A Guide for First Time Investors
City, Suburbs, Coastal or Country – Where is the right investment for you?
Should you invest in a house or an apartment?
Red flags to look out for when investing
How To Choose The Right Investment Property
Property investment – is it still an option for future generations?
Investing in property is an exciting way to build wealth. However, working out the right move takes time and a little bit of homework. While property investment is arguably one of the easiest pathways to financial freedom, there are a range of financial and legal obligations that it pays to understand. Property investment is a serious business venture that requires research, planning, good timing, well-informed decisions and the right professional help and support. To get you started, we've put together this short, helpful guide to get you on the right track to becoming a successful first-time property investor.
Set a goal and establish a timeline
Ask yourself what you are hoping to achieve and when. Setting a time frame for yourself can help you stay on track and pursue your goal methodically. Setting goals helps you focus on financially smart investment decisions instead of being swayed by personal preferences. The aim is to maximise your return on investment, so business decisions should inform your goal and timeline. Throughout the process of finding a property, stay focused on what you are setting out to achieve and your wealth objectives.
Don't get personal, this is business
Buying your first investment is different from buying your first home. This is a business transaction and should not be confused with an emotional one. The buying process is similar, as you will learn from our first time home buyer's guide, but this is all about maximising your return on investment and choosing a property that will help you achieve your investment goals as quickly as possible. Instead of choosing a floor plan that suits your lifestyle, you instead need to consider what will appeal to potential tenants and/or future buyers of the property.
Do your research
Doing plenty of research is important. The first part of this is narrowing down which suburbs work best to achieve your investment goals. Don't make the mistake of simply looking in your own backyard. The best investment choices may be elsewhere. Examine the past sale prices of neighbourhood houses and local amenities, including schools and transport. Find out whether there are any proposed developments in the area which will affect the property prices i.e. major road or rail works. It's a good idea to reach out to the local real estate agent for support and advice on the specific area you are considering.
Choosing the right investment property
Buying a property in a location that is unattractive to tenants or oversupplied is a common mistake made by first-time investors. This happens when investors don't thoroughly research the area they're considering. To help yourself, investigate the rental yields and capital growth rates in the area to determine its potential as a good investment. Understanding your target market is key. What kind of demographics are attracted to renting in this area? Families, professionals, students? Take a look at other properties in the area to get an insight into the local culture and the type of property features that are currently in demand.
Focus on widely appealing features
Instead of focusing on personal preferences, you should consider what features will appeal to the widest pool of people. This includes neutral colours and high levels of functionality. Good quality fittings, plenty of natural light and an easy to maintain garden are all universally appealing features. The kitchen and bathroom are the areas that have the biggest impact. Remember that first impressions count for a lot in property – what sticks out for you will also stick out for future tenants and buyers.
Property inspections are a must
It's important that you inspect a property thoroughly with an objective eye. Bring friends or family members along to get multiple perspectives on what's good and what's not, but remember to consider functionality and wide appeal above anyone's personal opinion. You should also look for signs of deterioration and try to determine the quality of the build. When you're serious about a property, don't skimp on all the checks and balances, and be sure to bring in the experts for a building and pest report.
Plan your finances
Do plenty of research in the areas you want to buy to determine what you can afford and what your finance options are. Consider properties you have shortlisted and before making any purchasing decisions, ask yourself which ones are the most financially feasible and profitable. You should also determine whether any repairs or renovations will be necessary. In certain cases, a renovation can add value to your property and boost returns. Even simple ones like a new coat of paint or updating fittings, fixtures and appliances can go a long way in attracting tenants.
Do you have equity in your existing home?
Depending on the growth in your area and how long you've owned your home – you may have equity to draw on in your own home. For example, if your property is worth $500,000 and your home loan is $100,000, your property has equity of $400,000. Instead of saving for a cash deposit for your first investment property, you may be able to use this equity to meet the required deposit for your home loan.
Can you benefit from negative gearing?
Negative gearing involves borrowing money in a way that results in a loss that can be claimed as a tax deduction. For example, if an investor generates $20,000 in rent each year, but has expenses of ownership totalling $25,000, the investor can then claim the loss of the $5,000 as a tax deduction. It is always best to speak with a financial professional or accountant for clarity on whether negative gearing can work for you.
