Is Your Home Loan Protected?

There’s no doubt that taking on a mortgage is a huge commitment; one that lasts for at least 20 years. So, what happens when things go wrong? You lose your job, suffer an illness, injury, or worse and you’re not able to meet your mortgage repayments? How do you ensure you don’t lose your family home? Take a look at these five things you need to know about home loan protection.

1. Loan protection is not the same as LMI

If you recently took out a home loan with a deposit under 20 per cent, you likely had to pay Lenders’ Mortgage Protection (LMI). LMI is a one-off insurance payment that protects the lender in the event you’re unable to repay your loan. The insurance would cover the difference between what your property sells for and the amount left on your loan should you default. (Read our article here if you’d like to know more about LMI.)

That’s not the same as Loan Protection Plan (LPP) which protects you, the buyer and owner of your property. If you’re unable to repay your home loan, ALI (Mortgage Express’ preferred Loan Protection provider) would pay the benefits to you and not the lender, to use in whatever way you choose even to cover your hospital bills.

2. LPP covers you for the life of your policy, not the life of your loan

Even if you change lenders or refinance your home loan, Loan Protection Plan covers you for the life of your policy.

3. No strict eligibility criteria

Unlike many insurances, with Loan Protection Plan you’re automatically accepted for cover if you’re aged between 18 and 59, you’re an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident living in Australia, and you’re an applicant or borrower on a loan taken within the last 12 months. With Loan Protection Plan, there are no hurdles; you won’t need to undergo a medical, have blood tests or answer any detailed and obtrusive health questions.

4. Three types of benefits

There are three types of benefits covered under Loan Protection Plan, as well as an optional fourth:

  • Living Benefit covers 11 serious medical conditions like cancer, heart attack, stroke, total loss of hearing or sight and more1.
  • Death and Terminal Illness Benefit,provides you with a lump sum payment of up to $750,000 to help your family in case of death/terminal illness.
  • Involuntary Unemployment Benefit; If you’ve been made redundant in the first five years of your policy, Loan Protection Plan will pay you up to 3 months of benefits to help while you’re looking for work.
  • Accidental Injury Benefit (Optional); If you’ve suffered an accidental injury and can’t work for 30 days or more, Loan Protection Plan will pay you 3 months of benefits while you’re on the mend.

5. Fits all types of borrowers

No matter your personal situation – single, in a relationship, with a family, an investor or acting as guarantor – Loan Protection Plan can protect you when things go wrong.

Protect your home loan
For peace of mind and financial security get in touch with a Mortgage Express broker to find out more about protecting your home loan with Loan Protection Plan.

For full terms and conditions, please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement at  www.aligroup.com.au. 

1 Pre-existing condition exclusions apply, and a 3-month exclusion period applies to conditions: cancer, heart attack and stroke. Please read the full details in the PDS.

Loan Protection Plan is jointly issued by Hannover Life Re of Australasia Ltd ABN 37 062 395 484 (Death, Terminal Illness, Living and Accidental Injury Benefits) and QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited ABN 78 003 191 035 AFSL 239545 (Involuntary Unemployment Benefit). It is distributed by Australian Life Insurance Distribution Pty Ltd ABN 31 103 157 811 AFSG 226403 (ALI). ALI receives commission for each policy sold. Any advice provided is of a general nature only and does not take into consideration your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the Product Disclosure Statement when deciding if this product is appropriate for you.

Safety first this holiday season

Whether you’re holidaying on the other side of the world or simply at the beach down the road, if you’re leaving your home for the annual summer break, it can mean there is an increased risk your home will become a target for thieves.

The good news is, there are a few tips and tricks you can use which can make a huge difference in protecting your most valuable asset and safeguarding your home against thieves this summer holiday season:

Double check the locks

Check your home’s existing locks and if necessary refit new ones, such as deadlocks and bolts, on doors and windows. Many homes have locks on windows that generally share the one key, so it’s a good idea to keep this key in a safe location (or even with you) whilst you’re on holiday.

Make a list of valuables

Keep an up-to-date list of any valuables such as jewellery, antiques, electronics and artwork. Take a photo of each item to keep on file and ensure your insurance company also has a copy. This will make the claim process much easier if something were to happen.

