Are you cut out to be a landlord?

Are you cut out to be a landlord?

With housing supply still trailing population growth, rents across Australia continue to rise steadily and rental yields – the percentage of rental income compared to the property’s price – are more favourable than ever. That’s good news for landlords and wannabe-landlords alike – now is a good time to consider property investment. But what does it take to be successful at it?

Be in it for the long haul

The key to being a successful property investor is to understand that buying a property is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Yes, property prices go up – thankfully, Australia has escaped the property crashes experienced in parts of the world such as the US, UK and Ireland – but it takes years for an investment to pay off.

While there are positive signs for investors, there are conflicting views on the outlook of the property market, said Michelle Hutchison, spokeswoman for RateCity.

“Investors thinking about jumping into the property market this year shouldn’t expect an improvement every year and a more traditional long-term approach should be taken.”

Do your homework

Buying an investment property is all about research. Begin by looking into property prices, rental yields and vacancy rates to determine what and where you can afford to buy. Talk to real estate agents or use real estate websites to get a clear picture of the property market.

Reserve the most energy to researching the area you will buy in. When it comes to investment, the safest bet is buying as close to the city as you can afford – there is always demand for well-maintained properties close to offices, restaurants and a city lifestyle.

You should also consider up-coming areas and suburbs with good infrastructure and public transport – and look for properties that won’t cost you too much in outgoings due to lifts, gyms and pools.

Hutchison also encourages borrowers to shop around for investment loans, because finding the best option for your circumstances could save a buyer tens of thousands of dollars long term, which makes the profit margin all the sweeter.

“Standard variable investment loans interest rates range by up to 180 basis points, which could mean an extra $350 each month or $126,000 after 30 years,” she said

Be a good landlord

Keep your property in good nick and ensure any repairs are done quickly and to high standards. By maintaining and improving your property, you will attract better tenants, be able to charge higher rent and your property will command a better price when you are ready to sell.

Before you embark on any renovations, however, consult local real estate agents about what tenants in your area are after – do they like showers or baths, carpet or floorboards, are they looking for built-in laundries?

Be aware of the downside

It doesn’t matter how much research you’ve done or how good you are at responding to your tenants’ needs, there will always be some unwelcome aspects to being a landlord. These can include overestimating the rental return, prolonged vacancy rates, tenants who fall behind in the rent or damage your property and even rising interest rates.

Ensuring you have a diligent rental agent, who knows the area and is passionate about managing your property, can help avoid some of these traps.

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this article?

Advertisement

RateCity

Money Health Newsletter

Subscribe for news, tips and expert opinions to help you make smarter financial decisions

By signing up, you agree to the ratecity.com.au Privacy & Cookies Policy and Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy

Advertisement

Learn more about home loans

Mortgage Calculator, Property Value

An estimate of how much your desired property is worth. 

What is an investment loan?

An investment loan is a home loan that is taken out to purchase a property purely for investment purposes. This means that the purchaser will not be living in the property but will instead rent it out or simply retain it for purposes of capital growth.

What is bridging finance?

A loan of shorter duration taken to buy a new property before a borrower sells an existing property, usually taken to cover the financial gap that occurs while buying a new property without first selling an older one.

Usually, these loans have higher interest rates and a shorter repayment duration.

What is a line of credit?

A line of credit, also known as a home equity loan, is a type of mortgage that allows you to borrow money using the equity in your property.

Equity is the value of your property, less any outstanding debt against it. For example, if you have a $500,000 property and a $300,000 mortgage against the property, then you have $200,000 equity. This is the portion of the property that you actually own.

This type of loan is a flexible mortgage that allows you to draw on funds when you need them, similar to a credit card.

What is stamp duty?

Stamp duty is the tax that must be paid when purchasing a property in Australia.

It is calculated by the state government based on the selling price of the property. These charges may differ for first homebuyers. You can calculate the stamp duty for your property using our stamp duty calculator.

What is equity and home equity?

The percentage of a property effectively ‘owned’ by the borrower, equity is calculated by subtracting the amount currently owing on a mortgage from the property’s current value. As you pay back your mortgage’s principal, your home equity increases. Equity can be affected by changes in market value or improvements to your property.

