3 Ways You Can Finance Home Remodelling Project Without Going Broke

The post 3 Ways You Can Finance Home Remodelling Project Without Going Broke appeared first on Oak Laurel.

Here is a topic that is always considered “hot” in the Land Down Under. Surely everybody loves the idea of remodelling their home, either because they wish to enjoy it more, or they have a future sale in mind. Be that as it may, no other nation is more prone to house renovation projects than the Aussies.

It appears that home makeover shows have changed the awareness of home owners quite a bit. The figures speak for themselves. Currently, the home improvement market is worth $43 billion, and it’s expected to reach $50 billion in the next 10 years. If this doesn’t sound too impressive, how about the fact that there has been an increase of 147% in home renovations since 2010? Australia has 49 hardware or home improvement stores per 1 million people, which is much bigger ratio than in the UK or the USA. According to a survey, 72% of Aussies would rather spend $15,000 on a home reconstruction project instead of going on holiday.

With so many avid and keen home owners, the demand for home renovation projects is met with a myriad of options for borrowing the necessary funds. Depending on the renovation plan, the amounts may vary. Personal loans such as borrowing from a friend or a family member aren’t the issue here, and neither are the options on how to limit your spending. If it were that simple, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you? Instead, we are going to take a look at two types of loans which you could use for bigger projects, such as a kitchen or bathroom makeover, and suggest some creative ways how to earn the extra cash you need without going into debt.

 

HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)

Home Equity Line of Credit, or HELOC, is renowned for offering the lowest rates in comparison to the other options. Of course, they vary depending on a lender, but generally speaking, these rates are much better than what you could expect with a credit card. This is an option you can consider even if your redecorating costs exceed $50,000, and your home is the factor which guarantees you will repay the full amount. Actually, that is the reason why the interest rate is so low – you are betting it all on your home. Let’s take a look how it works.

Say you have equity in your home. Even though you are still paying off the mortgage, it’s perfectly possible to qualify for this type of loan. For instance, if your home is estimated to cost $200,000 and your mortgage at this moment is $150,000, that means you have $50,000 in equity. However, normally lenders secure themselves by limiting the amount you can borrow to around 85% of the property value. Therefore, since 85% of $200,000 is $170,000, and we subtract the total mortgage (those $150,000), we are left with $20,000, which is the amount that can be approved.

Home Equity Line of Credit is often compared to credit cards due to the reason you don’t get the whole amount at once. Even though you borrow the total sum, you can access it periodically.

If you like the sound of this, it would be a good idea to apply. As we have mentioned earlier, the interest rates are low, but not the same for everyone. Normally, they are adjustable, though there are still instances when they can be fixed (even on your own demand if you prefer). The good news is some amounts can be tax deductible, but it’s best to check in advance.

HEL (Home Equity Loan)

The spelling may not necessarily give you any hints about this loan. As the name suggests, your home equity is the reason why you are being approved. It has some similarities with the previous one, but it’s not exactly the same, as we shall explain.

For instance, this is a fixed rate loan, and the rate is usually higher than it is the case with HELOC. On the plus side, interest rates are lower compared to credit card or personal loans. There is also an interesting option of paying wages into your account to decrease the interest rates. In case when you can pay extra in addition to your fixed monthly repayment, that decreases your loan term, too.

Also, you can have the whole amount immediately instead of waiting for another month or year to pass. If you need to invest the money all at once, this would be the way to go. Of course, provided that you are able to make the payments later in the years to come.

Typically, the process of getting a HEL loan is very fast, which is ideal in cases when you have an excellent offer from a builder that you don’t want to miss out on. Should you need some extra cash, you can apply for that, too.

By the way, if anyone starts recommending you the “second mortgage” loan, this is actually what they are talking about. HEL loans are known as second mortgages, too, because people usually add them to their first mortgage. In addition, transaction fees and closing costs are what makes it similar to the first mortgage. Nevertheless, that does not mean you need to have a first mortgage to qualify for Home Equity Loan.

Finally, one thing these two loans have in common is the equity, and you mustn’t forget about it. They are provided based on your home value, so you have to make the home loan repayments on time in order not to lose it. On the bright side, there are usually lots of options how to best adjust home loan repayments to suit you and your current financial state, so they’re worth looking into.

Earn extra cash

If you have some minor alterations in mind, you could consider earning extra cash as opposed to applying for loans or using your precious credit card. Surely, it will take some time to add up, but it’s definitely worth it. There are no interest rates of debts, but you had better be very responsible when it comes to saving and spending. Patience is a virtue, too, since this process takes some time.

Therefore, let’s see some suggestions on side hustles you could add to your 9-5 routine.

  • Renting – if there is an extra room you aren’t using, thing about getting a roommate. Another option is or putting it on a website offering accommodation to travellers. You will meet some interesting people, and still be able to keep your privacy since you can choose the times when your home is accepting guests. Besides this, you could rent a parking space or a garage. There is probably someone in the overcrowded neighbourhood who is willing to pay good money for it.
  • Pet sitting – This is an ideal job for all animal lovers. Actually, you could easily be reading a book, chatting on the phone, or watching TV comfortably at your work. Dog walking is also recommendable, especially if you already have a pet which enjoys canine company.
  • Online surveys – You have already heard of them, and now is the time to start clicking. Do a bit of research and find the most profitable surveys. The internet is full of simple enquiries which can bring you extra money.
  • Online lessons – The mere fact that you are a native speaker of English language makes you eligible for earning over $20 per hour. There are massive numbers of websites, mobile apps and online schools which you could use to increase your monthly revenue. The hours can be very flexible, so you can do it at your own pace. What is more, you needn’t be an English teacher or have any previous experience. If you enjoy working with people and making small talk, this could be your perfect side hustle.
  • Car sharing – Driving to work every day can be used to earn the money needed for simple redecorations. Your commute will be more enjoyable if you make it your job. Since you have to travel to work anyway, why don’t you sign up for a car share app, and offer a ride to the others? For a nice compensation, of course.

