It’s the hope that kills you. Just ask Carlton fans, NSW Blues supporters, Wallabies sufferers, and hopeful homebuyers who have fallen victim to underquoting. Obviously, you can’t change your footy team, but you can follow these tips to avoid the sketchy real estate practice.

If it hasn’t happened to you, it’s probably happened to someone you know.

You find a dream home that appears within your budget, you get your finance pre-approved, you get your hopes up, and … you get blown out of the water come auction day because the agent has underquoted the property.

But hang in there – all is not lost, as we’ll touch upon below.

What is underquoting?

Underquoting is the misleading practice of advertising a property with a price guide that suggests to hopeful buyers that it could sell below market value, or for less than what the agent knows the vendor will accept.

Accusations of underquoting have been rife in recent times, as national property prices have soared 24% over the past year alone.

Now, there’s no doubt that some agents out there have been intentionally underquoting properties to drum up interest. But not always.

Real Estate Buyers Agents Association (REBAA) president Cate Bakos says on many occasions selling agents get blamed unfairly for their reluctance to predict a strong competitive result, and in many circumstances, vendors exercise their right to change their price expectations without prior consultation with their agent.

“Underquoting is amplified by a rising market,” adds Ms Bakos.

Which means as property prices peak in Sydney and Melbourne, and the rest of the country starts to follow a similar trend, less underquoting should occur.

Why do agents underquote a property?

The main reason vendors and agencies underquote, explains Ms Bakos, is based on the belief that an underquoted property will attract more prospective buyers.

It’s hoped that these buyers will fall in love with the property so much that they’ll find a way to compete against more cashed-up buyers, helping to push the property’s final price up in the process.

“The reality is that many buyers find themselves shortlisting properties that are beyond their financial constraints, and this can lead to disappointment, wasted expenditure for building reports and due diligence, and lost opportunity,” says Ms Bakos.

Isn’t underquoting illegal?

Ms Bakos said while price guide legislation varied between states and territories, the problem was relatively endemic in many cities across the nation.

She said while underquoting was illegal, there were still many legal loopholes that existed in current legislation, particularly in Victoria.

“In Victoria for instance, vendors are not required to state their reserve price for an auction until moments before the auction,” says Ms Baokes.

“And some offending agencies take advantage of this by pitching the property at a price lower than that of a reasonable price expectation or a realistically anticipated reserve.”

How to avoid becoming a victim of underquoting

Rather than rely on the price guide the real estate agent gives you, do your own homework.

You can do this by looking at comparable sales within the last month or two (on websites such as Domain and realestate.com.au), and compare like-for-like properties and locations.

“It’s an approximation, but it’s more helpful than living in the past and working off older, unreliable sales,” adds Ms Bakos.

Here are the REBAA’s other top tips to avoid becoming a victim of underquoting:

1. Compare comparable properties by location, land size and condition.

2. Spend the months leading up to active bidding time (while obtaining finance pre-approval) to inspect, inspect and inspect as many properties and neighbourhoods as you can.

3. Look at other similar properties in the area and see what the agent’s initially-published estimate price range was; what the reserve price was; and what it finally sold for.

4. Consider consulting and engaging a REBAA-accredited buyer’s agent to take care of the process so you can “buy with confidence.”

And last but not least, don’t forget to get in touch with us in advance to get your finance pre-approved.

That way, come crunch time, you can spend less time on your finance application, and more time doing your homework to make sure the properties you’ve got your heart set on haven’t been underquoted.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or 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.

Some borrowers will soon find it harder to get a mortgage after the banking regulator announced tougher serviceability tests for home loans. So who will they impact most?

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) will increase the minimum interest rate buffer it expects banks to use when assessing the serviceability of home loan applications from 2.5% to 3% from the end of October.

This means that banks will have to test whether new borrowers would still be able to afford their mortgage repayments if home loan interest rates rose to be 3% above their current rate.

APRA estimates the 50 basis points increase in the buffer will reduce maximum borrowing capacity for the typical borrower by around 5%.

“The buffer provides an important contingency for rises in interest rates over the life of the loan, as well as for any unforeseen changes in a borrower’s income or expenses,” APRA Chair Wayne Byres wrote in a letter to the banks.

