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Which Real Estate Option Is Right For You?

With a new year come new opportunities, new possibilities and new decisions to be made. One very important decision you’re probably either facing, or will face in the near future is what real estate option is best for you. Whether you buy an existing home, have your home built or rent a property is a huge decision and the answer is not always simple as you might think. Here are the main benefits and drawbacks attached to the three main options mentioned above.


Buying a Home:

The two main advantages to buying a home are cost and convenience. Contacting a real estate agent or agency to assist with finding relevant properties, dealing with the paper work and assisting with negotiations can fast track the process allowing you to find the ideal home sooner rather than later. Another important advantage is that the cost of buying a home, in many cases (not in all), is cheaper than starting from scratch.

The main disadvantage with buying a home is that you won’t get exactly what you want. The layout may not be to your liking, or certain rooms may either be too small or larger than you would like it to be. However, the convenience of being able to move in right away is compelling enough for many individuals to choose an existing home over the building process.


Building a Home:

By building a new home you could use an architect or designer to create your dream home instead of settling for features that you find less than desirable. In addition. building a new home is more efficient and healthier for you. Building and energy codes change allowing homes to be more energy efficient which is better for the environment and can save you more on your utility bills. A new home is also less likely to bring about health concerns such as mold, lead paint, etc.

The biggest drawback to building is that it is a huge project to undertake, and it takes a lot of time. Hence it does not provide the same convenience as buying a home. However, building a home provides a level of satisfaction that you can’t get through buying a home.


Renting a Home or Apartment:

With renting you have a much greater degree of flexibility that you don’t get when you’re tied into a mortgage arrangement. For individuals who are constantly on the move a benefit of renting is the mere fact that you can move on at any time and don’t have to worry about the stress of selling your existing property and buying another.

The main downside with spending your entire life renting is that you have no fixed asset, which is a big disadvantage for many individuals.


If you need any clarification on this topic, feel free to email us at

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Skills and Qualities of a Successful Real Estate Agent

Are you planning on placing your property on the market for sale or rent? Are you considering seeking the assistance of a real estate agent or agency to get your property sold or rented but don’t know who to turn to? Then this article is for you. Today we share with you 7 of the most important characteristics that a real estate agent should possess.


  • A successful real estate agent is honest:One of the most important characteristics that a real estate agent should have is honesty. In any business clients want to work with someone whom they can trust, therefore agents should strive to be upfront and transparent in their transactions.


  • A successful real estate agent is passionate:Find an agent who is excited about the job. A real estate agent should have a passion for finding the right property for someone who is interested in buying or renting, as well as making their clients happy. Yes, the commission is great but that feeling of making your clients happy!…. the picture below explains

Photo credit: Lighter side of real estate


  • A successful real estate agent knows how to negotiate:Whether a client is buying, selling or renting, strong negotiation skills help the process go smoother. In the mind of the buyer or tenant the property can always be offered at a price lower than what it’s listed at, au contraire this is not always the case, and quite often the seller or landlord is of opposite views.  The agent therefore has to pull out their negotiation skills and tactics to achieve a win-win solution as quickly as possible.


  • A successful real estate agent has good work ethics:Successfully selling a property takes a lot of time and effort. They must be aggressive towards marketing the properties in order to get them off the market while remaining ethical. The agent should provide clients with the necessary attention required, engage prospects and conduct showings proficiently.


  • A successful real estate agent is well-organized:Having efficient organization skills such as keeping track of appointments, arranging meetings, being on time, returning client calls and emails promptly…


  • A successful real estate agent knows the local market:Information on the local market is essential knowledge that an agent must have, especially if they are working with foreign clients. They will be able to properly advice on accommodations, amenities, culture, history etc. of the location which will influence the decision of the person(s) whom they are assisting.


  • A successful real estate agent is knowledgeable about the sale process:The agent must know as much information as possible about the process so that they will be better equipped to guide their clients through the process. For instance, they should know the necessary documents required to transfer real estate from the seller to the buyer as well as the applicable government fees.


With a good real estate agent everybody wins in the end.

What other qualities do you look for in a real estate agent?  We would love to hear from you.


