Author

Mike Johnston

The younger generation is well-aware of the benefits of renting. Limited responsibilities, and the freedom to pick up and move at a moment’s notice go hand in hand with the nomadic lifestyle and the delayed adulthood of the millennial generation. However, owning a home also has its benefits. Apart from the pride of ownership and belonging to a community, there are palpable financial and tax incentives to owning a home. Here are five considerations for people who are buying a home for the first time.

Find a realtor

While you can find tons of useful information on the Internet, they are hardly a match for years of live market experience. Having a professional real estate agent on your team can help you sort out what’s important, and rest assured, these people know which questions to ask and what to look for. Not only do they have access to valuable pricing information but can also rely on a long string of connections with home inspectors, lenders, and attorneys. A good realtor is more of a consultant than a salesperson. If you feel that you’re being hawked into buying anything at all cost, it’s better to move along.

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Choose the right one

You can ask your friends and family for recommendations, but make sure you ask the follow-up questions, like if they worked with them personally, how much experience they have and if they did a good job. Unfortunately, there are not many hoops one needs to jump through to become a real-estate agent, so the market is brimming with part-time and inexperienced professionals, who might be honest, but have little experience in the industry. Just because you know people who know people doesn’t mean they’ll do a great job.

Plan your budget

You’ve saved for a stunning holiday, new wardrobe or a sleek used car, but when you decide to purchase a property, you reach the boss level of all saving goals – the home loan deposit. It’s generally considered that the minimum deposit for home loans should be at 20% of the purchase price. You may already have a budget in place, but if not, it’s time to review your saving strategy. Audit all your current expenses and identify the opportunities to trim the fat. Your home-buying budget needs to work for you well after you move in.   

Photo by Mari Helin-Tuominen on Unsplash

 

Get the papers in line

When applying for a mortgage, you need to present the proof of your income and tax report. Mortgage lenders usually ask for two recent pay stubs, W-2s from the previous two years, tax returns and bank statements from the past two months. They need every page of the statements, including the blank ones. This way, they can make sure you have sufficient funds or don’t have odd money coming in or out. Having all the necessary papers in order can save you time.

Photo by Wells Baum on Unsplash

A few takes on location

For most people, their first home is not going to be their permanent residence. When scouting a location, the best course you can take is to see it as an investment, even if you’ll be living there. Unless space is your biggest concern, an inner city apartment is perfect for your first property. Aside from the building and internal features, consider the local schools, amenities, and transport routes. If there is a significant housing or commercial development in the area, your real-estate investment has a bright future.  

Home ownership is a form of saving which lets you build on equity and net worth with upgrades and improvements. With today’s low interest rates, your buying power is probably stronger than it will be in the future, and rest assured, they will keep going up, just like the rent payments.

 

The proportion of individuals and families renting properties instead of buying them is on the rise across the globe. This is good news for landlords who are planning on listing their homes for renting. However, just as modern home buyers, today’s renters are very demanding when it comes to property’s functionality and décor. So, if you are planning to rent your house, you should consider remodelling it to suits your future tenants’ needs and so you can ask for a higher rent, which is, in the long term, a very good investment. In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about remodelling your rental property.

First, check for issues

Regardless whether your house is five or twenty years old, you should still do a thorough examination of the house’s current condition. The first things to check are the ones that can backfire the most. Those are the foundation, electrical wiring and outlets, plumbing and water valves. Do this while the property is still empty, and if there is any need for repairs and replacements, do it before the other works start.

Establish a likely rent, and see where to make improvements

Avoid overspending. Not everything needs to be remodelled or upgraded. Try to establish the best assets of your property and how would you use them to get a good price, and see where you need to improve it to get an even better price. The usual selling-points are the kitchen and the bathroom, and these two already make substantial investments.

