Home clutter-clearing tips
Is your place looking like a tip and you don’t know where to start in the uncluttering process? Try these simple ideas on for size and you’ll be clutter-clearing like no one’s business.
1. One-in, one-out rule
When a household full of people keep bringing new things home, stuff piles up. Make a family rule that if something new is bought home to live, an old thing needs to go.
2. Don’t leave the room empty-handed
If you’ve got a spare hand, pick up something that doesn’t belong and take it to its correct spot. You’ll be amazed how many things get put away with this method.
3. Put it away, straight away
This is a matter of forming a habit. Rather than dumping something down where you’ve last used it, be conscious of putting it back where it lives as soon as you’re finished with it. It’ll only take a few seconds extra, but save so much time later.
4. Put a time on it
Speed cleaning is a thing – you’ll surprise yourself at how much you can achieve when you give yourself a time limit. Have a go at choosing an area, setting a timer for 20 minutes and go hard on the tidying and cleaning.
5. Kitchen tidy up
Take five minutes before you climb into bed at day’s end to clear up the kitchen bench and table. When you’re dealing with the morning rush to get out of the house, waking up to a tidy kitchen is psychologically game-changing.
Did you know?
The bombardier beetle has a built in boiling bomb.
The African bombardier beetle (Stenaptinus insignis) deters predators such as ants and frogs by shooting a scalding hot defensive spray at them. When a threat is nigh, the bombardier activates its caustic chemical cannon by opening valves to mix hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone – which are stored separately in little sacs – in a reaction chamber located at the back of its abdomen. The mixing process heats the liquid to a boiling 100C, before being ejected in an extraordinary insect version of chemical warfare. And if this alchemy isn’t impressive enough, the bombardier is also able to direct the boiling toxic spray in targeted directions (up, down, left, right, forward, backward), depending on where the predator is located. Mind blown!
Sticky date & toffee pudding
This is an old English recipe handed down through generations. Serve it with lashings of cream or vanilla icecream.
125g softened butter
250g white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
700g pitted dates
400ml boiling water
700g plain flour
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Toffee sauce ingredients
500g dark brown sugar
Pour boiling water over dates and set aside for half an hour.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
Sift flour and raising agents together, add to creamed mixture with the water from the dates. Mix well, then add the soaked dates.
Pour into a well-greased 25cm ring tin and bake in a moderate oven for 50 minutes.
Serve warm with plenty of toffee sauce and cream or vanilla icecream.
Melt the butter.
Add the brown sugar and stir over heat until sugar dissolves.
Add the cream and bring to the boil.
Remove from heat and pour generously over slices of the pudding.
Heading for the Hills
Younger Australians are striking out in the regions. Where are the hotspots and could it be right for you?
People have turned their backs on capital cities in record numbers during the past year, seeking a simpler and cheaper life in regional Australia.
COVID-19 has not only unshackled workers from CBD offices, but prompted many to reassess what they want from life. And what they want, it would seem, is a smaller mortgage and a bigger garden.
It’s not the first time Australia has experienced a tree change, or sea change shift. But it is the first time younger Australians rather than retirees are leading the charge, turning what was a gradual drift away from cities into a stampede.
In the second half of 2020 the total population of capital cities dropped by a record 21,800 – more than double the same period in 2019, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics1.
The overwhelming majority of this population drain occurred in Sydney and Melbourne, with millennials (aged 25-44) recording the biggest shift away. Other capitals have held relatively steady, with Brisbane the only one to notch up strong growth thanks to high interstate migration.
Affordability is clearly a factor, alongside lifestyle. In June 2020, when the dramatic shift began, CoreLogic reported the median home value in regional Australia was $394,570, compared to $875,749 in Sydney and $683,529 in Melbourne.
A home among the gum trees
It’s not just price, but bang-for-buck that has had first-home buyers and young families heading for the hills. In the Victorian hotspot of the Grampians, a four-bedroom homestead with panoramic views on 3.2ha sold earlier this year for $625,000. The same outlay in Melbourne would buy a two-bed terrace with a courtyard 10km from the CBD.
There is still plenty of value in the regions, despite demand pushing prices higher. Regional markets outperformed capital cities last financial year, with CoreLogic reporting a 17.7 per cent lift in values across regional Australia in 2021/22, compared to a 12.4 per cent rise for combined capital cities.
Lifestyle-focused coastal areas in NSW and Queensland have boomed, but a break in the drought has also led to strong growth in agricultural areas such as Orange in central NSW and Bunbury in WA.
Regional centres within striking distance of capitals are also popular with workers, who now find they only need to attend a CBD office once a week.
Time for a change?
For anyone daydreaming, or seriously considering making the leap, there’s no shortage of information – there are almost as many tree-blogs as there are tree changers. These blogs offer great insights into what life is really like when you leave the city behind.