Costs of property investment
Ensure you are well-aware of all the costs involved in purchasing an investment property, which includes legal, bank, government fees, taxes and charges, accounting, valuations, council, insurance, property management, advertising, and don't forget pest control as well as building inspection reports – for peace of mind. Many of these fees like stamp duty, rates, body corporate fees and insurance will vary depending on location and what kind of property you are purchasing.
Seek professional help
Buying property is a huge step towards financial security and is a great way to invest in your future. It is less volatile than the share markets and, unlike other investment options, property investors have complete control over their asset. But don't feel like you must do it alone. With the right property management, taking care of your investment can be relatively stress-free. To learn more about why you need a property manager, head here.
Remember you can always talk to your local First National Real Estate team. We can provide more informed opinions on the sorts of returns you may stand to make by investing in the area you are considering, relative to the current market conditions. Contact us today.
This guide is general in nature and may not suit your individual circumstances, always seek professional financial, legal, accounting or property valuation advice.
Owning property has long been referred to as the 'Great Australian Dream' and for good reason. It's a relatively stable, secure investment that has the potential to build financial freedom for you and your family. And whether you choose to invest in the city, suburbs, coast or country areas, you really can't go wrong! While inflation and interest rate rises may be the talk of the town, over the long term, capital gains are still there to be had (housing fulfils a basic human need, after all), and savvy investors aren't being deterred. So, whether it's your first time investing, or your third, here's why investing in property in the city, suburbs, coast, or country remains a solid investment move.
Property investment pros
While new investment opportunities like cryptocurrencies and NFTs have arrived on the scene relatively recently, property still reigns supreme. It's more popular than investing in shares and thanks to various government schemes and grants available to assist first-home buyers, it's become more accessible. Here are six unbeatable reasons to invest in property:
- Security – property prices rarely decline over the long term, which is why banks often lend 80% of the purchase price. It's a secure investment that can open the door to further investments over time.
- A step on the ladder – an investment property can provide a steppingstone to build equity and work your way towards a dream home in a dream suburb.
- Financial freedom – property is a significant source of wealth for Australia's top earners, and it can be for you too. It's a long-term investment that can provide future financial freedom.
- Add value – there's nothing like having a place you can call your own. And because it's your own, you can add value through a lick of paint, renovations, extensions, or even adding a minor dwelling (if permitted).
- Tax benefits – property investment comes with tax benefits – particularly if you're buying a new home or planning to rent it out.
- Stop paying someone else's mortgage – if you're renting, you're likely paying someone else's mortgage – it's money you'll never see again that could be going towards your own home.
With established transport links, a diverse economy, employment opportunities and amenities on the doorstep, housing within metro locations is always in demand. And choosing a more compact home like a townhouse or apartment can often mean a more affordable price tag for first-time investors, limited maintenance woes and increased security (if it's within an apartment block).
While rental vacancies are generally low within bustling metro areas, capital gains are often where investors see the most significant returns. This can provide investors with leverage to buy another property, the opportunity to take a step up on the property ladder or take a step towards financial freedom.
If the city's not for you and rural property is a step too far, suburban housing investment opportunities are plentiful. Suburbs located moments from main metros can be pricey, but it pays to hunt around for 'the worst house in the best street' opportunities before ruling the option out. Alternatively, set your sights a little further afield and look at new developments or homes located on the outskirts of these.
Master-planned developments come with an array of housing options to suit different budgets, stamp duty savings (as you'll typically only pay stamp duty on the land), tax benefits through depreciation associated with a new build, and building warranties. This makes them an appealing option for investors, and the meticulously planned neighbourhood and easy living on offer are a drawcard for families looking to rent.
Growth corridors are often full of suburban investment potential – here's where to find them.
Count on coast and country
The rise in remote work means many Australians are no longer tied to a specific location for employment. As a result, sea and tree changes have become viable options well before retirement, and coast and country properties have increased in appeal.
