Generally when we Victorians turn back the clock by an hour to mark the end of daylight saving on Sunday 5 April, it’s a reminder to check your home smoke alarms are working. However, if you haven’t managed to get around to this yet, here is a gentle reminder. Victoria’s fire services are asking people to do this life-saving check after recent research showing that the number and location of functioning smoke alarms increase your family’s chances of escaping a fire. They are urging Victorians to use to check smoke alarms and carry out home maintenance like checking on fire risks such as damaged power cords or inspecting heating systems.
“Over the past 10 years, most fatal fires started in either someone’s loungeroom or bedroom,” says Gavin Freeman, Country Fire Authority deputy chief officer. “I urge Victorians to keep themselves safe as we head into winter, when heaters and electric blankets bring a greater risk of house fires.”
He says many fatal fires start at night and the smell of smoke won’t wake people up. The CFA recommends smoke alarms with a 10-year lithium battery, installed on the ceiling at least 30 centimetres from the wall and interconnected so when one alarm sounds, all the others do the same. MFB’s deputy chief officer David Bruce says having a working smoke alarm is “your first line of defence in the event of a fire”. “If you’re doing the right thing and staying home it will only take a few minutes to clean and then test your smoke alarm by pushing the button,” he says. “Regardless of the type of smoke alarm you have, all smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years.”
With a big increase in people working from home offices, the fire services say it’s also important to check that you’re not overloading power-boards, which can also be a fire risk. Now is also a good time to check heating and cooling systems, and ensure home fire extinguishers or fire blankets aren’t out of date. The fire services also recommend drawing up a family fire plan, similar to the plans you would have in an office, ensuring all family members know the quickest two ways out of each room and how to call triple zero. The CFA says research shows that less than half of all properties attended by fire services had smoke alarms and, of those that did have alarms, one third didn’t work. It recommends maintaining your smoke alarms by:
Testing it monthly by pushing the test button to make sure it beeps.
Dusting the alarm with a vacuum cleaner brush.
Changing the battery at least once a year.
If your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, changing your alarm to a new unit with a 10-year lithium battery.
RACV’s head of home insurance Zoe Malempre says people working from home must take extra care when charging phones, laptops and tablets, as charging devices on soft surfaces like a couch or bed can be a fire danger. “Soft surfaces don’t allow enough air to circulate around the charging device so hard surfaces are best when charging.”
For our Renters, please contact us if you are concerned about the operation of your property smoke alarm/s. Owners, we have teamed up with Smoke Alarms Australia to provide an economical annual “health check” for all smoke detectors.. Contact us to find out more….
What’s ahead for our property markets in the next year or two?
That’s a question people are asking now that our real estate markets have been hit by the Coronavirus crisis.
It wasn’t that long ago that the media was predicting another property boom following the remarkable turn in Australia’s housing markets, with the rebound in house prices considerably stronger than many expected.
No wonder that those of us interested in property started 2020 full of optimism.
But boy have things changed…
COVID-19 and the shut down measures associated with its containment has derailed our housing recovery.
Weaker household income, falling consumer confidence, reduced population growth and weaker investment demand will combine to depress our property markets over the next year or two. However we don’t see a property markets collapsing, in fact house prices are holding up pretty well in our capital cities.
This is in part due to lack of supply of A grade properties and also because the banks are deferring home loan repayments which will prevent forced or mortgagee sales. So in this detailed blog, We going to have a look at what is ahead for our economy and also for the various property markets around Australia.
As quickly as day turns to night in the colder season, winter creeps up on us and we find ourselves cranking up the heat, wrapped up in electric blankets and thick, woolly jumpers. So, what can you do to prepare for the drop in temperature? Here are our tips for keeping your home comfortable in winter without upping your energy bill.
1.Use heavy curtains on your windows
Did you know up to 40% of the heat escaping your home in cooler temperatures is purely from not covering your windows? The most significant air leaks tend to occur around windows. By investing in heavy drapes or curtains, you can ensure your windows will have extra insulation, keeping the warmth from escaping your home.
2.Change your ceiling fan settings
Many people assume ceiling fans are only for cooling in warm months, but they can be your best friend in winter too. During the summer months, your ceiling fan blades turn in a counter clockwise motion and use what’s known as the wind chill factor to keep you cooler. However, in winter, you’ll want to find the reverse switch on your fan to change things up. As warm air generated by your heating system naturally rises to the ceiling, and cooler air sinks, your ceiling fan will push the warm air back down to a comfortable level. To locate your reverse switch, look on your fan above or below the blades, or check the manual from your fan manufacturer.
3. Seal cracks and gaps
Unsealed cracks can account for approximately 15-25% of heat loss in your home throughout winter. These let unwanted cool air enter your home, and any attempts to warm it up will essentially ‘slip through the cracks’. By sealing gaps in your windows and door frames, you’ll keep nasty drafts at bay and seal in the warmth – making your home nice and cosy!
