No Comments

Buying Versus Renting: Which Should You Choose?

Many individuals believe that it is ultimately more beneficial to spend money on buying a home rather than spending years paying rent. However, that is not always the case. There are a lot of factors to consider before making your decision and every situation is not the same. Here are a few things to think about before choosing the best option to suit you.

Mortgage and Loan: Buying a house naturally requires money, and in most instances requires the individual(s) to apply for a loan or mortgage. You need to first know whether you are able to obtain a loan or mortgage, if not then renting would best suit you. Factors such as poor credit score and low income will decrease your chances.

Employment: Be sure that you have a safe and secure job. If you feel that any day in the near future you may be fired, or you plan on quitting your job then home ownership is probably not the right decision. The loss of a job can bring many financial difficulties that buying a home will just make even more difficult.

Total Cost: You need to analyze which option will cost you the least amount of money in the long haul: monthly rent compared to monthly loan payment, and all other costs attributed to each option. This includes maintenance and repair of the building. This is one of the main costs of buying a home which does not factor into renting. Whichever decision saves you the most money should be highly considered.

 

Change in family structure:  If you are single and plan to remain that way, renting may be a practical option. However, if you plan to get married and start a family, a stable home where memories can be made and roots laid-out is essential.  Your own provides security and a sense of belonging to your family that renting does not provide.

Future Plans: Buying a home is a long-term investment and should be treated as such. If you are someone who is always on the go constantly traveling from place to place then it might be more beneficial to rent in the meantime. Worst yet if you plan on spending time abroad for a long time then buying a home may just be pointless.

Freedom v. stability: Renting gives you a sense of freedom if you like to change scenery often by moving to different locations.  In addition, with renting you have the freedom of moving if you do not like the home or the area.  However, there is uncertainty with renting.  The landlord is within their right to discontinue your lease, and you would be forced to move in that situation.

Are you at the point where you need to decide between renting and buying?  Which do you think better suits your situation? Is there any advice you can provide to someone needing to make that decision?  Share with us in the comments.

No Comments

Take Advantage of the Rain to Conserve Water and Save Money

Why didn’t you think of this earlier?! Take advantage of the rainy season by harvesting rain water to use around your home and save on your water bill. Here are five (5) practical uses of rain water to benefit your family and the environment:

Plant Care:

Rain water can be harvested to water your garden and household plants. Instead of pipe borne water for decorative or indoor plants, use rain water. Establish your garden in such a manner that it can benefit greatly from rainy days. Ensure that your plants are in an area where water can be accumulated and drained out to avoid erosion and flooding. This increases the self-efficiency of the plants and decreases the need for constant care.

The toilet:

A toilet can use up to 12 liters of water per flush.  An average person uses 30 liters of water flushing the toilet per day or 210 liters per week. That is money that can be spent on other things or saved for ‘a rainy day’. Installing a tank to toilet system can lead to major water savings.

The Washing Machine:

You can also save loads of money and water by connecting your washing machine to your tank.  Washing machines can use up to 150 liters of water per load and most households do 5-6 loads of washing per week. If the option of installing a tank is not desirable to you, rain water can simply be collected in a bucket or barrel and used to fill the machine.

Rain Shower:

Rain water is perfectly safe for use in the shower while taking a bath.  Bathing uses about 54,000 liters per year which can be saved if the shower is connected to a rainwater collection tank. If the source of water is not from a collection tank which filters the water it may first need to be decontaminated based on where it is collected.

The Kitchen and Household Chores:

Dishwashing and the kitchen uses about 27,000 liters per year, convert this as money in the bank by using rain water to handle those chores. In addition, use rain water for other domestic chores such as mopping and other general cleaning tasks.

No Comments

3 Road Safety tips for wet days!

Road safety is often taken lightly by drivers these days.  With a speedy increase in the number of vehicles on island, and an increase in the number of vehicular accidents there is no doubt that road safety needs to become a greater priority. This is especially important on rainy days where the likelihood of being in an accident is greater. Here we offer 3 tips to the drivers out there when driving along those wet, slippery roads.

