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How Can We Stop Our Land From Being Degraded?

home garden flowers

You probably selected your home because you fell in love with it and it suited your needs. You might have needed a larger house for a growing family or a smaller house as your family start to leave home. But the one thing you haven’t thought when buying your home is ‘This will definitely go down in value’.

If your land is degraded then the value of your home will be reduced, ultimately it could become less than you paid for it! Fortunately there are several things you can do to prevent this from being an issue.

Local Projects

If there are building projects going on in the area then these can increase or decrease the value of your home. You will need to employ the services of good residential surveyors who will be able to advise you if building projects are likely and the effect they will have on your land.

These surveyors can also check your land to confirm what resources currently run underneath it and whether your neighbors or a utility firm have any rights of access. This can certainly affect your ability to improve your land by adding additional buildings.

The Soil

Degradation also applies to the actual ground your home sits on. If this starts to lose quality it can open the risk of erosion. This can then lead to weakened foundations or disappearing gardens. To protect against this you will need to keep a top cover of vegetation which can ensure that the soil remains nutrient rich.

Looking after your yard can literally prevent your home from losing value as well as adding curb appeal.

The Neighbors

One problem that can be difficult to deal with is when a neighbor fails to look after their property. No matter how good your neighborhood is, one messy or worse, crumbling house, can make the area look uncared for and decrease the value of all the properties in the area.

Fortunately this is relatively easy to deal with. If you speak with your other neighbors you can approach the house in question and find out what the issue is. You might discover that they need help and you’ll be able to build relationships as well as prevent your land from degrading in value.

Plants

One issue which can easily be overlooked is plants. In fact a well stocked garden can add to the visual appeal of a property. However there are some plants which can undermine the foundations of a house, such as Japanese knotweed. A good surveyor will spot this and advise you before you purchase the property or before you have it valued. If the plant presents a threat to your foundations then it can degrade the value of your property by as much as 20%!

There are many things which can lower the value of your property but almost every one of them can be resolved with a little planning. By using a good property surveyor and a little common sense you can be assured of maintaining or even increasing the value of your land.

Education

How to Find Accessible Apartments for Seniors

seniors bike ride

Around 70% of Americans age 55 or older are homeowners. But maintaining a home isn’t cheap, and it’s all too easy to discount the most important cost of all: time and energy. Yards require work, appliances break down, and pipes eventually burst.

This kind of cost and routine maintenance isn’t always possible for older Americans, especially since 85% of seniors have at least one chronic health condition.

This may be just one reason you are considering apartments for seniors. If you know what to look for in an apartment complex, apartments can offer seniors more security, value, and freedom than traditional homeownership.

Not sure what you should look for in senior living apartments? Our guide will cover the basics.

1. Subsidized Apartments for Seniors

Low-income senior apartments for rent are available in certain subsidized housing programs. When the average social security stipend is a little over $1400 a month, saving money is even more important for seniors and retirees.

If saving money is a priority, look for public housing apartments or low-income housing tax credits. The apartments may be low-income, but that does not mean they are without amenities or are situated in dangerous neighborhoods. All it means is the property owner is receiving a government kickback by offering their apartments as part of the program.

Note that the subsidized housing programs tend to have a significant waiting list. While subsidized apartments for senior citizens are an ideal situation, normal apartments will still see cost savings and a quality of life improvement for most seniors.

2. Senior Living Apartments

Many apartments are filled with millennials and their young families. Fortunately, it’s possible to relocate to an apartment complex and still live with people in the same age group. Some apartment complexes are part of a senior living community.

In a senior living community, all renters must be of a minimum age, typically 50 or higher. If you find an apartment complex that isn’t part of a senior living community, consider speaking to the tenants personally. This can help you find neighbors who are older and more mature.

The benefit of senior living apartments extends beyond neighbors you can associate with. Since these complexes are made specifically for senior citizens, they’ll offer amenities that are specific to senior needs.