David says, My older style house has polished floor boards with many large gaps that would let the breeze through. The under floor insulation has sealed all the gaps and keeps my house significantly warmer in winter.
Read more… A well-insulated house can use as much as 45% less energy for heating and cooling. If you have raised timber floors, install Optimo Underfloor Insulation by Bradford, which provides a barrier to reduce heat loss and cold draughts entering through your flooring. As a bonus, it reduces the noise of floorboards and can even lessen noise transfer from different rooms. Additionally, you could invest in a higher grade insulation in your ceiling, which also acts as a barrier to the heat flow of your home. Not only will these products seal in warmth in the winter, when summer rolls around they will keep your home nice and cool too! If you have existing glasswool insulation, you can even top up.
5. Cover your walls
Your walls can be big contributors to losing heat in the winter, but there’s a simple trick to lock in some of that heat. You can significantly reduce energy loss by covering your walls with picture frames, a mirror or even a large book shelf. By adding an extra layer of thermal mass to insulate, you can raise internal surface temperatures by around 1°C.
6. Re-position your furniture
Understanding how heat moves and investigating the thermal properties of your house will help you brave the cold this winter. You will feel warmer if you position yourself and your furniture near warmer areas of the home, including closer to the inside of the house and away from cooler external walls. Try to place your furniture next to an internal wall or a spot that gets a lot of natural light and heat from the sun.
7.Let the sun in during the day
When sunlight enters your home, it is mostly ultraviolet radiation, which transfers easily through glass. Once it hits an object the sunlight becomes radiant heat. To capitalise on all this free energy and gain extra warmth, open your blinds and curtains during the day and let that natural heat wash over you. Don’t forget to shut your winter-weight curtains when the sun sets to keep that warmth in.
There are so many little ways you can save on energy costs and keep warm this winter. Don’t forget simple things like investing in warm socks and using extra bedding at night. There’s nothing nicer than making a cup of tea and getting toasty on the couch!
Mum takes son on dinosaur walks to brighten street
Across Australia many people are also putting teddy bears in their yards and windows so children can go on a bear hunt through their neighbourhood. However one Brisbane mother has chosen a different animal to bring positivity to her neighbourhood.
Lou Bromley and her four-year-old son Angus Love have been dressing as dinosaurs on their daily walks in Oxley in Brisbane’s west, brightening the days of nearby children who are studying at home.
“We were going a little stir crazy working from home and being homeschooled,” Ms Bromley said.
“A lot of friends are also homeschooling in our neighbourhood so we thought we’d put some smiles on people’s faces.
“We get lots of smiles — from parents as well as kids.”
We would love to hear about what you and or your community are doing for eachother? What is your Silver lining to the COVID-19 situation?
Now more than ever we will evaluate what is really important to us. Amongst the chaos and uncertainty, how can we work towards a secure future? What is the right secure future for us?
There is something very secure about a good old fashioned brick and mortar investment.
During difficult times it is comforting to return to a home you own. A safe place where you can cultivate your lifestyle and personality in the way that you choose. Hang those precious memories, paint or wallpaper the walls – or not, it doesn’t matter, you can create your own style, your own sanctuary, your own safe haven. Owning your own home fulfils fundamental needs as outlined in Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” and for many, their home is a status symbol or a financial vehicle in which to grow wealth and success.
Driven by these fundamental human needs it is vital that we have a practical and financially viable plan to obtain these goals.
How do I know I’m making the right decision to go from renter to owner?
Research, then apply practical financially viable solutions. If you can afford to pay rent, chances are you can afford to pay a mortgage. Run the numbers. Get good financial advice, speak to a financial planner, an accountant, a bank manager and make a plan for the future. Know what your commitment will cost not just mortgage payments but include stamp duty, rates, insurance and body corporate fees.
The Reserve Bank Australia (RBA) predicts a shortfall in housing (Financial Review, 2019). With record low-interest rates, record first home buyers, population growth, high immigration* (COVID-19 restrictions will not last forever) and increased renters the data indicates that if you have a secure income that you should consider the following tips and purchase once this immediate unsettling time has passed. Yes, we are experiencing a pandemic with a recession looming but our economy is cyclic.
Buying a medium to long term investment
Over the past 30 years, Australian housing prices have increased on average by 7.25 % per year (RBA, 2015). Statistics historically tell us that provided you are buying a property as a medium or long term investment where you can choose your time to sell you will not lose. If you are buying a short term prospect you need to do more to ensure a return on investment, such as the following;
* Australia’s population continues to grow and 231,937 people migrated from overseas in 2019 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019).All these people need homes. Head to our website to read more and see the tips we recommend when buying;
Ipswich couple Vicky and Siamak Mohajerin have lived in their family home, west of Brisbane, for 12 years.
Like many busy Australians, they had only ever exchanged the odd wave or nod to their neighbour out the back — mother-of-six Teressa Leedie — until the coronavirus pandemic began to spread.
