Keeping Costs Down On Your Home

Dealing with repairs to your home can be tough when you are working to a strict budget or you have just splashed out on decorating or getting a new appliance. You can never tell when the next thing will break or when you will need a repair, but there are a few ways to keep on top of some common issues to avoid any big bills.

Keep The Boiler Ticking Over:

When your boiler breaks down it is a serious inconvenience and can often be quite expensive and really put you out without hot water and heating at the wrong time. One of the best ways to keep on top of your boiler is to not abuse it, only use hot water when you need it and don’t whack your heating all the way up, give your boiler a chance to do it’s job.

Keep on top of your boiler services, a cheap quick fix can help avoid a burst pipe or a replacement that can cost you quite a few pennies. Make sure your boiler is getting serviced yearly and if you can get you radiators, sinks and piping checked too.

Look After Your Bathroom:

Your bathroom is an essential part of your daily routine, make sure to clean it as and when you can and keep an eye out for any breaks in the seals around sinks, baths and showers as this can cause damp in the floors and walls.

Make sure that whenever someone uses the shower or bath that either they use an extractor fan or open the window to let out the excess moisture, yes even in the middle of winter. The extra moisture can cause untold damage that can come back and bite you with a hefty bill later.

Check The Roof:

It’s always worth checking in the loft for any leaks or cracks in the roof especially around winter or rainy periods. You never know when tiles will crack or fall off, but try to keep an eye out and keep on top of this. If there are any faults or if you want a professional to check, this doesn’t cost too much, it certainly will save money if it stops damp getting in.

Managing Your Garage:

It’s easy to forget and neglect your garage if it isn’t a living space, but if not looked after there can be a number of problems from pests to damp and rust. Make sure that your garage is properly insulated, There’s a great article on insulation if you haven’t read it, and if the floor is concrete that it is sealed to stop the cold and moisture seeping in. A garage door seal is a great way to prevent the elements getting in as well. Look after the garage door especially if it electric and get it checked if it needs to be serviced to avoid a nasty bill when it breaks or you accidentally crash into it because it stops half way through opening.

White Goods:

Electronics in the house always have a tendancy to break when you least expect it, Computers are widely used now and can make life difficult when they crash. If you know somebody who is good with computers you might be able to mitigate your computer repair cost. White goods like washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers  and anything mechanical make it hard to know when they are reaching the end of their life span. All of these appliances can be serviced or treated. Many companies offer a variety of products that you can use normally in an empty wash to clear our limescale and build ups, a small purchase every now and then will save you from needing a replacement in future.

 

 

 

How to Prepare Your House for the Renting Market

With the opportunity of becoming a landlord just a click away, it seems that most home owners find a rather consistent revenue stream in the renting market. We already have successful business models such as AirBnB which work great with short-term rentals, and that’s not all. We all thought young families and couples, singles and millennials prefer to rent rather than to own a place. However, real estate trends in 2016 showed that rents were stagnating in less popular cities, while going up in startup-nest cities such as San Francisco, where a two-bedroom apartment would go up to $5000/month. This had a double impact: on one hand, it made buying houses more attractive to the young generation in the big cities; on the other hand, it really reminded millennials that they aren’t limited to a certain location and can very well move to places where payment is high and rent is low. This motivated the young landlords to rent their homes at an affordable price, enough to cover the mortgage costs. Below is a series of factors that motivated people to buy a house in 2016, top 3 being credit history improvement, promotion/raise and saving for a down payment.

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Property

Stella Settlements, an Australian leader in real estate settlements proposes 13 steps into buying a new property:

  • Offer and Acceptance;
  • Deposits;
  • Appointment to Act;
  • Financial approval;
  • Signing of Mortgage papers;
  • Transfer of Land;
  • Stamps (Stamp duty in some cases);
  • Special Conditions (to be met);
  • Insurance;
  • Financial Inspection;
  • Arranging Settlement;
  • Effective of Settlement;
  • Keys (access) to the new property.

Once all the steps are completed and the new landlord acquires ownership of the new home, they can proceed with the legal documentation to rent short-term or long-term.

