Managing your mortgage stress

Mortgage stress. So many Aussie homeowners are struggling under the weight of it. If you find yourself stressed out about your repayments, here are a few steps to get back in control.

Plan for the future

Most people experience mortgage stress because the future is unknown. Anything could be lurking around the corner – an unexpected illness, a retrenchment or a surprise baby!

While none of us have the benefit of a crystal ball, you can prepare for the unexpected in a few key ways such as:

  1. Getting income protection

If you find yourself in an unexpected situation that affects your ability to earn, this insurance will pay the mortgage for you.

 

  1. Meeting with a financial planner

These experts have many tools at their disposal to help you plan your financial future, often suggesting things you may not have ever considered.

Set a budget

Don’t spend time worrying about how much might be coming out of your pay packet each fortnight or month. Be proactive and actually ­know.

Write down all your incomings and outgoings over a certain period. This will help you to clearly see what you have left to play with. Knowing where your money is going at any given time will put you firmly back in the driver’s seat and help control your stress levels.

Cut back where you can

The oldest trick in the book to reduce your mortgage repayments is to reduce your spending, so why not take advantage of that?

After you’ve reviewed your income and expenses, work out where you can make some savings. A few small changes can make a big difference in the long term and our article ‘Top tips to help you manage your money’ might help on that front.

Rainy-day fund

After you’ve done your budget and made some savings, critically review the numbers. Figure out the absolute minimum amount of money you need to live on per month, factoring in all your commitments.

Then, from today, start putting a plan in place to save towards at least three times your minimum-monthly-living figure. This will be your emergency fund in case of an unexpected change in circumstances, be it job loss, new baby, illness or whatever else life throws at you!

While it sounds hard, cutting back for a few months now and building up your emergency fund will alleviate a huge amount of potential finance stress later.

We hope these tips will enable you to up your bank balance a little and in the process, help you feel more in control of your mortgage. If you’d like a few more great tips, get in touch. We have lots of nifty tools to assist with your mortgage repayments.

Buying and selling in the current climate

The stats are in – the Australian housing market is on the downturn. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the first quarter of this year revealed a big drop in both Melbourne (the biggest decline in five and a half years) and Sydney (first annual drop for six years).

While this might sound like bad news, it does present some great opportunities for both buyers and sellers. You just need to know where to look. Here’s what you should know when buying or selling in today’s real estate climate.

Sellers

It’s likely you’re a little nervy in a slowing market but rest assured there is still demand. To capitalise on this, follow these steps:

  1. Up your presentation stakes

We can’t stress how important it is to ensure your property is looking its best at sale time. Think all repairs done, a fresh coat of paint, a touch of landscaping, spotlessly clean, properly furnished and styled. All these things can make a huge difference in attracting prospective buyers to inspect your home over someone else’s.

  1. Be realistic

As the market has clearly changed, do your due diligence research-wise. Check out similar properties on the market in your area as it will give you a good idea of what yours is really worth.

  1. Hook up with an expert

A slow market is the perfect time to draw on the reserves of an experienced real estate agent. Look for one with a strong track record who intimately understands your locale. Any agent can sell property during a boom, but a truly great one knows the right tricks of the trade to secure deals in a slow one too. A vendor advocate can be a great resource here and we can put you in touch with one.

  1. Consider bridging finance

Selling and buying at the same time can be hard, especially when things slow down. Bridging loans can give you some breathing room to sell your property if things don’t go to plan. These loans can be a great option, however they are more complex than a standard home loan. It’s a good idea to speak to an expert like us before to committing to this type of loan.

Buyers

Are you a first home buyer? If so, you’re in the driver’s seat right now so it’s time to put on your inspection shoes and launch into top gear! The same can be said for if you’re on the hunt for your next home, be it your second or third.

It’s worth noting that a slow market doesn’t necessarily mean bargains are easy to come by. There’s still plenty of competition out there so take advantage of this tips to ensure you’re a winner on the home-buying front:

  1. Make a plan

For those of you who have a current property, buying before you sell can place unnecessary pressure on you to accept a lower price than you want. Make a plan of what you’d like to do when it comes to buying and selling simultaneously … and stick to it.

If you need some further assistance in getting this right, arrange a time to workshop the various options and scenarios with us. We can then help you come up with the most appropriate strategy and plan.