However, if you or your family member requires special care or treatments, senior living apartments are not an ideal choice. For seniors who require more dedicated health services and conveniences, learn how to choose the best senior care home.

3. Inclusive Amenities

The apartment complex should include all essential amenities — and some extra ones to boot! Some essentials might include laundry facilities, medical staff in case of an accident, and a clean communal seating area.

An additional comfort might be a pool, which provides excellent low-impact exercise. A park or outdoor seating area may also provide a peaceful and scenic retreat into nature. A clubhouse or dance space is an excellent opportunity to have fun, stay active, and meet new people.

The apartment should be located in a secure building that requires a fob or keycard to gain entry. Look for an apartment on the first floor to avoid lugging groceries up flights of steps. At least choose an apartment building with safe and accessible elevators to ease the burden.

Within the apartment itself, ensure the shower is senior-friendly. Speak to the landowner and see if a grab bar can be installed if one isn’t already.

4. A Good Landlord

The best part about owning an apartment? You don’t have to do any of the maintenance! Usually, anyway. Some landlords try to push routine maintenance on to the tenants or require them to deal with scheduling a repair service.

You don’t want you or your senior being abused by a scummy landlord and risking their health and financial situation.

Take a good look at the lease to see if the landlord will maintain and fix appliances and other damages. Don’t overlook the small things either. If your apartment is on the first floor, ask if you’ll be responsible for keeping your section of the yard maintained.

Even if you seem covered on the lease, contact some current tenants and see if they’ve had good experiences with the landlord and maintenance services. Having a great landlord is a key factor in choosing the right apartment.

5. Location, Location, Location

Unlike home ownership in the suburbs, apartment complexes tend to be right in the heart of the city. Beyond the additional amenities, the surrounding town may have grocery stores, a library, doctors, and parks all within walking distance. If so, it’s another opportunity to save money since a car won’t be necessary.

A nearby pharmacy and medical facility is a paramount concern, as well as the area’s general safety. Even if the apartment complex is secure, you don’t want it to be located in an area with high crime. A few Google searches can give you a good sense of a city’s safety record. We also suggest considering these 4 factors to help you decide where to live.

Consider dropping by after peak hours. You may discover there are some local businesses or venues that are noisy even during the dead of night — or perhaps the neighbors themselves are noisy and argumentative. Cover all your bases and make sure it’s a comprehensive and safe environment at all times of day.

It’s Time to Find an Apartment

Since it takes several months to find, apply, and get accepted to an apartment complex, it’s time to begin your search. Looking for the ideal apartments for seniors will likely take more time than a traditional search since your wish list is more comprehensive. But in the long run, you’ll save money, time, and sanity by making the move to a cozier, cheaper apartment.

When it comes to renting apartments or buying a home, we have the information you need. Check out the buy section of our blog and get the most out of your budget.

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Education

Safety Tips For Using Fire Logs At Home

fire

A fireplace is undoubtedly one of the best ways of bringing heat into your home. The wealth of warmth that a fire can bring is incredible. It will make your house feel extremely cozy and comfortable.

Furthermore, it is also one of the most cost-effective methods as well – especially when you consider the rising energy bills in the current day and age. And, who can deny the beautiful character a working fireplace brings to any property? It is full of personality and tradition.

However, whilst all of these qualities are indeed fantastic, you do have a duty to uphold. This is a duty to ensure you utilise your fireplace safely. This article aims to give you a helping hand with that by providing you with some top tips for doing so.

Cap the chimney

First and foremost, let’s begin with capping the chimney. This comes highly recommended. Opt for a cap that boasts wire-mesh sides. This is important because it will cover the top of the chimney. As a result, it stops any debris, birds, and rain from entering and thus you have a much more controlled environment.

Use seasoned wood

Purchasing your wood carefully is imperative. The importance of purchasing seasoned logs for your property is something that cannot be stressed enough. Seasoned wood has been dried for at least six months. If you use fresh wood it will contain far too much moisture and so not only will the fire produced by largely ineffective but it can be erratic and consequently unsafe as well.