There you have it. These are the ways you should consider if you’re thinking about remodelling your home. If you’re Australian, the thought has certainly crossed your mind on more than one occasion. Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Line of Credit are definitely the best options when it comes to borrowing from a lender. As for the minor alterations, we have provided you with simple, but effective solutions.

The last word of wisdom: whichever option you go for, you should carefully consider all the factors before making the final decision. Be honest to yourself about your money management abilities. When you decide on the renovation project, make sure you include all the possible additional costs into the equation. Only then will you have a clear picture of how big an investment you have to make, and be able to act according to it.

Author bio: Sofia Lockhart

Sofia is a passionate writer from Sydney. She also enjoys decorating houses and engaging in home renovation projects. That is why she loves sharing her experience and advice with other people through her writing. Besides this, she loves technology and gadgets which can help us get through a busy workday.

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The Influence Of Blockchain On The Financial Sector And Trading

The post The Influence Of Blockchain On The Financial Sector And Trading appeared first on Oak Laurel.

If you are a small business owner and you’re interested in the financial world or the world of investing, chances are you haven’t been able to go a day without hearing the word “blockchain”.

But whether you think that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are the future of investing, or you think that they’re a runaway train doomed to crash, they have brought a number of innovations to the financial sector, and the world of trading and investing. And, paramount on this list is the blockchain.

The blockchain is the building block of every cryptocurrency like Bitcoin – but its usefulness does not end there. As many companies have learned, distributed public ledgers built on blockchain technology could have a number of uses.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the blockchain, explain the basics, and help you understand the impact that this disruptive and innovative technology may have on the financial sector. Let’s get started!

Understanding Blockchain – The Basics

To begin discussing the blockchain, it’s important that you understand exactly what it is – and what it’s not. Here’s a quick, high level overview of a blockchain and how it works.

You may have heard blockchain referred to as a “distributed ledger” technology. If you want to simplify things, you can think of any blockchain as a large, decentralized spreadsheet – one that’s hosted across millions of computers and has millions of duplicates.

In this spreadsheet, transactions of any type can be securely recorded. Everyone who uses the blockchain owns their own copy of the ledger. Each transaction, along with details about ownership, timestamps, and other information is recorded in a data block. These data blocks are then secured with advanced cryptography to prevent tampering.

Finally, these “blocks” are written and linked to each other like a chain – hence the term “blockchain”. Because each individual block is secured with encryption algorithms, and they are all linked together, transactions cannot be tampered with.

If a transaction is falsified, for example, it will simply be compared to the existing blockchain that is spread across millions of computers. If the majority of blockchain copies don’t “agree” on that version of the blockchain, it’s simply rejected.

What Are The Benefits Of A Blockchain?

Now that you understand how a blockchain works, you may be wondering what advantages it has over a traditional database, especially in the financial sector. Let’s discuss a few of the benefits of a decentralized, distributed ledger on the blockchain now.

  • No need to rely on trusted third parties – This has especially major ramifications for the world of trading and banking. A blockchain ensures that transactions are recorded publicly and with full transparency, and because the ledger is public, there is no need to rely on a third-party when signing a contract or making a trade.This could mean that user-built, crowdsourced trading platforms could eventually be built on the blockchain, even for the trading of financial instruments like ETFs, stocks, and bonds.
  • No centralized server or database which can be attacked – Because the blockchain ledger is distributed to such a massive degree, it’s essentially impossible for it to be hacked, destroyed, or breached by a cyber-attack. Unless a hacker somehow manages to modify or take down millions of copies of the blockchain at once, it’s completely safe from any kind of hack or intrusion.
  • Permanent public log of transactions – This may make conflict resolution and financial settlement much more simple. All transactions are recorded in a blockchain, and they can be viewed by anyone. This could impact the financial industry – and even other areas of business like contract and tort law.

With a secure design, permanent record of transactions, and a robust design built to resist hacking, blockchains could be a valuable tool.

This is especially true for banks and financial companies. The slow adoption of technology in the financial sector means that quite a few financial institutions are relying on technology that’s decades-old, and settlement processes that have not been changed for years.

If blockchain technology becomes widespread, there is a huge potential for it to completely revolutionize the way that we do business with banks and trading platforms worldwide.

The Potential Disruptive Potential Of Blockchain – 5 Use Cases

Now that we’ve discussed a few of the benefits of blockchain, as well as the basics about how blockchains work, we can discuss a few of the most disruptive potential use cases for blockchain in the financial and banking industry.

  1. Trade and share settlement – The current process of trading shares on major exchanges can be quite lengthy, as is the time it takes to settle transactions and receive a payout. In addition, the exchanges and trading platforms used often charge a fee for this service.Blockchain-based trading could eliminate these fees and decentralize stock trading for everyone. Settlement and trades would be lightning-fast and require no third-party authentication, due to the secure and public design of the blockchain.
  1. International money transfers – Despite so many advances in financial technology, transferring money between countries and banks is still slow and incredibly expensive. Wire services like Western Union often charge up to 10% of the transaction in fees, in some cases, and the money could take a long time to process.Blockchains could help reduce the time and complexity of sending money internationally. Whether using cryptocurrencies or fiat, a blockchain provides a secure method of authenticating a transaction or transfer and could easily be repurposed by a bank for use as an international exchange medium.
  1. Smart contracts – Smart contracts are one of the most unique aspects of blockchains. Essentially, they allow for a certain action – such as a release of funds – to occur once completion of another action has been completed on the blockchain.Smart contracts are written into the code of the blockchain, making them public and easy to verify – and automatic funds disbursement could make them a very handy way for corporations and banks to conduct business.
  1. Online identity management – The blockchain could have serious potential as an identity management platform. Currently, users of the internet have to trust dozens – or even hundreds – of different websites and corporations with their data, including secured information like Social Security numbers, credit card information, and banking information.Blockchain could change this – and help protect investors and bank users from fraud. Essentially, if our information was logged and encrypted on the blockchain, we could simply present information about that “block” to verify our identity, without having to share our actual personal information.This would help ensure that people using online banking and trading platforms are protected from having their identities stolen, or from serious privacy breaches.
  1. Changes in fundraising and investing – We have already seen the impact that blockchains and cryptocurrencies have made in the world of investing and fundraising. Instead of seeking Series A and B investments from institutional investors, angel investors, and venture capital firms, many companies are using ICOs, or “Initial Coin Offerings” to raise funds.In exchange for a set number of cryptocurrency “tokens”, investors pay into the project, allowing for decentralized funding of startups, financial platforms, and more. This could have a significant effect on how companies raise money, and how stakeholders buy into companies. The democratization and decentralization of the blockchain mean that just about anyone can buy into a project that they care about, or that they think has potential – institutional investors no longer have the first opportunity to invest in a company.

