Author Archives: Terry Hansen


Strong demand for property despite cooling prices

Property prices may be cooling across the country, but that certainly hasn’t slowed down buyer demand. In fact, it seems to be having the opposite effect.

The number of home loan approvals went up by 1.1 per cent to 53,037 from April 2018 to May 2018, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This shows that despite property prices falling more people are committing to home loans, perhaps because they are finally able to pick up a bargain.

Data from the ABS also showed that it’s not first home owners that accounted for the most recent increase in housing commitments.

The number of first home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner occupied housing finance commitments was unchanged from April to May (at 17.6%).

However there was strong growth in first home buyer commitments from July 2017 to November 2017, this was likely driven by changes to first home buyer incentive programs in New South Wales and Victoria.

Between April and May 2018, first home buyer loans went up by $1,800 to $344,600 and the average loan size for all owner occupiers went up by $1,500 to $400,100.

In total, $31.9 billion worth of dwelling commitments were made in May 2018, an increase of 0.5 of a percentage point from April.

Home loans rising as property prices cool

While more people may be buying, property prices are starting to head downwards. CoreLogic has recently reported that dwelling values have gone down for the first time since 2012.

More and more homebuyers are seeing that now is a great time to get into the market while property prices are stabilising and while interest rates remain extremely low.


Eastern Creek incinerator project rejected by planning commission

Many of those in outer western Sydney will be happy to hear that plans for a massive Energy from Waste incinerator in Eastern Creek have been rejected.

The New South Wales Independent Planning Commission (IPC) blocked the proposal citing “uncertainty” over human health and environmental impacts.

The plant would have been the largest in the southern hemisphere, operating 24/7 and providing enough energy to supply up to 100,000 homes.

Understandably, the project was fraught with objections from the outer western Sydney community from residents, local councils and health and environment authorities.

Blacktown City Council Mayor Stephen Bali MP said he is delighted with the news.

“Our primary concern has always been the impact to the community’s health and the environment. These concerns are validated by the IPC’s rejection.”

“I commend the community for their on-going fight through the different stages of this application.”

“This has been a very long saga for Western Sydney residents and today they can rejoice,” Mayor Bali said.

Further information about the decision can be found at the IPC website –


Inexpensive ways to boost your home’s value

If you’re looking to sell your home then you might be thinking about renovating to add as much value as possible.

While you may be tempted to do a large-scale renovation on your property before selling, you should first consider whether or not a few smaller improvements could add similar value.

Renovations to improve value should always be considered carefully, keeping in mind what buyers are looking for in your particular area. Every neighbourhood and house might benefit from slightly different home improvements.

Fix the fence – A property’s front fence can make or break its overall appearance. Before a sale give it a check over and make sure it is standing straight and there are no missing palings. A fresh coat of paint and a new letterbox might also help give it a lift.

Freshen up interior walls and floors – Small cosmetic changes can make a big difference. Trends change regularly for both wall colours and materials used for flooring so its always a good idea to check in interior design magazines, or on what other renovated properties have done in your neighbourhood, to see what styles buyers are interested in.

However you probably won’t go wrong with light, neutral colours and natural tones in most properties.

Update kitchens and/or bathrooms – If you decide to update any one room in particular, then make it the bathroom or kitchen, depending on which room requires it the most. These are the rooms that help sell houses so any improvements here will often help lift a home’s value.

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on these rooms then you can still freshen these areas up by painting cabinetry in a new colour or adding in new fixtures and fittings.

Add new window treatments – Window treatments can help unify the look of a home, as well as provide occupants with much-needed privacy. Shutters, curtains and roller blinds can all be suitable choices depending on what each room requires.

Just try to keep window treatments consistent throughout the home and choose colours that fit in with the home’s existing colour scheme.

Pressure clean the outside – Hire a pro to come in and pressure clean the outside of your house to make it look like new again. Depending on the material being cleaned, a pressure clean can be useful for outside patios, decks, driveways and walkways.

