There is more education about the property market available than ever before.

Yet many first home buyers remain quite clueless about the process.

And that means when they are involved in their first property transaction they come across a bunch of unfamiliar terms, which doesn’t help with their stress levels.

So, here are five terms that first home buyers must understand.

1. Cooling off period

Market Cooling

A cooling off period doesn’t have anything to do with jumping in a pool on a hot summer’s day.

Rather, it’s the legislated time that buyers have to change their mind about their property purchase.

The length of cooling off time does vary from State to State but it is generally a few business days following the signing of a Contract of Sale.

While it does give buyers an out, they could be liable for a small fee to walk away.

Plus, there is no cooling off period when buying at auction.

2. Conveyancing

Conveyancing is one of the terms that you generally won’t have come across unless you’ve bought a property before.

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of the property’s title from the seller to the new buyer and is usually completed by a legal professional called a conveyancer.

This takes place on settlement day, when the property becomes yours, but a conveyancer can also help with other legal checks and balances before that time such as any caveats on the property.

3. LMI 
Metropole Property Home Buyers Enquiry

LMI or Lenders Mortgage Insurance is insurance that protects the lender if a borrower defaults on their home loan.

For loans with a greater than 80/20 loan to value ratio, borrowers will generally have to pay LMI, which can cost thousands of dollars.

That said, borrowers can capitalise LMI onto their home loan, which means you don’t have to physically have the money.

The thing with LMI is that while it is an additional expense, it can help first home buyers into the market sooner rather later.

That’s because saving a 20 per cent deposit is difficult so using LMI allows you to buy a property which will likely increase in value far more than what the insurance cost you in the first place.

4. Owners Corporation

Many first home buyers purchase units or attached dwellings because of their affordability relative to houses.

When they do, they across the terms owners corporation or body corporate, which is the legal entity that manages that complex on behalf of all of the owners.

It schedules the maintenance and repair of common property, such as a swimming pool, as well as collects quarterly fees from owners to cover administrative costs and regular upkeep such as painting.

5. Capital Gains Tax

One of the major changes of recent times has been the rise of rentvesters, who are often first home buyers. capital-gains-tax-money-government-pay-property

These are first-time buyers who opt to continuing renting while investing in a property elsewhere.

A term that investors must understand is Capital Gains Tax, because you’ll eventually have to pay it when you sell the property at some point in the future.

CGT will need to paid on any investment properties that achieved a capital gain during your period of ownership.

However, there is a 50 per cent discount for investors who hold the asset for more than 12 months. 40327469_l

Plus, the capital gain is classed as income during the year you sold it, so the tax that you pay will depend on how much you earned that year.

No one likes CGT, but because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, you might as well learn as much as can about it, including when might be the best time to sell to reduce its impact on your bottom line.

Cooler market conditions are enticing more first home buyers into property markets across the country.

They are making the most of softer prices and the savvy ones are educating themselves before taking that important first step on the property ladder.

Free Strategy 570x292

Blockchain, a collection of digital ledgers that updates through a peer-to-peer communication, has risen in popularity over the last year mostly through cryptocurrency, but one report details how technology can adapted to the rental market.

Outlined in the Understanding the Disruptive Technology Ecosystem in Australian Urban and Housing Contexts: A Roadmap report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, blockchain has potential to improve tenant-landlord relationships.

The report mentioned online rental application forms, using 1Form as an example, and how their usefulness could be enhanced through blockchain.

“In that case, there could be a full ledger of the applicant’s rental records, their correspondence with the agents and landlords, if they had been in arrears, their bond lodgements, etc.,” the report noted.

“Such clear ledgering can potentially replace the need for references as the applicants’ full rental history is available for view.

“Conversely, however, this may also potentially disadvantage vulnerable individuals in private rentals, particularly if they had trouble keeping up with rental payments due to unstable employment, or if they have special needs (such as grab rails and level access that may require some modification to the dwelling) that some landlords may discriminate against.”

Ledgers could also be made available for a landlord’s history, which could contain how quickly they responded to repair requests, if they have a habit of raising rents, if they were taken to a tribunal and what the outcomes were.

