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McHappy Day 2012

McDonald Real Estate’s annual support of McHappy Day 2012 was another resounding success!

McDonalds Keysborough was a hive of activity all day, including magicians and clowns, and plenty of fun.The highlight was the sensational charity auction of sporting memorabilia conducted by our Group Managing Director John Wysham, generating thousands of dollars.

All staff at our Keysborough office were thrilled to again partner with McDonald’s Keysborough and Ronald McDonald House Charities to help seriously ill children and their families.

Little Day Out a BIG Success!

McDonald Real Estate was thrilled to support the City of Greater Dandenong and its Little Day Out last Sunday afternoon at Ross Reserve, Noble Park.

Hundreds of residents braved the chill on a cold Melbourne day and visited a village of arts and crafts, activities and workshops, with roving performers and live entertainment, delicious variety of food and hand-made goods market stalls, sports and interactive activities. The Little Day Out featured live music and dancing acts, including the Cook Islands Royal Polynesian Dance Team, Paper Dreams, Zumbatomic, Lopit Community Dance Group, El Da Louna Dance Group, and a Puppetry Show, among other amazing performers.

Many thanks to staff from our Keysborough office who were kept busy all day at our stand, handing out yoyos, bubble pens, balloons and other goodies for the kids. A huge thank you to our face painter who worked tirelessly and painted dozens of happy, smiling young faces!

Finally, best of luck to all the local residents who entered our competition to win the new iPad, valued at $599. The competition will be drawn later this month, with the winner notified by email or SMS.

Congratulations to our friends at the City of Greater Dandenong for running such a wonderful community initiative!

Five tips for successful property investment

Investment in property continues to deliver the most stable returns to investors over the long term and as such remains an excellent way for Australians to plan for their future financial security.

Here are five tips for you to use property to secure your future!

  1. Monitor capital growth and vacancy rates right across Australia. Too often investors buy into the same rental market that they live in and miss out on investment opportunities in areas where rent may be as high but purchase prices are much lower.
  2. Don’t think that buying a property means you need to live in it – look for a high yield/low vacancy location and and rent the property out which you continue to live in an area that best suits your lifestyle and requirements.
  3. Use a mortgage broker to help you seek your finance and determine your individual financial needs. Mortgage brokers are paid by the financial institutions that they place business with – not you – so let them do all the work and running around to get you the most competitive interest rate possible and the best loan structure that suits your specific needs.
  4. Work to a specific budget for the property purchase and any renovations that may be required, but leave room for the unexpected!
  5. Seek advice from qualified professionals such as accountants and financial planners to not only ensure that the investment decision that you make is the best one for you, but that you also take full advantage of negative gearing benefits from your investment property and claim all expenses that you are legally entitled to.

Protecting your home during the holiday season

Most of us look forward to the festive season, the relaxed pace summer provides and eagerly anticipate spending time away from home with family and friends. But failing to adequately prepare your home and property for your absence can prove costly – and make them a potential target for burglars.

Nine out of 10 home break-ins could be prevented if homeowners took some simple preventative measures.  Losses from burglary can also directly affect the cost of your house and contents insurance, so it is wise to prepare your home for your summer break ahead of time to save you money and headaches later.

Readying Your Home

The best way to keep your home safe while you are away is to make it appear you are home, leaving absolutely no clue you’re actually away. Light, time and noise are your greatest weapons to accomplish this, so follow these tips to ready your home and keep it safe:

  • Ask someone you know and trust to keep an eye on your house.
  • Stop delivery of your mail and newspapers—or have a friend or neighbour pick them up for you.
  • Keep bushes and shrubs near your home’s entrance and walkway well trimmed. Overgrown shrubs provide easy camouflage for burglars.
  • Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to provide sound and illuminate the inside of your home.
  • Keep shades up and blinds and curtains open to make it appear you’re home.
  • Keep the outside of your home well lit. Burglars won’t go where they can be seen.
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed.
  • Ask a neighbour to park in your driveway, occasionally moving his or her car indicate your coming and going.
  • Change the setting on your answering machine so it picks up on the first or second ring – or just turn down the ringer. A constantly ringing phone is also a good sign no one is home.
  • Finally, automatic garage door openers should be unplugged on your way out. Savvy burglars can discover the code and use it to open your garage door.

Protecting Against Disaster

Protecting your home from electrical mishaps, fire and flooding while you’re gone is also important.

Before you leave, unplug everything but the refrigerator, freezer, and the lights and radios you have set on timers. Check to be sure the oven and stove, as well as small heat-generating appliances such as hair dryers and curling irons, are turned off.

If you’ll be away a week or more, turn off the water to your sinks, toilets, dishwasher and washing machine. Many a homeowner has returned home too late, only to find that an aged washing machine hose or dishwasher part has broken, flooding their home and causing hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage.

This not only requires costly repair, but can also again raise insurance premiums.

Setting your hot water heater on the lowest heat setting possible will keep it functioning at a minimum level, while saving you money on your energy bills.

