Bidding at auction is a nerve wracking experience for most people. We have helped hundreds of our clients successfully purchase at auction and have put together a list of useful tips and strategies to ease the stress and help you feel confident bidding on auction day.
Visit our blog for information on the Sydney Real Estate Market – General information on prices, taxes, legislation and other important issues.
What is Underquoting?
Underquoting is when a selling agent states or publishes a price for a property that is less than their reasonable estimate of the property’s likely selling price contained in the agency agreement with the seller.
” quote them low, watch them go… quote them high, watch them die….”
This practice of underquoting can cause interested buyers to waste time and money on inspecting properties, getting reports and attending auctions based on misleading estimates of the selling price.
Buying a property is likely to be the biggest financial investment most people will ever make. It’s a stressful time and buyers have the right to expect that a real estate agent will market a property ethically and professionally.
Underquoting Reforms for NSW residential property
To better protect consumers from the practice of underquoting, on 1 January 2016 Fair Trading introduced new laws. These new laws require selling agents to draw on their skills to make a reasonable and fair estimate of the likely selling price.
They are required to have honest and fair dealings with all buyers and sellers. The role of the seller’s appointed agent to achieve the highest possible price on the property owner’s behalf does not mean they should manipulate buyer interest with false price information.
The reforms that were made to the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 were designed to provide clarity for buyers, sellers and agents.
1. Clearer rules for agents. A key requirement is that agents must not give consumers understated or vague property prices (eg. promoting a property price as ‘offers above $450,000’)
2. Provision for more effective enforcement of the laws. During an inspection by a Fair Trading officer, agents must be able to provide appropriate documentation to show that they have complied with the new laws.
Agents who commit an underquoting offence may be fined up to $22,000 and could lose their commission and fees earned from the sale of an underquoted property.
Be aware that, simply because a property sells for more than expected, this does not mean underquoting has occurred. Sometimes competitive buyer behaviour can result in a much higher sale price than what an agent could have reasonably estimated. However, the law now requires an agent to be able to show that their estimate was reasonable, up-to-date and evidence-based.
How to protect yourself from Underquoting
- If the selling agent provides an estimated selling price, don’t take it as gospel. Use it as a guide only
- Research recent sale prices for similar properties in the area you are looking in.
- See how the property market works. Visit as many different properties as you can. Attend the auctions and get a feel for the level of competition in the marketplace.
What you should NOT do:
- Don’t rely on prices that seem too good to be true. This is where your knowledge of the market (gained above) can help you.
- Don’t rely on one person’s judgement. you need to talk to other buyers and licensed property professionals and do your own research.
Engaging Homesearch Solutions Buyers Agent is a good way to protect you from underquoting. Our extensive experience and property databases ensure you will have the most up to date pricing and market information available.
NSW Office of Fair Trading Property Industry Reforms
Property Industry Reforms set to rule out understated property prices
Agents will have clearer requirements to adhere to as a result of underquoting reforms as part of the proposed property industry reforms. The proposed laws announced by the Minister responsible for Fair Trading seek to prevent prospective buyers wasting time and money on inspections because a property price has been underquoted.
The reforms will restrict agents from advertising or communicating (in writing or verbally) any price for a marketed property that is less than their evidence-based estimated selling price recorded in the agency agreement.
About the requirements
Under the new laws, agents will be required to:
- include their estimate of a property’s likely selling price in the agency agreement
- record the evidence that informed their estimate and provide the vendor with this evidence in writing
- ensure a price range is no greater than 10% of the bottom figure (eg. $500,000-$550,000)
- ensure advertising does not include any imprecise or unclear statements such as ‘offers over’ or ‘offers above’ or $XXX,000+. Importantly, an agent must never include any price in an advertisement that is less than the estimated selling price in the agency agreement
- record all quotes provided while a property is marketed
- notify the vendor if the original estimated selling price is revised. The agent will be required to provide the vendor with evidence (eg. market feedback) for their revised estimate and amend the agency agreement. Agents will also need to update any marketing for the property as soon as possible to ensure that no price is communicated that is lower than the new estimated selling price for the property.
