12 July 2018
With Australia’s major supermarkets banning the plastic bag it’s a good time to get on board #PlasticFreeJuly.
The initiative, whereby people pledge to reduce plastic from their lives for a month, is a great opportunity to learn about plastic-free eco alternatives beyond the tote bag.
Founder of the Plastic Free July Foundation, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, says while plastic is an extremely useful material the fact it’s designed to last forever causes problems for the environment.
One of the biggest impacts is, of course, on wildlife. But plastic is a huge problem for humans too. Plastic bags contain a cocktail of chemicals that leach into the environment and increase up the food chain. “The UN Environment said it’s one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time,” Prince-Ruiz says.
Images of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch might suggest it’s a problem happening elsewhere. “CSIRO research found plastic in every beach in Australia,” Prince-Ruiz says. “And because we have high concentrations of wildlife, we’re the area in the world where seabirds are most at risk.”
Only 9 per cent of all plastic we’ve made on our planet is recycled, according to Prince-Ruiz. “This is a problem we can’t recycle our way out of. We need to rethink our use of this material.”
She suggests eliminating all single-use throwaway plastic such as plastic lollypop sticks, bottle caps, drink bottles and bags. “These are what we’re finding in our environment. It’s not about being perfect, or a competition. It’s about saying ‘hey, I’m going to try’.”
Frustration with sourcing plastic-free products led Sydney-based Lottie Dalziel to found an online marketplace where consumers can purchase plastic-free products all in one place. Launched in March, banish offers more than 460 products across 22 eco-friendly and cruelty-free brands, and is part of a growing movement to rein in the problem of plastic waste.
From the quirky and old-fashioned, to the funky and plain brilliant, here’s a glance at what’s out there to help you replace plastic in the home in July and beyond.
Use to replace cling wrap. “It comes in funky colours and is a piece of fabric coated in beeswax,” Dalziel says. “Using the heat in your hand, it moulds. You just unwrap and rinse in cold water and use again.”
Beeswax wraps can replace cling wrap. Photo: Beeutiful.com.au
The lightweight fabric bags come with a velcro closure and replace plastic lunch and snack bags.
Reusable produce bags
“Take these shopping with you and put your fresh produce into them, Dalziel says. “Keep them in their bags and it helps separate them in your crisper.”
Knitted and fabric cleaning cloths
Washable and re-usable, these replace your Wettex or Chux.
Coconut fibre scourers
A trendy accompaniment to your au naturel wooden chopping board.
Choose from bamboo or stainless steel options.
Reusable bamboo straws. Photo: Banish.com.au
Combine the old-fashioned metal tea strainer with loose-leaf teas to banish plastic from your morning cuppa.
Bamboo takeaway cutlery
Chuck these in your lunchbox or buy in bulk for parties instead of the plastic variety.
Add a tablet to your dishwasher compartment and use as normal. Lil Bit sells a Cajeput-scented, Himalayan salt tablet.
Eco-Max offer a handmade and biodegradable recycled timber and coconut fibre dust brush.
Himalayan salt dishwashing tablets. Photo: Lil’ Bit
Bathroom & personal hygiene
Shampoo and conditioner bars
Handmade, full of yummy ingredients and sure to start a trend. Get them at Lush and Beauty and the Bees.
Scent up with this option from Good & Clean. A portion of profits goes to your conservation project of choice.
“Cut off the bristles and the bamboo is completely biodegradable,” Dalziel says.
Made from Mulberry silk and mint-flavoured, it comes in it’s own refillable glass and stainless steel container. Get it at Ecostainable.
Built to last, you probably have one in your cabinet. For something new and nifty try the Parker Safety Razor.
100% natural deodorant paste. Photo: Good & Clean
Made with soft, medical-grade silicon, menstrual cups are used like tampons. Find them at Banish and other stockists.
Biodegradable cotton buds
Go Bamboo sell biodegradable bamboo cotton buds.
Tooth and gum powder
Natural ingredients mean this is also better for you. Buy it online at Banish.
Soap nuts/soap berries
The saponin-rich shells of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree nut produce foam when mixed with water. “Add about seven nuts to your washing load in a bag,” Dalziel says. (Micro-plastics in traditional detergents end up in the world’s waterways).
Pop one in the toilet for five minutes, scrub and flush away. Get them at Lil Bit.
Biodegradable trash bags
Hurrah. These do exist! Find them online at Biotuff and Flora & Fauna.
Biodegradable cotton buds. Photo: Shop Naturally
06 July 2018
Image Source: A House in the Hills
If there are rules that you as a renter must follow, make it these 10 commandments. Because, while paying your rent on time is important, so too is making sure your place is personalised and stylish. Working within the boundaries of your landlord, it’s little things like a new light fixture that will make an impact without costing a lot of time or money. And, the best part about this entire list is that you’ll leave with your security deposit intact once it’s time to move up and on.
- Thou Shalt Add Storage
Let’s get real, custom cabinetry is not an option if you don’t own the place. Since rentals usually lack storage, add your own with affordable Ikea bookcases, simple shelves, or these organising solutions.
- Thou Shalt Change the Hardware
Rental hardware is basic . . . your style, not so much. Switching out cabinet pulls and bathroom hardware will make a huge difference. Just remember to keep the original pieces to swap back in before moving out.
- Thou Shalt Ditch Vertical Blinds
Image Source: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
They are the ultimate decorating sin! To prevent your space from looking like a hospital room, take them down or hide them under curtains. Again, don’t toss — they’re essential if you want your security deposit back.
- Thou Shalt Line Cabinets
This might seem trivial and a bit annoying, but lining your cabinets is a must. Not only will it make your kitchen look clean, but also it will mask worn and grungy cabinets without having to paint. Adhesive liner works, but a softer grip liner is better because it’s easy to install; it will also prevent glassware from chipping.
- Thou Shalt Accessorise Like Crazy
It’s true, and that’s the only way you’re going to get a truly personal space. Go to town with throws, pillows, and accents that reflect your style.
- Thou Shalt Avoid Wallpaper
Well, in most cases. Sure it’s stylish, but in all honestly, wallpaper is really inconvenient to remove, especially if you won’t be in your place for long. If you love the patterned look, consider the removable wallpaper seen in this studio or these alternative wallpaper ideas.
- Thou Shalt Hang Art
Image Source: Love Grows Wild
No excuses — get your art on the walls! Patching up a tiny hole come move-out day is nothing compared to the impact it will make on your space. No need to create a full-blown gallery wall either. Try hanging one statement piece and resting photos on a mantel or shelf, similar to this home.
- Thou Shalt Invest in Rugs
Especially if your place has carpet! Rugs are an easy way to cover up that not-so-cute carpet and can be packed up with you come your next move. Rugs are also a necessity to keep noise down, especially in older apartments with wood floors.
- Thou Shalt Emphasise Lighting
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography
This is another trick that many renters often overlook. Take it from HGTV stars Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri who suggest you use lighting to set the tone and make an impact in a rental. Get creative with floor and table lamps that can easily be moved from place to place.
- Thou Shalt Make the Most of Plants
No yard? No problem. Pots are a great way to achieve the bohemian jungalow look or even have your own urban garden. The best part is you won’t have to fret about leaving any of them behind.
02 July 2018
An interior designer reveals the essential rules for achieving a perfectly balanced interior.
Have you ever walked into a room and it just felt right, but you couldn’t put your finger on exactly why? Chances are that proportion was a key factor – whoever designed the room would have paid careful attention to getting the size and scale of the furniture and accessories just right for the space.
We talked to Rohan Smith, senior interior designer at Coco Republic Interior Design, to find out how you can create beautifully proportioned rooms in your own home.
Why does proportion matter?
Because furnishing a room is more involved than simply placing a few pieces of furniture in a space – some fundamental rules of design need to be considered, one of the most important being proportion. You need to consider not only the proportional relationship between the pieces themselves, but to the space that contains them.
A room looks and feels right when the proportions are good, and there’s neither too little nor too much furniture. If furniture is too big, the flow of the room can feel awkward. If it’s too small, the space won’t feel cosy or inviting.
What are the most common mistakes people make?
