Breaking up is hard to do. On top of the emotional impact, there are practical ramifications as well.
When there's a separation or divorce, debts you’ve accrued during the relationship unfortunately
don’t go away. The longer a couple is together, the harder it can be to unravel all the financial
Here we outline some of the issues facing both de facto and married couples when dealing with
what is usually their most significant debt: the mortgage. Used alongside professional legal and
financial advice, it’s possible to make this difficult transition a little less stressful.
Get advice from the experts
The end of a relationship is one of life’s most stressful events. You don’t have to handle it alone –
there's emotional, legal and financial support out there.
Visit a counsellor to work through the emotional weight of breaking up – it's hard to make decisions
when you're angry or sad. You may want to access a Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) mediator to
assess whether both parties are emotionally ready to negotiate on money matters, and to help
Lawyers who specialise in family law can provide legal advice. Initially, they can advise whether
you’re eligible for legal aid, and help with timelines and deadlines for your property settlement.
Importantly, they should help you to set realistic expectations.
Talk to your lender or broker to understand the current state of your mortgage, and to learn what
options are available regarding mortgage repayments. You may be able to defer payments, giving
you time to get back on your feet. Your lender or broker can also help you review your finances
before you decide whether you can refinance and take on the mortgage yourself. It’s a sad fact,
but they’ve probably dealt with this situation before.
Sort out your living arrangements
A white-label loan is essentially a home-branded loan, much like the home-branded products you
see in the supermarket aisles. Like these products, white-label loans aim to deliver many of the
same great features as bank-branded home loans, but for a lower cost to you the customer. A
trend seen in supermarkets over recent years has been not only an increase in the range of whitelabel
options on offer, but also an increase in the quality of those products. This trend has
continued to the extent that white-label products are now frequently of equal, or near equal, quality
as their branded counterparts.
In the same way, banks across Australia provide ‘unbranded’ mortgage products to brokers,
which increases the range of options within the market and offers customers competitive rates to
generate valuable savings. Ultimately, it’s still a high quality product and service, just re-branded
with a different name.
Here are five reasons why should you consider a white-label loan
Simplicity is key in white-label products, and they are perfect for home-buyers looking for a
straight forward variable or fixed rate loan.
White-label loans are quality, cost-effective and flexible. They offer you all the features you
need (like redraw, debit card access and a customer care facility) in a home loan, and you
don’t have to pay for additional features you are unlikely to use.
Through white-label, you essentially receive a better deal because it’s not branded with the
name of a big bank and doesn’t carry the cost of providing access to an expensive branch
network that you may not need. It’s like a reward for shopping around, and doing your
research through a broker.
You can only access white-label loans through your broker – this means you are getting
access to a product many in the market aren’t aware of, and you can take advantage of
your broker’s expertise and guidance.
Saving on price does not mean you are compromising on quality or service. Through whitelabel,
you still get access to expert support teams and the facilities to give you quick
Talk to your broker today about white-label, and whether it is right for you.
Is it right for you?
Is a spare bedroom, second bathroom or ensuite a must? Will everyone be safe or comfortable
climbing stairs? Does your dog need space to roam? Be realistic about the features you can’t live
Floor plan and room sizes
Walk around the property to get a sense of how one room flows into the next. Check whether the
rooms are the right size and shape for your existing furniture and appliances. If not, are you
prepared to splash out on replacements? The rooms should also be practical. For example, does
the kitchen layout suit your needs? Is there enough space for a dining table?
Orientation and natural light
Check where the property’s windows are, and whether trees or nearby buildings will block out
sunlight. If the lights are on, switch them off to get a feel for the natural light. The inspection may
have been timed to maximise natural light.
Consider whether neighbours can see directly into the property. It's also worth checking whether
they've lodged any development plans with the council. Walk around the block to see how well
other properties in the area are maintained, and to listen for noisy pets.
If there’s off-street parking, are there enough spaces? Check local parking restrictions, and how
much a resident's or visitor’s parking permit costs. Consider how hard it would be to find on-street
parking at peak times.
Heating, cooling and ventilation
If the property has heating or air conditioning systems, check that they work, how old they are and
if they’ve been recently serviced. Keep in mind that high ceilings can make it difficult (and
expensive) to heat a room. Ventilation is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms, so test
the extractor fans.
Congratulations! You've just bought a property at auction. Before you can move in, there are some
things you need to do. Remember, it’s always recommended to seek legal advice when
purchasing a property.
Sale contract and deposit
There’s no cooling-off period when you buy at auction, so you can’t change your mind after you
put in the winning bid.
The next steps are governed by state and territory legislation, but are largely the same nationwide
– however please ensure you are aware of the requirements in your state or territory . In NSW, for
example, Fair Trading NSW states you’ll need to immediately sign the contract and pay the
deposit (normally 10%). The selling agent will have already set the conditions of payment, and a
bank cheque is generally acceptable.