Why is APRA increasing the buffer?

This move doesn’t come out of the blue. Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg flagged tougher lending standards a week prior following a meeting with the Council of Financial Regulators.

And it’s due to a combination of factors.

Firstly, interest rates are at record-low levels, and secondly, the cost of the typical Australian home has increased more than 18% over the past year – the fastest annual pace of growth since the late 1980s.

That combination has made financial regulators a little worried that some homebuyers are starting to stretch themselves too thin and borrow more debt than they can safely afford.

Mr Byres adds that 22% of loans approved in the June quarter were more than six times the borrowers’ annual income. That’s up from 16% a year prior.

As such, APRA did consider limiting high debt-to-income borrowing but believed it would be more operationally complex to deploy consistently.

“And it may lead to higher interest rates for some borrowers as lenders effectively seek to ration credit to this cohort,” APRA adds, but it doesn’t rule out limiting high debt-to-income borrowing in the future.

Which borrowers are most likely to be impacted?

The increase in the interest rate buffer will apply to all new borrowers.

However, the impact is likely to be greater for investors than owner-occupiers, according to APRA.

“This is because, on average, investors tend to borrow at higher levels of leverage and may have other existing debts (to which the buffer would also be applied),” APRA adds.

“On the other hand, first home buyers tend to be under-represented as a share of borrowers borrowing a high multiple of their income as they tend to be more constrained by the size of their deposit.”

What could this mean for your home loan borrowing hopes?

If you’re worried about how this latest announcement from APRA could impact your upcoming application for a home loan, then get in touch today.

We can apply APRA’s new loan serviceability tests to your personal circumstances to help you determine your borrowing capacity and focus your house hunting.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or 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.

With house prices going gangbusters in the first half of 2021, is it still a good time to buy property? The majority of investors think so, according to the latest annual survey. And investors have their sights set on one city in particular.

The 2021 PIPA Property Investor Sentiment Survey, which gathered insights from 800 property investors across the country in August, found more than 76% of investors believed property prices in their state or territory would increase over the next 12 months.

That’s up strongly from 41% this time last year, when COVID-19 had some investors a touch nervous.

“When we think back to last year, which was a time of much fear and uncertainty, it’s clear that property investors and the market, in general, has weathered that turbulent period better than anyone dared to hope,” said PIPA Chairman Peter Koulizos.

Here are the top five trends the PIPA survey identified.

1. Most investors believe it’s a good time to invest

This year’s survey found that nearly 62% of investors believe that now is a good time to invest in residential property, which is a tad down from 67% in 2020.

PIPA says that dip in confidence may be due to the high property price growth this year as well as significant lockdowns taking place at the time of the survey.

2. The sunshine state looks to be the property hotspot

This year’s survey produced the biggest ever margin when it came to the location investors believe offers the best potential over the next year.

“A staggering 58% believe the sunshine state [Queensland] offers the best property investment prospects over the next year – up from 36% last year,” Mr Koulizos says.

New South Wales came a distant second at 16% (down from 21%), and Victoria was third at 10% (significantly down from 27%).

Brisbane also beat its capital city counterparts, with 54% of investors believing it has the rosiest outlook.

Mr Koulizos says the boost could be to do with Brisbane being named host of the 2032 Olympic Games, and significant upcoming infrastructure spending.

“All of these factors, as well as the affordability of property in southeast Queensland and strong interstate migration, are some of the reasons why investors are so optimistic about market conditions there,” he adds.

3. Regional and coastal markets continue to grow in demand

While investors still believe metropolitan markets offer the best investment prospects at nearly 50% (down from 61% in 2020), regional and coastal markets are closing the gap.

A quarter of property investors now favour regional markets (up from 22%), while 21% of survey respondents have their eye on coastal areas (up strongly from 12% last year).

4. Fewer investors looking to sell

The lingering impacts of the global health emergency – as well as robust price growth over the past year no doubt – mean fewer investors (59%) are looking to sell a property this year compared to last year (71%).

“Part of the reason for the uplift in property prices over the past year has been the continued low levels of supply in most locations around the nation,” Mr Koulizos notes.

