7 Mapping Tools to Help You Find Your Next Deal!

mappingMapping technology is becoming a powerful weapon for investors to have in their arsenal. API looks at seven mapping tools to help you locate your next hot deal. By Justin Eslick.

NearMap and Google Earth

No doubt many of you are away of Google Earth. This excited one and all when it was first released. Now there’s a new player, which in our opinion is even better. NearMap (www.nearmap.com) is another aerial photography supplier, much like Google Earth, but with a few key differences. Firstly, the quality of its photos are far superior. Secondly, photos are taken fairly frequently and made available after only a short turnaround. Some of its photos are of a higher quality than others, so scan back through the timeline to see which are the clearer shots. NearMap is free for personal use.

Property Data Providers

There are a number of property data suppliers out there. RP Data and PriceFinder offer similar products and others exist. Yes, for most of them you’ll need to pay a subscription fee, but to be honest, if you’re serious about being a property investor you simply must have access to them.

While a search within RP Data reveals a whole lot of handy information, the mapping takes it to another level. As well as cadastral boundaries and aerial photos, you can map properties that have sold, properties for sale or rent and block dimensions.

Council Infrastructure Maps

The council will generally own the services on your property such as water supply lines and sewer mains, so it’s council we go to for these records. Every council will have plans showing the location of known services. These plans can be obtained in various ways, sometimes via subscription. At other times it’s freely available via their website and in instances where this isn’t possible, you can usually get your search over the counter or sent to you via email or fax.

Google Street View

Didn’t we all have fun when this first came out? While not technically a map, it is map based. For property investors it offers two distinct benefits: the ability to take a virtual tour of a street, particularly hand if you’re researching a property that isn’t near where you live, and also a look at your subject property from a couple of angles. This is very useful if you’re dealing with a ‘lazy agent’ who has provided no or very few photos of the outside of a property.


Drainage Plans and Survey Plans

Drainage plansare office records kept by council of how exactly a property connects its waste pipes (Sewer lines) to council’s sewer network, while a survey plan is the official survey of a property that should always be read in conjunction with a title search. Both of these are highly important, but both are usually left up to the solicitor to provide to you during the purchasing process, which can be a big mistake.  For a start, often your solicitor doesn’t complete their searches until your contract is unconditional and it’s too late, and secondly, even if they do complete them, you won’t always receive an explanation on what they contain and if there are any issues.

Flood and Overland Flow Maps

As a general rule, government bodies won’t allow development or subdivision of heavily flood-affected land. In years gone by it was up to the developer to determine how badly a property was affected through the employment of professionals and the carrying out of a hydraulic analysis. There is still a requirement where there are known flood issues, but many councils now provide details on areas affected by flooding. This may be via flood reports, details written within a planning scheme, or through flood maps and existing hydrology studies. Some of this information is very detailed and is usually based on a combination of historical data and new modeling. Unfortunately, they aren’t always accurate because at the end of the day land is changing on a daily basis, with new development and new infrastructure potentially altering flood levels and flood courses, plus floods are naturally occurring events so we never really know what’s around the corner!

Street Directory

Sounds simple and seems a little elementary when you compare it to what else is available, but street directories still have a place in the investor’s tool bag. Proximity to shops, transport and the CBD are the obvious benefits. Online directories can calculate route distance and timing, which may be effective when determining if your property is suitable for student accommodation or for attracting commuters, or even for selling the idea to them (provide details of transport and route options to your property manager to share with your prospective tenants).

Source : Australian Property Investors (December 2012 )

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Stop Thief! How to Secure Your Home When on Holiday…

secureMany Australians pack up the car, the kids and the presents and go somewhere during the holiday season, if only to visit relatives or go to the beach for Christmas Day. Whether you go away for a day, a week or month, it is important to know that your home will be safe and secure these holidays.

There are some easy measures you can take to ensure you return home to your house just the way you left it. One of the most basic is to turn the telephone and answering machine volume down when you go out so burglars can’t hear that no one’s home. Leaving the television or radio on with the curtains drawn, on the other hand, will make them think someone could be there.

