Category Archives: My Blog

Mastering the Mortgages Maze

Mastering the Mortgages Maze

So…you’re about to buy a property and need a mortgage…
Where do you begin?
Whether you are a first home buyer, have bought and sold several times, are re-financing, seeking an equity loan, or even a reverse motgage – there are a lot of thing to consider…
Do you choose fixed rate, variable rate, adjustable rate – or interest only.
Rates, fees, costs – can all vary.
Let’s have a look at the differences:
Fixed Interest Rate – usually fixed for the life of the mortgage, say 15-30 years, regardless of increases or decreases in market rates. This type of mortgage is ideal for those on a budget – as you always know what your repayments are.
Adjustable (Variable) Interest Rate – this type of mortgage allows the interest rate to be adjusted according to the current market rates -usually adjusted at the end of pre-determined periods. These tend to have lower monthly payments and are more flexible than fixed.
Balloon Mortgage – this is fixed amount payments for a period of time and then one large payment (balloon) towards the end of the term.
Graduated Payment Mortgage – this is where the payments start off small and gradually increase.
Interest Only – this type of mortgage is usually only for a specified time – where interest only is paid – so the principal is not reducing. Usually only used for a short time, or to finance a second property.
Second Mortgage – this is based on the amount of equity you have in your home. Usually used for home renovation, to consolidate debt or to purchase a second property. Usually set payments at a fixed interest rate. Be aware that interest rates are usually higher.
Home Equity Mortgage – this is borrowing against the equity in your home. It is often used to finance home renovations. Interest rates can vary, as can the fees and term – it is a very competitive market – so do your homework. This loan can have tax advantages – however, your home is up as collateral.
Reverse Mortgage – also known as ‘equity release’. This is for seniors to convert the equity in their home to cash. Repayments are not required until they permanently move, sell, die or reach the end on the loan term.

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Helping Lift the Home Loans Haze

Helping Lift the Home Loans Haze

So…you’re about to buy a property and need a home loan…
Where do you begin?
Whether you are a first home buyer, have bought and sold several times, are re-financing, seeking an equity loan, or even a reverse motgage – there are a lot of thing to consider…
Do you choose fixed rate, variable rate, adjustable rate – or interest only.
Rates, fees, costs – can all vary.
Let’s have a look at the differences:
Fixed Interest Rate – usually fixed for the life of the home loan, say 15-30 years, regardless of increases or decreases in market rates. This type of home loan is ideal for those on a budget – as you always know what your repayments are.
Adjustable (Variable) Interest Rate – this type of home loan allows the interest rate to be adjusted according to the current market rates -usually adjusted at the end of pre-determined periods. These tend to have lower monthly payments and are more flexible than fixed.
Balloon Home Loan – this is fixed amount payments for a period of time and then one large payment (balloon) towards the end of the term.
Graduated Payment Home Loan – this is where the payments start off small and gradually increase.
Interest Only – this type of home loan is usually only for a specified time – where interest only is paid – so the principal is not reducing. Usually only used for a short time, or to finance a second property.
Second Mortgage – this is based on the amount of equity you have in your home. Usually used for home renovation, to consolidate debt or to purchase a second property. Usually set payments at a fixed interest rate. Be aware that interest rates are usually higher.
Home Equity Home Loan – this is borrowing against the equity in your home. It is often used to finance home renovations. Interest rates can vary, as can the fees and term – it is a very competitive market – so do your homework. This loan can have tax advantages – however, your home is up as collateral.
Reverse Mortgage – also known as ‘equity release’. This is for seniors to convert the equity in their home to cash. Repayments are not required until they permanently move, sell, die or reach the end on the loan term.

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Can I Use The Equity In My Home To Get A Loan?

Can I Use The Equity In My Home To Get A Loan?

The ‘equity’ in your home refers to the amount you have left to repay on a mortgage subtracted from the current market value of your home and for some homeowners, this can add up to a considerable sum if they’ve been repaying their mortgage for quite some time or have completed mortgage repayments and own their home outright. This sum of money is, in effect, ‘locked in’ to your home and a home equity release loan allows you to tap into that sum of cash to fund any purpose.

The crucial thing to bear in mind, however, is that this method of securing cash is not for everybody and careful consideration needs to be taken as you could be putting your home at risk if you’re unsure as to what it involves.

