Tips for Modernising your Bathroom on a Budget

Bathrooms can look worn out faster than other rooms in a home because of too much moisture and general humidity.  Sadly, it’s not cheap to renovate a bathroom.

Here are nine inexpensive ways to modernise your bathroom, because having a limited budget does not mean you have to live with a less than attractive bathroom.

1. Hang a new shower curtain
Replace your shower curtains regularly. If you see yours looking shabby, then it’s time to replace it.  It’s a good idea to get a decent quality shower curtain if you are not going to renovate any time soon, or if you’re leasing your present residence for a long time. Good quality shower curtains are normally heavier and more durable than less-expensive ones and they’re an excellent solution to a long-term problem.

2. Update your cabinets
Clean your bathroom cabinets and get rid of bath products that have expired or you haven’t use for some time. If the shelves look worn out, spruce them up with drawer liners or contact.  You can also replace the old door knobs and paint the cabinet doors. It would only take a few hours one weekend to complete.

3. Hire professional cleaners
Have an end-of-lease cleaner professionally clean your house and ask them to pay special attention on your bathroom. Before the cleaners arrive, clean out your bathroom so they can steam clean all nooks and crannies. You’ll never get your house to be as clean as it was when you first move in, so it is a good idea to have it professionally cleaned every year or two.

4. Purchase second hand
You don’t have to spend a huge amount on renovating your bathroom, if you purchase everything second hand. You can buy vintage and second hand fixtures, taps, shower heads, baths and sinks at many reputable online stores or recycling centres.  You can complete a beautiful bathroom upgrade for a fraction of the cost of brand new products.

5. Splurge on some items
If you are a renter and renovating is obviously not possible, decorate your way to a lovely bathroom with what you have. Store your bathroom essentials in beautiful containers or mason jars, invest in delicious fluffy towels and light scented candles.  You can also use soft lighting, which can make even the most worn out bathroom look beautiful.

6. Install new tiles
If the home is yours and you don’t plan to relocate any time soon, think about allocating a budget to re-tile your bathroom. You can try to save by purchasing second-hand, re-used or vintage tiles, but book a professional to do the re-tiling if you’re not a handy person. It would cost you more to hire a professional tiler to fix your mistakes than if you hired a professional in the first place.

7. Give it a fresh coat of paint
Ask help from your local hardware store on what bathroom paints and products are appropriate, and start on giving your bathroom a fresh coat of paint.  Look to Pinterest and the internet for inspiration.  Your bathroom would most likely have minimal surface to paint, so you can complete the job in a weekend. You can do it alone, which would save you money on labour.

8. Modernise your fixtures
Replacing the fixtures is an inexpensive and easy way to modernise your bathroom. An old bathroom can have an instant pleasant lift with a new tap and shower head. It is an easy and affordable way to gradually improve the look of your bathroom.

9. Buy new lighting
A warm light bulb, a new lighting fixture or even a floor lamp can easily fix an outdated and unattractive bathroom lighting situation. Go for natural or simulated natural light.

Houses Are More Affordable Today, But Interest Rate in Buying Is Riskier

It seems people are feeling scared by rising home values. But the truth is houses are fairly more affordable now compared to the 1990s. I personally remember paying 18% interest on my mortgage! What the major risk for first time homebuyers nowadays is future rising interest rates.
 
Median measure, which is the ratio of media house prices to median salary, is used as a measure of affordability. The latest demographics survey shows that the median house price in Sydney is 12.2 times the median salary, while in Melbourne it is 9.5.  
 
However, these median measures are not reliable because it fails to consider the differences in interest rates in different time periods.
 
A property in 2017 with a price tag that is nine times the median salary, with mortgage interest rates below 4%, is cheaper than a property in 1990 priced at six times the median salary, with interest rates at 17%.
 
But the lower interest rates mean the present first-time home buyers are more at risk compared to their grandparents or parents decades ago.
 
Interest-rate risk
The possible effect that a slight increase in mortgage interest rates can have on the standard of living of homeowners is what is called interest-rate risk. This doesn’t take into account the possible path of interest rates, but how a 1% variation in interest rates impacts monthly amortisation required on a variable rate mortgage.
 
