It is mandatory for all new car owners to get auto insurance. The Road Traffic Act stipulates that all motorists should be insured against liability and it declares driving a car without a minimum level of insurance is illegal. The violation can attract severe civil and criminal penalties. This can be easily avoided by securing a proper auto insurance cover for your vehicle as per your state’s demands. It is quite a simple process.Nowadays, there is so much dependence on vehicles that the best thing to do is to follow all stipulated guidelines religiously. Getting the right auto insurance cover is one of them.What Is Auto Insurance All About?Auto Insurance simply means a contract or an agreement between an auto owner and an insurance company. Under this contract, premium is paid to the insurer and in return he pays for any car related losses as detailed in the policy.Key Legal RequirementsIn order to get an insurance cover for your vehicle, you would need to fulfill the following requirements. It’s advisable to find out the requirements in your respective state since these may vary. However, these are the broad requirements for auto insurance.Firstly, you should be in possession of a valid driver’s license before you go in for registration or insuring your car. For your license you would need to approach your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). This is the primary requirement.You will also need to have an auto title. It is a legal certificate of ownership that confirms that you own the car. Most of the paperwork is already done when you purchase a gar from a dealer. Licensed dealers are needed to transfer the title of the car in your name. The title will list the owner’s name, address, make of the car, model and year of the car and the date of sale. This should be retained by you.Next, you need to get your car registered. You can apply for registration at the local DMV. The requirements may vary from state to state. In order to register your vehicle, you will require a valid driving license, signed certificate of title for the car, address of residence and proof of your insurance.The law also stipulates that that a vehicle more than three years old should have a valid MOT certificate. It is not possible to tax a vehicle without MOT and certificate of insurance and driving without them is an offence.It is also vital to keep the insurance company informed in case of any vehicle modifications and fixed penalties. Failing to do so is an offense and may affect any claim that you make.You are also legally obliged to take the basic level of auto insurance that will cover you against third party claims. Since the legal requirements for auto insurance vary from state to state, you will need to clarify the level of cover that you require while taking auto insurance. Only insuring the legal minimum isn’t necessarily the best choice to make.As a proof of your auto insurance, the company issues you the following documents – A Certificate of insurance which will also be required for buying your road tax; A cover note that will act as a temporary policy and certificate until your new insurance policy has been set up; and Policy documents which gives a detail of all that you are covered for. Read the documents carefully to understand your rights and obligations under the policy.Insurance companies have set up claim help lines and accident emergency recovery hotlines for ensuring a smoother process. In case of any ambiguity in terms of insurance or legal requirements, get your doubts cleared by talking to the company.
Where to find cheap auto insurance? Surprisingly I still see this question asked often on the Internet forums and boards. We all know everyone wants to save money and get the cheapest auto insurance policy that best suits their needs. In my opinion, overpaying for insurance is basically flushing money down the toilet, so doing research and finding the cheapest auto insurance policy is very important.Cheap auto insurance can be found from various different sources online. There are many insurance sites that you can simply just enter in your information and they will give you quotes from all the leading insurance companies willing to insure you. The best part about this is that you won’t need to look through the phonebook and call around dealing with pushy and aggressive insurance agents. It will also save you a lot of time and effort since you can get a quote within minutes.You’ll notice that every auto insurance company has different rates. Different insurance companies will place different values on risk factors, for example such as age, driving record etc. Now that you have your cheap insurance quotes you can make insurance companies compete for your business. You can call your preferred insurance company and tell them to match the price of their competitors or you can even call your current insurer and threaten you’ll switch companies if they don’t lower their rates to the quote you received from their competitors.Some other factors that insurance companies consider when giving you a cheap auto insurance rate is your age, the car you drive and your driving record. Chances are, if you are young, under the age of 25, your insurance is going to be slightly higher then someone who is 50. The more “good” driving experience you have, the cheaper your insurance will be.The car plays a big factor as well. Having the right car will help drop your insurance rates down significantly. Having the right car means that your car has excellent safety ratings, a good anti theft security system and isn’t easily accessible by thieves. Vehicles are also classified to how often that particular make and model gets in an accident. The higher the accident rating, the more the insurance goes up. Sports cars with high horsepower will typically have higher insurance rates as well, but this is not always the case. Classic, specialty, and exotic cars can have a different type of insurance. Some of these insurances you can buy for these cars limits you to only bringing the car to shows and back.And lastly, most important is your driving record. Almost all insurance companies are going to look at the history of your driving record before they give you an insurance quote. Some insurance companies are going to be stricter on this factor then others. There will even be some companies who won’t insure you if you have multiple violations. Having any kind of violation such as an accident or speeding ticket will make your rates go up. Being a safe driver with a clean driving record is a good way to save money on your auto insurance. Many companies also offer discounts for drivers with a clean driving record.The truth is, attaining cheap auto insurance is very simple and easy as long as you do your research and compare. However your driving record looks like or whatever coverage you need, getting cheap auto insurance that fits your needs is plain and simple!