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Cost Effective Exterior Improvements

In our previous article we discussed a few low budget improvements that can be implemented to add greater appeal to your property while it is on the real estate market. Today, we head outdoors as we take a look at some exterior improvements.


As expressed in our previous article the home in general should be kept speak-and-span, similarly so should the yard. Ensure the environment is void of any unnecessary clutter.  Remove all broken appliances, and old pieces of furniture that may be lying around. If there is a pet(s) ensure that are cleaned up after regularly. Trees and shrubs should be well pruned, outdoor vegetable and flower gardens should be well weeded, and the lawn should be well manicured.

Outdoor living spaces such as porches, verandas, balconies, patios and other extensions of the home such as stairs should be uncluttered, cleaned and repaired. Pieces of furniture within your outdoor living space should also be kept clean. Ensure that shades and awnings are in good repair and the colors have not faded away.

Both the house and garage doors should be in optimal condition, working properly and painted; nothing looks worse than a peeling door. Ensure that accessories such as door knobs are cleaned and polished. Also, keep in mind that gates, fences, walls and any other buildings on the property need to be taken care of as well.

When it comes to real estate first impressions do matter. The initial feeling that a prospect gets when they see a property for the first time in person will remain with them throughout the entire showing, and perhaps even through to subsequent showings as well.

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Hummingbird house plan

$3,810.30 with Drawings Only

$5,764.30 with Drawings and Cost Estimate

Floor Area 1,954 sqft

Stories 2 | Bedrooms 4 | Bathrooms 3 1/2

Exterior Dimensions 36′-4″ x 34′


Entering this design accentuates magnificent windows and glass doors which grace the interior walls with an instant and irrevocable synergy that connects the interior and exterior spaces.

On the first floor, the right of the loggia features a private guest bedroom with bathroom.  The living room commands open-floor planning, adjacent to the airy kitchen & dining room.

An internal stair leads to the second-story which consists of a master suite with a walk-in closet & master bathroom with the comfort of a built-in Jacuzzi. There are three other bedrooms, one of which can serve as a study room or home office, if desired.

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Cost Effective Interior Improvements

After you’ve decided to place your home on the market it is wise and extremely beneficial that it looks as presentable as possible so that is appears more attractive to prospects.  After all, a clean home is a happy home, and that results in a happy buyer!


Today, we share a few cost effective ways to improve a home’s interior for a productive showing.


Interior Improvements:


Use curtains and drapes that are both fresh and attractive, and ensure both the inside and outside of all windows are properly cleaned. Well washed windows accentuate the views of outside thus improving the appeal of the home to the buyer.  When facilitating showings, allow the outside light to engulf the room by keeping all drapes opened and shades pulled.


In addition to using natural light to brighten up the home, having new light fixtures installed can be an added asset. Consider putting in higher watt bulbs in all fixtures to improve the lighting. Have all the lights on while the showing is being done, especially in areas that do not get a lot of natural light.


Bathrooms are considered a sacred part of the home; hence it should always be as clean and sanitized as possible. Have it well organized and ensure that everything is where it should be.  Mop the floors, clean up the shower or bathtub, and ensure that the toilet is cleaned.  Get rid of the torn or stained shower curtain and have it replaced with a new one.


Have pets? From the moment you decide to place your property on the market for sale, consider making arrangements for pets that live or are frequently inside the home. You could either restrict their access into the house or have them stay at another property. This is because, not only do pets leave behind odors that may upset a prospective buyer, the buyer may also be allergic to pets.  Remember, you want the showing to go as smooth as possible.


Having clean walls is an important feature of a home on the market for sale.  If the walls are stained, firstly, try cleaning it with soap and water or other appropriate chemicals.  If that doesn’t remove the stains add a fresh coat of paint. Normally, where colors such as chartreuse, tangerine, purple, orange or any dark colors are over used, it causes a negative perception of the area; add at least two coats of white paint to turn the room into a blank canvas. This will allow the prospect to focus on more important features of the home.