Having all the furniture and furnishings in a room the same height, colour and style. The room ends up looking dull and static. This is easily rectified. A tall floor lamp, for example, can add some height to a corner, while providing a lovely ambient light source. A tall cabinet or bookcase can add visual interest as well as handy storage.
How do you assess proportion?
One of the easiest ways to assess whether a sofa, dining table or bed will suit the size of your room is to map it out with newspaper and lay it on the floor. This will give you a sense of how much floor space the piece will take up. Living with this template for a few days will give you a definite feel for how it will be to live with the piece.
A more technical method would be to use the Houzz Sketch tool or an app such as Magicplan. You simply take photos on your smartphone, which the app then translates into a plan of the space. You can then add objects, annotations and attributes to create a complete plan of your room.
What proportions do you need to consider for a living room?
Living rooms can be tricky to get right, especially in open-plan spaces.
If the room is your main television viewing space, then you’ll need to factor in technology as well as furniture. Is the TV too big for the room? Is the entertainment unit balanced with the size of the TV, and the room as a whole? A common mistake is to have a small entertainment unit with a large TV – it should be the other way around. Also, consider whether the sofa is the correct distance from the TV for viewing comfort. It should be about 2.5 times the screen width in distance away, and no more than 5 metres. The centre of the TV should be about 1 to 1.1 metres from the floor.
A large sofa and a small rug also look unbalanced.
For living rooms, the furniture arrangement should be conducive to conversation. Two sofas facing each other or a U-shaped arrangement are ideal. The coffee table should also be the right height for the sofa. You should be easily able reach the coffee table from a seated position so you can rest a cup of tea or a glass of wine.
What about a bedroom?
One of the main considerations in the bedroom is the size of the bedside table in proportion to the bed. For a king-size bed, go for a large-scale beside table of about 70-90 centimetres in width, depending on the size of your bedroom. For a queen-size bed, a bedside table of around 50-60 centimetres is ideal.
Bedside lamps should also sit proportionally with the bedside table and bedhead. Again, for a king-size bed, a larger lamp will work best.
Are there any golden rules for hanging pendant lamps?
When pendant lamps are hung too high or low, they can look completely out of place in a room. You need to consider the size and style of the pendant, the ceiling height, and the space in which they will be hung.
Despite these variables, there are still a few hard-and-fast rules that can help when hanging pendants. For kitchen benches, hang lights around 70-80 centimetres above benchtops. This height allows the pendants to provide a useful light source for working, without intruding on the line of sight from the kitchen to the adjoining living or dining room.
For your dining table, sit pendants at 75 centimetres above table height to create an intimate and cosy dining space. For entries and hallways where people will be walking beneath the pendant lights, space allowing, the ideal hanging height is 240 centimetres from floor level.
What about hanging art?
Choosing artwork that is the wrong scale for a room is a common mistake, with most people erring on the small size. Checking to see whether a gallery will allow you to bring a piece home on approval is the best way around this. If you fall in a love with a piece that is too small for your room, have it re-framed with a larger mount.
Another common mistake is to hang artwork too high on the wall. If a piece is hung too high it will have no connection to the furniture below it, and if it’s above eye level it can ruin the look of a room.
Ideally, artwork should be hung so that the centre of the piece is at average eye level or about 150 centimetres from the ground. In a dining room you might want to hang the pieces slightly lower to factor in the seated viewing height.
Also remember that having some negative space is important. Leaving some walls bare not only puts more significance on the pieces you’ve hung, but creates a calmer feel in the room.
Rugs are a great way to bring a furniture grouping together. They provide a border for furniture to sit on and can help you create individual dining and living zones in an open-plan room where furniture has a tendency to ‘float’. Ideally rugs should sit under the front legs of the sofa and occasional chairs – this helps visually link the pieces together.
What about the proportions for colour in a room?
When making your selection, consider the 60-30-10 rule, which is a timeless decorating principle that can help you create a balanced colour scheme. Your 60 per cent is the main colour for a room, which anchors a space and provides a backdrop for the other colours. In a living room this would be walls, sofas and rugs.
Your 30 per cent is the secondary colour, which would encompass occasional chairs, bedlinen, window furnishings and occasional furniture. It should support the main colour, while being different enough to set it apart and give the room interest.
The final 10 per cent is your accent colour. For a living room, this would include scatter cushions, decorative accessories and artwork. For a bedroom, think throw pillows and artwork.
Do the rules of proportion apply to the little details too?
Keeping an eye on the proportion of decorative accessories is another important consideration. One large bowl on a dining table might be all you need in that space to create drama. Conversely, combining small objects with other similar objects can create just as much impact. A collection of ceramic pots makes one big statement, whereas a few pots scattered about will look disconnected and out of proportion.
Lamps should not overshadow the table on which they are placed. A large lamp on a slender table, for example, would appear top heavy. Too much variety of scale can cause visual chaos in a focused area, such as a bookshelf. Instead, group items of similar type and scale together, and line up like-sized books for a balanced look.
25 June 2018
Many investors steer clear of vacant land because they mistakenly believe they can’t claim interest repayments on it.
In fact, the biggest thing that most accountants get wrong when advising clients on vacant land is that the interest component on it isn’t tax deductible.
I’ve had many arguments with many accountants about this topic over the years!
The key component is the clear intent to build a property within a reasonable timeframe. If the investor was audited, the investor would need to prove that the timeframe – whether it’s a few weeks or months – was necessary to enable to construct the investment property.
I’ve heard this ‘non-advice’ so many times over the years and that’s why it’s so important that you get advice from a property accountant with a strong understanding of the relevant legislation.
Which land is best?
With vacant land, there are a number of different strategies that you could implement.
The first one is residential land that is being carved up by a developer, but you buy before the titles for each individual block have been registered. Effectively, you’re buying land off the plan, but it’s important to understand that there are pros and cons to this strategy.
The pro is that if it’s in a high-demand area and you’ve bought during the early stages of development, you tend to make some money. You also generally only need to put down a few hundred or thousand dollars as the deposit. Naturally, because you are very much dependent on how fast the developer can register each block, you’re at the whim of the market, which can be a con. For example, in my portfolio, I once bought 18 blocks of land that were not yet registered.
In fact, registration wasn’t supposed to happen for another two years. However, it happened in just eight months and I wasn’t ready. So all of a sudden I had 18 parcels of land that I had to settle on, but I didn’t have my finance organised.
After discussing it with the developer, I ended up settling on four of them and he released the other 14 back to the market, which worked out well for him because the market had improved.
So, if the land is registered well ahead of time, you can be left scrambling.
On the other hand, if registration takes longer than expected, the market could have slowed down. Like any off-the-plan project, you only need one bad valuation to negatively impact
the entire subdivision or development. Plus, everyone will be building at the same time, which means you’re competing for trades and will likely be finished at the same time, too, and that means a strong likelihood of softer prices.
What about greenfield and infill sites?
When I say greenfield sites, I mean blocks of rural land that you intend to rezone for residential usage. Now this is a strategy for more advanced investors because there is more risk as well as a higher financial component required for earthworks and approval costs. Greenfield sites can be bought for an affordable price, but if you can’t get the subdivision approved you need to have the money behind you to fight all your way up to the Environment Court if necessary.
A better strategy is to target infill sites within already established residential areas.
In this scenario, you buy a larger block of land, usually with a house on it, to carve off the land at the back or the side to sell as vacant or with a new property on it.
The other option is to subdivide, then construct a new dwelling and then keep both. Infill developments can also lean towards knocking the old house down, splitting the block into two and selling the vacant land, or building two houses or even multiples. It must always come back to whether there is a market for your project and whether the numbers add up, because you must take into account all of the costs on the way in and on the way out.
That way you can make an educated decision whether to keep holding long term or take your profits to invest elsewhere.
Whichever strategy you choose, you must do your figures on the worst-case scenario to see if it adds up. That’s because land generally has a lower, or no yield to start off with, which means your holding costs can be higher than with a house, for example.
At the end of the day, vacant land as a strategy, does work. You just need to have your eyes wide open to ensure your figures are correct and you must understand that it might be a while before income rolls in.
