Five Reasons Why Real Estate Increases in Value

Real estate is probably the single largest investment in the portfolio of every family across the globe. Most middle-class families invest the maximum amount of money in their residential homes. In many parts of the world, this belief has been reinforced by the fact that houses have exponentially risen in value. Stories of 100 times appreciation over a period of 50 years are not uncommon. However, it is important to note that this nowhere near an extraordinary rate of return. Even if a property has grown 100 times in 50 years, its annual rate of growth is less than 10%! It is lack of literacy about the magical effects of compounding that makes people blindly chase real estate.

The important point is that people look at historical data about real estate and expect the trend to continue. This means that they expect that over the next 50 years the property prices will once again increase by a multiple of 100. This may or may not be true depending upon the specific location.

In this article, we will look at the underlying factors which drive real estate growth.

Factor #1: Zoning Laws

One of the major reasons for the change of price in the real estate sector is the change in the zoning of land. For instance, 50 years earlier, the population was not as much as it is today. Hence, a lot of land was intended for agricultural use. Agricultural land does not have as much commercial value. Therefore the prices of these lands were lower.

As a result, when the zoning laws change and the land is allowed to be used for commercial as well as residential purposes, the value of the land increases. A lot of appreciation over the past 50 years has been due to changes in zoning laws. This is particularly true regarding the locations adjoining megacities. Over time, cities tend to grow in size and as a result, the agricultural land adjoining these cities tends to become valuable. However, many cities of the world have already expanded too much. It is unlikely that they will face more expansion in the future. Hence, what has happened in the past 50 years may or may not be repeated in the next 50 years.

Factor #2: Infrastructure Development

If residential and commercial construction is allowed on a particular plot of land, then infrastructure development also needs to begin accordingly. New roads have to be developed. Also, the livability increases when markets, hospitals and schools are built nearby. The infrastructure development takes a long period of time. This stage may last for close to a decade. However, if changes are continuously visible, then the price of land will keep on increasing

Factor #3: Workplace Connectivity

People are tired of having long commutes. They are not paid for the time they commute. However, the commute certainly does waste some very valuable hours during the day. As a result, millennials prefer to stay in a location which is closer to their workplace. As a result, if a location is close to the workplace, it starts commanding a premium price. The relocation of central business districts to the outskirts of several cities has created the possibility of price appreciation in those areas. However, nowadays people do not buy open plots of land. Rather they buy developed properties. Hence, a lot of the appreciation that accrues because of workplace connectivity is pocketed by the developers themselves. The price at which the apartment is sold often factors in the developments likely to happen in the future. As a result, individual investors do not really have much to gain from increased connectivity.

Factor #4: Network Externalities

Once a location becomes popular with residents, it becomes a hotbed for several social activities. Hobby classes, restaurants, shopping malls, multiplexes etc. start operating in that area. This suits the lifestyle of many people and hence the properties in this residential market start trading at a premium. The more developed a location becomes, the more people want to live in it and prices continue to rise.

Factor #5: General Inflation

Lastly, properties become expensive to develop each year. This is because the price of inputs like cement, steel and skilled labor tends to increase every year. As a result, general inflation makes properties more expensive. If the nominal price of the property is not increasing by 2% to 3% every year, it means that the homeowner is actually losing money in real terms. This is because inflation is increasing whereas the price of the properties is not!

8 House Hunting Mistakes to Avoid

There’s a lot riding on the line when you’re shopping for a new home. Buying a house is a huge investment—likely one of the biggest (if not the biggest) that you will ever make. You need to be able to accurately understand your current needs and anticipate your future ones, and you need to find a house that fits the bill in terms of not just looks but size, location, price, and more.  It’s no wonder then that house hunting can take anywhere from six weeks to six months. With so much at stake, it’s not a process that you can simply wing and hope for the best.

Of course, every buyer’s house hunting experience is going to be different. Some buyers go into the process knowing exactly what they want and how they intend to get it, while others are a little bit less sure on one or both fronts. Regardless of where your starting point is though, successful and (mostly) stress-free house hunting is possible. Here are eight house-hunting mistakes to avoid so that you can breeze through and find your perfect home faster.

1.   You’re Going it Alone

It can be tempting to house hunt without a real estate agent. Listings are all online anyway and why not save the commission, right? However, going it alone can mean missing out on your dream property, and you might end up spending more too.