Other important rooms that need attention prior to a showing are the bedroom and kitchen. Beds should be properly made and the bedroom clutter free; get clothing out of sight and have them stored neatly in your closet, wardrobe, or drawer.  In the kitchen, keep both the countertops and sinks clean and clear, be sure to have your stove and fridge cleaned, and ensure that the garbage is taken out in advance.


Dusting, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping up the floors, dusting out the rugs a little more than usual and replacing broken tiles are a few other cost effective ways to improve the interior of your home and increase your chances of securing a buyer.


Use these tips to improve, and look out for our next article where we focus on affordable ways we can improve the outside of the home.

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Keep Your Kitchen Clean

You can probably create a very long list of all the reasons why you should always keep your home clean and sanitized, particularly for the kitchen which is essentially the heart of the home. Today we share a few simple tips used to ensure that three of the most important areas of the kitchen are well taken care of.


The Stove: When cleaning the kitchen it is recommended that you begin on the right side of the stove and move around the room clockwise. Typically the stove is the dirtiest part of the kitchen as it tends to be the most used area and the area where most messes occur. Hence when cleaning, ending with the stove keeps dirt and grease from spreading. Ensure that the oven is kept clean by lining the bottom with a nonstick oven liner or aluminum foil in order to catch spills.


The Sink: It is a little known fact that a dirty kitchen sink is more contaminated with bacteria than the average toilet seat. Clean your sink with soap and water before spraying a mist of vinegar followed by hydrogen peroxide, then allow it to air-dry. Keep in mind that the vinegar and hydrogen-peroxide should not be mixed together. If you have a stainless steel sink, adding a few drops of mineral oil on a soft cloth and buffing can provide an added shine.


The Fridge: Firstly, remove all items from the refrigerator and throw away all food items that have no use. Wipe down the entire surface of the refrigerator using a clean sponge or cloth, and a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart water. After you have scrubbed all the drawers and shelves wipe dry using a clean cloth. When cleaning the freezer combine one cup of water, one teaspoon of dish washing liquid, and one teaspoon white vinegar (in a spray bottle if possible). Shake the solution well and spray the whole freezer. If you don’t have a spray bottle, simply dip a clean cloth or sponge in the mixture and wipe then dry.


Bear in mind that there are various methods and numerous solutions used to clean around the home and more specifically the kitchen. It’s wise to try a few and find the ones that you are comfortable with. If you have any other tips to keep these areas of the kitchen clean feel free to share them below.

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Design Your Dream Home

There is a lot of pressure when it comes to designing and building your dream home. You want to ensure that it is as perfect as possible and that you make as few compromises as possible. In this article, we discuss what needs to be done when designing a home and factors that you need to consider.


Getting Started: All you really need to get started is a simple thought or a dream.  Think about your likes and your dislikes, the design choices that speaks to you, features that you’ve admired in other homes, as well as features that meet your needs and suits your style.  Take note of these to better transition into the next step, finding an expert.


Getting Advice: Before making a final decision, it is wise to run the ideas you come up with past an Architect, or even a Contractor. By doing so you will be well informed on what can and cannot work, as well as the most cost effective design choices and materials allowing you to remain within a specific budget.


Keep the Future in Mind: When planning on designing a home it is best to design with the future in mind, not just your current situation. Where do you see yourself in ten years, 20 years, even 50 years? Do you plan on extending your family? Then you should design in such a way that the home can be extended at ease. Do you plan on spending your retirement in the same home? Then consider building a home that is elder friendly instead of having to make a lot of alterations when old age starts creeping up on you.


Think about the Land: Maximize on the shape and size of the land by designing your home to suit its natural state. You can always alter the land to fit your design, which you may need to do in any case. However the more alterations that needs to be done the more money that will be spent. If the land is already flat, designing a home that works best with a slope is unnecessary.


CLICK HERE for tips on making your home Elder Friendly.