Together, the requirements provide a level playing field for agents in a competitive market. They also preserve the vendor’s opportunity to work with the agent to gain the best price possible for their property. Fundamentally, they will enable true competition between buyers whose interest in a property is not solicited on the basis of an agent’s understated price assessment.
The reforms to the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 will be before Parliament in the coming weeks. They are expected to commence in early 2016. In developing the reforms, NSW Fair Trading assessed comparable laws in other jurisdictions and consulted with key representatives from the real estate sector.
To help address questions you may have about the reforms, we have included further details on our Underquoting reforms page. You should also refer to the Agents – questions and answers section on this page to gain a deeper understanding of the changes and how to comply.
We will be providing additional information to support agents and consumers in understanding the new requirements closer to when the reforms will commence.
You can read more about these reforms by visiting the Fair Trading website – click here.
Underquoting Real Estate
Written by Sean Nicholls for the Sydney Morning Herald on 4 September 2015
In moves to stop underquoting real estate, agents will be forced to nominate a property’s estimated sale price and adhere to that figure in advertising or face losing up to tens of thousands of dollars in fees and commissions.
The estimated selling price will be set in a formal agreement between the seller and the agent as part of a NSW government crackdown on the practice of under-quoting.
Advertisements containing the phrases “offers over” or “offers above” or any similar phrase will also be prohibited, and a hotline will be established for complaints.
The new rules are contained in amendments to the Property Stock and Business Agents Act due to be introduced to parliament next week as the spring property market gets under way.
The Minister for Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, said the new laws – which fulfil an election promise – would provide “clarity” for agents, sellers and buyers and strengthen consumer protection. “Under-quoting is illegal and misleads potential buyers looking for their dream home,” he said. “This legislation will help NSW Fair Trading identify and catch the rats in the ranks.”
The Department of Fair Trading defines under-quoting as making “a statement in the course of advertising a residential property for sale that is less than the agent’s true estimated selling price as recorded on the agency agreement”.
Fines of up to $22,000 already apply to agents who deliberately “falsely understate the estimated selling price” of a property. Only one under-quoting prosecution is now under way, against Bresic Whitney in Darlinghurst. There have been no successful prosecutions under the current act.
Data released by Mr Dominello’s office shows 263 complaints about under-quoting were lodged against agents in the past two financial years.
The most complained about areas were Castle Hill with 18 complaints, Epping with 14 and Neutral Bay with 13.
The small numbers are believed to be a consequence of consumers not being aware of what constitutes under-quoting and therefore not contacting Fair Trading.
Malcolm Gunning, president of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, said the government had consulted the industry to ensure the new rules would be “clear and, we think, effective”.
Written by Sean Nicholls for the Sydney Morning Herald on 4 September 2015
Top 10 Most Expensive Homes in the World
10. Rybolovlev Estate – $95 Million
This house is the most expensive single family home in the country and, since it was owned by Donald Trump, it’s obviously the most expensive home ever fought over in a divorce case. The 33,000 square foot oceanfront mansion has become a key part of the proceedings since Trump’s ex-wife Elena Rybolovlev demanded jurisdiction due to infidelity.
This home has 18 bedrooms, 22 bathrooms, and retails for $95 million, making it the most expensive single-family house in the nation…weird, we’re pretty sure we found nine more for this list. Unless we’re suddenly on TopOnez.Net
Originally on sale for $125 million, it ended up being haggled down to a mere 95. We guess the economy is hurting everyone these days.
9. Silicon Valley Mansion — $100 Million
As the most expensive single-family home in the US, this house… wait, didn’t we just say that the Rybolovlev Estate was the most expensive single-family home ever? Well, okay, this one went for 100 million so I guess it wins.
With 5 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms, and an indoor and outdoor pool (in case it rains, we guess), it’s all-in-all a pretty fancy house.