Ensure that visibility is clear

You have to be able to see: the bends, the vehicles in front and behind you, the people, animals or objects (fallen trees, rocks, potholes, etc.) in your way. The dark clouds and falling rain make this especially difficult. Ensure that your windshield and mirrors are properly cleaned; that your windshield wipers are working efficiently and all necessary lighting (brake lights, headlights, taillights, and turn signals) are functioning before you hit the road. Rain repellant products can also be used on mirrors and windows to clear standing raindrops.      

Refrain from distractions

Your attention is to be placed on the road in front, behind and at your sides. Stay away from the cellphone and keep the radio off (or at least have the volume very low). You need to be aware of other vehicles, possible landslides and anything else that may be on the road. If a call must be made or received pull over on the side of the road for the duration of the call, then continue driving when you are done.

 

Slow down

Wet roads reduce friction between your tires and the road. This causes drivers to have less control over their vehicles and also makes them more prone to skidding. Hydroplaning occurs when water builds up between the wheels and road surface. This causes a loss of traction and prevents the vehicle from responding to input controls. The faster you are driving the harder it will be to maintain traction if you begin to lose control. Remember it is better to arrive at your destination a few minutes late than to never get there at all.  Even better, leave for your destination a little earlier to give yourself enough time to drive more carefully.

 

Here is an extra tip: seatbelts save lives, if all else fails ensure that they are properly fastened.

No Comments

Buying a home for the first time? Do not make these common mistakes!

When purchasing a property, you don’t want to make the wrong move or completely overlook something important. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and be aware of common mistakes buyers make – so you can avoid them and the stress they cause.

  1. Miscalculating the Full Costs of Buying

Buying a house will likely be the biggest financial endeavor of your life thus far. Even with all of the low down payment programs available to first-time buyers, it’s no small feat. Down payment aside, other expenses can really add up. Along the way, there will be a few sunk costs, like paying your home inspector and the appraisal fee. The biggest “hidden cost” that comes as a surprise to first-time home buyers is the closing costs, which cover a wide variety of transactional fees and pre-payments.

Down payment aside, other expenses can really add up. Along the way, there will be a few sunk costs, like paying your home inspector and the appraisal fee.

Closing costs can amount to 2 to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price. The best way to determine a comprehensive list of fees is to speak with all of the key players involved in the transaction (your real estate agent, the lender, the insurance provider, the title company, your attorney, etc.) to get an estimate.

  1. Only Fixating on the House

The house is obviously a very important part of the home-buying equation. But, I would argue that its surroundings are equally important. As a buyer, you are investing in the community and particularly the neighborhood. If you’re relocating to a new area, it’s especially critical to analyze things like crime rate, school systems, amenities and public transportation options. With a little effort, you can scout neighborhoods like a pro.

  1. Being Close-Minded About Inventory

You know the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, the same thing could be said for buying real estate. Sometimes we are put-off by a listing online, especially if the marketing efforts are lacking. Before ruling out a property based on poor-quality photography, run through its other attributes.

The same can be said about neighborhoods and housing types that are outside of your current knowledge base. As a buyer, the best thing you can do is to keep an open mind and fully explore your options.

  1. Letting Emotions Override Your Wallet

Buying a home can be emotional. It can be hard to think logically when a seller has pulled out all of the stops to make you fall in love with his or her home. Trust me, an immaculate and beautifully staged property in your ideal neighborhood may be difficult to pass up. It’s fine to let a home pull at your heartstrings, and to let the emotions help to guide your decision. However, if the financials are a critical driver of your purchase, you’ll want to balance emotions with logic.

I always recommend creating a comparative market analysis to help you determine a home’s fair market value and justify your purchase price.

  1. Getting Distracted by “The Small Stuff”

If you’re new to homeownership, it’s difficult to imagine the responsibility that goes into maintaining a property. Heating/cooling systems, roofs, siding and windows are all fundamental components of a home. Home shoppers love to look at the surface items like finishes and paint colors, but you don’t want to become so distracted that you completely ignore what’s under the hood.

