What you need to know about stamp duty

*This article first appeared in the September 2019 Midland Express

Stamp duty is part and parcel of buying a property in Australia, something that varies state to state, and something that few buyers understand.

So, what is stamp duty? In short, stamp duty is a form of tax. It is applied to a number of transactions, including transfers of property, mortgages as well as motor vehicle registrations. Stamp duty can also be called transfer duty or general duty.

This transaction of stamp duty is charged based on a percentage amount based on the greater of the market value of the property or the price paid, including any GST. This means, the more expensive the property, the higher the stamp duty.

State governments offer stamp duty exemptions when a property changes hands following a death or divorce or is transferred between family members.

In Victoria, the state government offers a full exemption to first-home buyers who purchase a new or established home worth up to $600,000, as long as they live in the property for at least 12 months, as well as stamp duty discounts to those who buy a property valued between $600,000 and $750,000.

If you are a pensioner, you may be eligible for a one-off exemption from duty when you buy a home valued at $330,000 or less, or a concession from duty when you buy a home valued from $330,001 to $750,000.

The State Revenue Office provides an online calculator which can assist you in understanding eligibility criteria and the amount you may need to factor into your transaction costs.

So where does your stamp duty go? Stamp duty is invested in the economy by the state government that collects it. This revenue is added into the state government budget, which typically covers sectors such as health, transport and roads, police, justice and emergency services.

Tips to keep your energy bills down this winter

*This article first appeared in the July 2019 Midland Express.

Living in Central Victoria, compared to metropolitan areas it is a few degrees cooler in temperature during the winter months. This can take some adjustment for residents– both physically and financially.

So other than sitting on the heater sipping hot drinks with multiple woolly jumpers on, there are a number of things you can do without scarifying comfort or spiking your energy bill.

Curtains and Blinds

Decorate your windows in your home with good quality curtains and blinds. Using curtains that are lined helps keep the heat in and the cold out by reducing the heat loss through your windows.

Save on appliance use, particularly the clothes dryer

One of the most expensive appliances to run in your house is a clothes dryer. Place an indoor clothes-drying rack in a room that you are heating (such as a living room). The heater is then warming you as well as drying your clothes. To avoid fire risk, never place clothes too close to any heater.

Harness natural heat

Taking simple measures to harness existing free sources of heating in your home by using the heat of the sun to warm up your house. During the day open up all your south and west facing curtains to allow the sun’s rays to stream in the windows and heat up your home. As soon as the sun begins to set, conserve the heat by closing all your curtains and blinds to insulate against heat loss.

Consider an energy audit

Engaging an experienced electrician to conduct an audit will help you measure how much energy each appliance is using, identify which appliances are wasting power due to age or maintenance issues and what you can do to make the move to a more energy efficient home.

Asking for monthly energy bills from your retailer is a great way to measure the impacts of any changes you make. Whatever you choose to do, preparing your house year-round can support the reduction of energy bills.

The good news for Kyneton with the falling property prices

*this article first appeared in the Midland Express in February 2019

If you have been anywhere near print news or digital media lately, you are sure to have been exposed to stories about the falling house prices in Australia, with Victoria forecast to be the hardest hit.

We are told that house prices are falling, and mortgage interest rates are rising, so anyone doing anything with property are likely scratching their heads and wondering what it means for them.

The good news is that it seems that Kyneton and the Macedon Ranges are one of the few regions in Victoria that is and will continue to experience buoyancy and growth.

Property data firm CoreLogic’s latest Pain & Gain report showed that every house or unit sold in the September quarter of 2018 within the Macedon Ranges made a profit, bucking a state-wide trend of tumbling prices.

So what makes Kyneton and the Macedon Ranges in particular seemingly bulletproof from a nationwide plummet in house prices?

Regional country areas like Kyneton, Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong are still experiencing considerable growth, in part to still affordable stock and access to metropolitan areas. The outperforming of the Melbourne market is also due to the value for money buyers get in regional areas – larger homes, larger plots of land and more cost-effective living.

As a regional town, Kyneton offers a sophisticated culture unlike any other. Events like the Lost Trades Fair and The Kyneton Music Festival not only attract tourists and day-trippers but appeal to individuals buying in the area who seek out a like-minded community of creatives and culture makers.

Growing communities also mean a fresh opportunity. With the relative affordability of housing compared to metro areas, low crime and access to infrastructure means the demand for stock will increase. The potential in this region is continuing to reveal itself, particularly for those in the market to buy or sell.

In short, don’t worry about the market downturn if you are thinking of selling in Kyneton

 

 

Don’t wait until the New Year to sell your home.

*This article first appeared in the December 2018 Midland Express

With the race towards the end of the year and the squeezing of every second as we move closer and closer to Christmas, selling your house is probably the last thing on your mind.

One thing I have learned in my many years as a real estate agent is that some of the best sales and most clever sellers happen at Christmas time.

So why would anyone rush to the market while having to struggle with Christmas parties, gift shopping and preparation for when the relatives coming to stay?

There are two main reasons to consider:

  1. There are considerably less sellers in the market in December and January. Less sellers in the market means less competition for you in attracting and finding the right buyer for your property.
  2. Buyers looking to get the jump ahead of the new year will want to secure their new home before Christmas. It’s amazing the impact the unofficial calendar year makes on the human psyche.

Another factor that come into play is understanding who might be buying during this period. Consider the people who are relocating to where you live. Chances are they want to move in ASAP, settle in before the school year starts and the timing of a pre-Christmas purchase is the optimum time to do that

December really can be one of the top selling months of the year within the property industry. If a seller is ready and aware of this opportunity, they generally sell at a premium and in a much shorter time frame.

If selling your home is on your Christmas Wish List, then consider December the perfect time to list your home. Perhaps maybe the big man in the red suit will fill your Christmas stocking with a signed contract before the month is out!

 

Are you financially ready to buy a home?

*This article first appeared in the August 2018 Midland Express.

 

Are you ready to own a little piece of the Great Australian Dream without getting stuck? This handy checklist should help.

  • Contact a Broker or financial Institution.

A broker acts on your behalf to help determine how much you can borrow. A financial institution offers similar services but are unlikely to shop around for the best deal.

  • Get pre-approval first

In short, pre-approval gets your loan sorted so you know how much you can spend.

  • Savings history

‘Genuine savings’ defines the funds that a home loan applicant has saved themselves over time. Australian lenders require borrowers to save at least 5% – 20% of the purchase price in an account in their name.

  • Loan repayments

A loan repayment isn’t just the same as rent. If you don’t factor changes to interest rates and your capacity to cover them over time then you might be in trouble.

  • Mortgage Insurance

Lender’s Mortgage Insurance is a condition of home loan borrowing which you may have to pay to make to protect them (the lender) in the event where the borrower might fails to make repayments.

  • Stamp duty

Stamp duty is a tax charged by the government on the sale of property and is designed to cover the cost of the legal documents for the transaction. The main document is the ownership title of the property and a search to ensure you are buying the property from the right person.

  • 10% deposit on signing?

In a standard property sale, the home deposit has to be paid when you exchange the signed copies of the sale contract with the seller If you buy at auction, you will sign the contract and pay a deposit (usually 10%) on the spot.

 

Planning is paramount. Try to be aware of what is ahead of you and get advice from a respected agent.