Insuring Your Home

Never leave home to go on your summer break without making sure you have adequate home insurance protection for your house and contents. How much you need depends on the value of your home and its contents. Talk to your insurance provider to find out exactly what type of policy you need and how much coverage is warranted before you go.

Remember, increasing your home’s protection against intruders (for example by installing an alarm system or deadlocks on doors and windows) can also reduce home insurance premiums.

Don’t let your home and everything you’ve worked so hard for become a target for burglary or disaster. You can prepare, relax and get away from it all over summer – and then return to your home sweet home!

Jesse leads the way at BEDS 2012 Icy Sleep out

Jesse Roberts, our young and up and coming Sales Consultant at our Aspendale Gardens office, was a guest speaker and participated in the BEDS 2012 winter sleep out last Wednesday at the Bendigo Town Hall and Civic Gardens.

Run by St. Luke’s Anglicare, the Bendigo Executive and Director Sleepout (BEDS) is a fundraising event that invites business and community leaders to pay for the privilege of shivering under the stars on a freezing winter’s night.

It raises thousands of dollars each year for St Luke’s youth homeless programs, and helps to highlight the issue of homelessness, particularly in Bendigo, and achieve further optimistic outcomes for the city’s young people.

Jesse’s life has taken him from a teenager sleeping in front of the Kangaroo Flat library on a sub-zero winter’s night to selling prestigious homes in Keysborough’s Waterways estate. So last Wednesday, he donated his time and drove to Bendigo after work and spoke to a group of CEOs and business owners who had decided to spend the night in swags, tents and cardboard boxes about the challenges that a young homeless person can face and overcoming those challenges against the odds.

Jesse’s speech wowed all in attendance and was truly inspiring. He then took his place amongst those sleeping out in the cold and gave the hotel room arranged for him by St. Luke’s to a homeless youth so they could experience comfort for at least one night.

All at McDonald Real Estate are proud of what Jesse continues to achieve in and away from Real Estate and congratulate him on his involvement with BEDS 2012.

Harry Li runner up in Victorian Auctioneers comp for 2012

Victoria is the residential auction capital of Australia and, as a result, buyers and sellers expect not only an interesting auction but one that gets the best return possible for the owner.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) conducts a yearly competition to find the best novice, senior and commercial/industrial auctioneers in Victoria. The purpose of this competition is twofold: it helps estate agents to develop and improve their skills; and it allows the industry an opportunity to highlight the skills needed to conduct a successful auction – and achieve the highest return for the vendor.

Entrants are judged by some of Victoria’s most experienced auctioneers on their understanding of the laws and regulations that relate to property transactions, along with their ability to run the auction and present the property professionally.

McDonald Real Estate had two finalists among the five auctioneers who qualified for the final of the Senior Auctioneers Competition for 2012, with both Michael Choi from our Aspendale Gardens office and Harry Li from our Springvale Office qualifying for the final for the second year in succession.

After a series of heats, the senior final was held on Wednesday July 18, with Harry Li being adjudged runner up.

Harry’s performance in the final was superb, conducting a brilliant auction with a high degree of technical proficiency, professionalism and skill. These skills are often on display every Saturday in Springvale and surrounding suburbs as Harry consistently gets outstanding results on auction day for his vendors. Harry and Michael both put in countless hours training together and honing their craft, so to be considered among the best five auctioneers in the state is excellent recognition for all the work that they put in.

Harry and this year’s winner will represent Victoria and compete to become the best auctioneer in Australia and New Zealand at the Australasian Real Estate Institutes’ Auctioneering Championship, held in Adelaide from October 2-4.

The last time a Victorian won the title was in 2005, so we have huge hopes that Harry can break the drought!

All at McDonald Real Estate congratulate both Harry and Michael on their efforts.

 

Why don’t our banks pass on the full interest rate cut?

As each interest rate cut is announced by the Reserve Bank, it is becoming more and more common for banks not to pass on the full rate cut. So why is this the case? Why don’t our major banks “do the right thing”?

In Australia the banking system is dominated by four major banks who enjoy a commanding 92% share of the market. This means the major banks can all watch what their competitors are doing and set their rates accordingly, with no incentive to offer below the market.

Secondly, banks need to raise money in order to offer lending products and rely on investors to make deposits with the bank. Naturally investors want to place their money with the bank offering the highest interest rate. This in turn means that a bank needs to offer a higher lending rate to its lenders to retain profit margins.

Finally, banks rely on a number of sources to raise money. If the cost to raise money from these other sources is not reduced in conjunction with the Reserve Bank’s rate cut, then it makes sense for a bank not to pass on the full rate cut.

Whilst its frustrating for all mortgage owners, its really just comes down to dollars and cents!

Our Top 5 Tips for Mastering Your Home Loan

Taking out a home loan to purchase a property is the biggest single investment that most people will make in their lifetimes. Property remains a favoured investment for many Australians, however mortgage or home loan stress remains high – especially where a combination of low income and high mortgage debt exist.