Save money for styling – It’s amazing the difference the right styling can make to a room. The right furniture placement or artwork can dramatically transform a space and is well worth investing in when selling.

Thinking of selling in outer western Sydney and want advice on whether or not to renovate? Contact the team at Professionals Outer Western Sydney.



How to get on the property ladder faster

Property prices are stabilising across Australia’s major cities and many people are being told that now is a great time to be a buyer, but that may not be very helpful for those who are still struggling to get a foothold on the property ladder.

Even with conditions starting to favour buyers, property prices are still high in Sydney and Melbourne and saving for a deposit for a house is no easy feat.

But even if property prices are too high where you live, there are a number of things you can do to help get into the property market as quickly as possible.

They include:

Take out LMI

If you’re keen to buy a property but haven’t saved a 20% deposit yet, then Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI) may be a good option for you.

LMI is a premium added on top of your mortgage payment to protect your lender in case you can’t make repayments and it can be paid as a one-off sum when you take out your mortgage, or added to your loan repayments.

Having to pay an extra fee when buying a home certainly sounds like something you would want to avoid, but it also means that buyers can get into the market sooner than they might otherwise be able to, with LMI allowing some buyers to get into the market with as little as 5% deposit.

Use a Guarantor

If you’re not keen on the idea of taking out LMI, or you haven’t got a big deposit saved, then a guarantor may help you secure a home loan.

A guarantor is someone who will assume responsibility should you not be able to make payments on your loan, which helps reduce the risk for the lender.

Being a guarantor is a big responsibility and therefore it’s not something that people will do lightly. In many cases it will be a parent or guardian who is willing to take on the financial burden on behalf of the borrower should things go awry.

Become a rent-vester

Can’t afford where you live? Consider buying in a more affordable area (one that is tipped for growth) while you continue to rent. While most people like the idea of buying a home to live in, an investment property can be a great way to get into the property market and build equity for a future home.

Find ways to save

You will have a lot more property options if you have more money stashed away in the bank.

Everybody’s financial situation is different, but if you look at your main expenditures you might be able to find ways to cut back.

A few ideas might include getting rid of credit cards, paying down debt or simply giving up month-to-month subscriptions to things like the gym or streaming services.


Discover St Marys’ history at Windows on Queen exhibition

St Marys will be celebrating its rich character and history this month with the opening of the highly anticipated Windows on Queen exhibition.

Taking place on the main street of St Marys, the exhibition will tell the story of 12 historic sites through artistic posters in shop windows.

The exhibition will allow visitors to Queen Street to take a step back in time and learn more about the street’s original people and places.

There will be historic photos on display of the locations and interactive links that will allow people to find information online and listen to interviews with local residents.

Each site will tell a story and visitors will be able to discover its origins, whether it’s the history of a business or information traced on people who resided, worked, or lived in that address.

The St Marys & District Historical Society joined with local community members and a creative team of artists and designers, with the support of Penrith City Council, to put the project together.

It is the seventh annual cultural project developed under the name of Queen Street Riches and Textures (QSRT), which is an annual cultural initiative coordinated from St Marys Corner.

When to visit

Windows on Queen will be on display from 25 July until 5 September 2018.

Visit for more details about the projects and the individual sites.


Image via


Property is number one savings goal for millennials

Move over smashed avocado and Insta-worthy holidays, because the most covetable goal for a lot of young Australians is to buy a property.

New research from Westpac found that the number one savings goal for those aged between 25 to 34 year old was a home or property.

Westpac analysed the data from customers who used their Westpac Life savings accounts and found that 70% of their millennial customers’ total savings was put away for a future home.

Ten times more millennials listed home and property as their number one savings goal than they did for holidays and travel, which was the number one savings goal for all other age groups, particularly over 55s.

Holidays and travel was a popular goal for younger Australians aged 18-24 as well, however a home or property was their second most popular savings goal, which shows that they are starting to plan for their future.