Finally, it goes without saying that you must get tax advice from a specialist accountant who understands property. If you don’t, you could end up with pockets just as vacant as the land you’re investing in.
14 June 2018
If you’ve ever bought a heating appliance only to find it woefully inadequate for the task at hand, you need Christian Hoerning’s advice. A technical expert at EECA Energywise, he tells us how to stay toasty without getting burned by the end-of-month bill:
For larger rooms you want to heat regularly, it’s worth paying a bit more upfront for a fixed heater with lower running costs and more heat output than a small electric heater can provide.
Electric heaters may be enough for smaller rooms and rooms you only heat occasionally.
Hang on the wall electric fires can be two or three sided and have floating shelves such as those in the Skope Trento Suite from The Fireplace. Photo: The Fireplace
Avoid unflued gas heaters (either portable or with pipes fixed to the walls) that release toxic fumes and moisture, and open fires that are draughty and inefficient.
Match the size of your heater to the space. An oversized or undersized heater won’t work effectively, and can cost more to run.
To minimise the environmental impacts, choose a heating option that uses renewable energy, like wood, wood pellets or electricity (which is about 80 per cent renewable on average).
An Escea outdoor cooking fire completes this outdoor kitchen by Dravitzki Brown Architecture, it comes with an adjustable cooking plate for flame grilling. Photo: Escea
Choose the most efficient model for the job, and use and maintain your heater properly – for example, have heat pumps serviced and regularly clean the filters.
Fireplace: The expert advice
One reason wood fires have fallen somewhat out of favour is increasing clean air regulations in our cities. But wood is a renewable resource – and a real wood fire has romance on its side. So if you’re a sucker for the crackle and the ritual of stoking the logs, look for one that is clean air approved for urban areas.
“For large, open-plan rooms you can’t go past double-sided fireplaces as room dividers. They visually connect two spaces, and add intimate zones to the setting.” – Alex Hodge, Escea.
Escea’s double-sided DX1500 gas fireplace adds its magic to both the kitchen and living space of this home, designed by Product X Architecture. Photo: Escea
“Electric fireplaces, using sophisticated LED technology that mimics flames with different effects and colours, are no longer confined to in-wall options. Products such as the Gazco Skope Outset fires can be installed as a two- or three-sided fire so they make a stunning visual centrepiece.” – Geoff Dunn, The Fireplace
“A fireplace in the bedroom is the ultimate luxury, but definitely a better option with gas due to its on/off button convenience and controllable temperature. No one likes to sleep in a room that’s too hot. Escea’s multiroom DX Series has the ability to duct heat into different rooms – a good option for bedrooms as 90 per cent of the heat is ducted, not radiant. – Alex Hodge, Escea
“A fireplace in an outdoor room will add value to your home and extend your living space. Fireplaces provide a central social hub and make alfresco dining a lot more inviting. Escea’s EF5000 outdoor gas fireplace is an easy-to-install option that doesn’t need a flue, so it’s great for balconies and roof gardens that have views you don’t want to obscure.” – Malcolm Burton, Stoke Fireplace Studio
If you love the authenticity of wood fireplaces but live in the city, you’ll need one that’s clean air approved. Stovax Studio wood fires can be in-built or freestanding. Photo: The Fireplace
Other ways to heat
Sarah Moore from Rinnai says whole home heating (or central heating) is can be unusual, as most of us are used to spot heating just the living area. “Whole home heating allows you to have a warm, comfortable dry house and we have seen strong growth in this space over the last few years. We expect this trend to continue as more people understand the benefits of heating their whole home.”
Fan heaters are ideal for small spaces such as home offices or powder rooms that measure around 15sqm. Installed in a bathroom, they also reduce steam and should be turned on before you take a shower.
Wall mounted and perfectly quiet, convection panel heaters are a good choice for hallways and bedrooms. Choose one with a timer and an accurate digital thermostat.
Radiant heaters are for personal warmth; if you work from home in an open-plan space you could possibly do with one in the depths of winter but they will make no difference to the ambient temperature of the room.
Don’t forget to move the heat outdoors. A 2400W electric outdoor patio heater, for instance, provides heat for areas up to 10m away.
11 June 2018
Buying your first property is hard, so let’s make it easier for you.
Congratulations! You have decided to take the plunge, you have done some reading on what the various responsibilities when it comes to being a homeowner, you have spoken to the bank and have an idea of how much you are able to afford.
These steps take some time so we are here to encourage you to take the next step in home ownership. We know it’s a little bit nerve wrecking and a little bit scary, but we have compiled some advice from our in house experts to help you with this exciting time!
Looking for affordability without compromising on location
For many of us, your first home is not going to be your forever home. We recommend taking a holistic approach to purchasing property. Even if you are going to be living in that property, look at it as an investment as well.
For those first homebuyers who do not want to compromise on space, you may have to look further out depending on your budget or look for townhouses or terraces. If you are looking to keep more of your lifestyle, an inner city apartment may be the apt living situation for you.
What we emphasise is buying smart and seeing your home purchase as more than just a living situation but a step in growing your portfolio. You might want to ask yourself “How much rent will I get for this apartment?” or “What has been the capital growth in the area over the last few years?”.
We think asking these questions will not only give you peace of mind if you have to move out and rent or sell your property, but it is also how many people start their property portfolio. The first one does not have to be picture perfect, but it helps if it is a sound investment.
Location and amenities
The building, home or internal features are not the only things that you should consider when you buy. Are you in a desirable school catchment zone, are there amenities or transport facilities planned in your area or has a new shopping centre been planned?
Looking at the amenities and area around you is particularly important, as they are great financial health indicators that the area you are looking to buy in has infrastructure and amenity to attract people to live there.
Look on suburb out from your dream location
Looking for undervalued suburbs next to the pricier areas is always a something we recommend to our first home buyers – over time, population growth and gentrification will mean that there will be capital growth in your area.
It’s always good to also look at areas with employment growth as this will increase demand for homes in that area. Finally, do your research. It takes time to go through all the listings in the area you love and view the various prices they get sold for but it’s all worth it when you know you are on to a great purchase.
06 June 2018
The latest REIWA Curtin Buy-Rent Index for the March 2018 quarter has revealed it’s the best time to buy in Perth since 2013.
The Index, released quarterly, assesses whether it’s better to buy or rent in Perth based on past and current trends in the economic and property market climate.
REIWA President Hayden Groves said the March 2018 quarter index showed the annual rate of house price growth required over 10 years to break even in the Buy-Rent Index had declined from 3.3 per cent to 3.1 per cent over the quarter, suggesting an improvement for prospective homebuyers weighing up the decision.
“To put that into perspective, Perth’s annual house price growth rate has been 5.9 per cent for the last 15 years. Based on the March 2018 quarter Index, house prices in Perth would only need to grow by more than 3.1 per cent annually for buying to be considered more financially beneficial than renting,” Mr Groves said.
“This improvement in buying conditions can be attributed to the Perth median house price softening by 1.9 per cent during the March quarter, while the median house rent price increased $5 to $360 per week. We also saw the 10 year average mortgage rate drop to 6.43 per cent, which means home owners are paying less on their mortgage repayments.
“This is the most affordable buying environment we’ve seen in Perth for some time, so if you’ve been weighing up whether to buy, now is the time to take advantage of favourable market conditions,” Mr Groves said.
Mr J-Han Ho, a Property Researcher and Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics and Finance at Curtin University, said the data indicated a continued improvement for the home buyer in the near future.
“Our analysis shows home buyers gaining an advantage, largely due to the low interest rates for home loans, home ownership costs continuing to be affordable and the median rents stabilising,” Mr Ho said.
View the March 2018 quarter Buy-Rent Index.
01 June 2018
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia
If the idea of getting your home company-ready is keeping you from hosting a dinner party or even your out-of-town in-laws, we can help. Sure, you could spend all day cleaning and decorating in anticipation, but who has the time? Here are the only things you really need to do before your guests arrive. Don’t worry — they are nothing but easy.