Keep keys in a safe place

Don’t leave house keys hidden outside, as experienced thieves will know where to look. Instead, leave a set of keys with trusted neighbours or friends or take them with you.

Survey outdoor objects

Lock away garden tools and ladders as they could potentially help a would-be thief to gain access to your home.

Let in the light

Use automatic timer switches for lamps, TVs or stereos to come on then turn off each night. This will give the illusion that someone is occupying your home and will deter potential thieves. Outdoor sensor lights are also a good idea not only to deter intruders but to help alert neighbours to someone’s presence around your home.

Clear the letterbox

Arrange to have you letterbox emptied daily. Nothing is a bigger signal to thieves than an overflowing letterbox, or newspapers piling up on the lawn. It may be a good idea to have your newspaper subscription paused or diverted to another address for the duration of your holiday.

Long-term breaks

For longer holiday breaks, arrange to have the lawn mowed and the house aired with windows opened occasionally (whilst someone is at the house), so it’s apparent someone is either living in or visiting the home regularly.

Be social media savvy

Don’t leave a message on your phone indicating that you are away and be careful not to mention the duration of your trip on social media. Recent research has shown that thieves canvas social media to try and identify people who may be away and to locate their address. Alternatively, ensure you have strict privacy settings on your social media profiles.

Have someone stay 

If possible, ask a trusted friend or family member to be your house sitter.

Is Your Backyard Ready for Summer?

Spring season is upon us and Summer will be here before you know it!

For most areas longer nights and warmer days are ahead. Now is the time to focus on your home’s exterior. If you’re listing, it’s your home’s first impression! Or, perhaps, you just want to kick back and enjoy being outside this summer!  Whatever your reason may be, here are some helpful tips that will add some extra love to your home’s exterior.

Plant the Seed

Set the scene with flowering plants and shrubs. Spend the next month planting seeds and laying mulch, rock, or stone. End of Winter and early Spring is ideal for warm-season flowers to be seeded outdoors. Keep in mind, you will want to clearly mark the areas where you plant your seeds so you can easily spot weeds.

Get Ready to Entertain

Long summer nights and warm weather means entertaining! A great entertainer’s backyard requires planning. Often, we place barbeques arbitrarily in our backyard and forget to use them. A well-planned barbeque area should have three components: a kitchen, a dining area, and a seating area. To easily entertain guests while cooking, place these three spaces together, regardless of how big your backyard area is. Get creative! Incorporate a deck, fountain, swing, etc. to make it feel like a true summer escape.

Protect and Shade

The hot summer months can wreak havoc on an outdoor deck and furniture. Check your backyard for any wood that needs to be revarnished and purchase a cover for your barbeque and patio furniture. This will protect against the sun or any summer storm damage. Provide ample shade for plants that may not withstand direct sunlight, and place potted plants in wet sand to keep them cool as temperatures rise.

Which Market Are You In

The average time it takes to sell a home indicates the market climate. It is very important a seller understands which market they are in and the average time it is takes to sell a property. Ask your sales consultant about the current market in your location.

There are three types of market climates:

A seller’s market

There are lots of buyers and very few homes for sale. High demand for property is in the seller’s favour as properties spend less time on the market and sale prices rise due to scarcity.

To all sellers this is the “golden time” when they can be firm on their price and the conditions of the sale. If Buyer number 1 is not prepared to pay the price, Buyer number 2 and 3 will.

A buyer’s market

Often there are literally hundreds of homes for sale and very few buyers. High demand for buyers is in the buyer’s favour as properties stay on the market much longer and sale prices reduce to compete for buyers. Here the buyers have a field day as they know they can bargain hard and set the conditions of the sale. Should Seller number 1 not accept his offer, then seller number 2 or 3 down the road will be happy to accept.

A balanced market

Numbers of buyers and properties for sale are about equal. Neither buyer nor seller has an advantage as properties are not languishing on the market or being snaffled up.

What does all this mean if you are in the market for a residence for yourself?

If you are consecutively selling your property to buy another for yourself, it doesn’t matter in which market you find yourself. You either buy and sell ‘high’ in the ‘sellers market’ or low in the ‘buyers market’. For you buying or selling matters only to move around to suit your individual living needs. The property market should not concern you and all the jargon about Buyers – or Sellers market should be forgotten. Just find the property you love.

