Tips on how to research the real estate market

Whether you are looking to buy a new home or your next investment property, doing your research is critical, but knowing where to start can be tricky. Here is a look at some of the resources you have available at your fingertips and others that you can explore on foot.

Reliable market data sources

There are many resources you can tap into to access market data for different regions across Australia. Sources such as CoreLogic RP Data, APM Price Finder, realestate.com.au or Residex will help you understand different property markets across each state and territory. Additionally, most government websites provide community profiles that share information about council plans, development projects or building regulations that can help you understand the supply and demand of the area as well as offering data to refine your search.

From a local perspective, your local LJ Hooker office can provide you with an in-depth local market report detailing the strongest growth areas, most traded and fastest selling areas, the top performing local suburbs and a snapshot of houses and unit sales, median sale price, rental yield, days on market and more. Understanding the local market is very important so make sure you contact your local LJ Hooker office – they live and breathe real estate in your local area and are a great source of valuable local market data.

The traditional research methods above are very important, but there are some clever alternative methods that could really kick-start your property hunt.

Talk to the locals

A good idea to really get the feel of a suburb and street is to find a few locals and chat to them.

If you’re looking at buying a house, wander the street and see if anyone is out cleaning the car or watering the garden. Ask them what the area is like, how long they have lived there, what they like about the neighbourhood and what they don’t. What is the noise like during the day and night and any other questions you may have? You may even be able to find out why the seller is moving and if there are any developments that might impact the value of properties in the immediate area.

If you’re looking at buying an apartment, consider knocking on a few doors on either side of the apartment and ask them similar questions, or if that seems a bit scary visit the nearest café and ask them what the area is like – they are often a great source of local gossip and community knowledge.

Infrastructure and Development

Major council developments and infrastructure projects may seem like a good thing at first glance, but it is important to determine whether this infrastructure boom is a result of planned growth in the area, or whether the growth has already happened and the infrastructure is just catching up.

The local council is responsible for planning and development including zoning and re-zoning so they are a great source of information. So head up to the council and see what you can find out. Sell your house fast in Miami Dade.

Property listings

Given the majority of properties are promoted on-line this is a good a place to research the market. Head to realestate.com.au, domain.com.au or ljhooker.com.au and review the current property listings and recently sold listings in the suburb/areas you are interested in. This will help give you a feel for the local market, how many properties broadly fit your needs, what sort of prices they are selling for and what has been sold recently.

Speak to a real estate expert

Your local LJ Hooker real estate agents live and breathe real estate in your area and are a great source of insider knowledge – much of which you wouldn’t discover alone, so make sure you contact them and ask about the local market.

Remember; buying a property isn’t that complicated, but it does take a bit of time to do your research. By thinking outside the box you can find information that others can’t or don’t find. This will help put you ahead of the pack every time and closer to finding your first home, dream home or investment sooner.

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Ways to Increase Rental Returns

There is a direct correlation between a property’s appearance and the rental income it is able to produce. Moreover, there is a distinct correlation between a property’s presentation and the tenants it attracts.

With the right improvements landlords can significantly increase the amount they can charge on their property. Of course there is a fine line between improvements which can increase rental income and those which simply leave you over-capitalised, so you’ll need to think carefully about embarking on any extravagant purchases or extensive renovations.

Increasing the rental income of your investment property is a key priority for smart property investors and it isn’t as difficult or as expensive as you may believe.

Here are some simple but effective improvements which can make a big difference to your rental income:

Street appeal

First impressions count in life, and this is especially true for rental properties. If your investment property is a house with a front garden, spend some time tidying up the garden beds, remove any weeds, clean the paths, paint the fence and clean the windows.

If you own an apartment, perhaps add window boxes, clean the front door or give it a fresh coat of paint and add a new front door mat to make the place more welcoming. A good first impression sets renters up for liking the property and wanting to pay more for a place that’s been well looked after.

Refresh the bathroom

People are prepared to pay more to live in a clean house with a clean bathroom. However, this doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on re-doing the bathroom.