The Scent of Your Home
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Brinton Parker
Decor isn’t the first thing guests
notice when they walk through your door — it’s the smell. Whether you’re
concerned about the fish you cooked the night before or your dog skipping a
bath — or worse, the scents you’ve become nose-blind to — put your
mind at ease by lighting a candle or simmering a small pot of citrus peels and
cinnamon sticks a half hour before guests arrive. We can’t get enough of these yummy-smelling candles.
A Well-Stocked Bar
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia
After greeting guests, the first
thing that you will want to do is offer them a drink. You don’t need to be full
service, but make sure you have the home bar basics covered.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Mark Popovich
Flowers are the only decoration a
house really ever needs, no matter the occasion (although we feel pretty
strongly about candles too!). To get the most bang out of your buck, buy potted
flowers, like orchids. They may look delicate, but with proper care, they
will last for a month or longer.
The Lack of Clutter
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Grace Hitchcock
Even if you don’t have time to do a
deep cleaning, you can still organise your clutter. Get a tray or a set of
lidded boxes for each room and corral all the odds and ends — remotes,
keys, mail — in one place. Guests will feel relaxed in a space that
appears organised, even if it is just for show!
A Tidy Bathroom
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Grace Hitchcock
Before guests arrive, make sure your
bathroom has clean hand towels and enough toilet paper. Extra points for wiping
down surfaces and lighting a candle
An Organised Entryway
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia
Not only is it the first place and
last place that your guests will see, your entryway is also where they will be
dropping their coats and bags. Depending on how much room you have, add a coat
rack, umbrella stand, and a place to sit while taking shoes on or off.
01 June 2018
You’ve worked hard to make your bedroom a welcoming sanctuary, but beneath its pretty facade, there could be serious health hazards lurking. Read on to uncover the bedroom dangers that could be harming you while you sleep and learn what you can do about them.
Let your bedroom air out by opening the windows as weather permits each day. It will refresh the space and void it of noxious gasses that can build up indoors over time.
Not only will a potted plant or two beautify your bedroom, but they will also release oxygen and help filter out harmful compounds emitted by everyday cleaners, detergents, and fragrances. Studies show that these 10 houseplants can even improve your health.
A quiet air filterer is an efficient way to purify your bedroom of dangerous pollutants and agitating allergens like dust mites, pollen, and pet dander.
Even with an air filter, it’s important to keep dirt and dust mites at bay by cleaning regularly. Pay special attention to areas that tend to accumulate them the most, including the floor, baseboards, windowsills, and upholstery. Even “clean” people often forget to wash these eight things.
The amount of dead skin, grime, and dust mites that collect on your bedding is rather horrifying and can cause problems from asthma to acne. The good news is it’s easy to get rid of by cleaning your sheets, duvet, and pillowcases every 1-2 weeks. Case in point? This horrific study reveals the horrific result of not washing your pillows for just two years.
Keep moisture from getting stuck in your bedding and mattress and causing problems by airing it out briefly before you make the bed in the morning. Pull back the sheets, fluff out the pillows, and give everything a few minutes to dry before they’re closed back up for the day.
Bad news for memory foam pillow-lovers. These ergonomic head rests often outgas dangerous Volotile Organic Compounds or VOC’s that can cause headaches, nausea, and eye irritation. You don’t want your face, mouth, or nose anywhere near them. Swap them for pillows filled with organic materials, like wool or feathers, or at least a safer foam like a natural latex foam.
- Flame Retardant-Free Mattress
Considering how much time you spend in close proximity with your mattress each day, it’s a no-brainer to make it a safe one. While many products, including mattresses, were once doused in flame-retardant chemicals, it’s come to light that these chemicals are doing much more harm than good. They’ve been linked to types of cancer, birth defects, and fertility issues. Scary stuff, and reason to seek out an organic, chemical-free mattress.
In small apartment or studio, space is at a premium and spaces may have to do double duty – but do your best to keep office equipment away from your bed, especially if it’s running all the time. Research has shown that laser printers emit tiny particles into the air that may be dangerous.
28 May 2018
One of the most widely misunderstood elements of real estate is what condition a property should be in at settlement or possession.
What does ‘buying as inspected’ really mean?
In short, a property is sold “as inspected”. If there was dust on a ceiling fan when you first inspected before contracting to buy then the fan can be dusty at settlement. The same goes for a dirty oven, a blown light globe or a squeaky laundry door. If it was dirty, blown or squeaky at inspection before purchase then so it should be at settlement.
Buyers will typically expect that the property is handed over to them spick n’ span and thankfully most house-proud sellers leave their homes in an appropriate condition when moving out, however legally there is no obligation for them to do so.
What should you expect at settlement?
If you’re buying a home, it’s smart to have a realistic expectation of what to expect at settlement.
Unless otherwise specified in the contract, the seller is under no obligation to have the property professionally cleaned for settlement and it is surprising how few buyers ask that such a condition be included.
The seller’s only obligation under the contract (Clause 6.1(b) 2 of the General Conditions) is to “…remove from the Property, before possession, all vehicles, rubbish and chattels, other than the Property Chattels.”
Many modern contracts to purchase include provision for essential plumbing, gas and electrical components to be working at settlement. Hence, if at settlement the toilet cistern leaks then the seller ought to make good because the contract says so.
It is trickier when, for example, a telephone jack doesn’t work at settlement. It is not strictly electrical but it is probably reasonable for a buyer to assume that it was functioning at inspection. This is partly because, caveat emptor (buyer beware) has all but disappeared according to some legal practitioners. The onus is probably on the seller to disclose (in this case) that the telephone jack didn’t work.
How to ensure you’re happy with the property at settlement
My view is that buyers need to take reasonable steps to ensure the property they have bought will be presented to them in a condition they are satisfied with.
This can be achieved by either contracting with the seller to guarantee it and/or being more thorough when inspecting the property in the first instance. Ask the agent if it’s ok to turn on taps, flush loos, flick switches, open and close doors, open the oven, turn on the dishwasher and so on before making an offer to purchase.
Buyers ought to have a realistic expectation of what to expect at settlement when buying an established home and acknowledge that opinions of presentation are subjective.
Speak to our market experts on 9475 9622 to discuss about your property concerns
21 May 2018
First home buyers are active in Perth’s property market, with data for the March 2018 quarter revealing an increase in sales for properties priced $500,000 and below.
REIWA President Hayden Groves said after observing subdued first home buyer activity during the December 2017 quarter, it was pleasing to see the lower end of the market strengthen early in 2018.
“The final quarter of 2017 saw the composition of the Perth market shift. Last quarter there were significantly more sales in the higher priced end of the market and less in the first home buyer price range. It’s been a different story this quarter, with the balance of sales shifting back to the lower end of the market,” Mr Groves said.
Median house and unit price
Perth’s preliminary median house price is $510,000 for the March 2018 quarter.
Mr Groves said once all sales settle, this figure was expected to increase to $517,000, which would put the March 2018 quarter median marginally lower (by 0.6 per cent) than the December 2017 quarter.
“Although Perth’s median house price experienced a minor adjustment during the March 2018 quarter, the median house price is up 0.4 per cent when compared to the same time last year, which shows prices are stable,” Mr Groves said.
Perth’s preliminary median unit price is $401,000 for the March 2018 quarter.
“This is expected to lift to $410,000 once all sales settle, which would put it equal with the December quarter median.
“These results are in line with REIWA’s 2018 forecast, which expects stable conditions throughout the remainder of this year, with moderate price growth during the next 12 months,” Mr Groves said.
Preliminary Landgate data shows there were 5,865 dwelling sales during the March 2018 quarter.
“We expect around 6,603 sales for the quarter overall, which is marginally lower than volumes recorded during the December quarter,” Mr Groves said.
There was a 5.7 per cent increase in house sales in the sub-$500,000 price range during the March 2018 quarter.
“Increased activity in the lower end of the market is usually a sign first home buyers are active. We are fortunate the dream of home ownership is more attainable for West Australians than it is on the east coast. After seeing activity drop off last quarter, it’s good to see first home buyers are increasing their presence in the market,” Mr Groves said.
Listings for sale
There were 14,413 properties for sale in Perth at the end of the March 2018 quarter.