What is appreciation or depreciation of property?

The increase or decrease in the value of a property due to factors including inflation, demand and political stability.

What does pre-approval' mean?

Pre-approval for a home loan is an agreement between you and your lender that, subject to certain conditions, you will be able to borrow a set amount when you find the property you want to buy. This approach is useful if you are in the early stages of surveying the property market and need to know how much money you can spend to help guide your search.

It is also useful when you are heading into an auction and want to be able to bid with confidence. Once you have found the property you want to buy you will need to receive formal approval from your bank.

What is equity? How can I use equity in my home loan?

Equity refers to the difference between what your property is worth and how much you owe on it. Essentially, it is the amount you have repaid on your home loan to date, although if your property has gone up in value it can sometimes be a lot more.

You can use the equity in your home loan to finance renovations on your existing property or as a deposit on an investment property. It can also be accessed for other investment opportunities or smaller purchases, such as a car or holiday, using a redraw facility.

Once you are over 65 you can even use the equity in your home loan as a source of income by taking out a reverse mortgage. This will let you access the equity in your loan in the form of regular payments which will be paid back to the bank following your death by selling your property. But like all financial products, it’s best to seek professional advice before you sign on the dotted line.

What is appraised value?

An estimation of a property’s value before beginning the mortgage approval process. An appraiser (or valuer) is an expert who estimates the value of a property. The lender generally selects the appraiser or valuer before sanctioning the loan.

What is a loan-to-value ratio (LVR)?

A loan-to-value ratio (otherwise known as a Loan to Valuation Ratio or LVR), is a calculation lenders make to work out the value of your loan versus the value of your property, expressed as a percentage.   Lenders use this calculation to help assess your suitability for a home loan, and whether you need to pay lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI). As a general rule, most banks will require you to pay LMI if your loan-to-value ratio is 80 per cent or more.   LVR is worked out by dividing the loan amount by the value of the property. If you are looking for a quick ball-park estimate of LVR, the size of your deposit is a good indicator as it is directly proportionate to your LVR. For instance, a loan with an LVR of 80 per cent requires a deposit of 20 per cent, while a 90 per cent LVR requires 10 per cent down payment. 

LOAN AMOUNT / PROPERTY VALUE = LVR%

While this all sounds simple enough, it is worth doing a more accurate calculation of LVR before you commit to buying a place as there are some traps to be aware of. Firstly, the ‘loan amount’ is the price you paid for the property plus additional costs such as stamp duty and legal fees, minus your deposit amount. Secondly, the ‘property value’ is determined by your lender’s valuation of the property, not the price you paid for it, and sometimes these can differ so where possible, try and get your bank to evaluate the property before you put in an offer.

How much money can I borrow for a home loan?

Tip: You can use RateCity how much can I borrow calculator to get a quick answer.

How much money you can borrow for a home loan will depend on a number of factors including your employment status, your income (and your partner’s income if you are taking out a joint loan), the size of your deposit, your living expenses and any other debt you might hold, including credit cards. 

A good place to start is to work out how much you can afford to make in monthly repayments, factoring in a buffer of at least 2 – 3 per cent to allow for interest rate rises along the way. You’ll also need to factor in additional costs that come with purchasing a property such as stamp duty, legal fees, building inspections, strata or council fees.

If you are planning on renting the property, you can factor in the expected rental income to help offset the mortgage, but again it’s prudent to add a significant buffer to allow for rental management fees, maintenance costs and short periods of no rental income when tenants move out. It’s also wise to factor in changes in personal circumstances – the typical home loan lasts for around 30 years and a lot can happen between now and then.

How can I get a home loan with no deposit?

Following the Global Financial Crisis, no-deposit loans, as they once used to be known, have largely been removed from the market. Now, if you wish to enter the market with no deposit, you will require a property of your own to secure a loan against or the assistance of a guarantor.

Does Australia have no cost refinancing?

No Cost Refinancing is an option available in the US where the lender or broker covers your switching costs, such as appraisal fees and settlement costs. Unfortunately, no cost refinancing isn’t available in Australia.