Preparing Your House for Renting

Just like with every new acquisition, a house needs improvement and is considered a lifelong investment. Every new buyer wants to add a touch of their personality and preferences in terms of interior and exterior design. Home owners usually do not make improvements if the house is either a historical heritage property or the landlord never plans on living there, so renovation costs aren’t fully justified. The downside of not investing any money in your purchased property is you could never ask for a fair rent price. The more benefits and home improvements a house has, the better for nailing down a decent price on the renting market.

Adding a Pool to Your Yard

Everybody loves being near water. Even when it’s not possible to have a nearby lake or small spring, if you are lucky enough to get a house with a generous yard, the best immediate addition would be an outdoor pool. This can raise the rent prices by a few thousand USD per year with just a one-time investment. Riverina Pools presents an impressive portfolio of pool projects with carbon fiber, using the latest technologies, as well as measurements in size, length, width and depth. You can play with light effects for a quiet evening experience or for pool parties. Outdoor pools usually have water filtering systems that make it easy to clean the water or keep the pool covered during cold season.

Indoor Functionality: Elevators and Residential Lifts

People need to simplify their lives as much as possible, because the stress of everyday life will eventually weigh down on them. In this regard, architects have found the answer. Bringing technology into homes, will not only increase the value of the interior, but also bring more comfort. Experts at Grant Elevators believe that residential lifts are the future of mobility and space-saving. People want to have their most dependable belongings close to their hearts, and this might even include cars. We know that it might sound a little outrageous, but in the next few years, cars will also become an essential part of home design. And not only cars: imagine keeping your lovely motorcycle in the living room – a prized possession that friends dropping by will constantly admire. And why not go further by clicking a button and in a couple of seconds, the lift brings your motorcycle from the living room to the front porch of your building? Take it for a ride, go to the office or just take it for a spin. With everything within reach, the modern man will no longer have to worry about house chores or exhausting earthly tasks.

Architects anticipate an alleviation of menial problems which will lead to a better concentration on career and a more relaxed lifestyle.

Luxury Sells… and Rents Easily

If your aim is not long-term, but rather short-term rentals, think big. We already see offers to rent homes for the holidays, so there is an active market. Nomads are looking to get a mix of comfort and unique in terms of rent experiences. The best way to justify higher prices is either to provide a genuine local experience or a deep-dive into luxury for the time being. Pools and residential lifts can add to the luxury experience, as well as garden and interior designs. For inspiration on how to design your property and rent it as a luxury holiday home, you can check out Private Properties’s Instagram or Facebook feeds. They offer luxury short-stay rentals in Australia, but their tips and designs can be adapted to every house independent of location.

With these aspects in mind, what are your plans for financial prosperity in the housing market? Will you buy a house in 2017 and keep it or rent it?

 

What is Flipping Houses All About?

Flipping houses has become a popular way for families and businessmen to earn extra income. Wikipedia provides a perfect definition of flipping, which is basically residential redevelopment where you buy low and sell high for profit. With the right tools, this method of investing can be quite easy. Basically… you buy the cheapest house in the best neighborhood, fix it up, sell your house quickly and make money.

The First Step in Flipping Houses

The first step of flipping is to locate the perfect property. It is best to form a relationship with a good real estate agent that will keep an eye out for you. It is worthwhile to have a good real estate agent because they will already know the best areas and neighborhoods to invest. This will take away some of the research work from you. It is a good idea to invest in areas you are familiar with as well so you are not going in blindly.

Fixing Up a Flip Home

Once you find the right house, you will need to figure out how all of the remodeling work will be completed. You will either need to acquire the perfect contractor, or better yet do it yourself. If you are using a general contractor you will need to be sure they are trustworthy, reliable, good communicators, reasonably priced and talented. If you are handy and can do it yourself than your profits will be greater since you don’t have to use money to pay someone to do the work.

Pick the Right Items to Fix

When doing the renovation, you have to be smart in choosing what areas of the house will yield the greatest return on your investment. You also need to make the turnaround as quick as possible. Time is money. So, in order to sell your house quickly, it is crucial to make improvements to a few central parts of the property.

Kitchens are the biggest selling points of a home. The kitchen is where people spend the most time at home. Therefore it is worthwhile, it is where you will get the most bang for your buck. Home buyers will appreciate the new cabinets, granite countertops, upgraded backsplash, light fixtures and appliances. You can’t go wrong here.

