The Ideal Home Office Setup

Setting up a home office

Tips On Working From Your Home Office

The first thing to do when setting up a home office is to find the space to work from. If you are organised it can be surprising how little room you need. With the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic, the majority of people who work from home are related to businesses that require data entry or programming. You may also be a sales agent or an admin support staffer. All these types of roles can be conducted from your home office.

So, determine where you will conduct your “office” from. This could be in your garage, a spare room or a corner of your living room. Then make a list of items you will need to conduct your business.

Furniture You Need For A Home Office

Home office setupOnce you have allocated the space you will need to furnish it to suit your needs. Take into account the effects of RSI Repetitive Strain Injury. RSI is caused by repetitive use or long periods in a fixed position. So, if you are purchasing some of the items below speak to the sales staff and get their opinion on what limits any workplace injuries.

COMPUTERS – If you work with computers then naturally you will need a computer, power source and internet connectivity. I would suggest a minimum of 50 cm monitor screen size. And, if possible 2 monitors side by side. Also, this second screen is where you might want to place your video meetings with others. This way you don’t have to flick between “windows” on your computer. You may have a laptop but bear in mind that looking at a small laptop screen all day may not be good for your eyes. Make sure your computer box has room to “breathe”. Computers can generate a lot of heat. Finally, if you are away from your computer have it set to “sleep” after a certain amount of time of inactivity.

DESK – The desk is an important item for your workstation. Make sure the height is set to your body type. An industry standard is 73cm from the floor to the top of the desk. But not everyone is the same so consult a desk sales office and ask their advice. Make sure the desk is large enough to accommodate 2 monitors.

OFFICE CHAIR – Comfort is the key to giving you maximum support. An ergonomic office chair is essential if you are likely to be in a fixed position for extended times. If you are going to purchase an office chair then we strongly suggest you try before you buy.

LIGHTINGErgonomic home office chair – Try not to underestimate the value of good lighting for your home office. Overhead lighting is the best form of indirect light and will illuminate your workspace. This is light that is not in your field of vision and does not reflect off your computer monitor. Test that your lighting is sufficient by reading a newspaper or printed text. It is suggested you keep your monitor lighting just a little brighter than your ambient lighting.

FLOWERS – Purchase a couple of small plants to bring life into your home office. It is amazing how a flower or plant can lift the atmosphere of space. This is a cheap investment in completing your home office.

Be Disciplined

Treat your home office as you would your regular workplace. Set your hours as per your employment agreement and stick to them. Afford yourself routine breaks and take a walk for exercise. The downside of working from home is the lack of interaction with fellow workmates. You can easily be distracted when there is no one looking over your shoulder. So a good idea is to visually connect with people you normally work with via Zoom or Google Meetings. These type of video connections can help you keep focused on your tasks.


Winter Vegetable Garden

Preparing vegetables grow in Winter

The southern region of Australia experiences nighttime temperatures of around 8 deg Celcius. The soil temperature sits at about 15 deg Celcius or less.

What should i grow?

  • Cabbage, spinach, lettuce, celery, carrots and cauliflower
  • Onions, leek, spring onions, radish and turnips

Sowing and planting of new crops into the garden is generally not recommendedWhen the soil is cold, sap flow in plants is sluggish, roots take up minimal moisture and nutrients and growth slows right downSeeds will not germinate until the soil warms again in spring, and young seedlings may succumb to the cold before they have a chance to acclimatise and start growingMid year in the south is mostly about harvesting the traditional winter crops while waiting for the weather to warm up in spring for the sowing and planting of summer vegetables

What Types Of Home Insurance Cover Are There

Home insurance cover Australia

Home Insurance Cover and Optional Extras

Home insurance or bricks and mortar cover is an insurance policy for general household cover. Home insurance generally protects your four walls and roof but it doesn’t cover any related outbuildings, or separate constructions like sheds, garages or patios. See Building Insurance below.

Generally speaking, there are two common types of home insurance in Australia: total replacement cover and the more common sum insured cover.