Reasons for taking out a home equity loan can vary but quite often they are used to raise finance for things like extensive home improvement projects or major home renovations which, ultimately, will add significant value to your home anyway and which might possibly even work out to your financial gain in the long term over the cost of the loan.

Then there are other scenarios where, perhaps, an elderly person or couple with a low income may need to raise cash to fund their monthly expenses. They may have fully paid off their mortgage and have no children to consider when it comes to any inheritance issues or they may have children but may not be looking to pass on any of their assets after they’ve died. In these cases too, home equity release might present them with their best option. After all, they’ve worked hard to buy their home in the first place and have now paid it off. Therefore, as an asset it has a significant monetary value but it is tied up in their home’s value. This is typical of the scenario of “cash rich on paper but cash poor on a day to day basis”.

It cannot be emphasised too strongly, however, that a home equity loan isn’t for everyone and you should seek professional advice if you are considering opting to go down this route.

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Many homeowners try to find inventive ways to bring the outdoors inside

Many homeowners try to find inventive ways to bring the outdoors inside

There are many reasons to add a stacked stone fireplace to your home décor. One of them is the timeless quality of the stones. You can be sure that this indoor feature will never go out of style. This is a great benefit for anyone who isn’t keen on the idea of home renovations every time a trend goes out of interior decorating fashion.

The timeless quality is also beneficial to save you a lot of money in the long run. Your initial investment in a stacked stone fireplace will pay off in that you will never need to replace this element in your home. Many trendy interior designs for fireplaces quickly lose their popularity. With a stacked stone fireplace the room will never look dated.

You may pay more for the initial cost of materials as well as the installation. Stones are a little pricy and stacking them does take quite a bit of patience and skill. However, once the work is done you know that you have invested in a quality home interior feature that will endure the test of time.

Features like a stacked stone fireplace not only make any room attractive and elegant they also make the home more valuable in general. For these reasons we decided to add this important item to the interior of our house. The decision was a great one that I am very glad that we made.

I love the fact that I can still enjoy the outdoor elements in my stone fireplace. Our home in the middle of a busy city and we really lack great natural elements even outdoor. The stacked stone fireplace is the one item in our home that really reminds me of nature in general.

The many benefits of having such a feature are practically countless. The texture and color of the stones add warmth and depth to the room. The whole area is more interesting and I find that the stacked stone fireplace is one of the most important features in our home.

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10 Things You Must Know When Building or Renovating

