Real Estate

A-Z of Real Estate Part Two


You are selling your most expensive asset and you want the world to know.  Maybe there is one more person you could reach, who loves your house and will pay a little more.  You must be prepared to spend a little to make a lot.  You can’t sell a secret.  Marketing campaigns in Sydney can cost $15,000 or more.  On the Central Coast, you can expect to spend between $2,500 and $5,000 for a reasonable marketing budget.  For a quality home you should consider upping that marketing budget to $10,000.  An extra commitment of $1,000 here could reap you ten times that amount. 


This is where your real estate agent makes- or costs -you money.   No one ‘gives’ away your home but a good negotiator can put an extra thousand or two in your pocket.   Or ten.  Or twenty.  Or more. Buyers must also feel they are happy to pay the price and a good negotiator will ‘feather the edges’ so both parties win.

Open house-

A necessary evil or a really great way to introduce your home to prospective buyers?  Yes, you might get some sticky beaks or local nosey parkers, but who cars?  Your home is neat and tidy and looks its best, and they might just tell their colleague at work.  I think open houses have value for most properties and allow buyers to look at a home ‘anonymously’. 

Professional photography-

Please oh please get a professional to do this.  How do you expect to make a million if you won’t spend $500? Most clients these days are also choosing to get a lifestyle video to help their property stand out in the crowded  market.


Is your agent fully licensed, or do they at least hold a Certificate of Registration? This may not be something people think to ask, however it is imperative your agent is qualified to sell your biggest asset. vs

Typically Domain attracts out of area buyers and realestate is more likely to attract local buyers. This is slowly changing as local buyers get behind Personally I advertise on both, because who wants to miss out on that one buyer who might pay $5,000 or $50,000 more? 

Stamp Duty (also known as transfer duty)-

The very annoying tax paid to the government on the purchase price of the property, paid by the purchaser.  Its a variable calculation and there are online calculators, but to offer an example,  stamp duty in NSW on a $800,000 property is $31,490 as of Sept 2018.

Target Market-

The buyers we want to target for your property.  If your home would suit as an investment or holiday home, or needs lots and lots of work, we need to target the buyers who would pay the most for this type of property.


Is just bad for everyone, and illegal. Under quoting means an agent is advertising a property for less than market value. This practice of underquoting can cause interested buyers to waste time and money on inspecting properties, getting reports and attending auctions based on misleading estimates of the selling price 


A fancy word for seller. Which comes from the Latin, then French word to sell, Vendre.  

Walk through-

A final visit to the home by the buyer, just before closing the deal. The property should be in fundamentally the same condition as when you originally saw/purchased it.


A formal legal process creating a binding Contract of Sale. Conditional (with some terms to iron out) or Unconditional (committed, baby), once both sides sign, and the contract is dated, you are exchanged.


A term for investors- how much annual return you are likely to get. A prospective year’s rental income as a percentage of the property cost.


A tool controlled by local planning authorities or council to control future development. Permissible uses in the area, density of building for instance.

For part one of everything real estate, click here!

A-Z of Real Estate Part One

Agency Agreement –

The legal document binding you to your chosen agent.  Can be for any period of time and can be exclusive or open.  Typical in 2260, agency agreements are for 12 weeks and generally exclusive so you work with one agency but everything is negotiable. 

Buyer –

What it’s all about!  Finding the best buyer for a property, one who might pay a premium and accommodate the sellers’ terms and conditions.  Where will you find your buyer? 

Contract –

Prepared by a solicitor or conveyancer and must be obtained prior to listing the property for sale.  The front page will be completed except for the buyers information and the price paid.  Your real estate agent will provide a copy of this to any prospective buyers. 

Décor –

There are plenty of companies around to help you stage a home and a good staging company can put thousands onto your end sale price. You want to try to appeal to a broad spectrum so neutral colours are best.  You might love the purple wall, but we are not trying to appeal to You.  We want someone else imagining themselves living in the house. 

