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5 Rules To Know By Heart for First-Time Home Buyers

While the real estate market continues to boom, purchasing your first house can be an extreme challenge, especially amidst the high competition among buyers. Others may either have more money or more assets to liquidate than you do. In these situations, you have to create your advantage.

Here are some tips on how you can score your first house.

1. Needs, Wants, and Everything Nice

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Before making that offer for just any home, you need to identify what you’re looking for in a house. Imagine yourself in a home buying reality TV where the hosts ask you what you want, how much your budget is, and what features you would like to have in your residence; the same goes with your true-to-life house hunting.

2. Maximize Your Financial Health

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A real estate buyer needs a housing loan. However, before providers can approve yours with reasonable interest rates, you have to secure your finances.

Take care of your credit score while you’re saving up for at least a 20% downpayment. Your loans are more likely to be approved with lower annual percentage rates when you have 750 credit rating and above. Keep your debts to a minimum and pay your obligations on time.

3. Consider Alternatives

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If you can’t make a fifth of the asking price as an initial payment, or if your credit score is too low to meet the 750 mark, there are still options available. The FHA and other mortgage companies can offer loans asking for a lower down payment, which is at least 3%. Some can even provide a 1% down payment scheme for qualified borrowers.

4. Pre-approval

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Mortgage loan providers can credit scores and verify them against your assets to see whether they’ll support your loans. There are even lenders who can almost instantly approve your application for a housing loan.

Even when you receive the approval for a housing loan amount, you may still have to remember it’s not yet permanent until it has been awarded to you. Keep your credit score up before, during, and after the loan.

Also, while you may be approved for an amount, think through whether you’ll take advantage of the full loanable sum. Figure out whether you can sustain yourself throughout the life of the loan. The last thing you want to happen is becoming ‘house-poor,’ where you’ve spent all you can afford to buy your house and had little to nothing left to sustain your other needs.

5. The Buyer’s Agent

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The Internet may provide useful information when it comes to acquiring properties, but with the constant change in various markets, the critical data necessary for buying a home may be outdated.

While there is an app for almost anything imaginable, real estate buyers need human real estate agents, particularly the first timers. People require assistance in getting listings, deals, and all things to know about current market conditions, pricing and fees, financing, and housing rules.

These are just four rules to follow when buying a home. Feel free to read about getting that dream home. But most importantly, work hard for it and keep your debts to a minimum.


To DIY or To Hire an Expert: The Problems of Your Home Renovation Project

The DIY subculture has reemerged between the sixties and seventies in Northern America and has been around ever since. People see this movement with gratification, for providing a low-cost and personalized approach to almost anything we can put our minds and hearts to, including home renovation. For the DIYer, any completed project can bring self-pride and accomplishment.

However, it can also be the total opposite encounter. A failed DIY project can be more than an epic fail; it could lead to wasted resources and time and need to restart from square one. Hence, everyone would have to think thoroughly whether a home renovation or any project per se, can be a DIY scheme or must be left to the experts. Here are some points to ponder.

Cost vs. Benefits, Effort vs. Hassle

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Before you evaluate yourself whether you can handle a home remodeling project on your own, think about the pros and cons. While it can initially save you money, DIY projects may take a longer time to complete compared to those handled by experts.

If your project takes a few days or weeks to complete, you may have to consider whether you and your family can move comfortably around your home without being slowed down by the renovation. Simpler projects that take a day or two are excellent for DIY.

Let’s say your only toilet and bath needs renovation. While it can be cost-efficient for any homeowner to install a new toilet by himself, there could also be underlying issues that require attention, such as plumbing works. Unless you are an expert yourself, the DIY process may take the whole day. Put the other people in your household into consideration. Will you be fast enough to complete the installation before anyone needs the bathroom? If not, think again.

Health and Home Risk

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Home remodeling comes with various hazards, in the form of bodily harm or damage to property. Inspect all potential perils of any home renovation projects before doing it alone by yourself.

