Is the housing market drought finally over?

September 5th, 2019 by

Marge, Marge, the rains are ‘ere! Home prices have recorded their first rise since October 2017, with national dwelling values increasing 0.8% over August, according to the latest CoreLogic report.

Housing values across capital cities rose by 1%, with Sydney (1.6%), Melbourne (1.4%), Canberra (0.8%), Hobart (0.5%) and Brisbane (0.2%) leading the way.

While the lift in annual housing values is substantial, the recent growth is a continuation of the trend seen throughout the year whereby value falls were consistently losing momentum, and have now started to rise.

Indeed, while Adelaide (-0.2%), Perth (-0.5%) and Darwin (-1.2%) recorded losses, the figures are a substantial improvement on what the three cities recorded over the last quarter and year.

Likewise, while the combined regional figure was -0.1%, this was much better than the quarter (-0.6%) and annual (-2.9%) figures recorded for that market.

What’s driving the improvement?

The significant lift in values in August aligns with a consistent increase in auction clearance rates and a deeper pool of buyers at a time when the volume of stock advertised for sale remains low, says CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless.

“It’s likely that buyer demand and confidence is responding to the positive effect of a stable federal government, as well as lower interest rates, tax cuts and a subtle easing in credit policy,” says Lawless.

“While the recovery trend is still early, it does appear that growth trends are gathering some pace, particularly in the largest capital cities.”

Is a big bounce nigh?

Lawless says while he had previously believed the housing market recovery would be a “slow and steady one”, this might not necessarily be the case.

“With housing credit restrictions easing and mortgage rates likely to reduce further, this rebound could potentially turn into a ‘v-shaped’ recovery,” Lawless says.

“At the outset, it appears that a rapid recovery would confirm that low interest rates and a loosening in credit policy is reigniting some market exuberance.”

The spring selling season will be a timely test of the market’s depth.

“A key contributor to the housing recovery has been the increase in buyers, but also a lack of advertised stock. As stock levels continue to rise throughout spring, we will get a much better understanding of the depth of the current recovery,” Lawless says.

“As listing numbers and auction volumes rise, clearance rates may soften if buyer demand doesn’t lift to match the increase in supply.”

Interested in jumping in?

These latest figures indicate that the housing market recovery is underway, so if you’re interested in making a purchase, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

As mentioned above, spring tends to bring more properties onto the market, so if you’ve got your eye on one, let us know and we’ll be happy to help you obtain finance for it.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

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Buy now, pay now: the importance of budgeting for gifts

August 28th, 2019 by

How much do you think the average Aussie spends on gifts each month? $20, $50 or 100? (hint: we’re a generous bunch). Today we’ll look at why it’s important to budget for these expenses correctly, rather than succumbing to ‘buy now, pay later’ services.

Did you know Australians spend nearly $20 billion a year on gifts?

That’s about $1,200 each per year, or $100 a month, according to a new research report by the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA).

It turns out that Gen Y is by far the most generous age bracket (25-39), spending $130 on gifts each month, well ahead of Gen Z ($91), Boomers ($89) and Gen X ($87).

The importance of budgeting for gifts

Ok, so here’s where this feel-good story starts to get a tad concerning: three in four Australians (73%) do not budget for gifts at all.

Now, with the average gift costing between $66 and $137 (depending on the occasion), that’s enough for some households to turn to ‘buy now, pay later’ services.

And make no mistake: these ‘buy now, pay later’ services are booming.

Market leader Afterpay saw its shares rise by 8% this week alone, with the company now valued at more than $7 billion.

In fact, in the 12 months to January 2019, 1.59 million Australians used one of the latest ‘buy-now-pay-later’ digital payment methods, with a whopping 40.6% of its customers being Millennials.

That’s right – Millennials, who are not only by far the most generous gift-givers, but are also seeking to enter the mortgage market for the first time.

So what’s the big deal?

According to recent media reports, lenders are increasingly trawling through bank statements for evidence of outstanding ‘buy now, pay later’ accounts when prospective borrowers apply for a loan.

In one incident, a 21-year-old NSW woman said a couple of hundred dollars worth of Zip Pay purchases, all of which had been paid off, almost prevented her from getting a bank loan to buy her first car.

“I honestly never thought it would impact me being able to get a loan. I am now petrified of using it at all, as I really want a house,” she said.

In another incident, a big 4 bank knocked back a 26-year-old Perth woman’s mortgage application after discovering she had an outstanding Afterpay balance.

These are just two examples of the importance of making sure you factor gifts into your monthly budget to ensure you aren’t setting off a lender’s warning bell by using ‘buy now, pay later’ services.

Need help getting your accounts in order?

If you’ve used a ‘buy now, pay later’ service to buy a gift for a friend, family member or even yourself, there are steps you can take to help minimise the impact it might have on your next loan application.

Your most obvious course of action is to pay it off as soon as you can, and then avoid using the service again in the future.

And look, let’s be honest, no one likes a Scrooge, so your next step would be to ensure you’re including an allocated (and realistic) amount for gifts in your monthly household budget moving forward.

If you’d like to know more, or want a hand getting your monthly budget in order before applying for finance, then get in touch – we’d love to help out.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

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New code to protect Aussies buying solar panels

August 22nd, 2019 by

Ever thought about investing in solar panels for your home? If so, you’ll know it’s a big decision and there’s a lot to wrap your head around. Fortunately, the consumer watchdog is proposing a new retailer code to make solar purchases safer and easier.