“With a decrease in the number of investors indicating they intend to sell over the short-term, it seems unlikely that this boom market cycle is going to change anytime soon.”

5. Almost three-quarters of property investors use a mortgage broker

Just 17% of respondents secured their last investment loan directly via a bank, while 4% used a non-bank lender.

The vast majority (72%) of respondents secured their loan through a broker, a slight increase on last year’s figure of 71%.

And 72% of respondents said they’d use a broker to finance their next investment loan.

It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how far you are on your property journey – whether you’re a first home buyer, refinancer or savvy property investor – we can help you every step of the way.

So if you’re looking to add to your property portfolio, looking for a change of scene, or keen to crack into the market, get in touch today.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or 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.

With interest rates at record low levels, we’ve seen a big increase in homeowners wanting to refinance this year. So this week we’ll look at some of ASIC’s top tips for refinancing, plus some of our own for good measure.

More and more mortgage holders are looking for a better deal on their home loan.

According to ABS data, the total number of home loan customers who switched providers last year increased by 27% – from 143,664 in 2019 to 182,016 in 2020.

And a further 200,000 Australian families are expected to switch lenders and save in 2021.

But there’s switching lenders the wrong way, and switching lenders the right way.

Fortunately, Laura Higgins, ASIC’s Senior Executive Leader Consumer Insights and Communication, recently shared some important tips with ABC radio, which we’ve compiled for you below.

1. See if your current lender can cut you a better deal

Here’s the thing about the big banks and home loans: customer loyalty is rarely rewarded.

In fact, the RBA found that for loans written four years ago, borrowers were charged an average of 40 basis points higher interest than new loans.

For a loan balance of $250,000, that could cost you an extra $1,000 in interest payments per year.

“Many times, new customers are offered a better deal than existing borrowers, so if you have a home loan that is a few years old you could potentially get a better deal that saves you thousands of dollars over time,” explains Ms Higgins.

“Even if you’re happy with your current lender, it’s worth checking you’re not paying for features or add-ons you’re not using.”

2. Don’t jump at the easy money: do the maths

There are a lot of incentives out there to entice you to switch mortgages quickly, such as cashback offers or very low-interest rates.

But Ms Higgins urges borrowers to closely compare these offers with the long term costs.

“For example, it’s worth doing the maths to ensure a cashback offer still puts you ahead over the long term when considered against other aspects of the loan, like interest rates and fees,” she explains.

“If you decide to switch lenders, you may end up with a longer-term loan.

It’s also important to consider whether lenders mortgage insurance or other costs, like discharge and loan arrangement fees, may be payable.

“These additional costs can outweigh the benefit of a lower interest rate,” she adds.

“A mortgage broker can also help you compare loans and decide whether to switch.”

Which is very true, if we do say so ourselves!

3. Consider switching to an offset account or redraw facility option

With interest rates so low, many borrowers are aiming to pay off their mortgage faster by making extra repayments.

“Interest rates may be low now, but probably won’t be this low forever. Making some extra repayments now can benefit customers in the long term,” says Ms Higgins.

But if you’re worried about tying up all your funds in your home loan, then you can consider switching to a mortgage redraw facility or offset account, which can allow you to make extra repayments but withdraw them if you need to.

“Either of these options might work for you depending on your goals,” Ms Higgins adds.

“Not all home loans can be linked to an offset account, and often those that can may have a fee charged or a slightly higher interest rate, so it’s worth making sure you’d be saving enough in there to warrant any extra costs.”

4. To fix the rate or not? Or both?

Last but not least, a refinancing tip that we think is worth considering in this climate of record-low interest rates (which probably won’t be around forever).

One of the most common ‘big decision’ questions we get asked when it comes to refinancing is: should I fix my home loan rate or not?

But did you know a third option exists?

Yep, you can fix the rate on some of your mortgage, but not all of it.

This allows you to lock in a low rate for a portion of your home loan, while also taking advantage of some of the flexibility that a variable rate can offer, such as the ability to make extensive additional payments.

If you’d like to know more about it – or any of the other refinancing tips in this article – then get in touch today.