Garden sheds or garages often present thieves with the tools they need to break in to your home. A ladder left lying around the garden not only gives thieves something they can sell, it also hands them a tool to break into your home. So make sure your shed or garage is locked with a case-hardened padlock or high grade chain when not in use. This will also help to secure items such as lawn mowers, bicycles, surf boards or garden mulchers.

Overgrown branches, thick bushes, large trees and high fences all provide thieves with the perfect cover from the street, and give them all the time they need to open a door lock or window. To help protect your home, clear the line of sight from the street to doors and windows.

Even better, have a monitored security system installed and make sure all members of your household know how to use it.

Sensor lights on the outside of your house can work as a deterrent. Sensor lights are activated when something moves across their path, so anyone who is considering breaking in to your home should be discouraged by the possibility of exposure. When installing the lights, make sure they are not so sensitive that the family pet will set them off.

Put deadbolt locks on outside doors and make sure all door hinges are on the inside. Lock all entry points every night and whenever you are away from home.

If in the heat of the summer you like to have the house open, wire mesh security screens on doors and windows will allow breezes to flow through your home while still maintaining a level of security. Thieves have been known to blatantly enter through an unlocked door while the occupants are in another part of the house.

Piles of mail, newsletters and junk mail are a sure sign that a house is not occupied. So if you’re planning to go away, either have your mail picked up by a trusted neighbour or have the local post office stop delivery until you get back. You’ll also want to cancel any other regular deliveries such as newspapers.  Tell relatives or neighbours when you’ll be back and let them know where you can be reached in an emergency.

Items such as digital cameras, televisions or stereo systems should be engraved with their unique serial number. Keep a record of all serial numbers in a secure location, preferably outside your home (e.g. a bank security deposit box). If you have a lot of valuable jewellery, consider locking it in a bank security deposit box, or at a minimum, take a photo of each valuable item with a description and ask your solicitor to keep a copy of this information for you.

Neighbourhood Watch has an interactive checklist on their website called Virtual House, which has been designed to help you assess the safety and security of your home all year round, whether you’re home or away on holidays.

Built in conjunction with RACV and Lockwood, the Virtual House comes in three parts. One is a simple checklist of home security basics, while another provides a comprehensive room-by-room tour, with safety advice for every part of your home including the front and back gardens. The third section suggests ways to protect your home, such as having monitored home alarm systems, window and door locks and adequate insurance cover.

Source : Quartile Property Network

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Check Out This Week’s New Listings And Find Your Dream Home Before The Holidays!

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Paying Off Your Own Property Can Be Cheaper than Renting…

cheaperAustralia has 238 suburbs or towns where the mortgage repayment is lower than the median rent, based on a principal and interest loan on a variable mortgage rate, RP Data has claimed.

The researcher has just launched its annual ‘Buy versus Rent’ study for 2012, reporting the difference between the cost of paying rent and paying a mortgage across each suburb or town around the country.

Using an interest only loan, the list expanded to 1,320 suburbs/towns.

RP Data research director Tim Lawless said the results boded well for first homebuyers returning to the market. “We may see consumers returning to the property market as they realise in some suburbs [buying] may actually be cheaper than renting,” he said.

Lawless added that other factors support more buyers coming into the market. “With lower mortgage rates, tight rental markets resulting in some rental increases and lower home values, many buyers may see now as a good time to either re-enter the market or buy their first home,” he said.

By state, Queensland had the most markets where it is cheaper to buy than rent, dominated by regional towns, which accounted for 68 of the state’s 84 markets that made the list.

New South Wales property markets also featured heavily on the list, with 54 markets showing cheaper mortgage payments than median rents – 22 were in Sydney, the remainder in the regional parts of the state.

Melbourne recorded just two markets where a property is now cheaper to buy than rent. Adelaide had 20 and Canberra had only one.

The majority of Western Australia markets on the list were in the state’s regional areas, which enjoyed the lion’s share of locations where buying is cheaper.

Lawless pointed out that although the measure didn’t consider other costs of ownership, “it is a good starting point for further investigations into whether or not a potential purchaser should consider buying within a specific suburb.”


Source : Life @ Home (2 October 2012)

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Check Our New Listings For This Week And Our Special Offer!

New ListingsHi all,

Check out our New Listings email, sent out every week which features interesting articles and the list of properties open for inspection.

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