11 Mar Changes that add value + 5 Must Ask Questions for every property investors
This week we are joined by not one but 2 television personalities as we look inside and outside a property to see what adds value. Graham Ross from Better Homes and Gardens takes care of the outside while stylist and judge on the Block, Darren Palmer has some great advice about getting the inside of a property looking great.
Michael Yardney tells us about the 5 ‘must ask’ questions every property investor should ask while Jane Slack-Smith gives us the renovation lowdown. Hear about her live renovation workshop webinar that was a huge hit.
We talk to former Olympian Mark Stockwell who has taken his family development company to new heights and Simon Pressley from Propertyology adds his voice to the Negative Gearing debate.
Meanwhile Ivan, a regular listener, posed an interesting question about charging an electric car in a strata situation. Who pays for the power? Well there is a solution and we hear about it from Michael Teys.
We also tell you about badly behaving banks and the untapped millions sitting in some investment properties.
Kevin: I’m going to answer a question in the show now that came in from Ivan. Ivan, thank you very much. This is an interesting question because it just shows how the rental market or the property market does actually evolve. It’s a question that’s directed straight to strata guru Michael Teys, who joins us in just a moment.
I’ll read Ivan’s e-mail first: “I have a unit in a complex of eight and we all share a common garage. We have a unit owner from out of town, who lives in the property every two to three months. He has an electric car that he leaves in the common garage.
He plugs it into the common power point and puts a sign up that says ‘Do not turn off.’ He does that so that his car is fully charged when he visits next time as I understand the battery goes flat after about one month of not being used.
We’ve tried to talk to him about not using the common power, as we’re all paying for the charging of his car, but he says he has no other choice. His unit is at the back of the complex and quite a long way from the garage.
My question is how do we resolve this issue? I’m sure this will be more of an issue in the future as electric cars become more common.”
I’m sure they will, Ivan. An interesting question, and to get an answer to that, Michael Teys from BlockStrata.com.au joins me.
Michael, an interesting question, isn’t it?
Michael: It is, Kevin. Look, this is a huge hurdle for people who are looking at buying electric cars where they live in apartments – getting the permission to hook up to the central power, and then the question arises how are they going to pay for that power.
Kevin: There has to be a fair solution to this. Has this arisen very often?
Michael: Look, it’s starting to. Of course, there are overseas experiences where this is more common. Some owners in Australia have tried to set up some programs where they have themselves estimated the usage and have then reimbursed the owners corporation for the power. But look, that gets messy where there are issues of trust and also when other owners want to join in. There’s going to be more of this.
Fortunately, there’s some technology that’s now available that allows an individual car space owner to install a monitor that works out how much power is taken from the complex’s central power board, and then automatically reimburses the owners corporation for the power that’s used. That’s a real step forward for this concept.
Kevin: Who would be responsible for setting that up, Michael?
Michael: The owner with the electric car is going to have to apply for permission to install both the hardware and the cables that are necessary to make this work, because that’s still going to amount to an alteration or an addition to the common property that is held by the owners corporation.
But I’m expecting where the owners corporation gets reimbursement for these things, any group acting reasonably is going to approve the installation. But it is definitely for the car owner to get the approval before going ahead and doing the works.
Kevin: Michael, you mentioned that there is a solution. Is there a company we can turn to or get more information?
Michael: There is, Kevin. There’s a company called Jet Charge, which has the technology. Costs will be up to something like $3000. Look, this is something that people who are investing in this technology are probably going to be prepared to pay because of long-term savings that they’ll get. Like any green initiative, there will be a payback period.
I would also anticipate that as new developments are bought online, there will be more of this and there will be charging stations installed on common property. The mechanism to reimburse the owners corporation will become a standard feature of buildings for the future. It’s not at all beyond the possibility that we’ll start to see development approval conditions imposed on developers for these sorts of initiatives.
Kevin: Ivan, just to repeat those details, you can get all the information you like at JetCharge.com.au.
