Sometimes we get so caught up in talking about our own lives that we forget about our furry family members. Ghost is our resident real estate fur baby and she loves going for walks. That’s why she barked up a storm when I was casting my line for a new blog idea. She reminded me that she loves walking around to help deliver flyers just as much as she loves greeting people as she splashes through the local shore. That brings us to Brisbane dog walking. Or more specifically walking your dog around the Sandgate, Brighton, and Shorncliffe areas.

Ghost tells me that these are some of her favourite spots.  

 

Shorncliffe BeachFront 

The Shorncliffe Beach Front encompasses a long stretch of both sandy beach and paved esplanade. Whether your furry friend prefers to jump right into the waves, or walk at an even pace, the beachfront has you covered. While the beach front is dog friendly, just be sure to keep your pooch leashed. There are plenty of options to explore at this beachfront. Dogs particularly enjoy the sandy playground during low tide. Ghost is partial to a bit of splashing around. It’s a great way to cool off on a hot day.  

 

 Lovers Walk 

This scenic walk connects Sandgate and Shorncliffe from the Shorncliffe Pier to the former Sandgate Baptist church. It spans over 2kms and includes a gentle path without any hills to worry about. It is fully paved and includes amenities and interesting artworks to add to the beauty of your walk.  

 

Decker Park 

Decker Park encompasses a wide range of activities and walking areas. There is even a fully fenced off-leash dog area in this Brighton park if you want to give your dog a chance to release some unbound energy. It’s right next the playground so your kids can enjoy their activities at the same time. 

 

Nudgee Beach for Off the Leash 

Ok, so this is technically further south. However we’ve popped it in in case you are hunting for a beach based off leash adventure. Just head down a suburb to let your pet off leash for a swim at Tuckeroo Park. The adjacent off leash park has plenty of obstacles to keep your pooch entertained. 

If you’ve got a real estate investment then you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing when it comes to lodging your tax return. With the end of the financial year upon us it is a fitting time to review some of the ATO’s major do’s and don’ts for claiming rental property deductions.  

 

1 – DO Keep good records to claim your rental property deductions.  

Your most important DO is to keep your records. Without receipts and supporting evidence to make your claims you can find yourself in hot water in the event of an ATO audit. With the ATO continuing to set their sights on the high claims being made for rental properties, keeping good records enables you to maximise your claims within the law.  

 

2 – DON’T claim for personal use of real estate property. 

One of the biggest blunders that people make when making claims for their rental property is claiming 100% of their costs, even when the property isn’t 100% used as a rental property. This often happens with short-term rentals that are also used as a personal holiday house, or where an owner or a family member lives in the property for part of the year.  

The mortgage is one area that can be a particular mine field. Just because the mortgage is held against a rental property, this doesn’t mean that it is automatically deductible. What matters is what the money from the mortgage was used for. This means if the mortgage was used for mixed purposes you must apportion it. If you later redraw from the mortgage for personal purposes this will also mean you need to apportion the interest expense for personal use. When use becomes so mixed as to make it impossible to determine how much of the mortgage actually relates to the rental, the ATO can even deny a deduction in full. 

3 – DO keep proper records for Capital Works and Capital Allowances deductions.  

If you purchase an asset (such as a stove or curtains) for your rental property, these costs are not immediately deductible. Normally these are claimed as capital allowances, or more commonly known as depreciation, over the life of the asset.  

 Previously when you purchased a rental property you would pay for a Quantity Surveyor’s report. This report outlines capital works (claiming some of the costs of building the house) and capital allowances deductions that you can claim on the assets that come with you purchase of a property. HOWEVER some very big changes came into place from the first of July 2017 regarding second hand assets. These laws mean that property investors, other than businesses carrying on a business of property investing, or excluded entities, can only claim depreciation on brand new assets that are immediately used for the investment property. This means no more depreciation is allowed on the acquisition of second hand assets, or for new assets that are initially used for private purposes. A Quantity Surveyor will still be to provide any capital works claims (if the building meets the requirements for these).  

 

4 – DON’T claim for travel costs to get to and from your rental property.  

There was a time that you could claim for travel to inspect or make repairs to your rental property. However with people claiming thousands of dollars to drive long distances or even fly to their properties the ATO changed the law so that from July 1 2017 no travel costs were deductible anymore (other than those incurred and claimed by a real estate agent acting on your behalf). Even though the new law has been in place for a full financial year already, it was amongst one of the most common mistakes made in 2018 tax returns.  