In all states and territories, the deposit is held in trust until settlement. In Victoria, for
example, Consumer Affairs Victoria explains that the deposit must be held by the seller's estate
agent, conveyancer or legal practitioner in a trust account until the settlement date. If the vendor
doesn’t have an agent they must either give the deposit to their solicitor or conveyancer, or put it in
a special-purpose bank account in both of your names.
Your solicitor or conveyancer will need to conduct legal checks on the property. After this, they’ll
confirm the settlement date with the seller’s lawyer. When this date comes around, you’ll need to
pay the balance of the purchase price.
If you have mortgage pre-approval, you’ll need to get formal approval. This process can take three
to five days. Your lender will value the property before approving your loan, so make sure you
don’t bid above market value.
When your mortgage application is approved, your lender will send you a letter of offer and
mortgage contract to sign. The National Consumer Credit Protection Act states that lenders must
outline any fees and charges in a pre-contractual statement. They must also send an information
statement explaining your rights and obligations.
Established trees can enhance a property, so tree removal is generally a last resort. Given that a
tree is a living organism – often a large and very heavy one – specialist skills are required even for
partial removal jobs. Safe tree removal involves more than just a chainsaw and a couple of hours
on a Saturday afternoon. Here's what you should know before you start chopping.
Trees are an important part of the urban landscape. Just as a healthy, mature tree can add to the
value and enjoyment of your property by offering shade and attracting birds, an unhealthy tree can
diminish it, or even become a liability. Tree removal therefore has practical, logistical, health and
safety, and horticultural dimensions.
Trees need to be removed for a variety of reasons. Your tree might be diseased, harbouring pests,
at the end of its life or presenting some kind of obstruction or danger to infrastructure or human
safety. Sometimes an expert prune can fix the problem, but when pruning is no longer sufficient,
the next step might be removal.
The legalities of tree removal
Because of the heritage and environmental value of trees, most local councils have developed
protection policies regulating their removal.
Many residential areas are protected by planning controls that require a permit for vegetation
removal or pruning. Often, local councils have audited trees in their area and identified certain trees
as canopy trees or trees of significance. If a tree is subject to a council overlay, or listed as a
significant tree or canopy tree, a tree works permit may be required to carry out work on or around
the tree, even if it is on private land.
If you’ve identified a tree on your property requiring partial or total removal, it’s worth checking to
find out if it’s protected. Most councils make their tree policies and management guidelines freely
available on their websites. Contact your local council to be sure of where you stand.
Seeking specialist advice
In most cases, it’s worth consulting a local tree specialist. An experienced arborist does more than
just safely remove the tree; they can advise on tree care and take care of the legalities too, all as
part of the service. Once you’ve located a reputable local arborist, ask them to visit you to provide
a quote. This initial meeting is your opportunity to learn about the various elements of the job.
Make sure the arborist is qualified, experienced, fully insured and acts in compliance with relevant
local and state laws. Get more than one quote, check their references and examine the quote to
determine what work is included in the price. The lowest quote isn’t always the best. Does the
Asbestos. The word alone is enough to send shivers down a home owner’s spine. If you're
renovating or selling, how do you know whether your property contains asbestos, and – if it does –
what should you do about it?
Asbestos was a commonly-used Australian residential building material from the 1940s until the
late 1980s. Despite asbestos being phased out during the 1980s and 1990s, it wasn’t officially
banned until 31 December 2003.
If your home was built before the 1990s, chances are parts of it contain asbestos. It was used in
thousands of building products, including walls, roofs and fences, and especially in fibro sheeting
and wet areas, before its harmful health effects became widely known.
Identifying and disposing of asbestos is a tricky business, and best left to experienced, certified
Types of asbestos
Products containing asbestos are classified as either 'friable' (soft or crumbly) or 'bonded' (solid or
rigid). Bonded products are also referred to as ‘non-friable’.
The vast majority of asbestos used in Australia was bonded or non-friable, which is slightly less
dangerous than the friable kind. However, when bonded asbestos is damaged it can release fibres
into the air, so treat it with caution. Asbestos fibres can’t be seen by the naked eye.
For the layperson, identifying asbestos isn’t always straightforward. Before you start any
renovation work, review the area. If you suspect there’s asbestos in or around your home, it’s best
to assume it’s there until proven otherwise.
Don’t dislodge or break off a sample of any suspect material for identification purposes. To make a
positive identification, consult a licensed asbestos assessor.
If you’re not renovating but you still suspect part of your home contains asbestos, you should look
out for breakage or damage. As long as the asbestos product is whole and undamaged, it usually
poses little danger. However, if the asbestos material has been dislodged or damaged, or is at risk
of becoming so, you need to dispose of it quickly, responsibly and lawfully.
If your apartment is looking a bit tired but you think renovations will be difficult – not to mention
expensive – you might be surprised at how easy it is to give a small space a big makeover.
