Benefits of co-ownership


So you want to buy a property but can’t pay the deposit or mortgage by yourself?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Increasingly friends, family or fellow investors are pooling their resources for the purpose of jointly purchasing and sharing the ownership of a property.

Benefits of co-ownership

There are many benefits of co-ownership:
  • The pooling of resources provides a more cost efficient entry into the property market by spreading the entry costs, such as the deposit, stamp duty and legal fees amongst all the co-owners
  • The pooling of resources further provides for sharing ongoing expenses of ownership, such as rates, taxes and maintenance outlays
  • The ability to increase your borrowing and repayment capacity
  • It can be a rewarding experience co-owing a property with family and or friends
However if your co-owner is not loyal and trustworthy and/or the transaction is not properly structured and documented before you purchase the property, it can end in expensive and time consuming litigation, stress, losses and ruined relationships.
Prior to the co-owners commencing a search for a property or even drafting and structuring an agreement, the very first step will require each potential co-owner to ask and honestly answer if all parties:
  1. Have the same investment philosophy and objectives
  2. Each party possesses the same appetite for risk.
If all the potential co-owners answer yes to the above questions, the next step is to formulate an agreement that will provide a framework that governs the transaction and life of the investment.
Unsurprisingly this is known as a ‘Co-Owners Agreement’.

Co-Owners Agreement

The Co-Owners Agreement should accurately reflect each party’s rights, obligations and contributions. Importantly the agreement should also provide for a mediation and dispute resolution mechanism in the event that a disagreement arises amongst the co-owners.
The agreement should also provide a formula for one or more of the co-owners to exit the investment, cash out their initial contributions and hopefully, share in the profit.  Other considerations might also include the right of one co-owner to live in the purchased property or a prohibition against a co-owner mortgaging or encumbering their interest.
The Co-Owners Agreement should also make it very clear to the parties how the property is to be managed on a daily basis, who is to be responsible for that management and limits of authority on amongst other things, incurring costs on behalf of the collective.
If the aim is to tenant the property, it should cover who will deal with the tenant and or managing agent; who has the authority and what is the limit of that authority to make ongoing payments in respect of rates, maintenance or capital expenses, and who will maintain books of accounts and report back to the other co-owners.
By taking the time and effort at the beginning to properly structure a Co-Owners Agreement, all parties will be certain as to their rights and obligations and disputes can be avoided or at the very least mitigated.
This article contains general information only and should not be relied on for detailed advice related to your particular circumstances. Should you require such advice, please contact your lawyer.

What is conveyancing?


It is wise for both parties – the buyer and the seller – to engage a conveyancer to navigate this process, as it needs a bit of a legal eagle to decipher the jargon. You don’t legally have to engage a conveyance, but knowing the ins and outs of property agreements can be quite hard for the layman.
Both buyers and sellers will be asked by the real estate agent to provide contact details of your conveyancer for the sales and purchase agreement, so it is best to do your homework upfront and have one already chosen.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a legal title of land (property) from one person or entity to another.
A typical conveyancing transaction consists of three stages:
  • before contract
  • before completion
  • after completion
What is a conveyancer?
A conveyancer  is a licensed and qualified professional whose job it is to provide advice and information about the sale of a property, prepare the documentation and conduct the settlement process.
Conveyancers don’t necessarily have to be lawyers but solicitors often undertake this work.
The most common reasons you would engage a conveyancer is when you are:
  • buying or selling a property
  • subdividing land
  • updating a title (i.e. registering a death)
  • registering, changing or removing an easement
What a conveyancer does
For the buyer – a conveyancer will:
  • Prepare, clarify and lodge legal documents – e.g. contract of sale, memorandum of transfer
  • Research the property and its certificate of title – check for easements, type of title and any other information that needs addressing
  • Put the deposit money in a trust account
  • Calculate the adjustment of rates and taxes
  • Settle the property – act on your behalf, advise you when the property is settled, contact your bank or financial institution on when final payments are being made
  • Represent your interest with a vendor or their agent
For the seller – a conveyance will:
  • Complete and ensure the legal documents are all sorted
  • Represent you and respond to requests from the buyer – for example, request to extend dates, title questions, etc.
How to find a conveyancer
As with most professions, not all conveyancers are equal. Just as you would interview prospective real estate agents to sell your house, you should also go through the same process with conveyancers.
As we all know, the best referral is through people you know, so ask around and see if any of your friends and family have used a good conveyancer. If you have no joy here, look online, ask your real estate agent or other professionals you trust, like an accountant or lawyer.
Once you have your list of prospective conveyancers, give them a call and ask a few questions (see below) to find one you’re comfortable with, and one that meets your purchasing or selling needs. Some conveyancers specialise in different types of real estate, for example, apartments, cross leases, subdivisions and so on.
When you have found a conveyancer, do a background check to ensure they are legally allowed to carry out the work and have no complaints against them.

