Are you buying, selling, investing or renovating? Property expert, Andrew Winter has seen it all, and shares his most insightful, practical real estate advice, ever!
1. On building a granny flat
Don’t make the mistake of only considering the internal floorplan when building a granny flat.
“If you don't get the layout correct it could lead to tricky situations,” says Andrew.
“Sectioning off the garden and parking spaces is vital - or don’t provide them and be upfront. These can be negatives if you don't handle them right from the start. Make sure there are no grey areas when renting it to tenants.”
2. On saving money on your bathroom and kitchen reno
You can keep costs down if you keep your kitchen, laundry and bathroom in the same place.
“Services (think: water, gas and waste) are one of the most expensive things to relocate or install. Think about where your water comes in and where your sewage and drainage pipes and power sources are,” explains Andrew. “You might just put a bathroom in but if it had been designed a bit better, then the bathroom could be in another location and save you $10,000.”
3. On avoiding nasty surprises when you buy an apartment or townhouse
Be sure to check the title deeds carefully. “You could find that a garage doesn’t actually belong to you,” says Andrew. “Always check the measurements on the plan, or that little piece of garden you think is yours, may not be.”
4. On renovating an apartment or townhouse
Love the interior but hate the outside? Proceed with caution...
“All changes to outdoor areas in apartments and townhouses are subject to a majority vote of the body corporate,” says Andrew. “If you feel the need to express yourself, apartment living may not be the best choice.”
5. On buying off the plan
If you’re considering buying a new property before the build is completed, be sure to inspect all the documents carefully.
“Make sure the developer has the appropriate certificate of insurance. This will protect you against non-completion of work and breach of statutory warranties relating to the building,” advises Andrew.
6. On finding a great investment property
“Personally, I only ever buy investment property in areas where it’s predominantly owner-occupied,” he says. Tread carefully when it comes to properties promising high rental demand.
“Look for somewhere where more than half of the block of units, or houses, in the area are owner-occupied. If you’re reading an advert for a new unit block with high rental demand, the trouble is there could be 50 apartments up for rent.”
7. On researching your tree or seachange
Extend your reading beyond real estate reports to help get an understanding for the area.
“Spend some time reading the local newspaper before you make any major decisions about a move,” suggests Andrew. “This will give you insight into what the local issues are. That can be anything from crime rates to a major building project in the pipeline likely to cause disruption.”
8. On how to know whether you’re really ready to downsize
You love the idea of living with less, but the reality can be a different story if you haven’t really considered how you’d cope with less space and less stuff.
“A really good test is to lock rooms off in your current property and see how it feels – can you live without the space?” says Andrew. “It’s important when moving to an apartment to factor in strata or body corporate fees and remember, you’ll be living very close to your new neighbours.”
9. On buying property with family or friends
No matter how much you trust each other, always seek legal advice and get something down on paper before you buy.
“A few dollars on a legal agreement now may save you a small fortune in the future,” explains Andrew. “It doesn't have to be complex, but a co-ownership agreement can set out roles and responsibilities and clarify issues up front before they become a problem.”
10. On choosing a real estate agent
Like all things in real estate, choosing the right agent is all about research.
“Fish around online to see what kind of properties different agents in your area sell. Some agencies specialise in certain styles and price brackets,” says Andrew.
“The number one agent in your area may be good but number two may be more hungry.”
11. On how much you should pay your real estate agent
Clarity is key when it comes to understanding agency feeds. Make sure your agent explains clearly exactly how much you’ll have to pay before you sign the agency agreement.
“If the offers are falling short of the mark and the agent is encouraging you to take lower offers this could be time to re-negotiate the fee,” explains Andrew. “Their commission is a big chunk of money and if you are getting less than you expected so should they!”
12. On getting the most bang for buck during your renovation
When you’re planning your renovation budget, prioritise updating the rooms that really sell houses, like bathrooms and your kitchen. “Spend your money wisely, and put it where it shows," he advises.
13. On why your outlook can affect your property value
The orientation of a home can potentially boost or reduce market appeal, depending on the local climate.
“In cooler climates such as Tasmania or Victoria, look for a home that maximises northern light and gets a good dose of sun,” Andrew suggests, while in Sydney, “A westerly facing backyard will benefit from the afternoon sun, meaning the front of your home will receive the gentle morning rays.”
14. On buying a heritage property
Is there anything quite as romantic – or potentially problematic as a heritage property? Before you fall head over heels for a diamond in the rough, do your homework. It pays to be in the know especially when it comes to local council regulations and your bank.
“Check with the council or local heritage department as to whether the building has been a heritage study or a building of significance,” says Andrew.
Such a classification may sound grand, but it could seriously impact how much you can update or change in a renovation. Finance can also be problem. “Some lenders see heritage listed properties as being more difficult to sell and rarely lend more than 80 per cent of the home’s value.”
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