In addition to what you said there, Michael, Tim Washington from Jet Charge told me this morning that the cost could be as low as $1800. It ranges between $1800 and $3000. The cost variation is because of distance and difficulty.
Get a quote for yourself at JetCharge.com.au. We thank Tim and his team at Jet Charge for providing that information.
Michael Teys from BlockStrata.com.au. Thanks for your time, Michael. Thanks for looking into this for us, as well.
Michael: No trouble. Thanks as always, Kevin. Bye-bye.
Kevin: Over the last few weeks, I’ve been telling you about The Ultimate Guide to Renovation. By now, if you have hooked up onto that, you would have received the fourth video, which has just gone out. The host of that program is Jane Slack-Smith, who joins me once again.
Jane: Hi, Kevin.
Kevin: Let’s talk a little bit more about The Ultimate Guide to Renovation. Already whet the appetite of so many people with those great videos. Where are we at in the program? Is it too late to get involved?
Jane: No, we do open enrollments for a week only, so they do close hard and fast this Thursday night. People can still get involved.
Kevin: Okay. Now, what is involved? What can we expect to find inside the program?
Jane: There’s so much. In actual fact, it’s a 12-week online course, so the first six weeks, we spend so much time actually going through locating the right area that’s fit for your buying criteria and actually understanding what your buying criteria is with the view of renovating.
Then in the last six weeks, it’s the fun bit. We get into structural renovations, we get into cosmetic renovations, we get into buy-and-hold strategies, buy-and-flip strategies. It’s a lot of fun.
Kevin: One of the key things behind all of this, of course, is the ability to create some extra value through renovation, to add value to a property.
Jane: Absolutely. There are so many properties throughout Australia that are ripe for renovation, but making money from them is a completely different story – and that’s what we concentrate on.
Kevin: On the website, you’ll find a link, because I think there is one final webinar coming up.
Jane: The final webinar will actually be on the 17th at 8:00 p.m., where we’re talking to people. We’ll be going through a lot of information and talking about where to buy and what to buy when looking for renovating properties.
It’s going to be really exciting, because the thing is that most people can spend their time, effort and money in renovating in the wrong areas and not making money and not knowing where the right areas are in a property to make money from renovating.
Kevin: Give us a bit of a sneak peek about some of your tips about creating that value through renovation. Where do we go wrong, and where do we go right?
Jane: I think there are the things that we can really create the “wow” effect on, everything from starting from the street appeal, because we know that we’re going to get a first impression and you can’t change a first impression. We want to look at the street appeal, and we really want to nail that.
Once the people open up the front door and walk in, the kitchen and the bathroom are where you can add the most value. It’s all about perceived value, not actual cost. I think that’s the real difference where people can actually make money with a renovation.
But there have been some trends in the recent past where I think people have invested in renovating in things like the media room, the outdoor room, the butler’s pantry. These things are trendy, they look great on TV, but the reality is unless you’re renovating for your own home and taste or maybe renovating to flip a property to the owner-occupied market, these could actually be a big waste of money.
Kevin: That’s tremendous advice. I haven’t heard that from anyone before about those, but you’re right about those trendy things. When you think of the media rooms, they’re very personal. What about the key rooms, the kitchen and the bathroom; are they still the big “wow” areas, Jane?
Jane: Absolutely. You can get it so right and you can get it so wrong with the kitchen and bathroom. We’ve had students go through the course in the past who said, “We’ve done 11 renovations. We were just about to rip out the kitchen, but we got in and saw what you did with painting tiles or replacing the bench top, etc. For a fraction of the cost, we were able to transform the kitchen to make it look like it was a brand-new kitchen.” It’s around that aspect of actually making money from your renovation that we really concentrate on.
Kevin: If you want to get the inside run if you’re looking at doing some renovation, I strongly recommend you look at The Ultimate Guide to Renovation. Once again, the webinar is coming up a little bit later this week, the 17th of March. Is that when the enrollments will close, as well?