Consumer Alert - When you buy land


Consumer Alert - When you buy land

When you buy a property, settlement is the final stage in the conveyancing process. At settlement, all parties meet to exchange the Transfer of Land, Certificate of Title, cheques and other documents to complete the sale and purchase. The land transfer and title certificate are then taken to Land Victoria for registration, usually within a few days following settlement. Registration on title is your proof that you own the property.
We strongly recommend that you, as the buyer, ensure you are registered on the title as the land owner, as this proves your legal ownership of the property. When a Certificate of Title is issued to you, it shows your entitlement to the land, and any interests and rights affecting it. We are aware of past instances where property buyers have not been registered on title for many years, despite thinking otherwise. You can search for titles and property certificates online, or in person at the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Land Information Centre, Level 9, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne, phone 03 8636 2831. Please note that fees apply.

These are the states and territories where Uber is (and isn't) legal


Queensland has announced it too will legalise ride-booking services like Uber which have shaken up the taxi industry, leaving the Northern Territory as the only hold-out in Australia.
However, while all the other states and territories have announced plans to legalise Uber, not all of them have passed the relevant legislation, nor have they got the exact same regulations.
This is where the law currently stands around Australia.


The ACT was the first among Australia's states and territories to legalise Uber, doing so in October last year.
Its regulations include background checks, vehicle inspections and insurance requirements for drivers.

New South Wales

The New South Wales Government also legalised ride-booking services last year, with Uber drivers being required to have criminal and car-safety checks.
As a result of the change, traditional cab drivers were given a $250 million "industry adjustment package".
Taxis still have exclusive access to cab ranks and "hail jobs" — where taxis are hailed on the street rather than booked in advance.

South Australia

Uber and other services like it have been allowed to operate legally in South Australia since the start of July.
Taxi services were offered compensation including $30,000 per licence and all metro taxi trips will have a $1 levy to fund this assistance.
There's also a new maximum penalty of $15,000 for breaches of the Passenger Transport Act — which covers failing to meet safety standards and not having the correct accreditation.


Ride-booking services will be legal in the Sunshine State from September 5.
As part of the regulatory changes, there will be a $100 million assistance package for the taxi industry, which includes $20,000 one-off payments for taxi licence holders.


Uber was effectively legalised in Victoria by a court case earlier this year, but the State Parliament then counter-acted this by boosting the powers of the Taxi Services Commissioner.
An announcement on how ride-booking services will be regulated in the state has not yet been made, but Victoria is getting closer to legalisation after the State Government struck a deal with the Sex Party on what the regulations should look like.


The Tasmanian Government has tabled legislation that would allow Uber to operate legally in Tasmania.
It has cleared the Lower House, but is yet to pass in the Upper House.
As part of the laws, drivers will be required to pass medical and police checks and be authorised to work with vulnerable people.

Western Australia

The state has announced a plan to deregulate the taxi industry and allow competitors like Uber to operate, but the Western Australian Government says the full overhaul of the laws is unlikely to be completed before the 2017 election.
The plan includes a $27.5 million "transition assistance package" to help the taxi industry adapt. This includes compensation payments of $20,000 for taxi plate owners.

Northern Territory

Uber remains banned in the Northern Territory as a result of the Government's decision earlier this year not to make changes to the law which would have allowed it to operate legally.
However, the Government has not ruled out legalising ride-booking services at a later date, and says the Department of Transport is reviewing interstate legislation.

Uber to be legalised in Queensland, $100m assistance package offered to taxi industry


Ride-booking services such as Uber will be legalised in Queensland from September 5, with a $100 million assistance package to be offered to the taxi industry.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe made the announcement following a review of options for personalised transport in Queensland.
To help the taxi industry, 80 pieces of red tape will be cut; that is on top of the $100 million assistance package, which includes a one-off payment of $20,000 per taxi licence, capped at two licences, and $10,000 per limousine licence.
Taxis will continue to have exclusive access to hail and rank markets, the maximum age limit for taxis will be removed, and annual renewal fees will be waived for 12 months.

