Keep your home safe over the summer break

Now that summer is upon us, many will be thinking about an extended break, a trip to the beach house or maybe a holiday interstate or overseas. Getting away over the summer is a big part of Australian tradition, but unfortunately the number of break in s and thefts from property rises at this time. Thieves know there will be an influx of new ‘toys’ for Christmas, making theft an even more attractive proposition. Here are some simple things you can do to help keep your home safe if you are heading away over the summer.

A little help from your friends: A neighbour can be your best friend in regard to keeping your property safe. If they can park in your driveway they provide a visual deterrent, and having them put out and bring in bins according to the schedule will give the appearance that you are still home. Likewise, leaving a spare key outside the property is an invitation for it to be found, but if you give it to your neighbour or a friend, it will be safe but unlikely to be used for anything nefarious.

Keep it clear: Make sure that any tools that could help someone break into your house are not left out where they are in easy access. This includes ladders, hammers, screwdrivers, shovels and anything else a burglar could use to help them gain access.

Be social – but overshare: We are a nation of Facebook and Instagram posters, but ensure that all settings are set to provide the best security. Sharing your holiday pictures informs anyone who can see these images that you are not at home – make sure only your friends see your posts. A colleague of mine only posted holiday snaps after he returned – he had shared selected photos through Messenger to a family/friend group specifically created for that purpose.

Stop the deliveries: If there is no one available to collect mail regularly then have a hold put on it. Australia Post provide this service for around $50 a month; not a great outlay when you consider what having a box full of mail indicates to a dishonest watcher. If you have a paper delivered, make sure you stop this as well.

Find a system: Installing a security system is not as expensive as it once was and cameras can be connected to apps for your smart phone so you have the ability to watch your home while you’re away from home. While there is an outlay for this, it will bring peace of mind and is likely to be cheaper than the cost of repairs, replacement and insurances should your home be broken into.

Becoming part of a Community, pt. 2

Cleaning Tips

 

 

 

Becoming part of a Community, pt. 2

A recent post explored some of the features people look for when wanting to buy into a community rather than just buy a house. This continues that exploration by looking at the importance of parkland to building community and the ‘liveability’ factor of the area.

We have already mentioned dog parks as a perfect way to meet like-minded people, but larger areas of parkland can also provide opportunity to meet people and create the sense of community that sometimes does not come from high density housing. Walking and cycling paths can not only be a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle fit but also serve as a means of meeting your neighbours.

Parkland areas can also include play areas designed specifically for children – these can sometimes be quite innovative, and in this day and age, will be designed with safety in mind (anyone else grow up dodging metal swings that could split your head open like a machete?). These areas are a great way for children and parents to meet and form friendships. If there is a playground, there will often also be a barbeque area, allowing for summer evening cook outs, another great way of bring people together.

Larger parkland can also be used for special events, designed to bring the community together. These may include regular Farmers’ Markets, or annual events such as Christmas Carols or Street Food Festivals.

If you are looking at property it’s a great idea to check the whole area, not just the street in which the property is located. The local council website can also be a great resource for finding out the nature of the community into which you are looking to move.

Becoming Part Of A Community

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A recent post on our blog looked at the change in Australian neighbourhoods – high population density creates different communities to the ones in which our parents and grandparents were raised. For many reasons, including work schedules and apartment living, people now find difficulty in getting to know neighbours. This can lead to a ‘disconnect’ from the wider community.

Some urban planners and developers are taking note of this and are including facilities designed to bring people together within their communities. If you are someone who would prefer to live in a community – perhaps making a house/apartment feel more like home – here are some of the features you might find in new development that will assist.

Community gardens

Balcony flower pots & kitchen window herb trays can only take green thumbed garden lovers so far. The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network lists almost 150 gardens in the Melbourne area, allowing members to access shared plots that can produce all manner of agriculture and plant life. As a shared experience, it’s a great way to connect to other people on the community.

Dog parks

Just as the backyard veggie garden was a big part of the Australian backyard, the dog was also a typical feature – often to the detriment of the veggie garden! Now, with less backyards and more designer pooches (try asking your grandad if he had a labradoodle as a kid), spaces dedicated to our ‘fur children’ is important to lifestyle. It’s also a great way of meeting like-minded people.

Eat & Greet

Many communities now boast food hubs, which not only provide culinary treats but provide places where you can gather and meet other locals (some great examples can be found here, here and here). Far from the stuffy tea rooms of our grandparents’ day, there is always a funky café that welcomes the kids with a ‘babycino’ and even the ‘fur kids’ with a water bowl and doggy treats. What better way to meet your neighbours when they are enjoying the same great facilities as you are.