Investing in PropertyWhat is the best way to buy rental property?The question you need to ask yourself is – Am I buying this property as an investment?Now this sounds like a pretty stupid question, right? But in reality, many people (myself included) have made a purchase decision on the basis that they love the “property” not the “investment.”What do I mean? Well you have to stop and ask yourself do I really love investing in property or do I just love to own property. Many have purchased an “investment property” on the basis that they “liked” it, rather than because they had calculated it would provide a great return.When investing in property you should always run your numbers through a property investment calculator before deciding whether to even look at a property, let alone buy it!My first CBD apartment – aka “Investing in Property for Fools!”I’d always wanted to own a piece of the CBD. Growing up as a kid I loved visiting the “city” to look at the skyscrapers and imagined coming here for work like my Dad did each morning. Sure, I was investing in property. I was investing my emotional security in a property location! So you can see quite clearly that it was an emotional, rather than a hard headed decision to buy a newly complete one bedroom unit back in the early 2000s. It was just something I’d always wanted to “have.”I remember driving around the inner city with a well known property spruiker looking at projects he was involved with. Of course his level of involvement was as a master salesman. A unit became available for approximately $230k. As a young couple my wife and I discussed the pros and cons and I decided against the advice of my wife that this might not be such a great idea.At the same time another unit had become available in the inner city block of apartments that I was currently living in. It was available at a similar price. My wife counselled me to consider this as an option. My “adviser” had discouraged me on the basis that I would be putting all me eggs in one basket. There was some truth to this advice so I followed my “dream” of an apartment in the “city”.When I went to the office to sign the papers I remember being advised that the original unit was no longer available, but a different one on a higher floor was, at a higher price! I said OK, No problem, like we Aussies tend to do. Then I was presented with the option to purchase a “furniture package” for an extra $20k. This would “guarantee” a rental return of 8% to me for the first 2 years of my investment. I hadn’t previously considered this, but of course I said “Yes”and was told what a wise choice I had made. (Of course this made me feel good about myself!)The truth was I bought the unit not on the basis of its potential financial return but its immediate emotional return. I never did end up living in it or even spending a single night there, although I’d often wander past and gaze up at my balcony and wonder how “cool” it would be to live here.In fact the property was a complete drain on my bank balance due to the high costs associated with the common areas including pool and gym equipment. The rent never paid for the outgoings and I lived in hope that the price would go up so I could make a “paper” profit at least!Now some time later I did end up selling the unit for around $300k, so it was far from a complete disaster. In the end I was very glad to sell and call it even. In reality the cost to me was an opportunity cost. What else could I have been doing with my money? I looked recently for sales data on the city block in question and found a similar unit sold for $355k, approx. 10 years after my initial purchase. Currently in the inner city block I was living at, prices are over $650k. Remember that 10 years ago these properties were selling for approximately the same price. If I had listened more to my wife and less to my own emotion I might have ended up $300k better off!What did I learn? I learned that whilst it’s great to listen to “advice”, be aware that sometimes advice might be just a little biased! I’ve learned to trust my own instincts more and weigh advice against what I already know to be true and reasonable. The reason I liked the apartment in my own block was that it was located well. It was quiet, had views, was close to city, walk to tram, bus and train and there was no high-rise in the vicinity. The area couldn’t be quickly re-developed and units added. In short, the amenity was desirable and there was not going to be any new properties added in the foreseeable future. This meant there was a cap on supply.In the city here is not a cap on supply. There are numerous developments under construction at any given time. I’d be more than happy to live in many of them. But I wouldn’t buy then as an investment! Unless they were in a landmark building of some sort there is no scarcity value in them. They can be replaced easily.If one of your neighbours wants to sell and needs to move quickly, guess what. They set the price for your unit. You have virtually no control over the market. No matter what you do to your own living space the whole value of the block