While many say their biggest regret is that they didn’t do it sooner, there are some key considerations before farewelling the city.
Driving can drive you crazy: You may not be in a traffic jam, but you will still spend plenty of time in your car in regional and country areas. The distance between things is much greater, so your commute may take longer than it did in the city, although it will probably be more pleasant. Little errands like ducking down to the shops, picking the kids up from school, dropping them off at sport and social activities, and trips to the doctor, can take much longer than you think.
Not everything costs less: Houses may be cheaper, but food and fuel can be more expensive in regional areas. And insurance on that new home may be extremely pricey or even non-existent in more remote, bushfire-prone areas. Be prepared for a rise in some living expenses.
Check the services: It pays to be practical. Research the local facilities and services before deciding on an area to buy. Are there medical specialists or a hospital in the area? On a more basic level, how is NBN and mobile coverage? Sky Muster, the NBN’s satellite broadband service has improved speed, but, again, is a more expensive option.
Food and culture: If entertainment and dining out are important, focus on affordable regions close to food and arts hubs, such as Tewantin, near Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Factor in how far you may otherwise need to travel for a night out.
It can take generations to become a local: Carefully consider the community you are buying in to. How do you see yourself making friends? Be prepared to volunteer or join some local service groups. Getting involved is a win for everyone – you can make friends while contributing to your new community.
Thinking of moving to or investing in the regions? Talk to us about how a tree-change mortgage could stack up.
|Top 3 regional growth areas|
2020/21 financial year
|New South Wales|
|Richmond Valley – coastal||34.1%||$1,070,350|
|Surf Coast-Bellarine Peninsula||21.3%||$968,102|
|Launceston and north east||27.0%||$403,197|
|South east coast||25.1%||$472,031|
|Murray and Mallee||15.3%%||$241,734|
Note: ACT’s limited geography means it does not have formally defined regions beyond Canberra.
1 Regional internal migration estimates, December 2020, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 11 May 2021.
Pitching in without falling out
Lenders are helping parents boost their children’s buying power without putting their house or relationships on the line.
Despite a patchy customer service history, the Bank of Mum and Dad is soaring to new heights as the property market booms.
And no wonder – conditions are perfect to drive inter-generational lending. Surging prices have made saving for a deposit feel like chasing a runaway train. At the same time, price rises have delivered an equity windfall to older homeowners.
To many, it makes perfect sense for asset-rich parents to offer a leg up to their children. After all, with median home values leaping 13.5 per cent in the past year, the difference between buying now or later can be tens of thousands.
But even with the best of intentions, accepting money from relatives can be a minefield, not least because your average institutional lender is unlikely to ask why you can’t be more like your sibling, or guilt you into spending Christmas at their bank.
And these emotional strings pull both ways.
Recognising a growing need, lenders have developed a range of financial products to smooth the path for family lending that mitigates the financial and emotional risks for parents and children.
Pledge your allegiance
The major pain point for first home buyers is saving a deposit – specifically the 20 per cent typically required to avoid Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), which can add thousands to borrowing costs. LMI kicks in when the loan to value ratio (how much you need to borrow relative to how much the property is worth) sits above 80 per cent. Its purpose is to protect lenders against default on higher-risk loans. But it’s expensive, and avoiding it saves money and can help borrowers access lower interest rates.
Lenders now have products that allow parents to tap into their home equity to help children reach that magic 20 per cent threshold on a property that would normally be beyond their reach. Known as a family guarantee, family pledge or family security guarantee, the loan allows parents to put up security to guarantee all or part of the deposit. Parents’ financial exposure is limited to just this amount, rather than the entire loan.
While many use home equity to secure the loan amount, term deposits can also be used.
Limit financial stress
The key advantage to a family guarantee is that parents don’t need to reach into their pockets to help. And if things should unexpectedly go pear-shaped, they are only liable for the pledged deposit amount. This limits the financial stress and emotional weight of helping out.
Family guarantees, or pledges, also have a limited span. When the LVR of the home loan dips below 80 per cent, the guarantor may be released from the pledge. Rising home values can help tip this balance in your favour earlier than expected.
Sharing is caring
Of course, if the borrower defaults on the loan, the guarantor would become liable for the pledged amount. So it’s vital both parents and children have a clear understanding of each other’s financial situation and obligations. This can be confronting, but a willingness to share financial information allows both parties to enter the arrangement with their eyes open.
Borrowers should also consider income insurance to guard against unexpected illness or job loss that could leave their guarantor exposed.
Acting as a guarantor may impact parents’ borrowing capacity during the lifetime of the guarantee.
Get in touch if I can help your family help each other.
