Rikk Miller Financial Writer
About Rikk Miller
Rikk is a financial writer.He is associated with several financial communities.
His expertise is woven around various aspects of the real estate industry . He is a financial writer who excels in writing finance articles.
If you are looking for a good way to build up a pension, something for your future, buying a property and renting it out is a great way to do it. In the UK, the US, and much of Europe, thousands of private individuals become landlords for the first time, every year. Here we provide some guidance to make sure that being a landlord, for the first time, is a pleasure rather than a headache. Don’t go it alone Our first tip is to resist the temptation to do everything yourself. Renting out a property sounds easy on paper, but in reality, it is actually quite difficult. There is a lot that can go wrong. For example, what happens if someone stops paying his or her rent? Would you know what the quickest way to get the missing rent paid, or how to evict the tenant? In all likelihood, you would not. You would need to hire a lawyer to help you. This takes time, and in the meantime, your rent is not being paid. Staying within the law In most parts of the world, the standard of rental properties is heavily regulated. You need to be aware of these regulations, and make sure that you stay within the law. If you are new to the rental market understanding and complying with all of these rules is extremely difficult. This fact means that you are usually better off hiring a professional letting agent rather than trying to do everything yourself. Hire the right agent Whether you are looking for York Estate Agents, England, or New York, America, you need to do your research. You have to bear in mind that your working relationship is likely to be a long one, and that the firm you hire will be looking after one of your biggest assets. Therefore, choosing the right letting agent is vitally important. Experience You need to find a firm that is well established, and has a good reputation. The more experienced they are the better. Locally based You need to try to find a letting agent that is based close to your rental property. That way if something goes wrong the agent can get to your property and sort the issue out within a day or two, rather than a week later. Properly regulated It also makes sense to search out those property management firms that are regulated. In most countries, anyone can set themselves up as a letting agent. Therefore, it is perfectly possible to end up inadvertently hiring someone that has no more experience than you do. Fortunately, you can get around this problem by searching out firms that have voluntarily joined trade associations that regulate them. For example, in the UK, agents who are members of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) work to high standards. They have to in order to remain members of the association. Therefore, it makes sense to seek out and use this type of letting agent. You can find out more about NALS, and the standards their members adhere to, here....read more
If you’re tired of mowing the lawn, you wished someone else would come by and paint your house for you — for free — or you just want to live in a safe and well-manicured neighborhood, then you might want to live in an area where there is a homeowner’s association (HOA). Here are some of the reasons homeowners like it. Maintained Properties In an HOA neighborhood, the HOA takes care of the lawn and what are called “common areas.” You can see examples of these in Bellerive homes for sale. These are areas that are open to everyone, and include areas and sidewalks where people in the community walk and where children can play, like neighborhood playgrounds. It may also include dog-walking areas where residents walk their dog or other pets. HOAs usually do a fantastic job of maintaining amenities, like lawns, common areas, parking lots and spaces, and even the front of homes, lighting for the neighborhood, and playgrounds. More Amenities Want a swimming pool but don’t want to maintain it? Wish your children had someplace safe to play? How about a safe community you can walk around in? Or, trails where you can take your dog without worrying about getting lost or paying an entrance fee? These are the types of areas that HOAs maintain. Some HOAs include things like walking trails, sport courts, swimming pools, barbecue pits, neighborhood parks, clubhouses, and other common areas open to all residents. Some of these areas can even be booked for special events, like weddings or parties. Aesthetically-Pleasing Homes Want to live somewhere that you know your property value won’t go down, even if rowdy neighbors move in next door? This is what an HOA does for you. They employ a system of rules that has the full force and effect of law to exert control over property values. Some of these rules can be restrictive for some homeowners, but usually an HOA does it because its goal is to maintain property values for the entire neighborhood. So, some homeowners may be off-put by the idea that they can’t put certain lawn ornaments in their front lawn, for example. But, on the flip side, the HOA may also ban painting a home in the neighborhood pink or puce, which may dramatically reduce property values. HOAs also control property upkeep. So, homeowners in the neighborhood who do not mow their lawn, or take care of their property, can be fined. This protects all homeowners. The Rules Rules and regulations can deter nuisance activity. They can also promote conformity. Some people like that, while others do not. Some common rules attempt to set standards for how homeowners behave in the neighborhood, how they treat others, how pets are to be taken care of when out in the community, and how the neighborhood looks, generally. For example, a community HOA may set up doggie stations with dog doo bags, so that homeowners can pick up after their pet. Fines may be levied for people who don’t clean up after their pet, and the community may be assessed cleaning bills to help pay for the cleanup of the neighborhood if it gets bad enough — encouraging every homeowner to pitch in and clean up after themselves. Some rules might initially seem intrusive, like...read more
