Our Portfolio

How to successfully renovate your investment property

By Phillip Tarrant
Springfield investment property

Sometimes a renovation feels a bit like Groundhog Day – the same stuff over and over again with very little change.

Don’t get me wrong, I get real satisfaction out of renovating, but for me it’s a process. I have a goal in mind and from experience I’m confident that I can achieve it.

By ‘Groundhog Day’ I’m referring to the way in which I get scale and efficiencies from the renovations I undertake.

I use the same type and colour of paint each time; I also don’t deviate from the colour and type of carpet I lay.

In addition, I always purchase and install the same lighting, tapware and light switches in all the projects I undertake. I also try to use the same type and colour of tiles, whether in the bathroom or kitchen splashback.

Call it economies of scale, or just call it good common sense, but outside of the materials I use to renovate, I try to keep the same timelines and priorities – I know where to start a renovation, what mini-projects I need to undertake, and in what order to get the job done.

It’s the same – time and time again. And this is not an invention of my own; it’s something I’ve learned from our buyer’s agent Steve Waters from the Right Property Group, who has a lot more renovation experience than me.

The point I’m making here is that renovating is a numbers game. It’s not emotionally charged, and the satisfaction for an investor should come from the value created and cash flow generated.

Property investors need to go into any renovation with a practical approach: what do you need to do to add value to the property by spending as little as money as possible?

Yes, it’s okay to be proud of good workmanship and a job well done. It’s even okay to get the feeling that the renovated property is somewhere that you’d be happy living. But outside of the satisfaction of completing a renovation, it needs to be framed by your investment goals.

Keep focused

If you’re a property investor you need to be detached; if you get too emotionally connected with a renovation it will cloud your judgement, and you’re more likely to overspend or overcapitalise on the property.

And it’s easy to get carried away when renovating. If you’ve got a TV you’ve no doubt been bombarded by the myriad shows around renovating, and the emphasis placed on soft furnishings, the latest in outdoor patio design and all the great products on the market.

I like these shows, but I watch them in the context of what they are. If you’re renovating your principal place of residence, these shows often have some great tips to make your home more liveable and practical, but they usually come with a pretty big price tag.

Property investors need to go into any renovation with a practical approach: what do you need to do to add value to the property (both capital value and rental return) by spending as little as money as possible?

Put simply: why spend $6,000 on a new kitchen when a $3,000 kitchen will elevate your property to the same capital value, and also help you secure the same weekly rent?

This is how you must view every aspect of your renovation. It’s not always easy, and you’ll sometimes need help to get it right.

Springfield property investment renovation
Our renovation came in under budget at $9,977

I always work closely with local agents when assessing a renovation to determine the market appetite for the property, what my maximum rent will be and what competitive products are on the market in the area.

For example, if similar properties – the same quality of property, same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, similar living space, front yard and backyard and parking – in the area are generating $350 a week rent, then I’ll look to spend as little as possible to create the same product.

These competitive properties will also have a market value, so I’ll also use that as my benchmark for renovating and seek to bring my property on par, or better, by spending as little as possible on the renovation.

You’ll need to do your research to get your variables and parameters in place, and create a clear picture of what the end goal is in terms of rental and capital value. That’s your first integral step.

From there, you’ll need to draw on all your resources, skills and capabilities to undertake a smart, cost-effective renovation.

For our latest renovation property in Springfield, Queensland, we set ourselves a budget of $10,000 to elevate the property.

At a $270,000 purchase price we secured the property well under market value, however there was an opportunity to also create a product on par with other higher-value properties in the area, with the aim of increasing its capital value as well as rental yield.

The project’s now done and the tenants have moved in – and they are great tenants.

Top tenants

As downsizers, the tenants were looking to stay in their local area but in a smaller, more manageable home. Our three bedrooms appealed, so did the outdoor space we created. They also appear house-proud, wanting to add a few things to make the home more liveable for them, like covering part of the back pergola as well as installing a particular type of blinds, which I was happy to pay for.

I also offered to pay for some plants for them to do some gardening, which they were quite excited about. It’s important for the tenants that the house feels like a home and I’m confident they will be good, long-term tenants.

Unlike some of the properties in our portfolio, this property firmly sits in a traditional owner-occupier area, which generally means you get a slightly different type of tenant – ones that traditionally stick around a little bit longer and have different needs.

Being in a traditional owner-occupier area also means it’s good for resale – attracting both homebuyers and property investors.

However we don’t intend to sell; this property will sit in our portfolio and grow in value over time.

All up we spent $9,977, which includes all the work associated with reconfiguring the living space (as reported in the September issue), essential repairs and maintenance, improving the kitchen and bathrooms with new tapware and other works, new flooring throughout (carpet and vinyl), repair of back pergola, new blinds plus a fresh coat of paint throughout.