8. Fleur De Lys — 125 Million
Despite being marketed as the world’s most expensive house, the Fleur De Lys somehow only falls on number 8 on our list. Wow, that’s weird, huh? It’s almost like people on the Internet are wrong.
Fleur De Lys has 41,000 square feet and 15 bedrooms, but apparently no bathrooms, which we think is a huge oversight either by the architect or the person writing the articles we’re using as sources.
7. The Manor — $150 Million
Here we are, finally, the most expensive residential real estate listing in the US, according to Wiki-freakin’-pedia. $150 million. Feels pretty good to put that part to rest, doesn’t it? Thanks, Aaron Spelling, for having the (7th) most expensive house in the world.
This house features 56,000 square feet, 123 rooms, a bowling alley, an ice rink and allegedly an entire wing devoted to Spelling’s wife’s wardrobe.
6. The Pinnacle — $155 Million
Owned by Tim Blixseth, in Montana, this house is unique for two reasons: it has a private chair lift directly from the house to a nearby ski-resort (which Blixseth owns), and is the only house on this list so far named that doesn’t claim to be the most expensive in the world.
Also, we’re gonna call it right now: best back yard. Because it’s a ski resort.
5. Franchuk Villa — $161 Million
This five-story, freestanding 10-bedroom Victorian Villa also features an underground indoor swimming pool, panic room, and private movie theatre. It’s also the world’s most expensive home (yeah, sure it is), at $161 million.
How fancy is this place? Allegedly, during some remodeling, the noise made the Mayor of Moscow angry. The house is located in London. That’s right: the house is so fancy it doesn’t make sense.
4. The Hearst Mansion — $165 Million
Top Three Facts about the Fourth Most Expensive House in the World: it was used in The Godfather, JFK spent his honeymoon there, and (holy crap, get this): it’s the most expensive home in the US!
It features three swimming pools, 29 bedrooms (you have to supply your own horse heads har har har), movie theatre and, for some reason, a disco.
3. Fairfield Pond — $198 Million
Currently valued that way due to its property taxes, this 66,000 square-foot main house has a basketball court, bowling alley, and a $150,000 hot tub. The most valuable home in the US (again, according to Wikipedia).
2. Villa Leopolda — $736 Million
Wow, that’s a big jump in price. Built by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1902 and located on the French Riviera, this home was purchased by Russian billionaire Prokhorov, who is so rich he lost billions to the latest economic collapse and still had enough fun money to buy himself a three-quarter-billion-dollar summer home. It has 27 stories, 19 bedrooms, and a rumored 50 full-time gardeners.
1. Antilla – $1,000,000,000
This is it. The one you’ve been waiting for. The grand finale. The one billion dollar home. We give you…Antilla.
Located in Mumbai, Antilla challenges pretty much everything you’d expect about “what is possible in a home” and “what is possible for architecture.” The 27-story house features six floors of parking, a health level with a jacuzzi, gym, and “ice room,” a ballroom level (for dancing?) several floors of bedrooms and bathrooms and even a four-story garden — because, yeah, we guess that’s possible.
The architecture is based on an Indian tradition called Vastu Shastra, which is supposed to be conducive to the movement of positive energy. In keeping with this, each floor has not only a unique design, but an entirely unique set of materials and aesthetic design — meaning each room is meant to look like it’s from a different house.
Basically, this house has everything — things you can imagine, things you can’t imagine, and things you never thought to imagine but are now imagining because they sound like the greatest thing you’ve ever heard of.
Written By JF Sargent for toptenz.net
With the end of financial year fast approaching, we thought we would provide some general tax strategies for property investors to consider:
1. Documentation: Keep summaries of all your rental income and expenses.
This is much easier if you have your management agent looking after your property where they pay all expenses and collect all income. They will normally provide a monthly and annual statement.
Ensure you have all bank statements showing interest expense. The annual statement should show a summary of interest expense.
A specialist property accountant can assist by ensuring all allowable tax deductions are made.