Do away with projects which need expert hands. If you’re not familiar with the workarounds of a particular task, i.e., electrical works, plumbing, etc., leave it to trained professionals.

Weigh your savings against potential damages. Will you be covered in case, God forbid, something happens to you while fixing your electrical and HVAC systems? Are you prepared for any additional expenses in the event your project fails? Remember that we never measure savings with upfront costs alone. Look forward.

Expertise and Equipment

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While savings is the primary driver for any DIY project, it requires tons of skills and tools. Hire professionals for delicate tasks, even when you think you have the right equipment unless you’re confident in your facilities to handle the renovation. Also, some projects may seem easy even for newbies, but only if they have the right tools.
Start with smaller projects and leave the bigger and more complicated ones to the people who are certified and have the perfect gear to do the task.

These are the desiderata of DIY home remodeling. Consider these factors before you assign yourself with the renovation. If you really want to do things on your own, get trained with the right tools and practices. Unless you’re ready, give the job to the pros.

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Top 5 World Cities Where Your $1M Can’t Afford A Big House

Most real estate agents I know tell the same quote on different occasions – that the grandest investment on Earth is earth. True enough. There are at least eight reasons why real estate investment is a must if you can afford one. If you can’t at the moment, work hard for it.

These agents would also often say, that if you don’t like your neighborhood, then move somewhere else. If thoughts of buying a property haven’t crossed your mind yet, because you don’t like where you live, think again. If you can’t settle within the same community, there are still 195 countries where you can migrate.

Let me give you a heads up, though; there are some places where real estate properties are extremely costly. In fact, in the following cities, $1 million dollars can only give you a small piece of land. Here are the three most expensive metros for real estate.

Monaco

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The government of Monaco doesn’t impose any income taxes on its residents, except for French nationals who are still required to pay personal taxes directly to their home country. While there may be higher VAT on other expenditures, this policy allows its people to save up on things they want and need to buy for themselves. A significant downside, however, is the reality that properties within the country come with an outrageous price.
Imagine, for a million US dollars, anyone including foreigners may purchase a 15 sqm of land. This area is just enough for a standard room or a one-car garage. Unless you can create a mansion out of this small space, one million may not suffice.

Hong Kong

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Another city with minimal taxes and lenient foreign ownership policies is Hong Kong. This autonomous region also owns some of the most expensive lands on the planet. Its economy has also allowed its affluent population and global corporate heads to accumulate multiple real estate properties for residential and commercial use.
If you decide to invest $1M in this city, brace yourself to get approximately 20 sqm, about the same size as a Superior Room in a 5-star hotel in Istanbul.

London

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Home to the British Parliament, London is one of the planet’s most sought-after cities for living. There are many witty articles online to read on why you should live in this metro, which includes the citizens’ ability to go to Paris by train when boredom kicks. Most of the residents would say that they compared to other places they go on a holiday, expenses in London are still higher, but so are their incomes. Thus, the demand for property in this city is skyrocketing. London, after all, is another haven for the wealthy real estate investors.

With a million dollar budget, you should be able to get at least 25sqm of land property. That’s more decent than the above cities.

That sums up the list of the most expensive lands for sale on Earth. If you can’t afford these places, that’s okay. But owe it to yourself to make a good real estate investment while you can.

3 DIY Home Remodeling Hacks You Should Know About Before Wasting Resources

Time can take away the ‘sweet’ in Home Sweet Home. After a few years and dozen trends, our houses, big or small, need some retouch. While a home remodeling project requires some portion of your paycheck, it doesn’t have to be unsustainable.

Here are some DIY tricks you should know before you blow up expenses.

1. Optimize, Not Maximize

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Physical expansion of your home, whether horizontal or vertical, can also add up to your expenses. Unless there’s a need for additional square footage, optimize your home’s efficiency instead. It’s always better to be highly functional with the areas of your house than creating a flat space. Add more storage to wherever possible, but don’t overdo it.

