Apr 282016
 

Anyone who is looking to potentially buy a house already knows how important the journey to home ownership can be. There is certainly a lot to do in the process, but when it comes to buying your own home there are also some very good points that you will want to remember before you sign the papers or even make an initial offer. When it comes to getting the home of your dreams, remember that some things are easily replaced while others you really don’t have the opportunity to change at all. The old adage is location, location, location for a reason, and if you don’t remember these key points about your potential location you could be stuck with a place that doesn’t quite meet your needs.

Know the Neighborhood

The thing about a neighborhood is that you know it is important, but you just don’t know how important it actually is until it is time to truly deal with it. A neighborhood can include multiple items ranging from crime statistics to school districts, and then there are a lot of other things which can range from political and public services to amenities and even more. The simple answer on neighborhoods is that you want to be sure you have enough to satisfy your needs, and then you also want to be sure you can get everything your future self will want as well. You may not care about schools for example, but if you think children are in your future then you had better keep an eye on school systems.

Another thing to consider is the neighborhood demographics from a financial point of view. A nice house might seem like a good thing to jump into because of the price tag. However, where will the neighborhood be down the line? If the neighborhood is young and up and coming, then you could easily invest in a home that will grow in value over the next few years. That is clearly an intelligent financial decision and you will be swimming in equity. At the same time, if your buy a house with DDProperty decision is because it’s a great location now, but due to things like unemployment rates rising, people moving away, or other factors, you could buy a house that will actually be worth less than the mortgage you paid on it in a few years if you aren’t careful.

Having a Yard

Speaking of having a yard, the fact of the matter remains that some people just want to be able to go outside. If you have pets, children, or even a hankering to do some barbequing and sunbathing then you already know how important a deck, patio, or some green grass beneath your toes can be. That being said there are more than enough individuals who will go shopping and searching for a new place and then before they know it they end up settling on something where the yard is community owned because they are in an apartment (or something like an apartment).

This might not seem like a big deal, but when you try to go out with your children and you wind up stepping in a neighbor’s dog’s feces you can become upset. You can also wind up becoming quickly irritated if you notice things like cigarette butts, trash and other remains from neighbors, or even have to deal with the other general annoyances that accompany having to share community space. As simple as these things might seem, they can certainly become awfully annoying when you are trying to get some rest and relaxation after a long days’ worth of work. This is all before you consider the value of a yard.

Have Access to What Is Important

If you happen to work at a job, then great; make sure your home is near where you work. If you and your family like to go to a specific type of area (parks, movies, shopping outlets, or etc.), then you also have to be sure your home is by those things as well. Location is important not just because of the value that a given location brings and what others see it to be from a market value point of view, but location matters because if you are going to buy a house then it might as well be close to where you spend most of your time.

People in general don’t seem to realize the true costs of being stuck behind the wheel of a vehicle. Aside from the fact that they need to waste more time in general commuting that they won’t get back, they also are at increased risk for health reasons and they face increased costs for using their vehicles as well. It might be easy to fall in love with a home that is a few miles farther than you would like it to be, but when you add up all of the costs of both time and money that a daily commute will cost you, you can see how simple it is to just say no and find a house that is closer.

Looking for a given home isn’t a chore, but you do need to be meticulous. Rather than just accepting the first thing that pops into your head as somewhat decent, make sure you take all of your options into consideration. And, while most people think solely about the home and structure itself, you also have to consider all of the outside factors of purchasing a property. Make sure you consider everything when making the transition into your first home.

Mar 262016
 

The following post was written by staff writer, Peter. 

How to Raise Your Rent without Losing a Tenant

Good tenants aren’t always easy to come by, and few things are as important in a rental property business as securing a great renter. For landlords, it can be a delicate balance when necessity or desire inspires you to increase the rent, as losing a tenant can mean a costly vacancy. If you’re looking for ways to increase your profits, these tips and guidelines will help you raise the rent and improve your chances of retaining a great tenant.

The Lease Stipulation

Before we get started, you need to ensure you have the right lease stipulations that will allow you to raise the rent before landing yourself in a hairy legal situation. Usually these stipulations allow you to increase the rental at lease renewal, so if you don’t have this included, you might be up the creek without a paddle. Most states have strict rules regarding rental increases, so if you’re concerned, it’s always a good idea to check with a local property management company that can give you the lowdown on all the most recent updates.