It’s hard to know exactly what effects the blockchain will have on the financial industry, especially since the technology is quite new. But the advantages of using the blockchain are numerous – and there are dozens of reasons that financial companies and banks should be exploring it.

Cryptocurrency

What’s Next – When Will Banks Take Advantage Of The Blockchain?

As mentioned, the financial and banking industries are extremely slow when it comes to change and innovation. Given the trillions of dollars managed by major exchanges and banks, this is understandable – as any glitch or other issue could be completely catastrophic.

Because of this, we shouldn’t expect the blockchain to revolutionize the entire financial sector anytime soon. But given the power of this disruptive technology, it’s no surprise that some cutting-edge companies are already exploring it.

For example, six giant international lenders – Barclay’s, HSBC, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, MUFG, and State Street have joined forces with Swiss bank UBS to develop a blockchain-based digital coin for the settlement of financial transactions.

This is far from the only example. There are hundreds of banks and other institutions exploring how blockchain can be used – and while it will likely take a long time for it to be adopted worldwide, its disruptive potential simply cannot be ignored.

 

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5 Non Traditional Methods of Raising Money for Your New Business

The post 5 Non Traditional Methods of Raising Money for Your New Business appeared first on Oak Laurel.

You´ve got the great idea, a sound business plan on paper, a few employees ready to leave their jobs to follow you, and an excess of motivation and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, you don´t have the capital to get your entrepreneurial vision off the ground, and without money, your vision isn’t going anywhere.

Raising money for a new business used to be a simple and straightforward. You would schedule an appointment with your local bank, explain your business plan and finances, and hopefully get a loan to get started. Today, however, banks only fund 23 percent of the small business funding requests that they receive.

With such low approval numbers, you would think that small businesses would be on the way out, making way for the global conglomerates that increasingly dominate our global economy. However, 97 percent of all businesses in Australia are considered to be small and medium sized. Despite a relatively high failure rate, small business owners in Australia continue to function and open regularly.

The rise of ecommerce websites, online freelance platforms, and other innovations in the world of how businesses are organized in a world dependent on the internet have combined to reduce some of the startup costs of running a business. While you might not necessarily need to purchase or rent an expensive business locale in a prime real estate area, there are other startup costs that can be prohibitive.

The smart entrepreneur and small business owner today is one who explores alternative financing options to help get a business of the ground. Below, we look at five non-traditional methods and tips for how to secure funding for your future business.

small business person doing banking

Know Who to Target

Perhaps the word “target” might sound a bit aggressive, but when it comes to raising money for your business, making the right connections is by far one of the most important parts of the planning process. Even for companies with a proven track record of financial success and stability, only between 1 and 2 percent of potential investors will actually invest any sort of capital into a given business. The main reason for this relatively low conversion rate of receiving investment capital is due to the personal nature of investing.

Obviously, you need to target potential investors who have sufficient financial liquidity to make an investment decision. That means that it is probably a waste of your time to target people (even family members) who are short on cash or who are currently involved in financial struggles of their own.

Furthermore, unless you have a business proposal that absolutely clicks with a potential investor´s interests and attention, you will most likely want to exploit relationships wherein the investor personally knows the leadership behind the business plan. The closer they are to the leadership team, the better the chance that they will know and understand your business plan and get excited enough about the possibilities to invest their own money.

When searching for business loans outside of the traditional banking system, then, it is important to sit down with your team and make a list of potential investors that fit the following criteria:

  • Has sufficient financial liquidity to make an immediate investment (promises of help down the road aren’t usually helpful to people trying to get a business idea off the ground).
  • Knows you and your leadership team on a personal level, or is willing to sit down and spend time to get to you on a level that takes your business proposal beyond the phase of a bunch of documents on paper.
  • Has an investment portfolio that fits with your overall business plan or strategy.
  • Has a personal interest in the area of business that characterizes your entrepreneurial vision.
  • Has a proven history of investing in small businesses, especially during the past 12 months. It is important to do your own research on potential investors, just as they will also do their research on you.

Small business finance

Don’t Underestimate Small Banks

We mentioned above that less than one out of every four business loans are approved by the general banking system. However, the vast majority of those “rejects” are from the large banking corporations that operate purely on the basis of statistics on inadequate cash flow, limited collateral, poor credit scores, or simply because your business is an early stage startup that represents to much of a risk.

While the procedures and regulations standardizing the operation protocols of larger banks are usually rigorous and inflexible, smaller banks tend to have more leniency in how they manage loan requests. Local banks, especially, might be able to identify with your business proposal on a more personal level, and thus understand your vision beyond the hard numbers and statistics.

Whereas larger banks will focus on your current debt and cash flow limitations, smaller banks might be willing to listen to your explanations about why you believe that your business plan is sound and how you plan to make it succeed.

If you are not on good standing with your local bank, today there are also several online bank lenders that finance small business ideas. You can check out this guide to getting a small business loan to discover the wealth of financing options that are open to you and your business.

Contact Private Investment Firms

Let´s imagine that the banks (both big and small) have closed doors on your business proposal and you don’t have a wealthy uncle willing to throw money at his favorite nephew´s business plan. Private investment firms are another way to gather investment capital for a business idea. While you will certainly need to have a solid business plan that demonstrates your knowledge of market trends, potential risks, and solid cash flows, private investment firms and networks will usually be more willing to invest in what banks might consider to be too high of a risk.