Try to compile a list of the big-ticket infrastructure items and how much life is left in each. Request a disclosure form from the seller and press for answers during your home inspection so that you can budget for repairs.

  1. Blaming Other People When Things Go Wrong

Investing in real estate always holds some level of risk. It’s only wise to make well-researched choices and to hire experts throughout a transaction. Sadly, even with all the good intentions, sometimes things go south. What’s worse is when you feel like you’re stuck holding the bag. Say, you bought a house and quickly find out the finished basement has a water seepage problem. While it would have been nice for the home inspector to catch the issue, it may not have come up in a visual assessment.

 

Be your own advocate. Ask the hard questions and think about things from a holistic viewpoint. Also, protect yourself. It’s always best to have a reserve fund to cover the unexpected (when and if they should arise).

 

Lastly, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is an exhaustive list! Every deal is different, but by avoiding these common mistakes you’ll be putting yourself in a stronger buying position.

No Comments

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for a New Home

A home is likely the most costly asset you will ever own, and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. The dream of homeownership can quickly turn into a nightmare, leaving you with a lifetime of financial regrets.

 

Don’t let the home-buying process make a financial fool out of you. Here are four of the biggest home shopping mistakes to avoid:

 

  1. Treating a home solely as an income generating investment

A house should first and foremost be for living in. Rental income is never a sure thing, so the home should be able to serve you if you fall short of the returns you expected. Buying a home in order to use it as rental or guesthouse is not always financially wise, and often yields undesirable results.

 

  1. Comparing your rent to a mortgage payment

Just because you pay a certain amount in rent does not mean you can afford the same amount as a mortgage payment. There are multiple costs associated with purchasing and owning a home that should be taken into consideration.

 

  1. Maxing out your loan

Life can be unpredictable, and it is easy to find yourself suddenly living in a house you can no longer afford. Skip the large mortgage payment and decide on security instead. You can’t put a price on knowing you can stay in your home even if you face a financial crisis or life change.

 

  1. Taking too long to make a decision

Don’t let cosmetic issues like paint colors or outdated décor keep you from putting an offer in on a home. You can take your time later to upgrade the physical imperfections. If a house is priced well, structurally sound, in your desired location, is the right size and has a great layout make an offer.

No Comments

Consider These When Buying a Home

Real estate purchases most times involve borrowing a large sum of money (mortgage) usually above $100,000 and therefore calls for making informed decisions.  These decisions you don’t have to make on your own.  If you are considering a mortgage we advise you to consider these three points below to assist you in making the best decision.

 

Take note of your finances:

Figure out what you can spend. Taking a simple inventory of your wallet can help you understand your financial ability and speed up the process. Know your financial limits to prevent potential pitfalls.  For example, if you bring home $3,500.00 per month and have outstanding loans and bills with payments totaling $1,800.00 and the bank requires a monthly payment of $1,400.00 for the mortgage then it’s likely you may eventually default on one of your loans or bills with just $300.00 cash left in hand.

 

Find a real estate agent:

The search for a home could be very tedious because of limited time and market information.  Use a professional in the real estate field as they will have the time to search for a suitable property and will be aware of available properties for sale in their territory.  They will come with added benefits such as access to properties, understanding of prices, taxes and the buying process etc.

 

Have a home inspection:

Have an inspection even if the property appears to be in good condition or is relatively new.  In the event that the selling price does not reflect the property flaws, a home inspection may give you a chance to negotiate your offer or withdraw your offer preventing you from making a costly mistake of purchasing a home that needs major repairs you didn’t budget for.

 

 

Don’t do it alone, purchasing real estate is a major financial investment.   Assembling a team of knowledgeable professionals such as a financial advisors, lawyers, property inspectors and realtors can provide much needed advice.