As you look into getting a new home, you have a lot of decisions to make. Building a new home allows you to make all of the choices that will give you the house of your dreams, but that does come with a price. The cost of building a new home varies greatly – usually somewhere between $100,000 and $600,000 – and it’s almost always more expensive than buying a home that’s been around for a couple of decades. However, certain factors play a big role in the cost of a new home, and it’s possible to make tweaks to a plan to make it more affordable. Understanding these factors can help you decide whether buying a new home is the right move for you. Builder’s Style The way that the home is built can play a big role in the overall cost. Modular homes are the most affordable option for a new home. These are built in a factory, then transported in pieces to your building site and assembled like a puzzle. Modular homes have a reputation for being made from low-quality materials, but the process has certainly evolved over the years. Current versions are better than the ones made several years ago. Homes that are completely custom-built are the most expensive. This involves working with an architect who will create a design from your home, then a contractor will build it. It’s the right choice for someone who has a very specific – and possibly unusual – idea of what they want their home to look like. Most people choose the option in the middle – working with a quality home builder and development company. These companies will build a home to your specifications, but the homes are often based on certain pre-designed floor plans and options. If you happen to be in Australia, you may even decide to go for one of the display homes built by GJ Gardner. Home Size Naturally, the size of the home plays a role in the price. The bigger the home, the bigger the cost. Sometimes, you’ll pay more to have a second story, but the additional roofing materials on a single-story home can also increase cost. Asking for a finished basement or attic can also increase costs. It’s best to start with an idea of how much liveable square footage you want in a home, then look at the costs for different styles of homes that meet the demand. Interior and Exterior Features One of the biggest advantages of building a new home is being able to select all of the little details in the home, from the colour of the carpets to the sink fixtures to the roofing materials. If you have champagne tastes, your home will probably be a lot more expensive than someone who doesn’t need a lot of fancy extras. Some examples of features that can drive up the cost of a new home are granite countertops, hardwood floors and a swimming pool in the backyard. If you want to control the costs, discuss your budget with your builder. They’ll be able to help you meet that budget by cutting corners in the places that don’t matter much to you. Upfront Costs and Long-Term Savings Another thing that you’ll want to think about is how...read more
There is no such thing as one size fits all. This is especially true when it comes to mortgages. Not only does one size not fit everyone, it doesn’t even fit one person in every stage of life. That is why it is so important to understand the various types of mortgages and what they can do for you. In the same way that there is no mortgage that fits everyone, there is no right or wrong mortgage. Some have decidedly better terms than others. But some of those packages deemed bad by some allow others to purchase a house when they would otherwise never have been able to do so. Therefore, rather than focusing on the best mortgage, you should focus on the best mortgage for you at the various stages in your life. Here’s how to match a mortgage to the stage of life in which you happen to find yourself: Insufficient Retirement One of life’s cruel ironies is that as you enter the stage where you are making less money, the business of staying alive often gets more expensive. When retirement and a major decline in health happen at the same time, most people find that their retirement plans were insufficient. And that they have grossly underestimated how expensive aging issues can be. Even in such a scenario, it is possible to make ends meet. What you need to do is calculate your finances for a reverse mortgage possibility. Rather than a traditional loan, you receive payments for your home instead of making them. This is an excellent type of mortgage for those who have no need to pass the home down to the kids. However, the kids can keep the home and pay off the loan if they so desire. The key is that the equity in your home can make up the difference if you find your retirement plans unexpectedly and suddenly insufficient. Temporary Transition You don’t always need a 30-year mortgage. Sometimes you just need a loan to cover the transition between moving into a new house and selling your old one. This often happens during the downsizing phase. A lot of empty nesters look forward to downsizing and simplifying. You know that your home is worth a lot of money in the right market. You find yourself in the position of being a seller and a buyer at the same time. In a perfect world, your home will sell at the exact moment you have to put money down on your new home. But we don’t live in a perfect world. You need the money from your current house on the market to pay for the one on which you are ready to make an offer. You have the luxury of being able to all but ignore the terms of the loan because you will be paying it off in very short order. Despite conventional wisdom, you might even find borrowing from your 401(k) to be the smartest way to go about it. Just don’t forget to pay yourself back when your ship comes in. Settling Down There was a time when being a grown up was defined as settling down and taking on long-term commitments. The three most common expressions of long-term commitment are as follows: Buying a house Getting married Having...read more