2. Depreciation: Only registered quantity surveyors are generally authorised to prepare depreciation schedules.
If you are contemplating a renovation a quantity surveyor can produce a scrapping schedule, which puts a value against all items to be thrown away. This value is expensed in the year of expenditure. The new items are then depreciated with a new depreciation schedule.
3. Travel: All your costs to inspect your investment property are tax deductible, including travel. Ensure you apportion any personal component.
4. Interest expenses: Only interest expenses on borrowed funds used to invest are deductible. It is the purpose of the loan that determines deductibility, not the security used to obtain the loan.
A split loan should be considered when a loan is used for both investment and private purposes.
If capitalising interest the Tax Office may require evidence of correct documentation and intention.
Interest deductibility should be easy but if not properly documented and managed this expense can cause frustration if the ATO decides to review and so the assistance of a specialty property accountant should be used.
5. Trusts: The use of a trust can be a major benefit to property investors by improving asset protection, estate planning and increasing flexibility. If using a trust ensure it has been correctly set up and operated to ensure you do not lose your interest deductibility, which is fully allowable by the ATO if you meet the requirements.
6. Pre-pay expenses: If you have a geared investment it is worth considering pre-paying next year’s interest to gain an immediate tax deduction, especially if you’re paying the flood levy this year. You can also get a deduction now by pre-paying next year’s income protection insurance premiums. Also, consider bringing forward expenditure that would otherwise be spent after June 30. If you are planning on doing repairs on your property, note: Care should be taken in determining whether a maintenance or repair is deductible or if it is considered a renovation or of a capital nature. Consider pre-paying other expenses such as rates, levies or possibly even interest (in the right circumstances).
7. Manage capital gains: Capital gains generated during the year can be minimised by offsetting it against capital losses or trading losses incurred during the same year. To reduce capital gain generated on sale of property or other assets during the year consider selling any assets which have lost value and their future is bleak. The 50% discount on capital gains is available where an asset is held for longer than 12 months. As this is a considerable saving consider the timing of any sale. The relevant date for calculating capital gains is the contract date, not the settlement date.
8. Manage capital losses: Capital losses incurred in any year are available to be carried forward to future years if there are insufficient gains to absorb it in the same year. It can be carried forward for an indefinite period. Capital losses cannot be offset against other income such as business trading income if you’ve made a capital gain this year, review your portfolio to see whether it is worth realising a capital loss to offset the gain. You can’t carry losses back. So if you’ve made a capital gain, you may want to trigger a loss to offset it against.
9. PAYG variation: Where you have negatively geared rental investments, the negative part offsets against your other income, e.g. salary, reducing your tax payable and resulting in a large refund when your tax return is lodged. This refund can be used to reduce your loan, pay your interest expense or help finance another investment property. To help with cashflow, would it not be great if you were able to access this refund throughout the year instead of waiting till the end of the year? This can help finance that extra property, which has potential to pick up some capital growth between the beginning and end of year. This can be done by lodging an application to vary the income tax withholding using a form from ATO. This can be done electronically on line or you can download the form, prepare and lodge it manually. PAYG instalment obligations should be reviewed and consideration given to varying the instalment for the June 2012 quarter, where the estimate of income tax payable for the year is less than the instalments raised by the ATO. This will reduce the impact of this instalment on your cashflow.
Written By Ken Raiss of Chan & Naylor Accountants, for Property Observer, on Friday, 15 June 2012
At an early stage in your house-buying plans you will need to make numerous decisions. In order to help you, I have broken down some tips for what to look for when buying property that home buyers and investors need to take into consideration.
Subject to your budget, choose a suburb and property that suits your lifestyle or investment needs.
Residential home buyers
Choosing the type of house you want requires you to determine what you actually need and what your long-term goals are. You will need to think about the following:
Is this your dream home or a stepping stone?
Realistically, how long will you be living in the house?
Are you planning to have children?
Is the distance to work more important than having a garden or a big house?
Do you have the time, skill, patience and money to renovate or build a new house?
