Viewing by month: March 2012

Renovating for profit – tips from Chris Gray

It’s the Holy Grail for many property investors – buying a property, renovating it, and then selling it for a profit.  But while it sounds relatively simple, there are many investors who have had misfortune when pursuing this strategy, due to budgets and timeframes blowing out, arguments erupting and the like. 


Chris Gray, host of Sky News Business’ ‘Your Property Empire’ and Financial Judge on Network Ten’s ‘The Renovators’ has had nearly 20 years of experience in the residential property industry, particularly in his role as CEO of Empire – which searches, negotiates and renovates properties on behalf of time-poor professionals.  He recently shared with CENTURY 21 his thoughts on what property investors need to know in order to complete a successful renovation on time and on budget. 

1.       Choose properties that need mainly cosmetic work


Chris advises that investors avoid properties with structural damage, as this is often when expensive problems occur.  According to Chris, if you already own the property you definitely need to leave that part to the experts. 

2.       Find a valuer


Chris notes that one of the biggest misconceptions investors have is that the more they spend renovating a property, the more profit they will make.  This isn’t always the case and investors need to be careful of undercapitalising as well as overcapitalising.  A valuer can tell you if your $30,000 kitchen renovation will actually add $30,000 to your home’s value.

3.       Be realistic when doing it yourself


According to Chris, most novice renovators attempting DIY go under budget when estimating the costs.  His tip is to double your expected cost and timeframe and then work out if you’re still going to make a profit. 


He also advises that investors add up the cost of taking time away from a job or family and see if the potential profit outweighs the potential risk.

4.       Use a project manager


Chris advises that there are too many risks involved in managing a project alone.  Some tradespeople capitalise on investors’ lack of experience – in terms of cost, timelines and attention to detail.  Handling the renovation yourself could save money initially, but hiccups along the way might turn your $40,000 renovation into a $60,000 - $80,000 job in the long run – not to mention the added time it might take.  Each week you go over time is a week’s lost rent or extra mortgage repayment. 


According to Chris, using a project manager will often get you access to trade prices rather than retail, so it may well pay for itself straight away. 


Chris notes that when investors do their research, purchase a property well, renovate correctly and with the right advice, renovations go well - potentially resulting in owners earning tens of thousands of dollars in equity in the first year alone.  According to Chris, “even if the property market hasn’t moved in your local area, renovations can create artificial growth in your property’s value.”

For more information about Chris Gray, please visit

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 26/03/2012 at 9:48 AM | Categories:

Case study of a move – Part 2

No matter how many times you do it or how organised you try to be, the process of moving rarely ends up being as simple an exercise as you had originally expected.  As discussed in this blog last week, I thought I would try to help those of you about to relocate homes by sharing some insights gained from friends of mine who have recently moved properties. 

While last week the focus was on the packing up process, this week I thought we could look at how a move can be made simpler once you have arrived at your new address and are unpacking and resetting your life. 


Clean prior to arriving and unpacking

Starting with a clean space should make your move-in easier in the long run.  Once furniture is in place it becomes much harder to vacuum the floor and wipe-down surfaces such as window sills.  While you will no doubt need to do more cleaning once your furniture has been moved in – clearing away dust and grime etc – having a fresh space to begin with is ideal. 


Make it a priority to connect phones, electricity and the like

People may not realise that it can take time for some of the services in your new home, such as telephones, internet, electricity etc, to be reconnected; as my friends found out, it’s not always simply a matter of phoning up and having an instantaneous activation.  Try to plan your reconnections in advance to avoid inconvenient situations when you first move in. 


Unpack stage by stage

While it can be tempting to unpack a box here and there as items are needed in various rooms of your new property, according to my friends, the most efficient and least time consuming way to unpack was to approach it room by room.  The important and most necessary rooms should be unpacked first, such as the kitchen, main bedrooms and bathroom, with the less crucial rooms coming afterwards. 