Exclusive vs Open –

legally binding agreement between seller and a real estate agency.  Do you want one agency overseeing your sale, or to open it up to multiple companies.  (p.s. – you want one!)  An honourable exclusive agent will always offer another agency the opportunity to bring through their own buyers. 

Fee or commission –

This is negotiable but really depends on your area and local customs in that area.  Don’t expect to get the best agent in town and then undercut their commission.  This person is about to negotiate on the price of your house!  Do you really want to pay peanuts (and get a monkey?) In California the fee is typically 5% or 6%. In London it ranges from 1.5% – 4%.  On the Central Coast it ranges from 2% – 4%.  Bear in mind that ½ % difference in commission for the right agent might ultimately put more in your pocket. 

Gap –

The difference between the buyers offer and the vendors expectation-and our job as agents is to close the gap. A good agent will negotiate a buyer UP to the vendor and not just sign paperwork at an unrealistic amount in order to secure the listing.

Handover –

When settlement occurs (typically after 42 days) the real estate agent receives legal notification from both buyers and sellers solicitor.  This is permission to release the keys to the purchaser and the deposit to the vendor.

Interest rates –

Shouldn’t affect your purchase.  1 or 2% difference in RBA rates should make little difference to whether you buy property.  Rates will fluctuate, your long term plan shouldn’t. Get a bigger picture and plan for your future. 

Junk –

Get rid of it!  It’s a great opportunity to have a clear out and no one can imagine living in your property if all they can see is knick knacks, old magazines, broken appliances or any other junk. Carol can advise if necessary.

Keys  –

When selling, you will need to provide a copy of your keys to your agent and those keys should be kept securely locked in the real estate companies key safe (withOUT your home address on them!)  When you purchase, some families  consider changing the locks for their own peace of mind.

Loan –

Make sure you have already spoken to a mortgage broker before you go house shopping.  You should not have to pay a fee to a reputable mortgage broker, and they should find you the best lender for your particular circumstance.  Ask Carol for recommendations.

For part two of everything real estate, coming soon!

To Move or Renovate

Its an often asked question in the living rooms of the Central Coast…  “Should we move or should we renovate?” Mostly asked when you can’t bear to cook one more meal in that grotty kitchen, or find yourself rolling your eyes at the truck next door that starts at 5:00am.  Every morning.

But before you pull up stumps…

You might need to weigh up some options.  Move or renovate – both have merit, both will cost you money. 

What stays, what goes.There are some things you just can’t change with the house you are in.  If it nestles against a hill and is cold and damp in the winter, if its next to a busy intersection or a raucous pub or is on a steep sloping block you won’t be able to change that even with the best remodel in the world. And you would most likely be throwing money away.    

If on the other hand…

The house is structurally okay, if it’s situated in a bright and sunny cul-de-sac and your sister lives round the corner you should strongly consider changing the layout of the house to suit your lifestyle.If you are intending to renovate just to sell your house for more money, don’t.  Just don’t.   A minor cosmetic freshen-up is one thing.  Painting the purple bedroom wall or getting rid of the smelly carpet will certainly help.  Cosmetic freshen ups should either sell the house for more money(unlikely) or sell it faster (most likely). Physically remodeling and changing your home in the hopes it will make a profit you is fraught with danger.

What if…

What if your changes don’t appeal to the new buyer?  What if they wanted four bedrooms and you have combined to make three or vice versa? What if they wanted the fireplace you just removed?   The costs associated with big changes, just don’t make sense unless you are in the renovation business. And if the market begins to dip while you are in the middle of a major redo, you might just be in a world of hurt.

Moving will have associated costs…

Advertising, marketing, agents fees, then stamp duty for the new house (how annoying is stamp duty?!) will cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you might then get the house of your dreams.  Or at least get closer to the house of your dreams.Renovating will obviously also cost money, and you need to plan really carefully here.  A small kitchen renovation can become a nightmare when you discover that the electrical system needs an overhaul, and that there is some wood rot you didn’t know about.  And BAM! there goes the budget before you have even chosen your granite benchtop colour.