There will always be a trade-off between your needs and wants. Think carefully about what you really need and be honest about your own lifestyle and capabilities. All members of the household should be in agreement on basic needs.
If you work long hours or spend lots of time socialising at cafes or restaurants, a smaller home or apartment close to work may be more suitable than a large house that requires gardening and maintenance. If you are planning to start a family, maybe a quieter suburb close to parks might be more appropriate.
It’s a good idea to make a list of the features that you need and want in your home. You may wish to classify these features into “essentials” and “extras”, or to prioritise the features in terms of how essential they are to you and your family. You will never come across a house with every feature you want, and at some stage you may have to sacrifice one feature to get another.
If you are planning to be in this house long term, say for more than six or seven years, you will need to think about your future needs, especially if you have or plan to have children. Not only will the children like to have their own bedrooms, you may want to have an area into which you can escape, which makes open-plan houses unsuitable for the growing family. If the house has inadequate room, make sure that its floor plan is suitable for modification or an extension.
What sort of property do you want to invest in?
What is your financial position?
Do you want to be involved with an owners corporation?
Do you enjoy organising tradespeople?
Do you want to be able to drive past your property?
Location is essential. Good consistent capital growth is achieved in most areas where there is a stable and diverse economy. For that reason, inner-city areas are preferable to country or regional towns with a small population, and where the economy may be based on a single factor.
Once you have decided on a location, the area should be examined in terms of both the attractions and detractions of the immediate environment. In general, tenants dislike properties that have the following:
Railway at the back fence
Next door to public toilets
Facing a busy road
Small bedrooms with no built-in wardrobes
No off-street parking
Small living area
Small outdated bathrooms
Lack of heating and/or air-conditioning
No balcony or courtyard
Properties should be handy to:
Parks or water
Areas of employment
Within sought-after “lifestyle” locations
In established residential streets
Written by Melissa Opie of Keyhole Property Investments for Property Observer on 30 May 2012.
Interest rates are steady after dropping over the past few months, rental returns are climbing and it’s a great buyers market. But wait, there’s more… there is a way you can increase your return dramatically.
With the Affordable Rental Housing – State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) or granny flat initiative introduced by the NSW government in 2009, you can add a granny flat to your investment property and rent it separately, resulting in an increased yield and good depreciation benefits. You can also add a granny flat to your own home if you have a large enough block size.
This strategy allows investors to dip their toe in property developing starting with a smaller project like the granny flat to build their property portfolio.
The Sydney market can be expensive, which is what sent one me further afield to find a more affordable investment area.
After purchasing a few investment properties in Sydney, I found that they were all negatively geared. I needed to find properties that would assist with cashflow not drain me. My research took me to the Hunter region of NSW, and it’s there that I found the perfect fundamentals for an investment market. The local economies are booming thanks to the coal mining industries but also very diverse with wine growing, tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, horse breeding and retail all supporting strong employment. Coupled with massive government spending on infrastructure projects and strong demand for rental properties, I thought I’d struck gold.
Property Bloom now offers a granny flat service along with our other development strategies. We find properties suitable for a granny flat development, usually three-bedroom houses on large blocks, but not just any houses. They need to meet a long list of our criteria. We manage all the fine details, including renovating the house and building the flat, creating a positively geared investment.
Investors will benefit from casflow from the rent on two dwellings and also receive good depreciation benefits on the new flat. This means people can keep moving forward with their investment strategy. Unlike buying a single apartment in a capital city for instance, which is likely to be negatively geared, adding a granny flat to a property that already has an existing dwelling can result in a cash-flow positive situation.
In the past granny flats were only permitted in certain residential zones, but this SEPP has opened up a whole new real estate door. The aim of the granny flat is to boost the supply of affordable rentals by providing housing for the elderly so families can support each other, as well as the younger generation who are living at home and are not in a position to move out just yet.
Government projections show us that single-person households are likely to be the fastest-growing sector over the next 20 years, so demand is definitely there.