For private investors, small businesses can represent a high-risk, high-reward investment opportunity. The opportunity to invest in the next PayPal or other startup that literally exploded onto the global economy is certainly an enticement that many investors don’t want to pass up on.

Furthermore, even if you don’t get funding from the private investor you originally sought out, you might be able to garner valuable contacts and business advice. These investors tend to understand the nature of business, and might be able to either give you valuable advice to improve your business proposal or to put you in contact with other investors who they think might be interested in your idea.

Crowd Funding

In recent years, thousands of artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, and more have successfully raised millions of dollars through crowd funding platforms. In Australia, two of the most popular crowd funding websites include Pozible and OzCrowd.

According to Australian Securities and Investment Commission, crowd funding allows people who are not professional financiers to pool together their money to support a specific project. One of the unique aspects of crowd funding for a small business proposal is that these platforms are specifically oriented towards businesses with relatively small startup budgets.

While you most likely will not be able to raise a million dollars on Pozible, you might very well be able to secure the minimum financing to get your project up and running. This can be important if you are searching for ways to get your business started to show initial financial success and positive cash flow statistics that will subsequently allow you to apply for more significant funding down the road.

Lastly, if cold calling potential investors to ask for funding is not your thing, crowd funding proposals work well when publicized through social media platforms and even through word of mouth.

Pledge Future Earnings

For many small business owners, the idea of pledging a part of your future lifetime earnings to an investor or group of investors can seem like a difficult idea to swallow. While for some people this might seem like a new form of indentured servitude, for others it represents an exciting opportunity in venture capital.

Essentially, you agree to give a percentage of the future lifetime earnings of your business in exchange for an agreed upon sum of capital up front. One of the benefits of this type of innovative funding is that it most likely frees up your immediate cash flow. Instead of focusing on trying to pay employees while not defaulting on your bank loan, this type of financing can allow you to focus your energy on growing and expanding your business during those crucial first years.

Obviously, when pledging your future earnings to a group of investors, it is important to plan ahead in the event of the failure of your business. If you feel okay about sacrificing some of your long-term earnings for immediate startup capital, this might be the option for you.

Final Words

The big banks are no longer the only option when it comes to securing financing for your business proposal. Knowing who to target, checking on smaller banks, private investment firms, crowd funding platforms, and even pledging future earnings are all innovative strategies that can help small business owners get the capital they need to become their own boss.

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Why Should You Consider Buying a Home at a Young Age?

The post Why Should You Consider Buying a Home at a Young Age? appeared first on Oak Laurel.

You might have heard the saying: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is right now”. That lesson doesn’t just apply to horticulture. Investing in your future is a long-term strategy. The earlier you get started, the easier it will be to build a substantial nest-egg for your senior years.

Real estate is still one of the most valuable investments any person can make. For instance, consider the fact that house prices in Australia went up by 11.1% between 2016 and 2017. That means that a home you bought for $100,000 would be worth $111,100 just one year later. The question is, how early is too early to start investing?

The sooner you can make your mark on the real-estate map, the better off you could be. After all, owning a home is often far more lucrative than renting, and it also means that you set yourself up with an asset for the future. If you’re in the right place for it, buying a home can be one of the most financially responsible things anyone can do, regardless of whether you’re 21, or 45. The only difference is, the sooner you get started, the longer you have to reap the rewards.

Here we’ll look at some of the reasons why young investors should consider buying property as early as possible, and what you can do to improve your chances of a successful loan application.

 

  • Real Estate is an Investment in Your Future

 

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of buying or building a property early is the fact that it allows you to start cultivating powerful investments for your future. A house is one of the most valuable things any person can own. In most cases, real estate will consistently increase in value over time. Even if your home loses some of its value during a down period, that problem won’t last long when you make a wise decision with the home you purchase.

Buying a home when you’re still young allows you to invest in your future by providing you with something you can sell for a lot more money when you’re ready to move on to a different property. You may find that your first home gives you a fantastic down payment on your next property, or your family home sets you up for retirement.

Additionally, because buying a home can be more lucrative than renting with time, you should find that you have enough cash left over in your budget to put towards things like retirement savings and future expenses.

 

  • Property Appreciation Happens Over Time

 

The value of a home can move up and down over time. However, the longer you hold onto a property before you want to sell, the more time that structure has to appreciate in value. Although Australia’s property market has cooled down in recent years, most properties will still see an increase in worth of over 3% per year. This means that you’re earning money for your future just by living in your dream home.

Ultimately, to improve your chances of a wise and sustainable investment, it’s a good idea to have a plan early, run the numbers, and make sure that you’re investing in the right neighbourhood at the right time. Contacting a realtor or mortgage broker will make it easier to determine which property is right for you.

Importantly, some areas of the country are more volatile than others when it comes to real-estate investment. If you’re getting started in the property market early, you’ll have more time to weather the ups and downs of the marketplace. This means that it’s less likely you’ll have to sell when the market is in a downturn. Over the years, your home will continue to appreciate, as you continue to enjoy the freedom of owning your own property.

 

  • Improve your Credit Score

 

Credit can be a common concern for youngsters hoping to enter the housing market for the first time. After all, your lender will want to be able to see that you can be trusted with the money they’re giving you. If your credit rating is poor, then you won’t be able to get the best interest rates. Unfortunately, when you’re still young, the chances are that you won’t have much of a credit history to speak of.

If you’re in a stable enough place that you can achieve a reasonable mortgage rate, then choosing to take out a home loan should ensure that you can begin to build your credit rating rapidly. The longer you spend as a homeowner, paying your mortgage, and setting up direct debits for other monthly expenses, the more impressive you’ll look to future lenders.

After a few years with your first mortgage, you might find that you can even switch to a better rate because your rating has changed significantly since the day you first applied for your loan.

 

  • Additional Sources of Income

 

There are plenty of ways that owning real estate can put you in a better place financially. As mentioned above, as your home appreciates in value, your net worth will grow with it. Additionally, if you can purchase a home that’s large enough, you might even consider renting a room out to someone else for a source of passive income.