Mr Groves said listings had increased 10.2 per cent over the quarter, but were down 2.9 per cent when compared to the March 2017 quarter.
“While it is pleasing listings have declined on an annual basis, the increase over the quarter is not cause for alarm. With overall sentiment in WA improving and all signs indicating the market has begun to turn, sellers are feeling more confident than they have been and therefore more inclined to put their property up for sale.
“We’ve also seen a sharp decline in rental listings over the past year which has had a flow-on effect to the established market. With some investors choosing to sell their rental property instead of lease it, this has contributed to the rise in the number of properties for sale in Perth,” Mr Groves said.
Average selling days
It took 67 days on average to sell a house in Perth during the March 2018 quarter.
Mr Groves said although average selling days increased over the quarter, it was still two days quicker to sell than it was during the March 2017 quarter.
“With more listings on the market, buyers now have more choice, which has had an impact on the time it takes to sell. It’s very encouraging though, that on an annual basis, we’re seeing average selling days decrease,” Mr Groves said.
18 May 2018
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess
Have you ever come home from a long day of work, stepped through your door, and noticed that your home smells a little musty? Between lingering food smells from the kitchen, damp towels in the bathroom, and other day-to-day activities, there are lots of things that contribute to your home smelling a little less than fresh. It happens to the best of us, but luckily it’s an easy fix! DIY air fresheners, houseplants aplenty, and some essential cleaning tips are some of our favourite ways to get a fresh home that smells amazing.
Burn a Candle
Image Source: Francois et Moi
Scented candles add a whole lot of cosiness to your room and can make your entire home smell fresh or festive, depending on the scent you choose! Try this DIY soy candle to get a fresh scent while skipping the harsh chemicals.
DIY an Essential Oil Diffuser
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess
Candles should never be left unattended, so if you want something that you don’t have to pay much attention to, DIY an essential oil diffuser instead. They can make your home smell great for months and you can choose your own scents.
Deep-Clean Your Bathroom
Image Source: Studio McGee
How often do you actually deep-clean your bathroom? You should really try to get behind all those nooks and crannies that you don’t always pay attention to once a week. Without a good, regular deep clean, your bathroom will eventually start to smell.
Get an Air Purifier
Image Source: Love Grows Wild
There are lots of things to love about air purifiers, from getting rid of harmful pollutants in your home to making your home less dusty. They also help contribute to a crisp, fresh smell in your home.
Make a DIY Air Freshener
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess
When it’s not really possible to crack a window for fresh air, try a DIY air freshener instead. You can also use them to freshen up fabrics and get rid of musty smells.
Bake Some Bread
Image Source: Damn Delicious
What can make your home smell better than baking a fresh loaf of bread? There are plenty of simple bread recipes out there, like this no-knead rosemary bread recipe that will instantly make your home smell amazing.
Rid Your Kitchen of Grease
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess
If you cook often, grease can really start to build up, even in places you never expected. Citrus-based cleaners work wonders for cleaning up grease on your counters, range hood, microwave, and more, leaving your kitchen smelling fresh.
Create Lavender Sachets
Image Source: House*Tweaking
These DIY lavender sachets are a great option if you have specific rooms or areas in your home that need freshening up. Just hang one wherever you want your home to smell good!
Simmer Your Favourite Scents
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts
One of the best air fresheners you can make is one on your stove. Combine your favourite scents, like citrus, cinnamon, cloves, or anything else you like, and simmer it on the stove in some water for as long as you like.
Image Source: Sarah Hearts
It’s no secret that houseplants are one of the best natural air purifiers on the market! Many houseplants help to produce more oxygen in your home while ridding the air of toxic chemicals and carbon monoxide, giving your home a fresher scent.
Make Dryer Balls
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography
DIY dryer balls are a great, less toxic alternative to dryer sheets, but you can use them in similar ways. Put them strategically around your home, like in your linen closet or in your drawers, to keep things smelling super fresh!
07 May 2018
In an ideal world, property developers should have a graceful exit from each project, whether they are selling or holding the properties.
Of course, life is rarely graceful, and many newbies fail to even consider the end at the start. This is important as there are a number of exit strategies that you must consider long before you begin any development.
Exits plans aplenty
The first exit is when you transition out of a construction loan, which is when you’re moving from a high interest loan to a more affordable one. Clearly you must be financial enough to still qualify for the new loan – even though it’s cheaper. The thing is the goalposts could have changed dramatically in the length of time it has taken for the project to complete and many a novice has come unstuck because their numbers no longer stacked up in the bank’s eyes. Another exit strategy is out of a joint venture, which I’ll explain in more detail below.
The next strategy, which is also the easiest but not necessarily the best, is selling up and moving on. In my experience, joint ventures (JVs) are a great way to develop property but everyone must agree on what happens at the end. My preference with JVs is to both sell or hold instead of buying the other party out. The reason for that is that you don’t want any recriminations in the future, say, if the property you buy off your JV partner increases in value spectacularly, especially where family or friends are involved. Soon, the green-eyed monster will rear its ugly head, and your former JV partner might even accuse you of short changing them.
I had a situation once where I had the opportunity to buy my JV partner’s property but it made me feel uneasy because I knew that it would likely increase in value significantly in the years ahead and I didn’t want any bad blood between us. We ended up selling & splitting the profits. It’s not all about money.
Even though that waterfront property is now worth about $1 million, I believe I made the right decision because we mix in the same circles so there was never any finger pointing later down the track. So with joint ventures, my recommendation is that both parties agree to either hold or sell to keep everything simple.
The biggest mistakes
The biggest mistake with exit strategies is not having one at all!
The next one is selling prematurely or holding for too long thinking the market will shift, without taking into consideration holding costs.
The best exit strategy is the one that suits your own unique situation, but sometimes making a smaller profit by selling and moving on is better because of the reduced holding costs as well as opportunity costs, too. My exit strategies have been a mix of selling and holding and even though I’m not afraid to sell I usually regret it when the values go up!
One I don’t regret, however, is the property I sold to pay for my father-in-law’s medical bills because he got very sick here and he was here only on a tourist visa. He had no insurance so each day in intensive care was $4,500 plus myriad other medical costs. I sold that property for $340,000 but today it’s worth about $650,000.
Financially and personally it was the best and easiest thing for me to do to fund his medical treatment and it also an important point. At the end of the day, property investment and property development is all about improving your financial position and being in a better situation when the chips are down.
Too much too soon
Another major mistake is newbie developers using the profits from their first projects leasing flashy cars to show off their newfound “wealth”. While that’s just silly if you ask me, that lease also kills their borrowing capacity which impacts them financially for any future developments. I have 20 years of investing and developing experience under my belt, but I have never undertaken a large multi-unit development or housing subdivision.
I could if I wanted to but I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. That’s because if things go wrong, there are more potential buyers for the project. If you’re a small fish in a big pond and things go wrong, you’ll likely be eaten by the top-end of town and there’s nothing graceful about that!
One of the most common stumbling blocks for new developers is their egos get in the way. As soon as they start supposedly making “big money”, they splash it out on fast cars and various other things that aren’t overly helpful to their future success. Often these cars are on leases, which, of course dramatically reduces their borrowing capacity. And that’s because they’re not mentally ready for the money.
If I look back at many of the mistakes in my life, I can drill it down to three simple things: greed, ego, or plain old stupidity. Some of those you can do something about but you have to be honest with yourself to do so.
Property development can be a vehicle to vastly improve your wealth, but you have to take your time to learn the ropes – and be prepared to learn plenty about yourself along the road, too.
04 May 2018
Which trends from the eighties are worth a second chance, and which ones should you forget about?
Thought 1980s interior trends were destined to stay in the past forever? You might be surprised to see how many of the interior fashions of that decade are popping up again in our homes now – albeit in very different ways.
Ditch frills for refined florals
Pattern went to town in the 1980s, and in turn took city dwellers away to the countryside. No bed was complete without a pillow and bedspread adorned with florals – and of course a frilly edge and valance in an accent colour. Alas, the twee pastoral look was sadly chucked out with the chintz in the 1990s to make way for a plainer aesthetic.
