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Equity is an untouched asset many home owners do not fully utilise.

In simple terms, equity is the difference between what your home is worth, and how much you owe on it. For example, if your home is worth $400,000 and you still owe $250,000, your equity is $150,000.

Within five to ten years of owning a home, you will have built a sizable amount of equity. If you are looking at purchasing another property, banks will generally lend you up to 80% of a home’s value without having to use Lenders Mortgage Insurance, and you may be able to access a portion of your equity to use for the remaining deposit.

For a closer look at using equity, check out RateCity’s guide to using home equity to buy an investment property.

 

equity

 

House and land packages are a great way to reinvest your equity and make a return by using it as a rental property.

Packages offer convenience and the homes are specifically matched to suit the land. Building a house and land package will also result in paying less stamp duty. This is because you only have to pay stamp duty on the value of the land as the home hasn’t been built yet.

Potential investors should also consider the benefits of higher quality materials and construction techniques that new homes offer, resulting in little to no maintenance costs, energy efficient technologies and warranties on the home, its fittings and appliances.

Check out all the latest house and land packages by Hotondo Homes here.

When looking to use your equity, the bank will take into account your age, income, family, cost of living and any additional debt you may have incurred. It is also wise not to use every last cent of your equity so you can give yourself a safety buffer in case of emergencies. Before you start building your property portfolio, it is best you speak to your banker or broker.

*Hotondo Homes is not an authorised financial adviser so please seek professional advice for your banking enquiries.

Makeover your living room without breaking the bank with these top tips.

With open-plan living at the height of popularity, the living room – along with the kitchen and dining space – can often become the focal point of the home. Changing just a few small aspects of this space can help breathe new life into a home.

We have listed seven simple ways to makeover your living room easily:

HIGHLIGHT your lighting

Lighting has the ability to make a HUGE impact on your interior design. It can set the mood, make a space appear larger or smaller and it has an enormous effect on your colour scheme. For this reason alone, updating your fixtures should be priority number one! Whether you are simply swapping out bulbs for LED energy-saving alternatives, adding a floor lamp to a dark corner or trading in lampshades, take the time to give a little love to the often-neglected lighting.

Work on the bones of the room

If your living room structure is spot-on, there are still a few things you can do to instantly update the look.

Reupholster an armchair – if your armchair is still in good nick, reupholstering it is an easy and relatively cheap way to makeover your living room. If you don’t have an armchair, check out a few flea markets – as long as the chair’s structure is good, there is no need to worry about worn or ratty upholstery. Choose a new, bold print to stand out and make it a feature of your home!

makeover your living room

 

Rearrange a bookshelf – baskets and containers are the easiest way to hide clutter but keep items in an accessible space. Try clearing your bookshelf of junk, and keep just a few key items and some books on display!

makeover your living room

 

Reorganise the furniture – already love everything in your home but are still looking for an update? Rearrange the furniture! Sometimes simply moving one item to another location can make all the difference.

Interested in the concept of Feng Shui? Read about it here: FENG SHUI YOUR HOME 

Living plants for your living room

Including greenery in your home instantly creates an atmosphere bursting with health and well-being. Plants make a boring corner look instantly chic, and small succulents can be used as coffee table or side table décor. Just be sure to choose plants which will thrive indoors!

Check out our favourite indoor plants here: INDOOR PLANTS FOR YOUR HOME (THAT YOU WILL NOT IMMEDIANTLY KILL)

makeover your living room

Small updates for the ‘modern’ look

Like to stay in touch with the current trends? Ensure your larger pieces of furniture like couches and TV cabinets are neutral colours that will go with anything, and instead purchase new cushions, throws, candles and other knick-knacks to achieve the ‘on-trend’ look without a costly financial commitment.

There is always time to DIY

DIY is a unique way to create something nobody else may have. It is your chance to let your true style shine through. Check out Pinterest or other blogs for some amazing inspiration, and get creating!

makeover your living room

 

Have you ever had to makeover your living room? Let us know your tips in the comments!

Trying to improve your finances is not an overnight task.

Working towards a deposit for your home takes time and patience. The best way to approach it is to start with small changes in your life. This doesn’t mean giving up absolutely everything, but rather cutting back on the non-essentials in life. Every little bit counts, and each small contribution can result in big progress.

We have rounded up a list of nine things you can start doing today to help you improve finances and get on track to purchasing a new home in 2017!