The reason for keeping these ledgers transparent between tenant and landlord also has the potential to improve how the private rental sector functions, the report noted.

The report added there would need to be legislative safeguards in place that protect the privacy of all parties involved.

“While it is important to protect tenants’ privacy and identity, provisions must be made to include clauses where, with tenants’ permission, such information can be shared in the context of tenancy transfer and linking up with necessary services,” the report stated.

Did you know you can use the equity in your house to help finance the purchase of an investment property?

We sat down with Bankwest Stores and Lending Network General Manager Carolyn Morris to learn how owner-occupiers can parlay their home equity into a career as a property investor.

What is home equity and how can it help me?

Home equity is the difference between a property’s current market value and any debt held against it.

“The good news for first-time investors is that equity may be used towards the purchase of an investment property,” says Morris.

“Depending on your particular financial circumstances and the amount of equity available in your home, you may even be able to finance the entire purchase price of your investment property, including any additional costs such as stamp duty and settlement fees.”

18 Austin Avenue, North Curl Curl NSW REAL ESTATE


It’s important to remember that you might not be able to use the entire amount of your available equity, as a dip in property prices could leave you exposed.

“If your financial circumstances permit, a bank will more typically lend you 80% of your home’s current value, minus any debt still owing,” says Morris.

How to calculate your home’s useable equity

Let’s say your home is worth $500,000 on today’s market and you still owe $200,000 on your mortgage.

Given most banks will likely lend you no more than 80% of your home’s current value, here’s how to calculate your home’s usable equity:

• Your home’s value = $500,000 x 0.80% = $400,000
• The amount of your outstanding loans = $200,000
• Your home’s potential useable equity = $400,000 – $200,000 = $200,000

So, if your home is worth $500,000 and you still owe $200,000 on your mortgage, you have $200,000 of useable equity towards the purchase of an investment property.

But “you’ll still need to show the bank you can afford the repayments on the full loan amount, which will include both the previous mortgage and the new one,” warns Morris.

Read more: Low income strategies for investing in property

13 Evan St, Gladesville; nsw real estate


How much can I spend on my investment property?

To determine the value of an investment property you may be able to buy, Morris says a general rule of thumb is to multiply your useable equity by four.

“If the potential useable equity on your home is $200,000, you may be able to purchase an investment property worth up to $800,000, inclusive of stamp duty, legal fees and other costs, subject, of course, to your ability to afford all repayments,” she says.

How much will it cost to access my equity?

There are various factors that can impact the cost of accessing your equity.

Morris says if you want to access more than 80% of your useable equity, you’ll need to pay for lenders mortgage insurance (LMI), the price of which varies greatly depending on the lender, the level of risk and the interest rate charged.

“If you decide to switch lenders, you’ll need to take into account additional costs, such as application and government fees. There may also be costs associated with closing your current loan product, especially if your home loan predates 1 July 2011, when exit fees were abolished,” she says.

In short, using the available equity in your home makes buying an investment property an achievable goal.

If you think it may be the right path for you, speak to a trusted lender for specific advice that takes your personal financial situation into consideration, as well as other professionals such as your accountant, and property experts.

Read more: Home loan calculators from Bankwest

Carolyn Morris, Bankwest


To the extent permitted by law, Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit licence 234945, its related bodies corporate, employees and contractors accepts no liability or responsibility to any persons for any loss which may be incurred or suffered as a result of acting on or refraining from acting as a result of anything contained in this report.

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This webinar was presented on 28 June 2018.  It shows you a simple process to follow if you want to make big profits on your next renovation project, and how Real Estate Investar can help.


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Setting the weekly rent on your rental property can be a bit of a tightrope.

List the price too low and you’ll be faced with hundreds of potential tenants at your open for inspections, as well as a deluge of applications. But list it too high and there’ll be tumbleweeds blowing through your applications folder.

So when your current tenants are moving out and you want to boost your rental yield from your new tenants, how can you increase the weekly rent but still ensure you attract a wide range of tenants?

