madeleine hicks

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With more than 100,000 property investors receiving letters from the Australian Tax Office for possible incorrect property deductions this year, it’s crucial you have a plan for effectively managing your tax situation.

Although it may seem tempting to exaggerate a claim, it isn’t worth the risk. Heavy penalties apply to those caught claiming excessive deductions or failing to declare rent.

Astute property investors can adopt a range of strategies to legitimately minimise tax liabilities, while maximising their tax breaks. And the first step should be to arm yourself with trusted experts.

While it may cost upfront, paying for expert advice and services, will pay dividends for years to come. Because, getting your system right – for effectively managing your tax situation –can help clarify and manage the following areas, which can often trip investors:

Be prepared to walk that line

Be aware of what you can claim. Sounds simple, but, are you sure you’ve got it all covered.

Research your tax obligations and claimable expenses. Remember too, that expenses are only claimable when the property has been available for rent. When performing repairs or maintenance, anything completed prior to the property being available for rent will not be tax deductible.

Is it a repair or an improvement? Not all work performed on your property is deductible. If the work involves fixing damage caused by wear and tear, it is likely to be a repair and therefore tax deductible. But when you are replacing old materials with new and enhancing your property, the work is more likely to be considered an improvement and will instead be added to the cost of your property, representing a depreciable asset.

So, if you’re ever in doubt when it comes to walking that fine line of optimising your tax position, seek professional advice early, or even contact the ATO directly for a ruling.

When renovating for profit it is important to get the floor plan right.

Consumer’s tastes and expectations change over time and what was a modern floor plan in the 60’s isn’t any longer.

Here are some tips for getting the floor plan right.

  • Minimum TWO BEDROOMS – by adding an extra bedroom you will add value.
  • ADD AN ENSUITE – gone are the days where families survive around the one bathroom. It still happens, however it isn’t the preferred option. Where possible add an ensuite bathroom or shower.
  • LAUNDRY indoors. Most buyers prefer an indoor laundry as opposed to the old “wash shed” out back.
  • LARGE OPEN KITCHENS – Buyers like large open kitchens with plenty of bench space.

Recently I was at the Madeleine Hicks Real Estate National Elite Retreat where the elite of the elite met to discuss the current market trends.

In the changing market it was a consensus amongst the group that auctions were the best marketing strategy.  This is not my view.

I only auction unique properties or when I am instructed to auction e.g. mortgagee in possession.

Auctions are a seller’s worst nightmare.  The seller losses control. Notoriously buyers come in low and if there are only one or two buyers on the day the seller is pressured into making a decision there and then.  The buyer is expecting an answer, the auctioneer is waiting, the agent is waiting, the crowd is waiting, the neighbours are waiting, and the seller is panicked – forced into making decisions.

The Truth About Auctions

Recently I went with a friend to another agent’s in room auctions to help them through the auction process.  My friends were keen to buy.  I gave them some auction tips, we were one of two interested parties, and we were able to slow the auction right down.  The auction stalled the agent came across and asked them to increase their offer.  I advised them to hold fast.

The agent then went and spoke to the seller.  Reading the non-verbals I could see the pressure mounting around the poor seller.  The agent came back to us.  We said nothing.

Finally, the auctioneer asked for more bids from the floor. Silence.

Going once, Going twice, Sold!

My friends bought the property of their dreams for $20,000 under what they were prepared to pay.

Before you enter into an auction campaign just …ask Madeleine for a second opinion.

Below are some helpful hints on everything you need to do berfore you move:

  • Plan your move from as early as possible. Consider also that the first and last days of the month are extra busy.
  • Consider having a garage sale to remove unwanted and unnecessary items.
  • Begin using up large supplies of frozen and canned goods
  • Have you moving company conduct a household goods survey in orcder to provide you with a written estimate as to cost.
  • Pre-arrange for the telephone and utilities to be connected at your new home for the day you move in. .
  • Have rugs and drapes that you are taking cleaned and arrange any alterations that may be required for them to fit into your new home. If you intend on doing your own packing, start collecting suitable containers around four to six weeks prior to your moving date. You can purchase specialised containers from most moving companies.
  • A Guide to Surviving Your Move
  • It can also be handy to collect packing materials such as: tissue paper, paper towels, newspaper, tape, scissors or a sharp knife, felt marker, notebook and pencil.
  • Set goals and deadlines to ensure that all packing is completed by moving day. You may want to pack one room per week. Attach a list of contents to each carton.
  • Pack a box for instant needs on arrival. Such as; cleaning equipment, dish towel, crockery, cutlery, coffee and tea, desired food and drinks, saucepans, toilet paper, toiletries, garbage bags, torch, tool kit.
  • Be on hand when the movers arrive or arrange for somebody to be there on your behalf. They will need to direct the movers and may need to sign documents on you behalf pertaining to costs.
  • When you arrive at the new house, ensure that the house is ready for occupancy prior to the removal van arriving.
  • Check all goods ask they are unloaded.

The design of the home, how it functions and how it complements your lifestyle should be a major decision-making factor when buying a property. This way, you will end up in home that will accommodate your needs now and for many years to come that can also save you money.

Too often, people fall in love with the ‘look’ of a home without considering how it will function. If you are aware of the impact that design features have within a home, you will be able to choose a home that is easy to maintain, efficient to run and will suit you lifestyle as your needs inevitably change.

1. Don’t Get “Pre-Qualified”

Do you want to get the best house you can buy for the least money?  Then make sure you are in the strongest negotiating position possible.  Price is only one bargaining chip in the negotiations, and not necessarily the most important one.  The way to make a strong offer today is to get “Pre Approved”.  This happens AFTER all information has been checked and verified.  You are actually APPROVED for the loan and the only loose end is the appraisal on the property.  It’s VERY POWERFUL and a weapon I recommend all my clients have in their negotiating arsenal.