Three Tips for Currency Transfers

Spring is the busiest time of year in the world of real estate. If you’re planning to take advantage of the buzz and buy or sell an overseas property, taking a minute to consider currency could make a big difference.

According to Harcourts currency exchange partners TorFX, taking these three steps can really help you get more for your money.

Keep an Eye on the Markets

As you typically need to move money abroad when buying/selling international property, the exchange rate you secure for your transfer can have a huge impact on how much you pay or receive. Even a small difference in the exchange rate can add up to thousands, so picking the right time to make a transfer is crucial.

By staying up-to-date with the latest exchange rate movements, you’ll be able to plan your currency transfer effectively and make your money go further.

Avoid Transfer Fees

While some currency transfer providers charge a fee for moving money abroad, others will move your money for free, so you’ll make immediate savings.

Explore your Options

Buying or selling an overseas property can be a lengthy process, and as the currency market is always moving you might find that exchange rates have shifted significantly by the time you’re ready to make your currency transfer. By exploring options like forward contracts, where you can fix the exchange rate for up to two years ahead of making a transfer, you can protect your funds from any negative shifts in the currency market.

Have a chat with your Harcourts sales consultant if you’d like to find out more about your currency transfer options. Blog contributed by Tor FX and the information has been provided for general information purposes only and must not in any way be construed or relied upon as personal advice. Trading involves risk of loss and may not be suitable for you. Please ensure you obtain and read the TOR FX Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement prior to utilising our products so that you are fully informed regarding the key risks and cost.

Settling into your new neighbourhood

Buying a new home often means moving to a new suburb, city or even country. It may be a new location you chose simply because you loved it, or it maybe it’s where you need to be for work or family. Whatever the reason for your change in location, it can be a little daunting finding ways to get to know the neighbourhood and have it start feeling like home.

Here are a few ideas for breaking the ice suggested by the Harcourts’ Facebook community, along with a few others we’ve come up with as well.

  • Ask the experts: A good place to start finding out what’s good in your new ‘hood is to ask the real estate agent you purchased from. In the course of buying you would have talked to them about the big things like nearby schools, or transport routes. But they’re experts in their local area so they’re also a great resource to ask about everything from finding the best coffee and great parks and playgrounds, to the best local shops and restaurants.
  • Walk the walk: Spend a weekend or two getting lost. Take to the streets on foot and just wander around. You’ll see much more than you would from the car so you’re much more likely to uncover the neighbourhoods hidden gems – and you’ll quickly get your bearings for where everything is. If you’re in a large city you don’t know then do the same on a larger scale in your car and you’ll quickly learn the best driving routes and how all the suburbs fit together.
  • Talk the talk: While you’re walking stop and have a chat or even just a passing “hello” to any of your neighbours you come across out and about or working in their garden. It’s a relaxed way to break the ice. Once you’ve found that café serving great coffee, make it your regular and get chatting to the staff, or strike up a conversation with the local shop owners.Once you start finding a few local favourites you’ll start to meet some of the same faces each visit.
  • Knock on the front door: The best way to meet people is the most direct. It can be a little intimidating but it is a great way to meet your neighbours, especially those closest who you’ll see most often. If you want an icebreaker take them a small gift like a cake, or invite them over for a drink. Or use the old classics like ask to borrow some milk for your first cuppa – and be sure to return it with interest.
  • Be seen: The opposite of heading next door to meet the neighbours is to just be visible and approachable in and around your property. If you’re mowing the lawns or gardening in the front garden just be aware of who’s outside as well and give them a wave and a hello.
  • Be cool after school: If you have school-aged children, get involved in school activities, sports and events. It’s a great way to help your kids settle in and you’ll quickly become part of the school community. The same is true for sports clubs.
  • Hook yourself up: Spend some time finding and reading local newsletters, newspapers, community Facebook groups, supermarket community noticeboards, and websites such as Neighbourly. They’re a great place to find out about local events, organisations in need of volunteers, or even on-going projects such as community gardens and working bees; all great places to meet people and start getting involved. Good luck getting to know your neighbourhood!