Total replacement cover is essentially an insurance cover that restores your home to its original condition prior to an "insured event" for which you are covered.  So what is an insured event? “Insured event”?  This could be fire, lightning, trees falling or flooding. There are a number of events that could destroy your home. If any of these events occur then an insurance inspector will be called upon to assess the damage.

Adding extras to your home insurance policy

Strictly speaking, the following policy extras are not always referred to as ‘home insurance’ –  yet they are still important elements you need to take into consideration when buying home insurance. You might find one or several individual policies apply to your circumstances.

We’ve listed some of the most common home insurance extras below:

  • Landlord insurance. This type of insurance will cover landlords risks in relation to tenants. This includes any loss of rental income, loss or damage by tenants to your building and contents. It can also cover theft or burglary, damage or vandalism, loss of rent if the tenant breaks their lease and the legal costs you may incur if you have to evict a tenant.
  • Accidental damage. Sometimes accidents happen inside and outside your home. Investigate how much accidental cover you have or you are eligible for. Compare this cover and costs with other insurance companies.
  • Fire insurance. As we know Australia is fire-prone. However, not all suburbs have the same amount of risk as other suburbs. When creating a home insurance policy make sure you are covered by fire as not all fires are started by natural disasters. Fire insurance should be included in your cover.
  • Motor burnout insurance. This optional extra seems a bit confusing to some homeowners. But look around your home and you will quickly identify appliances that actually have a motor. These include indoor appliances such as washing machines, dryers, freezers and air conditioners. And then there can be outdoor motors such as pool pumps and heating and cooling units.  ‘
  • Flood insurance. Survey your local area and identify if there are any water risks such as creeks, rivers, lakes or man-made waterways. Ask the local council if you are in a flood risk area. Make sure you understand what type of damage your "flood risk" covers you for.
  • Storm damage. As the climate changes so do storm seasons. The falling of trees due to strong winds can totally destroy a home. Also, lightning and stormwater can cause a significant amount of damage.
  • Building Insurance. Building insurance (also known as homeowners insurance) provides cover for your home from events such as fire, storm damage and floods. It covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home and other buildings on your property such as garages and sheds. Building insurance covers both the main structure as well as permanent fixtures such as kitchen cabinets, plumbing and built-in wardrobes. Depending on the policy, it may also cover any legal liability caused to someone injured visiting your property. If you live in a strata title apartment (and the majority of apartments in Australia are strata title – you can generally check with the executive committee of your building or managing agent to confirm), the building will be covered by residential strata insurance (also known as body corporate cover). This type of cover is mandatory in every state and territory in Australia and the cost is shared between all owners.
  • Contents insurance. Whereas building insurance protects the structure of your home, contents insurance covers the repair or replacement of your possessions inside your home. Some policies will also provide cover for your contents when you take them outside of your home (usually for an additional premium).
  • Combined Home and Contents Insurance - Often you will see home and contents insurance combined as if they were one product. They are however two separate policies. Having the policies combined in the one agreement means having to pay only one premium, and depending on the insurer, may also mean that you are entitled to a discounted rate.
  • Renters Insurance - If you rent or share a place with flatmates, you may want to consider renters' contents insurance for your personal possessions.  As with contents insurance for homeowners, you could select a policy that provides cover for your possessions when you take them outside of your home. Contents insurance policies vary, so find a level of cover that is right for you.

Weekly Property News | July 27 – July 31, 2020

Dean O'Brien Director of OBrien Real Estate

Hi Guys, it’s Dean OBrien from OBrien Real Estate with another edition of the Property News for 2020 where real estate information is on the house.

As we almost enter the last month of winter we are definitely starting to receive more enquiry from our spring sellers considering the sale of their home in the upcoming warmer months. In winter we always have a contraction in properties on the market and this has been heightened with the current COVID-19 restrictions, however right now we have lots of buyers in the market and not enough sellers, which ultimately means sellers at the moment are likely to achieve a better price.

Melbourne prices are still buoyant, being 10.2% up on 12 months ago and that number includes the recent drop of 1.1% that we had in June.

