can be installed in awkwardly shaped or hard to heat areas.

They are low energy and specifically designed to fit a broad range of patios and verandas.

 

Sturdy Furniture

Whether it’s winter or not, if you’re hosting friends in the backyard, you’re probably going to get peckish at some point.

The good news is that high-quality garden furniture is more affordable than ever.

Just remember to be careful when choosing materials, because you need items which are going to withstand the elements.

Aluminium is a great choice as it doesn’t easily rust or corrode. However, it can get very hot if left in direct sunlight.

 

Pick Out a Feature

One way to add interest and intrigue to a nighttime garden is with a feature spot.

This might be your favourite tree or even a striking piece of garden art.

If you have a soft spot for sculpture, you could place a faux classic in the middle of the lawn or off to the side, nestled in the foliage.

The trick to making it pop, especially after dark, is the right kind of light.

Use soft, diffused spot or string lights to illuminate the feature and draw the eye.

 

Plant Some Pale

You might not think it to see them in the daytime, but pale coloured flowers look awfully striking after dark.

So, if you want to make sure that your yard is pretty even in the dead of night, add some white and pale blue plants.

Foxgloves and forget-me-nots are two wonderful choices.

White roses look fantastic too, especially when the light from your patio gives them an ethereal, luminescent quality.

For intoxicating scents, sneak in a little evening primrose.  

 

Why Your Garden Should Be an All Round Retreat

Many of us write our gardens off during the winter, but this is a lot of time for them to be out of action.

If you want to get as much value from the space as possible, don’t let the cold weather force you back inside.

All you need is a good heater, some pretty lights, and a good group of friends to banish those winter chills.

Sliding Doors/Windows Security

Does your new home have sliding doors and or windows?

Did you know they aren’t very secure? . . . as they can easily be lifted out, even if they are locked.

Here is a low cost fix that stops that happening.

Its just a thin piece of wood screwed to the top door/window track with a self tapping screw.

The door slides under the wood to close, but once closed can’t be lifted.

Total cost around 10 cents and about 5 minutes of your time!

 

Why I Won’t Be Getting A Sink Waste Disposal Unit


You sometimes see Sink Waste Disposal Units (or Garbage disposal units )in top end kitchens but I won’t be getting one for a heap of reasons:

  • Initial Cost, several hundred dollars plus installation
  • Ongoing power cost, the unit in this picture uses about 0.5kwatts
  • Maintenance and replacement. I have even heard of them shaking the under sink plumbing apart.
  • High water use to wash the debris away.
  • Disposing of fats, and hard solids like bones, which makes sewer blockages more likely.
  • Taking easily compostable materials from the home and passing them to a sewer where they will be contaminated and become a difficult to treat waste at the sewerage treatment plant.

I sometimes see manufacturers claim they are an eco friendly solution. . . . but they are anything but!

It is not just my opinion they are banned in many places including Switzerland and many areas of the United States.

Why not just use the regular garbage bin for smaller amounts and a Skip Bin for larger amounts

How Using Skip Bin for Waste Disposal Can Help

A skip bin refers to a large open-topped waste container that is designed to load on a special type of lorry.

A skip is replaced or removed by an empty skip rather than emptied into a bin lorry.

It is then tipped at a transfer station or a landfill site.

A skip bin hire in Brookvale can help you clear your waste in your property, to ensure safe and convenient waste disposal.

When carrying out a home renovation such as a new kitchen, a skip bin provides a safe and clean way to store waste during the project.

Depending on the project and amount of work you’re undertaking, choosing the best skip bin for an unwanted waste removal job is a good idea.

Check out these other benefits of using skip bin:

  • Garden Waste Clearance: It commonly uses mini skip bins for garden clearing purposes from disposing of dead leaves, grass cuttings, twigs, small branches, and fence palings to other wastes found in your garden. Bulk bins are your best option for bigger gardens. Therefore, hiring a skip is highly recommended to get rid of unwanted garden waste.
  • Disposing of White Goods: Eliminate white goods, such as electronic appliances, using a skip bin. Because it’s not advisable to dispose of white goods with household rubbish, hiring a skip bin allows easy disposing of white goods.
  • Spring Cleaning: The perfect time to declutter your home is during spring. Rubbish can be difficult to manage, so it’s essential to hire reliable skip bins. All you have to do is to put waste items into the skip bin, and the rest will be taken care of by professionals. Skip bins come in various sizes, from mini-skip bins to medium-sized bins. Choose one based on your waste removal requirements.