But florals are back, and this time the look is more sophisticated. Take this gorgeous sleep space, for example. The pattern has been used sparingly on the bedhead and cushion, and tones with the plain surfaces elsewhere. The effect is pared back, elegant and a far cry from the Little House on the Prairie look of the ’80s.
Play with pastels
Nothing sums up the ’80s love of pastels more than the dapper outfits adorned by the stars of Miami Vice. Who can forget the lilac and pink t-shirts that Crocket and Tubbs wore under their laid-back cotton suits? And our homes were resplendent in pastel shades too – pale pinks, mauves, aquas, blues and yellows all vied for centre stage in 1980s interiors.
We’re loving pastels again, however, with aqua, peach and dusty pink seeing a recent revival. Contemporary pastels are muted and look great with soft shades of grey, while peach works well with copper accessories. The key is to choose just one pastel shade and tone it with more neutral hues, rather than going for an ’80s-style pastel extravaganza.
Go for a country kitchen – just not in orange
While 1980s florals aimed for a rustic ambience, so too did many of the decade’s kitchens. The farmhouse kitchen was a big look in the ’80s. Cook spaces packed out with wall-to-wall pine cabinets might look cosy, but the orange shade of wood could also put you off your microwave dinner.
We still love our country kitchens, but the look is completely different, mainly because of the paler, more stylish oak we opt for in favour of varnished pine. We can also experiment with other surfaces, mixing and matching for a more interesting look. The kitchen here has all the elements of a rustic design, but it has been given a twist. Wood is teamed with painted surfaces, while a concrete work surface adds an industrial edge.
Go for glass tables
In the decade that saw yuppies bustling around looking busy with their Filofaxes, there’s no wonder interiors often resembled a conference room. Glass tables were a perfect addition to this slick city look, but were ditched in favour of softer alternatives in the following decades.
They’re back though, but in more elegant, less business-like guise. The popularity of black-edged Crittall-style doors has inspired some dark-framed design elsewhere, like this gorgeous glass-topped coffee table. The look is industrial yet laid-back, and the glass adds a light, airy feel to the space.
Shape up with geometrics
If you wanted a cool, trendy bedroom in the ’80s a geometric design on your doona would do the trick. The bold creations of the Memphis Design movement, with its vivid colour palette and strong forms, prompted many copycat creations. Zigzags, triangles, stripes and hexagons were everywhere, and looked fab in both bold primary colours or bright pastels.
Geometrics are popping up all over the place right now, with accessories and textiles embracing the trend for bold shapes. But some of the most interesting ways to play with shapes at the moment are on walls and floors. The hexagonal tiles on this floor have a white corner, which creates an interesting, stunning pattern.
Colour up your bathroom suites
Not only did ’80s homeowners have to pick the colour of their bathroom walls and floors, they also had to worry about the shade of their bathroom suites. Baths, sinks and loos came in a range of delightful shades, including a high-tech two tone – yes, this really was a thing. If you’d decorated in the 1970s, your avocado suite was probably still going strong in the ’80s, but all traces of green were ripped out of bathrooms in the years that followed.
We’re not suggesting a revival of the all-over avocado bathroom suite (yet), but there has been a leaning toward green wash spaces lately. The shade usually appears on tiles and wall paint, but this beautiful bathroom shows how a lick of avocado on the underside of period-style baths and sinks can look simply delicious.
Get creative with cork
Cork made it big in 1970s interiors, and continued its glory days right into the 1980s. Kitchen floors and walls were covered with this tactile material, and kids’ bedroom walls were lined with cork tiles that worked as vast pinboards for homework and Duran Duran posters.
This brilliantly versatile material has made a welcome comeback and is being used for all sorts of interior surfaces, from tabletops to pot lids. The cork flooring in this kitchen is a great choice as it’s soft underfoot, great for insulation and easy to maintain.
See green with indoor plants
In an era where more was more, house plants were a great way to add that extra touch. Greenery was everywhere, popping up in bathrooms, jazzing up living room window sills and bringing the outdoors into glass conservatories.
House plants are breathing fresh air into our homes once again, which can only be good news. They not only warm up the space, but they make the air healthier, too – a win-win.
Frame your walls
A 1980s wall was never really complete without a wallpaper border. Wall coverings came with a matching frieze, so it was easy to add a complementary edging to your wallpaper design. Things have changed and now walls are more likely to fade into the edge, with some designers even choosing the same shade for ceilings, walls and joinery to merge the whole thing together.
Frames aren’t lost forever, however, as designers are getting creative with skirting boards. Paint them in a contrasting colour to the walls, or even choose one of the new patterned boards on the market, to give your room a sharp, defined border.
Leave it in the ’80s: bathroom carpets
Take a look at this beautiful bathroom space. Would you put a carpet on that floor? In the ’80s they would have, and maybe a fluffy floor mat around the loo as well.
With the vast array of floor surfaces available now, there’s no need to put fabric underfoot in your bathroom. The rustic look on the floor of this room has been created with wood-effect tiles, which give the same warm look as wood, but are much more resistant to water.
Which of these 1980s looks are you happy to revive? Share in the Comments section. And if you enjoyed this story, like it, save it, save the photos and share your thoughts below. Join the conversation.
04 May 2018
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess
When it comes to astrology, let’s admit it: who doesn’t love reading their monthly horoscope? Gaining insight into your future relating to your career, relationships, health, and beyond is not only intriguing and exciting, but often, it can be extremely accurate. So, when we heard about a mashup that existed between astrology, design, and colour theory, we had to know more.
This hybrid idealism, coined “colourstrology” by astrologist and numerologist Michele Bernhardt, is thoroughly mapped out in her book Colourstrology: What Your Birthday Colour Says About You. Michele has created a comprehensive chart of Pantone colours that are assigned to every single day of the year as well as one colour for each month. Using ruling planets, sun signs, and the influence of numbers and other important dates, Michele has determined which colour creates the highest benefit for each.
So locate your birthday month ahead, and read on as we break down your most beneficial colour as well as exciting ways you can incorporate it into your home space for an extra boost of positive energy.
Image Source: Anthropologie
Hues of caramel can connect you back to the earth and keep you centered and focused. If you are a January baby, try investing in some terra cotta planters and arrange them on your patio or near your windowsill for the ultimate energy boost. Plus, the dark brown colour of the plant soil will also add to the effect.
February: Sheer Lilac
Image Source: West Elm
Sheer lilac can improve friendships and cast a vibe of kindness across you and any of your home visitors. Using lilac-coloured mugs and tableware can be the perfect way to receive the benefits of this colour while you enjoy tea or a meal among pals.
March: Fair Aqua
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess
Fair aqua can increase relaxation and encourage meditation, so it is just the right colour to include in your bedroom design scheme. Choose a bedding set with bursts of aqua, or try to find a solid aqua blanket that can come in handy both at bedtime or for any lazy Sunday naps out on the couch.
Image Source: Williams-Sonoma
Cayenne is a bright and intense colour, so be sure to implement it in a space that definitely requires a burst of vitality. If you have a home gym, try painting one wall this bold colour, or add a vibrant table runner to your kitchen nook for an extra pick-me-up in the mornings while you eat breakfast.
May: Bud Green
Image Source: Anthropologie
The colour bud green is closely linked to prosperity and success, so if this is your birth colour, be sure to incorporate it into your home office or desk space. Try including a green upholstered side chair to maximise this colour’s benefits or, if you’re cramped with space, a sleek green laptop cover or mouse pad will do just fine.
June: Aspen Gold
Image Source: Designer Living
Aspen gold can promote successful communication, so think about which room in your home receives the most conversational activity. Painting the walls of your dining room a nice golden colour could be a good touch, or hanging art with bold yellow features is another way to get the most of June’s assigned colour.
July: Coral Blush
Image Source: Wayfair
July’s coral blush colour is extremely calming and promotes love and sensitivity, so adding this colour into areas of your home that you closely share with a partner is key. An area rug in a gorgeous blush hue placed in either your living room or bedroom is a genius way to infuse this colour into your space.