Some considerations:-

  • Do you love the street you are on, the aspect you have, but the bathroom is daggy? Renovate
  • Are you expecting the family to either increase in the next five years (baby-making stage) or decrease (kid-leaving-home stage)? Move
  • Is the sunlight great, but the house just really dated? Renovate
  • Have you just had surgery on both knees and live in a three storey home? Move
  • Are you on a three acre block and hate gardening? Move
  • Do you have the worst house in the best street and ocean views to boot?  Renovate
  • Is the kitchen and bathroom just too small and no where to push the house out? Move
  • Have you got three cars and a boat and a single garage and live on a small sloping block? Move

There will always be purchasers looking for a house like yours.  Just married, just divorced, just had a baby, just lost a spouse, just got a new job, just retired…  always someone looking to move.  

If this is you, and you need some advice, give me a call and let’s talk about your unique, personal options.  

I am not here to make you move, I am here when you are ready to move.

Call Carol Jennings – 0438 802 648

Bad Bathrooms and other You-Have-Got-To-Be-Kidding-Me Real Estate Photos

Sometimes the competition makes me look amazing because they are so bad.

Its no surprise that good photographs are the first step to attracting quality buyers to a property.Get the light right.  Move the furniture around a little.  Get rid of the clutter.  Frame the image well.  This all helps to attract a prospective purchaser. 

.I have even been known to take my own lamps, throws and cushions to enhance a property, and if you scroll through the photos of a few homes I have sold, you might see the same coffee table re-occur, and that’s mine.  And yes, that pillow turns up a lot. Not every family can afford to bring in a full professional styling crew, so I will help where I can. See my blog about hiring a professional stylist.  Always worth the cost.

I use a professional photography company I trust implicitly to shoot great images for me, and then to balance with colour and light for the finished article.   No photo shop but careful editing.

 So here’s my question..  Do you think THESE agents put terribly much thought into their photos. (yep, these are real photos taken from real estate web sites)  

Firstly.  The Feature Toilet.

I mean, sure its hard to take an elegant photo of a loo, but really!  Would you bother (and if you did bother, please take away the cleaning products. And trash can.

Pay no attention to the man behind the flash.

Apparently they’ve got a few spare items in this bathroom, not least an amateur photographer.

Shower curtain and towel, not included

Not sure about the flowery bit on the side either

Mirrors make everything look bigger

The toilet roll next to the bath is handy too.

Be wary of damp clothes after your shower

I suppose the wardrobes must be lacking in this home?

Have a chat

When you really, really can’t wait to talk to each other

DO not enter with a hangover

Nothing worse than stumbling into this with a headache.

Another agent who doesn’t know how mirrors work

Really my friend?  Really?

No.  Just No.

Too creepy for words. (and they don’t belong in the bedroom either)

Teenagers may have been here earlier

But Muuuuuuuummmmm.  I’ll clean it later.

So many choices. So little time.

Described as a Family home, I suppose?..

No, don’t worry. There will be plenty of pink pai….

Could you at least move the bleach?

I am sure these homes saved some cash by DIY-ing everything, including the photography.  And No, I am sure it didn’t cost them a penny!  But you know what they say –  pay peanuts, get monkeys. (although that may be an improvement)

How to Save for a House Down Payment in 5 Years or Less

A couple of the younger girls in my office have been talking about money recently, namely how little they have, and I realised not everyone understands how to save.   I think we ladies can sometimes have an unconscious presumption that our knight in shining armour will come and take care of us – but there is a whole new Fairy Tale out there and in this one, Cinderella starts a cleaning business and buys the castle off the Prince when he goes into foreclosure.

No – its not really gender related but if you are younger than 30 and don’t have decent savings or a property, its time to start to get conscious and think ahead.

So let’s give it a year, just for starters.  Whether you want to buy a house and need money for a deposit, or are thinking long term for your retirement, for your future well-being, you have to start today.  TODAY.  All you need is some awareness, a chunk of decent commitment and a little patience.   Put on your big girl pants and start acting like an adult.

Work out the numbers.

Work out a number you are aiming for, then break it down to weeks or even days.  If you could find about $27 a day you would have a $50,000 down payment in less than 5 years.  That’s excluding any interest you might earn.  Why don’t you just commit for this year?  Just be thrifty and squirrel it away, just for the year.

