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Seven questions to ask yourself about your property portfolio

Dan Wood /

Christmas is coming, our homes (and soon our bellies) are filled with egg nog and mince pies. But that’s no reason to forget about your property portfolio.

With some time away from work to reflect on the year and the important things in life, it’s worth considering how you can improve your property portfolio. If you haven’t yet built your property portfolio, then here are some steps to bear in mind.

 
 

Here are seven questions to ask yourself over the break:

1. Do I have any underperformers in my portfolio?

First things first, it’s time to identify the properties that just aren’t pulling their weight. Perhaps this is through lacklustre capital growth with few future prospects, or even high vacancy rates and subsequently poor cash flow that’s draining your bank account dry.

Taking a critical look at your worst performers will quickly alert you to what needs to be done. Perhaps selling the property is an option, or maybe you’re willing to ride it out a little longer. Do your calculations around what your bottom line looks like with both your underperformers included and the money redirected elsewhere.

2. Am I hitting my goals?

Part of investing in property is setting achievable, measurable goals that you can keep tabs on. If you haven’t set any goals, then now is the time to do so. If you had goals already, ensure that you are on track to meet them. If not, why not? What went wrong or changed? Perhaps your underperforming properties are holding you back from achieving what you had said out to do, or maybe your goals were too bullish.

3. Has my lifestyle changed, or is likely to change in the future?

Over the past year, you may have changed jobs, had a windfall or joint finances with another person. Revisit your portfolio with this in mind and consider your altered savings and discretionary income capacity.

You may find that you are now able to do more things with your money if you wanted, or to pay down debt more quickly. On the other hand, you might discover that your financial comfort is heading south.

Consider any upcoming changes over the next year that may impact on your finances. Obviously, not everything is predictable. However, if you’re actively looking into a job change or are trying for a baby, be aware of the financial pressures.

4. Can I move my portfolio ahead more quickly?

With a year behind you to reflect on the properties, you may find that you have an increased level of equity in the homes – especially given some of the recent strong rises in the market. If this is the case, it may be worth exploring your options around refinancing and buying another property, renovating with the equity and a number of other options that could help you reach your goals.

5. Do any of my properties need updating?

If you haven’t kept up to date with maintenance, repairs and even moderate renovations where possible then it’s time to start planning this. If any of your tenants are moving out soon then it’s the perfect opportunity to do a refresh.

Remember, keeping your homes in good working order is not only beneficial for the tenants who live there but also for protecting your assets.

6. Have I built in some risk mitigation?

Consider your insurances, savings and financial buffers and make sure you’ve considered the risks of property investing. Property prices can and do drop, so do consider how to protect yourself in the event of a falling property market or any of the aforementioned changes in your financial and personal circumstances.

In some cases, this risk mitigation will be leaving a certain amount of equity in the property, or paying it down a little more quickly, to avoid the possibility of negative equity. In other instances, you may want life insurance or another form of protection. Consider your own comfort levels with risk.

7. What is the plan looking ahead?

With all of the above information in mind, now it’s time to look towards the plan for the next year and in the future.

Noting down practical things to do (such as to get a valuation on a property or to sort out Landlord’s Insurance), as well as general comments around goals for the rest of the year, should put you on the right track.

This article originally appeared at Property Observer.

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