The Rising Costs

If you’re debating whether or not you should raise your rent, consider the rising costs of upkeep that will steadily increase with each passing year. Everything from insurance premiums to utilities appreciate, and you’ll have to cover those costs on your own if you don’t increase the price of your rent to reflect that.

Prepare an Explanation

Don’t expect your tenants to smile and nod when you tell them you’re increasing the price on their living situation. Before going in, consider exactly how you’ll explain the rate hike, and it can’t be “I want more money”—even if that’s the main reason. There are a variety of valid explanations for an increase: the cost of living has risen, taxes have increased, or inflation. Beyond this, property value might have skyrocketed, or you could need more money to perform improvements and repairs. You might have another reason for your rent; regardless, as long as it’s a reason that can be backed with evidence, you’re less likely to encounter pushback from your tenants.

Give Plenty of Time

You’ll need to give your renters advanced notice of your plans to increase rent prices. Not only will this give them time to decide whether or not they want to continue renting from you, but it will also provide you ample time to secure your next tenants should they choose to leave. This is also a step you must take to follow state and local regulations, so do yourself a favor and inform your tenants of your plans at least 45 days in advance.

Experiment with Advertisements

If you want to test the waters and determine whether your price increases are valid, post a listing for your property with the new price. If you receive interest, you’ll know your price is fair and you’ll have that argument on your side when it’s time to present your proposal to your current tenants. It might be likely that they already realize they’re getting a deal, so the discussion may be something they’ve expected. It will also serve as a great backup; even if your current tenants aren’t willing to pay more, you’ll have prospective tenants that will be more than willing to take their spot. You can also take a look at comparable properties, and find out what their going rate is for new tenants to give yourself a ballpark figure.

Amenities

If you’re going to increase prices by a significant margin, you’ll need to ensure your property is up to par. Soften the blow of an increase in rent by offering your current tenants the option between some amenity upgrades. It could be new appliances, or maybe some landscaping in the front yard, or even updating a shower head and other hardware for an added bonus. It might not completely sell them on the idea, but upgrades will definitely serve you well as bargaining chips.

If You Lose Them

If your tenants decide to leave, there’s not much you can do. Don’t leave it to chance to find a good replacement. Instead of relying simply on a credit report, get all the details you can to make an informed decision. Sites like MySmartMove.com will provide you a credit report, alongside a criminal history notice and let you know if the potential renter has ever been evicted before.

Whether being a landlord is your full-time job or something you do for supplementary income, a variety of facets can factor into your decision to increase rent, even if you have wonderful tenants. Regardless of your relationship with your tenants, your rental property is a business; as such, it’s your prerogative to make it a profitable venture. Armed with these tips, approach your tenants in a smart, sensitive way to ensure you retain their tenancy while also increasing your bottom line.

 Posted by at 4:03 pm
Mar 072016
 

Canada Says Farewell to Gold

One upon a time most currencies were backed by gold. But in 1971 president Richard Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard switching to a floating currency instead so its Central Bank can exert more influence over the currency, and other countries followed suit. Today, everyone uses fiat currency and gold is no longer relevant on the world’s financial stage.

Canada use to have more than 1,000 tons of gold in the 1960’s as part of our foreign exchange reserves. But Ottawa has long forsaken the notion that gold can be a useful diversification tool for a country’s monetary interest. For decades Canada has been slowly selling off its gold reserves, and according to the Finance Department, it only has 77 ounces of gold coins remaining today, which is worth about US $100,000. That’s nothing more than a rounding error compared to the US $80,000,000,000 of total foreign exchange reserves we have.

As Canada gets out of the gold game, others are buying more. According to the World Gold Council, central banks around the world added a net of 336 tons to their reserves in the second half of 2015, representing a 25% increase from the previous year. Russia and India have increased their holdings. And since the start of this century China has bolstered its gold reserves by 350% from 400 tons in 2000 to nearly 1,800 tons today. Even individual investors have helped take gold off the Bank of Canada’s hands. A couple years ago I blogged about buying a 1 ounce limited edition gold coin for CAD $1,389. It’s easily worth 20% more today given the current spot price of gold. 🙂

Here’s a look at the biggest holders of gold by country. (source)

16-03-gold-reserve-by-country

Based on the chart above, we can see that the U.S. central bank holds the most gold by a wide margin. The 8,133 tons of gold held by the U.S. make up 72% of its foreign exchange reserves. The next 3 countries in the list, Germany, Italy, and France also holds more than half of their reserves in gold.