Kitchen makeover

Remodelling the kitchen can bring you the most thumbs up from potential renters, and it can be decisive when it comes to the height of the rent. While you should definitely install new kitchen elements if the old ones are dated, you should stick to a simple design and colour palette that can appeal to the average tenant. Since the most frequent renters are millennials which are demanding on trendiness, you should get informed about most popular appliances, and stick to energy-saving units.

Spruce up the bathroom

The bathroom is another room that can make or break the renting agreement. It is also a very expensive investment, but if your plumbing is in good shape, this will be much easier and more affordable. As with the kitchen, you should go with a neutral colour palette and a clean style. There are some ways to save on the bathroom renovation, such as getting lightly used or recycled fixtures, installing a sun tube instead of a window, using subway tile (much more affordable, and with the right décor, very chic), and limiting the tile to “water-sprinkling” areas, while painting the others with moisture-resistant paint.

Invest in floors and paint

If the house isn’t lived in for some time, it is highly likely that the floors and the walls aren’t looking very well. This is something that catches the eye of the potential tenants really fast, so it is a good place to invest.

  • Some affordable and durable options for flooring are wood laminate, bamboo and vinyl.
  • Paint should be bright and neutral so that the future tenants could decorate it according to their taste.

Subtle, but livable décor

Your tenants may decide to bring their own furniture and accessories, but it’s up to you to present them space as welcoming, and an empty house says everything but that. This includes some basic furniture, such as the living room sofa and coffee table, and details that will make the house inviting, such as greenery and fresh flowers.

Put the house on the market

Now that everything is done, it is time to get informed about the local tax laws and property rules. If everything is by the book, move on to setting a competitive price by comparing with the other rentals in the neighbourhood. Be realistic, don’t set the price too high. Expect that the tenants will be scouting around for better deals. Remember that being a landlord is a huge responsibility, so you have to screen tenants carefully because you need to be sure that they will treat your property responsibly and pay the rent on time. Once you find the tenant that you like, ask for a security deposit.

While it does bring a secure monthly income, being a landlord also brings many obligations, including adapting your home to the needs and desires of the people who are going to live there. Hopefully, these tips will help both you and the tenants have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Even though it may seem as something inflexible, the commercial construction industry is affected by various outside factors. We are talking about issues like economic fluctuations, climate changes, new technologies and job markets. This being said, here are a few commercial construction trends that will continue to shape the industry in 2017.

Green practices are the next big thing

While some people still deny the impact human behaviour has on our climate, going green is still one of the most important trends in the construction business. We are talking about the use of power-saving techniques, low-power machinery and even the increased use of eco-friendly materials in the process. Overall, the three greatest trends here are the so-called LEED certification, eco-friendly building materials and, of course, net-zero energy building. Each of these represents a massive leap forward in raising environmental awareness and boosting commercial construction.
commercial building

The labor shortage is a huge problem

One of the greatest problems construction industry is currently facing is the imminent labor shortage. Even with the unstable job market, millennials still remain mostly uninterested in this field. One of the reasons this is so is due to the fact that there is a lack of technical training in schools. The problems are even greater with the skilled labor force, because they are getting more and more valuable by the minute. In the end, all of this mostly results in longer project schedules and heftier payrolls for those who do decide to try their hand in this industry. Unfortunately, with the current state of the economy, this particular problem isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

The Internet of Things is slowly entering the market

In 2017 almost everyone knows with the Internet of Things is, but what exactly does this entail in the construction business? First of all, it allows for a better landscape survey, aided with drone technology, employee tracking and various other high-tech means of collecting information. One of the greatest boosts this can give to the industry is that of increased safety. You see, not every area of the construction site can be considered a safe zone, which means that various forms of wearables may increase the personal safety of construction workers. Finally, all the information gathered this way might, over time, become invaluable data that will elevate the industry to a whole new level.