August: Sun Orange
Image Source: Wayfair
A happy, bright sun orange is the best way to promote playfulness and fun, so recreational areas in your home are the best place to feature this colour. Placing a bold orange umbrella out on your patio will not only liven up your space, but it will definitely encourage lots and lots of outdoor Summer fun.
September: Baja Blue
Image Source: Grandin Road
The distinct baja blue is synonymous with both beauty and attractiveness and is an amazing color to feature right in your entryway. Grab a welcome mat in this hue, or hang a framed print duo near the door to gracefully (and charmingly) welcome your guests.
Image Source: PB Teen
Cerulean is another colour heavily linked to relaxation and tranquility, so it is an ideal choice for your master bathroom. Whether you decide to paint the walls in this shade or find a towel set in a similar hue, you are sure to enjoy the calming benefits.
November: Claret Red
Image Source: Wisteria
This deep claret red is strongly linked to the libido and nurtures physical connection, so incorporating it into your bedroom space can do wonders for you and your partner. And since this colour is quite bold, focus on finding some smaller claret red accents, like a ring tray or small sculpture, to place on top of your nightstand or nearby dresser.
December: Pagoda Blue
Image Source: Anthropologie
Pagodea blue symbolises vision, wisdom, and travels, so it is the perfect colour to feature in a bookcase display or wall collage to promote interest and vision. Try locating blue bookends or decorative coffee table books with bold blue accents or even a hanging picture frame with blue rims for an extra dose of imagination in these spaces.
Loving colourstrology? If you are interested in finding out today’s specific colour, just click here!
30 April 2018
Although housing affordability has improved in WA in recent times, it remains a legitimate concern for many West Australians.
A recent Housing Affordability Report by the Real Estate Institute of Australia and Adelaide Bank showed while affordability improved in WA on an annual basis in the December quarter 2017, it had declined when compared to the September quarter 2017.
It’s concerning that despite favourable buying conditions and record low interest rates, housing affordability remains such a pertinent worry for many West Australians.
State property taxes are a barrier
REIWA is a strong advocator for addressing housing affordability, and we firmly believe current state property tax arrangements significantly contribute to this problem.
When REIWA surveyed the WA public about this topic last year, respondents overwhelmingly told us that property taxes negatively impact their lives. This is a growing issue and we need to do something to address it.
Home ownership still attainable in WA
The good news is; WA remains one of the most affordable states in the country for housing. Particularly in comparison to east coast property markets like NSW, where the median house price is higher and first home buyers find it more difficult to enter the property market. Here in WA, home ownership is still very much attainable.
In fact, we have the highest proportion of first home buyers out of any state or territory in Australia, with the Housing Affordability Report revealing 34 per cent of all owner-occupier home loans in WA in the December 2017 quarter were to first home buyers.
Additionally, although the average home loan amount to WA first home buyers increased during the December 2017 quarter, it was still $50,000 more affordable than the average loan amount required in NSW. A considerable difference.
However, more needs to be done. While the McGowan Government continues to face a challenging fiscal environment, REIWA still believes an incremental reform of property taxes will encourage both owner occupation and investment.
The residential property market is a key contributor to state revenue, specifically through transfer duty – one of the most inefficient and ineffective taxes. In the long term, we would like to see the Government transition to a broad-based land tax instead of relying on transactional taxes for revenue.
All West Australians deserve to have access to affordable, accessible and appropriate housing stock.
We call on the McGowan Government to commit to conducting a state tax review to look at more sustainable ways of funding essential services that doesn’t impact so heavily on affordability.
23 April 2018
In Australia’s perpetually crowded rental market, the odds of securing any sort of home – let alone one that ticks all your boxes – can seem daunting.
Fast-increasing prices and the advent of so-called “rental bidding” further complicate the picture. And during the summer months, fluctuations in stock can create wildly variable conditions from week to week.
But there is reason to be optimistic. Despite perceptions that the rental market is somehow rigged – particularly in large cities such as Sydney and Melbourne – agents and advocates say that ordinary Aussies stand a good chance of renting in 2018.
Consider house-hunting in early January when there is less competition. Photo: Edwina Pickles
If you understand what landlords are looking for, are willing to take care during the application process and choose the most appropriate month to search, you might be surprised by what you can secure.
1. Always write a cover letter
Few agents ask for one, but including a cover letter with your application can dramatically improve your chances of securing a rental.
Crucially, a one-page cover letter can find its way to the landlord, who is almost never present at inspections but has final say over who is granted the lease.Making a personal connection with the landlord through a cover letter can be very valuable.
Make sure you have all your documentation ready before the inspection. Photo: Pat Scala
“Make it a good story,” says Eileen Carroll, sales director of Ray White Glebe. “Tell us why you’re the best person for the property. A little story about yourself will help your cause.”
2. Gather everything you’ll need – and then some
While some agents do not require additional documentation such as proof of ID and written references to be supplied at the time of application, Carroll says prospective tenants should submit these documents anyway.
“Have it all ready, so if you are accepted, you can actually secure the property,” she says. “If I’m chasing people for these documents before they’ve even signed the tenancy, alarm bells start to ring.”
Agents may move on to the next applicant if you don’t have your deposit ready. Photo: Dan Soderstrom
Providing ample references and other documents from the outset can also give you an advantage over less organised applicants.
“If someone submits an application with just a payslip from a month ago and a passport, it’s not really that interesting to me,” Carroll says. “But if the application has a covering letter, two current payslips, a personal or work reference and they’ve completed their 100 points of ID, I’m impressed.”
3. Apply online if you can
Scanning your hard-copy documents and completing an online application form may be irksome and time-consuming, but for agents it’s a godsend.
Even if a property is popular, don’t be tempted to pay more than the advertised price. Photo: Eddie Jim
“I had eight properties open two weeks ago and I leased all of them,” explains Carroll, “so the paperwork was miles long. Online applications make my life easier.”
Most online application forms also include a section for additional comments, so make sure you use it. “The standard form we use actually asks applicants to explain why they like the property in question, and I find that really helpful,” Carroll says. “It’s the first thing I go to now in the application because it gives me a better indication of who we’re dealing with.”
4. Think carefully before offering more than the listed price
Australia’s chronic shortage of inner-city housing has led to an increase in so-called “rental bidding”: offering more than the asking price in order to beat out the competition.
Leo Patterson Ross, advocacy and research officer at the Tenants Union of New South Wales, concedes that this strategy can be effective for those who can afford it. But he cautions that rental bidding can set a dangerous precedent.
“It’s pushing up prices not only for others but for yourself,” he says. By indicating a willingness to pay more than advertised, tenants may increase the likelihood of further rent rises in future, which could ultimately make the property unaffordable.
5. Be ready to pay your deposit
Having your application approved does not guarantee that the agent will hold the property for you. “If I call someone in the morning, tell them their application has been approved and ask for their deposit, and they say, ‘Oh, I’ll pay it later this afternoon’, I automatically go to the next application,” says Carroll.
“If they’re going to pay it later that afternoon, that tells me they’re waiting on the outcome of another application or they can’t afford my property.”
Carroll says delaying payment of your deposit by even a few hours can be risky. “I don’t want to lose my other applicants waiting for a deposit to be paid. Waiting a day for the deposit could mean my other applicants have moved on to other properties.”
6. Choose the most suitable month to apply
Unlike most of the year, when the number of properties on the Australian rental market is relatively stable, the months of January, February and March vary wildly in terms of volume.
According to Domain data, rental listings are at their lowest levels between late December and late January, when much of the country is on holiday. But some rental properties are open for inspection during this time.
Carroll says house-hunting in quiet early January can mean less competition and a better chance of striking up a relationship with a rental agent.
If you’d like to maximise your options, wait until late January or early February, when many landlords return from holidays. But remember that university students house-hunt during this time, increasing competition in less expensive suburbs.
If you can afford to wait until March, you’ll find the market returning to normal levels – and there may be an opportunity to pick up a bargain rental that didn’t lease during the February rush.
7. Don’t despair if you are young or haven’t rented before
Many prospective tenants assume that age and wealth trump all other considerations in the eyes of agents and landlords. But the truth is more nuanced.
“Real estate agents and landlords are ultimately trying to assess risk when choosing applicants,” says Patterson Ross. “The factors they are mainly considering are the ability to pay the rent, and the likelihood of damage occurring to the property.”