If your tiles are outdated, stained or tired, you don’t need to re-tile the bathroom or start again. Simply paint over them with tile paint and give the bathroom a fresh new look for a fraction of the price.

Also, replace any old shower curtains, shower heads, and fixtures, scrub away any mould and if need be, put in a new vanity. These are relatively cheap fixes yet they make a huge difference to the presentation of the bathroom, creating a more clean and modern space for renters to fall in love with.

Kitchen makeover

The kitchen is the heart of the home and like bathrooms, renters are happy to pay more for a home with a good kitchen. Despite common misconceptions, kitchen renovations don’t have to break the bank, a fresh coat of paint can work wonders towards creating a better kitchen.

Swapping cabinet doors can give your kitchen a whole new look. If entirely new doors are outside your budget, you can make a huge difference by simply replacing the handles of your cupboards and drawers.

Renters, like buyers, appreciate nice appliances, so if yours are looking a bit tired perhaps consider replacing the dishwasher, oven or fridge. As these appliances aren’t commonplace, renters will pay more to have them.

Add off street parking

A car space can be a huge bonus, especially if your rental is in a high-density living area such as the inner city or in a beachside suburb. In fact, the closer your place is to the city, the more value the parking space will add to your property.

Adding a carport or even creating a driveway is something that tenants will pay more for, because they would much rather live in a property where parking isn’t a daily struggle compared to the alternative.

Consider new living spaces

The more bedrooms, the higher the rent.

Does the layout of your property allow for an additional bedroom? Perhaps your place has a separate dining room or some ‘dead space’ that could be converted into another bedroom, or perhaps an extra-large room that could be split in two. Adding an additional bedroom allows investors to charge higher rent.

While appliances are highly desirable amongst tenants, so are designated laundries. Having a space where a machine and dryer can be used and then hidden away is a huge advantage among renters, and they don’t mind paying more for the convenience. Creating an internal laundry doesn’t necessarily have to mean more expense. Instead, it’s about making use of dead spaces in order to optimise space.

Add storage

Tenants love storage, and easy and cheap additions like wardrobes in bedrooms will increase the appeal and rental value. Tenants want to be able to picture themselves living in a space, and if they can’t see enough room for their belongings it can be a turn-off.

There are many budget-friendly places such as Ikea and Bunnings, that offer a range of storage solutions that won’t break the bank but will be enticing to renters.

Outdoor entertaining space

An outdoor entertaining space is a great drawcard for tenants. It will make your place more enticing to renters and add value to your property when you go to sell. You don’t need to spend a fortune either. Adding a deck, tiling a courtyard, adding a gazebo and BBQ plus some outdoor furniture, is a big drawcard for renters.

Make the property pet-friendly

Pet-friendly properties are extremely in demand. With some rental properties not allowing pets altogether, properties that do allow pets are favourable. It’s a well-known fact that people love their pets and with this in mind, they would much prefer to pay a little extra for a rental property than part with their pets altogether.

Understandably though, pets can be a risk to investors. In order to reap the rewards of increased rent from pet owners, place some property safeguards in the contract, such as carpet cleaning at the expense of the renter or pet-related damage being paid for by the renter as well.

Let there be light

Dark rooms will not appeal to anyone. With simple fixes like cleaning light fittings and replacing bulbs with brighter lights, this problem can be fixed relatively cheaply. Creating light spaces within a property helps foster a sense of welcome, and allows for a better sense of space and openness.

If renters walk into your property and can see that it’s flooded with light and gives the impression of space, they’ll pay more for your property as opposed to one that is dark and therefore feels smaller. Smart and clean lights create the illusion of space.

Raise the rent

Doing some market research can also be another way to achieve higher rental returns. During your research, you may find that you are charging rent that is below the market standard, and therefore it is in your best interest to raise it.

Some investors may feel dubious about raising the rent and therefore losing tenants, however, if you’re charging rent in line with market value then tenants will know that there’s no point looking for other similar properties because it’s the same cost or higher.

Investors can also increase the rent if they have provided a house with good appliances, fresh fittings and added extras. Tenants expect to pay more for these things so raising the rent is an easy way to increase rental returns.

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