The next part of this post will look at some of the benefits of larger parklands to gaining a sense of community.

Bathrooms

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Bathrooms can be the most important room when it comes to sale but at times, this ‘smallest room in the house’ can be difficult to work with. They can be cramped with layouts determined by plumbing and little natural light. Whether it’s your ensuite or your apartment bathroom, here’s a few tips for making that ‘smallest room in the house’ seem more spacious that don’t require major renovations.

1. Light & bright

A small room needs as much light as possible to give it that spacious feel. Start with the colours of the wall and ceiling. Make sure they are the same, light colour. Making use of half or double strength for tinting can give a contrast without making the room any more dull. If there are curtains in the room, make them as sheer as possible which will maximise any natural light.

2. Reflection

Reflected light is a great way to make a small room feel bigger, so install large mirrors. It’s not a bad idea to make the mirrors larger than you normally would and use more than for a normal bathroom.

3. Raise the bar

If you have a shower curtain, raise it all the way to the ceiling. This will draw eyes upwards, making the ceiling appear taller and creating the illusion of a bigger space. You can use the same effect with any curtain rods – the greater hang will give the impression of a larger window, again making a small room seem bigger.

4. De-clutter

Clutter is a space killer. If you don’t need it right away, then store it in another room. This can include the bathmat, which if it is on the floor, decreases floor space making the room appear smaller.

Neighbours

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Working in real estate means meeting lots of people who tell you about their property and their property dreams. Those that tell you about their property often refer to their neighbours. Some have unhappy memories but most relate stories of neighbours who are cheerful, friendly and helpful. In this day and age, neighbours are as important, or perhaps more important than they have been in the past.

The rapid growth in our cities has seen our neighbourhoods change, shifting to a higher density than in the past. Our lives have become busier and activities increasingly take us away from the home. Likewise, local shops have been replaced by shopping malls or internet purchases, meaning where we once may have regularly bumped into a neighbour or too, we now rarely see them.

Housing developments are built and sold on the promise of the communities they build, but these differ from the communities our parents knew. Developments now build communities with outside spaces for walking and playing, as the backyard is not seen as attractive as it once was, and apartments with balconies rather than gardens are commonplace.

Where once neighbours would have met over back yard fences, perhaps returning the balls their children had inadvertently hit too far, a local park now serves as that community hub where the kids play and parents meet and get to know each other.

Despite this, some things haven’t changed. The qualities of a good neighbour remain the same. A willingness to make introductions, a friendly nature and the ability to be both trusting and helpful are still key.

When a new neighbour arrives, a knock on the door and a friendly welcome can go a long way to creating a community that looks out for each other. If you are new to an area, and you are comfortable doing so, being the one to say hello first lets people know you are willing to be friendly.

Summer Tips

Cleaning Tips

 

 

 

Now the Melbourne Cup has been run and won, we are well and truly on the way to another Australian summer. The early predictions are that this summer is going to be an especially hot one, so here are some simple tips for keeping you, your family and especially your home cooler this summer.

It’s a good idea to visit the local appliance store now if you are thinking of buying a fan or portable cooler. Once the first day of real heat hits there’s always a rush on these kinds of appliances. Likewise, while you are thinking of the summer, pick up light bulbs that are low wattage or LED – these help keep any extra heat out of your home. The other sensible purchase, especially given what our politicians are discussing regarding electricity supply, is a surge protector. Make sure any power board you intend to use has this protection inbuilt; this will help to make sure your home’s electrical system isn’t overwhelmed by all the extra fans or time running the air conditioner.

While on the subject of air conditioners, it’s a great idea to be moderate in the use of this appliance. Don’t set it too low – on a 40°+ day 23° is still considerably cooler. If you are not at home, turn the air conditioner off or if it’s on a timer only set it to go on a few minutes before you get home.

Running other appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines overnight also helps to ensure you are not overloading the electrical system. It is also a good idea to turn lights and fans off when you leave a room.

When night falls and it is cooler, open windows to let that cool air into the house, then close them in the morning to keep the cool air trapped. Blinds that are east and west facing should be kept closed; this will help prevent the home heating up through exposure to direct sunlight.

If you have synthetic sheets, consider swapping so that there are cotton sheets on all the beds. Cotton breaths much more effectively that synthetic.

While not about keeping the house cooler, these additional tips help make summer more comfortable in your home.