Clean as you go

The entire unpacking process can take some time and many people find that they are living amidst a sea of boxes and mess for a little while after a move.  Clutter can often prove to be somewhat overwhelming, but if you can set some time aside to clean away mess (such as packing materials) as you go, the remaining boxes to be unpacked should feel less burdensome. 

It is my hope that those of you about to move will benefit from the tips shared above, which have come from people who have recently experienced the drama that relocating can often entail.  To me, the key message that stands out is that if you are prepared and work methodically, your unpacking process can potentially be much more smooth and efficient – allowing you to settle into and enjoy your new home sooner.

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 26/03/2012 at 9:47 AM | Categories:

Case study of a move – Part 1

No matter how many times you do it or how organised you try to be, the process of moving rarely ends up being a simple exercise.  This was discovered by friends of mine who recently relocated; although they had recruited friends to help and allocated a reasonable amount of time to both pack up and unpack, the process was arduous all the same. 


After listening to some of the problems they faced, I thought I would share with you some insights resulting from their experience – in the hope of making the exercise even just slightly easier for those looking to move. 


Helpers are not always helpful

It doesn’t matter how many people you have roped in to help you while moving – there are just some things that you need to do yourself.  For instance, a friend may not be best placed to go through cupboards and make decisions about items that need to be thrown out.  If you put a helper in this position, you should be prepared for a stream of questions that, in the end, may disrupt you from your own tasks and make the process a longer one.


You may find it easier to go through everything yourself in the first instance, determining quickly what stays and what goes.  Once you have decided what you are taking with you, then you can call in help to quickly and easily pack it all up. 

Don’t underestimate time

It’s usually pretty safe to say that a move will take longer than you think, particularly the time it takes you to pack your belongings up.  The reason for this? People forget how much they have accumulated over the years.  However long you think it may take, add a day or two, or start earlier.  This will help to prevent stress along the way.  


Plan your disposal

As you prepare to move homes, there will no doubt be a few things that won’t be coming with you, that you will need to dispose of, sell, or give away.  After culling, you may find that you suddenly have a build up of possessions that are difficult to move all at once.  In order to avoid this issue, try to stagger your disposal – separate items for different destinations (e.g. rubbish/charity/friends) as you go and aim to clear away at the end of each day.


For those of you who are about to go through a move, I wish you all the very best of luck.  And if things get stressful, just remember the new home that you have waiting for you at the other end. 


For more advice on ensuring a stress-free moving process, please feel free to stop by your local CENTURY 21 real estate office to speak to a real estate professional. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 19/03/2012 at 9:44 AM | Categories:

Welcome to the autumn real estate season

After a whirlwind start to the year, we now find ourselves in autumn – which has traditionally been a very busy time for real estate in terms of listings coming onto the market and sales achieved.


The reason for this activity is often attributed to a number of different factors.  For some people, it could be that a resolution was made to downsize, upsize or completely relocate at the beginning of the year, and come March, those who were serious about their decision are now ready to take the plunge.  Alternatively, now that the cooler months are approaching and summer holidays are drawing to a close, some people who have been thinking about making a property decision may feel they are now more ready to do so.   


While the past year in the real estate market has shown that we can’t necessarily rely on the concept of ‘cycles’ in residential property in terms of the waves of activity we may have historically seen, this autumn selling season will no doubt prove to be interesting and showcase a range of high quality property purchase opportunities available across the country. 

For people looking to sell over the next few months, it is important to note that the weather at this time of the year can often present a challenge.  With a greater likelihood of inclement weather conditions and the natural shedding of leaves by trees, it can be easier for your home, especially houses, to appear messy.  Try to maintain regular upkeep of your property, particularly in the period before open for inspections.  Be sure to give yourself more than enough time before showing your home to rake and clear away any leaves, fallen branches and the like.

For those prospective buyers seeking property purchase opportunities over the next few months, try not to be put off by unpleasant weather conditions. It’s surprising, but a rainy day can see inspection numbers fall, with many people deciding to put off the property search until another time. 