We come in under budget, which I was happy about. This renovation cost also includes the $500 I’m spending on plants for the tenants to spruce up the yard, giving a greater curb appearance to the property.

As this was a remote renovation, my time directly on tools was significantly limited. All work was undertaken by external suppliers, with prices secured that all investors can achieve with some good research and negotiation.

So how happy are we with the finished project?

Renovation results

Considering comparable properties in the area that recently sold or are currently for sale, a conservative valuation on the property, should we sell it, would be around the $330,000-$340,000 range.

Put in the context that we paid $270,000 for this property in April, and that’s a great result.

Springfield property renovation
We've added at least $20,000 to the property's value with this renovation

How much of this value increase is down to our ability to renovate quickly and to a budget compared to how well we purchased is a little difficult to determine.

I’m comfortable with saying that by spending $10,000 on a very smart and cost-effective renovation we’ve added at least $20,000 to the property’s value. On that basis, we probably secured this property around $40,000 under market value – which would align with the RP Data property valuation at the time of purchase.

It’s an inexact science; however the overall result is that we spent $270,000 on the property, plus just shy of $10,000 on renovation. With an initial rent of $350 per week, that would give a yield of 6.5 per cent – which is not bad.

I’ve calculated this yield by comparing the annual income of the property (its yearly rent) against the cost to purchase the asset plus renovation expenses, which is considered a universal way to calculate yield.

This is an absolute number, however it doesn’t account for other costs to purchase the property such as stamp duty, mortgage duty, pest and building reports, conveyancing, buyer’s agency fee, plus mortgage holding costs during the renovation period. It also looks at the total revenue, without the deduction of management fees.

I’m always a little nervous when people talk of rental yields. It’s a common currency for assessing the performance of an asset, however there are a number of ways to calculate it.

The property purchase price vs income is the simplest way, however you need to be clear that should you calculate yield this way, you may create a disjointed view on a property’s performance.

Renovating is a numbers game. It’s not emotionally charged, and the satisfaction for an investor should come from the value created

A number of property experts I chat with argue the only true way to calculate yield is to include all purchase costs and income less agency fees, whereas others claim a simple calculation of asset purchase price over income is sufficient.

My recommendation is not to dwell too much on yield and look at the bottom line of each property and your entire portfolio. After all costs, expenses and revenue are considered you are going to be either cash positive or cash negative.

Your capacity to hold property and service debt should you have negative cash flow will dictate your strategy, as too will being cash positive. But I’ll leave this topic for another column.

For us, this property is a good performer and is an excellent addition to our portfolio. Not only has it given us another level of area diversification, it’s offered a pillar of strength to our income but more importantly, excellent equity gain – cash we can extract to finance our next purchase!

Check in next month when I unveil our next purchase – it’s a great story and one not to be missed – but that’s all I’m going to say for now.

I hope you enjoy our Investment in Action series as much as I enjoy sharing our experience building our property portfolio. Please email me at [email protected] should you have any questions on this project or if you would like additional details on our property portfolio in general.

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FROM THE WEB

podcast

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Luke’s first property investment included what he now looks back on as “learning experiences”.  He chose it only because it was close to where he lived, he bought it at the peak of the market and he elected to manage his (unreliable, damage-prone) tenants alone. Now, 16 years on Luke has 30 properties and a much better idea about how to approach the investment game.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show Luke joins host Tim Neary to unpack how he went about educating himself, how his investment style has changed over time and why patience is the name of the game.

Luke will also share how his initial mistakes discouraged him and had him doubting the wisdom of being an investor, and how his realisation of the importance of active management bought him back into line.  He will discuss the importance of having a strong support team and why it’s smart to put a proper value on your personal time.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

How to profit from changing market conditions
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4 tips for first time property investors

AREAS MENTIONED: 

Sydney
Brisbane
Adelaide
Wollongong
Geelong
Melton South
Cairns
Perth

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An unsure start in property investment leads to a 30-property portfolio
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  ["title"]=>
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Promoted by Blue Ink Finance.

Budgeting tips when your Personal Debt is High.

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Credit card debts and personal loans are the greatest obstacle between everyday people and their potential to live in financial freedom.

Of course, I understand that sometimes getting a small personal loan is absolutely necessary. Unexpected costs like medical expenses can make personal loans the only option.

However, the majority of us have debt simply because we spend more than we earn.

In either case, your number one priority is unlocking those chains of debt that are holding you back.

I’m going to give you some tips for budgeting with hefty personal debt, but first I want to talk about the impact those loans are having on your life.

How much is your debt really costing you?

Over the years that you’re paying off your loans at the minimum repayment, the interest on those items will end up costing you multiple times more than the original borrowed amount - and those endless due dates will haunt you. There’s no freedom in that!

