Thursday, May 25, 2017

There’s no need to hibernate in winter…

At Toop&Toop, we believe that winter is a fantastic time to put your property on the market. Many people think waiting for spring or summer is the right, and only time, to launch a sale campaign. There's no doubt that when the sun is shining and the gardens are in full bloom, properties are more attractive to potential buyers. However, we believe it's in the winter months where the opportunity lies for serious sellers. This is where you can receive some of the best results for your property - especially in the market we are experiencing right now.

So why do we think this? It's as simple as the age-old economics of supply and demand. When supply is low and demand is high, price increases. With interest rates remaining at an 
all-time low, there has been an influx of buyers into the market. These buyers will definitely be out and about searching for property in the winter months and often don't want to wait around.

In winter, there is traditionally less property advertised for sale in Adelaide, and during this time we see open inspections in the marketplace reduce by an average 20%, meaning this actually becomes the perfect opportunity to ensure your home stands out from the crowd.

Getting your home ready for sale in winter, may require a little more effort to make it as inviting as possible for buyers. Little things like lighting fires in your home and increasing the amount of natural light into the home makes a big difference and is more attractive for buyers.

The extra effort is certainly worth it, because with fewer properties in the marketplace, the winter months increase competition between buyers, and can lead to a premium result for your home.

We believe it's important to implement marketing strategies that are specifically designed for selling property in winter. At Toop&Toop, we tailor our marketing campaigns to capture the motivated buyer and historically we always achieve great results over this period. We also have strategies to help with any of the common concerns around selling in winter. Worries often include, "I don't want people trudging mud through my house" and "what happens if it's raining on auction day?".  

After selling properties through 32 winter seasons, we have solutions to all of these questions and more! We have medical booties on hand at every open (to protect your carpet from muddy shoes!) and we have umbrellas at every auction to combat the rain and keep bidders dry and comfortable. These are just some of the ways we can help make selling your home in winter as easy and stress-free as possible.

So to all you serious sellers out there, now is the time to put your property on the market.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Property Investors… Is it worth staying in the race?

Today there are three million residential property investors across Australia, and following the recent Federal budget announcement it seems many are feeling hard-done-by. 

The budget announced that tax deductions for travel expenses relating to your investment property will no longer be available. Depreciation deductions are also being limited to new items and new properties only. Property investors can still however, make a building write-off at typically 2.5% of the building cost each year. 

The general consensus among investors appears to be that property investment conditions are less favourable now, compared to three years ago. Interestingly, despite these new conditions, experts are still saying that when looking at the returns of alternative investment opportunities, property continues to lead the pack. 

So overall, how is the property market performing?

Adelaide and Hobart topped the charts with the largest growth in median house price in April, followed by Brisbane then Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Canberra (CoreLogic RPData).

This latest report confirms what Team Toop 
has been feeling for a number of months. Adelaide is the steady performer, and as things slow on the eastern seaboard, we are becoming an increasingly popular option for buyers and investors.

What's causing Sydney and Melbourne to slow?

The investment landscape has changed. With higher cost of debt, and stricter lending and servicing conditions imposed on investors, the amount of investment activity over recent months has softened. Remarkably, investors make up over 50% of new mortgage demand in Sydney and Melbourne. This is huge. If investor activity starts to pull back, the level of activity and competition in the market follows.

Sydney and Melbourne are also experiencing significant urban sprawl. Speaking with local Real Estate Agents in Victoria, Melbourne is seeing more and more people moving out of the metropolitan CBD area to places such as Werribee, for pure reasons of affordability. Ten years ago the landscape from Melbourne to Geelong was essentially farmland. With up to ten housing developments on the go at any one time, the urban sprawl is very apparent, adding 
a big injection of property to the market.

So investors, is it worth remaining in the property race?

We believe yes... but looking at the specific city and suburb you purchase in is extremely important. 

Metropolitan Adelaide and Hobart remains somewhat immune to the full effects of these changing investment conditions. Affordability is still our biggest drawcard.

Adelaide is continuing to establish itself as an attractive option for investors across the country. As the tortoise and hare tale goes, slow and steady wins the race... and it's exciting to see Adelaide take its stride.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

TEAM. Together everyone achieves more.