According to Westpac’s Head of Savings, Kathryn Carpenter, first home buyers are being diligent with their savings and digging deep to save for a home.

“Millennials are often depicted as a generation more focused on life experiences and living in the ‘now’. However, our research shows that many are in fact taking saving for a home deposit seriously and prioritising it above other goals including travel or lifestyle,” Carpenter said.

Westpac’s research highlighted that young people are not only saving for a home but that more people are starting to enter the market too. Westpac saw more first home buyer loans issued in March and April 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 and 2016.

A great time to be a first home buyer 

More first home buyers may be entering the market because there are a lot of great reasons to get on board the property ladder at present. First home buyers can take advantage of generous grants and stamp duty concessions, as well as enjoy a record breaking period of low interest rates. Sydney and Melbourne property prices are also slowing down after a long period of high competition, making for much easier markets for young buyers to break into.


First home owners benefits – Do you know what’s available?

Now that we have reached the end of another financial year, it’s a good time for first home buyers to start researching whether or not they are ready to jump into the property market.

A lot of first home buyers are unaware of the ins and outs of what government grants, exemptions or concessions are available to them as a first time buyer, particularly as rules can change from year to year.

We have provided a quick cheat-sheet of what first home buyer benefits are available in NSW as of 1 July 2018.

First Home Owner Grant

The First Home Owner Grant (New Homes) scheme offers first home owners in NSW $10,000 if they are building a new home up to the value of $750,000, or purchasing a new home valued up to $600,000.

Stamp Duty Exemption

Under the First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme, eligible first home buyers are entitled to a stamp duty exemption on the purchase of a new or existing dwelling valued up to $650,000.

Those buying a vacant block of residential land to build their home on will pay no duty on vacant land valued up to $350,000.

Stamp Duty Concession

Eligible first home buyers can receive a stamp duty concession if they purchase a new or existing dwelling valued between $650,000 and $800,000.

Those buying a vacant block of residential land to build their home on will receive concessions on duty for vacant land valued between $350,000 and $450,000.

There are a number of conditions on buyers claiming grants, exemptions and concessions. To find out if you’re eligible visit


It’s now easier to find a park in St Marys

It’s now even easier to visit the team at Professionals St Marys thanks to the creation of new parking spaces along Queen Street.

More than 50 extra parking spaces are now located in the St Marys Town Centre, which will benefit everyone visiting the vicinity such as local shoppers and businesses.

According to a statement on the Penrith Council website, the extra parking is a result of new marked spaces along Queen Street and adjoining side streets, along with the reopening of a section of the Kokoda Place car park, with an increased number of parking spots.

Penrith Mayor John Thain said that following the reopening of a section of the Kokoda Place car park, which had been closed during the Queen Street upgrade works, there are now 70 parking spaces in the car park. This has meant there are now 43 more spaces there than there were previously.

“This was an opportunity for Council to increase the availability of parking in the Town Centre, in a location that allows people easy access to local shops, businesses and services.

“Additionally, we’ve made the most of available parking space along Queen Street and surrounding roads by completing new line marked parking bays; making it easier for people to find a spot close to where they need to go.

“Line marking parking bays along our streets not only saves space but results in more orderly and safer parking arrangements for the community,” Cr Thain said.

There are also a number of off-street parking options available immediately behind Queen Street along East and West Lanes. This parking is readily accessible and linked to Queen Street by a series of public arcades.

These parking spaces provide easy access to local shops and businesses (including our St Marys office at 181 Queen Street) helping make it easy for people to visit the heart of St Marys.

If you’re after further information about where to park in the St Marys Town Centre, you can find an off-street parking map at


Why all property investors should research school zones

All parents want the best for their child and that includes getting a good education.

In many cases the top private schools are simply too expensive or hard to get into, so many parents try to get their kids into the best performing public schools in their area, however this often means that they need to live within its catchment boundaries.