2. Go Green

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If you want to save up, your imagination must work really hard. Using recyclable materials can be a viable option for you, and the environment. While I do not recommend going ‘extreme’ when recycling, such as visiting dump sites, I highly suggest repurposing your belongings. Start thinking of ways on how you can turn old things into new house ornaments.

3. Durability Can Wait

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Unless your home is no longer functional or now considered an unlivable space, save up for the more durable materials. While there are cheaper options to a fresher look for your house, go for what would last. If funds are not yet available, work hard and save up for it. Avoid using your plastics to pay up for things that can wait. While it is a sound investment to renovate your home, doing away with additional debts when possible can also save you from high-interest rates.

These are just three tips on how to cut costs on your home renovation projects. Extra tip, if you’re not skilled enough for a DIY project, either practice until it’s perfect or hire someone to do the remodeling.

The Do’s and Don’ts on How to Handle Rogue Tradespeople

The fact that more people are starting to lose trust on merchants and contractors whom we haven’t hired yet is alarming. While I was hoping that it was just a miss on my observations, recent market studies confirm so.

Based on current polls, three out of four homeowners are scared to hire new contractors, with almost half of the participants revealing they’ve had previous negative experiences.

While it would be almost worry-free if we can DIY anything, there are just things when we needed experts. Hence, to ease up your search for your Next Best Contractor, here are my tips.

Recommendation

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Nothing can remove worries better than your friends and family informing you who to hire or not to hire. If they have received excellent service in the past, that contractor is more likely to give the same level when requested for service.

Quote and Quote

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Before hiring any tradesperson for a job, request quotations first for what you need and when you need them done. Ask around and get 2-3 quotes from different contractors to see which one offers the most reasonable price.

Do’s

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* Request or print a contract before allowing the contractor to start any jobs. Give him time to understand and sign before anything else. Check the current allowable VAT to see if your worker charges the correct rate. Watch out for any tell-tale signs of a rogue tradesperson. Read below.

Don’ts

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* Don’t give in to either small initial quotes that may excessively increase later, or seemingly reasonable estimates that your contractor won’t put into writing. Also, don’t get too excited to have someone work on your project. Request for references first. If the other party declines, beware.

Remember, you have to be careful on choosing a contractor to handle your projects. While this may consume time, it can save you a lot of resources.

5 Expensive Real Estate Cities Where You May Afford Housing Soon

The real estate industry is nearing a bubble, after a global land boom. After a significant increase in housing market prices and demand worldwide, experts believe in a high possibility of price decline in the years to come.

According to recent studies, at least five global cities are facing this decline. For people who haven’t owned any properties in these areas yet thinking about getting one, the bubble burst is something to watch out for by all means.
Here are five cities where a significant bubble burst can come sooner than later.

Vancouver, Canada

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Price listings for homes in Vancouver have increased over time, influenced by an uplifted buyer demand in the area. In almost two years, the value of houses has already increased by a quarter. Thanks to foreign buyers who would like to try their Canadian luck.

The government has imposed a higher property transfer tax this year to reduce the possible effects of any housing bubble.

London, UK

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In almost a decade, real estate properties in London have risen by at least 15% even when salaries are reported to be lower nowadays.

Stockholm, Sweden

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The Swedish capital has been very expensive lately when it comes to real estate, that even bigger corporations are starting to protest. Their central bank has helped lower mortgages by a significant rate in the recent years, due to affordability issues.

Sydney, Australia

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This Aussie city has attracted many foreign buyers and investors in just a few years, especially Asians. While Australians currently categorize their housing markets as extremely unaffordable, experts believe that the real property prices are nearing a balloon.

Hong Kong, China

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Low-interest rates play a critical role in causing an economic and housing bubble in places where prices have gone greatly unsustainable, including Hong Kong. While housing costs have gone up, incomes are not improving which creates an affordability issue for most people.

While these areas are still enjoying their land boom, we may have to wait longer before a bubble burst. Then again, we may not have to wait that long.