Bathrooms are another area of the home that buyers are looking for upgrades. Next to the kitchen, it is an area of the home that is used often. An outdated bath is an eyesore to a buyer. Updated paint, trim, vanities and showers make a world of a difference.

It is also important for the outside of the home to be manicured. Spending money on new landscaping and outdoor fixtures is crucial. Curb appeal is the first thing people see and can be the first impression that a buyer can’t look past.

Selling the Home

Once the home is sold, all of the hard work will be worth it. Selling your house quickly should be a priority as the longr you are in it the more overhead you will have.

Avoiding Roommates is Hard for Millennials

Roommates, the necessary evil? Nowadays the alternatives aren’t great. You can live a prolonged childhood with Mom or Dad or shack up with someone to share the financial burden with.

In major metropolitan cities such as London and New York, young millennials don’t just have one roommate; some are reported to have upwards of 3 or 4. It’s the high price of living in a city with unlimited options in dining and entertainment.

This infographic from the Real Estate Team at Liberty Village Toronto has some incredible stats on the housing behaviour of millenials.

Some aren’t even opting for roommates and deciding to spend some extra time at home with Mom and Dad.

Do-You-Need-A-Roommate1

 

Graphic Design by Miami Seo Company, Vol & Tier Digital

How to Use a Reverse Mortgage to Your Advantage

One of the most common fears that people harbor as they near retirement age is that they will not have enough money to maintain their lifestyle after they stop working. With the volatility of the stock market and the uncertainty of other investments, it’s easy to understand why some workers are concerned that they won’t recoup recent losses before they are ready to retire.

If this sounds like you, the best option you have is to step back and review the whole retirement picture. That means going far beyond the performance of a particular mutual fund or other investment instruments and thinking about things from a more philosophical perspective.

The money you live on after retirement is the reversal of all the saving and investing you’ve been doing since you started working. Everyone understands that, but sometimes we get a narrow view of just what defines an investment at that point in our lives.

It’s easy to think that 401(k) accounts, IRA’s, bonds, or other cash investments are the only factor in our post-retirement income. But the fact is that anything we own could potentially represent a source of money for us.

That doesn’t mean that on your 62nd birthday you empty the house and have a massive yard sale, financing your trip to Ireland with heirloom jewelry. But it does mean that a high-dollar item that has held its value can be liquidated when you no longer want or need it, and that money can help cover your retirement.

What’s the single biggest item that most of us purchase? Typically, it’s our home. We pour money into a mortgage for as long as 30 years, then hold on to it in non-liquid form until we pass it on to our heirs.

This doesn’t mean you stick a ‘for sale’ sign in the front yard and move into some tiny cottage. Quite the opposite. You can retrieve some of the money you’ve invested in your home by taking a reverse mortgage.

Before you jump to conclusions about spending your kids’ inheritance or selling yourself out of your home, spend a little time learning more about reverse mortgages.

Reverse mortgages are a great tool to re-capture some of the value of your home instead of leaving it tied up. It allows you to avoid the old conundrum often associated with aging farmers. The agriculture world says that you live poor and die rich because you invest money into hundreds of acres of land, expensive structures and equipment, and the farmhouse itself, but never get any of that money back. After you die, the farm may sell for a shocking amount of money–none of which goes to you.

It’s true for homeowners, too. You build or buy a home that’s suitable to raise several kids, entertain friends, and host grandchildren for long summer weekends. You make repairs, increase energy efficiency, and update styles to keep a modern look. Then one day you’re gone, and the house is sold off to the benefit of your heirs.

That’s not to say we necessarily begrudge our children all the money that we have. Most parents are very happy to know that they can pass along a financial windfall. But it makes no sense to have a tidy sum going to the kids and grandkids someday when you’re struggling to pay the gas bill in that large house you built for family and friends.

Getting a reverse mortgage can help you avoid some potentially unpleasant decisions, too. Some people make bad choices with their retirement dollars. Maybe you have. And now that you’re running out of time to make up for it, it’s tough to swallow that you are going to lag behind on standard of living compared to co-workers who get their gold watch the same day you do.

Of course, one of the worst things you can do in life is to put all your attention into keeping up with the Joneses. What works for them may not be the route you want to go. But if you do find it uncomfortable to think that you haven’t made as much for your retirement as others have, it’s at least a beneficial yardstick to decide what to do next.