This past week has been a unique one for Team Toop. One that has enabled us to experience our strength as a team and see just how important and valuable teamwork is within a real estate business in today's world.

On Tuesday, Toop&Toop took our annual award winners on a conference to the Pacific Islands. This conference gave us the chance to bring some of our best minds together, from across all departments of the business and in all areas of real estate, to workshop ideas, strategies and goals. Amongst the group, were our top performers in Sales, Property Investment, Marketing, IT, Administration and Customer Service.

During the conference, together we combined our knowledge and experience to tackle industry-wide challenges, creating strategies and plans to increase customers' experience with real estate. The discussions and ideas generated throughout the week have been phenomenal, with the outcomes being immediately implemented.

Teamwork is a word that can be easily thrown around, yet can be very rare to actually see in action. In my opinion, true teamwork always stems from the deepest part of a business's culture. The culture enriched in Toop&Toop has been built from Anthony and Sylvia Toop's unshakable teamwork for over 32 years.

The power of teamwork specifically in real estate is vital and cannot be overlooked, as it ultimately impacts our customers' experience. In an industry that appears to be built on the success of individuals, if a strong team structure does not support it, the client ultimately loses out.

Team Toop's unique tools such as instant and accurate reporting on buyer groups, and personalised client reports immediately after open inspections, are only made possible from this team culture. Collaborating and sharing information allows our team to provide clients with important details such as who came through their property and their thoughts - even down to the detail of how many times they have been to the home and what other Toop&Toop properties the buyers have visited.

This week has been incredibly rewarding and we were able to achieve more than we ever thought possible, both at home in the property market and abroad. Our team has been communicating with 92 brand new buyers who have entered the market this week alone, as well as continuing to work with our 8,753 registered buyers still looking for property.

At our conference there was some serious brainstorming and workshopping, and we are excited about the ideas we have coming soon! On top of a fantastic trip, we also celebrated our 32nd year in business with our entire team this week, something very special to us.

Congratulations on a huge and very productive week Team Toop! And to our future clients, we can't wait to demonstrate what our team has in store for you.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Too many cooks in the kitchen?

It is common for investors to purchase units, townhouses or apartments as these types 
of properties offer quality rental returns, with little to no upkeep.

However, what this does mean is there is often another party involved with the management of the property... Body Corporate.

Property Managers work very closely with these bodies and it works well... most of the time.

What can be challenging, for everyone involved, is the extra steps in the process when something goes wrong at the property. Three parties are involved - the Agent/Landlord, the Tenant and the Strata Manager, and they are all trying to fix the issue. Often it is the Presiding Officer who must give the approval for works, not the Strata Manager - adding yet another person to the mix. All parties have the best intentions to resolve the issue, but it is the convoluted process, and uncertainty around responsibilities, that often delays the process.

As the saying goes, too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth.

What is the impact on Landlords?

If there are significant delays, and a Tenant wishes to claim compensation, it is the Landlord that can find themselves in the Tribunal, not the Body Corporate. If it is identified that the delay was caused by the Body Corporate, not the Agent or Landlord, then the Landlord is left to initiate a separate claim against the Body Corporate, this time in the Magistrates Court. Currently in South Australia there is no government agency to oversee or resolve disputes with strata and community titles.

Just this week, there have been two stark examples where the Landlords have been disadvantaged for reasons that are completely out of their control. We are seeking clarification on the Tribunal ruling as well as confirming 
the responsibility for the Body Corporate to meet deadlines for important works.

Reviewing the current Body Corporate framework is something that is being looked at across the country. Late last year NSW introduced 90 new strata laws to benefit Owners, Tenants and Property Managers, to help streamline processes and 'bring the laws in-line with current thinking'.

From what our team are seeing, we believe Landlords could benefit greatly from having the framework looked at. There has got to be a better way for all parties to work together and achieve a favourable result for the Owner of the property. In the meantime, we have put our Innovation Lab to work to see if they can come 
up with a solution for this industry issue.

We believe small changes could go a long 
way and help ensure a fair outcome is achieved 
for Landlords here in our state.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is now a good time to sell my home?