There are a few reasons why having a realtor on your side is a smart move as a home buyer. For starters, an experienced realtor will be a true expert on your local market. And likely, he or she will have some insight that can help you narrow in on your best options. Realtors also generally have access to a wider array of available listings then what you’ll find online, including early-bird knowledge on high demand homes going up for sale.

And that commission? The buyer’s agent is usually paid by the seller, meaning there’s really no downside to using an agent for your search.

2.   Your Search is Too Narrow

Obviously you have an ideal location in mind when you’re house hunting. But being overly stringent on geographical parameters can mean missing out on a house that offers everything you’re looking for, just in a different zip code.

The wider the net that you cast, the more opportunities you will find. Be willing to stretch your imagination a bit when it comes to where you want to live, whether that means looking in a different neighborhood, a different town, or even a different county. You may find that you can keep your easy commute but save big on property taxes, or that the town next door offers a more affordable way to get into the same school district you’re interested in.

This is another area where having a real estate agent on your side is immensely helpful. They may be able to guide you to an area you hadn’t previously considered but that is actually very well suited to your needs.

3.   You’re Not Being Open-Minded

They say that it’s a home’s bones that count. While you don’t need to look at fixer-uppers when what you’re really on the hunt for is a turnkey home, you should try to have a bit of imagination when it comes to things like outdated kitchens and gaudy décor. Aesthetics are highly personal, and it’s reasonable that not all sellers and buyers are going to have the exact same tastes.

If you find yourself instantly passing on homes because they don’t have just the right look, or if you’re constantly nit-picking and finding something wrong with each house that you go for a showing at, try to reframe your attitude a bit. You don’t need to compromise on the things that are really truly important to you (more on that below), but you should try to have an open mind when it comes to things that can be changed with just a coat of paint or some new cabinetry.

4.   You’re Not Being Picky Enough

On the flip side of not being open-minded enough is being so open-minded that you end up wasting your (and your realtor’s) time on properties that just de facto do not meet your needs. It’s definitely normal—and often, a requirement—that you make some compromises when you’re house hunting. But don’t lose sight of the things that you know you need in your home to make it right for you.

Every single buyer has their own set of deal breakers and deal makers. If having a yard for your dog to run around in is key, then don’t go look at yard-less homes. If you need four bedrooms, there’s no use checking out homes that only have two or three. Figure out exactly what your must-haves are early on so that you can avoid going to showings that just miss the mark off the bat.

5.   You Didn’t Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

It’s a competitive marketplace out there and anything that you can do to position yourself as a top-notch buyer is a good idea. A mortgage pre-approval is helpful for two reasons: one, it tells you exactly how much money you have to spend; and two, it lets sellers know that you’re good for your offer. Both of these things will get you a bit further ahead on the playing field.

Ideally, you should get your mortgage pre-approval done before you even begin house hunting, though you can do it after you’ve started too. Getting a mortgage pre-approval requires filling out a loan application and providing key documentation on your income, credit history, assets, and debt. A mortgage underwriter will go over all of this information and tell you how much you are eligible to borrow.

It’s worth noting as a general rule of thumb that you don’t have to take all of the money being offered to you in your pre-approval, but it’s a big factor to consider when setting your housing budget.

6.   You’re Dragging Your Feet

The world of real estate is notoriously fast-paced. Especially if you’re house-hunting in a seller’s market (when there are more buyers than homes for sale) you’re going to have to act fast when it comes to scheduling showings and making offers. Even waiting just one day can make the difference between snagging a fantastic property and seeing it slip through your fingers.

It may seem like this mistake is an antithesis to the idea that buying a home needs to be a calculated investment—after all, jumping into a multi-hundred thousand dollar purchase without careful forethought is not normally advised. But you need to find the sweet spot between thinking things through and being definitive in your actions. Fortunately, your realtor can help you figure out when to sit on something and think and when to act.

7.   You’re Letting Others Get in Your Head

The home you buy is a personal decision. If someone else isn’t going to be paying for it or living in it, then you shouldn’t give their opinions too much weight.

Nobody knows what you want in a home better than you do. If you find yourself getting talked out of something that you really liked or being pressured into prioritizing a home feature that really isn’t all that important to you, then chances are you’re giving too much credence to “objective” outside opinions.

8.   You’re Not Thinking Ahead

What you want and need right now in a house and what you’re going to want and need in the future may be different. Make sure that you’re thinking ahead when you’re house hunting and taking into consideration things like plans to work from home or expand your family. Even if you don’t think you’ll need certain accommodations for a couple of years it never hurts to put them on the priority list.

Moving isn’t a permanent decision and of course you can sell later on if the house you buy doesn’t work for you anymore, but it’s almost always going to be easier to plan ahead a little bit so you can grow with—and not out of—your home.

The biggest house-hunting mistakes are the ones that box you in and limit your options. Do what you can to have the best grasp possible of your finances, your wants and needs, and your strengths as a buyer. The perfect property is out there for you, you just have to remove the roadblocks to finding it.

Co-Working Spaces: The New Trend in Real Estate

There is a relatively new form of a business model emerging in the real estate space across the world. The model is addressed by several names viz. co-working spaces, on-demand workplaces, shared offices, etc. This workspace model has gained impetus because of spiraling real estate costs. It is also very effective for companies who do not want to tie themselves down with long-term lease obligations and instead have a flexible cost structure. In this article, we will have a closer look at this trend of shared offices.

Common Reasons Companies Opt For Co-Working Spaces

Cost: This method is particularly useful for startup companies. Most of the startup companies today are in the hi-tech space. This means that they require offices with facilities such as video conferencing, VOIP enabled phones, leased internet lines, etc. However, setting up all these facilities from scratch is a bit expensive for startup companies who are usually strapped for cash. Hence, it is economically as well as operationally feasible to use this plug and play model for office space. For a startup company, this works out to be more expensive on a per month basis. At the same time, bigger corporations find this model to be cheaper by around 25%

Infrastructure: Co-working spaces allow the cost of the operation to be reduced without affecting the infrastructure quality. Usually, such shared workspaces have conference rooms and even video conferencing facilities. Companies get readymade infrastructure from day one. They can focus more on the core tasks performed by the company instead of paying attention to administrative tasks which add to the time and cost but do not produce any value for the customer.

Travel Convenience: Several multinational companies tend to opt for this model in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. This is because these companies do not require a full-fledged office in these cities. Instead, they have a team of 10 to 15 personnel. They do not want to compromise on the quality of office space or the facilities that they provide their employees. Also, they want their offices to be centrally located because most of the times these employees work with the sales department and need to travel extensively. It is for this reason that shared working spaces become a viable alternative. The infrastructure is shared with other teams. It is just that these other teams may belong to a different organization altogether.

Shorter Commute Times: Employees in big cities are tired of spending hours commuting to and from work. Apart from a nine-hour job, many people spend another four hours commuting to and fro. This commute time does not add value and hence should be eliminated. One of the ways of eliminating this is to start using shared workplaces. All workers should not be required to commute to one location for work. Instead, workers should be allowed to log in to the nearest shares workplace center. Time saved commuting results in more productive employees who can work longer hours in tasks that actually add value to the organization.

Flexibility: Increasing the size of an organization becomes a logistical problem in traditional offices. For instance, a company may want to increase its employee strength by ten employees. However, they cannot rent additional space for only ten more employees. They have to rent an entirely new office unit. Alternatively, they have to cramp up the existing workplace and ensure that the ten new employees fit in the existing office. However, with shared workspaces, this is not the case. Companies can rent exactly as many desks they need and for the exact period of time that they need.

Problems with Shared Workspaces

Cost Allocation: Allocating costs on a shared workplace can be a very difficult task. In a fully leased office, the company pays all the electricity bills, water bills, property taxes, etc. However, in a shared workplace, these costs need to be apportioned. This is where disagreements begin to happen. Some companies believe that headcount in a more appropriate metric to allocate costs. On the other hand, other companies may believe that headcount is more appropriate. Also, since the bill is being shared, companies will not have an incentive to minimize the usage of electricity, water or other such scarce resources. Developers are trying to circumvent this problem by building these costs within the lease prices. However, that ends up causing wastage of resources and even leads to disputes in many cases.

Privacy: Shared workspaces are cheaper and may have better infrastructure. However, most companies would not be comfortable in locating their critical operations to such facilities. The reason behind this is simple. There is a high chance of data or other intellectual property being stolen. Also, if the strategy of a company is leaked to its competitors, it may lose its competitive edge. The shared workspace model, by definition, cannot overcome this problem.

The future of workspaces is likely to be a fusion of the two models. The regular, mundane work which is not mission-critical may be performed at shared workspaces because of lower costs and other advantages that they offer. However, higher-end tasks which involve sensitive data and strategy information may continue to remain within the realm of leased workspaces.

Your Home: Rent vs. Buy Decision

Control of real estate can be taken in two ways. One is to take permanent control i.e. take the ownership of the property. This has its own advantages as this allows for capital appreciation and also eliminates the need to pay rent in the future. On the other hand, one can pay rents and use the property as and when they require. Now, which of these decisions makes better sense as compared from a personal finance point of view is what is included in the rent vs. buy decision. This article provides a description of the rent vs. buy decision.

Compare Annual Expenses

The average person has the tendency to think of home buying as an emotional decision. Then, also there is the conventional wisdom out there, which claims that buying is always better than renting. However, when it comes to sophisticated real estate investors or pretty much anyone who’s concerned about how their money is being spent, the conventional wisdom does not hold true.

Instead, it is advisable to think about whether it is more profitable to buy a given house or would it make more economic sense to rent a house. The trick here is to compare the annual expenses. Pay careful attention to the word “expenses”. We are not comparing cash flows. Instead, we are comparing expenses.

When we buy a house, we have a mortgage to pay. The mortgage is made up of two components. One of those components is interest, and the other is principal. The interest component is purely an expense. Simply put it is money that is leaving your pocket today and the money that you will never see at a future date. Hence, this is the amount that we will use in our calculation. On the other hand, the principal component of the mortgage payment is your savings. Hence, it is like taking money out of one pocket and then putting it into another pocket. Since this money is saved, we will not include this in our calculation.

Hence, our expenses for owning the house will include interest (after deducting tax shield), property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. This would be the amount of money that is consumed during the period.

On the other hand, the expenses pertaining to rent are pretty simple and straightforward. Firstly, there might be a one-time expense of paying a deposit to the landlord. However, this is not an expense it is just an interest-free loan as one will receive the same money back when vacating the house. Apart from that, there is also the monthly rental that has to be paid. Some people also factor in the opportunity cost of the down payment that has to be made to acquire a house. This means that if you did not buy a house, you would end up earning a certain amount of interest from your down payment money. This must be reduced from your monthly rental.

Hence, a basic version of the rent vs. buy decision would be to compare the annual expenses that would arise as a result of either buying or renting the house.

Future Annual Expenses

Also, it needs to be understood that neither buying nor renting are one-day decisions. These decisions require commitment and have to be executed over a period of many years. Therefore, while comparing annual figures is the right thing to do, one must ensure that they do not compare data for only the current year. Rather, the cash flow and expense projections should look several years into the future.

This is the part where the rent vs. buy decision gets complicated. This is because the decision is extremely sensitive to the capital appreciation that we assume in the future. If we change the capital appreciation by one percentage point, we would end up changing the net present value by a huge amount, for example, $50,000. To top it up, predicting future real estate prices is extremely difficult. Therefore, one needs to be very careful of the future assumptions that one is building into the model as they can literally turn the decision upside down.

Riskiness

The rent vs. buy decision is also dependent on the risk appetite of a given individual. Some people have no qualms with the risk that a mortgage brings along. A mortgage increases the risk because there is interest to be paid and also the investor becomes highly sensitive to price changes in the market. Hence, the personal net worth of an individual can change dramatically if they have a mortgage because mortgage essentially is an extremely leveraged bet.

More risk averse people prefer renting. This is because rents do not fluctuate nearly as wildly as property prices do. Even if the rents do change dramatically in a given neighborhood, the person has an option to move into a different neighborhood or even a different city if required!

Stability vs. Flexibility

When we buy real estate, it’s like throwing anchor in a particular place. Our lives become stable. Usually, people decorate their homes based on their preferences and when they own the house they can do so. Also, renting involves frequently moving to different houses periodically. Buying a home cuts out this movement and as such provides stability.

On the other hand, renting provides a person with the flexibility to experiment with different neighborhoods, different apartment sizes at different costs to see what fits them best. People whose jobs require them to move regularly are also better off renting.

To sum it up, the buy vs. rent analysis is partially financial and partially emotional. The financial part of the analysis is difficult to work out because of the future assumptions. However, one also needs to understand the level of risk and flexibility that they desire before jumping into such a decision.

6 Reasons Why Buying a Bigger House Isn’t Always a Good Idea

Having more space is always a good thing, right? Well, not exactly. What you gain in square footage when buying a bigger house comes along with a number of hidden costs that you might not have considered. And while it’s certainly true that many people simply outgrow their homes as their families expand (including the rising number of Americans who are living in multigenerational households), if you’re thinking of moving to a bigger house just because it seems like an attractive thing to do, it’s worth putting in some additional thought before taking the plunge.

Buying a bigger house doesn’t just mean having more space for all of your stuff. Here are six reasons why you should think twice before making the move to a larger home.

  1. It’s Not Just the Mortgage That’s More Expensive

Everything is bigger when you buy a bigger house, including not just the size of the rooms but the costs that go into maintaining them. While you would already expect that your mortgage would be larger since larger homes come with higher price tags, it’s not just your monthly premium that’s going to rise. Buying a bigger house means:

  • Higher closing costs
  • Higher furnishing costs
  • Higher property taxes
  • Higher homeowners insurance costs
  • Higher utility costs
  • Higher repair and maintenance costs
  • Higher energy costs
  • Higher renovation costs

All of these costs add up fast—both on their own and in conjunction with one another. And even if you have the money to spend now, you need to think about your financial future. Before buying a bigger house, talk with a financial advisor to be sure that these higher premiums are in line with your long-term financial goals, including children and retirement.

  1. A Bigger House Isn’t a Guaranteed Better Investment

A house is one of the biggest investments that you’ll ever make. So while you certainly want to buy a home that you love, you also need to consider the return, just like you would with any other investment. Real estate market trends can change rapidly, as evidenced by the rise and fall of the McMansion. Many of today’s young buyers aren’t interested in purchasing large homes, meaning what was once a sound investment can now be a major loss.

There is no way to totally predict what will and will not be a good investment, especially when it comes to homes. A lot can change over time, including the makeup of neighborhoods and nearby amenities, all of which impact home prices. But if current trends are telling us anything, it’s that big homes aren’t attractive to buyers the way that they were before—and that means a smaller pool of potential purchasers when you’re ready to sell.

  1. Ego Shouldn’t Be a Key Driver in Home Buying

When it comes to the priorities that homebuyers take into account on their search, there is a lot that should rank higher on the list than ego. While certainly we’ve imbued some status into buying a bigger house, impressing your friends, family, and neighbors is simply not a good reason to fork over an exponentially larger share of your resources. Some factors that should hold more weight than ego in the home buying decision include:

  • Location
  • Financial solvency
  • Lifestyle goals
  • Environmental impact
  • Home condition

Of course, all buyers are different, and this list might look a little bit different for you. But what shouldn’t change from buyer to buyer is that the cost of satisfying your ego is not going to be worth buying more house than you can reasonably afford.

  1. More Space Doesn’t Always Mean More Usable Space

When it comes to getting as much use as possible out of your home, think functionality, not square feet. Do you really have a need for two living rooms? Are you buying a bigger house with more bedrooms just to have them sit empty? Does the layout of the floor plan leave a lot to be desired? There’s no point in owning a bigger home if all of that extra space is just going to be wasted. When attending showings at larger homes, instead of just asking if you can see yourself living there ask what exactly you’ll utilize each of those rooms for. And as a general rule, never buy more space than you can actually use.

  1. You Might Have to Sacrifice on Location

Home prices can vary widely from zip code to zip code, and an unattainably expensive large house in one area might be a whole lot more affordable in a less desirable area. Is it really worth the sacrifice though? Probably not. Location is almost always the key determining factor when buying a house, and if you allow yourself to justify sacrificing on location just to purchase a larger home, then there’s a strong chance you’ll come to regret it later on.

  1. Bigger Homes Mean Bigger Responsibilities

Being a homeowner is a lot of work. From maintaining your yard to overseeing preventative repairs to dealing with big stuff like leaking roofs and broken furnaces, there’s a whole lot that goes into keeping your home in a good and livable condition. Buying a bigger house means that these responsibilities are amplified, with not just more things to do on a regular basis but more things that can go wrong. You can offload these responsibilities to professionals, but it’s going to come with a bigger price tag. So before buying a bigger house, think about how you want to spend your time and your discretionary income. The smaller your home, the less time and money you’ll have to spend cleaning, maintaining, and repairing it.

How Much Home Can You Afford?

When it comes to making a smart investment with your home purchase, put less stress on size and more on budget. Most mortgage lenders will approve you for significantly more money than you should actually be spending, and you can’t necessarily rely on your realtor to steer you in the direction of the home that’s the best fit for your finances now and later. If you’re really set on more square feet, use a calculator to give you an estimate of how much home you can afford (SmartAsset has a good one) and then see how you can maximize square footage within that limit.

The hidden costs of buying a bigger house aren’t always apparent right away. It’s important that you consider not just your current needs but your needs—and the needs of your family—in the future before you sign on to buy a big house. Bigger isn’t always better, and in fact, if current market trends hold then it’s likely that a bigger home is actually going to be a liability later on.

Smart cities, the future of living in India

There is a great buzz in India, recently, on Smart cities. The government has embarked on ‘Smart Cities Mission’, one of the Prime Minister’s pet projects and has identified, in the first phase, a list of 98 current cities to be developed into smart cities.

Purpose

Economic growth and improving the quality of life of its citizens are the prime drivers of the mission. To achieve this, government plans to enable local area development by using Digital Technology and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Greenfield areas are to be developed in the periphery of the cities to provide accommodation to the anticipated growth of the population as a result of these developments.

Smart cities will use technology, gather and collate information and data by using smart solutions with the aim of improving the services and infrastructure. The information gathered will be in real time thereby providing quicker solutions to problems on hand. As a result the quality of life improves creating a feel-good factor in the individual. This would also lead to higher productivity, employment opportunities and income generation and consequently, inclusive growth.

How is ‘smart city’ different from a normal city?

A normal city is a defined area with boundary limits including both urban and suburban areas. Land area, population, civic facilities, administration with structured portfolios, well defined transport systems, medical and educational facilities and a faster pace of life, all define a city. It contrasts with a town or village in that the above stated facilities are less or nonexistent in them. It is also true that many a time towns grow into cities.

There seems to be no universal definition of what is a smart city. Many parameters define a smart city and these may not be applicable universally; it would vary from country to country and city to city. The level of development planned, resources required or available, a commitment to change and introduce reforms taking the aspirations of its citizens are all necessary requirements in a smart city. So a smart city is the normal city with much more.

Smart city provides the citizens high quality, cost effective service seamlessly and with a minimum use of the resources. The latest technology is used in providing these services. Digital Technology offers most services at the click of the mouse which otherwise involved a physical presence of the resident to receive many of the services such as banking, shopping, government services (payment of taxes, bills, accessing information etc). Smart cities are high on the social indices, employment opportunities and good and transparent governance.

Let us look at one of the 98 cities that have been identified by the government of India to be set up as Smart Cities – Ahmedabad. Each smart city is to receive a government grant of Rs. 100 crores over the next five years to start with. Consistent with the Smart city plan, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has been involved in two projects: Sabarmati River Front and Bhadra Fort Revitalization. The first has transformed the Sabarmati river front, from a slum infested area due to decades of neglect and decay to being a place of leisure and recreation. The reclamation of a 10.5 km stretch with clean waterways has become not only a centre of tourist importance but also an avenue for commercial activities. One of the largest slum clearance projects of the city had to be carried out for this transformation.

The second is the Bhadra Fort Revitalization project which has helped clear the area of squatters from the Bhadra Fort to the Teen Darwaja area and organized the hitherto disorderly and chaotic hawker trade to a well-regulated and orderly one, preserving its architectural and cultural edifices. Much more needs to be done in other parts of the city to be in sync with the Smart Cities Mission.

How will a smart city impact the real estate?

It is common knowledge that when a geographical area gets a holistic development, trade and commerce gets favorably impacted. People naturally move in to settle down and this boosts the real estate market. All commercial activity is people driven and therefore it pushes real estate demand. Realtors in Ahmedabad are therefore happy. Civic authorities will also be happy for they can provide transparent governance which leads to less dissatisfaction among residents. Residents are happy when they are provided a better standard of living with all amenities and services being available to them. It is a win-win situation for all. Ergo smart city!

Budget-Friendly Home Improvement Ideas

General perception about home improvement ideas is that they are time consuming and end you end up with a big hole in your pockets. When it comes changing your home décor, it is not necessary that you will have to spend a lot of money to make your home look adorable. And, if you have only a limited budget then it’s vital that you spend your money wisely. Here are some of the affordable home improvement ideas that will help you to enhance the beauty of your home;

Add Lighting in Outdoors

Apart from decorating the interiors of your home, it’s also very important to make the exterior of your home look charming. Using proper lighting to light the exterior of the house is one of the best home improvement ideas to make your home shine during dusk. There are several solar lighting products available in the market these days that are not only more technologically advanced but are energy efficient too. Such lighting fixtures might seem expensive initially but are cost effective in long run. Thus, you don’t have to switch off the exterior lights during night time. Eventually, this will also help in keeping burglars away.

Install Molding

One of the key home decor features distinguishing an elegant room from a normal room is the attention to Molding. Apart from being affordable, these wooden Moldings come in hundreds of designs. Be it simple or ornate, you can choose according to your need, taste and budget. Especially, you can prefer moldings which come in flexible materials such as foam, as it will make your installation work easier. Also, there are moldings in the market that includes lighting, as well. Such moldings are ideal if you want to conceal your light fixtures. A simple home improvement idea like molding can enhance the look f your house drastically.

Here are few suggestions on molding;

  • It’s always the best to install crown molding, as it will make your room look spacious. However, you have to be more concerned about proportions while installing it. If your ceiling height is less prefer simpler styles to avoid overdoing it.
  • While installing chair railing, ensure that you place them at one-third distance of the ceiling height. Placing a chair railing is important, as it can affect the proportion of the room.
  • Also, installing wooden moldings around the doors, entryways, and windows is also important to add more elegance to your home.

Choose a Right Ceiling Fan

While decorating your home, ensure that you have a stylish ceiling fan that matches the interiors of your living room or bedroom. If you have old or outdated ceiling fans replace them with new and trendy ones which gives an appealing look to your living space. Also, ceiling fans won’t cost you much.

Follow these ideas while installing ceiling fans at home;

Fix a ceiling fan 7 or 8 feet above the floor. If you have got a low ceiling at home, get a hugger ceiling fan that’s flush mounted.

Prefer ceiling fans that are energy efficient to reduce your electricity cost. Also, ensure that you buy a quality product with less noise and good cooling results.

Tips For Purchasing Your Dream House

Buying a property is a lifetime decision and for this, you need to be furnished with the correct information. Purchasing a good apartment has been made easy with existence of reputed dealers or developers who offer various facilities and luxuries such as swimming pool, children play-area, gymnasium etc. in the residential apartments. But, a momentous decision like acquiring property needs to be carefully thought out. In this article you will find some crucial tips to help you in purchasing an apartment or other property.

Booking an Apartment under Construction

In case of booking a property under construction, you should take a few points under consideration. Here, you should demand for the allotment letter and development agreement. When it comes to constructed properties, you should check out the property rights of the seller in terms of title and possession of the property as well as the right to transfer the property.

Identify Your Needs

The first and foremost thing required is to identify your desires and specifications while buying a property. The requirements and features desired in a home differ from buyer to buyer on the basis of their family size, lifestyle, usage etc. so the buyer must be able to identify the preferences in regard to the dream house.

Check Out the Legal Aspects

Once you are decided on your set of requirements and accordingly find a property, the next thing is to check the legal aspects of the property. This entails acquiring approvals and No-Objection-Certificate (NOC) from the Municipal Corporation, Electricity Boards, Area Development Authorities, Water Supply & Sewage Boards and other concerned authorities. Check out that the developer has entered into proper development agreements and ensure that the property has clear titles. This is highly important beacuse every bank sanctions home loan only after checking your documents for authentication.

Be Informed About Taxes and Duties

The buyers should prepare themselves by acquiring an in-depth understanding of the government policies and other legalities such as Stamp duty, Service tax etc. before buying a property. The correct know-how is of utmost importance for making an informed choice for the purchase decision. Buying property is a major task and thus requires wise investment in terms of choosing the right property at the right price. Therefore, do your research thoroughly before buying apartment or signing any agreement to buy the property.

Rental Agreement: A Legal Overview

The ongoing migratory trend to cities and metros from rural areas has aggravated the demand of rental accommodations all across the country. Be it students or young professionals, people looking for better a better future and prosperous lifestyle end up in metros or upcoming big cities that offer both of these things. However, the only thing which is hard to find in these cities is accommodation, and finally they have to settle in for a Rented Accommodation. However a Rented Accommodation also has numerous legal provisions to be dealt with. Below you will find some useful tips to handle these legal aspects with ease and efficiency.

A Rent Control Act, was proposed by the government of India to eliminate and control the exploitation of the tenants. However, this created more problems than it solved. In 1992, the central government proposed a model rent control legislation that could solve major legal confrontations between landlords and tenants. This also met with failure. Finally in 1997, several state governments adopted their own Rent Control Acts that had all the provisions for solving any dispute among the landlords and tenants.

What is a Rental Agreement?