Taking advantage of tax credits starts long before tax season. It’s something that real estate businesses have to consider before breaking ground on a project or putting up the first “For Sale” sign. From the projects you take on to the people you hire, there are a number of tax credits and incentives that can help you keep more of your revenue. Identifying Business Tax Incentives Before you can claim tax credits you have to first identify them and then follow the requirements so that your company is eligible. This can be a very labor-intensive process since incentives and regulations can change at any time. ADP business tax credits and incentives allow real estate businesses to more easily identify applicable tax credits within a database of over 3,000 incentives. They also have mapping software that allows you to search for tax incentives based on geographic location. Where the Business is Located Like real estate, taxes are all about location. Federal taxes are just one piece of the tax pie. State, county and city taxes can also come into play. Some cities are luring in new businesses with tax breaks for a specified period of time. This can make startup much easier on a real estate business, however, forecasting for the added expense once taxes do kick in has to be done first. The most tax-friendly states that offer the lowest combined tax rate are also worth considering if you are looking to start a business or relocate. For example, Delaware doesn’t have a sales tax and the property taxes are among the lowest in the country. This could be extremely beneficial for a business that is just starting out and purchasing a lot of equipment, supplies, etc. Available Tax Credits for Real Estate Businesses Right now there are many tax deductions and incentives for professionals working in the real estate industry. There are also lucrative tax credits that will lower your liability right off the bat. Some are specifically tied to real estate while others are tax credits that any business can claim as long as they meet the requirements. Work Opportunity Tax Credit – The Work Opportunity Tax Credit can help you reduce your tax liability by $9,600 for every new employee that qualifies. The federal government has outlined specific target groups that employers must hire within to receive the credit. These groups include military veterans and people receiving social assistance. Federal Empowerment Zone Employment Credit – This credit was recently extended and can be used to reduce your 2015 taxes. Businesses located in a designated Federal Empowerment Zone can get a tax credit of 20% on the first $15,000 paid to qualified zone employees. To qualify the employee must live and perform the majority of their work within a federal empowerment zone. Federal Indian Employment Credit – This tax credit is designed to encourage businesses to hire individuals who live on or near a reservation. You don’t have to be in an empowerment zone to claim this credit. To qualify the employee must meet certain criteria including being an enrolled member of a Native American tribe or the spouse of a member. New Markets Tax Credit – The New Markets Tax Credit was developed by the Department of Treasury to encourage investment in distressed or low-income communities. This...read more
Are you in the market to take out a home loan for realizing your dream of becoming a homeowner? If answered yes, you must have been confused to know the wide array of home loan options available in the market. Mortgage loans are generally categorized into three types, the fixed rate home loans, the variable rate home loans, and hybrid loans which carry some features of both fixed rate and variable rate loans. Although there are many advantages of taking out fixed rate loan, it is not that variable rate loans shouldn’t be taken out. There are number of lenders like NPBS who lend variable rate home loans and if you wish to save your dollars on such loans, here are some steps that you need to follow. Reduce the term of the loan: Like most lending institutions, they offer variable rate home loans with a standard 20 year bond. If you can shorten the term of the loan by only a couple of years, you can cut down the interest rates considerably, thereby saving hundreds of your dollars. That may create the difference between seeking an early retirement and having to continue work. Pay more than the scheduled payments: If you decided to shorten the term of your home loan, you can afford to pay a little extra payment each month. For that you might have to sacrifice some of your expenses, but that will help you in the long run. Even a few hundred dollars added to your variable rate home loan payment might save thousands on interest rate. Make extra payments: Speak to your lender about the penalty charges of making extra payments on your home loan. If you’re lucky enough and if you don’t have to pay penalty charges for pre-paying on the loan, you can remind yourself to make additional payments whenever you think is possible for you. You can use a mortgage calculator to check how you’re saving on this venture. Shop around and compare rates: Remember that there is never any harm associated with finding out what the other lenders are offering you. However, make sure you remember that seeking the lowest rate is not always the only criterion to look for. The lowest rate that you get today might not be the lowest tomorrow. Also be aware of the fine print. Consider the flexibility of the loan so that you know whether or not you’re able to change the terms according to your own wish. Steer clear of introductory rates: There are some organizations which lower the initial rate and name it as a ‘gift’ rate to lure customers. Such offers are generally replete with pitfalls and different hidden costs. You might have to pay a much higher rate once this period comes to an end. Many mortgage lenders recommends prospective homeowners to be careful while taking out variable rate home loan or any other types of loan. He also adds by saying that homeowners require managing their finances to the utmost level so that they can cope up with the changing rates....read more