Once the warmer temperatures arrive, the wet areas in your home will be more susceptible to mold, which loves the warmer weather. Ensure that bathrooms and kitchens stay well ventilated.

The Australian summer is also the time when all the bugs come out to play – especially the flies! Make sure food remains in the refrigerator or is tightly covered.

Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Tips

 

 

 

While we are now half way through Spring, it’s not too late to get spring into action for a spot of Spring cleaning! The warmer weather will have you throwing your windows open and inviting friends for weekend barbeques, so here’s some tips for make the whole house sparkle. Or, if you plan to sell in Spring, these are great ways to prepare your home to give the best impression.

• Start each room with a plan of attack. While there’s no hard and fast rules to this, the simplest way is to begin at the door then move around the room in a clockwise direction, cleaning the wall and anything that is against it (e.g. occasional table) or on it (e.g. picture frame). Once this is completed start of any furniture that is in the middle of the room.

• We are all make use of our vacuum cleaner on our floors, but you can also use this appliance to clean out an oven, a fridge, the toaster or cutlery drawer – in fact, any place crumbs, scraps or dust might gather.

• For finer cleaning, a hair dryer can be used to get rid of dust in the corners (especially cupboards) or even from a computer keyboard.

• Regardless of the cleaning product you are spraying, always spray the cloth – not the surface. This is a great timesaver as you won’t have to wipe of excess spray.

• Most of us will have a lint remover for our clothes – these are also very effective for taking the dust off lampshades, curtains or other cloth items.

• Finally, a great way of adding a pleasant scent to a room is by placing a drop or two of an essential oil to the light globe in a lamp. The scent spreads as the light globe warms up and is much more efficient and pleasant than some of the ready-made sprays and products.

Make Your Garage An Attraction Too

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Make your garage an attraction too

 

When preparing the house for sale, we often simply focus on the indoor spaces, but the garage can use some loving too, especially if prospective buyers are looking for their very  own ‘man-cave’ or ‘she shed’. Don’t fall into the trap of dumping everything from the house into the garage – make your garage a showcase to complement the other work you around the property. Here’s some quick tips to help.

 

Clutter-free

There’s a rule in our house: if you haven’t used it in 12 months then you don’t need it. Before anything else, you need to look at what is in your garage and get rid of what you don’t need or don’t use. Bottles that are almost empty or boxes no longer useful can be discarded. If the item is still useful donate it (find a local Men’s Shed – they usually welcome old tools); if it’s broken then throw it away.

 

Clear

The floor space is one of the things that determines how people see your garage. If the floor is covered with boxes, bikes or equipment your garage will appear smaller (not to mentioned untidy and poorly looked after). Having gone through the items already (see Clutter-free above) to determine what you to still want to keep, you need to now find places for anything that sits on the floor. A storage unit is an option if you can’t get everything off the floor.

 

Complete

Another good option if the clearing hasn’t worked is completing the space with some storage options. Floating shelves can small smaller items, or larger freestanding shelves could solve the problem of boxes on the floor. A lockable cupboard could also hold any valuable tools.

 

Check

This is a simple job but is essential. Make sure that any electrical fixtures or fittings are working. Replace any old bulbs if that is needed. If the outside is maintained well, it implies the rest of the property is too.

 

Clean

Once you have declutter, cleared, looked after the storage and checked the electrics, all that is left is too make sure the space is clean. Use a high-pressure hose to clean the floor, especially if there is any oil or grease from the car. Check the corners for cobwebs and clear these away.

 

While this can take time, ensuring your garage is presented as well as you present the other areas of your property can increase interest.

 

Property tips are helpful but if you are interested in property investment, then give Accrue Real Estate a call.

Decision

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Buying a home is a big decision. Whether you are an investor, first home buyer or you are planning an upgrade, it is easy to be overawed when you hit the market. Everyone will give you an opinion – from friends and family to real estate professionals – and some of this may be good advice. Ultimately, however, you make the decision and the final decision will be determined by the level of comfort you feel. Before you purchase that property though – work your way through this checklist of three questions; they may be helpful to frame your decision and create a better level of comfort.


1
Why am I buying a home?

This may sound a silly question but financially this is the biggest commitment you are likely to make. Global surveys consistently find five reasons for people buying a home. Only one of these, renting is not a good investment, relates to finances. The other four focus on the family and the future. Those reasons are about providing safe places and a good education for children and having room for a family to grow in a living space which the family controls (for restoration or renovation).