"Is now a good time to sell?" This is one of the most commonly asked questions of our team from sellers in the real estate market.

Following the long weekends, Easter and the school holidays, some sellers have been worried about whether or not they should wait until the passing of these events to put their home on the market, concerned about the possible impact they could have on their campaign.

The fact is... in a wonderful city like ours there will always be something on! Just take a look back at the past two months. We have had the Clipsal 500, The Adelaide Fringe, the commencement of the AFL season and long weekends. More recently this month we have had the Easter break, school holidays, ANZAC Day and not to mention Mother's Day is just around the corner too!

With 32 years experience in the real estate market we've recognised that with the right sales strategy, these events aren't a distraction to the market, in fact they can be the exact opposite and enhance your property's sale campaign.

It is our job as agents to be aware of what is happening out and about in the community, and assess how this could influence buyer behaviours throughout the sale of a property. Considering these factors and working strategically to leverage them, can often lead to a very strong campaign.

Team Toop has tried and tested powerful and emotive marketing techniques to capture attention and create a connection with buyers throughout property campaigns. Through doing this we've learnt that you will always spark your target buyer's interest no matter what time of year it is.

However, for this to work successfully it's important to have an agent that understands the power of emotive marketing, is aware of what is going on in the community, and is able to construct a campaign that is specifically designed to make it easy for as many people as possible to see and visit your property. They must have the ability and mindset to leverage opportunities where more people than usual are out and about, such as long weekends and school holidays.

Once you have attracted and captured this interest, potential buyers will come to your open inspections, regardless of what might be happening. If a buyer is truly interested they 
will visit your home!

Throughout the first quarter of 2017, we continued to see low stock levels nationally in the market, maintaining real urgency for buyers. Over the last eight weeks, we had 612 brand new buyers register for our ToopVault service. This is on top of our 8,686 existing buyers. During this time we have sent 71, 565 property email alerts to these registered members. We are seeing
first-hand that buyer demand for property is certainly exceeding supply.

At Team Toop, our experience in leveraging great market conditions with a large amount of buyers and using strategic marketing techniques to engage them, we are able to achieve fantastic results for our clients no matter what exciting events are happening in 
this beautiful city of ours!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Landlords, you are the beneficiary of a strong sales market

The sales market has remained strong over the first quarter of this year. We've seen properties sell well-over their reserve price at auction, buyers putting in quality offers after first open inspections, and property sales creating new 'million dollar suburbs'.

Often when the sales market is running hot and confidence is high, the rental market slows, and vice-versa. However, it's been very interesting to see that during the current cycle, this hasn't been the case... Landlords have been a beneficiary of the strong sales market.

Let me explain.

Many people have been successful in selling their home, but when the shoe is on the other foot and they are looking to buy, they have found the market to be very competitive. As a result, many buyers have entered the rental market as a 'stop-gap' between homes, tipping the demand from the sales market into the rental market.

At Toop&Toop we like talking in facts and figures. We record the number of tenants that attend our open inspections live on iPads, so we can produce instant reports from the field to our Landlords.

So what are the numbers saying? Our team have seen a 45% increase in tenants attending our open inspections over the past quarter (Q4 2016 to Q1 2017).

Adding to the strong conditions, we have also seen very low stock levels on the rental market. Our vacancy rate was at a record low level of 0.29% in metropolitan Adelaide last week (compared to the industry average of approx. 1.7-2.0%). This is a staggering number and is the sign of a very tight market.

Currently our property management team have almost half the number of properties available for rent than we did 6 months ago. We are finding that many tenants are choosing to renew their lease, rather than looking elsewhere to rent as there is simply a limited number of homes available. How long will it last? With a number of residential developments in the pipeline, the conditions we are seeing right now will likely ease over the next 12-18 months as additional supply enters the market. We believe the metropolitan Adelaide market will however, remain a steady performer in the long-term - as a result of the underlying affordability of property in our state compared to other capital cities.

At Toop&Toop we're excited about investing in Adelaide. We see our role as agents is to be proactive to ensure landlords can make the most of the market conditions throughout the property cycle and optimise their returns.

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The hunt is on for Adelaide’s million-dollar lifestyle!