Regular checks

It takes a mere five minutes to check your fireplace. However, this is something that most homeowners fail to do. Make sure you dedicate the time to checking your fireplace for damage. It is extremely important and can ensure no disasters arise. You would not be able to claim with a public adjuster if a fire was your fault. So, what should you be looking for? Any missing mortar, any loose bricks and any cracks to the structure. In addition to this, checking the chimney liner is advised as well – look out for any deterioration or cracks.

Professional chimney sweeping

It is important to ensure you have your chimney swept. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association advises everybody to ensure they have a chimney sweep at least once a year. It is best to have this service at the beginning of the winter. By doing this you will get rid of all of the debris and soot.

Be cautious

Last but not least, don’t chuck ten logs into the fireplace. Be cautious. Overloading your fireplace is extremely damaging for the obvious reasons – the fire will become too hot and as a result, cracks can begin to appear in the chimney. Not only is this unsafe but it can prove to be very costly for you as well. Instead, start off with a small fire. This will produce less creosote build-up because of minimised smoke. If you then need to you can, of course, add another log. But never chuck loads on, to begin with – there is no need.

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Education

So Long, Mickey! How to Clean Your Home After a Mouse Infestation

mice infestation

Since the beginning of the 20th century, rodent spawned infections have caused at least 10 million fatalities. Not only that, but diseases from rodents have also threatened all of human existence during the late Middle Ages as the Black Death plague swept across Europe.

While that may seem like ancient history, the fact is, even today rodents harbor all types of diseases that are dangerous to humans.

While keeping pests such as mice away from your home is always best, this isn’t always possible.

If you have experienced a rodent infestation in your home or commercial property, knowing the steps to take to properly clean the area is a must. Keep reading to learn what to do when cleaning up after mice infestations.

Ensure Complete Elimination of the Rodent Infestation

Before diving into the clean-up process, you need to make sure that all the mice have been eliminated from the infested area. Make sure to set up your traps and check them each day. Repeat this process until an entire week passes without any more rodent catches.

At this point, you can safely assume that the mice have been eliminated. This same amount of wait time also makes sure the droppings they leave behind aren’t infectious. Don’t forget to ventilate the area as you are cleaning it.

The Proper Way to Clean Up Mouse Droppings

You may be tempted to grab your vacuum or broom to sweep up any droppings or nests that are left behind. Fight this urge.

These cleaning methods are only going to stir up dust, exposing you to the pathogens you are working so hard to remove. A better strategy is to moisten the debris with a homemade bleach solution. For best results, use 90 percent water and 10 percent bleach. Once applied, wipe the area clean.

As you are cleaning, it’s important the entire area is cleaned to get rid of all the smells and germs that attracted rodents, to begin with.

When preparing to clean mouse droppings, keep these steps in mind:

  • Wear rubber or latex gloves
  • Spray the poop or droppings with a disinfectant and allow it to saturate for about five minutes
  • Use a paper towel to remove excrement
  • Once cleaned, reapply the disinfectant to cleanse the area again

If there is any sign the mice moved to other parts of your home or building, disinfect those areas, too.

Removing Dead Mice

As you are cleaning the area of mice droppings, you may come across a carcass. While this is definitely a cringe-worthy moment, it’s one you might have to face.

When facing a dead mouse, the first step is to double up your sanitation steps. After donning your latex gloves and having your disinfectant in hand, do the following:

  • Spray the dead mouse and the area directly around it
  • Dispose of the body outside the home or building
  • Dispose of your gloves and wash your hands

This is the process that needs to be followed for every dead mouse you come across while cleaning the area.

Disinfecting Other Items After a Mice Infestation

While it’s already been said several times, make sure to wear latex or rubber gloves while cleaning any contaminated items. Gather together your pillows, pillowcases, quilts, sheets, clothing, and any other item exposed to the mice.