While coastal towns have seen significant growth over the last few years, as an investor, it's essential to look to locations with a steady population over an influx of visitors over holiday periods. While seasonal locations can still generate strong returns, often, long-term ongoing tenancies come out on top.
And while the country lifestyle may not be for you, remember you can always buy an investment property while continuing to rent in the city.
Property and time lead to investment returns
Investing in property and reaping solid returns takes time, research, and patience. We firmly believe there are always opportunities to be had; it's just a matter of understanding your goals and which type of investment best suits your circumstances.
First National Real Estate is always on hand to help guide you through the opportunities. And with over 300 offices nationally, we're bound to have a team on the ground with local insights wherever your search extends.
Whether you are a first time buyer or seasoned investor, you will typically choose between a house and an apartment. The key drivers which will determine the type of property you purchase includes the state of the economy, home loan interest rates, your financial capacity to borrow, desired property location and your own personal investment goals. Here are some key points to take into consideration when making a decision:
House Extensions Add Value to Land
The term 'safe as houses' did not come from thin air. Apartments may be cheaper overall, but there is something to be said for the security of investing in a house that sits on a parcel of land. Buyers can calculate the price per square meter and look at local council planning controls to determine how much more building footprint can be added to the land with a new extension. This may include an extra bedroom or living area and landscape garden with a pool. This is not an option in most apartments due to strata laws.
Buying an Older House
While apartments are often newer, an older house can be improved through either minor or large scale renovations. Assuming the proper building and pest inspections have been conducted, an older house is less likely to surprise you with newer, cheaper materials used in building large apartment complexes. Building defects on apartments are impossible to see if you're buying off the plan before they are built. The patient investor that can make steady, quality improvements to a house over time, will be rewarded. Having your friends over for a BBQ or party in your backyard can be priceless.
Buying a New Apartment
There are inherent risks in investing in an apartment today – more so than ever before. Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney's skylines have all been dominated by cranes in recent years as literally tens of thousands of apartments are built. Unless you are investing in a post war block of units, most apartments are newish, with many built for immediate market impact rather than for longevity.
The sheer speed of construction is testament to that. Some apartment complexes can deliver less than 10 years of solid value to their owners, before they turn into money pits, as shoddy workmanship and hasty construction start to reveal themselves. In addition, the resale potential alone of apartments in many of Australia's cities is a lottery at best, with so much competition to contend with.
Buying Land is Important
The investment potential of the property you choose is an important part of the equation and your choice here will really be influenced by what your long-term property investment goals are. In the case of an apartment, the bulk of the growth potential may be in the building itself, rather than the small piece of land it sits on. When purchasing a house, the land itself becomes the greater part of the asset in many cases, however so much more can be done with the property that improves your capital growth options as well.
Body Corporate & Ongoing Strata Fees
Buying an apartment comes with ongoing overhead costs such as body corporate fees, strata title rates and being responsible for repairs and maintenance to the general apartment block exterior, common access areas, security and administration. It is important you ask for the body corporate fee structure and include these costs into your budgeting model.
As mentioned previously, your borrowing capacity will dictate your choice of buying a house or an apartment, yet the most important consideration is looking for well priced property and the capacity to capitalize on your investment. A three-bedroom house in a regional area may end up being a much better opportunity for you to invest in, than a small inner-city apartment. Similarly, a spacious apartment a little out of the city may serve your plans better, compared with committing to a huge mortgage for a house that offers more space than you need.
Investing is a powerful tool to help grow your wealth, but it's a wealth creation tool that's not without its risks. From stocks to real estate, there are several red flags that all investors – seasoned or beginners – should be aware of. Here, we explore the most common investment mistakes and give actionable advice on how to avoid them when it comes to the investment most often favoured by Australians – property.
1. Not doing your homework
Guilty of not doing enough research before investing? This is one of the most common mistakes that cost investors. Before diving into any investment opportunity, investigate the company or fund you're considering, review its financial statements and analyse its historical performance. Once you know the risks involved and whether they align with your goals and risk tolerance, you'll be better placed to make a smart decision.