You can avoid the discomfort of this situation by looking at a reverse mortgage. It can be more beneficial at tax time, provide less worry for you, and insulate your money from some of the crazy things that can happen to investments.

Downsizing in Style: A Mini-Guide for Restless Retirees

When most people retire, they often think about living on less. In fact, this is the telltale sign that you’re about to leave and retire from work: you transition to a fixed income.

But, how do you do this, exactly? If you’re like most people, you’re scared. You don’t want to live on less, have less, and potentially run out of money. Here’s how to downsize without feeling the pinch.

Make Plans To Travel

You don’t have to sit at home all day. In fact, this is probably not healthy – especially after you retire. You should make plans to get out and travel. Travelling can help you feel like you’re not downsizing at all. In fact, in many ways, you’re not actually downsizing. You’re upsizing your entire life.

Of course, if you spend a lot of time travelling, the one thing you can downsize is your home because you don’t need the space. You can either put things in storage that don’t fit in the new home or flat or you can sell them or give them to family.

But, having yearly travel plans is a great way to expand your horizons and see a world you may never have seen during your working years.

Move To A New Area

Moving to a new area can allow you to keep the same size home without paying the high cost you are right now.

You know what they say, right? Location, location, location. Except, this time around, you’re not looking for something with good appreciation potential. You’re looking for something that didn’t appreciate. That could mean living in an economically depressed area, but it could just as well mean living in a slow-growth area that’s not in the slums.

In some cities and towns, you can travel just a few streets down and end up getting the same sized home for £100,000 less.

How To Stick To Essentials Without Making Sacrifices

You’ve probably been told that, when you retire, you need to make sacrifices. What you really need to do is prioritize what you want out of life. Since you can’t afford to have it all, you need to think carefully about what you want and what you don’t want.

Make decisions based on what’s really important to you. So, if you really want to stay in the house you’re in now, what would you have to get rid of? IF the house isn’t as important as other things you own, then you have your answer – sell the home.

Of course, you have to be realistic about things. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. So, if you’re faced with the dilemma of affording a new car, a home, and all the creature comforts you’re had for years, versus a declining income, you have to really think about what matters most and then get rid of the things that you can’t afford and don’t want (as much).

It can be a difficult decision to make, but it’s necessary. And, at the end of the day, you’ll be happy because you’re not struggling financially to have things that you can’t afford.

Give Furniture To Family First

Don’t forget to ask your children or grandchildren what furniture they might want. You’ve had it for years, but it might be time to give it up. At the same time, you don’t want to just hand it over to a stranger.

Of course, if none of your family wants your furniture, you can put it on consignment and sell it. Just make sure you’re not disinheriting your family first.

Live With Family

A good way to handle this is to use funds for your home and have an annexe, or a granny flat, built as an extension of your son or daughter’s home. That way, you can live independently, and not interfere with the family but you won’t be far away, either.

You’ll have your own rooms, and the extension doesn’t even have to have a shared entrance or an entrance into the other home. The idea is to have a home that is really close to your children’s so that you can call on them when needed and they can help you if necessary. Otherwise, you live alone.

And, the best part is that it will increase the value of your children’s home – something you may not care about for yourself but it will certainly be much appreciated by your children.

Ben Bailey is a financial consultant who has carved out a niche working with baby-boomers. From pensions to downsizing he often writes on these topics for over fifties and personal finance sites.

I bought a couch I never got to see in real life.

Last week, in a moment of zeal, I decided to post our relatively new sofa on Craigslist. We bought this pretty piece of furniture Summer 2014…

00J0J_2QkxRXq17bD_600x450

We liked it a lot, but I had two issues with it. It was a little too big for our relatively small living room; As you can see we had to shove the couch all the way up against the left wall just to get it to fit.

Second, we live on a wooded street and don’t get a ton of direct sunlight. The dark charcoal fabric didn’t help our dark living room.

We paid $1,700 (after tax) for it last summer. I posted it on Craigslist for $1,500 thinking no one would be pay me close to that since they could go buy the sofa brand new for just $200 more.

I was wrong.

Not only did our sofa sell in a couple days. I sold it for $1,600. That’s right $100 more than I posted it for. If you didn’t already know… I LOVE CRAIGSLIST!!!