will be determined by factors outside your control.Investing in Property for cashflow or for growth?Let’s be honest. Most of us are investing in property because we think that prices are very likely to go up! On the other hand we all know about “negative gearing”. In essence it means we can write of our “losses” on our investment against other area of income. I don’t disagree with the concept, we ought to be able to weigh our profits against our losses and pay tax on the net result. BUT, if all we own are “investments” that are make a “loss” and we’re offsetting that against a “gain” from our job, that’s not really smart investing is it? Sometimes a property might be increasing in value at a greater rate than we could expect to make as a cash income from our investment. This is not always the case as you can see from my experience in the Melbourne CBD. But at what point does this cease to be a valid reason for deciding to invest of even “keep” and existing investment? Steve McKnight from PropertyInvesting.com once said something very illuminating at an event I attended. Basically he said we ought to do an audit of our property portfolio every year and re-assess whether we ought to hold or sell each property!Seriously. I never thought I was going to sell anything – Ever!Early on in my property journey I’d decided I was going to “Accumulate” property. Buy and never sell! That was my motto. Once I’d paid down the loan I would be sitting on a nest egg and having rent more than cover my outgoings.But consider this! Real world example -My unit in inner Melbourne right now would be worth about $650k and yet it might command a weekly rental of around $480. That’s about $25k rental annually.The yield is therefore 25k/650k annually or 3.8% of the value.Setting aside things like mortgage repayments, there are still fixed costs on any property – In my case they include for the last financial year:Council Rates $820
Owners Corporation $1660
Agent fees $1815
Total fixed expenses for the year $6430This reduced the total income to ($25000-$6430)=$18570Now my actual annual return is 18.5k/650k = 2.9%Of course costs like Agent fees and Owners Corporation are not always applicable but they serve to show that in the real world the actual return can be a lot less than a simple headline figure.If I include my interest costs (which still exist) I must deduct another ($150000*6%)=$9000 from my income.This reduced the total Real income to ($18570-9000)=$9570Now my actual annual return on the asset value is 9.5k/650k =1.5% Should I Sell this property?There is no right or wrong answer. Sometimes I say yes and my wife says NO! Sometimes I say No and my wife says NO! Do you see a pattern here?There is no right answer because everyone has different needs, has different skills and is coming from a different base and most importantly – We all want different things! It depends on your circumstances, your family situation, the personalities of you or your partner and your goals in life.If our main goal in life was to increase our cash on cash return or all our assets then it would be a no brainer to sell up and invest elsewhere (assuming I could expect a greater return than 1.5%!) Having said all that I still love property, and I love investing in property.It’s quite possible to love the idea of property without loving investing in property. In fact most property that you’ll “love” will probably be pretty darn useless as an investment. Don’t be confused.Would I choose to invest $650k of my actual cash in this investment right now of it were available for sale? Probably not! – So why am I still keeping it? I love it and plan to live in it.This is a question only YOU need to ask yourself and answer on a case by case basis. I’ve looked long and hard at my own situation and decided to keep for now based on family reasons, NOT investing reasons.Review every property every yearFor every investment I currently hold I review the property and make a decision based on the real numbers, not a fantasy of what I’d like to see happen.That’s why I decided to sell my apartment in the Melbourne CBD.
It was “Costing” my money to hold, and NOT growing in value anything like I’d hoped it would. So I cut it off.
It was why I needed to sell my first home out in the “burbs”.
It was why I made a similar hard decision to sell a property in inner city KEW that was returning a reasonable cash return, and well located but had ZERO capital growth over ten years.
It was one of the reasons I sold a great apartment in Sydney’s North. I had improved it and added value. It was time to take my money off the table.Your relationship with a property needn’t be a marriage for life. There’s no compulsion to “stay together” till death do you part!.What about Cashflow positive real estate?I love cashflow positive property and investment strategies. So Yes, I look to see where the cash if flowing and see how I can get if flowing towards me.Think! Are you buying for lifestyle or for investment? What return are you hoping to achieve? Only when you can answer these questions honestly are you ready to take action!Until Next time,