Debt settlement is the process of negotiating with the creditors to settle the debt at a reduced amount in lump sum for example 75% or 50% of the original amount you owe. The cost for the debt settlement vary across different companies and is about 10% – 15% of your total debts. Most of the time, debt settlement is used in settling credit card debts. In the past, it is hard to settle a credit card debt for a reduced amount but nowadays you can easily get a debt settled with the help of a debt settlement company. There are so many people that have credit card debt problems and credit card companies are willing to settle a debt for a reduced amount so that they can get back some money instead of nothing at all. You will be asked to stop making repayment to your creditors and make payment to a trust account that the debt settlement company has set up instead. Some of the payments will be used for covering the fees with the rest going to each of the creditors as they agree to the settlement. The missed payment will be recorded in your credit report and it will cause your credit score to drop consequently. The debt will get written off when you are at least 6 months behind payment. In the meantime, you must wait for your balance to be high enough for paying the lump sum. It is when the creditor had sold your debt to the debt collection agency that the debt settlement company starts to negotiate for a reduced debt. Debt settlement company acts as a middleman between you and the credit card company. You must always be in touch with the company and kept informed about the progress so that you know that they are doing their job. If you don’t follow up on them, they could delay in carrying out the negotiation with the company after taking your money. With many scams around, it is advised that you always review the ratings of the debt settlement firm at the Better Business Bureau. Besides, you must review the fee structure and find out what types of fees they charge. It is very important to only sign up with an established debt settlement company that has good ratings at the reviews site and get lots of positive complements from customers. When your debt is settled, you may be liable to pay taxes for the forgiven amount. The creditor will report the debt that is forgiven by using the IRS 1099 form. However, you can be qualified to be exempted to pay the tax if you can come up with proof that the money you owe exceed the amount of funds you have in your hand. Debt settlement is worthwhile if you are under the burden of having to pay a lot of debts and you are struggling to have enough money to cover your living expenses. You must have a significant savings in order to entice the creditor to agree to the settle the...read more
Many people have successfully got out of their credit card debts by using debt consolidation services. It is very convenient to make the loan repayment to the debt consolidation company because you are only making a single payment. It can be hard to keep track on the bill for each of the credit cards on your own and causes stress for you. If your credit cards have exorbitant interest rates, consolidating them can significantly reduce your burden because the debt consolidation company will help you to negotiate with the credit card company for a lower interest APR. Consolidating your credit card debts makes sense if the repayment amount that you make every month is the same and won’t increase. You can use it as a way of disciplining yourself to be responsible in your spending. You don’t want to use debt consolidation as an excuse for you to make more credits available to you as this can put you in an even more serious debt situation. To avoid giving in to temptation in using the credit card, you can cut your credit card into half. You should also terminate any overdraft limit on your credit card. Credit card consolidation loans program isn’t suitable for you if you are using your credit card to pay for important bills such as utility bills. It only makes sense to apply for debt consolidation loan if you are sure that you can meet the repayment every month until you have fully paid off the loan. You must take some time to think about the expenses that will possibly incur in the future. You must also make sure you are able to afford the payment for the fees in case your old lenders charge them for switching to the debt consolidation loan. You have to make sure that all your debts will be cleared completely when you join the debt consolidation program. You don’t have to provide any collateral when you consolidate your credit card debts with a debt consolidation company. It is very important to always check the fine print to make sure you understand the hidden fees for example early repayment fees. You should always get advice from a financial counselor or your friend who is knowledgeable about this prior to making a decision. You can do research on the web and shop around different debt consolidation companies. There are very few legitimate debt consolidation companies that offer consolidation services for credit card debts. You can visit a top reviews site to find out the list of the top debt consolidation companies that are doing well in the industry. The review site will provide a detailed overview on different areas such as fees, eligibility, and accreditation. Most companies offer free credit counseling session and you can make use of it to find out whether you qualify for the debt management plan. Credit card debt consolidation will not leave any significant impact on your credit report. All loans will request for a hard credit check and you should not be bothering about the loss of a few points if you have a serious debt problem. You will be able to rebuild your credit score and get back the points you loss in a few years...read more