  1. Ensure your finances are ready to go

Like a good boy or girl scout, be prepared! Arrange financial pre-approval so if a great opportunity pops up, you can make a quick offer.

  1. Do your research

Attend a few auctions in the areas you’re interested in. It’s a good way to gauge demand for properties and likely price points. When it comes to offer time, take your time reviewing the paperwork and ask questions or research anything you aren’t sure about.

  1. Be level-headed … but brave

Try to keep your emotions in check when making an offer. Bidding emotionally may see you paying more than you need to. Also, don’t be scared to offer below the asking price. It’s a great way to see how motivated the vendor is to sell, plus get a good idea of their expected sale price. You never know, you might even score yourself a deal!

At the end of the day, whether you’re buying or selling, the most important step is to have your finances fully in order before embarking on the process. Whether that’s pre-approval, a bridging loan or refinancing, putting this in place first will ensure the journey of buying and/or selling is as seamless as possible. Should you need help on that front, feel free to give us a call.

 

 

The right loan amount – how much should I borrow?

‘How much can I borrow?’

It’s the one question just about every client asks us! But it’s not the right question. A better one is ‘How much should I borrow?’ And this is where we can be of most help – to ensure our clients understand what the right loan amount is for their individual needs.

The risk in choosing the wrong loan amount

It’s a scenario that plays out all too often – people overextending on a purchase with a ‘buy now and worry about the consequences later’ mentality. It causes a great amount of financial pressure and stress; all of it unnecessary.

While banks have measures in place to avoid borrowers overextending, they’re still in the business of making money – by lending it to you!

Loaning up to your maximum borrowing power will always be a risk if you are not familiar with your cash flow. Furthermore, a suitable home loan is measured by the balance between:

  1. Being able to purchase a property, and
  2. Being able to comfortably meet the repayments

Steps to working out right loan amount

To help you work out the correct loan amount, pick a 6 to 12 month period and review your cash flow over that time. Then realistically ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do you need to maintain the lifestyle you want?
  • Do you have a safety net of savings (a store of a few months’ worth of loan repayments in case something happens and you can’t make one or two)?
  • Will there be any major life changes happening in the foreseeable future (ie starting a family, changing careers)?
  • Do you have to significantly change your lifestyle to take on the loan? If so, are you up for making those sacrifices?
  • What would happen if interest rates rose by 1 or 2%?

How a broker can help you fit together the pieces of the loan amount puzzle

As we’ve mentioned, over-borrowing causes immense stress. You end up spending more time wondering how you’re going to pay your mortgage each month, than enjoying the beautiful property you’ve work hard to purchase!

This is where a good mortgage broker comes in. They’re indispensable in helping you determine the right loan amount for you. If you’re struggling to make a choice, please contact us here at Professional Partners. We’re always happy to help.

You don’t always need to wait for the auction – here’s why

So you’ve found the house of your dreams. But there’s a catch – it’s going to auction so all you can do is wait and hope you’re the lucky bidder, right? Nope, there is another option. It’s one that could see you with the keys in your hand without ever having to hear the bang of the auctioneer’s gavel.

Putting in an offer before auction

In today’s competitive real estate arena, it’s common for interested buyers to put in an offer before a home goes under the hammer.

If you find yourself in this boat, there’s a few things you should understand and get in place to increase your chances of success.

  1. Get your finance sorted – make sure you have your loan pre-approval firmly in place before submitting an offer.

 

  1. Ensure it’s legal – get your conveyancer or lawyer to review the contract. While you may be in a hurry to snatch up the property, you should ensure there are no surprises in the contract ie property covenants (building restrictions) you need to be aware of.

 

  1. Consider the competition – the estate agent will present your offer to the vendor. But they will also notify any other interested parties and invite them to counter-offer. As the agent works for the vendor, it’s their job to act in their best interests to try to drive up the price. This may result in a ‘boardroom auction’ where you go back and forth until the highest offer is submitted. Be prepared for this and understand it may not go your way, or be the quiet purchase you envisaged.

If you have all these things in place, buying a property by submitting an offer before auction can be exhilarating. We wish you the best of luck and hope you end up with the keys in your hand at the end!