Let me give you an example. You’ll be shocked, I guarantee it!

Let’s say you have around $4,000 of credit card debt, charged at 19.99% p.a. If you paid only the minimum monthly amount, it would take 37 years to pay off the total debt.

How much will that $4,000 debt cost you? $19,200. Depressing, isn’t it?

You might feel like you need a full-blown money explosion to get out of debt, but don’t despair just yet.

What you need to do is arm yourself with a strategic budget, and I’ve got some tips to help you.

Budgeting while you have hefty personal debt is tough, but possible – and it’s essential for eliminating that debt forever. Let’s have a quick look at how you can start to tackle that mountain of borrowed money.

It’s time to take charge and break some chains!

There’s a method for reducing debt that has an excellent success rate, if you’re committed:

  1. Make a realistic budget (and stick to it)
  2. Reduce your expenses and/or increase your income until you are in the black
  3. Save an emergency fund first
  4. Pay off your personal loans and credit cards, starting with the either the smallest debt first or the debt with the highest interest rate
  5. Revise your budget as you go along.

Why an emergency fund is paramount to success

You’ll see I’ve put saving an emergency fund before paying off your loans. Even a small amount initially, like $500, is enough to stop the cycle of borrowing to pay bills, then paying out even more in interest each month, which leaves less in the bank to pay the next bill.

Once you have a buffer saved, then you can start aiming some serious firepower on your debt, and that’s when it gets exciting!

Think back to my credit card example. If you upped the payments each month from $84 per month to $212, you would have the card paid off in two years and save $14,285 in interest. That’s worth a little bit of effort, wouldn’t you agree?

Tips for a budget that works

You may need to cut back drastically on your expenses to clear your debt, but here’s some other ways to make the most of your budget:

  • Find micro-ways to reduce your expenses every day. Make work lunches at home, cancel a pay TV subscription, find a better phone deal, or pass on your afternoon chocolate bar from the vending machine. Instead of spending $40 on a takeaway dinner, have a bowl of cereal!

  • Find a friend who will keep you accountable. Having someone else who shuns a pricey outing to the day spa for a walk along the beach instead will make you feel better about saying ‘no’ to expensive events that will blow the budget.

  • Refinance your home loan to release some funds. If you have a mortgage, talk to us at Blue Ink Finance about the possibility of refinancing your home loan to allow you to release some equity to help clear your high interest, personal debt. It’s not always the best strategy, but it’s worth investigating, especially if you can consolidate it into a home loan that has a significantly lower interest rate.

  • If your income increases, leverage it! The only place that extra money should go is into paying off more debt. Enough said!

  • Refine and polish your budget as your circumstances change. Your budget shouldn’t stay the same. As you find more ways to decrease your expenditure and become adept at sticking to your financial plan, fine-tune your budget to reflect your savvy saving. Any spare change goes directly onto your debt.

  • Automate payments of bills, so you don’t spend the money first. This saves you from late fees if you forget, too.

The reality is that you won’t have a profitable budget until you get rid of that high-interest debt. The beauty of a budget is that it can get you there! Knock the debt, stay away from borrowing except for assets like property, and you’ll have a well-oiled financial plan that kicks goals instead of paying lenders!

At Blue Ink Finance, we have a team of expert brokers as well as a panel of industry experts that understand all the nuances of positioning your personal finances to kick real goals with Property Assets and can support you in achieving your goals.

Give the team at Blue Ink Finance a call on 1300 888 796 or click here to request your Complimentary Finance Review with one of our experienced Finance Coaches now.

And see how having a panel of industry experts on your side, can fast track your property goals.

About The Author

David Wegener
Chief Executive Officer
Blue Ink Finance

Who I am, and why I want to help you succeed.

As an award-winning Mortgage Broker with nearly 20 years’ experience in the finance industry, I’ve seen it all.

I’ve gone through constant industry changes and yet I still successfully help my customers borrow the money they need to get ahead.

As a Finance Coach, my goal is to help you understand your financial potential so that you can borrow with confidence.

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Leveraging your Blue Ink Finance Broker for more than just a loan.
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With the softening market impacting property values in many parts of Australia, Sally Dale, Opteon state director for NSW, ACT and Qld joins us to discuss the importance of valuations in the current property market

" ["fulltext"]=> string(3002) "

Joining host Phil Tarrant, Sally will draw on her 25 years of experience in valuation and discuss the processes involved in arriving at a value for a particular property. She will also share how that process differs between commercial and residential properties and the difficulties which regional property valuations can present.

Sally will unpack the importance and cost of regular valuations on your properties, discuss whether presentation and owner input can sway a valuation and share what you should look for when seeking a reputable property valuer.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Sydney
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Can property presentation result in a higher valuation?

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