The Bulletin

Getting Started in Property Investment

If you haven’t dipped your toe into property investment yet, you may be wondering about how to get started and there’s no doubt it can be a bit of a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be!

There are a few strategies you can go with and what you end up pursuing really depends on what you’re looking for.

While some investors might be looking to buy a property and rent it out straight away with a view to start earning regular rental income, others may choose to live in the property while they renovate it, with a view of selling it in the short-term to make a profit to name a few.

Whichever type of investment you choose, whether it be long or short-term, investing in bricks and mortar can be a great way to create wealth. Here are a few things to consider before diving into property investment.

Know your budget
It’s essential to have a thorough understanding of your cash flow. It’s a good idea to speak to a mortgage broker about pre-approval of your investment loan so you know how much you’re able to borrow before you start your property search.

If you’re planning on renovating, you’ll also need to factor in how much you’d be willing to spend on doing a property up, including a buffer if expenses were to blow out.

Don’t underestimate ongoing costs
Make sure your budget allows for rates, insurance and general maintenance and repairs.

Research your area thoroughly
When finding a suitable property, make sure you have all the facts and figures needed to make a wise investment decision. This includes the demographic of the area, are there mostly renters? Are first home-buyers interested in this area? Depending on your investment strategy, you’ll want to ensure your property will be either well-placed to attract renters or home-buyers.

Be realistic about your investment goals
Are you looking for capital growth or do you want to hold the property long term? During a strong market period, it will be easier to renovate properties and sell them for profit. But in slower economic times, a wait and see approach may need to be taken as you wait to achieve capital growth whilst renting your property out in the meantime.

Think about DYI if renovating
When it comes to the tough stuff like plumbing and electrical it’s necessary to get the professionals involved. But, paying tradespeople to renovate your entire property can be costly. If you can do certain aspects yourself, you will save money and increase your profit margin. Some examples of areas where you can safely get your hands dirty include:

  • Painting
  • Removing old cabinetry
  • Pulling out old plants and garden beds
  • Planting new trees and plants
  • Hanging new blinds and curtains
  • Replacing old tapware and mixers
  • Replacing old cabinet handles
  • Removing tiles or pulling up carpeting

Look for function over style
A rental property should be functional, neat and clean. A stylish, finished home may not be what you’re looking for, especially if you plan to renovate. A home in need of attention on a great street, in your desired area is going to have better short-term growth prospects once fixed up, then a brand new, finished home would see in a short time.

If you’re looking for something that’s ready to rent out straight away, a finished home may be a better strategy, especially if it’s ready for tenants straight-away.

Use your head, not your heart, when choosing a property
Remember that you’re looking for a property that will either appeal to a large array of buyers or renters, not a property that you yourself love.

So, think objectively, and look for the essentials that appeal to the broadest demographic. Here are some features to look out for below.

Plenty of storage

Air conditioning and/or ceiling fans

Low maintenance yard and garden

Light and bright interior

Open floorplan

Think carefully before negatively gearing
If the rental income you receive does not fully cover your loan repayments and costs, your property will be negatively geared.

This can have tax advantages but it will also lead to financial stress if you don’t have the cash flow to cover loan repayments, rates or body corporate fees. This strategy is often chosen by investors who are seeking long-term capital growth in their investment, and the expense of short-term profits.

It’s best to seek independent financial advice before choosing an investment strategy.

Still paying off your own home?
It isn’t necessary (or usually realistic) to have your own home completely paid off before purchasing an investment property. What is important is to have a good amount of cash to invest with, either to use as a deposit, to help renovate or to cover any unforeseen costs. You may also have enough equity within your own home to help with the deposit needed to invest in a property, so have a chat with a mortgage broker about your options.  

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