 

8 Wallet-Friendly Tricks To Spruce Up Your Interiors This Spring

Guest Post by Hubert Dwight

Brace yourselves, Spring is here!

Now that the winter coats, hats and boots are packed away, it’s time to spruce up the interiors of your home as well.

Spring marks new beginnings, and why not make full use of it to make a change in not just what you wear but how your house is decorated to?

Here are 8 Wallet-Friendly Tricks To Spruce Up Your Interiors This Spring.

A fresh new vibe doesn’t have to leave a hole in your pocket!

1. Soothe Your Senses

Spring is not just a colourful season – it is a fragrant one too.

Why not bring that crisp air and fragrance into your home with diffusers, scented candles and incense?

Scents have been proven to have a profound impact on the mood and can instantly calm you down after a stressful day at work.

Diffusers and candles are a very inexpensive way to bring the glorious scents of spring into your humble abode.

2. Flowers Aren’t Just For Valentine’s Day

One of the signs that Spring has arrived are when you see the once barren trees now start to grow in full bloom.

Purchasing fresh flowers online and adorning your home with it is a fantastic way of bringing the birth of spring into your very own home.

Aside from floral arrangements around your house looking absolutely stunning, they too bring a fresh Spring aroma into your home.

You don’t have to wait for your partner or a secret admirer to buy you flowers – jump online, get your own and start decorating!

3. Beautify Your Boudoir

Bright, fresh and crisp new bed linens can do wonders for your your personal sanctuary.

Who doesn’t enjoy going home and tucking into an amazingly comfortable and crisp bed for a good night of rest?

It’s time to tuck away your thick and heavy winter duvets and replace them with crisp linens and colourful coverlets.

Bring spring into your bedroom with floral designed sheets, or light colours such as pastel yellows and greens.

Don’t forget to include some accent pillows for added style and comfort.

4. Add A Splash Of Colour

There is no better way to breathe new life into a room than to completely revamp its color scheme – starting from the walls to your furniture covering and decors.

Statement walls are a very popular way to bring some fresh colour into a room without having to break the bank with an entire new paint job.

Painting one wall in your dining room in a sunny yellow or cream shade is a  simple DIY task that you and your family can do over the weekend.

Changing the colour of your tablecloths, cushions and throws can also bring an airy spring feel into your living area.

5. Simple Artwork Is The Way To Go

Another great way of sprucing up your interiors is to hang up fresh, bright and modern artwork on your bare walls.

Not only do they create a sense of structure in your home, they are also visually appealing and can complement the decor and furniture in your home.

Awesome places to purchase inexpensive art work would be at thrift stores, markets and op shops – it doesn’t have to be expensive to bring some wow factor into your home.

6. Goodbye Dull Drapes!

It’s time to switch out those dull and dark drapes for something bright, fresh and airy.

Choosing light coloured curtains allows for more sunlight to enter your home, and you will be surprised at the brightening power of pale curtains.

You can even go one step further and get tastefully floral printed curtains (not the type your granny owns) to really kick the feeling of spring back into your home.

7. Don’t Forget The Dining Table 

The dining table is often a space that we forget can be decorated and matched to the surrounding decor in the home.

For a fresh spring feel, adorn your table with Batik inspired place mats and napkins, light coloured crockery and some beautiful flowers in a vase as a centrepiece.

Flameless candles are also a great, safe and fresh way to add some elegance to your spring themed table.

8. The Magic Of Metallic

Metallic accents and mixed metal decorations have been turning heads recently, and is one of the hottest trends for the Spring season.

Copper, Bronze or Silver accessories in the bathroom, on the walls or even on your table top can bring elements of warm metallic allure to your home – small accents that make a big impression.

You can find many of these metallic decor at thrift stores or even at inexpensive stores such as K-Mart these days.

 

Sprucing up your home interior for Spring does not have to cost a fortune, and with a few nifty tricks and simple know-hows, you’ll be enjoying a bright, clean and fresh living space for months to come.

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Remodelling Your Kitchen

Guest post from Hubert Dwight

So you’re thinking about renovating your current kitchen.

Maybe it’s for lifestyle reasons, or maybe it’s because your old kitchen is slightly falling apart.

Whatever the reason for remodelling, a new kitchen is an investment that will bring you happiness from years to come.

Remodelling the social hub of your home is a big decision to make, and there are a few key mistakes that you can avoid to ensure your renovation process is as effective and efficient as it can be.

1. Not having fun

When remodelling your kitchen, it’s important to make sure you have fun with it.

Use pops of colour, a focal point and pieces of art.