Keeping it in the family
- It’s estimated the informal Bank of Mum and Dad has dished out about $34 billion in loans to help children onto the property ladder, making it one of Australia’s top ten mortgage lenders.
- About 60 per cent of first-home buyers are thought to receive some form of financial assistance from their parents, with an average loan amount of $90,000.
Source: Martin North, Digital Finance Analytics based on a rolling survey of 52,000 Australian households
Ruth is a single mum and has been saving for a home near her parents but was struggling to find one in her price bracket, where she could avoid the need for Lenders Mortgage Insurance. Her parents agreed to use a portion of their home equity to guarantee up to a total 20 per cent deposit on her $550,000 dream home around the corner from them. By doing this, Ruth was able to avoid expensive LMI costs.
When Ruth moved in, her parents were able to help with child-minding, freeing her to accept a full-time role and increase her repayment schedule.
Seven years later, with her increased repayments and a rising housing market, the Loan-to-Value ratio without the guarantee had fallen below 80 per cent, allowing Ruth’s parents to be released from their family guarantee obligations.
On the up and up
13 tips to trading up in a hot property market.
Climbing the property ladder can be a tricky manoeuvre in boom times but there are some simple steps to put you ahead of the pack.
1. Sell then buy, or buy then sell? It’s an age-old dilemma but you need to evaluate the market to make a call. Selling first is typically a good strategy in a flat or falling market, and gives you certainty about what you can spend on a new home. But in a rising market, a buy first-sell later strategy can maximise your sale price. And there’s another advantage – having a property in your back pocket can give you an edge, which leads neatly to the next tip.
2. Dangle a line: In a hot market buyers need to stand out from the pack. Your existing property could do the trick. Let agents know you’re trading up and will need to list your old home when you secure a new property. Listings rather than sales are the pain point for real estate agents at present. Although you’re not obliged to list with anyone, it should give agents an extra incentive to keep you in the loop and let you know about suitable properties they may have coming to market.
3. Finance first: It sounds obvious because it is obvious, but ensure you have finance arranged before you start viewing properties. You don’t want to fall in love with a house and end up scrambling to put an offer together. In a market where agents are fielding bids even before the first open house, you need to be able to move fast and understand your limits. Have a deposit ready to go. And speak to us if you need assistance with your finance.
4. Put experts on standby: Line up trusted professionals – from solicitors to building and pest inspectors – to run a ruler over any property or contracts as needed. When you see something you like, you need to be able to move fast to lock things in.
5. Consider a buyer’s agent: It used to be just a US or high-end property trend, but buyer’s agents are becoming increasingly common in the mainstream property market. Many are former real estate agents themselves, so you’re paying not only for their knowledge but their connections. With a growing trend towards selling off-market, buyer’s agents can help you jump on properties not widely advertised. They also commonly bid at auctions to remove buyers from the stress and emotion of the process.
6. Do your homework: Know your property and know the market. Don’t just look at listings, stay across recent sales by checking the sold tab on realestate.com.au and searching target suburbs. You should also find out as much as possible about any properties you are interested in before making an offer. CoreLogic’s property data service can help you find out who owns a property, how long they have owned it and what they paid. It may also tell you if they own any other properties. It may be helpful to know if vendors have bought elsewhere.
7. Make a strong offer: A hot market is not the time to play games. Signal you are serious and open with a strong offer. When there are multiple buyers in the mix, vendors are unlikely to be drawn into an extended negotiation of offer and counter-offer.
8. Offer to delay possession: While it may not necessarily cost you anything, offering the vendor extra time to move out could be an attractive proposition, particularly if they have sold before rebuying.
9. Be flexible with settlement: Ask the agent whether the vendor would prefer a short or longer settlement and try to accommodate this in any offer if you can. Sometimes something as simple as this settlement term can make all the difference when a vendor has several similar offers.
10. Put a deadline on your offer: While it is very much a sellers’ market at present, this tactic can return some power to buyers. Submit an offer with a deadline of 24 hours to receive a response. It lets vendors know that you are a motivated buyer and that there are other properties you are interested in if they are not serious about selling.
11. Work the agents: Develop a relationship with the strongest-performing agents in your suburb. Get on mailing lists and call them every week or so to check in on new listings. Nurturing a personal relationship may give you an edge to get in for early property viewings or off-market listings.
12. Cut out the middleperson: Why wait for someone to list before you offer to buy? Some professional real estate investors swear by conducting letterbox drops in their favourite streets or suburbs asking homeowners if they are interested in selling. This can be a good starting point if you’re looking at a tightly-held suburb.
13. Lastly, don’t let FOMO rule your decision making. There’s a difference between being quick to act and being hasty.
Looking to upgrade? Call anytime to run through your finance options for trading up.
Any advice contained in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regard to those matters. Information in this article is correct as of the date of publication and is subject to change.