Jane: Absolutely. A hard-and-fast close for at least another six months because we really want to jump in. There’s the private Facebook group and we have our group mentoring calls, as well. We really want to get people into the course and actually get some value out of it rather than being just another course that people buy. We’re really going to concentrate, especially in the next 12 weeks, in taking people through that entire course and getting some real value out of it for them.
Kevin: Look for the button on the homepage at RealEstateTalk.com.au. Click on there, get in for the webinar, and don’t miss The Ultimate Guide to Renovation.
Jane Slack-Smith, thank you so much for your time.
Jane: Thank you, Kevin.
Kevin: Choosing to build wealth through residential real estate requires a significant investment. I don’t have to tell you that I’m sure. I’m not only just talking about money, but commitment in time and emotional energy that’s required, as well.
In the beginning, you’ll need to work hard to support the costs associated with property ownership, so it’s understandable that many people suffer buyer’s remorse after making such a monumental purchase. You’re going to come across opposition from friends and family, no doubt, as well.
I thought it would be beneficial to go through the five questions that you need to ask yourself – and answer honestly – before making your next property purchase. These have been put together by an expert in that field, Michael Yardney, who, no doubt, has had to come across these on many occasions.
Good morning, Michael.
Michael: Good morning, Kevin.
Kevin: Would that be correct?
Michael: Buyer’s remorse is a normal human emotion, Kevin, and it happens when you spend a large sum of money. It could be when you buy a new set of clothes, a suit, or outfit for a female. It could be if it’s a bigger purchase like a car.
Especially with a property, you tend to go look on the Internet to see if a better one has come around. You think, “Have I paid too much? Is the market going to turn?”
You’re right, Kevin. I think it’s worth preparing yourself for that, and you can do that partly by answering some questions to yourself to make sure you’ve made the right decision.
Kevin: Yes. Most of these questions, which I’ve had the privilege of having a look at, are all self-questioning. What’s the first one, Michael?
Michael: One of the big questions people ask is what’s going to happen if the market falls? One day, it is going to slow down, and it may fall or stagnate for a period of time. You should already have gone into your purchase with that in your mind and being prepared.
Sure, we’ve enjoyed some good times in some of our big capital cities last year. This year, we know the market is going to slow down a bit. In due course, it will even correct in some locations. We know property values don’t go up in a straight line.
However, if you buy the right property in the right location in one of our big capital cities and you bought it at the right value, it doesn’t matter; it’s unlikely the value of your property is going to crash because it will be underpinned by other owner-occupiers in that location buying similar properties, Kevin.
Kevin: The second question, Michael, is one we don’t have much power over unless, of course, we choose to make sure that it’s not going to impact us.
Michael: Another worry people have is “How am I going to make my mortgage repayments if interest rates move up?” Sure, interest rates are low at present, and they may even drop a little bit further this year, but in the medium term, as our economy picks up, it’s likely interest rates are going to head north. So it’s important to avoid becoming a statistic and getting caught out when that happens by planning ahead.
One way of doing it is making sure that you can service your loans if interest rates do go up a little bit. Kevin, the other way, of course, is to lock in on one of those attractive fixed interest rates that are available at the moment.
Kevin: Yes. Question number three, Michael.
Michael: “What happens if my employment circumstances change?” We know life is unpredictable, Kevin. Most of us are requiring our personal exertion income to support some of the negative cash flow shortfall. Are you in a steady job? Are you in the position that you could maybe earn some bonuses or see some more clients, patients, or customers to get some more money if you need it?
If you’re not in that position or if you don’t have the stability of a steady job, another way to protect yourself is having sufficient buffers set aside – that rainy day back-up I like having in – maybe a loan of credit or an offset account.
Also, protect yourself with things like income protection and life insurance because life has a funny way of getting at you, doesn’t it, Kevin?
Kevin: It certainly does, mate. You mentioned there about “Will my income be able to cover the repayments?” It’s likely that’s not going to be the case, Michael?