$100m assistance package for taxis

  • $20,000 one-off payment for taxi licence holders, capped at two licences
  • $26.7m hardship fund
  • $4.3m waived fees for 12 months
  • $5.6m incentives for wheelchair accessible taxis
  • $3.75m for business advisory
Ms Palaszczuk said it was time the Government created a level playing field for limousines, Uber and taxis.
"This is because the taxi industry is different from many other industries that have faced disruption, because it has been heavily regulated by Government for generations," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"We are embracing innovative new technologies and business models right across our economy and up and down our state, and the personalised transport sector is no different."

The changes will be introduced in two stages - the Government will regulate to allow Uber to operate from early next month without a special licence, however a new licence system will come in next year, which will require legislation.
There will be no new tax on passengers, as was introduced in New South Wales.
Mr Hinchliffe said the reforms would deliver an estimated $474 million benefit to the state.
"[It] will open up the market and create opportunities for new and existing participants to respond to market changes, which will ultimately drive competition," he said.
In an email response, Uber thanked customers for their support.
"This is recognition of the positive impact ridesharing is having in our state as a result of your ongoing support - thank you," it read.
"It means more people right across Queensland will now stand to benefit from more choice to safe, reliable and affordable transport."
The RACQ has welcomed the decision saying it is the best option offered by a review of personalised transport.
Taxi Council Queensland chief executive officer Benjamin Wash called the review into personalised transport a waste of millions of dollars.
"It appears as though the Government has deceived Queenslanders by pretending to establish an independent review when the results were clearly predetermined," he said.
"It's basically a carbon copy of what happened in New South Wales, which is already creating problems and causing the Government there to reconsider aspects of their foolish decision."

Uber gets green light to operate in Victoria


Victorians could soon be slugged a $2 levy on every taxi, Uber or hire car trip under an industry shake-up that has outraged taxpayer and commuter advocates.
The levy is part of the state government's plan to legalise ride-sharing services like Uber, while compensating existing taxi drivers and also funding a $378 million buy-back scheme.
The government will buy back a single taxi licence for $100,000 and pay $50,000 for the second licence of owners, with a so-called "fairness fund" providing $75 million of immediate hardship support.
Taxi fares will also be deregulated by 2018.
Who will be charged?
All commercial passengers vehicles will be charged the levy, which the Andrews government expects will raise $44 million a year, and is to run for at least eight years. 
The new levy will be introduced from 2018, but individual operators will be able to choose how they pass the levy on to passengers.
"It may well be less than $2 for a short trip and perhaps more than $2 for a longer trip," Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.
"It will be a matter for them [providers] and that will be another point of competitive difference."
Mr Andrews said the changes would create level playing field for the taxi industry.
"There will be more choice. There will be greater value," he said. "This is comprehensive reform, but it is grounded in fairness."
'Outrageous tax slug'
However, the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance has condemned the government for introducing what it described as "the world's largest tax on ride-sharing consumers".
"This is an outrageous and economically damaging tax slug by a government that is clearly more interested in bailing out mates than the taxpayers of Victoria," said Tim Andrews, executive director of the alliance.
"There is no economic justification to bailout a dying industry, because it has failed to keep up with technology.
"To use hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to pay off cabbies is simply morally repugnant. This craven cash grab means Victorian will be slugged with the world's highest tax on ride-sharing. In the United States, only one state (Massachusetts) has instituted such a tax - and it was five cents."
State opposition public transport spokesman David Hodgett said Mr Andrews had broken an election promise by announcing a "new tax".
"There is nothing fair about slugging consumers $2 every time they take a taxi or Uber," he said.
"This means Victorians will pay more for Uber than any other state."
Uber 'reasonably comfortable'
While he was "reasonably comfortable" with the proposed regulations, Uber Victoria general manager Matt Denman said the company wanted more detail on exactly what the $2 levy will be spent on.
As the company was still reviewing the new laws, Mr Denman would not say whether the fee would be passed directly on to customers who use the service.
He also declined to say if driver earnings would be protected.
"Uber's position is that anything that makes transport more expensive is a bad thing for consumers," he said.
"We would ask and urge the government ... to provide a full justification and economic modelling for any proposed levy."
Mr Denman also called on the state government to be transparent about who receives compensation from the taxi bailout war chest and why.
Victorian Taxi Association chief executive David Samuel said the taxi industry had to adjust to a changing market, but wanted fairness for people who had invested in it.
He said he hoped fares would be cheaper in the future. 
"We can't say at this point by how much," he said. 
With Uber paving the way for the legalisation of all ride-sharing, Mr Denman expected other competitors to begin popping up in Victoria.
"We're more than willing to see that competition; that can only be a good thing for consumers," he said.
London Rides director Elgan Potter said the latest announcement meant the company could bring a fleet of accessible cars to Victoria. London Rides cars are fitted with wheelchair access.
"We're aiming to lift the standards of taxi industry in Melbourne - we will deliver a superior service for the same price of a regular taxi," he said.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the government wanted to make sure taxi drivers were treated with respect.
In the coming two years the current taxi licensing system will be replaced with a single registration regime for all commercial passenger vehicles, including taxis and ride-sharing services.
There will also be a $75 million "fairness fund" for people experiencing hardship as a result of the changes, including funding to maintain transport options for people with a disability.
The new rules
Two pieces of legislation will be introduced to allow the changes to proceed.
The massive shake-up will result in the removal of taxi licensing, which will be replaced with a registration process for all operators.
All drivers, including Uber drivers, will need to be accredited by the Taxi Services Commission. They will all have to pass police, medical and driving history tests.
The knowledge test that is currently part of the taxi driver registration process will also be scrapped. However, drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles will have to complete an assessment.
The government will buy back a maximum of two taxi licences per licence holder. The government will pay $100,000 for the first taxi licence and $50,000 for the second per licence holder.
Sex Party MP Fiona Patten had introduced a private member's bill to legalise Uber before the government moved to make its own changes.
Ms Patten welcomed the latest announcement but said the $2 levy was too high. "I'd like to see the business plan and modelling for how they came to that figure," she said.
Taxi payments company Cabcharge chief executive Andrew Skelton said he hoped the reforms would create a fairer industry, but described the buyout package as "inadequate".
"While compensation for plate owners is imperative, it's fundamentally unfair that Victorian passengers will be made to subsidise what is essentially the government's decision and responsibility," he said.