10 Things You Must Know When Building or Renovating

There are many sad cases of home renovations not going as planned – often going way over budget or schedule, or unforseen complications popping up unexpectedly and ruining even up to years of work.
Most of these situations would never have gone so awry with some careful planning and early decision making sooner in the renovation process. Below are a few issues that it is vital to think about before you begin your home renovation.
10 Things to Think About BEFORE Beginning Work
Prepare a budget
Be aware of council regulations
Find a tradesperson
Know your start and completion dates
Selecting Products
Prepare plans
Purchasing products
What should I purchase myself?
What services are available to my property?
What sort of hot water unit do I need?
Prepare a budget
Before you start shopping for your new bathroom or kitchen you must know your spending limits. Whether you are getting a loan or paying cash, you need to work out how much your project is going to cost. Some businesses also offer finance solutions for approved customers.
Be aware of council regulations
Find out all the information you can before you arrange tradesperson. If your home is heritage listed you will need to meet strict council regulations. Many renovations must be approved by the council before work can commence. Contact your local council for more details.
Finding a tradesperson
Speak with family and friends who have done renovations or built a home. It is important to find a tradesperson that you can communicate with. Make sure you understand everything they are telling you. Book a tradesperson well ahead of time, as they can be booked for months in advance. Ensure that your tradesperson is licensed. Your product warranties are only valid if installed by a licensed tradesperson. In Australia, Trades@call provide professional, reliable tradespeople for most jobs, and all workmanship is guaranteed.
Know your start and completion dates
Communicate with your tradesperson and come to an agreement of realistic start and completion dates for your project. If you have a specific date that the job must be finished by, for example you have relatives coming to stay, let your tradesperson know. Keep in mind that unexpected problems can hold up your project, no matter how well you have planned it.
Selecting Products
It may take a few shopping trips for you to decide on the products that give you the look you desire and are also practical for your needs. Browse through a print or online catalogue. Once you have decided on a style (modern, heritage or easy living) this will narrow down your product choices. Be aware of any size restrictions of the room. Print out or write down product specifications and measure up your bathroom. You may use the online bathroom planner at the Bourne Bathroom and Kitchen Centre website to layout the products you have chosen.
Talk to your tradesperson about your choices. If the tradesperson tells you that a product you have chosen is unsuitable, find out why. It may just be that extra work is required that they don’t want to do. Remember, it is your home and you need to be satisfied once the job is complete.
Prepare plans
It is important that you draw up plans of your bathroom or kitchen. Discuss the plans with your tradesperson. Let him know what sort of products you would like, so he will know what work needs to be done. For example if you have chosen an inwall cistern, the tradesperson will need to know so he can set up the plumbing correctly before the tiling is done. It is best to have specifications of all of the products you have chosen so the tradesperson knows exactly what work is required.
Purchasing products
When selecting products, find out how long it will take for delivery. Some goods such as tapware and toilets will be in stock, while others such as spas and vanity units are custom made and can take up to 1 month to order in. Often these custom made products are non-refundable so confirm your product choices with your tradesperson before ordering. Find out from your tradesperson which products they will required first. Generally, the first products needed are the shower base, bath or spa and mixers if they are being installed on the wall.
As an owner builder, what should I purchase myself?
If you are owner building, make sure you purchase all of the main products for your bathroom, kitchen and laundry. This will ensure that you make all of the decisions and achieve the result you want. There will be things you will not think about when placing an order, such as different handle types on a vanity unit, the pump position of your spa, that you will need to decide on. It is important to make these decisions yourself as they will affect the overall result of your project. Smaller fittings for plumbing can be purchased by your tradesperson.
What services are available to my property?
It is important to know whether you need gas or electric appliances (hot water unit, cooking appliances). If you live further out from the city, you may need LPG appliances. If you currently have electric appliances and you want to change to gas, speak with your tradesperson to determine if this is going to be cost effective and worthwhile in the long run. If you are building a new home, decide on the appliances you want before building begins, as the plumbing will need to be roughed in based on your product selection.
What sort of Hot Water Unit do I need?
There is a wide range of hot water units available and it can be quite daunting to try and choose one. If you are replacing an existing unit your choices can be limited, so speak with your tradesperson. The instantaneous hot water units are popular at the moment, but they use a larger gas line than the standard storage units. This can mean major plumbing changes which can be quite costly, though in the long run the instantaneous systems are cost efficient. See the Bourne Hot Water Selection Guide for more detail.
Many of these points seem somewhat obvious, but the problem arises when you start taking things for granted. When you don’t make sure that all your bases are covered, you may find that you have invested a lot of time, effort and money in a home renovation that you may end up unhappy with.

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10 Things You Must Know When Renovating