If you need any clarification on this topic, feel free to email us at

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House Planning: Choosing the Right Tile

When designing your home, no detail is too small or insignificant.  With every decision that needs to be made there are factors to be considered and options to choose from.  Today we focus on tiling and discuss three (3) factors that one should consider when choosing the right tile:


  1. Style:Knowing where the tile will be placed will help make all the other factors that need to be considered become clearer, especially in regards to the style of tiles to be used.  There are several style options to be considered.  Here are the most commonly used styles:
  • Ceramic tiles are an excellent choice for bathrooms and areas exposed to a lot of moisture because of its waterproof nature. In addition its surface is ideal for paint.
  • Glass tiles are a common choice for bathrooms and kitchens because they are easily recyclable and come in a variety of colors and finishes. They are mostly used for walls and backsplashes.
  • Porcelain tiles are a common flooring choice due to its no-slip grip and incredible strength. Its durability and water-resistant nature makes it ideal for outdoor use.
  • Natural stone tiles are incredibly durable. A smooth stone works well for the kitchen as it clean-ups easily, whereas a textured stone floor will help prevent slipping on a wet bathroom floor.
  1. Size & Shape: Large tiles have a distinguishing look and are much easier to install compared to smaller tiles. Likewise, tiles that are squared and rectangular in shape are easier to install compared to irregular shaped tiles. In addition, when you use a larger tile it limits the pattern effects of grout.


  1. Color: Ultimately you will decide what color tile you prefer based on personal preference, the color of the walls, furnishing, décor, etc. but it is wise to keep these things in mind when making a decision: light colors make a room appear larger than it actually is; dark colors add a feeling of warmth and comfort; and using neutral colors offers the benefit of being able to change your décor.


If you need any clarification on this topic, feel free to email us at

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Baby-Proof Your Home

It should be the desire of all parents to see to it that their children are safe, secured, and protected. In the following article we share 5 tips you should consider implementing in your home to keep your little ones safe.


Preventing fall:

As soon as our little one starts to crawl, precautions need to be put in place in order to keep them safe on the countless occasions they are likely to trip and fall down. Safety gates are a great way to keep babies away from stair cases. For multi-story homes, fit a gate at the top of the stairs and another at least three steps from the bottom. Gates are also useful for blocking the entrance to rooms where babies can easily get hurt.


Windows and Doors:

Ensure that pieces of furniture and other items that your little one may attempt to climb are away from windows. In addition, for areas of the home with large areas of glass, for example glass doors, consider adding stickers at baby level to remind the child that something is there, hence avoiding collision impacts.


Protect little hands:

To prevent your toddler’s hands from squeezing between hinges consider installing hinge protectors throughout the home. Scissors, staplers and other sharp items should always remain within draws that are locked. Ensure that cords are well concealed away from the baby’s reach.


Prevent Drowning:

All it takes is as little as 5cm of water for a child to drown; hence it is of the outmost importance that you remain vigilant when they are near water. Ensure that areas where water is stored from a container or bucket to a pool, is covered whenever you are not around.


Preventing suffocation:

To prevent suffocation ensure that your baby has a safe sleeping space such as a cot or a crib, which is the safest place for your baby to sleep. Ensure that the toddler’s feet are placed touching the bottom of the crib and that light blankets are used to cover him/her. It is never a wise decision to put your baby to sleep on a sofa especially one with large gaps and many cushions. Plastic bags, which are great choking hazards, should be kept out of your child’s reach.


Share with us any other tip that you can think of to create a safe home environment for little ones.

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Barbadine house plan

$2,324.07 with Drawings Only

$3,515.90 with Drawings and Cost Estimate

Floor Area 1,140.50 sqft

Stories 1 (on pillars) | Bedrooms 2 | Bathrooms 2

Exterior Dimensions 42′-6″ x 29′-4″


Ideally designed for a sloping lot and an economical budget.

The entrance of this home is through a wooden framed glass double door which leads to the foyer then into the living room.  The living room has direct access to a rear balcony.  The dining room and kitchen are conveniently located on the left side of the living room.

To the left side of the building are the master and second bedroom separated by their corresponding bathrooms.  The master bedroom is complimented by a private balcony, walk-in closet with section for linen and laundry storage space.  The second bedroom includes a built-in closet and its bathroom is well positioned for convenience to both residents and visitors.

The house is enclosed with some double doors and windows for open views, a spacious feel and plenty of light.


This house plan was designed to suit an economical budget.  The layout can be tweaked to suit your lifestyle.