Small secondary dwellings are an attractive option for singles and couples who don’t need a lot of room and are the most likely people to be under rental stress. Young people are also staying at home longer, and granny flats can provide extra space for them and be a lifesaver for baby boomers who were hoping to empty their nests sometime soon.
In the Hunter, we are finding properties for around $240,000 and with the addition of a two-bedroom granny flat, which we can build for around $95,000; it’s a really affordable investment for a total cost of around $350,000. These projects are creating a 9% to 10% gross rental yield, and like the northern beaches, the rental markets are extremely tight in the Hunter. This type of development suits someone starting out in developing or an investor looking to create a positively geared investment.
To take advantage of the NSW government’s Affordable Rental Housing – State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) the regulations include:
- Granny flat must be no more than 60 square metres in size
- Land must be more than 450 square metres
- Can only be one house and one granny flat on the land
- The land cannot be subdivided
- You will need to comply with the LEP of your council (contact council re building
- It must meet the requirements of the Building Code of Australia
For more information on the Affordable Housing SEPP visit the government’s website.
Source : Jo Chivers, Property Observer. 16 February 2012
What Buyers Want
Source : Your Investment Property. 14 February 2012
The results of a national poll of real estate agents have revealed some interesting insights into what they believe buyers are looking for in a home.
The poll, which was conducted by Turf Australia, garnered the views of 114 real estate agents nationally between November 2011 and January 2012.
Top of the list of ‘elements of a property most valuable to buyers’ was an extra bathroom, with 42% of agents saying that buyers were looking for a property with more than one bathroom.
Being on a quiet street came in a close second (41%), followed by a decent sized backyard (34%), being close to a bus route or shops (20%) and off-street parking (13%).
Interestingly for investors who own property with a patch of grass, Turf Australia claim that the survey results show that home buyers are prepared to pay up to $75,668 more for home with a lawn.
According to the survey’s results, lawns add the most value in Victoria (19%), followed by NSW (16%), Queensland and South Australia (12%), and WA (9%).
“Australians have changed their ideals for a backyard but a townhouse or larger suburban home with an area of grass is still important in 2012,” said LJ Hooker CEO Janusz Hooker.
“For sellers, the key is to put some time into making the lawn look well-cared for and perfect for the new owners – that’s how they’ll capitalise on the added value a lawn can offer.”
Source : Your Investment Property. 14 February 2012
Buying Property with super
Self-managed super fund property rules
Buying property with Super and your SMSF is only permissible if you comply with the rules.
- Must meet the ‘sole purpose test’ of solely providing retirement benefits to fund members
- Must not be acquired from a related party of a member
- Must not be lived in by a fund member or any fund members’ related parties
- Must not be rented by a fund member or any fund members’ related parties.
However, your SMSF could potentially purchase your business premises, allowing you to pay rent directly to your SMSF at the market rate.
What it will cost you
SMSF property sales may have many fees and charges. These fees can add up and will reduce your super balance.
You should find out all the costs before signing up including:
- Upfront fees
- Legal fees
- Advice fees
- Stamp duty
- Ongoing property management fees
- Bank fees
Borrowing or gearing your super into property must be done under very strict borrowing conditions called a ‘limited recourse borrowing arrangement’.
A limited recourse borrowing arrangement can only be used to purchase a single asset, for example a residential or commercial property. Before committing to a geared property investment you should assess whether the investment is consistent with the investment strategy and risk profile of the fund.
Geared SMSF property risks include:
- Higher costs – SMSF property loans tend to be more costly than other property loans which must be factored into your investment decision.
- Cash flow – Loan repayments must be made from your SMSF which means your fund must always have sufficient liquidity or cash flow to meet the loan repayments.
- Hard to cancel – If your SMSF property loan documentation and contract is not set up correctly unwinding the arrangement may not be allowed and you may be required to sell the property, potentially causing substantial losses to the SMSF.
- Possible tax losses – Any tax losses from the property cannot be offset against your taxable income outside the fund.
- No alterations to the property – Until the SMSF property loan is paid off alterations to a property cannot be made if they change the character of the property.