We are experiencing a strong start to the year 
for luxury homes in Adelaide's real estate market. Homes in sought after suburbs across our city remain tight, and as a result when they are launched to the market they are being snapped up quickly, with many being sold discreetly off market! Our median house price 
is strengthening, which indicates significant growth in our top end property market, that is driven purely by demand outweighing supply.

According to RP Data, it's specifically Adelaide's eastern suburbs that have proven to be the most exclusive areas to live after recording some of the top prices on SA's property market in 2016. College Park topped the list with a median sale price of $1.864 million. Unley Park came in second, at $1.602 million, and then Rose Park recording a median sales price of $1.325 million. Other popular areas included Leabrook, 
St Peters, Toorak Gardens and Malvern. 

Adelaide's eastern suburbs are some of the most tightly held in the nation and with the increasing demand from buyers to get into these luxury areas, we are seeing our property prices for lifestyle homes continue to rise. While demand for these homes is occurring right across Australia, our Adelaide property market has been recently highlighted in the media nationally for our consistent growth and value for money in the top end market. As a result of this, we are starting to experience an increase in enquiry from Eastern State buyers in Melbourne and Sydney who are looking to relocate or purchase an investment property here in Adelaide. 

For these Eastern State buyers, it's the lifestyle that our South Australian properties can offer that is truly unmatchable. For people living in the Eastern States, purchasing a home only minutes from the CBD on thousands of square meters of land or a property with acreage that is only a 25-minute drive to the CBD including 'peak hour' all for under $10 million is simply unheard of!

Adelaide's current top residential property sale sits at $7 million in the prestigious suburb of Gilberton. This property is situated under four kilometres from the heart of the city on over 4,000 square meters of land. When you compare a magnificent residence like this with what you could purchase for the same amount in the Eastern States, you quickly begin to see why our luxury market is capturing the nation's attention. For example, if you were to purchase a property of similar calibre in Melbourne you would be looking at a price of $12 million or more, and in Sydney, you would need to be spending in excess of $20 million!

Team Toop has some incredible luxury homes 
on the market and in our ToopVault, that are 
positioned throughout some of Adelaide's finest suburbs such as Walkerville, Malvern and Toorak Gardens. In March alone, we had 870 buyer groups visit our million-dollar plus homes. This long weekend we have 32 homes available for inspection over $1 million dollars and 4,357 buyers registered, interested and receiving 
alerts in this specific bracket of the market.

There's no doubt luxury homes in Adelaide are in demand and with so many buyers in the market, the million dollar hunt will be on this Easter long weekend. From all of us at Team Toop we hope you have a very Happy Easter! 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Property investors... the downside to popularity

The property market has been in the national spotlight for some time now. From predicted booms and busts, to discussions on negative gearing and stamp duty, property is consistently a hot topic across Australia. But it seems this popularity and attention (particularly off the back of Sydney and Melbourne) is now starting to create an unfavourable position for investors across Australia. Investors are being impacted, on two fronts.

The first... regulatory bodies are focussing on curbing investment activity. They're putting the brakes on growth by enforcing banks to reign in their housing investment loans.

So what's the impact on investors? 

Banks have raised the interest rates for investment loans so it is now more expensive for property investors to borrow funds than owner-occupiers. Under the new reforms, a $400,000 loan can typically cost an investor an increase of $100 a month with the latest rate hikes. And if you are currently an investor with an interest-only loan, you may see an uplift of up to 0.31% on your variable rate. These types of increases are unprecedented in recent years. And it's now no longer purely the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) driving interest rate changes. We saw this earlier in the week when the major banks raised rates prior to the RBA meeting. The environment is changing.

The second... as the popularity of property grows, house prices continue to rise, however rents are not keeping up as seen on the eastern seaboard.

This trend is particularly noticeable in Sydney suburbs where buyers are parting with $1.3 million to secure a two bedroom unit without a car park. While investors are still flocking to purchase these homes, what they may not realise in the buying frenzy, is these properties are achieving rents of $700 per week... at most. With property prices sky rocketing, rents are not keeping up and yields are deteriorating.