Looking at our week, the Melbourne market transacted 1460 private sales and 224 auction sales with a clearance rate of 69% when we take into account the withdrawn auctions. Reviewing the numbers across OBrien, we experienced a fantastic week, with 71 properties launching to the market, 71 sales, and 72 properties coming under contract with our highest sale at $1.63 million.

Property News OBrien Real estate July 31 2020

Moving onto the news for the week. According to the Commonwealth Bank, card spending in the week to July 24was up 9.8 per cent on a year ago. Consumer confidence has now fallen for five straight weeks. Looking at this graph, Victorians have had a bad case of the lockdown blues, while the rest of Australia feels our pain. The Bureau of Statistics reported that between mid-March and the week mid-July, employee jobs in Victoria have decreased by 7.3 per cent.
ABS changes in Jobs COVID-19

And in closing, Aussie investors have pushed the price of gold to record level, our Aussie dollar keeps rising and petrol prices hit a 17-week high being up almost 130 per cent a barrel from its April low.

That’s all for another week and remember to get in touch if we can assist you with your real estate aspirations. And in closing, this information provided is of a general nature, OBrien Real Estate is not a financial adviser, you should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice in relation to your own unique circumstances.

Our Different Methods Of Sale

OBrien Real Estate has 3 ways to sell your property

When selling your home there are different methods you can choose from depending on your circumstances or preference.

1. Off Market – This is a 21-day process to either sell your home or gain valuable market feedback to better prepare your home for the open market. It means your property does appear online exclusively with Our agents will contact their most engaged buyers on their extensive database to bring highly targeted ready buyers to your home.

2. Private sale – A private sale is where the vendor either sets a firm asking price or set a price with a negotiable range. This campaign can run for more than four weeks depending on when an offer comes through.

3. Auction – We run a four-week campaign with multiple open homes to attract potential buyers and we have a live auction at the end of the campaign where the buyers bid for your property. This adds a competitive atmosphere in the crowd to try and reach the maximum price for your home.

Real Estate Business Interviews Michelle Stephens

Michelle Stephens real estate agent

Looking after clients’ assets as well as their health.

In this episode of Secrets of the Top 100 Agents, host Grace Ormsby is joined by the REB Awards 2020 Sales Agent of the Year – Metropolitan, Michelle Stephens from OBrien Real Estate Carrum Downs.

Michelle shares what she’s seeing in the current Victorian market under stage 3 restrictions, how her day-to-day practices and mindset have shifted over the last 12 months, and how remote working conditions have changed the kinds of properties that people are wanting to purchase.

Tune in to hear about:

  • How she predicts the new JobKeeper announcement will affect the market
  • What precautions her office is taking to minimise the spread of COVID-19
  • The range of schemes available to Victorian first home buyers

Did you like this episode? Show your support by rating us or leaving a review on Apple Podcasts (Secrets of the Top 100 Agents) and by liking and following Real Estate Business on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Weekly Property News | July 24 2020

Dean O'Brien Director of OBrien Real Estate

Hi Guys, it’s Dean OBrien from OBrien Real Estate with another edition of the Property News for 2020 where real estate information is on the house.

“A rising tide lifts all boats” is the idea that an improved economy will benefit everyone, and that economic and government policy should therefore focus on broad economic efforts, which we believe our government is doing and has done for some time. So far the Federal, State and Territory Governments have committed $301 billion in stimulus and that increases after Tuesday’s announcement that Job Keeper and Job Seeker will continue on post September which further solidifies our government broad-based economic approach.
Global government debt
Some people might think we are digging ourselves a hole with debt, however, this graph illustrates the level of debt in Australia relative to GDP and in comparison to other countries and it shows we are in a good position. Plus, the funding costs of the debt is the cheapest its ever been and in fact, it is considered it will cost less than the GFC stimulus so financially it makes great sense.