Test the market

With thousands of renters on the lookout for properties each week in every Australian capital city, as a rental property owner the odds are stacked in your favour.

So why not see how much people are prepared to pay to stay in your property?

terrace house

You need to understand the market in order to maximise your rental yield.

Hocking Stuart Richmond property manager Jo Leonardis says the beauty of the rental market is that you can always start your price high and then adjust it down if required.

“For example, one property we might be able to lease between $550 and $600 in this market, so we’ll put the property on at $595 per week and see how that goes,” she says.

“We say to our clients, ‘Look, let’s try X amount for the first couple of open for inspections, and then let’s bring it down if we have to’. So we test the market if need be, but we don’t go over the top.”

But make sure you crunch the numbers. If you’ve got your heart set on a certain amount but your property is vacant, how many months at that higher amount will it take to make back what you’re losing because the property is empty?

Be strategic

Leonardis says if you want to achieve a rental yield that’s at the very upper end of what you think might be possible, it can be an effective strategy to advertise your property at just under a major price hurdle, in the same way that a consumer item might be sold at, say, $19.95.

“If you’re putting it on at $600 a week, then you’re cutting out a bit of the market that can possibly afford to pay in the high fives,” she says.

“If you’re putting the rent at $595, you’ll see that you’ll get a completely different set of tenants and people walking through the door. So it’s just that psychological justification. Even $5, it does do a lot for people’s interest in attending the open (for inspection).”

cosy rental

Price strategically – don’t forget there are tenants who might be searching just under your bottom line. Picture: Getty

Know your market

The simplest way to know whether an increase to a certain level will put off too many prospective tenants is to keep abreast of where rents are at for similar properties in your suburb and surrounds.

Leonardis says it can pay to regularly monitor what other properties are achieving in rent nearby, to ensure your expectations are realistic.

“People get put off by seeing other properties and competitors putting rents at a different scale,” she says.

“It’s all relative to the market. Week by week the market changes. So, for us, we look at it on a weekly basis.”

“Twenty dollars here or $20 there doesn’t affect too much, it’s when it’s a massive jump and you can’t really justify why it’s an extra $100 a week.”

Review regularly

Leonardis says you’ll also reap better returns for your rentals if you adjust rents up throughout a tenancy, as tenants then become conditioned to paying more as time goes on.

“Review rent every 12 months, and provide comparable properties to justify the increase,” she says.

“In a stable market, obviously you have to look at it a little bit more carefully, but we’ve been successfully increasing rents. Tenants have been OK with it. They kind of expect it, I think, every year.”


They say too many cooks can ruin the broth, but when you own an apartment, townhouse or unit in a block, multiple opinions are part of the deal. That’s why body corporates exist.

A body corporate – or owners’ corporation, as it’s more commonly known – brings together all the individual owners within a single strata titled property, like a block of flats. Strata is a way of handling legal ownership of part of a building.

The owners’ corporation manages shared expenses, decides how common areas, like gardens and lobbies, are maintained and deals with issues between owners, like noise and parking.

common foyer area

A body corporate is responsible for common lobbies. Picture:

Emily Sim, the head of property management at Ray White, says the cost and specific rules of owners’ corporations differ between buildings and are spelled out in the contract of sale. She explains the ins and outs.

What does a body corporate do?

A body corporate makes the decisions for how they want the common grounds of the property to be maintained.

They also manage all the outgoing expenses for the maintenance of the building, Sim says.

It’s responsible for things like car parks, driveways, entrances, lifts and lobbies, pools, shared courtyards and gardens.

Do owners have to be part of it?

Across Australia, owners are legally required to be part of the owners’ corporation if their property is subject to a strata title, and must pay for things like insurance.

Owners will often pay an external strata company to do the job for them.

“An annual general meeting is held to review all of the practises and typically any changes to the plan only occur when there is a vote and the majority vote for an alternative,” Sim says.

An extraordinary annual general meeting can be called to deal with “unforeseen issues.”

How much does it cost?

Owners pay funds into the body corporate each quarter or year.