I get it.  $200 is a lot to save in a week, but if you are currently buying a coffee a day, drinking a bottle of bought water, and eating out every lunchtime that’s almost $100 a week you should be saving.   Make a coffee in the office. Or drink free tap water. Plan your meals in advance to incorporate tomorrows lunch.   Next, share a car ride and split the petrol, don’t buy that pair of shoes, or skip that last glass of wine at the pub. There’s your $200.

Where do you live now?

If you are renting, round up your rent (from $180 to $210 for instance) and put that extra $30 into savings.  If you think of it as rent, its easier to save it.  Out of sight, out of mind.   Could you sublet or rent out one of the rooms for a while and put that money into savings?  Or, can you just go home and live for a year, and explain to your family you are saving for your own house.

If you are already living with your parents and not contributing you should work out what reasonable rents are in your area and put at least that away every week.  You aren’t paying for electricity either.  No excuses.   (And by the way, you should help out more around the house to pay off your parents!  The reason they are helping you is so you can get ahead, not drink more lattes.)

And speaking of lattes..

A little adds up to a lot.

Budget baby. Write a budget.  Where are you frittering away all your money?  Give up spontaneity- plan your week, your lunches, your outings, your allowable coffees. Don’t set ridiculous targets and deprive yourself of everything fun or you won’t accomplish your goal.  Just consider if that pair of shoes, expensive mascara, cappuccino is worth NOT owning a house in five years.  Lots of available apps to follow a budget or just make a spreadsheet, but know where your money goes. Every penny.  It’s a bit like losing weight but in reverse – more in, less out.

Get yourself to ALDI or Kmart for cosmetics and workout clothes.  You don’t need Lorna Jane and MAC to look good.  (And frankly, you have enough workout clothes already).  Give up the designer mascara for Maybelline, just for a year.   It becomes a bit of a game, and once you start playing you will find it quite addictive. Don’t go to the mall for recreation either.  Just stay away from shops.

Lengthen the time between your treats:  tans, or manicure, massages or highlights.  If you stretch out your hair appointment from 12 weeks to 15 weeks for instance you would save the cost of one appointment per year.  Put it in your bank, not theirs.

I’ll help you, you help me.

This year- cancel the gym membership.  Instead find two friends and motivate each other to do mini workouts together, take walks or go for a run, HELP each other stay fit and strong and kick goals. Take turns to be the trainer and make it fun, while being accountable. Think about it.  There would not be so many gyms if they were not making a LOT of money from underused paid memberships.  Walking is free.

Swap clothes with a like sized friend who works elsewhere.   No one pays as much attention to what you are wearing as you do.   Do you have a friend you can borrow from for that specific work event or cousins wedding?  Don’t buy a dress to wear once then store in your closet.

You can even buy in bulk and split between the three of you – loo rolls, basmati rice, shampoo.  Buy the cheaper giant version and split the cost.

You don’t need all that.

Depending on where you work, you only need a couple of good basic skirts in a neutral colour – maybe one in black, one in cream or taupe and one in navy blue.  then five tops and two cardigans or jackets.  If you rotate that you have a full month of clothes.  Check out the men?…  Did you notice that he is wearing the same pants three days in a row? No?  I thought not.  If you own reasonably priced decent quality (think Target) it should last you years. Go classic, not trendy.

Never, ever, ever, ever buy full price.  Sales events are practically monthly.   Just wait, and if you really absolutely must spend money, at least buy it at a discount.

Sell it.   If you have clothes you are not wearing, get yourself on EBay and make a few bucks.  Add $50 to your savings account every now and then.  Any unused, unloved ornaments? DVD’s.  Sell them.

Hard cold CASH

Save all gold coins in a jar or tin – for instance an empty coke bottle can fit $880 in $2 coins.

Use cash and not your credit card.  Its easy to pay ‘n’ wave and ignore the consequences but if you have to physically peel off notes it makes you more aware.  No online shopping.  I don’t care if the shipping is free. You don’t need it.  Not this year anyway.