Little details like these are what will make your kitchen feel like home.

Stick to classic styles, but don’t stick to boring rules.

As well as this, remember that this should be a fun process!

Although it will absolutely take some elbow grease, it will also be a truly satisfying undertaking that you should revel in.

2. Skimping on cabinet storage

Don’t self sabotage your kitchen by not giving yourself enough space.

It can seem like a good idea to skimp on storage to keep costs down.

However, these days, there is a plethora of storage solutions that can really help maximise your kitchen.

Pantries and super cabinets are great options that will optimise any sized kitchen.

3. Choosing appliances last

When doing a full renovation of your kitchen, make sure you choose your appliances first.

It’s much more logical, and easier, to choose things like cabinets and countertops once you’ve already decided on your refrigerator and dishwasher.

Nowadays it is definitely viable to select a range of appliances that are in the same colour or design to give your kitchen a central theme.

4. Not thinking about it as an investment

A total kitchen makeover will come at an expense – and sometimes it can be hard to keep that cost down.

Therefore, it’s crucial that you think about your lifestyle and your cooking preferences, so you can plan your kitchen accordingly.

After all, remodelling your kitchen is an investment and will improve your life!

5. Forgetting your budget

As with any financially-based endeavour, your budget should be your gospel.

Coming up with a realistic budget for your renovation is essential.

Decide what features of your kitchen are the most important, and allocate your finances accordingly.

Keep a copy on you at all times, so you don’t make any rash decisions and regret it later!

6. Going it alone

Even if you are experienced in the art of DIY, it’s vital that you consult a kitchen design expert before undertaking a job such as a full renovation.

An experienced professional, such as the staff at ESI Lifestyle, will be able to offer tips, tricks and general advice regarding your kitchen hopes and dreams.

7. Forgetting your workflow

How do you prefer to cook?

Do you use the stovetop more, or perhaps the oven?

Remember your kitchen’s busiest areas will usually be the sink, the stove and the refrigerator.

Make sure these areas are spaced far enough away from each other so as not to overcrowd any one particular area.

Don’t over think the remodelling of your kitchen.

With planning, a good budget, and appropriate ideas of how you want your kitchen to match your lifestyle, you’re already halfway there.

 

Keep in mind these 7 common mistakes when you’re remodelling your kitchen to avoid further complications down the track.

New Property Investment Blog

Guest Post from Russ Egan of www.russegan.com.au

Learn from My Mistakes

I purchased my first property when I was 24 years old. I did huge amounts of DIY renovations and was able to increase the value of that property by 17%.

This enabled me to purchase my second property at 25 years old. This property made absolutely zero in terms of market growth but did teach me a lot about property economics.

I scrimped and saved and purchased my third property at 26 years old, leading the way to a successful real estate portfolio.

Along this path I made a lot of mistakes – all of which taught me very important lessons.

Hopefully I will be able to share two of these mistakes with you so that you can avoid them all completely.

Hiring Tradesmen

As a practical kind of person I decided for my first renovation that I wanted to do everything myself.

After spending all of my free evenings and weekends on gardening, paving, cleaning, and demolition I finally arrived at painting.

It took me two days of sanding, preparation, cutting in, rolling, and waiting to dry just to paint the master bedroom.

After that I went after the professionals and hired a painter – who completed the rest of the house in half the time, and at a much better quality.

The most valuable lesson out of this experience was the different in quality between an enthusiastic DIY’er and a professional tradesman.

Yes, it can be much cheaper to complete the job yourself but at the end of the renovation if there is a distinct lack of quality then the outcome in terms of market value and profit may be at risk.

Investigate The Whole Market Not Just The Property

When looking to purchase my second property I did not do sufficient investigation into the market.

I saw the yearly growth values looked good and checked locally for shops, schools, etc.

I also wanted the property to be close enough that I could conduct any repairs or renovations myself if required, which significantly limited my options.

Unfortunately for me there has been an enormous amount of construction of new developments nearby.

I figured that these were far enough away that they wouldn’t have a significant impact on my new investment, but I was very wrong.

The impact on values of supply and demand cannot be ignored, and a lot more investigation and analysis should be conducted if you want to be successful as an investor.

Real estate is a great investment tool and it is remarkable fun as well, but it can be very complicated with a lot to learn. Thankfully there is a lot of information available to help you avoid making the same mistakes that others have already made.

 

Russ Egan is an enthusiastic property investor. Born in country Queensland and an engineer by profession he has been successful in building wealth through real estate investment, cosmetic renovations, and small scale developments.