After washing the items, place the fabrics (or other washable items) in your dryer and put them on spin at the highest temperature setting on your machine. Anything over 115 degrees should effectively kill remaining hantaviruses.

Any furniture, carpets, or rugs that are infected require the use of a professional steam cleaner with a disinfectant and/or shampoo.

If the mice have touched any item in your home or building that can’t be disinfected with a liquid formula, such as documents, magazines, or books, a different strategy has to be used. For these items, leave them outside in the sun or store them in an indoor area that’s disinfected for at least seven days.

The ultraviolet rays will kill any left-over hantaviruses. These can linger on some surfaces for as much as three days.

Be sure to wear gloves while you are handling the items you think are affected. On hardback books, it’s a good idea to wipe the hardcover with a bleach formula-soaked rag.

Call for Professional Help when Cleaning Up After Mice

Finding mice in your home or building can be stressful. If you aren’t sure you can handle the process on your own, then it may be necessary to call in the pros. While resources like this guide are helpful during this process, to be sure the threat is fully eliminated, having an exterminator’s help and guidance can be invaluable.

With professional help, you can feel confident that all traces of the mice, and the deadly diseases they carry, will be eliminated. There’s no reason to take chances when it comes to your health and the health of your home and family.

Handle Mice Infestations and Take Your Home Back

When cleaning up after mice, it may seem like a hopeless situation. You may be ready to throw in the towel and move. Don’t do this – with the tips here, the process doesn’t have to be that bad.

Keep in mind, while cleaning up after mice is crucial for homes you plan to stay in, it’s also necessary if you are trying to sell. Any signs of a rodent infestation are going to turn potential buyers away from your home.

If you want other tips to optimize your home, such as ways you can save water, then be sure to check out some of our other blogs.

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Education

How To Reduce Costs By Cutting Power Usage In The Home

solar

Getting ahead financially is not just about increasing your income. Reducing costs and expenditure also plays a vital part and a good place to get started is reducing your electricity bill.

With our increased use of technology, in kitchen appliances and for our personal use, the average home is increasing their electricity consumption and it’s predicted to increase further, so assessing what and where the power is being used in the home is great place to start – to reduce costs.

Once you know your power usage switching to solar could be a great option to reduce your reliance on the national grid.

To kick start the process of making your home more energy efficient, the first step is to get in a qualified electrician to do a wiring and points health check, especially if you’ve got an older home. Like all things, there are ongoing improvements in electrical wiring and infrastructure and having the latest in your home reducing leaking power and save you money.

Average Electricity Usage

Take a look round your home with the following guide and you’ll be able to start calculating where your electricity is being used and how much you are actually using.

electricity usage

Of course the exact amount of electricity you use will depend on the number of electrical appliances you have and how much they are on.

The above guide will give you some average usage figures but it is a good idea to look at the power label on your appliance. This will confirm how much power your appliance draws. You’ll then be able to calculate how long you have it on and how much electric any specific appliance uses every year.

Electric Saving Tips

You can reduce your electricity usage with some very simple steps:

Turn Lights Off

The most obvious way to save money is not to use an appliance unless you need to. This means turning off lights and other equipment when you are not using it. You may be surprised at how much difference this makes.

Unplug Chargers

A charger that is plugged in but not charging will still draw electricity; this is simply a waste. When you’ve finished charging anything unplug the appliance and the charger. Think, computers, devices like tablets, mobile phones in the bedrooms.

Unplug Appliances

You’ve probably become accustomed to switching your television and other appliances off with a remote. Unfortunately this leaves them in a standby mode where they will still draw power.

Shut them off at the mains, or better still unplug them. This will make a difference to your annual consumption.

Energy Saving Bulbs

A standard light bulb uses 100 watts of power but an LED bulb will draw just 20 or 30 watts while giving you the same level of light. That is a big difference, especially when you multiply it by the number of bulbs in your home. Plus consider solar powered lighting.