10 Things You Must Know When Renovating

There are many sad cases of home renovations not going as planned – often going way over budget or schedule, or unforseen complications popping up unexpectedly and ruining even up to years of work.
Most of these situations would never have gone so awry with some careful planning and early decision making sooner in the renovation process. Below are a few issues that it is vital to think about before you begin your home renovation.
10 Things to Think About BEFORE Beginning Work
Prepare a budget
Be aware of council regulations
Find a tradesperson
Know your start and completion dates
Selecting Products
Prepare plans
Purchasing products
What should I purchase myself?
What services are available to my property?
What sort of hot water unit do I need?
Prepare a budget
Before you start shopping for your new bathroom or kitchen you must know your spending limits. Whether you are getting a loan or paying cash, you need to work out how much your project is going to cost. Some businesses also offer finance solutions for approved customers.
Be aware of council regulations
Find out all the information you can before you arrange tradesperson. If your home is heritage listed you will need to meet strict council regulations. Many renovations must be approved by the council before work can commence. Contact your local council for more details.
Finding a tradesperson
Speak with family and friends who have done renovations or built a home. It is important to find a tradesperson that you can communicate with. Make sure you understand everything they are telling you. Book a tradesperson well ahead of time, as they can be booked for months in advance. Ensure that your tradesperson is licensed. Your product warranties are only valid if installed by a licensed tradesperson. In Australia, Trades@call provide professional, reliable tradespeople for most jobs, and all workmanship is guaranteed.
Know your start and completion dates
Communicate with your tradesperson and come to an agreement of realistic start and completion dates for your project. If you have a specific date that the job must be finished by, for example you have relatives coming to stay, let your tradesperson know. Keep in mind that unexpected problems can hold up your project, no matter how well you have planned it.
Selecting Products
It may take a few shopping trips for you to decide on the products that give you the look you desire and are also practical for your needs. Browse through a print or online catalogue. Once you have decided on a style (modern, heritage or easy living) this will narrow down your product choices. Be aware of any size restrictions of the room. Print out or write down product specifications and measure up your bathroom. You may use the online bathroom planner at the Bourne Bathroom and Kitchen Centre website to layout the products you have chosen.
Talk to your tradesperson about your choices. If the tradesperson tells you that a product you have chosen is unsuitable, find out why. It may just be that extra work is required that they don’t want to do. Remember, it is your home and you need to be satisfied once the job is complete.
Prepare plans
It is important that you draw up plans of your bathroom or kitchen. Discuss the plans with your tradesperson. Let him know what sort of products you would like, so he will know what work needs to be done. For example if you have chosen an inwall cistern, the tradesperson will need to know so he can set up the plumbing correctly before the tiling is done. It is best to have specifications of all of the products you have chosen so the tradesperson knows exactly what work is required.
Purchasing products
When selecting products, find out how long it will take for delivery. Some goods such as tapware and toilets will be in stock, while others such as spas and vanity units are custom made and can take up to 1 month to order in. Often these custom made products are non-refundable so confirm your product choices with your tradesperson before ordering. Find out from your tradesperson which products they will required first. Generally, the first products needed are the shower base, bath or spa and mixers if they are being installed on the wall.
As an owner builder, what should I purchase myself?
If you are owner building, make sure you purchase all of the main products for your bathroom, kitchen and laundry. This will ensure that you make all of the decisions and achieve the result you want. There will be things you will not think about when placing an order, such as different handle types on a vanity unit, the pump position of your spa, that you will need to decide on. It is important to make these decisions yourself as they will affect the overall result of your project. Smaller fittings for plumbing can be purchased by your tradesperson.
What services are available to my property?
It is important to know whether you need gas or electric appliances (hot water unit, cooking appliances). If you live further out from the city, you may need LPG appliances. If you currently have electric appliances and you want to change to gas, speak with your tradesperson to determine if this is going to be cost effective and worthwhile in the long run. If you are building a new home, decide on the appliances you want before building begins, as the plumbing will need to be roughed in based on your product selection.
What sort of Hot Water Unit do I need?
There is a wide range of hot water units available and it can be quite daunting to try and choose one. If you are replacing an existing unit your choices can be limited, so speak with your tradesperson. The instantaneous hot water units are popular at the moment, but they use a larger gas line than the standard storage units. This can mean major plumbing changes which can be quite costly, though in the long run the instantaneous systems are cost efficient. See the Bourne Hot Water Selection Guide for more detail.
Many of these points seem somewhat obvious, but the problem arises when you start taking things for granted. When you don’t make sure that all your bases are covered, you may find that you have invested a lot of time, effort and money in a home renovation that you may end up unhappy with.

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Putting PASSION Back Into Home Decorating