 

5 – DO Speak to a qualified tax agent about your particular rental property investment circumstances. 
We’ve only touched on some of the major concerns when it comes to claiming deductions for rental properties. Even within these concerns there are a number of issues that can impact your specific situation. That’s why it’s best to check with your tax agent rather than lodging claims for yourself. Make sure you tax agent is up to date with real estate property laws so they can maximise your deductions without making ineligible claims.  

 

* A qualified Tax Agent can save you time and money, but you should still do your own research.  Please note that Zac McHardy is not giving any legal or financial advice *

A lot of factors come into play when considering a home to call your very own. One of the choices many home buyers face is the decision to purchase a fixer upper or a property that is all set and ready to move into.  

 

On the plus side a fixer upper is often cheaper. It clearly needs work done on it, so the owner isn’t able to sell it for the same premium price that a pristine, freshly renovated property could command. Depending on the work that needs to be done it also means you have a lot of control over making the place truly your own.  

 

Alternatively, you may find something that’s not really a fixer upper, but it is for your purposes. This property is ready to move into, but is needs adjustments to make it suitable for your personal needs. For example it may have two large living areas, when what you really need is to make one of those rooms into two smaller bedrooms. Whether it’s the perfect location for you or is just the most suitable property in your budget, in your mind it’s still a fixer upper.  

 

Then we have the property that is all set and ready to go. Perhaps the current owners have just completed their own renovations in the hopes of securing a premium sale price. You benefit from fresh work and upgrades. The house is ready to be set up and claimed and your own.  

If you’re contemplating that cheaper fixer upper, make sure you consider:  

  • The practicality of living in the property while it is being worked on.  
  • Whether you can afford the cost of the necessary renovations, particularly any urgent ones.  
  • If you have the time to devote to renovations. It’s often a bigger task than people realise and there’s nothing worse than living in something that sits half done for years on end. 

 

When working on projects invigorates you and you can confidently address each of these, then the fixer upper could be the perfect solution for you. If you’re like most people and the concept of renovations is brighter than the reality just think it through a bit more. It could be worth putting in that little extra effort, and perhaps a little more money, to find the ready to roll property that you can just move into without worrying about all the work to do on it. 

Be a smart buyer and know your own capacity before you decide which property is right for you.  

 

There comes a time when your home just doesn’t do the job anymore. Perhaps you’ve had more kids, or your kids have grown and moved on. Maybe you need a space to work from home or you’re just at your wits end with that tiny kitchen space you’ve been expertly manoeuvring for the past ten years. You have some capital in your property, perhaps some savings, and it’s time to fix your living situation. The big question is, do you fix up what you’ve got, or do you take the opportunity to move into something brand new?  

 

BUDGET 

Your first consideration is your budget.  

The amount of money that you would net selling your property and the amount of money you could borrow through a refinance will not be the same. When you redraw or refinance in order to borrow money for renovations you probably won’t be able to borrow more than 80% of the value of your home (Keeping in mind that renovations may actually improve the value of your property to improve your borrowing or selling power). However, if you sell to retain all the profits towards a new home, then don’t forget to factor in all the additional costs such as:  

  • agent costs 
  • any break fees for the mortgage 
  • legal fees 
  • moving costs  
  • possibly essential repairs that may needed in your new home.  
  • Any break fees for changing or setting up new amenities suppliers 

 

While working out the exact amounts is a bit of a guesswork, depending on your situation you may find that one option is simply untenable. Alternatively you may find that renovation is the most cost effective for an immediate solution, while paving the way towards moving a little further down the track.  

 

If both options are possible, then move on to consider the other factors at play.  

 

LOCATION 

Is the house you are currently in within the perfect location for you? Close to work, school, friends, family? Perhaps the appeal of moving is related to finding a location that is more suitable for your current life. Closer to the bustling city, or further away towards the peace and quiet.  Moving is your chance to get into a better location, but it could also be a time to sacrifice the convenience of a great location for other benefits.  

 

EFFORT 

Whether you choose to move or renovate your existing home, effort is required. If you’re doing renovations yourself, it can be a long, hard road to completion, depending on your level of skills and the amount of time you have to devote to the project. On the other hand, moving also requires effort as you pack up the house, and set up a new one.  Of course there is the option to hire people to do renovations for you. There is also the option to hire removalists to pack and partially unpack for you. Neither option will completely eliminate the effort, but they will help reduce it.  Figure out how much you would need to put in, and what you can realistically do for each option.  