It’s interesting how other central banks seem to be holding or even increasing their gold reserves while Canada has done the exact opposite, lol. I’ll write about the possible reasoning behind these two diverging ideologies around gold in a future post, but it has to do with the nature and purpose of Foreign Exchange Reserves, which requires a rather lengthy explanation.

Continue reading »

Nov 122015
 

15-11-minimalist-parenting

Minimalist living is the idea of getting rid of things we don’t use or need to live a simple and uncluttered life. It’s about giving up the material possessions and lifestyle activities that bring us more stress than happiness. 🙂 There isn’t a conclusive definition of what a minimalist lifestyle should be, but many self-proclaimed minimalists describe it as the pursuit of living a simple lifestyle by making choices important to the individual “rather than adopting the consumerist mindset that most people have.” Since there’s no clear definition of what minimalism is, the term is as subjective as the idea of frugality. 😕

I’m not a minimalist myself. But I wonder how parents who practice minimalism raise their children without depriving them of a proper childhood.

Simplicity may be the ultimate sophistication, but is that true for kids? Many studies show children under the age of 12 learn the fastest. Important skills such as pattern recognition and reasoning start to develop during this crucial time of brain development. Minimalists value experiences over material possessions. But what if toys, television, birthday parties, skateboards, presents and other types of stimulation are all important things that children need to experience for healthy mental development?

Continue reading »

Nov 122015
 

In this present economy, we can no longer count on job security to achieve our future financial goals. If you’ve always been interesting in learning about investments, but you don’t know where to start, here’s a little primer on how to get started. Many of these options are available with as little as $100.

TYPES OF INVESTMENTS

Cash Investments

These are investment platforms were you make a deposit and allow your money to draw interest. The most common are regular savings accounts and Certificates of Deposit (CDs); the interest you earn is usually tied to the going market rate. Traditional savings accounts allow you to withdraw your money whenever you need it, but they offer very little return on your investment (ROI). CDs have a fixed time limit, and the interest earned is higher than you’ll get with a traditional savings account. Both a safe, low-yield investments.

Bonds

These are the next safest investment, and they have a fixed rate of return. Bonds are usually issued through a company or by the government. They basically amount to a loan provided by you to the bond-issuing organization in exchange for a set amount of money on top of the face value of the bond.

Stocks

Stocks allow you to buy shares in the ownership of a publicly traded company in exchange for a portion of the profits in the form of dividends. This can be the most lucrative way to invest, but you should do your homework before choosing a company to invest in.

INVESTING THE SMART WAY

Unless you’re independently wealthy, there’s little chance that you can afford to lose your investment. In the U.S. one relatively painless way to put away money for the future is to buy into a 401(k) retirement fund through your employer. The money will be automatically deducted from your pay, and then invested in a mutual fund or other investing platform. Many employers will even match your contribution; best of all, you won’t have to pay taxes on any income you put into your plan.

If you’re self-employed or your company doesn’t offer a 401(k), you can start by putting aside 10% of more of your earnings each week to build an investment fund on your own. There are a few smart ways to begin, and you can do it for little money. One of the best choices for the novice investor is to purchase Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs. These are traded based on exchange indexes, just like regular stocks, but they carry less risk than traditional stocks, and they offer a higher return than bonds or money markets.

Never put all of your money into one company or type of investment; a well-rounded portfolio that consists of binds, stocks and money market accounts will stand a better chance of building your fortunes without taking on too much risk. Once you learn the ropes and become more confident about your depth of knowledge in investment strategies, you’re on your way to a more secure financial future.

No matter how savvy an investor you become, it always helps to have the guidance of a professional whose job is to keep an eye on your investments and guide your financial decisions. Practical investment advice could benefit anyone from world-renowned CEOs like Ehsan Bayat to young professionals planning ahead for retirement. It’s easy to find investment advice online or through a brokerage in your area.