Using your super to buy your first home faster

If you’re a young Aussie trying to buy your first home, you know exactly how hard it is to get your foot in the door … of the bank that is, not the potential property! But the federal government recently announced a new superannuation scheme that might just make it that little bit easier.

The First Home Super Saver Scheme

As the name suggests, the First Home Super Saver Scheme targets first home buyers. As of 1 July 2018, those who qualify can take out any voluntary superannuation contributions made after 1 May 2017 to put towards a deposit on their first home. Voluntary contributions include personal as well as salary sacrificed ones.

How you benefit

By using this scheme, you’ll get a considerable tax break so you can save up for that all-important deposit much faster. It may be a better alternative than getting taxed at your marginal rate and then putting whatever you can afford to save into a savings account – especially when you consider super fund returns are generally better than bank interest rates!

Getting further help to secure your first home

Still not sure if this scheme is right for you? We can help by looking at your numbers and discussing the options available to you so you’re well on your way to getting that dream home , rather than later!

Please remember you will need to check with your own fund and a super expert about how this may work for you.

Home loan approvals – have the banks really changed that much?

If you think it’s tough to get into the housing market, the home loan approval process ain’t much better! The past twelve months have seen an enormous amount of change in lending parameters. This can come as a rude shock to those applying for loan. Here’s some information about what the banks are now looking for and how you can up your chances of approval.

New criteria

Banks are now stricter when it comes to lending. It’s no longer a simple process of assessing your income to ensure you can afford to make your repayments and then bang, there’s your loan. It’s quite different.

Apart from tightening their lending criteria, banks are now scrutinising your living expenses. To be eligible for a loan, you’ll be asked a whole bunch of in-depth questions about your spending habits.

Things like:

  1. How often do you eat out?
  2. Do you go to the gym?
  3. Do you have Foxtel or digital streaming services?
  4. What is your mobile phone plan like?

And so on.

Your best shot at approval

Apart from strict lending criteria and the vast amount of detail they require, each bank also has their own preferences. These can make all the difference between an approval and a decline. This is where an experienced broker can help.

At Professional Partners, we keep up-to-date with the ebbs and flows of what each bank requires. We understand the ‘ins and outs’ of different bank products, application details and what best matches your unique requirements to get your loan approved – fast. Contact us today to chat about how we can help you secure your loan approval and get you well on your way to your dream property.

Getting a home loan approved is like mastering a game of chess

Gone are the days where you could assume that a steady income would grant you some kind of home loan. The current lending environment is a fickle one!

What many fail to realise is that getting approval is much like playing a game of chess – make one wrong move and check mate, you’re declined! 

Why you need a Grandmaster to help you get your home loan approval

Entering the loan game as a beginner (having never played before) or with limited experience (having secured a loan or two previously) is risky. Just like competitive chess, if you make the wrong move you can’t retract it. And a bad move to make is  choosing the wrong bank for your situation. For example some banks’ are ok with different employment modes, some are better with investors and others are better with self-employed.

To combat this, you need a Grandmaster in your corner; someone who has played the game hundreds of times and knows the nuances involved in making the right moves to ensure your home loan is approved the first time. An expert who intimately understands what different banks look for; or when one says ‘that’s your maximum loan amount’, can find others out there that may be more flexible.

Our Grandmaster difference

We’ve been playing in the same league as the banks for over a decade. With a 98% loan approval rate, we’re not shy to say we’re pretty good at playing the game!

If you think you could benefit from our moves and making sure you’re with the right bank, contact us today for a no-obligation chat. We’d love to place our best pieces on the table so your game ends in the ultimate checkmate – your much-desired loan approval!

Top tips to help you manage your money

Everyone loves a little extra cash in their back pocket. Use these simple steps to get your money working harder for you and put you on the fast-track to wealth.

 

  1. Review your expenditure

Put your lifestyle under the microscope and work out where you can make savings. Ask yourself: ‘What can I live without?’ Is it essential you go out for dinner every week? Do you really need a car upgrade every 3- 4 years?

What about other outgoings? Look at everything from petrol to groceries to transport and rent. Try to identify where you can cut corners on costs without making too many compromises on the quality of your lifestyle.

 

  1. Be mortgage-smart

There are many useful tricks to squeeze the most out of your biggest financial commitment. Consider upping the frequency of mortgage payments (e.g. weekly rather than monthly); use a mortgage offset account and/or continue with the same repayments even if the interest rate drops.