If you have a current credit card debt or car loan, take a look to see if there is any way of transferring the balance to a lower interest card.  Take a look at all the interest you paid to the bank last year.  If that doesn’t motivate you to pay cash for everything I don’t know what will.

Where else can you find some cash?

Find a babysitting gig.  Money for jam.  Dog walking?  Even Uber.    Could you do some cleaning or take on one shift at a café?  Yes, I KNOW that’s hard and not what you want to do your whole life, but we are trying to set UP your whole life with a short amount of hard work.  You wouldn’t be the first person in the world to hold down a second job for a while.  Suck it up Princess.  Only two ways to save more money: earn more and spend less.

Finally, remember you alone are responsible for this.  If you cheat and buy that swimsuit / new iphone / expensive foundation no one cares but you.  You are only cheating yourself.  But the sense of accomplishment you will get when you check out the balance in your savings account after six months and see that YOU have made a difference will have you walking on air.  Start today.

In five years’ time, give me a call and we will start looking for your property.

What’s Happening in Home Design Trends 2019

Interior home design is a very personal choice and we all try to be a bit individual and to let our interior decorating Diva shine in the comfort of our own homes…

Or do we?

Remember mission brown and orange? The yellow and blue beach/Scandinavian colours? How about pale apricot and pale green? Yes those ‘individual’ choices were all suggested to us by the juggernaut of the fashion and decorating world. How do you think Dulux and Freedom furniture keep themselves in business. Remember the two seater couch covered in floral prints? The Bali look. Yep! Your individuality was suggested to you by magazines and furniture manufacturers. So – whats the predicted direction for 2019?

Clutter is OUT

Shabby chic and eclectic groupings are apparently out. Thanks to KonMari we are devoiding our homes of extra ‘things’.  Anything new should have a purpose and be useful. Minimalism and clean lines are back, with texture as opposed to clutter.

Matte black is IN

I think you have to tread carefully here but grey is moving out and black is replacing it. Statement vanities in bathrooms, or matte black on the floor is being hyped. Proceed with caution here – it will change in a few years and you don’t want your kitchen completely matte black and find out it dates you as much as orange formica dated your mother! Pewter and gunmetal are being predicted for hardware: handles, taps and so on.

Coral baby, coral

Speaking of orange formica, the Pantone Colour this year  is Living Coral 16-1546 . Think accent pillows rugs and towels. Some past contenders were Ultra Violet (2018) Greenery (2017) and Rose Quartz (2016) Remember how I told you it was an industry!

How green is my valley?

The other ‘big’ thing predicted this year is striking greenery, either as botanical prints on bedding or as feature posters or photos, and of course, in living colour! Lots of live greenery throughout. Big bold plants. This trend towards Biophilia is supposed to calm us by relating us to nature and slowing down our stress levels. Be a bit thoughtful about this. If you have a blazingly sunny spot, don’t spend a fortune on a massive plant and cook it. Then your stress levels will go in the wrong direction.

Velvet no-longer-underground

My mother in law will hate this but velvet is coming. She can’t stand the feel of it. Velvet couches and cushions, pillows and throws. Hard to get your head round this in the heat of the Australian summer but pale blues, pinks and whites, and especially green velvet is coming apparently.

These are some of the predictions. But one of the biggest prediction is individuality.  Take what you like, leave what you don’t. Anytime you are redoing a room, try to keep the fixed major pieces as neutral as possible. Add just touches of the current trend. I mean you COULD change a tap in five years, but you probably won’t want to redo the whole kitchen.

Our home is our sanctuary. A place to relax, entertain, de-tox, reconnect and unwind. It should reflect you and your interests, your travels, your tastes. And if you are thinking of selling in the next year or so, edit edit edit! Don’t add anything new unless you are sure it will sell the house faster or get you more money. I mean, that jewel blue kitchen, with the lapis lazuli benchtop may have been exactly what that past owner loved. But the new purchaser paid less because they knew they were redoing the entire lot and it was in a skip bin within a week. Neutral is best.