In times like these it’s important we look out for our neighbours and the more vulnerable in our communities, so the Penrith Council is providing a way for residents to connect using its Good Neighbour program.
The program originally offered community members support in organising neighbourhood events such as street parties and BBQS, however in a time where the best thing we can do is stay physically distant from one another, it has come up with other ways for neighbours to connect.
Neighbourly Isolation cards are now available to assist the community in identifying members that may require assistance while they are isolating due to COVID-19.
By printing out the cards you can safely let people in your neighbourhood know that you are available to do tasks for others such as picking up shopping, posting mail, dog walking. You may also like to let others know that you’re simply available for a chat.
Penrith Mayor Ross Fowler OAM said the program aims to bring the community together.
“All you have to do is download the card, print and distribute amongst your neighbours,” he said.
“This is a safe way of communicating community needs and ensuring that everyone is supported during this time.
“It maintains the need for social distancing but importantly, allows the community to look out for each other during these difficult times,” he continued.
The Neighbourly Isolation cards can be found online at penrith.city/goodneighbour.
Penrith Council is also encouraging people in the community to share the good deeds they are doing for their neighbours using #penrithgoodneighbour on Instagram.
Our lives have been turned upside down since the coronavirus pandemic hit our shores and this has left some households wondering how they are going to keep up with mortgage payments.
While the state and federal governments are offering a number of options to help ease people’s financial burden, many homeowners are looking at the option of pausing their mortgage repayments until conditions improve.
Most banks and lenders are offering their customers a repayment holiday, allowing borrowers to effectively pause their mortgage for up to 3 or 6 months.
This may be the best option for those who need relief, however there are drawbacks of pausing a mortgage, which borrowers need to be aware of.
What you need to know before pausing your mortgage
While it may sound as simple as having a break from paying off your mortgage, there are ramifications from pausing a mortgage that could end up being quite costly.
This is because interest will still be accruing on your principal loan amount, so you will either need to increase your repayments or make more frequent payments once your deferral period is up.
It’s also worth noting that your lender may use any available redraw to make your repayments, so if you think you’ll want to access this money this is something you’ll need to consider before pausing repayments.
Additionally, a repayment holiday will show up on your credit score.
Other options to consider
If you’ve found yourself out of work or in a difficult position then it may seem like a no-brainer to pause your mortgage, but there might be other ways to reduce your financial stress, including:
- Ask your lender to drop your rate – Call up your bank right away to see if they are willing to reduce the interest rate you’re currently paying.
- Refinance with a new lender – If your current lender won’t budge then shop around to see if there is a lender offering a better mortgage rate.
- Use your redraw facility – If you’re ahead on your mortgage payments then you might like to access any funds in your redraw account (note that fees may apply).
- Switch to minimum payments – This may be an option for those currently paying more than they need to each month.
- Pay a reduced amount – Rather than halting payments completely, you could ask your lender if you can pay a reduced amount, or even just pay down the interest. This is a better option than paying nothing at all.
- Get financial advice – For the best advice for your situation you should talk to a professional financial advisor. They can help you make decisions that will work for you both now and in the long term.
While it’s all too easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom that’s out there, it’s worth taking a moment to look on the bright side of things too.
In terms of the property market, it has been fortunate to be one of the few parts of the economy that has yet to see a strong fall out due to the coronavirus.
In fact, despite the current climate we’re in, CoreLogic data reported an increase in properties values for March with property prices in Sydney up by 1.1 per cent.
While it’s true that there is a good chance that we will see less property transactions over the coming months as some people take a wait and see approach or attend to more pressing matters, that doesn’t mean that we will see a massive downturn in prices.
1. Mortgages are cheaper than they’ve ever been. With the official cash rate at a record low of just 0.25 per cent after two rate cuts in March, mortgage costs are at an all-time low and this is still enticing those with a secure income into the market.
2. People are moving money away from other investments such as stocks. Unlike other investments, property is an essential part of life and we all need somewhere to live. Throughout history the property market has been seen as one of the most stable investments in uncertain times, making it an appealing place to park money for those who have it.
3. We wont be in the current situation forever. While many experts are predicting a temporary slowdown, LaTrobe Financial senior vice-president and chief investment officer Chris Andrews has said in a message to investors that the housing market is expected to have a “strong and sharp rebound”, taking note of the “immense resilience previously seen in the Australian housing market”.
4. The Reserve Bank of Australia also noted on March 3 that, “Once the coronavirus is contained, the Australian economy is expected to return to an improving trend. This outlook is supported by the low level of interest rates, high levels of spending on infrastructure, the lower exchange rate, a positive outlook for the resources sector and expected recoveries in residential construction and household consumption.”
5. As many of us face being confined in our homes, it may take on more importance than ever before. People may start reconsidering their property choices during this time and asking themselves if they want to change their current living arrangement. For example with more offices now seeing the benefits of having staff work from home it may start becoming more commonplace, allowing people to telecommute and make a tree-change away from major cities.