Finally as mentioned earlier it is worth considering adding your own solar panels for all power usage. Every bit of electricity your home generates is a reduction in the cost of your energy bill; even if it’s not a reduction in your actual energy usage. Let’s face it with the rise of electric- everything from your garden appliances, and cars, reducing power usage drastically in the future is probably unrealistic but where we get the power from, now that is likely to be more in our control.

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Education

How To Budget When Moving House In A Big City

New York

When you decide to move to a big city, there’s a lot to consider. You might need to think about the type of neighborhood you want to live in as well as education options if you have children. Commute times are also going to be another issue to think about and of course, you need to find a property that you love where you can build a new home.

Moving is very stressful so it’s best to plan it in advance and then tick off milestones along the way.

One of the most important factors of moving is always going to be the cost. It’s crucial you know how much moving is going to cost you and whether it fits into your budget. For instance, you might be moving in a big city like New York. Let’s explore some of the costs here, what you’re going to need to budget and potential areas that you just might be able to save.

How Much Is It Going To Cost?

The average cost for moving in New York City is just above $1000. It is worth looking at how this figure breaks down and what you’re going to need to pay for. So, first, you need to think about how much you’re going to pay the removal team.

On average a moving company in New York, may charge between $90 and $150 per hour. This is based on the larger players on the market and you might find cheaper prices if you shop around. So, if your move takes roughly six hours, you will probably spend roughly $700 here alone.

But that’s not the only cost that comes into play. You also need to think about boxes and packaging. You might be surprised to learn that, depending on the amount of furniture and items that you need to package you could spend well over $150 here.

You also need to think about how much you are going to have to tip the removal team that you choose. The standard tip is ten percent which could add at least another hundred on which brings us to that $1000 figure we mentioned. It’s worth pointing out that this is for a one bedroom home for two working professionals.

For a small family, you would be looking at a two bedroom home. As you might have expected, this pretty much doubles the cost. So, instead of over $1000, you could be looking at anything up to $2250.

Build Your Budget

The numbers below are just a rough estimate. There are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider that will impact that actual price you pay. For instance, the move could be trickier. If that’s the case, then you’re going to need a removal team for more hours adding to the cost.

The amount of items you need could also mean you require more than one truck as well and of course there’s the distance they have to travel. A ten-mile move is going to cost you significantly more than a five-mile move. You will also need to think about how heavy items are, the level of furniture you have and the number of rooms that need to be packed up. All these factors will help you build up the actual cost you’ll need to pay.

Can You Save?

Finally, there are a few ways that you can save when moving in a big city. First, if you decide to move in the middle of a month, you will typically find that the costs are lower because this is a less popular time. As for boxes, ask around at local stores to see if any business owners have spare ones you can have or buy cheaply rather than purchasing them online. You might also want to think about using a flat rate company.

Flat rate companies make the costs easier to understand and are great if you’re worried issues with traffic or accessibility are going to balloon the time it takes and therefore the costs.

We hope this helps you budget your move in a big city like New York, and here are some tips on top things to consider when moving into your new home.

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Buy

How To Get A Property Before You’re 30

get onto property ladder

With property prices continuing to soar and average yearly earnings stagnating, it should be no surprise that millennials are finding it much harder to buy their own property than previous generations.

The statistics are clear: first-time property buyers are getting older, while the percentage of those in their twenties who own property is shrinking. Only one-in-five 25-year olds own a property. Just ten years ago, it was two-in-five.

On The Property Ladder Before 30?

So, is it impossible to set your foot on the property ladder before you’re thirty? Of course you can. 🙂

You don’t even have to be rich. It takes patience, it takes the willpower to start saving right now, and it takes a close eye on the market, but here we’re going to look at how you can get a property before your 30th birthday.

Figure Out The ‘What’ and ‘Why’

First of all, you have to consider why, exactly, you want to buy property.