“We were at home self-isolating and we realised we don’t know a lot of our neighbours,” Ms Mohajerin said.
“We thought they might be in need, so we put gloves on, got a pen and pad, and took a walk on Sunday afternoon, and gave our neighbours our contact details.
“[We] just told them if they need anything at all, or needed us to go get something for them, we would go do that.” Mr Mohajerin said the couple had “never met or spoken to Teressa”.
“We got a really nice response,” he said.
Ms Leedie said it was “really uncommon for people to reach out this way”.
“Usually people stick to themselves,” Ms Leedie said.
“It was really overwhelming and heartwarming to know you’ve got neighbours, strangers, in your street who are willing to support us in this time of need.” Mr Mohajerin recommended other people to reach out to others — whether online or over the fence — saying it had given him and Ms Mohajerin something to look forward to.
“I’m so glad we did it,” he said.
“One household suggested we have a street party when this is all over, so we can’t wait — it’s going to be huge.”
Nouné Harutyunyan is a licenced real estate agent, business owner, and Justice of the Peace.
Nouné has been a key part of the Silver Service Real Estate fabric for many years now, she has a rich heritage and culture originally from Armenia.
Nouné is a no-nonsense and straight talking real estate agent, and is fluent in both Armenian and Russian as well as English (pronounced “eeeeenglish” by her). Do not be fooled by her seemingly hard shell though. Nouné works tirelessly and passionately, not just to maximize the value of the property entrusted to her. Her commitment is to also nurture and retain quality, long-term relationships with valued tenants. Her leadership of the agency Trust Account is something that she also takes very seriously, understanding the immense “trust” that comes with the position.
Nouné began her real estate career in 1995 as a sales cadet, gaining early experience in the inner city suburbs of Melbourne, across Glen Waverley, and east to Templestowe. Her passion for real estate has elevated her quickly through the buyer, manager and executive ranks to become an Executive/Senior Property Manager and co-Sales Agent with Silver Service Real Estate. Always happy to provide advice, appraisals and guidance she can be contacted on;
Popping next door to borrow a cup of sugar is not common these days. In fact, research shows less than half of Australians actually know their neighbour by name. Relationships Australia national executive officer Nick Tebbey said coronavirus was changing that, with the pandemic prompting neighbours to reach out to one another for support as social-distancing measures increased.
“It’s part of the Australian psyche and we see it in times of crisis like the bushfires and the droughts,” Mr Tebbey said.
“Neighbours and communities want to make sure the most vulnerable people are looked after.
“The difference now is we’re all vulnerable with this pandemic.
“I think there’s great cause for optimism to see all these amazing stories of neighbours doing things that are really about building connections with those around them.
“Every day we’re seeing examples of that all over the country.”
Mr Tebbey said “online neighbourhoods” were also expanding in response to the virus, connecting those in distant suburbs, interstate or even overseas.
“We’re seeing a huge uptake of people setting up WhatsApp and Facebook chats to communicate with their immediate neighbours,” he said.
“Technology is the great connector we need right now.”
Melbourne’s property market is set for a rapid recovery once COVID-19 restrictions start to ease, with vendors already preparing to list once the dust settles.
Popular family neighbourhoods, blue-chip suburbs and Victoria’s up-and-coming regional towns are tipped to bounce back the fastest from the unexpected property downturn.
Propertyology director Simon Pressley said strong market conditions before the pandemic would help the city recover in as little as six months. “We’ve got the lowest interest rates in most Australians’ lifetimes and we’ve only got to cast our minds back about six weeks ago to see clearance rates going through the roof and double-digit price growth,” Mr Pressley said.
“The same reason it was happening then is why it will happen again once we come out of our cocoons.”
He said three years of strong median house price growth after Australia’s recession in the 1990s and the Global Financial Crisis suggested the market would rapidly rise again once shutdown restrictions ended.
Propertyology research also showed booming towns including Bendigo, Warrnambool and Mildura would remain fairly bulletproof during the crisis, with low rent supply and high job growth.
Narre Warren North, Box Hill and Blackburn were among suburbs that had the largest price gains between the GFC and coronavirus, according to realestate.com.au.
Chief economist Nerida Conisbee said they would be some of the areas that recovered fastest due to their owner-occupier appeal.
“Melbourne’s middle ring will do quite well … especially if you’ve got a house in a location that’s connected to good schools, public transport and not too expensive,” Ms Conisbee said.
Things are on the whole looking up for us here in Australia, from recent Government reports it appears things are heading in the right direction, however it isn’t a time to rush out and celebrate. Instead take some peace from the situation and as the days are getting cooler here in Melbourne why not dust off the old bookshelf, grab a quiet corner to enjoy some on page adventure from a wonderful novel and sip down a cup of hot chocolate!
It like a winter vacation in the comfort of being home.
We would love to hear more about what you are enjoying? What is your Silver lining to the COVID-19 situation?