  • A Rental Agreement refers to a legal contract between the landlord and the tenant that clearly defines the right of the tenant to use the rented property.
  • It also clarifies the time for which the property is rented after which the tenant losses its possession of the property.
  • A Rent Agreement also defines the amount of rent, which is to be paid by the tenant to the landlord for using the property.

Importance of the Rental Agreement

Rental Agreement is of pivotal importance to both the parties because of it establishes a formal legal relationship between both the parties.

For the Tenant

The Rental Agreement not only decides the rights of the tenant but also decides the terms of use of the property along with timeframe for which the property is leased out, at the end of which the tenant loses right over the possession of the property. It also ensures that that as far as the tenant is complying by the terms of the agreement, the Landlord can’t evict him from the property until completion of the lease period.

For the Landlord

Like the tenant, this agreement holds great importance for landlord. It defines his rights over the property. Even after completion of the lease period the landlord can ask for monetary remuneration if the property leased by him is not returned in acceptable form. For instance:

  • Any damage in terms of tiling, plumbing, flooring or electrification
  • If any major changes in terms of construction are done to the premises that are not acceptable to the landlord, the latter can ask the tenant to undo these changes
  • In case of renting out furnished property, the landlord has to check the s tate of furnished items
  • All major electricity and telephone charges have been cleared from the time of possession till today.

5 Vaastu Tips To Fill Your Home With Positive Energy

Vaastu Shastra, the Indian science of architecture, has a remedy for all your problems. Whether it is related to health, prosperity, finances, or bringing in positivity in the home, a Vaastu consultant in India can wave his wand and eliminate all the negativity. While there are numerous Vaastu Shastra accessories like laughing Buddha, horse shoe amulet,  Gomati chakra tree, turtles, that can be added in a home to fill it with positivity, there are many Vaastu tips as well that can help you get rid of all the negativity and welcome only the positive vibes. If you also want to fill your home with positivity and get rid of all the negativity from your home, here are some tips you can follow.

Bring Nature To Your Home
Nature is one of the most powerful tools that are always oozing with positivity and serenity. If your aim is to bring in some positive vibes in your home, add a touch of natural greens here and there in each room. There are a number of indoor plants that one can choose from to place inside the house. Whether it is your bedroom, your living room, the study room, or even the bathroom, adding some plants would definitely bring in the positivity. You can use flowers like roses, lilies, daisies, etc., to arrange in a vase, you can bring in the good luck bamboos as a center piece, or simply get a money plant to crawl around the walls to cut down the negativity and positive energy flow inside.

Sprinkle Magic With A Bowl Of Salt
A bowl of salt can work wonders in filling your home with positivity. Salt, a symbol of purification, is said to absorb all the negative energy from your home and pave way for positive energy to fill in. By eliminating all the negativity, a bowl of salt sprinkles magic in your home. For those who have negativity looming in your home, a simple bowl of sea salt is what you need to boost positivity. The North-East and the South-West directions are ideal for placing a bowl full of sea salt in your home. This purifies the home and cleanses it of any negative energy.

Let The Sun Get In
An important Vaastu factor for bringing in positive energy is the sun. The placement of windows, doors, and ventilators in the house should be in such a way that ample of sunlight is peeking inside the home. The sun is a great source of energy and this energy should be utilized rightly, every day. During the construction itself, the direction should be taken into consideration to ensure sunlight falls in from sunrise. Also, ensure that the curtains and blinds of the house are opened every morning to let the morning sun rays spread and seep in and remove all the darkness and dullness from the mind, body, and souls of those living in the house.

Add a Musical Element
Wind chimes are one of the most effective Vaastu tools in eliminating the negative energy and adding a touch of positivity in the premise. Placing it at the entrance doors or the windows is a great idea to break the negativity and let positivity and tranquility fill the soul. They have a gentle tinkering sound which enables the positive energy to linger in the home and fill it with prosperity and serenity.

  • North Direction: Metal wind chimes should be the choice in north to give way to career opportunities
  • West Direction: For good luck in the lives of children, metal wind chimes should be hung in this direction
  • South Direction: Wooden wind chimes can be hung up on any southern door or window to attract fame
  • East Direction: For the rapid growth of the family members, wooden wind chimes can be hung in this direction

Paint Your Home InVaastu-Friendly Colors
The colors you choose to paint your home have a strong effect on the vibe of your home. You need to be very careful while choosing the colors for your home to break the monotony, maintain the décor, while also boosting positivity. While white and lighter hues are ideal for filling the room with serenity and peace, adding pops of colors here and there in the house will only ensure positivity in the home.