Rainy days are often actually ideal times to visit a property of interest, as if others have stayed away, you will likely have more time to ask questions of the agent and to explore the property without interruption. 

With March fast drawing to a close, we will soon find ourselves at the peak of the autumn real estate season.  I wish all of those who are either seeking to sell a property, or secure a suitable purchase (or both) the very best of luck. 

For more information about residential property in your suburb, please feel free to stop by your local CENTURY 21 office for expert, clear real estate advice. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 19/03/2012 at 9:42 AM | Categories:

Rate hold for real estate buyers as autumn selling season begins

Last week saw the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia meet to make its interest rate decision for the month of March.  

From our perspective at CENTURY 21, its move to keep interest rates on hold at 4.25 per cent should help to provide some certainty for buyers heading into the traditionally busy autumn real estate season.  

Upon the news, Chairman and Owner of CENTURY 21, Charles Tarbey, said: “Through this decision the Reserve Bank has essentially indicated that it is reasonably comfortable with Australia’s current economic conditions, which should help to provide a level of confidence for buyers looking to secure a property purchase in the present market, while also allowing them to lock in comparatively low interest rates.”

In his statement following the decision, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens noted that economic growth in Australia is expected to be close to trend and inflation close to target.  

“CENTURY 21 is starting to see buyers respond to the two consecutive interest rate cuts made at the end of 2011, with improved auction clearance rates suggesting that people are re-entering the market and completing transactions,” continued Charles Tarbey.  

“And with the continuing release of affordable mortgage packages by lenders and the autumn period typically seeing an increased number of listings on the market, the coming months could present prospective buyers with attractive purchase and financing opportunities,” concluded Charles Tarbey. 

CENTURY 21 encourages those potential buyers looking to secure a real estate purchase over the coming months to ensure they have obtained the appropriate professional property and mortgage advice before doing so.  

For more information about available real estate purchase opportunities in locations of interest, please feel free to contact your local CENTURY 21 real estate agent for clear and expert advice. 


0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 12/03/2012 at 3:32 PM | Categories:

Century 21 launches bold new national advertising campaign

Last week was an exciting week for us here at CENTURY 21 as we launched our new ‘Smarter, Bolder, Faster’ advertising campaign.  

This campaign sees a series of radio and television commercials, and a new website, promote the expertise, commitment and speed of CENTURY 21 agents across Australia.  

CENTURY 21 Chairman and Owner, Charles Tarbey, said of the campaign: “Extensive research has shown us that when selecting a real estate agent, Australians want the most informed, committed and responsive real estate practitioners in the marketplace.  

“CENTURY 21 agents work hard every day to embody these traits and the ‘Smarter, Bolder, Faster’ campaign allows us to communicate this to the Australian public and attract new customers to the brand.”

The new campaign has synergies with a highly successful campaign launched last year by CENTURY 21 in the United States, which culminated in a commercial in the third quarter of the US Super Bowl.  The commercial featured property mogul Donald Trump and was broadcast to an audience of 111.3 million people.  

“CENTURY 21 is the largest real estate organisation in the world.  The consistency across the Australian and US campaigns allows the company to reinforce the fact to the Australian public that when using the services of a CENTURY 21 agent, not only are you working with a local expert, you are also engaging with someone who has the support, systems and training of a global organisation behind them,” continued Charles Tarbey.  

As part of the campaign’s online component, CENTURY 21 has launched a new website which is faster, more user-friendly and has inbuilt search engine optimisation, ensuring increased online visibility for CENTURY 21 and its offices in the marketplace.  It also has refined search capabilities including ‘automatic predictive’ search technology.  

As the campaign is rolled out, every single CENTURY 21 real estate agent will receive a personal webpage, enabling individual agents to showcase their current listings, sales achievements, client testimonials, awards and social media links.  

“The campaign is focused on energy and enthusiasm and is about painting a picture of what the Australian public can and should expect from CENTURY 21 real estate agents, both in Australia and across the globe,” concluded Charles Tarbey.  