Renting out a room in your property is a great way to make some additional money. On the other hand, you could even think about offering your home up as a vacation destination during periods when you might be away yourself. This is a great way to ensure that you continue to earn on the value of your home, even when you’re out exploring the world.

Some young investors may even choose to purchase a secondary property that they can rent to tenants. This isn’t just getting another source of income, it’s also an opportunity to start your own side business – something that continues to contribute to your finances no matter what happens to your day job.

 

  • Learn Better Spending Habits

 

While you don’t necessarily need to buy a home to learn how to be responsible for your money, you can rest assured that you’ll uncover some important habits when you become a homeowner. Although budgeting can seem tough at first, it’s something that all responsible homeowners need to do. While other people your age might fall into the trap of constantly spending their money on frivolous things, you’ll be forced to think more carefully about your expenses, so you can continue to pay your mortgage.

Learning how to afford a home and the added extras that come with it is an important lesson. The good news is that the money you put into your home in the form of mortgage payments isn’t just outgoing expenses, it’s cash that’s going back into your pocket in the future.

When you own a home at a young age, your decision-making process begins to change. You become less likely to make irresponsible choices because you know you have bills to pay. Ultimately, it sets you up for a life of success.

 

  • It’s an Automatic Savings Account

 

If you’re aware that you have a problem with spending or saving, a home can even act as a kind of savings account. It gives you an additional way to prepare yourself for retirement. For instance, if you purchase a home for $100,000 when you’re 20 on a 30-year term, and it appreciates in value by 3.5% each year, by the time your term is up, your home could be worth an additional $105,000. In other words, you’ve made more than you spent in the first place.

Real estate, when chosen properly, can be a powerful way to develop your wealth. Over time, your home will become your largest asset, and the thing you can rely on to keep delivering value no matter what else happens in the marketplace. After all, while stocks might go up and down, people are always going to need a roof over the head.

 

  • Freedom to Live in the Home of your Dreams

 

Finally, one of the biggest benefits of buying property when you’re young is that it gives you absolute freedom over how you live. When you live in a rental property, you’re at the mercy of a landlord, and the demands that he or she makes about how you decorate the home you live in. You might not be able to build onto your home, create the garden you’ve always wanted, or even paint rooms specific colours.

On the other hand, when you live in your own home, you’re completely free to make decisions according to your own style and preferences. There’s no-one that you need to run your ideas by because the property you’re decorating belongs to you.

If you’ve always wanted a stunning backyard with a fence, you can go ahead and build it. So long as you have the right planning permission, you can essentially do whatever you like with your property.

Buy a house

Are You Ready to Invest in Real Estate?

Deciding to invest in the real estate market when you’re still young can be a nerve-wracking decision. To make sure that you’re getting the most out of your investment and reduce the risks of one of the biggest purchases you’re likely to make, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. Remember, before you get started:

  • Educate yourself: Research property prices in your local area, consider local tax charges and government costs. Subscribe to online forums and learn as much as you can about the appreciation of different neighbourhoods that you might want to buy in. The more you educate yourself about the investment opportunities that are available to you, the more likely you are to make the right decision on your purchase.

 

  • Seek advice: Make sure that you have the right support from a pool of qualified professionals in your local area. Some younger investors might want to seek out the help of a mortgage broker, whereas others will simply want to work with a real estate to help them find the best property for their budget.

 

  • Start saving early: If you want to invest in a property, then you’re going to need a down payment. When you’re still young, you might not be able to save as much back as you’d like for this initial deposit, but the faster you get started, the better off you’ll be. It’s also worth looking into government schemes that might help you to place a lower deposit down for your new home if you’re a first-time buyer.

 

  • Consider different borrowing options: As a young investor, you might want to consider a range of different borrowing solutions, including investing with someone else. However, if you do decide to take out a joint loan with someone, it’s important to make sure that you’re both on the same page and have the same financial goals. A joint loan is not something to be entered lightly.

 

It’s Never to Early to Prepare for your Future

Ultimately, it makes sense to buy real estate as early as you can. As well as giving yourself a new way to make money and appreciate in wealth over the long term, you also ensure that you’re on track to learn fiscal responsibility as soon as possible.

Investing in real estate when you’re still young gives you the freedom that you’re looking for when you’re just starting off in life, combined with the comfort and stability you need for the future. Whether you invest in real estate to rent out while you’re still exploring the world, or you purchase your very first home, a property is one of the best things you can buy – regardless of how young you are.

Just remember to do your research and learn as much as you can about the buying market before you jump in. Buying early doesn’t mean rushing into real estate. It’s all about walking into a good investment with plenty of background knowledge, and your eyes wide open.

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Legitimate Forex Trading Sites: Tips for Avoiding Expat Forex Scams

The post Legitimate Forex Trading Sites: Tips for Avoiding Expat Forex Scams appeared first on Oak Laurel.

It’s an unfortunate truth, but wherever there’s money, there are those who will try to get it out of your pocket.  And we’re not talking about a computer salesman who is convincing you to buy the useless extended warranty — we’re talking about actual criminals.

And so it means that the forex market is particularly treacherous territory for those who need to use it the most – like expats.

It’s not all bad news.  The world gets smaller every day and that means more adventures and more opportunity.  We’re continent-hopping to build better lives, investing overseas for wealth and even sending our children to other countries for study and a rich life.  But the world of foreign currency exchange must be taken very seriously, or it could cost you a lot.  It could even cost you everything.

 

What is a forex scam?

First, it’s important to understand that the forex market itself is not a scam – it’s just the exchange of one currency to another, which is done routinely every single day.  Whether you’re exchanging money from one bank to another or buying something from overseas on the internet, you’re a part of the forex market.