We’d be more than happy to help you refinance your home loan, whether that be renegotiating with your current lender or exploring your options elsewhere.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or 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.

Property prices climbed at a breathtaking pace in early 2021, which has been good news for homeowners and heartbreaking for house hunters. However, there are seven key signs that the pace of capital gains has peaked, says CoreLogic.

Now, it’s important to note that CoreLogic is not suggesting that housing values are about to dip.

Far from it.

Rather, CoreLogic believes the housing market is “moving through a peak rate of growth and the pace of capital gains will gradually taper over coming months”.

“Overall, we are expecting housing values to continue to rise throughout 2021 and most likely throughout 2022, just not at the unsustainable pace of growth that has been evident over recent months,” explains CoreLogic’s Head of Research Tim Lawless.

Below are the seven signs they’ve identified.

1. CoreLogic’s home value index indicates a slowdown

CoreLogic’s rolling four-week change in dwelling values shows Sydney’s rate of growth has dropped from 3.5% (in the four weeks leading up to 21 March) to 2.3% (in the four weeks to 21 April).

Meanwhile, Melbourne dropped from 2.5% to 1.5%, Brisbane from 2% to 1.8%, and Perth from 1.5% to 0.9%.

The only mainland state capital to record an increase was Adelaide, up 1.7% from 1.2%.

2. Auction clearance rates have dropped

Historically, there’s been a strong positive correlation between auction clearance rates and the pace of appreciation in housing values, says Mr Lawless.

Recently, however, there has been a slight softening in auction clearance results.

The weighted average clearance rate moved through a recent high of 83.1% in the last week of March, before dropping to 78.6% in the week ending 18 April.

3. Vendor activity has increased

There has been a considerable rise in new listings as vendors look to capitalise on the market’s strong selling conditions.

In the four weeks to 18 April as many as 26,470 capital city properties were added to the market, says CoreLogic.

“That’s the largest number of new listings for this time of the year since 2016 and 17% above the five-year average,” adds Mr Lawless.

4. Housing supply is on the rise

Thanks to HomeBuilder, there has been a significant lift in housing construction activity that will add to overall supply levels in the coming months.

Approvals for new dwelling construction are at record highs, points out CoreLogic, and dwelling commencements over the December quarter were almost 20% higher than a year earlier and 5.5% above the decade average.

5. Population growth has turned negative

Due to current tight border restrictions, it’s much harder to get into Australia than usual.

That’s led to a decline in population growth, which can also have an impact on housing demand (although it’s more likely to have a bigger impact on rental markets, as the majority of migrants rent before buying).

“Population growth, which is an important component of housing demand, has turned negative for the first time since 1916 due to closed borders and stalled overseas migration,” adds Mr Lawless.

6. Fewer government incentives and schemes available

You might have heard that applications for the HomeBuilder grant, which started off at $25,000 before being reduced to $15,000, have now closed.

On top of that, JobKeeper has also finished, and JobSeeker has been dialled back.

“Australia is moving into a new phase of the economic recovery where there is substantially less fiscal support which could result in a reduction of housing market activity,” says Mr Lawless.

7. Higher barriers for homebuyers looking to crack the market

Last but not least: the higher prices rise, the higher the entry barrier for home buyers.

And the higher the entry barrier, the fewer active house hunters there are, which means less demand to drive up prices.

“For those looking to enter the market, growth in housing values is substantially outpacing incomes, which means a growing deposit hurdle for first home buyers,” explains Mr Lawless.

Get in touch today for help overcoming these barriers

As you can see, there’s a case to be made that the rate of property price growth has peaked.

But Mr Lawless warns there are still a variety of factors that are likely to keep upward pressure on housing values for some time, including the record-low official cash rate, which the RBA says won’t lift “until 2024 at the earliest”.

So while prices are expected to continue to increase – and it might feel like you’re running on the spot – please know that potential solutions do exist for keen homebuyers.

For example, the federal government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is due to accept another 10,000 applications in early July, allowing eligible first home buyers with only a 5% deposit to purchase a property without paying for lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).

For more information, give us a call – we’d love to help you out.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or 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.