Why this should matter to investors

Anything that is going to drive up the demand for particular properties is a worthy consideration for any investor. In some cases it may mean paying a premium of up to 20 per cent or more on a property, but the property will always have an eager list of tenants waiting to move in, plus it will attract higher rent.

The more popular a school zone the more it will drive up nearby property demand, and every area is likely to have a particular school that is on the local parents’ radar.

How to find popular schools

For those that don’t live in the area, or simply aren’t parents, it can be hard trying to figure out which schools are best. You can visit the MySchool website – – to find out specific details about individual schools and how they rank compared to others.

It’s also worth reading real estate listings to see whether or not they mention local school catchments, chances are that if a property description lists the school zone it’s in then it is a popular selling point for the property.

There are a few things you should consider when looking at investing within a popular school zone however:

  • Possible catchment changes – School boundary lines can change over time and in most cases they get smaller. Buying close to the boundary can be risky as it might mean that you get pushed out of the zone in the future. To avoid this risk it’s best to buy as close to the school in question as possible.
  • Parents are looking for family homes – If you’re buying to take advantage of a school zone then keep your tenants in mind. Most tenants in the area will be families so they will be looking for homes suitable for families. This means they will need more than one bedroom and will want amenities nearby for children such as parks and transport.
  • Use timing to your advantage – Most parents will be looking to move before they need to enrol. Find out the enrolment dates for the school and offer the property around this time so that it is available when most families are looking to move to the area.

At the end of the day there are a number of things that influence property values, but it’s always worth considering catchment zones as buying in the right one can make for a very worthy investment.



Is now the time to buy, or should you sit on the sidelines?

Property prices are easing across the country, so why is it that just when the market is turning in the favour of buyers, many are now expressing concerns about jumping in?

May’s CoreLogic home value index results showed that national home values were down by -0.1 per cent over the month, fuelled mainly by price drops in Sydney and Melbourne.

Home values in Sydney have fallen by -4.2 per cent over the last year, while Melbourne’s have gone up by 2.2 per cent. There is evidence that things are cooling in Melbourne too however, with a -0.5 per cent drop in values in the month to May.

While those who own property never want to see prices falter, this is exactly the news that prospective buyers have been waiting years for.

Why the trepidation?

When property prices show any signs of weakness it’s understandable that many people want to sit on their hands and see if they can catch a great bargain when the market bottoms out. Or they may just be too scared to get into the property market out of fear of a bad investment or a long period of price declines.

How low can prices go?

If you’re waiting for a dramatic price fall then there’s any telling how long you could be waiting, and it might not even happen in the particular market you’re looking in.

There have been predictions from economists of peak-to-trough falls in Sydney and Melbourne of up to 10 per cent, however there’s no way of telling this for sure.

It’s unlikely that we will see a massive market crash due to factors such as high population growth, low interest rates and a strong economy keeping property in high demand across the two cities.

Prices are simply balancing out and returning to a more normal market. There has been huge price growth in Sydney and Melbourne in recent years and what we are seeing now is fairly typical of a real estate market cycle.

The CoreLogic graph below shows the period of time it took to recover from previous peaks in Sydney. As can be seen from the graph, it’s almost impossible to pick when the market will bottom out. It also shows that falls are nothing new and the property market will inevitably rise back up again at some stage in the future.

sydney peaks

(Source: CoreLogic, June 2018)

Buy while prices are down

The great thing about the current market is that it has swung more favourably in the direction of buyers. Sydney and Melbourne buyers have been facing hard competition for a long time, and now is their chance to try and find a great deal, especially while there is also stamp duty concessions and low interest rates on the table.

If you’re a buyer and you’ve been biding your time waiting for the property market to improve then now might just be your best chance.

Focus on the long term

Once you have made a purchase resist the urge to constantly check the status of property prices. There might be month-to-month swings in property prices but what matters most is that you see growth by the time you want to sell.

It might take 5-10 years or more before you see any growth but at least in the meantime you will also have a home to live in, or will have been working towards paying off a major asset.