For professional advice regarding your property needs, please feel free to stop by any one of the hundreds of CENTURY 21 real estate offices around Australia.  

CENTURY 21 Agents.  Smarter. Bolder. Faster.  


0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 12/03/2012 at 3:30 PM | Categories:

Tips for first time sellers

For first home buyers, there is a wealth of information available about how to go about purchasing a property.  But what about if you are a first time seller? There is no doubt that approaching the market for the first time from this perspective can also be daunting. 


In the first instance, it could have been quite some time since the purchase of your property and you may not be as up to date with the real estate market as you once were.  In addition, advancing technologies have created entirely new tools by which to market and even sell a property, which while useful may be confusing and require explanation.   


The following are a few suggestions for sellers who are approaching the real estate market for the first time. 


Choosing an agent

When selecting an agent, it can be helpful to talk to friends and colleagues who have had successful selling experiences for recommendations about agents and companies.  It is then important to spend time with a number of real estate agents in order to get an idea about the pricing of services, various marketing approaches and personalities.  Remember – you are going to be spending a good deal of time with this agent in what can be a stressful and emotional experience.  Make sure you trust that they are working in your interests and are committed to achieving the best result for your property.  


Have realistic price expectations

Before setting your price expectations in stone, it is important to research the current state of the property market in your local area, which your agent will be able to assist you with.  Looking at comparable properties also for sale, recent sales, and general economic conditions will help you to develop realistic expectations regarding the value your property is likely to achieve. 


When developing your price expectations it is also essential to listen to the advice of your real estate agent.  With market intelligence and ongoing communication with buyers in your market, your agent is likely the best placed to provide advice around the values that buyers are currently assigning to properties. 



Preparing your property for sale can take more time than you realise, particularly if you have lived in it for a long time, so start early!  A general clean-up and decluttering will be required in most cases, which should also help to make things easier when it comes time to move.  Depending on the state of your property a fresh coat of paint and other cosmetic enhancements may also be needed.   


While the prospect of selling your first property may seem overwhelming, it certainly doesn’t need to be, particularly if you are working with a helpful real estate agent who can be on hand to offer information and advice.  By ensuring that you start preparing early and arm yourself with market information, you should be well on your way to achieving a successful, stress free property sale. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 05/03/2012 at 9:38 AM | Categories:

It’s in the detail – small but important things to check for when buying a property

When inspecting a property that you are interested in potentially purchasing, it is not uncommon to focus on prominent aspects such as room size, aesthetic style, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and layout. 


While these are important and will certainly influence your initial impressions of a property and whether it is suitable for your requirements, there are also a variety of smaller factors that are often overlooked.  Although not as obvious, these can affect your day to day activities at home and may require a little bit of preparation to ensure a comfortable move.   


For example, I have heard of numerous cases where people who have moved into new homes are confronted with issues such as power points that are located in inconvenient areas, disrupting the planned positioning of furniture and requiring the purchase of extension cords, or kitchens that don’t give aspiring chefs enough bench space to prepare decadent meals.   


While certainly not deal breakers, elements such as these are still important and can impact your enjoyment in your new home or may just require extra preparation when moving.  As such, you may like to consider the following aspects when inspecting a property of interest:


·         The number and location of power points;


·         The size of designated storage spaces – e.g. linen and kitchen cupboards:


·          The location of telephone and television connections;


·         The amount of bench and preparation space in the kitchen;


·         Functionality of doors, cupboards, windows;


·         The area’s reception (for televisions, radios, etc);


·         The amount of light that enters a property at various points of the day;


·         Loading docks and service lift access in apartment buildings.


At the end of the day, many of the above issues (and others that arise) can be rectified easily and are unlikely to dissuade you from buying your ideal property.  However by knowing what to look out for, you will be better positioned to plan and prepare for your move, avoiding potentially frustrating situations. 


For more information about important elements to look out for in a property of interest, please feel free to ask your local CENTURY 21 real estate agent. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 05/03/2012 at 9:36 AM | Categories: