The BetterLike Initiative

Press Release 16 NovDon’t you wish you had the power to “do something” whenever you see a homeless child, or an abused animal, or a park full of rubbish, or even when someone close to you is in need?

Well, now you do, thanks to the BetterLike Initiative recently launched by BetterLife Home Loans.

“People tend to think that they can’t really accomplish much as an individual,” says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of BetterLife Home Loans, SA’s largest mortgage originator, “but with this initiative we aim to show just how much they can achieve if they are willing to share their dreams for change with others.”

“What we are doing, firstly, is providing the platform for them to do that via our entry website www.betterlike.co.za, where they can describe a project or an idea that they believe would make a big difference to an individual or the cause or charity organisation they support.”

This might be the establishment of a new food garden to feed and employ hungry people, he says, or a fund-raiser for a wild animal shelter. “You might have a dream to support an old age home, or give young people back their smiles. Or perhaps you would like to be an eco-warrior cleaning up the environment, or head up a team taking solar power solutions to a rural area.

“Whatever it is, we want you to tell us about it. Then every two months, we will choose three of these ‘dreams for change’ to go forward to the second stage of the competition and be posted on our Facebook page, where the finalists will need to inspire their families, friends, colleagues and the public to support their ideas and give them Likes. So, be sure to like our Facebook page to follow the action.

“The person who gets the most Likes will then get financial support up to R100 000 to bring their dream to life and implement the project that they have described – while we bring the camera crew to capture the whole thing on video.”

In short, Rademeyer says, the BetterLike campaign aims to encourage and empower those inspirational people who are always looking for ways to make life better for others.

Here’s what agents can do for millennials

Millennial blog imageWhen considering millennial buyers, agents most often think about the difficulty such buyers may have in qualifying for a home loan due to student loan debt or the lack of a deposit. However, another thing they need to bear in mind is that many young adults simply don’t know where to start when it comes to buying a home, and may just need a straight-talking “coach” to get them on their way up the property ladder.

Millennials (aged 15 to 30) obviously spend a lot of time online and with so much real estate information available online today, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and give up on the whole process.

Agents who want to secure their future “pipeline” of buyers really need to get to grips with this and provide some simple guidelines that will turn them into trusted advisers. In this way, they improve their chances of becoming the people who first-time buyers will most likely turn to when they decide to stop renting and become home-owners.

To start with, here are three basic concepts agents need to build into their communications with millennials:

If you think you can afford a home, get pre-approved for a home loan

Potential buyers need to assess their own financial ability, and a good way to do that is to seek pre-approval from a reputable mortgage originator like BetterLife Home Loans.

The purpose of this process is to determine how much they are actually eligible to borrow, and ultimately, how much they can comfortably afford to spend (including their deposit). This is not only a time-saver for both buyers and estate agents, but also gives buyers an advantage in a competitive market because it lets sellers know that they are serious purchasers with every likelihood of being able to get a home loan.

There are big benefits in paying a deposit

It is of course possible to obtain a loan for 100% of the purchase price, but first-time buyers need to understand that it is really worth saving up a substantial deposit before they commit to a purchase.

The more money they have to invest in their own homes, the faster the loan application process will go and the more likely they are to obtain a preferential interest rate that will mean lower monthly bond repayments. Also, the bigger their initial equity, the greater the likelihood that they will be able to pay off their loan earlier, which will mean even more savings.

Before you go househunting, think about your lifestyle

Millennials generally have a very different lifestyle to that of their parents, and the chances are that they will need homes that are very different to those they grew up in.

The most important thing is to think about where they and their families spend the most time – such as work, school, shops and the gym – and concentrate their attention on areas where they can live as close as possible to all these and avoid long commutes. After that, they should think carefully about what type of home they would prefer – an apartment, a townhouse or a stand-alone house with a garden – and how much space they need. The more specific they can be, the more likely agents are to be able to match them to their perfect property.

As an agent, understanding the different kinds of clientèle you deal with on a daily basis is key to making successful sales and positioning yourself as someone buyers will consider reliable, knowledgeable and helpful.

The numbers that homebuyers need to know

Know the numbers_FB

In many ways, buying a new home is a “numbers game” – and the most important of those numbers is undoubtedly how much you can afford to spend. This differs for everyone and your best option is to seek help from a reputable mortgage originator like us and obtain a home loan pre-qualification. This will be based on your earnings, credit record and current debt load, and should give you a really good idea of your home price range.

Monthly costs
Another very important number you must know is how much your ideal home would cost you every month – in total. When budgeting for this, you should include things such as:

  • Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Property rates
  • Municipal service charges
  • Any levies payable
  • Your monthly bond instalment.

Deposit and transaction costs
Next, you need to establish how much cash you would need to pay a deposit (if required), plus transaction costs such as bond registration charges, legal fees and transfer duty (if applicable). This can amount to quite a considerable sum and you may need to delay your home purchase for a while so that you can boost your savings to accommodate these costs.

How long do you plan to stay?
The fourth number you need to have in your head is how many years you plan to live in your new home. Experts advise that in most cases, it really only makes sense to consider buying if you are planning to stay put for at least five years or, preferably, longer. The reason is that if you’re going to sell again relatively soon, chances are you will not make a good return and you could even end up losing money, especially because property transaction costs are so high (even for sellers).

Searching online
Fifth, you should know that 90% of all buyers today begin their house-hunt online, simply because it is the quickest and easiest way to get to know more about the areas you’re considering. You’re also able to see the types of homes on offer in your chosen area and do some serious comparative shopping. What’s more, you can search for information about local schools, transport services and community organisations – all without leaving your home or office.

How long has it been on the market?
Then finally, you should make it your business to find out how long the homes you are interested in have been on the market. Knowing this number can help you gauge whether or not other buyers believe the property may be overpriced or needs too much work. However, it is important to note that not all properties that have been on the market for a while should be crossed off your list immediately. Some may in fact have owners that are quite ready to negotiate a lower price – you simply need to ask. On the other hand, some homes may actually only need minor renovations to become your dream home for years to come.

Four Real Estate Success Tips: How to give your next deal the “Trump Touch”

Ok, so maybe nobody wants Donald Trump’s hair, and aside from the jury still being out on his political views, it’s safe to say that most of us are really interested in how he masterfully conducts innovative and cutting-edge deals. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying he’s a bona-fide real estate business genius. Here are four simple tips on how you can “Trump” your next real estate deal:

Be prepared

Preparation is key when it comes to creating the perfect real estate deal. It goes without saying that Trump uses various tools and tactics to prepare for a property transaction, and so can you as an estate agent. Part of the preparation process includes researching the area you’re promoting inside out. This includes knowing the status of businesses, schools, crime rates and grocery stores. Remember though, that in order to avoid your discussion coming across as a hard sales pitch, touch on the negative aspects of the area as well – even the most desirable areas will have some cons. Listing these negative aspects along with the pros will transform your delivery into an honest pitch, in turn, making it more appealing to the client. And for a straight-shooter like Trump, honesty really does seem to be the best policy.

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http://www.inspirefirst.com

Assist your clients

Go a step further and prepare your clients for the process by informing them about tools such as a bond calculator. This will allow them to work out the amount that they’re able to afford so that when it comes to them purchasing a home, they know the size of the loan they’re likely to need. Always make yourself available to answer any questions potential buyers may have – there are bound to be many, particularly with first-time buyers. Whatever you can do to put them at ease will be a benefit and make things move forward more smoothly in the process.

Highlight exclusivity

Exclusivity is always desirable because people tend to want what others can’t have. When promoting an area, highlight any and all exclusivity it may offer. Find ways to demonstrate the high demand for the properties in the area, and at the same time, emphasise the fact that availability is simultaneously limited. This is sure to create a strong interest from people, especially those who prioritise exclusivity above most other things when looking for a property to invest in.

Take your time

Time is money. It’s been proven that the more time someone spends on a transaction, the less likely they are to walk away down the line. Even when the deal isn’t perfect, they wouldn’t want to feel they have wasted time, and by extension, money, so they make it work as much as they can. The longer you have the other party participate in the meeting, the more it’s likely that the outcome will be positive and a sale will be made. What’s important to remember here is that whilst nice guys finish last, what matters is that they still finish.

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When it comes to real estate, we can all take a feather out of Donald Trump’s cap. As with most things, there’s an art to ensuring success and there’s no arguing that Mr Trump has it down pat (unlike his toupee) when it comes to the business of real estate. So what have you got to lose? Why not consider channelling the legend himself the next time a new deal presents itself? Good luck.

Budget essentials for first-time buyers

Budget essentials

One of the best pieces of advice you could get when buying your first home is to choose a property that costs considerably less than your maximum loan approval amount.

Why? Because homeownership is about more than just making the bond repayments. There are several other expenses to take into account and you need to make sure that you will also be able to afford these every month – after you get the keys to your new home.

The first of these is the municipal property tax. It will vary from city to city, suburb to suburb and even from house to house but you will need to pay it and it is a good idea to find out what the local authority is charging the current owner before you buy any property.

The amount is usually stated separately on the municipal account for services such as water and electricity and if it is significant you might even be better off house-hunting in an area with lower rates and paying an additional amount off your bond each month instead.

On a R1m bond, if you pay an additional amount of just R300 a month, you will cut your repayment period by almost two years and save more than R125 000 in interest in the process.

The second new payment you will need to budget for is Homeowner’s Insurance, usually referred to as HOC, which provides for the repair or replacement of your home in the event that it is damaged or destroyed by fire, flood, wind and other natural disasters. If you have a home loan, the lender will insist that you have such insurance – and that is not a bad thing, as you might otherwise end up paying off a bond on a property that no longer exists.

You can arrange to have the annual premium for your HOC debited to your bond account but you will still need to budget for it, as that will result in an increase in your monthly bond instalment. You will also need to ensure that it is increased annually to allow for the increasing value of your home and also the increasing costs of demolition and rebuilding should that be necessary.

Thirdly, you really should budget a monthly amount for maintenance and repairs and put it in a savings or “reserve” account if you don’t need it immediately. A new home or a newly-renovated home might need very little work for the first few years, but nothing mechanical lasts forever, and it is very useful to have cash in reserve when you urgently need to call a plumber, for example, or when you want an electrician to install extra security lights, or even when your washing machine just quits on you.

You will also need cash for small items like burned-out light bulbs and cleaning equipment, and it is a great idea to plan ahead for major maintenance items like repainting the roof every five years, so that should go in your monthly budget too.

Finally, if you live in a sectional title complex or a security estate, you will need to budget for the monthly levy or Homeowner’s Association fee. This will generally cover the provision and upkeep of the security services and equipment, and any communal facilities such as internal roads, gardens and perhaps a swimming pool.

You should also be prepared for levies to go up every year, and also leave yourself some room to manoeuvre financially if interest rates go up and your minimum monthly bond repayment is increased. You want to be able to keep your home without a strain every month, and without having to neglect the maintenance or fall into arrears on other accounts.

Consequently, buying conservatively in the first place really is the best route to follow.

How to modify your home so you can safely ‘age in place’

Growing Old_FB

It is becoming increasingly common for people to “refire” in their sixties rather than retire. One significant implication for the property market as a result of this trend is the accompanying preference for “ageing in place” as opposed to selling the family home and moving to a retirement village or old-age home.

One of the main reasons for wanting to “age in place”

Chances are that the existing home will need some modifications to make it comfortable and safe for the owners as they get older, but another reason that many senior citizens prefer not to move is the fear that they will not be approved for a home loan if they need one to buy another property. They would rather seek approval for a “further loan” to pay for the alterations they need to make – or pay for these piecemeal if that application is turned down.

Recommended home adaptions

Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders in the US already offers specialist courses and qualifications for contractors who are interested in helping people adapt their homes to make life easier as they get older, without making it look like an institution. The following are among some of the most important home modifications recommended:

Add lighting
Natural light, more lamps, recessed lighting and task lighting in the kitchen all make it easier to see what you’re doing, no matter what your age. What’s more, adding more lighting as you get older can help reduce the chances of injury. Contrasting surfaces, such as countertops that are a different colour from the floor and colour changes at steps, also help to make homes safer.

Smooth your path
Choosing flooring is a bit of a tricky issue because while hard surfaces or low-pile carpet are best for wheelchairs, they can be slippery or too cold, especially in big rooms. The most important thing is to get rid of trip hazards such as throw rugs, create clear paths through the home and eliminate stairs wherever possible.

Deal early with staircases
For people who live in double-storey homes, it’s a really good idea to rearrange or renovate in such a way so as to create a bedroom suite with a full bathroom downstairs. While most people can’t afford an elevator, a chair lift is also a good option for those who are getting a little frail or too unsteady to manage the stairs alone.

Embrace modern aids
When altering kitchens to make it easier to age in place, homeowners should look out for really helpful products and aids such as:

  • Motion-activated taps
  • Pull-out shelves (that make it easier to see and retrieve items without bending down and peering into a dark cabinet)
  • Levers instead of twist-controls
  • Pedestals that make front-loading appliances and ovens easier to use.

Don’t forget the bathroom
In the bathroom, grab bars can be attractive enough these days to be mistaken for accent pieces, and can even double up as towel rails and soap dishes. Old-fashioned bathtubs can be replaced with glamorous steam and massage showers, complete with seating and slip-resistant flooring to make them safer.

Widen doorways
The easiest way to do this is to use offset hinges that move the actual doors right out of the way. It’s also may be worth removing any moulding around doorways as well.

Improve the access area
Add a railing to your front steps, for example, or better yet, replace them with a tapered walkway. Add a shelf where you can put things down while you unlock the door and a roof so you don’t get wet if it’s raining. Lay some paving and pathways to make it easier to get around the garden, and get an electrician to move light switches and plug points to make them easier to reach.

Growing older doesn’t have to mean selling your family home but more than likely, it will mean having to make multiple modifications in order for it to remain a safe place in which to live.

Here’s what it takes to really stand out as an estate agent

A new Australian survey has revealed that estate agents need to hone just three skills if they want their clients to regard their service as outstanding and therefore refer them to all their friends. While it may surprise many, these skills are not especially high-tech or difficult to learn.

It’s not necessarily about years of experience or market conditions

CoreLogic, which conducted the survey among hundreds of people who sold their homes with the help of an agent, says they also do not require agents to have years of real estate experience or a particular set of market conditions. “Rather, the three key skills that make for really memorable service by an estate agent are ‘basic’ skills based on respect, empathy, sincerity and the willingness to champion the rights of your sellers and guide them through the whole process,” it explains. Happily, the survey showed that 66% of the home sellers that were surveyed regarded their experience of working with an agent as excellent or good, and that 68% would recommend their agent to family or friends.

A closer look at the three key skills

However, CoreLogic says, what was even more interesting was what they had to say about what was lacking from the skill set of the agents they did not like working with and would not recommend. “At the end of the day, three key skills were identified that spelt out the difference in every case. It was these skills that resulted in good agents being ranked as amazing and ordinary agents being ranked as poor.”

Those three skills were:

The willingness to follow up
The agents who received the very worst reviews were those who promised to call sellers and give them feedback after a show day, yet never did.

Good customer service
For example, sellers were also scathing about agents who “dumped” them the minute the sale agreement was signed, leaving them to follow up on all the ensuing paperwork and manage the transaction themselves.

Negotiation priorities
Sellers really did not appreciate agents who seemed to “switch sides” mid-sale, trying to convince them to accept lower offers instead of pushing buyers to make better offers.

Performance in these areas are key

On the other hand, sellers who rated their agents’ performance in these three areas as “excellent”, were those who had the highest satisfaction levels with the sale process and gave their agents glowing testimonials.

What is more, notes CoreLogic, the positive feelings those sellers expressed were consistent regardless of when they had sold. Just over half of those surveyed had sold within the past two years, with the rest having sold prior to that (with most of them not even having received a remarkable price for their property in the end).

“The bottom line is that agents who are truly serious about improving their performance can do so easily if they are genuine, do what they say they will do and demonstrate to their clients that they have their best interests at heart.”

Your guide to danger-free DIY this year

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New year, new home. That’s how many people feel – and for those who already own a property, that often means that DIY home improvement projects are on the cards for the next few months.

However, it’s almost a cliché that the first thing you should buy for your workshop or toolbox when starting out on the DIY route is a first-aid kit, because of the large numbers of home handymen that get injured and even hospitalised every year.

But rather than let that deter you completely, just be sure to start slow, with smaller and easier projects, until you become familiar with your equipment and build up your skills – and to follow the following expert suggestions for avoiding the most common DIY injuries:

  • Always wear safety glasses or goggles, whether using power tools, stripping paint or just hammering in a nail.
  • Protect your hearing. Use ear muffs or plugs when working with noisy tools or mowers.
  • Wear a safety harness when working on a roof or tall ladder.
  • Wear gloves and overalls to protect your skin when using pesticides or installing fiberglass insulation materials.
  • Tie hair back and don’t wear loose sleeves or jewellery when using power tools.
  • Ventilate your work area properly, especially when using a paint sprayer or chemicals like paint stripper and varnish.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or bucket of sand handy when working with any flammable substance.
  • Don’t run an extension cord over an area you will repeatedly traverse during the project, because you increase the odds of tripping over it or making it fray and cause an electrical short.
  • Clean up as you go, removing spent nails or screws, empty containers and bits of timber, tile or brick as you complete each section of a project.
  • Wear a mask to prevent dust inhalation if you’re sawing or sanding, but use a proper respirator if you’re working with high-fume glues and varnishes.

And finally, you will save yourself and your family much trouble by just admitting that there are some projects – like electrical wiring and plumbing – that really must be done by a qualified specialist.

Springbok stars in new ads for BetterLife Home Loans

Already a rugby hero and recently selected to be part of the Springbok World Cup team, Trevor Nyakane has added TV personality to his repertoire, as he appears in a series of adverts for BetterLife Home Loans, South Africa’s biggest mortgage originator.

Nicknamed “Pumbaa” by his teammates because of his strength and irrepressible grin, the formidable prop plays a starring role in the ads, which were launched during September. Produced to support a new reality show coming to DStv screens that will air from October.

About the show

BetterLife Home Loans is sponsoring the programme, of which each episode will introduce viewers to a family trying to sell their home somewhere in South Africa, but without much success, as well as to a top local estate agent who is then called in to help.

Viewers follow the story as the agent suggests practical and inexpensive improvements or renovations that will make the home more attractive to buyers. These will then be carried out and completed by the show’s crew, together with the help of certain contractors and suppliers, after which the revamped and ready-to-sell “new” property will be revealed to the owners.

The programme will cover a wide range of properties and recommended improvements that will showcase everything from kitchen and bathroom revamps to decluttering and staging a home for show, paint jobs, clean-ups and landscaping, explains BetterLife Home Loans CEO, Shaun Rademeyer.

The message

“The budget limit is R50 000 per property. The overall message is that it is not necessary to spend a fortune to get your home ready for showing and make it more appealing to prospective buyers – provided you seek the advice of a trained and experienced agent who is familiar with what buyers in your area are looking for”, says Rademeyer. “And this resonates with our message to prospective homebuyers: it is not necessary to struggle through the process of applying for a home loan on your own.”

“It is much easier and more effective to enlist the help of a reputable originator like BetterLife Home Loans that can prepare your application properly, motivate it individually and ensure that you get the best deal possible”, concludes Rademeyer.

Named “Vat Jou Goed en Trek”, the new show will air on the kykNET channel from Friday 2 October at 17h30, with repeats on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

How to fix your children’s DIY decor

Kid covered in paint

Suddenly the house goes quiet, and you walk into a room to find your children beaming proudly at you over a carpet full of nail polish, or trying to hide a pet which has been mysteriously dyed bright green. What do you do, besides want to pretend you didn’t see it? Well, at BetterLife Home Loans we know how much you love your home, so we’ve compiled a list of how-to’s to help keep your carpets, wooden floors, walls (and pets) stain-free, no matter how artistic your children want to get.

Food colouring:

Food colouring

Food colouring is a persistent stain. Hydrogen peroxide (tested on a less-visible area first, to ensure you don’t bleach the surface) can be applied to the stain, left for a few minutes, and then wiped with a clean towel. For stubborn stains, brushing the peroxide into the surface works well. Rinse using a cloth and water, then dry thoroughly. If it is on skin, let it fade naturally, or apply baby cream to the area.

Crayons:

Drawing on wall with crayons

A thick paste made from baking soda and water dissolves most kinds of grease (including tough pan grease). For wall drawings, dab some onto the stain before gently rubbing with a clean cloth, rinsing and wiping it dry. For wooden floors or furniture, a cloth and a few drops of mineral solvent will do the trick. Always test an inconspicuous area first before applying a cleaning agent, to ensure you don’t damage your house or furniture.

Paint:

Drawing on wall with crayons

For clothes, scrape off excess paint then if possible, saturate the surface with isopropyl alcohol. Once this is done, scrape the area with a butter knife or your nails, then wash as usual.

Vaseline:

Vaseline Mohawk

Vaseline may be your best friend for a diaper rash, but certainly not for your child’s hair. Normal shampoo won’t do the trick if your toddler decides to style themselves a Mohawk. Pat baby powder or corn starch (Maizena) into their hair to absorb the jelly, then wash with warm water and shampoo. Otherwise, mix some baking soda into regular baby shampoo, then wash and rinse out.

Nail polish:

Child painting nails

Blot up the excess lacquer, then apply a small amount of acetone to stain and blot again. Repeat the process until the stain no longer responds. If it remains, apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, sponge with cold water and blot dry again.

Prestik:

Blue Tack/Prestik

If Prestik is stuck in your carpet, saturate the area with a citrus-based cleaning agent, leave it to dry and soften, then pick off. Use a cloth and cool water to rinse residue.

Ink:

Ink-stained shirt

To gently remove ink, use a little bit of baby oil, or olive oil. Nail polish remover and rubbing alcohol work quickly, but are less gentle. Dab some onto a cotton ball and wipe the area, but be sure to avoid the eye and mouth areas if possible. If you’re removing ink from dog fur, wash your pup with a mix of warm water and dish soap, then rinse with warm water.

 

 

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