6. Those that do have secure jobs right now may see an opportunity to get into the property market while there is less competition around. Shopping for a property has also been made easier thanks to virtual tours. This means that buyers can get a good look at a property whenever it suits them, rather than having to fit an open home into their schedules.
7. Being at home more often has proven to be a good time to get projects done around the house. This means that those thinking about selling may be able to make necessary improvements to help add value to their homes.
8. All levels of government are offering support. While the economy has been turned upside down, billions of dollars are being spent to help offer support and some level of certainty to individuals and businesses to help us get to the other side of this crisis as unscathed as possible. You can visit www.australia.gov.au for the latest Federal Government information and advice.
There’s no denying that we’re living in unprecedented times and in this ever-evolving situation we are all being faced with it’s hard to truly predict what will happen next.
But it’s also worth remembering that the current situation won’t last forever and we’re going to be thankful for our homes and all they offer us when we get to the other side.
One of the best things we can do to stay safe and combat the spread of COVID-19 right now is to stay home and avoid our regular social activities.
For a lot of us this is going to be a major challenge, but it can also be an opportunity to do things around the home that we often put off for another day.
To help keep you busy you might like to do some of the below:
- Clean, clean and clean some more
Healthy hygiene habits are always of the utmost importance, so if you haven’t already then it’s time to take a long and hard look at your cleaning regime.
Make the effort to frequently disinfect high use areas in your home, such as door handles, handrails, remote controls, kitchen and bathroom counters, and tabletops.
You’ll probably also want to tackle tricky areas like kitchens and bathrooms and give them as thorough a clean as you can.
- De-clutter kitchen cupboards and drawers
Seeing as it’s harder to get some grocery items at the moment, you might want to take better stock of what you already have in your cupboards.
Sort through your pantry items and throw away anything that has passed its expiry date.
This will free up room for new items and give you a chance to keep things better organised.
- Grow herbs and veggies
Gardening is a great way to relax and will give you some much-needed time outdoors.
For those who are new to gardening it might be best to start with growing some herbs, which can be grown even in the smallest of spaces (or inside if you don’t have a garden).
Once grown, herbs can be a great addition to meals and could save you from doing a grocery run if you only have limited items left in the kitchen.
Growing vegetables can be very worthwhile too, however they can take awhile to grow so things could be back to normal by the time you see any significant harvest, but even so it can be a great activity for the whole family to take part in.
- Set up a comfortable home office
If you’ve only just started working from home then chances are your home office space isn’t set up as well as it could be to help you work at your best.
Ideally, your home office should be somewhere quiet in your home where you are free of distractions. Try not to work from your bed or couch, as this won’t be very good for your back.
Instead find a stable desk and ergonomically sound chair to work from, or you might even like to set up a standing desk.
As long as you can find a place where you can focus and make phone or video calls when you need to.
- Get decorating
If you’re going to be spending a lot more time at home you may as well make it look as good as possible!
If your home is in need of an update then now might be a good time to get out the paintbrush and mix up your interior colours.
It could also be a good time to get around to hanging your favourite pictures on the wall, or creating that art project that you’ve long been dreaming of.
There’s a lot going on in the country right now and while the real estate market is one of the few industries still in business there is going to be some people who decide that now is not the right time for them to sell.
If you have decided to sit on the sidelines for a little while there are still plenty of things you can start doing now to ensure your property is prepped and ready to sell when it feels like the right time for you to do so.
Make your property look great
As the online world of property becomes increasingly important, now more than ever you’re going to want to make sure that your home looks impeccable when it comes time to sell.
If you are spending more time at home then use it to your advantage by planning out renovations or doing manageable tasks like painting or yard work.
There are still a lot of tradespeople and builders that are still out there working too, so consider getting in touch with some and organising quotes or any potential projects.
Keep an eye on the market
The market may see some changes in the coming months, but no matter what happens you’re going to want to know what is going on and how much properties similar to yours are selling for.
It’s also worth asking yourself how long you might want to hold out before putting your home on the market. There’s no rush to sell if you don’t want to, but if market conditions hold strong there might not be much point in waiting if you don’t need to.
Keep in mind that people will always need to buy and sell so even during these uncertain times, there will still be a lot of people out there keen to jump on the property ladder.
Start chatting to agents
It’s a good time to start talking to agents and asking them what is happening in your particular market. You don’t need to meet an agent in person either, you can get in touch using phone, email, social media – whichever mode of contact you prefer.
It’s certainly been a crazy couple of weeks with sweeping new changes introduced to businesses across the country in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Understandably a lot of people are confused about what is or isn’t allowed at this time, but the real estate market is still ticking along with a lot of buyers and sellers out there ready to make a transaction.
So, what restrictions are currently in place that you need be aware of?
Home auctions and open homes not allowed
As of midnight on 25 March 2020, attendance at auctions and open house inspections have been ceased for large groups.
Private inspections and online auctions still going ahead
Appointments can still be made to view properties via private inspections. Another option is to contact the selling agent and arrange for a video walk-though or virtual tour of the property in question.
As for auctions, they can still be carried out online or over the phone, with virtual auctions set to become more commonplace over the coming months.
Talk to your agent and stay up-to-date
Things can change quickly in the current environment so if you have any questions or concerns it’s best to chat to your agent directly. They will be able to advice you on the best strategy moving forward whether you are selling or looking to buy a home.
To contact Professionals Outer Western Sydney call us on 02 9673 4422.
The entire world is going through an extremely challenging time, and there is a lot of fear and uncertainty about how the coming weeks will unfold.
One silver lining however is that many of us are seeing this as a time to band together and support those around us in whichever way we can – after all, we’re all in this together even if we have to be physically apart a lot more than what we’re used to.
Here are some ways we can help neighbours and ourselves during this tumultuous time:
Support local businesses
A lot of businesses are doing it really tough at present and they need our support if we want them to be around after this storm has passed.
If you’re spending a lot of time at home then it can be a bit tricky to do things like go to your local hairdressers or favourite restaurants like you used to, but some ways you can still support businesses include:
- Make the most of delivery services or pickup options from local restaurants and cafes
- Buy gift certificates to be used in the future
- Buy local products online
- Purchase everyday groceries from locally owned retailers rather than the major chains.
Blood donations are likely to drop as people find it increasingly difficult to get to the local donation centres, and more and more people find themselves unwell.
That means that healthy individuals who are eligible to make a donation will be in extremely high demand.
To find out how you can donate blood visit www.redcross.org.au.
Check in on friends, neighbours and family
We’re living in very strange times, and some people’s mental health may be suffering as a result.
Make the extra effort to see how the loved ones in your life are going, particularly if they are in isolation.
Some people may be feeling socially isolated at present, but technology gives us the gift to stay in touch and talk to people just as often as we always have, we may just need to make a little more effort.
Be kind to one another
Now is the time to lend a helping hand if we have the ability to do so. If you’re looking for ways to help out then you might like to join online community groups and see if there is anything you can do.
Some ideas might include going grocery shopping for someone who can’t do it for themselves, or maybe even just posting something that brings a smile to people’s faces.
Stay home as much as possible
While it may be difficult, one of the best things we can do to slow down the spread of COVID-19 is to simply stay at home as much as we can, and keep our distance from others when we do leave our homes.
You might like to use this as an opportunity to catch up on home projects or to get work done that you might not otherwise have been able to.
Remember to also stay up-to-date with the latest advice from the health experts and follow their recommendations.
Visit www.health.gov.au for all the latest information and remember to stay safe.
The Reserve Bank of Australia made the astonishing decision to cut the interest rate for the second time this month, bringing it to an incredible low of just 0.25 per cent.
This is the lowest we have ever seen interest rates before and it’s not likely that we will see them get any lower.
This is good news for those who might be experiencing tough times at present, as it might help take away some of that financial burden.
Many lenders have announced that they will be passing on at least a portion of the latest cut, but some lenders, such as CBA, have also announced that they will be keeping their variable home loan rates unchanged.
With this in mind, now might be a good time to shop around and see if there are better home loan deals around.
In some cases there are even incentives to switch banks, with St George offering $4000 for those who refinance their home loan with them.
How can you get the best rate?
1. Shop around – Most lenders are offering competitive rates at present, so it is worth shopping around to see what’s available. Compare what is out there with what you’re paying on your current loan and don’t forget to take into account features such as redraw facilities and offset accounts.
2. Negotiate with your lender – Arm yourself with knowledge about what else is on offer and ask your lender if they will match a better deal, or at least offer some kind of discount. They might say no but you might be surprised on the savings you can achieve from a simple phone call.
3. Consider switching to a better deal – If your current lender won’t budge and you’ve found a better deal elsewhere then it could be time to move on. Keep in mind however that if you do switch loans you could be up for break-fees or other costs so factor these in before making a switch.
The stock market is crashing and the Aussie dollar is plunging – but the property market remains strong amidst the economic chaos caused by the coronavirus.
The property market was already seeing solid results before we all became familiar with COVID-19, but now buyers are turning to property because they view it as a financial safe haven at a time of uncertainty.
We could see this at last weekend’s auctions around the country where there was a strong 70.6 per cent per cent preliminary clearance rate from 2,220 homes across the country’s capital cities, according to data from CoreLogic.
An opportunity for those willing to take it
Many investors have been moving their money away from stocks or low-interest savings accounts and purchasing properties instead, where they have the potential for capital growth, coupled with the ability to earn a rental income.
Buyers are also eager to get into the property market and take advantage of favourable conditions such as the lowest mortgage rates in recorded history.
In an unprecedented move by the Reserve Bank this month there have been two interest rate cuts, bringing the cash rate to a new historic low of 0.25 per cent.
Interest rates are likely to be staying low for some time, making it a good time to pay down a mortgage if you have the ability to do so.
Property is for the long-term
The property market is resilient and throughout some of the toughest points in human history it has been a reliable place for investors to park their money.
Property should however always be purchased with a long-term view in mind. While there’s little doubt that the country is facing uncertain times in the months or years ahead, it will come to an end at some point.
No matter what happens, people will always need homes to live in. In fact, for some of us spending more time at home, our home surroundings might be more important now than they ever were before.