Bonjournal April 2014

Although we had New Year’s 3 months ago, February marked the start of the Year of the Horse in the Chinese calendar. This symbolises strength, spirit and energy. They say that in the year of the horse, you should be like a horse – hardworking, headstrong and persevering in the face of obstacles.


So get galloping! Here’s to a big year for you!


Limited time offer – Discount on Westpac’s Premier Advantage Home loans

Westpac is pleased to announce the following discounts to customers who take out a new variable rate loan between February 3rd and April 30th 2014.

a 0.70% variable rate discount on loans between $150,000 and $250,000;

a 0.90% discount on loans between $250,000 and $750,000 and

a 1.00% discount on loans greater than $750,000.

The offer is subject to full applications being processed and conditionally approved before April 30. All applications are subject to the standard lending assessments.

Please contact me to see how you can take advantage of this great opportunity on (03) 9863 3306.

Your guide to buying off-the-plan apartments

Probably my biggest mantra is that it is the land that appreciates not the building. So if you are thinking of buying an apartment, buying one with fewer apartments on it is a better bet. The other concern is the record number of new apartments – 15,300 – predicted to be completed across Melbourne this year. This will exceed the previous record of 12,800 new apartments completed in 2013, reports Charter Keck Cramer (CKC).

Almost 14,200 apartments were marketed off-the-plan last year, reports CKC.

Sydney is also still in the midst of an apartment boom, with 7530 apartments due for completion in 2014, a stock drop of more than 20% on last year.

Melbourne CBD is experiencing some oversupply making it potentially a “buyer’s market”. 

However there can be appeal to apartment living - overseas residents are very comfortable with living in apartments, there is a growing acceptance of pets in apartment blocks and apartments can suit an aging population due to less up keep.

Here are some expert tips for buyers shopping for an apartment in the current boom: 

Check credentials

It is essential buyers check the track record of the apartment’s developer. You can visit the Australian Legal Information Institute web site to do a quick check or simply do a search for the developer’s name.

If you find pages and pages of court appearances then perhaps alarm bells will ring.

There is so much on offer right now, particularly in Melbourne, we would encourage purchasers to do their research, check comparables and, most importantly, check your developer’s completed projects to ensure its track record shows experience and quality finishing.  

Location, location, location

Apartment occupants expect to live near lifestyle amenities and public transport.

If you chose to live in an apartment it is for convenience so make sure it is close to trains or buses, close to cafes and restaurants.

Always ask yourself ‘is it close enough to other things that people want to do’, as this will help you when or if you go to rent it out in the future.

Negotiate extra perks

Developers will rarely discount advertised prices while still selling off the plan. But they may sweeten deals in other ways.

Instead look for other benefits in your negotiations such as a better quality of fittings or a preferred position for your parking space. 

See what you cannot see

When buying off-the-plan, visualise your future property’s aspect, natural light and view.

It is very important to understand what you have paid for and get what you have paid for, remembering you seldom get anything for free including views.

Find out what’s planned on all sides of your virtual apartment block. You cannot see what you are buying so if it is overlooking an empty block, assume it won’t always be empty.

Understand how future neighbouring development might impact your investment.”

Scrutinise what you are buying

Pull out a measure and tape out the apartment’s dimensions so you can see room size and living areas.

If there is a display apartment on site, take photos of all its finishes and fittings and make sure your apartment’s finishes and fittings are all itemised in writing in your contract. 

Levies low-down

Some developers will offer to pay “exceedingly low” levies to secure early sales but this can be a short-term perk.

It often comes as a shock to owners when they get their first bill in the mail and realise payment is their responsibility; they seem to think levies are paid by someone else.

Ms Bradley agreed estimated levies when buying off the plan are “almost meaningless.

Get a much more accurate picture of what you should budget for post-settlement by finding comparable developments and reviewing their levies.

 Remember also if you are planning on renting this property out in the future, apartment amenities such as lift, gym, pool are fabulous while you are living there but can very expensive to maintain for a renter (due to high Body corporate fees).

In summary – Buyer beware.

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