2. Chasing a quick profit
Focusing on short-term gains is tempting, but it can be a risky strategy that leads to poor decision-making. For example, if the latest investment trend seems like a good way to make a quick profit, it's often at the detriment of the long-term goal. By taking a patient approach and avoiding the urge to constantly jump from one opportunity to another, you'll have more sustained success in the long run.
3. Investing on a whim
Throwing money at any investment opportunity on a whim is risky business. Achieving financial freedom involves careful planning about where you put your hard-earned cash. Start by clarifying your financial goals and then figure out how to achieve them by identifying the tools, resources, and strategies needed.
4. Not enough diversity
Don't put all your investment eggs into one basket. Otherwise, you're vulnerable to significant losses if that one investment doesn't perform well. By spreading your investment across different sectors, assets, and companies, you mitigate your risk and, hopefully, achieve better long-term returns.
5. Not calculating all the costs
Protect yourself with plenty of due diligence on every investment. Sneaky charges like management fees, stamp duty, capital gains tax and transaction fees can all add up and eat into your profits. There are also lots of investment scams around, so if an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
6. Reacting to market pressures
Remember, investing is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't let market fluctuations or scaremongering on the news set you back. It's natural to feel anxious when the stock market takes a dip, but giving in to your emotions could lock in losses and prevent you from reaping future gains. Always try to stick to your long-term investment plan.
What to consider when investing in property
Property investment is a proven path to financial freedom, but investors will often make mistakes that derail their goals. If you don't want that to be you, here's what you need to look out for:
- Overpaying for the property – when you pay too much for a property, it can lead to lower returns and make it harder to generate a positive cash flow. To find the real value, use data like historical growth figures, local employment drivers, vacancy rates and rental appraisals.
- Managing your own properties – thinking you can handle everything, including managing your property, is a common trap for many investors. From regular inspections to scheduling repairs and staying abreast of the latest legislation and rental market trends, there's a lot to consider. Here's why you need a good property manager.
- Forgetting about depreciation – property investors often miss out on valuable tax deductions when they forget about depreciation. When this happens, they can lose out on thousands of dollars. Make sure you have a certified practicing accountant in your corner.
- Not knowing your long-term goal – don't leave things to chance – especially with property. A solid property strategy should include your investment goals, the type of property you want to buy, and a clear plan for managing the property and generating cash flow.
- Not adding up the costs properly – don't let expenses catch you off-guard. You should be accounting for things like property tax, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and everything in between, right from the get-go. Ignoring them will lead to a lower-than-expected return.
- Focussing on one property type – the ultimate key to mitigating your investment risk is to spread your investments across property types (residential and commercial), different regions and states. That way, you can reduce the impact of any one property's performance.
Learning from investors who came before you.
Property can be a lucrative venture, but it's never without risks. That's why it's so important to do your homework and partner with experts in the field. If you're keen to start investing, looking to diversify, or building your property portfolio, our team is here to help!
From passive income to appreciation, stable cash flow, tax advantages and leverage, investing in property is widely regarded as a dependable means to build wealth, which is why it's become a bit of a national obsession. But finding the right property to tick the boxes and having a solid understanding of the intricacies of property investment is where many fall short. To help you navigate these, we've created this guide to choosing the right investment property.
Step 1 – Get a handle on your finances
The first step in any investment is getting a clear picture of your budget. When it comes to property, this means understanding how much you require for a deposit (or any equity held in an existing property) and being realistic about your capacity to borrow factoring is some interest rate rises. This allows you to hone in on suitable properties from the outset rather than being swept up in attractive but possibly unaffordable investment.
Step 2 – Understand your goals
Are you looking to make a quick buck by flipping a property, chasing rental yield or playing the long-term capital gain game? It's essential to understand your goals so you can choose a property that aligns with them. Here's a snapshot of the most common property investment strategies and what they deliver:
- Capital growth – capital growth generally happens when demand exceeds supply. This usually occurs in established areas with great amenities and often comes with a hefty property investment price tag. Buying in a desirable area typically means the rent you'll get from your investment property won't cover your ownership costs, making this a longer-term investment strategy.
- Rental yield – a property with good yield will leave you with cash in hand once all the related expenses have been paid. Properties with strong rental yields are often found in places like university towns where high demand for rentals exists, but purchase prices remain relatively steady.