So, do any of these ring true for you? Are they the factors you are considering? (N.B. If you are an investor, your are probably not thinking of purchasing a ‘home’ but you could find useful information here) Of course, these reasons imply a family decision – those involved in the decision will help determine why you actually want the home. A list of your reasons is a great way to get started – seeing these in print is affirming but also a good way of gauging their importance.

2 What is the current market trend

There is a lot of noise in the media about the current property market. After a long period of growth, there is strong evidence the market is cooling and will likely stay that way for some time. There are a number of people predicting big price drops, but most commentators are not seeing reason to panic, rather market correction – just another part of the property cycle.

In the current market the buyer has the advantage, and there is more opportunity for the buyer to hold out for a lower price. Regardless of the property cycle, it still has to be the right time for you to buy.

 

What about the mortgage rates?

Of all the variables in property purchase, the mortgage rate is the one that can have long-term impact. There is always a possibility of the mortgage rate changing – while this has been a downward trend in Australia for quite a while, there is no guarantee this will continue. Many commentators feel the rates will begin to rise slowly in the coming years – around 1 percentage point by the end of 2019.

This is a very important consideration, as any rise in mortgage interest rates will impact the amount of your monthly repayments. A rise of 0.15 percentage points will add around $450 a year to repayments on a $400,000 mortgage (if the borrower is paying principal and interest).

As we have already stated, you are the only one who will know if it is the right time to buy a home. There are people to help with the decision though. Accrue Real Estate not only know the property market but have strong relationships with professionals who can assist with financial questions. The decision is still yours but with Accrue Real Estate’s help, it can be an informed decision.

 

Personal Trainer

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Australians it seems are becoming more and more concerned with diet. Part of this is trends – smashed avocado, anyone? – but it seems that it is also about health. We are becoming more conscious about weight and diet plans and personal trainers are commonplace. My colleagues and I even share ideas of maintaining a healthy weight in between complaining about grand final umpiring.

In fact, one of my colleagues pointed out that what we do in assisting our clients with property investment is very similar to what a dietician or personal trainer does for their clients. It sounded far-fetched at first, but it’s actually a good comparison.

If you decide to diet, the first thing you will need is a plan. The plan needs to suit your particular needs and be one that is ‘palatable’ to you – basically, you have to believe you will stick to it before you start or you are not likely to get far. In choosing this plan, you will talk to friends who have tried this plan or that plan to decide the one to which you will commit. If you are really serious, you may even consult a dietician, GP or personal trainer.

Investing in property is pretty similar. You start out by researching. You look for suitable suburbs, checking amenities, property prices and past performance. You ask around, maybe visit local real estate agents or talk to others who may live or have property ion the same area. Or, if you are really serious, you can talk to Accrue Real Estate, who have experience in the Melbourne Property market and have done the research on many suburbs already. Just like a good personal trainer, we can look at your specific needs and situation and help you find the right investment property to meet them.

An important part of any diet is – and no surprises here – the food. If you are not enjoying the food it will be much harder to stick to the diet and achieve your goal. In terms of property investment, rather than good food, think good location. The wrong suburb can seriously limit investment potential – auction clearance rate, property vacancy rate and rental yield are just some of the factors that determine the best suburb for investment. Accrue Real Estate have years of experience working in the Melbourne property market. As part of this, Accrue research Melbourne suburbs to determine which have best investment potential. As your ‘property personal trainer’, you have the benefit of this experience.

Anyone who has dieted knows that at some point you hit a wall. Best intentions don’t necessarily allow you to push through. With investment, there can be similar ‘blocks’. Perhaps the first property doesn’t suit or maybe your finances are taking longer to organise than you initially planned. None of these things should be deal breakers. Accrue Real Estate have spent years developing partnerships with companies that have experience in property investment financing. Just like a personal trainer helping you maintain your diet plan, Accrue Real Estate help you to realise your investment goals.

One of the hardest parts of dieting is after you reach your goal weight. If you don’t have the plan to maintain the diet and continue a healthy lifestyle, the weight you’ve lost can quickly be put back on. The best personal trainers not only help devise the plan, but also teach the skills that allow their clients to continue beyond the original diet. The Accrue Real Estate experience includes providing skills and knowledge to allow you to make informed decisions that will meet your investment goals and help you plan for maintenance of your investment property and even possibilities for further investment.

If you are thinking of property investment as way of securing your financial future or to help your children secure theirs, Accrue Real Estate would be perfect as your ‘personal trainer’