No Comments

Save For a Home While Renting

There are so many benefits in owning a home that not even these hard economic times can deter its appeal.  Saving for a house, on the other hand, can be challenging for many apartment dwellers and tenants.  The truth is it is difficult to save for a house, when a big chunk of your income goes toward rent. The cost of renting can make the idea of owning a home seems like a fantasy, but saving for a house can be well within your reach.

 

Follow these five (5) tips to help save up for a house while renting:

 

Budget first, save later:

Making a list of your expenses and working out a budget seems like the oldest financial advice in the book, probably because it is.  People should take the time to learn where their finances are at, and then save as much as they can comfortably afford.

 

Stick to your savings:

A weekly savings account contribution of $50 adds up to $2,600 after a year.  After just five years, that gives you $13,000 to put towards purchasing your own home.

 

Downsize:

Move to a cheaper apartment for a few years.  You’ll save money on rent that could be put to better use, like buying your home.  A $100 to $200 savings per month goes a long way in giving your housing fund room to grow.

 

Start negotiating:

Consider negotiating rent with your landlord or property manager.  Emphasize to them your high value as a reliable tenant who pays his/her rent ahead or on time, and that it might be hard to find a new tenant of the same quality.

 

Roommates:

Find a roommate through friends, internet sources, social media, or newspaper advertisements, to cut down on your $1,200 monthly rental payment.  Put your money saved toward your housing fund.

No Comments

Buying Land

Many long-term endeavors involve the use of real property and most times present the option of purchasing.  In some cases land and building will be needed and in other cases only land.  Today we will discuss a few key areas concerning the purchase of land which should be given careful attention.

 

  • Use of the land: Dominica, although a predominantly mountainous country with vast acres of forest, has areas which are flat and areas that are sloping. Many people are charmed by the idea of having flat land but a sloping lot may be quite convenient for your endeavor.

 

The local planning authority has separated land use into categories: residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, agricultural, tourism and urban development, wildlife, conservation/forestry and protected lands.  The type of land that you purchase should coincide with your plan for the land.  You would not want to buy a piece of land located in a residential area for the purpose of building a factory.

 

Check with the physical planning authority to find out if the desired area has any restrictions or if the land is fit for your purpose.  It may be considered a hassle, but this may save you from troublesome situations in the future since you will ultimately need permission from the Physical Planning Division to build any structure or feature on the land.

 

  • Budget your money wisely: When purchasing land there are government and other associated fees that the vendor as well as the purchaser have to pay. On a typical land (and building) transfer in Dominica the purchaser pays 4% stamp duty, 1% assurance fund and 2.5% judicial fee of the purchase price or value, whichever is greater.  Often times a lawyer and a surveyor have to be engaged and paid a fee during this transaction.  All these must be factored into your budget.

 

  • Surveys are essential: A land survey plan provides information on the dimensions, access and boundaries of the land. A topographical survey will come in quite handy in providing more information about the gradient of the land allowing you to plan better.
No Comments

What’s In a Roof? Roof Options Available

The Gable Roof – is triangular in shape; also known as pitched or peaked roof and are very popular.

Pros: Gable roofs will easily shed water and snow, provide more space for an attic or vaulted ceilings and allow more ventilation.  Their simple design make it easy to build them and cheaper than more complex designs.

 

Cons: Gable roofs can be problematic in high wind and hurricane areas.  If the frames are not properly constructed with adequate supports, the roof can collapse.  High winds can also cause materials to peel away from gable roofs.  If there is too much of an overhang, winds can create an uplift underneath and cause the roof to detach from the walls.

 

If a gable roof is used in high wind areas, be sure proper braces are used and have the roof inspected after a large storm to ensure no damage occurred.

 

The Hip Roof – Slopes on all four sides which are all of equal length and come together at the top to form a ridge.

Pros: Hip roofs are more stable than gable roofs.  The inward slope of all four sides is what makes it more sturdy and durable.  They are excellent for both high wind and snowy areas. The slant of the roof allows snow to easily slide off with no standing water.  Hip roofs offer extra living space for vaulted ceilings or an attic.  They also provide more ventilation and are able to make additions, such as dormers or a crow’s nest.