 

These small changes won’t have a huge impact your lifestyle but you’ll soon see the massive difference they make on the length of your loan and how much interest you pay.

 

  1. Get in the savings habit

Automatically schedule a set amount of your pay each month/week into your savings account. It’s a great way to form a ‘better-money-management’ habit. It doesn’t really matter how big or small the amount is – all that counts is you save something and form the habit. In time, you’ll find it much easier to increase the amount you put away.

 

  1. Review all bills regularly

Just about every bill benefits from a regular review, whether that’s monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually.

Consider everything – utilities, mobile phone plans, internet, insurance (car, home and health), gym memberships, even children’s lessons (ask for discounts if they’re doing multiple lessons or you have more than one child doing them).

Don’t be afraid to haggle to get a better deal. Most companies have some wiggle room if it means keeping your custom. You can do it online but may experience greater success over the phone. Bundling plans and insurance is always a good cost-saver too.

 

  1. This one is hard but it’s key

Now this tip can be tricky to stick to but try your best to only spend what you have. Credit cards are not cash!

 

Need help?

Are you struggling to stay on top of your spending? If you could use an extra hand in getting your budget under control, feel free to contact us here at Professional Partners. We can offer you a range of great advice from helping you forecast your budget to innovative tools to assist with mortgage repayments.

Refinancing can be painless – here’s how

If you’ve had a mortgage for some time, you’ve probably thought about refinancing at least once or twice. It could be because you’ve had a bad experience with your bank treating you more like a number than a customer. Or perhaps you want to borrow more money but your current bank hasn’t presented any enticing offers.

Whatever the reason, refinancing is often about finding a better deal. But most people don’t get beyond thinking about it because they fear it’s a costly exercise. However, this is an all-too common misconception.

 

It doesn’t have to cost you the earth

Refinancing costs have dropped significantly over the last few years. This is great news if you think you’ve found a better offer.

If you’re in this boat, follow these easy steps to get on the right refinancing track …

 

3 simple refinancing steps

  1. Review your current bank loan: Make sure you fully understand all associated fees (including deregistration and valuation fees) and your current interest rate.
  2. Reflect on how you use your existing bank accounts: Do you need an offset feature or a linked savings account? What fees are you paying (for instance, to use ATMs, a monthly account charge etc)?
  3. Speak to a mortgage broker: Being professionals, they’re in the best position to advise on what’s out there and whether you can get what you really want. They may even be able to direct to you a deal you didn’t know existed. Another advantage is they can manage the entire process for you – saving you time, stress and most importantly, money!

 

Unsure of what to do next in your refinancing journey?

If you’re still a little confused about the process or need further assistance locating the right deal, then contact us for an obligation-free chat. We’ll use our years of expertise to provide you with a diverse range of refinancing options to ensure you get the best fit for your needs today.

Starting a family & upgrading my home – can I do both at the same time?

Starting a family is a very exciting time in your life. It’s also a time when you start thinking about upgrading your home. But can it be done on a reduced income when your partner takes maternity leave? In this post, we address this important question and hope to provide you with some advice to help you answer it.

 

The loan term matters

When you take on a mortgage, the bank don’t expect you to repay it back quickly. It’s not really in their best interest if you do! That’s why they offer you a 30 year loan term.

Thirty years is a long time. Consider all the things that will happen to you over that period. We guarantee you will experience all sorts of significant changes and starting a family (and the resulting reduced income) is just one of them.

 

A longer-term approach

Making a decision to extend your current home or upgrade to a new one shouldn’t be based solely upon a one or two year period when your partner is not working. A wiser move is to look further than that.

Sit down and discuss what your situation might look like post-maternity leave beyond the first few years. Consider reduced work hours, reduced income and who’s going to look after the kids if your partner goes back to work. Think about the change in expenses too when you go from being a double-income-no-kids unit to one with a young family.

 

Seeking advice

After these discussions, you’ll have a good feel about what you can and can’t afford post-maternity leave. You can then start to consider your upgrading options: whether to purchase a new property or even extend your current one.

This is when a mortgage broker can be of most benefit. It’s our job to help you see into the future and help you forecast and budget for big life events such as upgrading your lifestyle. Ready for some help? Then contact us for an obligation-free chat.