Michael: It is, even in today’s lowish interest rate environment and especially if you’re buying the sort of property that’s going to have strong capital growth. I think one of the mistakes investors make is not fully understanding all their outgoings. They think they’re going to get 3.5%, maybe 4% rental yield, but that’s gross, and when you take into account agents management commissions and rates and taxes and all the other things, in fact, the return is much, much less than that.
First of all, analyze your property’s cash flow to make sure you can support it, and then check your own household budget to make sure that you have the surplus for it. Don’t count on the negative gearing because it may or may not change. It’s just that that’s cream, so don’t count on the bonus from that, even though I don’t think the laws are going to change. Maybe you make sure you borrow enough by having that cash flow buffer we spoke about a while ago just to buy you some time to see you through the ups and downs in property, Kevin.
Kevin: Yes, mate. The final question puts an interesting twist on a comment that I’ve heard many times and that is that you’ll make money out of real estate when you buy. In other words, that’s indicating that you have to buy below market.
Michael: That’s one of the big concerns of buyer’s remorse. “Have I paid too much?” That’s, again, a normal human reaction. The only way you can prevent that level of buyer’s remorse is by having done your homework, having done your due diligence, doing all the research, and knowing what’s going on.
But, Kevin, you already hinted at it. No. You don’t make your money when you buy your property by buying cheaply; you make it by buying the right property. Lots of times, I’ve paid full market price — or occasionally even above what I think it is the market price could be — just to secure the right property because you make your money by owning the right property in the right ownership structures at the right location at the right price for the long term.
Don’t get upset if the market fluctuates up or down a little bit. You’re going to minimize that if you’ve done your research, done your homework, and made a fair offer. If you can’t get it, just walk away. There will be another deal, Kevin.
Kevin: Yes. They’re five great questions. Go back over them. Have a listen to the interview once again or even read the transcript, which we provide below this interview, as well. They’re questions, Michael, that can act like barometers, can’t they?
Michael: Yes, they can. We talked about it today in the context of buyer’s remorse, but really, it should have already all been answered before you even buy the property to make sure that you don’t become one of the casualties that occur unfortunately so often when people buy emotionally rather than buying strategically.
Kevin: Always great talking to you. Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists.
Michael, thanks for your time.
Michael: My pleasure, Kevin.
Kevin: My next guest is Mark Stockwell. Mark is the managing director of Stockwell, a Queensland business based in Brisbane that focuses on property development, design, and construction, and also funds management. He is responsible for a number of great developments around South East Queensland.
Mark, thank you for your time today on the show.
Mark: My pleasure. Good to be up early.
Kevin: Yes, indeed. It is good. It’s a nice start for the weekend. Mark, I want to talk to you about your developments and what’s coming through the pipeline, but just before we do, you come from an exceptionally competitive background. We’ve talked about that on the show before. As an elite swimmer, you represented Australia at the ’84 Olympics. Was that ’84?
Mark: That’s right. You’re a sporting historian, as well.
Kevin: Yes, well, a good producer. Also the ’86 Commonwealth Games. How has that prepared you for business?
Mark: I think, by far, my biggest influences were my father and mother; I grew up in a business family, but through sport, it opened a lot of doors. But the thing about doors opening, you have to be able to walk through them, know which ones to walk through, and when you get in there, to behave in a way that you can get the business done.
Those things about patience that you learn, being dedicated to an outcome, the extreme patience you have to have when you set your mind to say, “In four years’ time, I’m going to go to the Olympics; I want to be the best in the world,” those sorts of things, you do take a lot of confidence into business, and you do take a lot of personal knowledge on how to cope with pressure situations, how to stay calm when the GFC is falling around you, because in competition, when you’re standing up in front of 20,000 people and they’re all cheering for the Americans or something, you have to be able to sit there and stay focused on what you’re doing. Those sorts of things, I think, have really helped me a lot in business.
Kevin: You mentioned there about your parents. I believe they formed the company Stockwell Property Ltd. There must have been some great conversations around the kitchen table as you were growing up about what they were doing. Did that contribute to where you eventually went?