Looking locally at our returns of up to 5.5%, it's no wonder there is demand to purchase property in cities such as Adelaide, and even Hobart, where affordability and stable returns are creating a favourable investing environment. We see the Adelaide property market is in good stead to weather the impact 
of the changing lending and market conditions that lie ahead. 

So how can you take steps to protect 
your investment?  

More than ever, property investors or their managing agent will need to be proactive with those areas that can be controlled. Obtaining tax depreciation schedules, tailoring a maintenance plan for your property and receiving quality advice on your funding will 
no longer be optional... it will be a must.

For this reason, at Toop&Toop we have moved our focus to a holistic investment approach. In addition to the day-to-day property management, our team work closely with a range of experts to ensure our clients have access to the best advice in each core specialty.

In this changing environment, it's important to be prepared so that you don't experience the downside to popularity. Be sure to reach out to me or our property management team to have a chat.

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Award winning innovation 
a seller’s dream!

Last week in Canberra, Toop&Toop was recognised as Australia’s #1 Real Estate Agency, and acknowledged with three major awards at the 2017 Real Estate Institute Australia (REIA) National Awards for Excellence. We were honoured to receive awards for excellence in Innovation, Communications and as Large Residential Agency of the Year. We were also inducted into the Hall of Fame for Innovation after winning this category for the last three years.

To take out this hat trick on a national level
is the highest privilege in Australian real estate. We are so proud of each and every one of our team members who continually strive
for excellence. Their outstanding service to
our clients, passion for innovation and ability to set new standards is incredible. We’re also so thankful to the South Australian community and all of our clients for their continued support.

These national awards recognised us for our outstanding business achievements, corporate communications and marketing activities, and the development of ToopVault, a smartphone app and system that provides buyers the opportunity to view Toop&Toop properties before they hit the public market.

It was fantastic for this Toop-created innovation to receive national recognition as such a powerful way to connect people with homes and add real value to our clients in their selling and buying experience.

One of the cornerstones of Toop&Toop is innovation. Our entire team’s culture is made up of finding new ways to provide an unmatchable real estate service, which is why being recognised as leaders in this space across Australia for the third year in a row, means so much to us. 

ToopVault is not only a fantastic tool for buyers, but also a very important tool for sellers. It allows our clients’ homes to be marketed in a unique way, unlike any other agency in Australia! There are plenty of early advice products out there, but ToopVault takes this service to a whole new level. The power of this tool comes from the ability to communicate and market a home immediately from the day we are appointed. When our team meets with you, they can take photos of your home on the spot, write a brief description, then upload this into our system and launch the property instantly to ToopVault... all before they even leave your property! This is then matched to our ToopVault members who have the opportunity to view and purchase the home before professional marketing begins or before it is released publicly.

Currently we are finding that buyers are frustrated. There is a shortage of properties
on the market and interest rates are at an all time low, resulting in huge demand. This means that buyer’s time in the market is growing longer as they are continually missing out. Feedback over the last 18 months has shown us that our ToopVault buyers will see past small things required to get a home ready. They understand that they have an edge on the market with an opportunity to see a property before others and are able to make their decision about a property quickly before it being ‘snapped up’ by the public.

Mandy Doolan, our Sales Agent in the Inner West, has had remarkable success with a number of homes selling prior to hitting the public market in 2017.

Mandy said, “With buyers being so savvy and with fast access to so much information, it’s great that our vendor understood our recommendation of putting her investment property on ToopVault prior to completing works at the property before the planned marketing campaign. With numerous recent successful campaigns in the Inner West we knew many purchasers were eagerly awaiting a new release on ToopVault. With only a few private appointments the property was sold for a top price to a purchaser that had missed out on a similar property in Mile End.”

ToopVault’s strength is undeniable… we currently sell over 20% of our properties through this process! While we know that nothing in real estate is certain, one thing that ToopVault has proven, is that for sellers it can equate to savings, is a discreet way of selling a property and is an immediate way of targeting qualified buyers.

So whether you’re thinking of selling and would like to find out more about how many ToopVault members we have looking for a home in your area, and how we can leverage this demand to achieve a premium for your property, be sure to speak to Team Toop this weekend!