Often it’s a case of people’s home loans managing them – rather than them managing their loan. With this in mind, there are a number of steps borrowers can take to ease mortgage stress and significantly reduce the amount of time and money required to pay off a home loan.

1. Don’t overextend yourself!

The best place to start managing your home loan is in the beginning. Taking stock of your finances and the reality of your ability to meet your financial commitments can help avoid mortgage stress down the track.

Although the general sentiment is that banks have tightened up on loans in recent years, they are still prepared to lend quite high amounts to first home owners if there is a history of good employment and income. In some instances borrowers can be approved for loans that require up to 50 per cent of their income going in loan repayments. This is unsustainable, and can put a lot of mortgage stress on borrowers.

2. Take control of your contract!

After determining a realistic amount to borrow, the next step is to negotiate hard on the variables you have control over, such as interest rate discounts and related product features.

There is plenty of competition in the finance market and lenders should have to work hard to meet your requirements, so before committing to a lender is the best time to work out the best deal possible, which in the long term that will reduce both the interest you pay and the life of the loan.

3. Take advantage of the product features!

Once you’ve taken on a home loan on terms you’re happy with, it’s time to make full use of the loan features. Common ways of doing this include:

  • using redraw for any bonuses or large lump sum payments
  • using the loan offset account to reduce interest
  • making additional repayments more regularly, and
  • using your credit card to manage monthly expenditure.

You can also save on interest by placing all of your income in the mortgage offset account and then using a credit card to meet monthly spending, making sure that you clear or repay the credit card in full every month.

4. Seek advice from professionals!

Home Loans can be complex and lengthy loans, so getting advice from a professional can make a big difference in successfully managing your mortgage.

Professionals such as Financial Planners or Accountants can demonstrate to people how they can better manage their cash flows and reduce the amount of debt. They can also assist with budgeting,  including identifying discretionary spending as well as any surplus cash flow that’s not allocated to paying down the loan faster. This can not only reduce debt but also open up future wealth creating opportunities for the borrower.

5. Undertake an ongoing review process!

Managing your mortgage is not a set and forget task so taking an ongoing, proactive approach can play a big role in reducing the amount of interest payable.

Every three to four years, it’s wise to conduct a complete review of your personal debt situation, because there are different strategies that can be implemented all the time that can help reduce the amount you pay in the long term.

Tax Deductions For Your Investment Property

With tax time just around the corner, its important for property investors to claim all the relevant deductions available to them. Most commonly, depreciation is the deduction that is missed because it is a non-cash deduction.

The ATO allows property investors to claim a deduction back at tax time to compensate for an investment property ageing and therefore depreciating in value. Research indicates that a high percentage of property investors don’t claim depreciation, not realising that they can. Every owner of an investment property, whether it be new or old, residential or commercial should be claiming their maximum depreciation entitlements.

Again, the key for investors is to obtain professional advice. There are Quantity Surveyors that specialise in preparing Capital Allowance and Tax Depreciation Reports for investors, which outline deductions available each financial year for periods of up to 40 years. These reports essentially demonstrate how much your taxable income will be lowered each year by claiming depreciation. A report can also be prepared to easily recover missed depreciation benefits by amending tax returns previously lodged with the ATO.

Put simply, obtaining a property depreciation report from a specialist Quantity Surveyor is critical to ensure you are claiming all of the items you are entitled to, and also not claiming anything that you shouldn’t be.

Getting Your Home Ready for Winter

As we head towards what is shaping as a typical chilly Melbourne winter, now is the ideal time to start preparing your home as our weather takes a turn for the worse. A simple maintenance program now can save you time and money later.

The first thing you should turn your attention to are the gutters that surround your roof. Leaves and twigs that have built up over previous months can block water flow, forcing it to run back in to your roof or under your house. Once your gutters have been cleared, installing a gutter protection barrier is a smart long-term solution. One method of preventing water damage to a property’s foundations is to re-position downpipes to flow into drains or rainwater tanks.

Depending on the length of time since it was last undertaken, the roof itself may require an inspection, preferably by a licensed roofing contractor. They should check for damaged tiles and loose iron sheeting. Overhanging branches from nearby trees may also need to be cut back or removed to prevent future damage.

Keeping warm during winter is important, so checking seals around windows and doors for heat loss should not only keep us healthy but our heating bills under control. Heaters should be vacuumed to remove dust that will have accumulated while they have been dormant over summer, and if applicable, chimneys should be cleared of soot and debris. Obviously the risk of fire is greatly increased over the winter months when fireplaces and heating systems are in constant use, so it’s a good idea to test smoke detectors, replacing any flat batteries that you may find.

Finally, seal driveways, brick patios and timber decking to make slippery or uneven surfaces as safe as possible.

Giving your home a thorough once over for these simple maintenance will not only reduce the risk of problems, it will ensure your comfort during the colder months.