Putting PASSION Back Into Home Decorating

For most people, they can count the times they redecorate their homes in a lifetime on one hand. It’s a shame because this is not because they don’t have great ideas about how they want their homes to be, but that the thought of redecorating brings the following obstacles to mind:
Where to put up if I am renovating?
I have accumulated a lot of furniture and household items, how in the world can we integrate them with this ultra modern design I am interested in?
We have spent all that money doing up the place when we moved in and now we have to do away with it? What a waste.
It’s one big financial outlay!
But our tastes change, moods change over time. New notions inspire us even after we completed our renovations. Is there a way to invest in our homes in a flexible, relaxing and manageable way? To be able to afford stylish home transformations year after year?
Yes! This does call for a whole new way of looking at home renovations, not as a singular large-scale undertaking but modular projects that keeps the design process fluid and fun.
Modular transformations: Where to start?
Amazing transformations can be achieved by changing colour and texture around the house with a new coat of paint, new fabrics or overlays. A homeowner is taken by the Asian resort-style at a holiday trip to Bali wanted to give his home that same feel in his home. What he did was to overlay wooden decking in a strategic section of his living room, added indoor landscaping and enhanced his lighting. The solution was effective and relatively cheap.
To be able to enjoy many years of such surface transformations at a whim without major hacking and construction work, you will need good planning at the start. A good home design is all about form and structure, storage planning and circulation of movement. These are important decisions that homeowners need to make and should not be based on preferences for style as these change over time, but on lifestyle, family timetables, day-to-day habits and future household needs.
Good planning that takes these human factors into account will ensure that no matter how often you choose to make transformations in your home or how radical the style, it doesn’t throw your lifestyles out of whack by negatively impacting critical spaces, creating odd corners and circulation of movement. This home improvement blueprint can also guide you in making those big-ticket furniture purchases and lessen the urge for impulsive imprudent buys.
With a good understanding of the form and movement in your home as well as lifestyle needs, embarking on small-scale projects to give your home a new look and feel, be it asian, modern classic or gothic revival, would be fun, fulfilling and ultimately successful.
On a more personal level, families can also use this kind of home planning exercise as a way to find out more about each other’s lifestyle needs and involve everyone in the vision of making their homes cosy, lively and liveable.
Lighting – Endless possibilities with a small budget.
Everyone’s moods are ever changing – sunny and bright, contemplative, dark, romantic, sultry – if only you could transform your home as often as you change your moods!
You can with the right lighting. The same room can look vastly different under different modes of illumination. A good lighting system will afford you a variety of lighting conditions, soft and warm for entertaining, bright and efficient for household chores like ironing, focused and glare-free for reading.
If you have a small budget and big plans for your home, designing a multi-purpose lighting system may be your finest investment. Lighting not only invokes fancy, it also helps put an attractive glow on old, uncoordinated furnishings (and don’t we all have those around the house).
Home designing and decorating can be a most frustrating yet infinitely fulfilling activity. Start with a bright attitude, a good understanding of the design process and plenty of communication between family members and you are not likely to go wrong.

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How To Use A Home Equity Loan Intelligently

How To Use A Home Equity Loan Intelligently

There certainly are many different possible ways to use a home equity loan. In fact, they are used for just about any reason possible. While you certainly can use your money any way you wish – some ways make more sense than others and have a more lasting value. Here are some ways you can intelligently use the money in your home’s equity.

Home Renovations

This is probably the best investment for your home equity loan. If used properly, it can quickly add lasting value to your home – and more equity. Right now, some of the top projects that can be done to improve the quality of your home are additions, siding, and renovating the kitchen or bathroom. It is important that you check first with a Realtor in your area to see what works and what does not when it comes to renovations and increasing the value. You will especially want to check if you are considering getting the house ready to sell.

College Education

If you have a son or a daughter that is ready to go to college, using some of your home equity loan to help pay for it is a good investment. This could provide a low interest way to foot the college bill. It also will help you to be sure that at least some of the expenses are available in advance, instead of waiting for approval for a grant or other fund.

Investments

If you are knowledgeable of the stock market, or other high yield investments, this could work for you. Since home equity loans are low cost, it is possible for the one who knows the market, to be able to invest and make a larger profit than what it costs. This puts your money to good use and could enable you to make enough money to pay off the home equity loan quickly. For those who are not familiar enough with the stock market to risk it themselves, it is possible to get good advice on how to do this from others. However, let them prove the worth of their advice by starting out investing small amounts – then building up.

Debt Consolidation

Paying off your debts with a home equity loan is another good choice. It would quickly enable you to pay off your debts and get a single payment. Besides that, you also have stretched out your payments over a longer period of time making it easier to pay. By making regular payments on time each month, you can improve your credit score – if it needs it.

A word of caution needs to be given here. Consolidating your debts should not be looked at as a new opportunity to max out the credit cards again. Using your equity will allow you to have a fresh start, but you also need to remember that equity is not built up as fast as you can max out a credit card. This means that, if you do max them out again, you may not have enough equity to get another loan. The other one will most likely not be paid off by then, either.