 

Where it becomes risky is when you know little or nothing about forex scams – and how to avoid them.  Unfortunately, more and more people including expats are getting conned out of an awful lot of their hard earned money, so here’s what to look out for:

 

If it looks too good to be true…

 

… It probably is.  It may be an old adage, but it’s definitely true for the wide world of forex.  If a forex trader is offering the world and easy money, that’s a bright red flag – because while doing your homework pays off with good deals, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Look for detailed information

Another sure sign of a forex scam is a service that boldly and loudly promises a lot – but explains very little.  Get even more suspicious if your enquiries for more information are met with dodged or obviously dodgy answers.

 

Look for recommendations

If even the people who are offering the forex product or service to you aren’t willing to talk much about the specifics, chances are they’re hiding something significant.

But if you’re confident about proceeding, ask around and see if your family and friends have used it or heard of it and find out what they think.  Do your own online research and find genuine reviews from actual people – and if you get a funny feeling that something isn’t right, turn your back.

 

Do the ‘scam’ check

An easy way to associate your product with a potential scam is to put some faith in Dr Google.  Enter the forex service’s name into Google along with the word ‘scam’, and see what comes up.  You may find an awful lot of people who wish they’d done the same but are now doing the only thing they can – warn others of their mistake.

 

Use comparison services

These days, checking and comparing services of all kinds is much easier thanks to comparison services and websites.  They’ll do a lot of the leg-work in terms of not only identifying and isolating the scams, but also directing you towards legitimate operators who are the most professional and offer the best deals.

 

Check in with LinkedIn

If you know the name of the people behind the forex product, service or brokerage you’re considering, check their personal profile at LinkedIn – the highly respected social network site designed specifically for business professionals.  If they’re not there, rest assured it’s a scam.  If they are there and people aren’t recommending them, that’s another loud alarm to listen to.

 

Check with regulators

The forex market is made up of individuals and businesses from all around the world, but in just about every jurisdiction, there are still pretty strict regulations.  So a clear red flag is a service that is based on an exotic island that isn’t regulated at all.

 

In Australia, the forex market is closely regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), who issue licenses to forex brokers based on whether they’ve got a current Australian Financial Services Licence (AFS).  The regulations are different elsewhere, but proper regulation is an easy way to stay fairly well protected.

 

Try before you buy

Most decent forex brokers will allow you to ‘try before you buy’.  In many cases, this will involve setting up a demo account so you can get stuck in without actually putting any of your actual money on the line.

 

Use a major player

There’s an easy way to pretty much guarantee you’re not going to get forex scammed – and that’s by using a major player like the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.  But that may come at a cost, because you’ll definitely find it is forex operators other than the CBA that offer the best exchange rates.

Luckily, there are plenty of equally trustworthy forex players out there whose main mission is to find foreign exchange services for you that are both reputable and will give you something better than CBA exchange rates.

 

The final word: Guilty until proven innocent

When you’re in court, the maxim is ‘Innocent until proven guilty’.  But when it comes to the forex market and your duty to yourself and your family to avoid being scammed, it’s exactly the other way around.  So be diligent, double and triple check, and enjoy safe, happy trading!

 

Transferring money from overseas to Australia

Transferring money from overseas to Australia? Check out these legitimate forex money transfer sites

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Six Practical Ways to Raise Your Small Business Capital

The post Six Practical Ways to Raise Your Small Business Capital appeared first on Oak Laurel.

For the entrepreneur raising capital for their business is a difficult task to do but every small business feels the need to borrow money in order to expand or start their business. If you’re looking for some practical ways to raise your business capital, don’t take that for granted instead it requires a lot of determination and patience of the business owners who are working on it. Here are six practical ways described to raise your business capital.

Raise Small Business Capital From Angel Investors:

Experts mostly refer entrepreneurs to look for angel investors for raising capital for your small business as they are rich individuals who are willing to invest their hard earned money into the potential business ideas and small business with expanding opportunities. Angel investors are professional in investing their money into these businesses so whenever you go to visit them to raise your business capital always go out with a foolproof business plan to encourage them to invest.

From Family Members:

Asking help from a family member is risky for the relations, but it is the best way to raise capital for your business as it will be easy for you to convince your family member to help and support your business idea with financial assistance from them. The benefit of asking for a business loan from a family member is that even if your business plan isn’t up to the mark, you will still be able to get financial aid from your family members. Click here to know more about small business loans. Just make sure that you have drawn a legal contract related to the loan you are borrowing from your family member and the terms and conditions of the loan should be in the knowledge of both parties and it is dually signed by both of you.

Raise Money From Venture Capitalists:

Many entrepreneurs prefer not to raise their business capital through seeking investment from venture capital firms as they require you to give up the ownership of the business up to a certain percentage. For some of the small businesses, it is the best way to contact venture capital firms for investing money in your business as the experience of the industry, financial, and human resource of the firm will prove to be very useful for the small business to be successful in no time. All you need to do is go through all the requirements set by the venture capital firms and fulfill them successfully you will get all the capital required for starting or expanding your business.

Raise Money from Banks:

Whenever any entrepreneur feels the need to arrange capital for the start-up or expansion of their small businesses the first place that comes to their mind is to apply for a small business loan from the bank. It is one of the most common yet difficult ways to raise capital for your business. Because qualifying for a small business loan requires a lot of effort and paperwork and by credit history rating of your personal and business accounts. Also, the interest rate charged by the bank is way too high.

Entrepreneurship Supporting Institutions:

There are so many institutes which are supporting entrepreneurs financially to start or expand their business, and they are providing them with a longer period to payback the business loan taken to conduct your business activities and generate profit out of it.

Ngo’s:

There are so many non-governmental organizations and NGO’s which are willing to help entrepreneurs to raise capital for their small businesses. NGO’s usually doesn’t provide you the money needed for your small business instead they buy you the machinery and other related stuff for which you were seeking financial support for your business. They also direct you towards some other sources through which you will easily get the capital for your starting, expanding or running your business.

Author Bio:  

David Simmons is a financial analyst. He regularly contributes articles related to business and loans at ebroker.com.au

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How to increase the value of your home: cheap ways to add value and increase your equity

The post How to increase the value of your home: cheap ways to add value and increase your equity appeared first on Oak Laurel.

How to increase the value of your home: cheap ways to add value and increase your equity.

