Buy, sell or renovate: Tips to stay on top of a slow property market

Building designer Janik Dalecki says home owners can maximise on the downturn by improving their homes
Building designer Janik Dalecki says home owners can maximise on the downturn by improving their homes

LOW interest rates and low property prices might be the perfect time for homebuyers, but for others, starter houses have become long-term options only for sellers unable to break even if they chose to sell up now.

According to Real Estate Institute of WA president Hayden Groves metropolitan house prices have experienced next to no growth in the past five years after the peak boom period.

“People who bought seven years ago have seen no growth in their house prices, they bought at the peak,” he said.

“People are holding, generally speaking the reason the market is how it is, is because there is less transactional activity… for everyone one property sold there are 18 others like it left on the market.”

While growth is flat around one per cent, Mr Groves said house prices were not expected to fall below current prices.

Willetton building designer Janik Dalecki said people not positioned to sell should make the most of renovating, or updating their home to become a market contender once the market picks up.

“There is a fine line between thinking about reselling and making a house your home, still include personal preferences but tone down the outrageous (and) any money you spend you will see in return,” he said.

Mr Dalecki said renovating the home by adding more rooms could further ease the strain of a growing family.

Mr Groves warned against over capitalising.

“Spending $80,000 on a renovation and expecting to get money back straight away is no good,” he said.

“Be careful of how much you put in to (a home), if you’re just wanting to sell just doing it up to look neat and tidy will do.”

Mr Groves encouraged families to establish a five-year plan.

“Have a clear view of how long you want to be in the property and if you’ve already grown out of the property you’re better off holding off to (make changes) that will meet your needs rather than a band-aid solution.”

Tips from the experts:

Quash your mortgage quicker IF staying put for the long term is the right decision for you, Members Equity Bank has some tips for paying off your mortgage quickly.

1. Check you have the right loan for your needs

The cheapest loan is not necessarily the best loan for you. The ideal loan has the right blend of a competitive rate plus features you will actually use to make your loan easier to live with.

2. Look for hidden charges

Paying monthly account keeping fees on your home loan is like paying a higher interest rate. Plenty of banks have scrapped monthly account keeping fees so if your lender is still putting a hand out for them it could be time to move on.

3. Make regular extra repayments

Paying just a single extra dollar each week into your home loan will see the loan paid off sooner. That’s because additional repayments come straight off the loan balance. That way, next month’s interest charge is lower, so more of your regular repayment goes towards the loan balance. It’s a great way to streak ahead with your home loan.

4. Add a lump sum payment

There are times throughout the year when a cash windfall comes our way – a tax refund, an end of year work bonus, or some unexpected overtime earnings. Add or all part of these windfalls as a lump sum repayment to your loan and watch the balance melt away.

5. Use your home loan as a savings account

Try this simple strategy. Deposit spare cash into your home loan instead of a separate savings account. You will save more in interest on the loan than you will earn with a separate savings account, and it’s a sure-fire to pay off the loan sooner. If your home loan offers redraw (as most do), you will be able to access the cash in an emergency. Or, if you’d rather keep your savings separate, consider an offset account.