- Flipping – also known as wholesale real estate investing or residential redevelopment, flipping a property can easily be a full-time job! It involves either purchasing a home to renovate or change cosmetically (and reselling within a short time for profit) or choosing a home in a rapidly appreciating market and reselling with minimal investment. While large sums of money can be made this way, you'll need to be aware of your tax obligations.
Step 3 – Assess the risks
Investments of any kind come with a degree of risk, so getting well-versed in the specific risks associated with property investment and considering whether you sit on the conservative or thrill-seeker end of the spectrum is essential. The general rule of thumb is that the higher the expected return, the higher the risk; without any risk, there's often very little reward. The main risks to consider are:
- Interest rate changes – interest rates fluctuate, so plan for several scenarios. Interest rate rises need not be a deterrent, as long as you get your finances right from the get-go.
- Market fluctuations – as with interest rates, the property market can change overnight. Think about what this means for your investment strategy.
- Overcapitalisation – if you plan to renovate, ensure you have a firm plan and stick to a budget. If you spend too much, you could risk reducing your profit or even losing money.
- Lack of liquidity – it's hard to convert property into cash, which makes it an illiquid investment. The risk is that if you're forced to sell the property (for whatever reason), you might have to do so at a price you wouldn't usually accept.
- Tenancy troubles – from longer than expected vacancy periods to property damage, being a landlord isn't always a bed of roses. Make sure you can cope with whatever comes your way and definitely consider employing a First National Real Estate property manager.
Step 4 – Narrow it down
You've got your finances sorted and a solid understanding of your goals, so now it's time for the fun part – house hunting. Here are 4 crucial factors to add to your checklist:
1. Location, location, location – it's a real estate cliché that's wheeled out repeatedly, and for good reason. Location is one of the key ingredients in projected capital growth, as is choosing a location that's pegged for future growth. Good indicators of this are steady population growth and increasing investment in local infrastructure. Additionally, factors like proximity to essential amenities like public transport, schools, medical practices, shops and restaurants will not only impact the value of your property but make it more appealing to tenants – securing vital rental returns.
2. Know your type – consider your potential tenants or future home buyers and what they want in a home. Looking to attract young families? A bath might be a deal breaker, and a decent outdoor space. Does the area have an older population? Loads of stairs and high-maintenance gardens might be a turn-off.
3. Look to demand and yield – for each property that pops up in your search, ensure you understand what it would look like from a yield perspective. Find out vacancy rates in the area and factor any downtime between tenants into the equation.
4. Condition counts – is the property rental ready, or will you need to put money into getting it up to the required standard? Make sure you factor in the costs of repairs and the lost rental income. Also, it's essential to account for ongoing maintenance costs based on the condition and age of the property. Will fittings and fixtures need replacing in the near future? Will the roof need replacing in a few years? Remember, there are also tax considerations based on the depreciation of your asset.
Enlist an expert
Getting it right with property investment takes a lot of homework, knowledge and experience, which is why having an expert in your corner is invaluable. Once you've understood the basics in this guide, a professional will provide support and guidance throughout your journey and work with you to find a property that ticks all the boxes. From accountants to property developers to lawyers, mortgage brokers and real estate agents, a wealth of resources is available to tap into. First National Real Estate has over 300 offices throughout Australia, New Zealand, and Vanuatu – that's a lot of team members and a lot of knowledge! Contact us today to see how we can assist you on your property investment journey.
With interest rates remaining at an all-time high, the cost-of-living peaking, and considerable spikes in property price growth in most major Australian cities, simply getting a foot on the property ladder is challenging for our younger generations – and an investment property seems like a pipe dream. While being a lifelong renter or hopping on the tiny home trend might seem like the only options right now, we're confident that not all hope is lost. And that it will be possible for future generations to secure worthwhile investment properties if they take the right steps now.
Here's why we're feeling hopeful…
Our top three indicators of a bright future for future property investors:
1. Government funding and incentives
With the lack of housing causing considerable pressure in most states around Australia, both the Federal and State Governments have invested, and are projected to further invest significant amounts into boosting housing stock. For instance, the current Palaszczuk Government's Housing Investment Fund (HIF) is providing much-needed funding relief through subsidies, one-off capital grants and other support to encourage the development, operation and finance of vital housing across Queensland.
