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Keeping Watch – How to Spot an Illegal Drug Lab

The Commonwealth Government has developed new national guidelines on remediating sites used to manufacture illicit drugs. The Clandestine Drug Laboratory Remediation Guidelines provide a step-by-step process to determine whether a site is contaminated, and assist in making a decision about how it should be cleaned.

Some key indicators of clandestine laboratory activity may include:

  • Blacked-out windows;
  • Evidence of chemical supplies or chemical waste on premises;
  • Strong chemical smells coming from premises;
  • Frequent visitors at irregular times; and
  • Excessive ventilation or security measures.

To view the guidelines visit the Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department at http://www.ag.gov.au

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Get the Best Deal on your Dream Home

NEVER take the listed price as an indication of the true value of a property, and thoroughly research the market before putting down an offer.

Those are just two of the tips suggested by Property Searchers director and buyers agent Scott McGeever.

He has been advising buyers on how to get the best deal when negotiating on price.

The latest RP Data statistics show Brisbane is recording the highest vendor discounting in Australia, averaging -7.7 per cent on houses and -7.9 per cent for units.

Vendor discounting is the average difference between the initial price of a property and what is sells for.

Mr McGeever said there were a number of ways to take advantage of the current buyer’s market, suggested inspecting as many properties as possible and gauging interest by attending auctions.

“When making an offer, don’t be afraid to go significantly below list price if that is where you think the value lies,” he said.

But make sure your offer is based on market research.

“It’s a price driven market and vendors need to meet buyer’s expectations,” he said. “A few years ago the market was vendor driven, with more buyers than properties on the market, and vendors were in a strong position to ask for higher prices. Now the shoe’s on the other foot.”

Mr McGeever said if a property has been on the market for some time then it is probably priced unrealistically.

Source: Ben Johnson from Quest News

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Property Depreciation 101

So, you’ve finally ventured into the property investment market, you’ve made a few repairs to your newly acquired property, secured some tenants, what happens next?

Well, aside from the ongoing management of the property – which either you or a property manager may be doing – there’s something else you should be thinking about. And it’s something that will help your bottom line come tax time. Depreciation.

Seasoned property investors know all about this one. In fact, some will take depreciation into account before purchasing their next investment. But it’s not just for the pros. Anyone who purchases a property for income-producing purposes is entitled to depreciate both the items within the building and the cost of the building itself – against their accessible income.

All it takes is a qualified quantity surveyor to inspect your home and prepare a report for your accountant. The savings can be substantial. But every year, thousands of dollars go unclaimed by property investors who are none the wiser.

So for anyone who’s unfamiliar with the process – it pays to learn. Here’s a basic guide to lead the way. Let’s call it Deprecation 101.

1.   What is Property Depreciation?

Just like you claim wear and tear on a car purchased for income producing purposes, you can also claim the depreciation of your investment property against your taxable income.

There are two types of allowances available: depreciation on Plant and Equipment, and depreciation on Building Allowance.

Plant and Equipment refers to items within the building like ovens, dishwashers, carpet and blinds etc.

Building Allowance refers to construction costs of the building itself, such as concrete and brickwork. Both these costs can be offset against your assessable income.

2.   So how does a Depreciation Schedule help me?

Simple. A depreciation schedule will help you pay less tax. The amount the depreciation schedule says you claim effectively reduces your taxable income.

Depreciation is known as a “non-cash deduction” because it’s the ONLY deduction that you don’t have to pay for on an ongoing basis – the deductions are in-built within the purchase price of your property. All other deductions, such as interest levies, will hurt your hip pocket on an ongoing basis.

3.   Is my property too old to claim Property Depreciation?

The simple answer is no. If your residential property was built after July 1985 you will be able to claim both Building Allowance and Plant and Equipment. If construction on your property commenced prior to this date, you can only claim depreciation on Plant and Equipment. But it will still be worthwhile.

Commercial and industrial properties are subject to varying cut off dates.

4. Shouldn’t my accountant prepare this report?

If your residential property was built after 1985 your accountant is not allowed to estimate the construction costs. Tax Ruling 97/25 issue by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has identified Quantity Surveyors as properly qualified to make the appropriate estimate of the construction costs, where those costs are unknown.

Real estate agents, Property Managers and Valuers are not allowed to make this estimate.

Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS), Terry Aulich, advises that whereas accountants can offer advice around other aspects of tax depreciation, construction costs and property depreciation are highly technical domains in their own right.

“Quantity surveyors are specialists in the accurate measurement of construction costs with a view to maximizing a client’s financial position in relation to their property assets. Only a fully qualified quantity surveyor brings the appropriate education, experience and training to provide reliable figures upon which to base a property tax depreciation schedule. One doesn’t want to rely on best guesses when dealing with the ATO – especially when there is professional help available,” says Terry.

Terry also suggests that clients should check the credentials of anyone claiming to be a quantity surveyor.  He recommends that the first question clients should ask their quantity surveyor is whether they are a member of the AIQS, as this gives an assurance that the individual has completed an accredited qualification.

5.   Will you need to inspect my property?

The Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS) Code of Practice stipulates that site inspections are necessary to satisfy ATO requirements.

A trained Quantity Surveyor will ensure all depreciable items are noted and photographed. This guarantees you won’t miss out on any deductions. The documentation can then be used as evidence in the event of an audit.

It is very common for Quantity Surveyors to liaise directly with the tenant or property manager in order to cause minimal disruption to the tenant.