Fun

Certainly, when you take out a home equity loan you probably will want to have some fun with it – since you don’t get access to cash that easily. Besides – it is your money. Just remember that while fun is great, it also should not be the main reason you get a home equity loan. It takes a long time to build up sizable equity, and you want to make sure that you invest some of it.

Before you get a home equity loan, be sure to shop around until you find that great deal. By looking around you will quickly see what is possible, and which ones just don’t compare with the others. You also want to leave at least 20% of the value of your home untouched – or you will need to pay private mortgage insurance.

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Quartz Countertops, Anyone?

Quartz Countertops, Anyone?

Countertops and Vanities, does it increase Home Resale Value? This is especially true for a realty down market as the ongoing housing crisis, when sales of homes are especially challenging. With the market becoming Buyers Market for the conceivable futures, renovation trends indicate that houses are in the market longer, and potential buyers are more choosy. In other words, home renovations to make the house attractive is a must.

One of the key areas of the home which has the best returns on investment is (you guessed it) the kitchen. Kitchen vanities, kitchen countertops are integral part of any kitchen design process. Quality countertops change the way a home looks as it is situated often at the heart of the home.

Always get a handyman look over your house to take care of your regular work, next especially in California square feetage are important, so consider adding a sunroom, or a new bedroom or even kitchen remodel.

Some Los Angeles Home Remodeling customers feel that Bathroom remodel (through new bathroom vanities or bathroom countertops ) come in a close second to kitchen design in terms of popularity. In today’s tight market, it may mean the difference between selling and being stuck with a home.

So even if the home equity has dried up, don’t lose heart. Kitchen and bathroom remodeling are here to stay, and these are the two places where you spend a lot of time in when you are at home..

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Easy Tips From One Handyman To Another

Home improvement can be great for the do-it-yourself homeowner, or the homeowner who likes to hire a professional to take on the project. Either way, you can’t go wrong with making repairs and doing some upgrading as long as you follow these tips and advice on how to avoid pitfalls and make the best decisions possible.

When selecting home renovations, consider the savings you will see in the future. For example, a new fridge may save you significantly on electricity bills, and new insulation in the attic could help reduce heating and cooling costs. While these renovations may seem expensive, future savings should always be considered during the planning stage of a home renovation.

Brighten up your kitchen or bathroom with a mosaic backsplash. Backsplashes serve two purposes: they are both utilitarian and a style element. Most people use regular square tile clay for their backsplash, but a mosaic design creates interest and allows you to express your personality. Fortunately, you can buy mosaic tiles on a mesh sheet, saving the time that it would take to lay each tile individually. This provides you with an intricate pattern without having to cut any tile, which can be tricky.

Open up the curtains and blinds during a showing to allow natural light into the home. If the outdoor scenery is not desirable, consider keeping the blinds somewhat closed to draw less attention to it. Turn on all of the lights in the home so the home looks bright and cheery instead of dark and dreary.

If you are the proud owner of an asphalt driveway you need to keep on the lookout for cracks and repair them as soon as possible to keep your driveway in good shape. Keeping your driveway clean and free of debris is the first step in good driveway maintenance.

Check your pipes and plumbing regularly. Clogs in sinks, tubs, and toilets can lead to water back-ups. Flooding from back-ups can create an awful mess and cause massive amounts of expensive damage. Slow moving drains can cause rings of dirt to appear in your tubs and sinks, creating a embarrassing issue. It is best to keep on top of and remove clogs regularly.

If you are looking to improve your house with new appliances, think of how much you are willing to spend as well as the length of time before you will have to replace them. Refrigerators last up to 20 years, microwaves up to 10 years, stoves up to 15 years and washers/dryers last about 13 years.

Don’t throw out your small baby food jars; instead use them to organize your workspace. Superglue or screw the lids of the jars to the underside of a wall shelf. Insert small items into the jars, such as: beads, jewelry parts, screws or nails. Then twist the jars back into place under the shelf. This helps take full advantage of a wall shelf and small jars you didn’t think you would ever need.

Whether you are improving your own personal residence or an investment property that you will use for resale or renting, the tips we have discussed in this article will set you well on your way to higher property values as well as hassle free and financially responsible remodeling projects.

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