Mark: There were two things. One is I used to get dragged around construction sites with my old man. Then when he was busy, he used to throw me in with the supervisors, and they would drive me around in the utes, and I was on the two-way radio, thinking, “How special am I?”
The other thing was my mother was the company’s secretary and involved in the business. Back then, in the ’60s and ’70s, there weren’t too many women in high-profile positions, so she was a bit of a suffragette in her own way. As a result of Mum being involved in the business, it was always discussed around the kitchen table. Work and life have always been intermingled in the Stockwell household.
Kevin: Of course, your mom and dad were very successful with the business, as you have been, but you’ve taken it into different directions, as well, like funds management and so on. How did you identify a hole in the market, and why did you diversify that way?
Mark: Into funds management?
Mark: The big thing for us has been looking at what are other income streams and other businesses that we can be involved in that use our core skills in building that business? So, it’s not like we’re out there in new areas. The funds management ticks both of those boxes in the sense that we use all our property knowledge, because at the end of the day, funds management, it’s the property that draws in income. That was that.
We saw the opportunity where interest rates were dropping. What we knew about interest rates dropping, we could lock in to long-term debt, five-year debt, and actually, as the interest rate becomes less and you gear it the right way, you can return a greater cash return to your investors.
So the investors are sitting there saying, “I want an 8% return,” but you can actually go and gear an asset at a 55% loan-to-value ratio paying 4.5% interest, so you have a 3.5% margin that gives you the opportunity to play with. That’s really the opportunity that we saw and jumped on that.
Kevin: Of course, there have been some big challenges in recent times. We’ll cite APRA and its tightening of the investor market – that has to have some impact on your business – and now the discussion is around negative gearing. I guess they balance each other out a bit. What is your feeling on negative gearing?
Mark: My feeling is governments can’t help themselves. Negative gearing and property investment is the cornerstone of an investment strategy for just about every Australian household. Once people and families own their own home, the next thing they’re looking for is that investment asset. I think because people feel comfortable with residential, it’s an obvious investment.
Negative gearing really does fire the whole economy. I sit there and I scratch my head, and I think construction and property is the one area that’s actually working for this country at the moment. From a state point of view, the state government should be outraged about this because what’s going to happen is it’s going to have a direct impact on their stamp duty returns.
If you talk to the Treasurer of Queensland at the moment, the thing that’s holding up the budget for the Queensland government is stamp duty that’s being driven out of residential development in and around the CBD of Brisbane.
You have a situation where construction jobs and government revenues, particularly at the state level, are going to be impacted. That’s going to help the federal government at their level, but at what cost? I think groups like the Property Council and businesses like mine, I sit there and go, “The one area that’s working, why do you want to mess with it?” I’m not a big fan, Kevin, as you can tell.
Kevin: I can tell that, and that’s echoed right around the country, I think. I’ve had commentators tell me it’s a bit like low-hanging fruit; it was one of those easy ones to pick on that’s going to get you some votes. Maybe not. We’ll have to watch that, anyway.
Mark: I just think there is a lot of middle Australia who actually own an investment property. At the moment, there are not too many properties that have to rely on negative gearing because interest rates are so low, but when that moves again, it creates that buffer for investors to cope with rising interest rates.
I think here, again, maybe part of it, what the government should be saying is, “In GST, instead of 15%, it should be 12%. Super, we should take a little bit there, and negative gearing, we can look at something there,” but to go and hit one sector over another is not very wise, I don’t think.
Kevin: Yes, because negative gearing doesn’t just apply to property, of course. That’s the one that they tend to pick on all the time. Negative gearing goes across quite a few investment asset categories.
Mark: Yes, that’s true.
Kevin: Mark, great talking to you. Thanks for your time. Much appreciated.
Mark: Thanks, Kevin. Cheers, mate.
Kevin: Well, everybody’s talking about it, and to add his voice to the negative gearing debate, I’m joined by Simon Pressley from Propertyology.
Good day, Simon.
Simon: Good day, Kevin. Nice to talk to you again.