The best time to get a Quantity Surveyor to inspect your property is immediately after settlement and hopefully just before the tenant has moved in.

6.   My property is renovated. Can I still claim?

Yes. We will need to know how much you spent on renovations. This is an ATO obligation. If the previous owner completed the renovations you are STILL entitled to claim depreciation. In either case, where the cost of renovation is unknown, a Quantity Surveyor has been identified by the ATO as appropriately qualified to make that estimation.

7.   How much will my Property Depreciation schedule cost?

The cost of preparing a tax depreciation schedule varies according to the type of property you’ve purchased, location, size and numerous other factors.

Generally you find most of the leading Quantity Surveying companies offer a money back guarantee to save you twice your fee in the first year or they give you the report for free.

So you have absolutely nothing to lose – and deductions to gain!

And Quantity Surveyors fees are 100% tax deductible.

8.   How much will I save?

Each property is different and many varying factors must be considered when preparing a property depreciation schedule. There are several depreciation calculators on the market. I suggest you Google “depreciation calculator” to find one. I wouldn’t bother paying for a property depreciation estimate – the best ones on the market are free in my opinion.

9.   How long will it take to complete my schedule?

Your depreciation schedule will take approximately 2-3 weeks to complete, as long as the Quantity Surveyor can inspect your property without delay.

10.  I bought my property three years ago. Can I still make a claim?

Yes you can. Your accountant can amend your previous tax returns up to 2 years back. There are some exceptions so please contact your tax agent or the ATO for clarification.

Tyron Hyde is a Director of Quantity Surveying firm Washington Brown. He has a degree in construction economics and is an Associate of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors.

Source: Realestate.com.au posted by JoeyJ written by Tyron Hyde from washington brown

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Easy, Low-Cost Way to Freshen Up Practically Any Space

I found this article while reading through a magazine, thought it could be interesting for those who have been wanting to do some winter cleaning and sprucing!

Spice up a space with a rug, whether a large rug that gives definition to a living room area or a carpet runner that enhances an otherwise dull hallway. Rugs can be a great, low-cost lifesaver when staging properties.

You can use a rug over any type of flooring–tile, hardwood, laminate, slate, and, yes, even carpeting. A rug can add pops of color or pattern to make a room more visually interesting (even if it’s otherwise vacant) and provide definition to a large room.

But figuring out the right size rug for a space can be tricky. After all, too small or too large of a rug can throw off proportions in a room.

The most common sizes for area rugs are 2’x3’, 4’x6’, 5’x8’, 6’x9’, and 8’x10’, according to the Wood Floor Covering Association.

Here are some size considerations for your rug shopping:

Living room: The general rule of thumb is to choose a rug that can accommodate all the main furniture on it, such as all feet of the sofa, side chairs, and the coffee table, designers note. But don’t cover every square inch of the room with an area rug–you still want to be able to see the floor. Leave at least a 12 to 15 inch border of the flooring exposed, which will provide a frame for your rug, according to the WFCA. Covering most of a living space can get costly. For a less expensive option that won’t hamper your look, choose a smaller area rug that just runs along at least the perimeter of the furniture.

Bedroom: For a balanced look, designers recommend choosing area rugs that extend beyond the bed about 18 inches. If the bedroom has twin or double beds, opt for an area rug that will extend beyond the bed about 12 inches, according to design tips at HomeDesignFind.com.

Dining room: Select rugs for under the dining room table that align with the back legs of the chairs but still allow enough space for guests to push back and stand up without stepping off the rug, according to the WFCA.

Oddly shaped rooms: Consider using a circular rug. Rugs come in more shapes than just a square–consider oval, octagonal, and other shapes, particularly in odd-shaped spaces.

Hallways: Try a carpet runner. Carpet runners, which are usually 3 to 4 feet wide and anywhere from 6-20 feet long, often fit best in long, narrow spaces, like a long hallway. (But you can also use carpet runners in the kitchen between an island and counter or at the foot or side of a bed to add pops of color.)

The most popular patterns for carpet runners are transitional designs, such as silhouetted botanical and organic motifs, design experts at Shaw Living, a full-service floor company, noted in an article at SILive.com. For a more contemporary look, abstract patterns and circles are popular, and paisley motifs are often a top choice for more traditional rug designs. For high traffic areas, reach for rugs with darker backgrounds or larger patterns that tend to show less wear and tear.

But whatever you choose, make sure it matches the overall design style of the home, whether that be contemporary, modern, traditional, or others, to make sure you’re keeping the look cohesive.

And don’t forget that with all of that buyer traffic coming in and out of the home, you’ll want to watch for trip-and-fall hazards too. Make sure the rug is well-grounded to the floor and beware of putting thick rugs in main traffic areas, which can be just ripe for trips and falls.

Source: Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

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Experience, Professionalism and Passion

This was our first experience selling property and Grant made the entire experience smooth and stress free for us. From the very beginning of the process he kept us informed of the current market and gave us valuable information regarding the price and presentation of our property. At no time did we feel pressured or rushed. Comprehensive reports were delivered every week, keeping us up to date with the interest in our property. The property was on the market on Friday afternoon, with the first open house on Saturday. Grant visited our house on that Sunday afternoon with an excellent contract that we signed at full price with a settlement before Christmas……This was a result that we did not expect and I’m positive we would not have achieved without Grant’s experience, professionalism and passion for real estate. Grant has restored our faith in Real Estate Agents.  Should we ever need to buy or sell a property again there is no doubt that we will be contacting Grant first and foremost.

Don & Peppa

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