While rising costs are one of the reasons that fewer people in their twenties are buying properties, there’s also the consideration that because of higher job mobility, people are less willing to “put down roots” and commit to staying in one place for over a decade.

Investment Property

However, there are plenty of good reasons to buy a property, particularly as an investment. You may want to purchase a rental property so that you have real, tangible assets contributing to your need worth as providing an income.

Flip A Property

You can buy a share in a property with friends, family, or investment groups. You can flip a property, making improvements to increase its value before selling it at a profit.

Principal Place of Residence

Of course, you may simply want a place to live. Figuring out your reasons to get on the property ladder can help you spot the right opportunities and help you draft up an appropriate budget.

Draft up a budget plan

Having a budget and sticking to it is essential if you want to buy property. So long as you have any income, you can find the costs that you can cut and put aside at least a little bit of every single paycheque.

It regularly takes first-time homeowners four years to save for a deposit, a lot more than the year or two it would take a couple of decades so don’t worry if you feel like progress is slow.

The crucial point here is that you don’t procrastinate or neglect your savings. You can automate transfers from your current account to your ISA, for instance, or you can simply follow the rules of “pay yourself first.”

Therefore every time you get paid, you put aside the savings towards your deposit or other savings goals first. This means before you pay your rent, before you pay your bills, or spend a single penny otherwise. It’s a good way to ensure that you’re following the budget no matter what.

Get The Best Mortgage Suited To Your Needs

The overwhelming majority of first-time homeowners take out a loan to help them purchase a property.

The mortgage market can be hard to understand, so spend plenty of time doing your research while you’re saving.

You want to know what you’re looking for by the time you have a deposit together.

Besides scanning the market for deals, there’s plenty you can do to get a loan that’s in your favour.

Improve your credit score

Work on improving your credit score by using credit cards or smaller loans reliably or by inspecting your credit report and contesting any erroneous entries.

Save up a larger deposit on the loan so that the long-term payment plan becomes a lot more manageable.

Just ensure you have your mortgage pre-approved before you look at properties so you have an idea of how much house you can afford.

Know The Property Market

Property costs are rising, but there are still opportunities to be capitalised on and area specific changes to be followed closely.

If you know the area you want to buy property in, ensure that you’re subscribed to papers and online publications covering property and development in the market.

Property Discussion Forums

Join the discussion and benefit from the knowledge of others who have been in your shoes. Forums like PropertyTalk.

Join Local Property Investor Associations

local property investor associations can help you form a network with likeminded people and benefit from their experience.

Meet Local Real Estate Agents

Don’t forget to pair up with real estate agents that know the specific area you want to buy a property in, too.

Take Advantage Of Financial Help For First Home Buyers

More and more first-time property buyers are getting their foot on the property ladder with a little help from the state. Depending on your area and your circumstances, you may be able to benefit from a whole host of financial assistance options.

There are specific ISAs, for instance, that allow you to get an added bonus depending on how much of the deposit you save that can knock down the overall cost of the property. Do a little research on home-buying schemes locally and nationwide to see what’s applicable to you.

Expect The Unexpected Costs

Buying property is expensive and it’s not just the cost of the home itself that makes up all those costs. You have to consider the legal conveyancing fees, the fees of the realtor, travel fees, the cost of moving, and much, much more.

Depending on the kind of property investment you want to make, ensure you have a full breakdown of the costs. There’s plenty of itemised budgets on the net for specific costs.

At the same time, make sure you have some wiggle room in your budget for unexpected costs. Buying a property doesn’t always go smoothly and you find yourself having to reach into your pocket a little more often than expected, so prepare for that.

Summary

Hopefully, the points above show that it’s most certainly do-able, and more cost-effective, to buy a property while you’re still young. This is only a jumping off point, and you should continue to read voraciously, stay connected with like minded people and keep a close eye on the market.

You can do it, you just have to be prepared for the effort, savings, and sacrifice it might take.

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