More and more debt management companies have been set up along with growth in the number of people that are in debt. The DMP provider will collect a single payment from you every month and disburse the money to the creditors. Debt management program is a better debt relief option compared to home equity loan where you use your home as a security collateral. If you fail to make on time payment on a home equity loan, you could lose your home to the bank and have no place to live. After you join the DMP program, there will be financial counseling specialists explaining the process of the debt consolidation. They will help you to create a repayment plan based on your budget. The financial counseling specialists at the debt management company are certified with a third party organization. They are knowledgeable about various credit problems and they can come up with a budget plan that can ensure you repay your debt on time and settle it off quickly. The length of the debt management program will depend on how much debt you owe and the number of creditors you still owe money on. If you can pay more each month, you should do so as it will help to reduce the length of the program. It also depend on the creditor. All these factors will be taken into account at the counseling session. The financial counseling specialists at the DMP program will be communicating with your creditors and asking them to eliminate the credit card fees such as finance charges and late payment fees. They can help you with bringing your accounts with up to 5 missed payments to current. In addition, they will be working with your creditors to lower the interest rate so that it is more affordable for you to repay the loan. The financial counseling specialists can provide you with all the necessary education and financial tools to help you succeed in repaying your loan. They can provide the right financial resources for you to keep track with your finances. They will teach you how to manage your finance so that you won’t be in debt again once you completed the DMP program. The DMP program may have a longer term compared to your original loan term but most people are able to become free from debt faster. This is because you are paying lesser interest fees. The average number of payments made to complete a DMP program is about 36 – 60 payments which is about 5 years or more. Debts that are included in the DMP program cannot receive any more penalty in the credit report. Therefore, you will stop seeing drop in your credit rating if you are able to make payment punctually. With a debt management program, you will be able to have a peace of mind. You will get back your confidence and have more control on your debt. It will remove the stress of having to struggle to be out of your debt...read more
A homeowner or home buyer who lacks funds to repair a house may obtain a home improvement loan to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. A home improvement loan can pay for small cosmetic fix-ups to larger renovation or construction projects. Homeowners tend to prefer home improvement loans to other credit types, such as credit cards or personal loans, because these loans are secured by the home itself. The interest rate on a home improvement loan can be lower than a credit card annual percentage rate or personal loan. Short-Term Home Improvement Funds People with bad credit may need a loan to complete home repairs or small renovations. Bad credit may force the homeowner to live on a cash basis, but some repairs can be costly. Using a credit card to complete a home improvement project might be necessary. Although obtaining a home improvement loan with excellent credit is a simple task, people with lower credit scores have difficulty getting approval. Loan denial is the likely result for the homeowner with bad credit. Payday loans can help homeowners get the money required to complete repairs or projects. Bad Credit Loans Some lenders don’t make lending decisions entirely on the borrower’s credit score. If the borrower has equity in the home, the lender may be able to find a way to help. The homeowner with equity in the property can provide security for a loan, and this fact allows lenders to offer home repair loans to people with less than perfect credit.Self-employed homeowners, or those who are in arrears on their mortgage or home loan, may benefit from these loans. However, some homeowners have taken equity from their homes in the past and must now service these loans. Getting access to new loan funds can be a challenge. Payday loans can be a great help to homeowners in need of funds now. Family Loans Some borrowers in search of short-term loan funds ask family or friends for help. If the homeowner has never asked family members for a loan and feels comfortable doing so, this solution can provide the money needed to complete repairs or improvements. However, some homeowners prefer to independently manage their family affairs. They don’t want a parent, grandparent, sister, or brother to know about a financial struggle. Other borrowers have already exhausted family and friends’ ability to lend money. The borrower may already owe his or her relations money and will therefore choose to request necessary pounds from new funding resources. Short-Term Borrowing Making an application at a traditional lender requires the homeowner to put up a variety of credentials. A short-term pay day loan requires basic details about the borrower. The lender will ask about the borrower’s employment as a primary prerequisite. The payday service applicant’s employment history should be continuous for at least six months. The borrower should be at least 18 years of age. The borrower should also have a checking or savings account with a bank or financial institution. The online payday loan service borrower must earn a minimum net amount per month in order to repay the short-term loan. Many customers enjoy the ease of applying for an online short-term loan. Short-term payday lenders charge higher rates to lend these funds. Applicants for these loans typically appreciate the simplicity of the application and the...read more