1. Cancel subscriptions/memberships

Topping almost all financial guides is cancelling subscriptions to magazines or gym memberships you do not use. Another perhaps unnecessary purchase is cable TV. With so many cheaper, alternative streaming options available, it may be worthwhile checking out.

2. Renegotiate your bills

Shop around for your energy, gas, credit card and insurance needs. If you like the company you are with, a simple phone call asking for a reduction will often get you a cheaper price – they want to keep you as a customer! It may be painstaking, but renegotiating your bills could save you some big cash. If you already have a mortgage, it is worth speaking to your bank about an interest rate reduction too!

3. Pay your debts

If you have a high-interest credit card, the first thing you should do is pay it off as fast as possible. Interest-related costs is basically dead money, so working to get rid of the debt should be your priority. Consider transferring the balance to a credit account with a lower or even zero-interest rate to further help your cause and improve finances in the new year!

4. Find your unclaimed money

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission  can help you search for unclaimed money from various banks, building societies, credit union, life companies, friendly societies and registered Australian companies. Check out this link to see if you have any unclaimed funds!

improve finances

5. Automate your savings

Set your bank account to withdraw a portion of your earnings every time you are paid. By doing this straight away, you can never miss the money you never had! If you can transfer it to an online account you cannot touch, or does not have an attached card, even better. Be sure to figure out exactly how much you can afford to save per pay by creating a budget for the week, fortnight or month.

6. Reconsider your phone plan

Just like renegotiating your bills, it is worth checking out your phone plan for cheaper alternative options. These days there are so many options including ‘bring your own phone plans’. These plans require you to purchase a phone outright, but the ongoing monthly cost of the phone plan is significantly cheaper than an all-inclusive one, which could work out cheaper in the long run. Carefully consider all your options and work out what is best for you and your lifestyle.

7. Take a grocery list shopping

Plan out your meals for the week, write a shopping list and STICK TO IT. How many times have you gone to the supermarket and come home with items you never intended to purchase?

8. Cook dinner at home

Not only can this be cheaper and healthier than eating out, but you can also cook extra to have for lunch or even dinner the next day, saving you even more cash.

9. Don’t be TOO strict!

Saving for a new home will require some discipline and cutbacks, but you still want to live and enjoy life while you do it. Don’t feel guilty for indulging every now and then and treating yourself. If you work hard to stick to improve finances for 2017, there is no reason to not go out, enjoy a nice dinner or hit the shops on occasion. Do not let your finances consume you!

 

Contact your local Hotondo Homes builder today to find out more and help improve finances next year!

 

*Hotondo Homes is not an authorised financial adviser so please seek professional advice for your banking enquiries.

Most of us assume that renovating our kitchens will cost us the earth.

That doesn’t have to be true. It’s highly possible to give your kitchen a fresh new look on a smaller budget.

Hotondo Homes knows how

We were delighted recently to be asked to contribute to a blog post about ways to renovate your kitchen on a budget. The post, for a leading loan comparison site RateCity, asked some of Australia’s top builders and suppliers to offer advice on kitchen renovations without involving a hefty price tag. Check it out for more inspiration and great advice: ‘Save on Your Mortgage and Update Your Kitchen’.

The kitchen should be one of your first ports of call when it comes to home renovation. It is a highly visible area that receives a lot of traffic, and is a major selling point. Most builders will agree that this is one of the areas that will add the most value to your property. Here are some of our tips for achieving maximum effects with minimum spend.

The power of paint

Give your kitchen a fresh coat of paint! People often underestimate this, but it’s amazing how effective it can be in giving a room an updated feel. Light, contemporary colours are a good choice as they will add a feeling of space and give your kitchen a de-cluttered look. Colours that are too bold could turn potential buyers off when it comes to resale.

kitchen makeover

Give your cabinets some TLC

If your existing cabinetry is in good condition, see how much you can change the appearance of your kitchen by simply painting the doors and changing the handles. Alternatively, if you really want a more drastic change, that doesn’t mean you need to spend on completely new cabinets. Why not reface them instead? This means you keep the interior parts of your existing cabinets and have new doors and drawer fronts put on. It’s a much cheaper way of achieving a whole new look.

Spend on the essentials

Saving money elsewhere in your kitchen will enable you to devote most of your budget to the essentials when it comes to refurbishing. The most visible items in the kitchen are the benchtops and splashbacks. Here is where you have the most power to update the appearance of your room, so by focusing your budget you can achieve a kitchen makeover that looks luxurious and will last for many years to come.