 

Whether you are looking to enhance the beauty and functionality of your home for yourself or trying to make a solid sale:

A home is the representation of our inner self and inhabits lives for decades; we must realize that it makes sense to add items, remove some and alter certain aspects to increase the value. Now, of course, you can hire an interior designer and a whole assembly line to set up your home for tiptop luxurious appeal –

But that is not the only option:

This article is not just for those who want an improved home, but also for so many out there who are trying to sell the house at a good price.

Forbes quotes Adam Hade, an associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence, to make the case:

“Cheap tweaks can pay off big-time. ‘And even when these don’t equate to big dollars, they may help sell your property faster.’”

If you are looking for inexpensive ways to turn that house into a valuable home, look no further. The recommended aspects of a new exciting house await you. Read on and let this list illustrate the top 30 essential areas of improvement.

 

Kitchen makeover

 

Kitchen makeover

Kitchen makeover

 

A kitchen will almost always inevitably become the top concern for those looking to buy a house. A place for community building and nourishment holds a special place for us all.

These are some key areas which usually require upgrades:

  • Faucet
  • Cabinets
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Utensils
  • Paint
  • Tiles

A heartening seating facility in the yard

A heartening seating facility in the yard

A heartening seating facility in the yard

 

You want the house to look comfy and spacious. But then you want to be able to make most of that space. A smart and efficient distribution adds value to the house. Consider setting up a table in the yard or the porch to say your home has a place for everyone.

Bathroom facelift

Bathroom face lift

Bathroom facelift

It is important to never forget the most crucial aspects of th house. When unable to think of these things, ask yourself:

What do I usually notice and find important to me when I am at someone’s place?

One of the answers will be a bathroom. From a place of privacy to our personal needs, a bathroom says a lot about the house and level of attention that has been shown to the house.

Here are some key areas you can consider upgrading:

  • Old fixtures
  • Old Paint
  • Overused and messy towels
  • Shower and tiles which need some scrubbing and grease


Doorknobs

Door knobs

Door knobs

It is small touch but somehow the look, the texture, the feel of it and how it physically opens to reveal a part of the house—

You have to admit there is something beautiful about the rather forgettable existence of a doorknob.

Try to go for doorknobs which are consistent with one another and the main décor of the house.

 

Thermostat

 

programming temperature inside home

Programming temperature inside your home

 

Efficient energy costs coupled with comfort skyrockets the desirability of your home. You understandably know by now the effect of a thermostat.

Thermostats account for a considerable chunk of the energy usage in the house. If not programmable, then you have no control over the bill.

Taking the temperature down a couple degrees can reduce the monthly costs significantly. Moreover, buyers will be sure to shortlist your home for this long-term savings ability when choosing a house.

Paint

Painting

Painting

Sometimes, as you have experienced, a new coat of paint not only makes the room new to our eyes but almost gives it a sense of different dimensions.

Be informed that potential buyers gravitate towards neutral colours.

Appliances

Appliances

Appliances

Appliances following the colour scheme of the kitchen add to the resale value of the kitchen. If need be, order door panels and face panels for that. Even better, unscrew, flip around and screw it back into place.

Only when the budget permits, buy something new.

Outlet and light switches

outlet and light switches

Outlet and light switches

Quite honestly, these items have a tendency of quickly turning into eyesores.

  1. Get new ones for it’s inexpensive
  2. Switch things up, get a little artsy and paint them in the colour of the walls

Long overdue organization

 

Long overdue organization

Long overdue organization

 

Do you remember just a while back when paint adding dimension to the house was mentioned?

Right, well, illusions aside, nothing shrinks up a house the way clutter does. Rid yourself of all the mess and clutter and free up some space.

This offers some much-needed relief to you and also gives the potential buyer an opportunity to visualize how they would like to populate this empty canvass.


Efficient storage options

Efficient storage options

Efficient storage options

Just because we talked about creating more space does not mean taking up space is a bad thing. It is all about creating an easy and fast way to help a person imagine a home here.

You have already done that by freeing up the counter, arranging the bookshelves and getting rid of old toys and trophies and badly patched up broken vases to make space.

However, if you can add some affordable and easy to install storage options such as colour scheme consistent shelves around the house—

It can help the potential buyer see where they can keep their valuables thus move a step closer to finding the home of their dreams.

Fixtures

 

Fixtures

Fixtures

 

 

You and everyone who lives in a house know – it is time to upgrade those fixtures. Maybe not all, but there are always those few ones which have been thorns to think about. The time has come for a re-do.

It adds a lot of character and depth to the house. Look into:

  • Drawer pulls
  • Cabinet handles
  • Faucet
  • And anything you come across

 

Landscaping changes

Landscaping changes

Landscaping changes

 

Looks matter and especially whatever comes in front of our eyes first will help us decide if we want to come inside the house to see its personality.

  1. There is no need to hire a landscaper. You are plenty capable
  2. Get rid of weeds
  3. No more brown shrubs
  4. Get new plants as replacements; plants which are native to the area, drought resistant and of low maintenance


Add a room(s)

Add a room(s)

Add a room(s)

An additional room can drive up interest from potential buyers by a long margin. Here are the inexpensive ways of doing it efficiently:

  1. Carefully analyse the rooms in the house
  2. Separate the vital spaces
  3. Focus on what could be altered: office, den, unused storage/utility/recreational room
  4. Now, add a closet there or a portable wardrobe

Voila! You have a new room.

 

Vanity cabinets

vanity cabinet

Vanity cabinet

This is a great addition. A vanity cabinet not only offers a chance for further storage but well-chosen designs can give the house an extended identity. Buyers will see this as a major takeaway after visiting your house.


Lights

Lights

Lights

Nobody can enjoy the house if they cannot see the house. All the new additions and upgrades go to waste if there is insufficient light. Even if there is, a light which does not compliment the overall colour scheme of the room does not help advance your cause at all.