“A previous rental history is part of demonstrating that you represent a lower risk, but you can do this in other ways as well – most likely character references from employers or other people who can talk about things like your responsibility, cleanliness and so on.”
Carroll says she has rented properties to people without employment who could demonstrate significant savings, and to others who had less money than their competition. “For me, it’s ultimately about whether the application stands out or not,” she says.
20 April 2018
Image Source: Woods & Warner
Sleep is important. Like, really important. It contributes to your physical and mental health, happiness and all-round well-being. Step one of getting it right, is creating a space that relaxes and lulls you to sleep, rather than triggering or reminding you of all your to-dos and stresses.
Before you figure out what should be in your snooze palace (yep, that’s what we’re calling it now), it’s good to know what should definitely not be making an appearance behind the palace doors. So we asked interior designers, a lighting scientist and a sleep brand founder (who knows a thing of two about getting a good night’s sleep) to lend their expertise. Heed their advice and nights of perfect rest are all yours. And yes, you will totally feel like a princess. Princess Snooze.
Research shows that 30 percent of pet owners who share their beds report waking up at least once a night because of their furry loved ones. If you want a night of wondrous, uninterrupted sleep, the pooch has to sleep in his own room.
“Avoid eating in your bedroom as it sends the wrong signals to your brain,” says Shea Morrison, co-founder of The Goodnight Co.
3. Any work
“Leave your work out of the bedroom, lying in bed processing your work will more likely make you nervous or agitated, or fill your mind with things you’ll need to do in the morning rather than letting you wind down,” says Shea, and interior designer Melita Mayvn of Mayvn Interiors agrees. “Don’t have your office in your bedroom,” she says, “Your bedroom is your sanctuary, not a working space.”
4. Phones and all other electronic devices
After significant research, we now know that staring at the blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing the melatonin, which is exactly what you need to for your body to feel sleepy. Without it it’s hard to fall, and stay, asleep. Plus, receiving notifications can be disruptive (especially if you don’t keep your phone on silent).
5. Blue and white light
Other than the sleep-zapping blue and white light that comes from our screens, eliminate all cool white and blue light. “Shades of white light have different impacts on our circadian rhythms,” says Dr Luc Schlangen, scientist and Philips lighting research expert. “Exposure to cool, blue white light suppresses melatonin, and hence makes us feel more alert and awake. That’s why offices, gyms and operating theatres use this shade of white light, whereas exposure to warm yellowish white light increases melatonin levels, and is used in places of relaxation like our living rooms and bedrooms, and also bars, restaurants, and hotels.” Ensure the light bulbs in your bedroom are warm, soft and ideally, adjustable. Try out a Smart Bulb like Philips Hue, $29.88.
6. Bold feature walls
Interior designers Sonia Warner and Jacinta Woods of Woods & Warner say the single painted feature wall is a thing of the past (that they hope never comes back). “Be brave and paint or wallpaper the whole room . . . it will feel more connected and sophisticated.” Not to mention more relaxing, which is exactly why Melita says to steer clear of red, orange or hot pink in the bedroom, “Your bedroom should be soothing and relaxing rather than vibrant and busy.”
7. Oversized furniture
Over crowding your sleep space is a sure way to make yourself restless. Melita warns against furniture that’s too big for your space, “This will make your bedroom feel smaller and cramped.” While Sarah Cichy, director of Piccolo PR says over accessorising or mixing too many patterns will also make things feel cramped. “It’s hard to relax with too much clutter, so keep things open. Select a signature piece and then use a mix of quieter neutrals for the remaining furniture so that the space feels light and open.”
16 April 2018
Hayden Groves via therealestateconversation.com.au
The REIWA has come out in support of the WA state government’s plans to improve housing affordability by increasing housing diversity and density.
The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia supports a State Government plan to improve housing diversity and density to boost housing affordability.
REIWA President Hayden Groves said housing affordability remains one of the more challenging issues affecting West Australians.
“REIWA believes that access to secure and appropriate housing is essential to the success of communities and the prosperity of our state.
“REIWA is committed to ensuring everyone wins in property and will work alongside the WA Government to ensure the Affordable Housing Action Plan makes a positive impact to the lives of West Australians,” Mr Groves said.
Minister for Housing; Veterans Issues; Youth, Peter Tinley outlined the strategic plan this week, which promotes a ‘connected city’ by ensuring the needs of our diverse population are met.
“REIWA would like to congratulate Minister Tinley and the WA Government on this initiative that will promote a connected, sustainable and accessible property market into the future,” Mr Groves said.
￼The McGowan Government aims to deliver affordable homes as part of its METRONET vision and is ￼currently developing its Affordable Housing Action Plan for release in mid-2018.
REIWA will work alongside the Government during the development of the action plan which focuses on:
- Connection between people, place and home;
- Real and enduring affordability for those on low-to-moderate incomes;
- Earlier and more connected housing and support services;
- Creation of diverse precincts that will include options for low-income earners; and,
- Diversity of options to meet diversity of need.
REIWA sits on the METRONET industry board and will work closely to advocate the delivery of affordable housing stock and the creation of METROHUBS.
REIWA will continue to actively support Government in ensuring all Western Australian’s have access to affordable housing through collaboration with the private sector.
13 April 2018
There’s an art to living thoughtfully in cramped quarters, but there’s a science to choosing pieces that will make the most of your square footage. These decorative essentials seem to pop up in the most stylish small spaces again and again. So tell us, are these space-saving pieces in your home?
Source: A Beautiful Mess
Image Source: Decor Fix
Three tables for the space of one? That’s the beauty of nesting tables. Fan them out when you need more surface area, move them around if you have guests, then tuck them in when you’re done.
Bonus tip: choose an acrylic option, like the set Decor Fix blogger Heather Freeman has to take up less visual space!
Image Source: House*Tweaking
If you’re a pouf pessimist, you’re underestimating their versatility. Set snacks out on your coffee table, and watch your friends flock to the poufs for prime seating. Position one in front of a chair, and you have an instant lounger. Place one next to your sofa, set a tray on top, and admire your new side table. Best of all, they can be stacked or stored under your coffee table when you aren’t using them.
Image Source: Little Green Notebook
Floating shelves are ideal for adding more storage than your floor plan allows for. This cramped bedroom didn’t have room for a nightstand, but Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook created a smart floating-shelf alternative.
Image Source: Love Grows Wild
If you can’t knock down walls, add mirrors. They have the power to reflect light and visually expand a room, so it looks much larger than it actually is.
Pro tip: try styling a large mirror (like the one in Jillian Harris’s home) by layering it behind another piece of furniture.
Image Source: SF Girl by Bay
You may not have a walk-in closet, but even an unused nook or corner can serve as an impromptu closet if you hang a DIY copper-pipe rack.
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess
Whether you choose larger lidded options to slide under a console table or line shelves with smaller versions, baskets are essential for organising clutter.
Image Source: A Beautiful Mess
There are a myriad of ways to utilise a rolling cart. It can be used as everything from a bar cart (or better yet, coffee station!) to a nightstand. Wheels make it easier to move to different spots . . . like the living room, if you’re entertaining.
Source: Manuel Rodriguez for One Kings Lane
The key to making any bookshelf look immaculately streamlined is to load it with beautiful boxes. It’s the perfect way to hoard anything from receipts to your washi tape collection without having your belongings look like a mess.
Image Source: Tony Vu for One Kings Lane
A bed skirt and a plastic pull-out container is your ticket for storing seasonal clothes without anyone having to know. You have the space, so why not use it?
Image Source: iStock
Sure, you could hang coats or hats from these racks, but there’s no need to stop there. Display a set of cabinet-hogging mugs in your kitchen, or organise necklaces in your bedroom. The possibilities are endless.
Image Source: West Elm
If you’re short on counter space, think vertically. This stackable apothecary set is ideal for keeping bath and beauty supplies within reach.
Source: Justin Coit for Domaine Home
Former-reality-star-turned-fashion-designer Whitney Port uses these slim hangers to pack in as many clothes as possible in her cute closet space.