For more information on a kitchen makeover for your home, contact your local Hotondo Homes builder today!

An offset account linked to your mortgage can be a great way to reduce the amount of time and interest you pay on your home loan.

An offset account works in the same manner as your everyday banking account with one crucial difference – the balance is offset daily against money you owe on your loan, which reduces the amount of interest you pay.

A reduction in interest means you can pay off your loan quicker. For example, if you have $10,000 in an offset account and you have a $300,000 home loan, you will only pay interest on $290,000. Using this calculator you can see if the interest rate is at 5%, you could save $18,357.69 in interest and cut 1 year and 8 months off the length of a 30 year loan.

Because the money in your account is offset daily against your loan balance, the longer you have money in your account, the more you will save on interest.

There are a few questions that are often asked in relation to offset accounts.

Why not save the money in a high interest account instead?

In almost every case, you will never earn more interest in a savings account than what you are paying in interest on your home loan. Interest earned in a savings account also needs to be declared to the tax office, and tax must be paid on it. Your money will be working much harder for you in an offset account.

Why not put the money straight on the mortgage?

There are benefits to keeping money in your offset account rather than putting it straight on the mortgage. Funds in an offset account can be used like your everyday account. If you have an emergency, or you may be saving for a holiday, it is easy to withdraw funds as necessary. If you put it all on the mortgage, then find you need the money down the track, you may be hit with redraw fees or minimum redraw amounts.

offset account

HOT TIPS:

Having a decent amount of savings in your offset account can cut years and thousands of dollars from your home loan. It also offers comfort in the knowledge that you can access these funds at any time, with no issue.

Always beware of extra transaction charges that may surround offset accounts though. It is best you do your research and speak directly to your bank regarding these accounts being used to pay your mortgage faster.

*Hotondo Homes are not financial experts. You should always seek independent legal advice when looking to reduce the amount of your mortgage with an offset account.

Buying your first home is a wonderful experience.

It can be that life-changing step towards freedom, but in order to take that step you need a deposit. The more money you save the less you’ll have to borrow, and the less you’ll have to borrow, the less you’ll have to pay in interest.

Sound easy? The truth is saving a home deposit is no walk in the park; it takes discipline, sacrifice, focus and determination. The good news is that we have made it easy for you to do, just follow our 10 saving tips and you could be on your way to save for your first home!

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Save money on your bills with these easy steps.

The keys are in your hand. You are ready to step into your brand new home. All those costs associated with it are finally paid, and now all you have left is the hefty mortgage you don’t want to think about – or so you think.

Unfortunately, new home owners can forget the cost of maintaining and living in a home. Water, electricity and gas bills, council rates and even home repairs for older homes can all have a significant and possibly unforeseen impact on your carefully devised budget.

Never fear though, we have put together a quick guide on ways to save money on your bills and help with the overall cost of your new home.

Save moneyCONVERT TO LED

Install LED light bulbs and in the long-run you will save money on your electricity bill. A standard halogen light turns up to 90% of electricity used into heat, and only 10% into light. An LED light however only uses 15% of the energy a halogen uses, and provides up to 85% of the light output. LED lighting also has a longer lifespan, making them well worth the investment.

YOUR BIGGEST FAN

Ceiling fans are a low-cost, low-energy way to keep the air circulating in your home. If used in conjunction with an air conditioner, you can actually lower the temperature by a degree or two of the air con. This can lead to some surprising savings! While using a ceiling fan in summer is common practice, many people are unaware you can actually utilise them during winter too. Switch your fan into reverse, and hot air trapped near your ceiling will be redistributed to the floor. Remember to keep it on a low setting!

ALL NATURAL

Plant deciduous trees – ones that lose their leaves in autumn/winter – on the west and east sides of your home. These trees will naturally cool your home is summer and allow sunshine through during winter. Be careful to plant them a safe distance from your home and power lines.

DITCH THE CLOTHES DRYER

Everyone knows that a clothes dryer will eat up your power bill. If you are willing to give up the convenience, hang a line in your laundry and use it for at least some items. Even better would be hanging it outside where a natural breeze will do all the work. A load here or there will still save money!

ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

We have mentioned the benefits of energy efficient appliances several times on this blog, however it doesn’t make it any less true. While they may be a more expensive upfront cost, energy efficient appliances will save you money in the long run and will help keep your hip-pocket happy.