Australia is the sunniest continent on Earth. Yep, even more so than Africa.

Which is why it makes sense that more than two million homes have already decked out their rooftops with solar panels.

Sure, the initial outlay is between $5,000 and $10,000, but solar installations usually pay themselves off in two to six years – and then they save you a whole lot of money on power bills in the long run.

The thing is, though, household solar can be tricky to research if you’re not familiar with the industry – not to mention all the potential government rebates and incentives you need to wrap your head around.

Fortunately, the ACCC is stepping in

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed a new consumer code for retailers selling solar and energy storage systems, with a draft determination due on September 9.

The New Energy Tech Consumer Code (the Code) sets minimum standards of good practice and consumer protection and will apply to all aspects of customers’ interactions with participating retailers.

That includes their marketing, finance and payments, warranties and complaints handling processes.

“Products like solar panels or battery storage involve significant financial outlays for households,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard explains.

“This Code aims to give consumers more protection and more information to help them make informed purchases.”

What will The Code cover?

Signatories to the Code must comply with obligations, including that they:

– avoid high-pressure sales tactics
– ensure their advertising is clear and accurate
– educate consumers about their rights
– provide clear information about product performance and maintenance
– take extra steps to protect vulnerable consumers
– implement effective complaints handling processes.

The proposed code will also effectively prevent signatories from offering finance through ‘buy now pay later’ arrangements.

Financing options

There are a number of state government programs across Australia that offer interest-free loans for eligible households in the solar space, including in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

If you’re not eligible for any of the above schemes, rest assured that there are other smart ways to finance the installation of household solar.

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch. We’d be happy to talk you through some of your options.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

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On the hunt for a new loan provider?

August 8th, 2019 by

One in 10 consumers have switched credit products in the past year, according to new research, with Millennials and women in particular pouncing on offers from small banks, credit unions and building societies.

The financial landscape is shifting.

Over the past 12 months, 10% of consumers have switched credit providers, according to the Australian Consumer Credit Pulse 2019 report from Equifax, as once-loyal customers increasingly check out what lenders outside the Big Four banks have to offer.

Is now a good time to consider a switch?

With the RBA recently delivering back-to-back rate cuts, there’s no shortage of borrowers who are considering following suit and switching things up.

In fact, a further 11% of consumers intend to apply for credit in the next three months, says Equifax, and of these, half are looking to switch providers when they make their application.

James Forbes, General Manager, Marketing Services at Equifax, says that over the past 12 months the Big Four banks have ceased to be the first preference for many consumers who are switching credit products.

“Instead, they’re increasingly choosing small banks, credit unions and building societies,” Forbes says.

So what credit products are people switching?

Home loans and credit cards. They’re the big two.

Of the one in 10 people who made the switch over the past year, a quarter moved their home loans and nearly half moved their credit cards.

Home loans are also a popular product among the 11% of consumers intending to apply for credit in the coming months, making up half of the intended applications.

Who’s switching things up?

According to the report, the younger you are, the more likely you are to switch lenders.

In fact, out of all consumers who switched credit products in the past year, 43% were aged 18-34, and 32% were aged 35-50.

Women are also more likely to switch three or more of their credit products, while men are likely to switch just one or two.

What’s driving the behaviour?

Unsurprisingly, lower costs – including interest rates and fees – were the major consideration for switching across all credit product types, Equifax says.

However, consumers also cite better customer service and brand reputation as important considerations.

“In the wake of the Royal Commission, consumers are increasingly thinking about more than just cost when applying for credit,” says Forbes.

Keen to pounce?

With the RBA recently delivering back-to-back rate cuts, if you haven’t looked into your refinancing options lately, now might be the time to consider doing so.

Rest assured that we’re following the market closely and will be happy to run you through some mortgage and refinancing options if you’re on the hunt for a new lender.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

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Time’s ticking: ATO to report overdue tax debts to credit agencies

August 1st, 2019 by

Businesses that put off paying large tax bills for too long may soon find that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has notified credit reporting bureaus.

The proposal is part of The Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Tax Integrity and Other Measures No.1) Bill, which was recently introduced into parliament.

The Bill will provide the ATO with the discretion to disclose to credit reporting bureaus when a business has a debt of $100,000 for 90 days or more.

“This will reduce the unfair advantage obtained by businesses who do not pay their tax debts and will encourage businesses to engage with the ATO to manage their tax debts,” says assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar.

Credit reporting bureau CreditorWatch adds: “By (the ATO) disclosing this information, the default would be visible on a commercial credit report and the credit scores of companies could be negatively affected.”

Will it be a hard and fast rule?

Unlikely – the key word above is “discretion”.

Mr Sukkar says it will apply to “particular businesses that are not effectively engaging with the ATO to manage their tax debts”.

So, if this applies to you and your business, the most important thing you can do is not bury your head in the sand.

This might apply to me – what are my options?

First, get in touch with the ATO, which encourages businesses to engage with it to manage their tax debts. You may be able to enter into a “sustainable payment plan” that is agreed upon by both parties.

However, not everyone enjoys the ATO impatiently hovering over their shoulder waiting for them to pay off a large tax debt.

If you’re one of those people, it’s definitely worth getting in touch with us to explore some of your other options with business loan lenders.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

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