Things to be aware of about fixed rate home loans with offset accounts


How do fixed rate home loans with 100% offset accounts work?

Fixed rate mortgages let you ‘lock’ in a rate for a set period when you sign up to the loan. Lenders tend to offer different rates depending on the length of your fixed term, which will usually range between one and five years. Some lenders also offer fixed rate terms of as little as six months or as long as 10 years.
A fixed rate loan with a 100% offset account lets you link an account to your mortgage, with the balance of that account offsetting your principal loan amount. This can save you a considerable amount in interest, and can actively encourage you to save money. As this is a 100% offset account, the entire amount in the account can be used to reduce your principal.
Things to be aware of about fixed rate home loans with offset accounts
As with all home loan products, there are a few things to consider before applying. Some offset accounts come with account-keeping fees, so you should look into what you’ll be paying and whether this will eat into your savings.
Offset accounts are also not offered on all fixed rate loans, and may only be offered on more fully-featured home loans. These loans tend to come with higher interest rates and fees, so be sure to calculate the costs of the loan in regards of the savings you’ll receive.

How to compare these types of mortgages

  • Fixed term. Think about how long you want to be locked into the rate. As mentioned, terms can range from one to as many as 10 or even 15 years. Choose a term which you’ll be comfortable with, and remember that break fees are payable if you exit your loan before the term ends. If you plan to sell your property in the future ensure your fixed term accommodates this.
  • Fees. These type of loans may come with upfront and ongoing fees that could negate the savings you may make in the long run, so remember to take these into account.
  • Additional features. As well a
  • s an offset account, the home loan may offer you other features, such as a redraw facility, the ability to make additional repayments, or it may come as a package that offers discounts. Check to see if you stand to make any further savings.

Donny’s offset account

Let’s compare two scenarios with Donny, our savvy borrower.
In the first example, let’s say Donny has a home loan with a rate of 6%. His loan size is $400,000, meaning his repayments are approximately $2,398 a month. At this rate he’ll pay a total of $863,353 over the course of the loan, $463,353 of which is interest.
If he has an offset account and keeps $20,000 in it over the course of his loan, he would pay off his loan three years earlier, and would save $55,759 in interest.
His repayments would still be the same, but more of each repayment would go towards the principal (the loan amount) then the interest due. This would pay the loan off earlier.

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