Mixing high-end items for your home with a few less expensive items can give you the perfect blend of products without hurting your hip pocket.
Last month we looked at where to save your money and where to spend it in your living room. This time around read our guide to save or splurge: kitchen.

APPLIANCES

SPLURGE

Invest in energy-efficient appliances like your fridge or dishwasher. Bill costs will be lowered, and it will save you in the long-run. Stainless steel items are a popular choice and look fantastic too.

SAVE

Save on your pots and pans. As the workhorse of most kitchens they will be used a lot, and even the most expensive of brands will wear out. Aim for mid-range cookery for a good balance between durability and cost.

You also don’t need to go out and purchase an 18-piece knife set. Invest in a couple of good, sharp chef’s knives and leave the rest alone. Trust us, you don’t need them.

Appliances


CABINETRY

SPLURGE

Spend a bit on your cabinetry hardware for some added bling. Polished handles can instantly update the look of your cupboards at a fraction of the cost it would take to redo the whole cabinet!

SAVE

Laminate cabinets can look just as good as their wooden counterparts. Save some money here without compromising the look of your kitchen.

Cabinetry


TILES

SAVE

Porcelain tiles are cheaper than ceramic and resist chipping and cracking. Consider purchasing porcelain that looks like natural stone, and look for larger tiles for a modern look.


DINING

SPLURGE

Buy the best and most durable table you can afford. It will be subject to plenty of wear and tear!

SAVE

Save on your chairs. Chairs can be switched out as they get older at a cheaper cost than your table, and it also offers the opportunity to change up the style of your kitchen area.

Table


LIGHTING

SPLURGE

Take advantage of the natural light your windows provide and utilise sheer curtains to ensure plenty of it enters the room. Alternatively, if you are lacking windows, install more lighting. It will brighten your kitchen and help give it a modern feel.


BENCHTOPS

SPLURGE

Spend a bit of money on your benchtop as it can be the focal point of your kitchen. Investing in a stone benchtop may cost more than a laminate, but it is more durable, won’t scratch as easily and can withstand hot items unlike a laminate.

Benchtop

 Do you agree with our list? Let us know!


Furnishing your home is an exciting process where your personality and inner creativity will have a chance to shine. However, as much as we would love to purchase top-end products for the entire home, the price tag will often prevent us from doing so.
Fortunately there are still ways to make your home look beautiful without hurting your hip pocket. The trick is mixing a few important high-end pieces with less costly ones, resulting in the perfect blend of products without breaking the bank.
Your living room helps set the tone for the rest of the home. Read our Save or splurge: living room guide to achieve a flawless look!

FLOORING

SPLURGE

Flooring helps build the overall feel of the area. Quality flooring looks nicer, is more durable, lasts longer and will help increase the value of your home. Floorboards are a timeless piece that work well with most colour schemes.

SAVE

Save on your area rugs. Rugs warm up an otherwise stark room and add some much needed colour. However, it also spends its entire life being trodden on and suffering from spilt food or drink. Saving on your rug means when the time comes to replace it, it’s not such a loss. You also have the opportunity to purchase a new rug in interesting colours or textures.


SEATING

SPLURGE

It is widely agreed you should never skimp on your living room couches. A great couch is not only more attractive, but it is also more comfortable and durable, and should last you many years. Buy the best couch that you can afford.

 SAVE

Save on your cushions and throws. As with a rug, they can be picked up relatively cheap, will wear out, and can be replaced with new colours and designs as your taste changes.


WINDOW FURNISHINGS

SPLURGE

Spend some money on your curtains. They will look better, last longer, and with proper block-out qualities can help reduce your heating and cooling bills.

SAVE

The hardware your curtains hang on need not be excessive. Let the pattern and colours of your curtains be the feature, and save on the decorative rods. curtains


TABLES

SPLURGE

Splurge on your coffee table if you plan it to be a feature piece. There are some stunning designs that can really lift the mood of a room and look amazing, however…

SAVE

…you can save on coffee tables too! Inexpensive tables can still look fantastic and their functionality remains the same. Flea market tables only need a coat of paint for an instant update, and with the modern industrial trend on the rise, it is easier than ever to find something wonderful for your home. Table accents, paintings and clocks can all be picked up at a lower cost too. coffee table

Start building your dream home, contact your local Hotondo Homes builder here.

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