Job Keeper and Job Seeker Payments

Here’s how Job Keeper and Job Seeker will change from September 28. Job keeper payments reduce to $1200 a fortnight for full-timers and $750 for part-timers. Whereas Job Seeker reduces to $815 until the end of December when the scheme will cease at this stage. Job Keeper will continue at $1000 for full-timers from January until the end of March 2021 whereas part-timers will receive $650 a fortnight.

The Numbers

Moving on from this positive news into the numbers for the week. Across the state, we saw our highest numbers for this year with 1326 private sales transactions which are up 185 sales from last week. From an auction perspective, we had 177 auctions withdraw or convert to a private. So bear in mind that this clearance rate accounts for those number, we saw 475 auction results captured with 124 selling before the auction, 111 selling under the hammer, 8 selling after and 55 passing in. This gives us an official clearance rate of 51.16% but if we take out the withdrawals it’s over an 80% success rate.

Now reviewing the numbers across OBrien, we experienced some subdued numbers following our PB from the week prior, over the week we saw 52 properties launching to the market, we 58 properties moving to under contract and 41 confirmed sales across our network, however, we can report a spike with an additional 27 confirmed sales in the 3 days
post this data.

OBrien Real Estate property news July 24 2020

Moving onto the news for the week. Hong Kong buyers are looking to replace China. Due to the political unrest and the new security laws, 10,000 Hong Kong passport holders currently living in Australia on temporary Visa’s will be offered permanent residency. This will increase housing demand, particularly in our capital cities. Further incentives are also being considered to attract businesses and residents living in Hong Kong to relocate to Australia. According to APRA, $192 billion worth of mortgage repayments has been deferred by Australia’s lenders, comprising 11% of the total housing loans. The major banks have confirmed they will extend the repayment freeze for those that need it for a further 3 to 4 months.

Employment rose by a record 210,800 in June after falling by 264,100 in May. The unemployment rate rose however from 7.1 per cent to 7.4 per cent in June. Full-time jobs fell by 38,100 and part-time jobs rose by 249,000 and overall hours worked rose by 4.0 per cent. In the China economy it expanded by 11.5 per cent in the June quarter.

And remember to get in touch with an OBrien office if you would like to know how your property is fairing in the current market so you can make the most informed decision when navigating through your real estate strategy.

That’s all for another week, I’m Dean OBrien, and remember OBrien Real Estate is not a financial adviser, you should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice in relation to your unique circumstances.

Weekly Property News | July 13 – July 17 2020

Dean OBrien Director OBrien Real Estate Melbourne

Hi Guys, it’s Dean OBrien from OBrien Real Estate with another edition of the Property News for 2020 where real estate information is on the house.

Melburnians confidence has taken a bit of a dive since the new lockdown restrictions began last week, but largely business and consumer confidence across all other parts of the nation remains positive about the outlook.

These two graphs here show the V-Shaped rebound we have been experiencing since the lows of March. Although, the consumer sentiment in Melbourne has ebbed in the last week, there also has been some concerns about hotspots emerging in NSW.

However, the NSW Premier has ruled out implementing stage 3 lockdowns restrictions like we have in Melbourne. The recovery in consumer spending is occurring outside of Victoria according to CBA, card spending in the week to July 10 was up 7.2 per cent on a year ago. However, Aussie consumers do remain a little wary about spending on “big ticket” items like luxury cars.

Business rebound OBrien Real Estate


Real estate confidence ebbs Melbourne

The Numbers

The sales numbers across the State of Victoria were again strong despite no opens and onsite auctions being allowed in Metro Melbourne. We still saw 256 auction results captured with 62 selling before the auction, 97 sold under the hammer, 4 selling after, 30 passing in and 63 withdrawals. This gave us a clearance rate of 63.67% which is around the mark it has been for the last 6 weeks.

Private sales transacted across the state saw high sale numbers again with 1141 selling during the week, down only 26 from last week’s high. Moving onto reviewing the numbers across OBrien Real Estate, we also experienced our best week since early March. We are seeing strong interest not only in sales but also in the property management space with many engaged customers in the market.