Similarly, the Federal Government has recently invested heavily in regional and rural areas to stimulate growth. In our recent blog, Investing in Regional and Rural, we covered that the Federal Government will be investing $1 billion over three years to support infrastructure and liveability enhancements. This makes regional and rural areas a stand-out investment opportunity for future generations.
2. Interest rate decreases
Since May 2022, the cash rate has increased 12 times (and counting), with estimates that some borrowers will be paying an extra $15,000 of interest a year. It's left us wondering if and when these rates will finally decrease or at least stabilise. According to the four big banks (ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB, and Westpac), relief won't be seen until various points throughout 2024. And while interest rate predictions always involve a degree of crystal ball gazing, many experts predict that with the stabilisation of global supply chains, we could see these rates decreasing within the next couple of years. This will bring much-needed relief to those looking to enter the property market.
3. Global Economic Stabilization
The state of the global economy is the most significant contributor to inflation and increased interest rates. China contributes the most to global supply chains and the global economy, and with COVID disruptions and the double whammy of the Russian and Ukrainian war, the stress on the global economy is unlike what has been seen in recent years. Strains put on supply chains and uncertainty have made it difficult for the economy to stabilise globally. These strains directly impact individual countries, like Australia, and cause internal disruptions to our local economies.
As we make our way out of the COVID-induced disruptions and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is predicted to ease, the global economy will stabilise. As a result, we'll see an increase in positive growth-enhancing policies in government and further investment in education, infrastructure, and technology.
With these glimmers of hope to look forward to, eager first-time investors should use this time to get educated and prepared. That way, you'll be ready to jump on the property ladder when the time feels right for you. Here's how:
Knowledge is undoubtedly the key to successful property investment. Understanding the basics of the investment process, how to get the most out of different property types or locations, being aware of investment dos and don'ts, and everything else you can soak up is the best leg up when it comes time to invest. There are books, short courses, online resources and plenty of industry experts, like our team, to tap into.
Start planning and get saving
The first step when buying any property, whether it's your first, second, third or tenth, is having a solid financial plan. The best way to start this process is to focus on building up savings, minimising any debts like student loans, and gaining a clear overall picture of your financial situation and available budget. This enables you to understand what initial budget you have available and what ongoing costs you will be able to service over time.
Consider your funding options
Funding an investment property doesn't necessarily have to involve just one individual and a loan from the bank. These days, plenty of options are available, and there are different ways to enter the property market. For example, it pays to explore opportunities like crowdfunding, government incentives and group ownership loan structures. Using your time to consider and research funding and finances will save you stress, money and time and, ultimately, lead to better overall outcomes.
If you're unsure where to start when looking for government incentives and funding options, our First Home Buyer Guide eBook has you covered. It provides a valuable and easy-to-understand breakdown of all first home buyer financial assistance options available, from Federal Government to a state-by-state breakdown. It can make a world of difference in reaching your goal of purchasing your first home.
With a soaring cost of living and wage growth that's not keeping pace, saving enough for a deposit is often a tricky first step to property ownership. This is where investigating rent-to-own arrangements can soften the blow. It's a relatively new concept in Australia, allowing renters the option to buy the property before the lease expires at a previously agreed-upon price. A portion of your monthly rent payments could count towards your down payment, but this depends on the individual agreement.
It can be enticing for first-time investors to start big for maximum returns; however, starting small often pays bigger dividends over the long term. The best first investment is often just getting started, and choosing a smaller first investment (and hunting out pockets of potential) means all your financial eggs aren't all in one basket. This allows you to diversify your portfolio as your capital grows and, perhaps more importantly, gain confidence, experience, and knowledge along the way.
Stay positive and learn to earn
It's important to remember that being patient and strategic is very important when investing. Doing your research, learning as much as you can about investment, and properly weighing up your risks will all ensure you are in the best possible position for long-term success. Don't forget, if you want to do your due diligence and need more support, our team is ready and always happy to help you on your property journey.