Sim says that in most cases the more square metres of the complex you own, according to your property title, the more in contributions you will pay.

“A good example is a property which has a car park and storage cage. This property owner’s financial contributions would be higher than a property owner with a one-bedroom flat in the same building,” she adds.

Most owners’ corporations also maintain “sinking funds”; a “small back-up pool of money to cover unforeseen costs,” Sim explains.

body corporate buildings

Owners pay funds into the body corporate each quarter or year, with the amount based on square metres owned on property title. Picture:

What is a “special levy”?

A special levy can be charged if there is a cost for the running or maintenance of the building that is in excess of the standard levies.

For example, it could be to pay for a new roof or to repair termite damage.

“It is always voted on in an AGM or extraordinary AGM, but if the work needs doing, it generally gets voted in,” Sim explains.

Should owners be involved?

Every property owner should have an active interest in how their property is managed, according to Sim.

With the owners’ corporation in charge of how the property appears, as well as maintenance, there is an obvious link with how much an apartment, townhouse or unit within it is worth.

“Minutes from the AGM and history of the strata management can hamper a sale price and, in some cases, create so much fear that prospective buyers lose interest in the property; this ultimately will affect a sale price too.”


The positive cash flow property investment strategy involves seeking out properties where monthly income exceeds holding costs.  

This will generate surplus cash flow for you pre-tax.

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Working out if a property will make a good investment is undoubtedly complicated, but experts say it rests on three simple things; rental yield, capital growth potential and underlying demand.

Get these three things right and property investment success awaits.

Michelle May, a Sydney-based property flipper-turned buyers’ agent, and Danelle Hunter, managing director of Biggin & Scott Knox, in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, explain how to assess if a property is a good investment.

What is the rental yield?

Rental yield is a key metric for any property investor and is often referenced by agents and vendors. The higher the yield, naturally, the better.

A property’s gross rental yield is calculated by taking the annual rental income, dividing it by the property value, and then multiplying it by 100. For example, a property which earns $375 a week in rent, for a total of $19,500 a year, on a property purchased for $450,000, returns 4.3 per cent gross rental yield.

Net yield figures are calculated by taking into account expenses associated with the rental property.

7 Alexander St, Surry Hills. NSW Real Estate.

Rental yield is a key metric for any property investor. Picture:

Rental yield should be evaluated carefully, but in conjunction with other factors, like capital growth potential, according to May and Hunter.

“Ideally, you want to have a property which has a reasonable rental return, (but) with maximum capital growth potential,” May says.

Hunter says yield is one key factor, but not the only indicator of potential success. “A good rental yield is good, but you need a low-maintenance property in an area that is growing and close to everything, so (it) rents quickly,” Hunter says.

What is the capital growth potential?

While $10 extra a week in rent is great, picking the right property for its future capital growth can make investors many hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the years, May explains. Smart investors strike a balance between high yields and capital growth.

Look for capital growth performance above the median price growth, May says.

Fitzroy North

Look for capital growth performance above the median price growth. Picture:

Is there underlying demand?

Don’t rely on figures alone when evaluating a property. The property itself – it’s attractiveness and appeal to the target market – is make or break too.

A quality property will always be attractive to buyers and tenants, irrespective of what the market is doing, May says.

“Stay as close to the CBD as you can afford, as there will always be an underlying demand for good quality rental properties. People will pay more to live in a ‘blue chip’ lifestyle suburb. Existing public transport links, ideally several options, are paramount.”

urban lifestyle

There will always be underlying demand for good quality rental properties close to the CBD.  Picture: Oliver Strewe

To be a successful investor, think like an owner/occupier.

“What is an owner looking for? Is it storage, internal light, parking, an ensuite? These are the things that attract people looking for a home to buy, so it will also attract people who are looking to rent,” May says.

“Ultimately, no one wants to live in a dark and dingy cave, no matter how cheap the rent is. If that is the only property you can afford in your preferred suburb, you need to move to a cheaper suburb and get a better property.”

Carefully research the market and then meet it. If targeting a family market, for example, look at school catchment areas, outdoor space and off-street parking.

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