  • Outdated lighting fixtures should be upgraded
  • Dim rooms need more light
  • Check out the wattage before buying. Something adequately illuminating is needed here


Sinks

Sinks

Sinks

There is only so much scrubbing and greasing you can do. At a particular point in time, that old faucet has to be replaced by a new one. It is non-negotiable.

There are plenty of affordable and attractive faucets out there. As mentioned before, a bathroom appeal goes a long way in making a home out of that house. You have made changes to the bathroom already, anyway. So why stop there?

 

Toilet replacement

Toilet replacement

Toilet replacement

Take a look at your toilet. Is it-

  • Old?
  • Cracked?
  • Broken?
  • Environmentally unfriendly?
  • Not functioning as well as it used to?

Then in that case, there is no greater solution than getting a new toilet. Delaying is only going to make a bigger deal out of it.


Outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting

We talked about the exterior; the landscaping and seating arrangement have all contributed greatly so far.

Do not stop there. Before a potential buyer or your own family members can enjoy it, before we get closer to experiencing the tactile nature of it, we must first lay out eyes upon it.

Visual senses must always be engaged with depth. Install some good lights, pretty up the house and repel robbers and burglars at the same time.

 

 

Call your tradesmen

Call your tradesmen

Call your tradesmen

It may seem like this article is focusing too much on external aspects. Alright, now let’s step into the beautiful house and go a layer inward.

Do not forget, the house has to be pretty, efficiently organized and safe. Certain things like this are best left to professionals.

  • Call your neighbourhood tradesmen: plumber and electrician
  • Check the electric usage
  • Fix faulty and, or, exposed wires and outlets
  • Detect water and gas leakage
  • Fix it all up and present a safer & must-have home for the buyer


Try crown molding

Try crown molding

Try crown molding

Simply because we are following a rather inexpensive route in this article does not mean we want cheap looking homes. In fact, all ideas so far are about making your home even more beautiful and inviting.

What has not been highlighted is the jewel that stands apart—

Crown molding.

This gives you the luxurious look and feel you wish for and offers a lot of creative ideas to make the house the most wanted property in the neighbourhood.

 

Floor Tiles

Floor Tiles

Floor Tiles

Floor tiles are sometimes the last thing we replace entirely. If you want to keep the old, discoloured tiles, then consider, at least, repainting them and giving the house the new base it deserves.

Or, just install new ones altogether.


Tech-friendly

Tech friendly

Tech friendly

Technology is a huge part of our lives. We need to incorporate it one way or the other. Install USB ports in the kitchen, living room and nightstands. A potential buyer will appreciate this home which thought of the future in a long-term way. Do not overlook these values.

 

 

Knock down a wall

knock down a wall

Knock down a wall

You have tried a lot of things and if you still feel unsure about space and new ideas – start breaking stuff!

Here’s what real estate expert Elizabeth Gatlin has to say about knocking down that nagging, unnecessary wall:

 

“Knocking down a wall to open up space is incredible, and it isn’t very costly. Most people these days are looking for more connectivity in their homes. Buyers love seeing from one side of a house to another. Small compartmentalized spaces are so 50’s, they went out of style decades ago….The only thing you need to know is if the wall is indeed load bearing or not. Either hire a professional or if you feel confident go up to your attic and check how the structure is framed above the wall….The overall cost is fairly low considering the impact it can have on your property value and your home living.”

 

It may seem a little aggressive, but the freeing feeling and the opportunities for creative ideas which arise sure make it a worthwhile move.


Raise your blinds and shutters game

Raise your blinds and shutters game

Raise your blinds and shutters game

Here’s what needs to go:

  1. Aluminum
  2. Vertical blinds

Instead:

  • Get new shutters
  • Get wood blinds
  • Consider plantation shutters for a premium look


A new front door

A new front door

A new front door

A front door is a gatekeeper which either makes for an inviting home or becomes as forgettable as you can imagine.

  • Replace the front door
  • Consider repainting it if working off of a tight budget
  • Ensure the door is strong, visually appealing and keeps the house safe
  • Try a new paint

 

Carpet upgrade

 

Carpet upgrade

Carpet upgrade

 

Change your carpet or consider buying if you don’t own one already because—

  1. A carpet can quickly bring about a visual change in the furnishing
  2. It makes the room look cleaner
  3. Neutral coloured rugs are most appealing to buyers
  4. Has a long-lasting impact on the overall look of the house


Highlight the walkway

Highlight the walkway

Highlight the walkway

Now, let’s begin thinking about the curb not just visually and landscape-wise but as a guide. This is where a walkway best directs our eyes naturally to the entrance of the house. A symbol and a metaphor altogether.

Choose between:

  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Concrete
  • Rock

Furthermore, whichever one you choose should be consistent with the look and build of the house. Uniformity never went out of style, remember?


Lawn makeover

Lawn makeover

Lawn makeover

Just the same way personal hygiene can impact how people are drawn to you, the lawn indicates the level of concern put forth by the owners towards the house or the disrepair it suffered.

A lawn in a poor condition may not encourage the buyer to step inside even if the above interior changes had been applied.

Lawn maintenance and its recovery value are quite lucrative. Take advantage of it as soon as possible.

 

Get a realtor’s take on it

Get a realtor’s take on it

Get a realtor’s take on it

 

Consult a realtor to make sure you get advice tailored to your house. A lot of the tips here still apply, but you can get some additions by speaking to your local realtor. That way you can get a good estimate of what best suits your house.


Follow a structured checklist

Did you miss anything? Here’s RhodyLife to help us create our own checklist:

Follow a structured checklist

Follow a structured checklist

Concluding remarks

The method to this whole renovation madness is to simply improve upon what is already there. Look for ways to fix instead of buying all the time. Get creative and breathe new life into your wonderful home. Buyers want something vibrant and homely; a cold, polished metropolis straight out of a science fiction graphic novel is not the goal here. Now, go out there and bring your ideas to life.

 

Author Bio:

David Nicoll is a freelance writer who writes about finance, insurance and investment property related articles. He is always enthusiastic to promote local brands like St George Underwriting Agency, a leading landlord insurance provider in Australia.

 

 

 

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