There was only one problem, I wasn’t expecting our sofa to actually sell. So when it did, we had a big empty living room.

Awkward. 

We spent the weekend doing a good bit of couch shopping visiting the local modern stores and sitting on nearly 50 different sofas. We found a lot that we liked. But there was only one that we LOVED.

hlSa0CgjHcpG

The Hess leather sofa at Room and Board was absolutely dreamy. Clean lines. Super supple leather. And extremely comfortable. But $3,800 for a sofa…before tax and a delivery charge…

HELL NO! 

I now had a mission. Get a sofa very similar to the hess without breaking the bank.

Enter the Interwebz….

After doing a good bit of research on a handful of online furniture vendors (All Modern, JoyBird, YLiving), a random Google search brought me to Bryght Furniture.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.22.30 PM


I clicked through the furniture they offer and just about pooped my pants when I stumbled upon this beauty…

image12286

I mean look at this ghetto side-by-side photoshop I did comparing the Room and Board Sofa to the Bryght Sven sofa…

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.28.48 PM

 

Pretty similar right?! 

So my thought process was something like “Holy Crap, I found the perfect sofa. But what if it sucks?”

I mean, I can’t sit on the thing. I can’t call their customer service department and ask them about it. They’ll just lie and tell me it’s dreamy.

So what do I do?

First, I try and Google “Bryght Furniture Reviews” but there aren’t many. So naturally, I decide to instagram stalk people that have hastagged this specific Bryght sofa. I click to their instagram profiles and find that two of them have a blog. I click to their blog and go to their “About Me” page. I find their email address and send them an email asking for a review of their sofa after owning it a couple months.

Creepy? Whatever. 

In the emails I ask them things like…

…Does it look as nice in real life as the photos?

…Is it comfortable?

…Does it look nice, but feel cheap?

…How has it held up?

…Anything you wished you knew before you bought it?

Fortunately, they emailed me back and both had glowing reviews and said they would absolutely recommend the sofa.

Sold. 

I bought the sofa online last Wednesday, knowing that if we hated it, I’d take advantage of the 30 day, no-hassle, return policy and be only be out the delivery fees ($98 total). It was worth the gamble.

So today (Monday), I’m sitting in my living room and I get a call from a truck driver that says he is 5 minutes from my house and has my couch. I never got a call asking to schedule the delivery so I find it odd that they were just randomly showing up to my house, virtually unannounced. But whatever, I was home so it didn’t matter too much.

Look at how absolutely monstrous the cardboard box is the sofa was shipped in…

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.39.36 PM

It was kind of a headache breaking that giant box down in to a manageable size, but it was definitely well protected so I can’t really complain.

To get the couch ready for use, all I had to do was screw on the five legs (there is a center support leg) and we were rocking and rolling.

WE ARE IN LOVE. 

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.57.27 PM

It looked just as good as it did in the photos and felt even better than I was expecting. Our last sofa had a firm seat cushion, which I loved because it helps keep it from looking saggy and lumpy. Our Bryght sofa was right on par. A nice firm, yet comfortable cushion. The back cushions are poly filled so I imagine they will start to look a little frumpy in a couple years, but since they are zippered, I should be able to throw in some extra fill as needed down the road.

My favorite thing about this sofa is that it is full aniline leather. It has a ton of variation and a nice patina (that’s the fancy word for leather that ages prettily). I don’t have to worry about scuffing or scratching the leather, because the scuffs and the scratches are part of the charm. BOOYA! What’s more, it will be much more wipeable than our old tweed fabric sofa. I’ll condition it a couple times a year to protect from stains and to prevent the leather from cracking, but that isn’t that big of a headache.

Overall, I would say I’m pleasantly surprised with my first significant online furniture purchase. It’s exactly what I wanted it to be, and nothing like I feared it might be. Win, win.

Is it as nice as the $4,200 Room and Board sofa? No. But at $2,400 cheaper, it’s definitely the better value.

And in case you are wondering. NO. I was not paid or compensated in any way for this Bryght Furniture review. In fact, I tried to get the hook up from Bryght in exchange for a review and they, politely, declined. Darn.

Have you ever bought a substantial piece of furniture online, without seeing it in person?

Was it what you expected, better, or worse?

Any other gem of a websites y’all know about that I need to be filled in on?