Property News OBrien Real Estate July 2020

Over the week we saw listing numbers hit pre-COVID-19 highs with 81 properties launching to the market. There were 79 properties moving to under contract and 72 confirmed sales across our network. Our highest sale price achieved was $1.26 million. It looks like Victoria will continue to dominate the focus for the nation until we see the trend in cases subside. In the news abroad US stocks have had 3 consecutive days of solid gains amid rising cases across many states. In June USA CPI inflation rose more than expected suggesting the deflation period may have ended for now.

Housing stats and retail spending will be released later this week which will provide direction for the US stock market. For those considering their property position, we are offering a free service called an “Equity Health Check”.  We will assist with providing comprehensive insights around price, loan, insurance and depreciation of your investment property so you have the right information at your disposal.  This way you can make the most informed decision when navigating through your real estate strategy for this new financial year.

That’s all for another week, I’m Dean OBrien, thank you for taking the time to review the week that was, and remember OBrien Real Estate is not a financial adviser, you should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice in relation to your unique circumstances.

Weekly Property News | July 6 – July 10 2020

Dean O'Brien Director of OBrien Real Estate

Hi Guys, it’s Dean OBrien from OBrien Real Estate with another edition of the Property News for 2020 where real estate information is on the house.

So, what does it mean for the real estate market and more importantly for active buyers, sellers, renters and landlords needing to get them from A to B? Of course, we all heard Daniel Andrews announcing the “stay at home” stage 3 restrictions for Metropolitan Melbourne including the Mornington Peninsula and the Mitchell Shires.

Although the restrictions are slightly different this time, the same applies to real estate. We are an essential service and we’ll be able to conduct private one-on-one inspections of our properties, so if you are needing to buy, sell or rent we can help. If you are wanting a market appraisal, we can conduct these either by a face to face inspection or we can conduct a virtual appraisal

In terms of the trends, we’ll see in the market, we are likely to see a contraction of properties coming on the market as we did in April and May. But we are confident we’ll see buyers needing to transact in the market. So, we will be selling and renting properties physically and virtually. In terms of home prices due to the short supply of properties, this is likely to hold up prices as we saw in April and May.

OBrien Real Estate Property news July 8 2020


Now moving onto the numbers across the State for the week. We saw 128 fewer auctions mainly due to the hotspots lockdown. Of those, we saw 59 selling prior to the auction. Then there was 157 selling under the hammer, 2 selling after with 91 passing in and 30 withdrawn giving us an increase in the clearance rate to 64.31%. Private sales transacted across the state again grew giving us our highest sale numbers since early March with 1167 selling during the week.

Moving onto reviewing the numbers across OBrien Real Estate, we also experienced our best week since early March.

Over the week we saw listing numbers return to pre COVID-19 numbers with 72 properties launching to the market. We saw 76 properties move to under contract and 69 confirmed sales across our network. Our highest sale price achieved was $2.47 million. In the News this week, first homes buyers entering the market has now hit a decade high with at least 37% of all transactions now going to the first-timers.

Active first home buyers

The market has also been experiencing the largest number of loan refinancing it has seen in the last 16 years. This graph shows almost $8 Billion of owner-occupier loans being refinanced.

Record real estate refinancing

This week’s board at the Reverse Bank decided to leave interest rates unchanged, but the bottom line is that interest rates will remain at record low levels for a long time. There have been 17 rate cuts since November 2011. According to the Commonwealth Bank, credit card spending in the week to July 3 was up 12.1% compared to a year ago. Online spending rose 16.7%. ANZ job advertisements rose by a record 42% in June to 89,252 available positions. But ads are still down by 44.6% from a year ago.

The Melbourne Institutes headline inflation gauge rose by 0.6% in June – the biggest lift in 3½ years – following a record 1.2% decline in May. Inflation is up 0.7%t over the year so far. And lastly the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating fell by 1%to an 8-week low.

That’s all for another week, I’m Dean OBrien, thank you for taking the time to review the week that was, and remember OBrien Real Estate is not a financial adviser, you should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice in relation to your unique circumstances.