Kevin: Yeah, everyone is talking about this, aren’t they? Negative gearing. Let’s firstly talk about how negatively gearing affects all Australians – or doesn’t affect them.
Simon: Look, it’s a tax policy, but it’s very far-reaching. It’s more than the investor with some benefit from negative gearing; it directly relates to housing supply.
To use some official statistics, investors actually provide 27.1% of all properties to the public, and most of those investors are everyday Australians like you and I. Scrapping negative gearing is not just about the tax impact on individual investors; it’s about where is the supply of all that rental accommodation that we’re always going to need?
It affects the construction industry. Most of the brand new product that the construction industry sells, whether it’s a foreign investor or an Australian-based investor, relies on a certain number of investors buying that product. Of course, if there’s going to be less buyers, there’s going to be less built, which then will mean construction jobs lost.
The other area – and I think most important area, Kevin – is our welfare system. It’s not that long ago that a former Treasurer by the name of Joe Hockey said that our welfare bill is growing by $400 million per day. The biggest component of our welfare bill is, of course, the age pension. To do something to reduce Australia’s taxpayer money going into age pensions, we probably need to encourage people to invest more, I would suggest.
Kevin: Yes. Simon, you’re on record as saying that you don’t really care whether negative gearing is in or out. Why is that?
Simon: That would probably surprise a lot of people coming from someone who is a professional investor and who has a business where all we do is help investors.
I don’t think the policy should be tinkered with at all, mind you, but why I’m not worried about it in regards to the impact I think it will have on values of properties in my portfolio or my rental returns or anything like that is it’s impossible to say, “It will go this way, up or down,” because there’s a lot more than tax policies that affect property markets, of course.
But it’s more likely that there could actually be a boom created by this. There could be a period of time where people go, “I have to quickly by those established properties before they change the rules,” and that could create a tsunami of buyers flocking to a market.
Certainly, I feel very confident that rents will push up. It’s basic commonsense. If anything is done to discourage investors, then there’s going to be less stock for the rental pool, so that has to go one way – rents up.
Kevin: That’s right. It is going to impact supply; there’s no question of that. It’s all about supply and demand. Is, therefore, scrapping negative gearing not necessarily a good thing for the country? What are some of the unintended consequences?
Simon: Well, the unintended consequences are those things that I referred to earlier. I don’t think these policies have been thought through. Greater reliance on tax payer dollars going towards welfare. We’ve got millions of people exiting the workforce. The baby boomer generation over the next 15 years are exiting the workforce.
Unfortunately, for those people, there’s probably not much time left in their working life to do much about it, but the generations prior to that have got plenty of time.
So if we’re taking away incentives for people to take to invest and take control of their financial future, then when they reach the equivalent of the baby boomer age, there’s going to be more of those people on age pensions. That will be an unintended consequence. What you might take away from tax refunds today, you’re going to be finding extra money to fund pensions in years to come.
It’s not going to be a good thing for the construction industry – anyone who is a developer. The Property Council have come out loud and strong saying, “Don’t touch this. You’re going to affect our jobs,” and this country needs more jobs, not less jobs.
Kevin: Simon, let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. In the event that they were to scrap negative gearing, that would logically take a lot of the investors out of the market. Doesn’t that then lower the competition for first-home buyers, and therefore, lower the prices?
Simon: I don’t actually subscribe that that’s what will happen. I think there’s always going to be a percentage of the population who do not want to one day at age 60 or 65 fund their lifestyle off of whatever they can do with a government-funded pension. There’s always going to be the motivated Australian who says, “I want to do better than that,” and of course, the only way to do that is to invest, so they’re always going to do that.
Most investors don’t actually invest with the primary reason being a tax incentive; they invest with the “I don’t like what my life will look like in 15, 20 years’ time.” If they’re going to do that and there’s a legal tax benefit they can claim along the way, they will do it. But that’s the order that investors make decisions, so we’re always going to invest.
On the supply side of things, if they scrap negative gearing, I think it’s going to diminish supply. Even if there was lower buyer activity, there definitely will be less supply, and those two dynamics, I think, will keep forcing prices up.