 

Cons: Hip roofs are more expensive to build than a gable roof.  It’s a more complex design that requires more building materials.  Also, additional seams can make it easier for water leaks to form if a roofing system is not properly installed.

 

The Saltbox Roof – is one with two stories in front and one in the back, having a pitched roof with unequal sides, being short and high in front and long and low in the back.  The front of the house is flat and the rear roof line is steeply sloped.

Pros: The slope makes it easy for water to run off, making the saltbox roof good for areas that receive heavy rain.  The asymmetrical design makes it more durable than a simple gable roof.   It adds more living space by making a home one and a half to two stories.

 

Cons: The design can be tricky, which makes the building costs higher. Although more living space is provided, it isn’t as much as a regular pitched roof.  Also, some of the rooms may have slanted ceilings.

 

The Flat Roof – It appears to be completely flat but has a slight pitch to allow for water run-off and drainage.  Though generally used in industrial or commercial buildings, this style roof can be found on houses.

Pros: Easy to construct and requires fewer building materials, keeping costs down. It allows for more living space on the roof for a patio, garden.  Heating and cooling units can also be placed on flat roofs, keeping them out of sight. The design is also conducive for installing PV solar panels for a more energy efficient and energy independent home.

 

Cons: The low pitch makes flat roofs more susceptible to water leakage. They are not advised for high rainfall or high snowfall areas.  Although the upfront cost of building a flat roof is less expensive than a pitched roof, they can be more expensive in the long run due to maintenance and ongoing roof repair and replacement costs.

Ensuring a flat roof is waterproof is imperative. Using material that is continuous with no seams is the best.  The most common materials used are tar and gravel, roll roofing, metal sheets, PVC, TPO, and rubber membrane.

 

The Butterfly Roof – It is a V-shaped roof constructed of two tandem pieces which are angled up on the outside.  The midsection is angled downward where the two pieces meet into a valley.  The overall effect is of a butterfly’s wings in flight.

Pros: The upper angle of the outer edges allows larger windows to be used.  This gives the home more natural light, lower heating bills in the winter and brings an open feel to the design.  The valley in the midsection of the butterfly roof allows rainwater to be collected, making it beneficial for high drought areas.  The butterfly roof lends itself to an environmentally friendly home design, as PV solar panels, water collection systems and natural light can all be easily incorporated.

 

Cons: The complexity of the design makes the butterfly roof more expensive.  Not only are the upfront costs higher than conventional roofs, but the maintenance will also be more expensive.

 

Using a solid, continuous membrane with no seams is the key to keeping a butterfly roof watertight.  Other options are to use metal, organic materials or solar panels.

No Comments

News: Millenia Realty offers sales professionals the opportunity to be part of its Real Estate Sales Affiliate Network.

Millenia Realty has been operating as a broker in Real Estate sales and rentals on the Dominican market since 2010.  Over this period, we have earned the reputation of being trustworthy, fair, flexible and creative.

 

After doing business the conventional, same ole, same ole way all these years, we realized that both the broker/in-house agent commission-based structure and the broker/fixed salary employee structure often shortchanges the customer and typically disappoints the agent/employee.

 

We have concluded that a model that allows for complete flexibility and control by the sales person with a parallel commission split will address the inefficiencies and laissez-faire attitudes that we have seen in the conventional model.

 

This new model forms the basis of the Real Estate Sales Network that we recently launched.   This network offers independent sales professionals who are interested in the fast-paced and lucrative real estate sales business with an opportunity to fast-track their own business by utilizing our brand, our well-established online presence, among other benefits.

 

The flexibility of agents running their own businesses while they utilize our services lends itself to greater motivation and freedom which will improve on agent commitment and therefore increase client satisfaction.

 

Anyone interested in using their sales knowledge and experience to develop their own profitable real estate business should contact us to discuss how to join our Sales Affiliate Network.  Millenia Realty’s office is located on 24 Church Lane, Pottersville, Dominica.  We can be reached via email: realty@millenia.dm; phone: (767) 614-1806.