Whether you're preparing to sell or rent your property, or you just feel like a fresh look, renovating
an apartment can be rewarding. Apartments and units generally have smaller spaces than houses,
so a revamp is your chance to think creatively.
Remember, we’re not talking major work here – external changes or major structural work like
knocking out a wall could come at significant cost and will probably need approval from the
owners’ corporation. Instead, think colour, texture, space and clever design.
Light and large
One of the easiest ways to spruce up your apartment is with a bright new coat of paint. Consider
white paint or soft neutrals to make the space feel lighter and larger. If you don’t think the entire
place needs a full repaint, just give the walls a good clean and touch up high-traffic areas.
The living room
Your choice of flooring can make a major difference to the look and feel of the apartment. If the
carpet is looking a bit worn, you can either replace it with something lighter in colour to increase the
feeling of open space, or go all out with floorboards. For a quicker upgrade, buy a bright new rug.
Window treatments can also dramatically affect the mood of a living room. Experiment with curtain
and blind colours and levels of opacity, and position the curtain rail higher than the windows if you
want your ceilings to appear taller.
When you need an instant change, don’t underestimate the impact of colourful new cushions for
the couch. Think about linking colour accents for a whole new feel.
When it comes to the bathroom, the important thing is to make it shine. Start by scrubbing the
entire bathroom – it’s the easiest way to freshen the room. You can then brighten the walls with a
crisp white mould-resistant paint, and disguise old-fashioned tiles with tile paint. If your bathtub is
looking grimy, give it a lift with paint designed specifically for ceramic surfaces.
For some simple, low-cost fixes, replace that icky shower curtain with a lavish designer one (shop
around online – there are some striking designs that can easily add a pop of colour to the room)
and buy a gleaming new water-saving showerhead. Hang a wall mirror in smaller bathrooms to
Auctions are competitive and stressful for most bidders. Here are six smart strategies that could
improve your chances of winning.
1.Don’t show your hand
Revealing your maximum bid limit to the agent before the auction could encourage them to push
you a little further. For example, during the auction the agent might indicate you’re close to
meeting the vendor’s expectations, to try to persuade you to bid above your limit. It’s in their
interest because they’re usually earning a commission based on the sale price.
2.Ask if the reserve has been met
Bids must reach the vendor’s reserve price before the property is officially ‘on the market’ and
then sold to the highest bidder. If the property doesn’t meet the reserve it will be ‘passed in’.
The reserve price is usually set on the day of the auction, or the day before. The auctioneer often
doesn’t know the reserve until just before the auction begins, and they don’t have to reveal it to
bidders – but you can still ask.
If you discover the reserve, you can wait to bid until it’s reached. This tactic might even persuade
the vendor to lower the reserve during the auction if they’re not getting enough bids.
If you’re the highest bidder for a passed-in property, you may be invited to negotiate with the
selling agent. Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics here, and remember that cooling-off periods
don’t apply to contracts signed on auction day.
3.Ask questions (but know the rules)
You can talk to the auctioneer during the auction to find out information that may be helpful in
winning. For example, Consumer Affairs Victoria says you can ask the auctioneer a ‘reasonable’
number of questions, and you can ask them to identify who has made a bid. You can also ask
whether the prop5.erty is 'on the market' yet (has it met the reserve price?). Be visible and within
earshot of the auctioneer to avoid miscommunication.
Make sure you know the rules, as it’s illegal to disrupt an auction. The auction rules are generally
made available at least 30 minutes before the auction, and the auctioneer should also announce
the rules before bidding starts.
4.Bid like a pro
While refinancing your home loan may seem overwhelming at first, it's less complicated than you
With historically low interest rates and increased competition across the home loan industry,
lenders are keen to get your business.
When you first took out a home loan, you probably paid very close attention to interest rates. Over
time refinancing your mortgage may therefore be a relatively simple way to save thousands and get a
better deal on your home loan.
What is refinancing?
Refinancing is essentially moving from your existing home loan to a new home loan. The most
common reasons people refinance are to get better interest rates, access to more or improved loan
features, or to consolidate several debts into one mortgage.
When you refinance, you can stay with your current lender – which can reduce hassle if you do all
of your banking with the same institution – or switch to a new one.
Make the call
A great place to start is by calling a mortgage broker. A broker can compare hundreds of loan
options across both bank and non-bank lenders to find a loan that meets your needs – saving you
time and money.
Review your options
Once you know where you stand with your current lender, it's time to do some homework. You’ll
want to find out if you can get a better rate – or more suitable loan conditions – elsewhere.
Remember, it's not just the 'big four' banks; there are lots of smaller banks and non-bank lenders
Your broker can help you identify the best loans for your circumstances, negotiate with lenders on
your behalf, and explain home loans that have features that might be important to you.
If you want more flexibility in your loan, for example, they might suggest switching to a mortgage
that lets you make unlimited additional repayments, or a loan that has a redraw facility and an
offset account. Alternatively, you might want to stick with your current loan but access your equity