Kevin: Always good talking to you. Simon Pressley from Propertyology. Thanks for your time, mate.
Simon: Thanks, Kevin.
Darren Palmer and Graham Ross
Kevin: My next guest is Darren Palmer. Darren, of course, interior designer, author, and much-loved judge and mentor on Channel 9’s The Block.
Good day, Darren. Nice to have you on the show.
Darren: Nice to be back.
Kevin: We see spectacular rooms on shows like The Block and magazines like House & Garden. Are they all that easy to create or replicate, given the guidance you can get in a book like Easy Luxury?
Darren: If it was easy, everyone would do it
Kevin: That’s true.
Darren: It is hard. It’s a real skill, and it takes years to hone. What people are able to achieve on The Block is truly mind-blowing especially considering, generally speaking, they are everyday people who don’t have any experience in renovation or design. With that in mind, it’s spectacular.
But if you look at what gets done in magazines by professionals and the amount of layering and detail and the principles behind things, yes, you can study all that stuff and you can learn it, but it really takes practice to master something like that.
There’s this anecdote of someone coming across Pablo Picasso on a riverbank and saying to him, “Can you sketch me?” In 15 minutes, he did a quick sketch, and it was a Pablo Picasso original. He said, “That will be €8000,” or whatever. The person said, “Really? That only took you 15 minutes.” “No, it took me my whole life.”
Kevin: Great story and very true. Darren, thanks for your time. All the best. I look forward to seeing you again on The Block real soon.
Darren: Thanks so much, Kevin.
Kevin: Another famous name, another famous face, Graham Ross from Better Homes & Gardens joins us.
Graham, thanks for your time.
Graham: My pleasure, Kevin? Are you well?
Kevin: I’m very well. Thank you.
Graham: Good, mate.
Kevin: What sort of impact, in your experience, does a nice garden or a very well-maintained lawn have on the price of a property if it’s being sold?
Graham: Well, it’s street appeal, street appeal, and street appeal. The whole objective, Kevin, is to get people out of the car. The real estate agent has either sent them, or they’re in his car driving to XYZ and he has to get them out of the car. Street appeal is really where it’s at. Don’t go over the top. Don’t make it look like it’s a botanical garden that people are going to have to spend months and months looking after.
Kevin: One of the great things about living in Australia, Graham, is that we have this opportunity to have a great outdoor lifestyle. That affords some great opportunities, and I’ve seen you do this on Better Homes & Gardens, create some of those outdoor rooms.
Graham: It’s a great idea. Again, the sound of water, the look of water, if you can go to the local garden center, the local nursery or the hardware store and buy just a simple… You think, “I’m not going to spend $400 on it,” but if it looks $1000 and the image and the feel as they come through the house and look out onto the back, there’s a bit of splash, there’s a bit of water, there’s a bit of a tinkling of the water, that’s another real bonus.
You have them out of the car, through the front garden, into the house. The house and the setup of the furniture and the smell and aroma of cooking and all those sorts of things that interior decorators are professional at, but when you start going through to the back, sometimes they’re just backyards. While the old backyard was a very popular place to play cricket, in the 21st century, it’s an entertainment space, it’s another extension of the room of the house.
In the houses that we’ve landscaped over the years and done a little bit of work in the backyard and in the front yard that we might have spent $10,000 or $15,000 on – that sounds a lot – you can get a 30% to 40% increase. We’ve been able to say that time and time again that you spend that bit of time outside as well as indoors.
Kevin: Great advice, Graham. All the best with your show. I love your show, too, mate. It’s going very well for you.
Graham: Thank you, pal. It’s my 21st year with Better Homes. Last Friday night was my 856th episode. I don’t know who’s counting but someone told me that during the week.
Kevin: You’re not that old. Come on.
Graham: It makes me feel a bit old, but it’s been great and it’s a great show to be part of this year.
Kevin: It’s great having you on the team too, Graham. Thank you so much for your time.
Graham: Cheers, mate. All the best.