2. Sell First, Then Buy

 If you have a house to sell, sell it before selecting a home to buy!  If you have your eye on another home, pressure is placed on you to sell your existing home sooner rather than later.  In the end you will lose money because you accepted the wrong offer and did not wait.  Another tactic is to make the Contract “Subject to the seller finding suitable housing”.

4 POWERFUL BUYING STRATEGIES

3.  Play the Game of Nines

 Before house hunting, make a list of the nine things that you want in the new place.  Then make a list of the nine things you do not want in your new home.  Use this list as a scoreboard to rate each property that you see, the property with the highest score wins!

4. Don’t be Pushed into ANY House

 Your agent should show you everything available that meets your requirements.  Don’t make a decision on a house until you feel that you have seen enough to pick the best one.  Check into the school districts of the area you are considering.  Information is available on every school such as; size of class, % of students that go to college, OP scores, etc.  It is also worth driving around the area to make sure that everything you need access to is conveniently located and that there are a variety of facilities close by.

  • Remove any objects such as children’s toys on the front steps, which might cause accidents.  Keep the front entrance and stairway    clear.  Try for uncluttered appearance.
  • Neat orderly rooms look bigger, especially bedrooms.  Tidy up all rooms for a spacious appearance.
  •  Check and double-check your bathroom.  Bright and clean bathrooms sell many homes.
  • When you are showing your home three is a crowd.  Avoid having  too many people present for inspections.  The prospect will feel like an intruder and will hurry through the house.  If possible go out for a short walk.
  • If you can’t go out, stay out of the way.  Do not accompany the prospect and the sales person around the house.  The Agent knows the Buyer’s requirements and can better emphasise the features of your house when alone.  They will call you if they need you.
  •  Love me, love my dog does not apply when selling a house.  Pets are best kept out of the way, even taken on a walk when there is an inspection.
  •  Never apologize for the appearance of your home.  After all, it has been lived in.  Let the real estate agent answer any objections that are raised, that is their job.

SELLING TIPS: What you can do to help

  •  Switch off the TV during inspections it is very distracting.  Put on some mellow music that will get prospective purchasers relaxed and in the mood for buying.
  •  It is best not to discuss price, terms, possessions or other factors with the buyer.  Refer them to the agent.  Real Estate Agents are better equipped to bring the negotiation to a quick and favourable conclusion.
  •  You and your Real Estate Agent need to work as a team.  If you feel they have overlooked some important selling points, feel free to discuss them once you are alone together.
  •  Sweep all the walkways to create an impression of constant maintenance to your house.
  •  Park extra cars, which do not fit in car parks, away from the property.
  •  Clean windows and window coverings.
  •  Make sure gutter and down pipes are clean and in working order.
  •  Open curtains and turn on lights so the house feels warm and bright.
  • Have an air freshener in the toilet and bathroom to have a fresh, clean smell.

It is important that a home gets a buyer in the right mood to buy, all the above tips and hints will help to do this.  You can also use the season to your advantage. 

 If it is wintertime make sure that the house is warm. It is very welcoming on a cold day and adds extra character if you have the fire burning.

 If it is summer time ensure that the house is cool by using, fans, air-conditioners or opening all the windows to make the most of any breeze.

This is the hardest thing for most people to do because they are emotionally attached to everything in the house.  After years of living in the homes clutter builds up in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner.  However, it does affect the way buyers see the home even if you do not realize it.  Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets and garages.

Take a step back and pretend you are a buyer.  Let a friend point out areas of clutter, as long as you can accept their views without getting defensive.  Let your agent help you too.

EMOTION VS.REASON

When conversing with Real Estate agents, you will often find that when they talk to you about buying real estate, they will refer to your purchase as a “home”.  Yet if you are selling property, they will often refer to it as a “house”.  There is a reason for this.  Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but when you are selling real estate you need to remove emotion from the equation.

You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity.  Property!  Real estate!  Your goal is to get others to see it as their potential home, not yours.  If you do not consciously make this decision, you can inadvertently create a situation where it takes longer to sell your property.

GETTING YOUR HOUSE READY TO SELL

The first step in getting your home ready to sell is to “de-personalize” it.  This is so that potential buyers view it as their home.  For example when a potential homebuyer sees your family photos hanging on the wall it puts your own brand on the home and momentarily shatters their illusions about owning the house.  Therefore, put away family photos, trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks, and souveniers.  Put them in a box.  Rent a storage area for a few months and put the box in the storage unit.

Do not just move the box into the garage or a closet.  Part of preparing a house for sale is to remove “clutter”, and that is the next step in preparing your house for sale.

…ask Madeleine by making comment or emailing me directly.

When you are shopping for a real estate agent it gets very confusing. Below is a list of questions to have ready for your next interview?

1.    Do you personally answer phone calls?  (Phone them at 6pm and see if they are still working?)

2.   Can we cancel the listing if we are not happy?

3.   Do you have a Personal Assistant?

4.   If you don’t call back within 24 hours will you take $50 off your fee?

5.   Do you list my property on the Internet? Which sites?

6.  Are you fully automated with your own personal computer, fax machine, sms, voice mail etc.

7.  What qualifications do you have?

Shopping for a Real Estate Agent

8.  I want to give my home the advantage of the latest marketing Strategies.

9.   How much time and money do you invest in professional training?

10.  Why are you personally motivated to sell my house?

11.  Why should I list with you rather than any other agent who is calling?

…ask Madeleine for more insights into interview an agent by making a comment.  Happy interviewing