When interest increases, mortgage repayments follow. But when interest rates are lower, the proportionate increase is higher.
 
Using the example used previously, a home buyer in the 1990 has a much lower interest rate risk compared to a 2017 buyer. If interest increases by 1% in 1990, the increase in repayments would only be 5.7% to $2.923. Meanwhile, for the 2017 buyer, a rise of interest by 1% would result in repayments increasing by more than 12% to $5,368 per month.
 
This could potentially financially harm first-time home buyers, and because of the over dependence of the retail banking sector on residential property markets, possibly bring about a systemic financial disaster.
 
In summary
The general trend of interest rates compounds this situation.
 
Mortgage interest rates were at a record high in the 1990s and first-time home buyers could look forward to a decrease in their repayments in the coming years. But interest rates in 2017 are at record lows, so home buyers cannot and should not expect repayments to decline in the coming years.
 
So while today’s homes are more affordable than homes in the past, the interest rate risk is substantially higher and the forecast for returns on their investment is much more. If you’re a buyer planning to purchase your first home, it is smart to address the issues rather than exploit unreasonable median-based measures of property affordability.

Aside from resolving the problems related to housing supply, the government should also look into ways to minimise interest rate risk over the long term.

Tips to Ready your Home for Winter Sale

Even in the cooler months of the year serious buyers are on the lookout for the right property to purchase.

Keep the following considerations in mind when you are looking to sell a property during winter:

Lights
It can be overcast during winter, so ensure that you maximise both the natural and artificial lights in your home.

Here are some tricks you can try:

  • Maximise natural light by adjusting your window furnishings.
  • Open your blinds and draw up your curtains.
  • Make sure all the ceiling lights and lamps in the house are turned on.
  • Take away all obscuring items in the house.

Clean all windows to let in more light and choose your open house times carefully, basing them around the times when more natural light is available.

Climate control
During open home inspections, make prospective buyers feel immediately comfortable by making sure they are coming into a warm, cosy home and that your home is at a comfortable temperature. 

If your home has an open pit fire, take advantage of it – it not only adds atmosphere but a roaring fire is also emotive and heats the space.

Soft furnishings
Reflect the cooler seasons by lightening up the colours of your soft furnishings. Amplifying the textures and depths of your accent colours by changing some cushion covers to maintain the warm and welcoming feeling inside your home.

In your lounge area, place textured throws and blankets.  If you have an open-plan space, create zones by adding a rug.

Drain and gutter maintenance
You don’t want your prospective buyers to see pools of water in your home. So clean all your drains and gutters to prevent storm water from collecting when it rains.

Be aware of moisture and dampness in your home as this can cause mould issues which will be a red flag for prospective buyers.

And remember, selling in winter when there is less properties on the market and less competition means there is a better chance to achieve a premium price.  Waiting until spring could mean you have less buyers wanting your property because they have more choice!

New Housing Reforms Announced For NSW

The NSW government has announced a comprehensive housing reform package designed to boost housing affordability.
 
For first-home buyers stamp duty on new AND existing homes worth up to $650,000 will be abolished, and homes worth up to $800,000 will be granted stamp duty relief.
 
In addition, insurance duty on LMI will be removed, and a grant of $10,000 will be provided to builders of new homes worth up to $750,000 and purchases of new homes up to $600,000.
 
The reforms will also double the surcharge on stamp duty for foreign buyers to 8% and the surcharge on land tax will grow to 2% from 0.75%. But there will no increased surcharges for foreign developers.
 
First-home buyers have to constantly battle against foreign investors for properties. To address this issue, the 12-month deferral of duty for residential off-the-plan purchases by investors will be abolished.
 
Buyers of residential off-the-plan properties, whether first-time or not, can still avail of the 12-month deferral in stamp duty, postponing payment from 3 to 15 months following settlement. However, investors will not be entitled to this privilege.
 
These measures will become effective starting 1 July 2017.