VR and AR are ready for their grand entrance

With the help of VR and AR gadgets, architects and designers might get a better insight in their project in its planning stage. Imagine a situation where an architect can ‘walk’ through their building long before its construction starts. This way, many hidden flaws may be discovered in time which can save a fortune. Seeing how the shortage of labor and necessity for using eco-friendly materials may raise the overall cost of construction, this might help level the field.
VR

3D printers

Finally, one of the things everyone keeps talking about these days is the impact of 3D printers on the construction industry. Namely, in a recent experiment, a huge 3D printer was able to build a house in under 24 hours. To make things even more astonishing, it did so at a cost of under $10,000. This being said, it is more than clear that these devices have a huge potential of both completely revolutionizing the commercial construction industry and solving a mortgage crisis. Nonetheless, whether or not it lives up to its full potential in the future remains to be seen.

While each of these trends may be vital to the commercial construction business as we know it, not every one of them is about to play an equal part in its development. At this point, we can only speculate which trends are going to take lead in the next several years.

Reclaimed wood is one of the biggest interior design trends in the latest couple of years. The worn layers, warm tones and rich textures bring a pleasant rustic aesthetic to any design style. Besides, the trend goes hand in hand with the recent obsession of preserving the planet by “going green”. The environmental benefits of using reclaimed wood are enormous because there is no need to cut down new trees for decorating purposes. Furthermore, reclaimed timber changes the way we design our homes. If you too are amongst the many that are infected by the reclaiming bug, here are some things you should know about reclaimed wood, before you chose (not) to use it.

It’s Not the Same as Recycled

Many people tend to get confused about the terms recycled and reclaimed. Although their purpose is definitely the same – preserving the environment, they are by no means equal. While recycled wood is reprocessed to create entirely new pieces, reclaimed is simply reused. This means that it is basically used in its original state, e.g. flooring from an old dockyard re-laid in a modern apartment.
reclaimed wood wall

Salvaged Wood Saves Our Forests

Did you know that forests cover about 30% of the Earth’s land area? However, if deforestation continues at the current rate all of the world’s rain forests will completely vanish in a hundred years time. Logging businesses that make wood products are to blame for cutting countless trees each year. So, that brand new wood flooring you’re looking at is the reason why so many species are losing their habitat. Reclaimed wood saves our forests by simple math: if you use wood that is already been cut, there will be no need to cut new trees to create completely new flooring.

Reclaimed Planks Are Wider

Eco-friendly benefits aside, there is a lot of aesthetic perks in using reclaimed wood. When comparing modern floors with old flooring in Victorian and Edwardian homes, you will notice that the latter include much wider planks. That is because trees back then were allowed to grow to their full size before they were cut down.
wooden wall

Furniture Looks Better

Reclaimed wood is not used only for flooring and wall covering. It can look just as beautiful when used for furniture. The material adds history, character and beauty to every furniture piece making it a unique statement in your home design. A dining table made of reclaimed timber will enrich your dining room with warmth and make it more inviting, while barn-wood stools, benches and shelving will spread this feeling throughout the house.
reclaimed wood dining table

It Can Be Used Everywhere

There is no room in your house and no piece of furniture or accessory item where reclaimed wood can’t find its place. Imagine a headboard in your bedroom that evokes the rustic feel of a woodland cabin. Use it in your entryway to create a welcoming shelf for shoes, umbrellas and other personal items. Introduce old-world charm into your kitchen with a wooden pot rack, or treat your bathroom with farmhouse vanity.

More Strength and Durability

Finally, to sooth one of the biggest doubts people have about reclaimed wood – no, it doesn’t age and wear out quickly. On the contrary, this wood has already stood the test of time, by being exposed to hot and cold for years, so it is already done all the expanding and contracting it was ever going to do. Furthermore, the grain in salvaged wood is usually much denser than the one in new wood, so it is less likely to warp.

After reading all this, there is only one more thing to consider – reclaimed wood may require more legwork than simply stopping at the home center and purchasing it. Before you decide to buy, you should make sure that the wood you choose is properly treated, which includes cleaning, removing nails and kiln-drying.