 

PRACTICALITY 

Will your home be able to do the job you want it to do with a bit of renovation? If you really need three extra rooms but you don’t have the space to add these in, then renovating is a pointless endeavour. If your property is simply too big for the now empty nest, renovations won’t really change that. Unless you’re turning part of your house into an BnB to bring in some extra cash…  How practical is it to turn your current home into the home you are needing compared to finding a completely new home that is more suitable?  

 

PEACE OF MIND 

At the end of the day you also have to factor in the emotional. There can be a sentimental attachment to your home, strong enough to be a decisive factor in whether to stay or move on. For others peace of mind may come from setting up in a fresh new location, away from the bustle of the old. While you shouldn’t let emotions solely rule your decision, it is important to factor them in.  

 

MAKE YOUR CHOICE
Ultimately no one can make your choice for you. Weigh up each factor to consider what is actually attainable and what will benefit your family the most. Think short and long term, so that you’re not stuck making a decision that is completely unsuitable for your immediate or longer term needs. After all, renovating and moving are both major decisions that require a lot of time and money to get right.  

It would be nice to be able to grow money in order to pay off your home loan sooner. After all, it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, debts you will ever have. With a 25 to 30 year repayment term it is literally a lifetime of payments. Paying it off sooner is not a big secret. It’s about getting those extra dollars onto the loan sooner rather than later. Here’s a few tips on how to eat away at that debt just a little bit faster.   

 

1 – Add extra cash to the stash. With interest rates going down at the moment a super simple way to eat at that mortgage faster is just to keep your repayment amounts the same. As minimum rates drop you’ll find yourself paying that little bit extra. Even better, if you can add even an extra $50 with each repayment you can wipe years off your loan in the long term.  

 

2 – Chat with your mortgage provider.  Your mortgage provider wants to keep you with them. Most providers will give you a decent mortgage health check once a year. You just have to take the initiative to head on over and talk to them. You may find you’re eligible for discounted rates or reduced fees due to your loyalty. If you don’t get any joy then there are plenty of other providers out there vying for your attention. It might be worth doing a comparison check and seeing if you can get a better deal. The less interest and ongoing costs you have, the faster you’ll get through that loan.   

 

3 – Shake up that monthly repayment and break it down to weekly payments instead. Don’t wait until the end of the month to make one big payment. Pay it weekly. Since interest is calculated every single day you will save money by popping a little extra in that much quicker. This tip works best if you can take the monthly repayment and divide it by 4 to get your weekly repayment amount. You’ll actually end up paying much more than the minimum monthly repayment over the year this way.  

 

4 – Focus and prioritise. It’s easy to fritter away money without even realising where it’s going. Be mindful of what you’re doing with your money and make your decision a priority. This means you make a conscious choice not to spend money on expenses you don’t really use or could find cheaper alternatives for. Toss those dollars into the home loan instead.  

 

5 – Totally offset that mortgage. This is one of the best and easiest ways to keep that mortgage down. In fact if you use this tip you can totally ignore tips 1, 3 and 4. Phew, that makes it easier doesn’t it?  An offset account is a day to day transaction account that is linked to your mortgage. Every single dollar in your offset account counts as against the balance of your mortgage, reducing the amount of interest you are charged each month. (Just be sure it is a 100% offset account and not a partial offset account). Make sure all your income automatically goes into this offset account. That way your money will be working towards saving you mortgage costs from the moment you get it. You are still free to use the offset account when, and as needed. This means you’re saving on interest costs without even having to think about it.  

 

As an added bonus when you use an offset you don’t have to worry about interest deductibility. When you are living in your home your mortgage doesn’t give you any tax deductible costs. However if you should move out one day and start renting the property out you want to be able to claim the interest costs as an expense. Unfortunately if you frequently redraw from a mortgage or use it as a daily line of credit this will limit or eliminate any potential ability to claim the interest costs as a tax deduction. However, if you use an offset account instead then you don’t run into this problem since the money in the offset account never technically counted as loan repayments.  

 

You have a lot of options to help you pay off your mortgage sooner. For professional advice specifically regarding your circumstances, make sure you speak to your tax agent or financial planner.  

 * A finance or mortgage broker can save you time and money, but you should still do your own research. Be prepared to ask plenty of questions to help your broker find you a loan that meets your needs and offers value for money. Please note that Zac McHardy is not giving any legal or financial advice *