Apartment

Women’s Lives Don’t Matter: Why Oscar Pistorius Got Away With Killing His

Murder is murder – it should be as simple as that.

July 8, 2016

7 Steps to Buying Your Dream Home

Is this the year you buy your first home, or upgrade to a better home? It’s no secret that searching for a home that fits every want and need can be a frustrating process. Kim Clarke, founder of Xcel Properties, shares his top seven tips to secure your dream home in 2014.

1. Prioritise your needs and wants
It’s easy to get carried away with add-ons and extras. Map out what you can afford to spend and then outline what you ‘need’, sourcing what this will cost you. If you have a reserve to play after that, you can then begin choosing the luxuries that you ‘want’. If this is your first home, consider purchasing a new-build that you can afford that’s also a great investment. That way you’re only paying for what you need right now – an upgrade to a larger or more luxurious home can happen when you’re ready.

2. Take advantage of low interest rates
With interest rates currently sitting at a 40-year low, now is a better time than ever to apply for a mortgage. Remember to factor in at least a five per cent rate increase over the life of your mortgage to help determine how much you can afford to borrow and the size of your repayments.

3. Buy a house and land package
Being on a similar price level to second-hand properties, house and land packages are an increasingly popular choice in suburbs with room for growth. These communities in development maximise choice in terms of the size and shape of the land, and the positioning, size and design of the home – including all the key features buyers need to suit their living needs.

4. Apply for grants
Don’t forget to search online to see if you’re eligible for a government first home buyer’s grant. Some states such as Queensland offer up to $15,000 to those buying a new home.

5. Negotiate with builders
Do your homework by researching builders in regards to reputation and price. One increasingly popular way to research is through online reviews and forums. Choose your top five builders and source costs. Let each know what the other is offering. It’s likely that they’ll be able to compete on price or offer additional extras. Remember, a quick and cheap service is not necessarily the best service.

6. Ensure the community is a good fit for you
While the property is important, it’s the community that makes it a home. Before buying, take the time to speak with the neighbours, try the amenities and find information about funding of local facilities, reputation of the local schools and public transport. If you’re looking into a development, a good development should have a sales team that takes you around the neighbourhood and discuss the plans and services in our community.

7. Use the First Home Savers account
For those whose first-home purchase is a longer-term plan, the First Home Saver Account can help. Each year the government will make a 17 per cent contribution on the first $6000 deposited into this account each year – that’s an additional $1020 each year. Withdrawals can only be made after four years. First Home Saver accounts are available from some banks, building societies, credit unions, friendly societies, life insurance companies and super funds.

Are you thinking of buying a home this year?

January 31, 2014

Clutter Crazy: How to Declutter (and Save Your Sanity)

Clutter is one of those things that drives me absolutely mental, and I know I’m not alone. Not to say that I live in a show home. I more live in a state of bearable chaos until I snap and have the urge to make everything as pretty as possible.

But one thing I’ve learnt is that making things pretty is so much harder with clutter around. It doesn’t matter if I know I’ve just mopped and dusted and attained hospital-grade cleanliness, if it all ends up with stuff of top of it I’ll have a special type of freak-out. And having had such a freak-out recently while giving my apartment a spring cleaning-style overhaul, I thought I’d share the tips that I learnt the hard way. 

One thing at a time, sweet Jesus 
A quote from my Nan that would’ve saved me a whole heap of stress had I listened. When decluttering it’s tempting to get excited at the prospect of having a show home and attacking every draw, cupboard and hiding place with a furore – which is how I began. After one night at Ikea the boyfriend and I decided to get cracking and as I started stripping out the laundry, he attacked the living room. Next thing I know it’s 10.30pm on a Wednesday night, we’re both knackered and seemingly everything we own has ended up on the floor. This was a stressful situation: there was no space, we had to do acrobatics to get into the kitchen and my dreams of a perfect home were trampled beneath piles of books, DVDs, linen and everything else.

So start small – pick a room, or a cupboard. Empty it, clean it and get rid of what you don’t need, while putting the survivors back in an organised fashion. It’s amazing what a relief such small changes can bring.

Get a system
There’s a phrase to keep in mind when decluttering: ‘If it’s not useful, beautiful or extremely sentimental, don’t keep it’. This is a super handy rule of thumb when you’re staring down at a draw of old nail polish, broken trinkets and random bits of faff that so easily accumulate, I’m convinced they’re breeding.

The same goes with clearing out your wardrobe – if you haven’t worn it in a year, odds are you won’t.

Ditch the guilt
One thing that can often be an obstacle when doing a clear-up is the sense of guilt that you’re wasting money or being reckless. So rather than just filling a wheelie bin with all stuff that’s no longer useful to you, donate it someone who could really benefit from it. Places like Good Sammy’s and the Salvos take everything from books to cookware, bedding and clothes. This way, you’re giving new life to something that may have just sat neglected otherwise. Women’s shelters and charity shops often do drives to support people in need in your community, so by doing a clear-out, you could really help others.

Or if there are a few of you having a clear-up and your bestie would murder you for getting rid of that dress she’s coveted for years, grab some bubbly and have a swap night with friends – odds are you’ll find some steals, so you’ll be updating your wardrobe while cleaning it out – ultimate win-win.

Decluttering and spring cleaning (even in summer, or autumn…you get it) also has benefits far beyond leaving you with a pretty pad. Studies have shown that getting organised in your home can give you increased motivation, a clearer mind and additional energy, all while reducing the stress and anxiety that can come from clutter. So for a happy home, and head, get your gloves on.

Kate Jones blogs about writing and pop culture at Calvicle Capitalism.

Are you a clean freak? A happy hoarder? Or a spring cleaner, like Kate? Tell us in the comments!

January 16, 2014