Category: CENTURY 21 Solutions

Readying your garden for the cooler months

If you’re like me, it can be hard to find the motivation to go outside and work on your garden when the weather turns cold.  But by the time spring rolls around, this winter neglect often means that I have a badly damaged garden and must start work from scratch, sometimes even replanting large sections of outside areas. 

But this could be totally unnecessary by taking some simple steps to prepare your garden for the cooler months.  Not only will this allow you to have a minimal-maintenance garden that looks good all year around, it also means that, should you decide to put your property on the market during the year, a reduced amount of time will be required to prepare your garden for the sale. 

Another advantage of maintaining your garden during winter is that you ensure its continued health throughout the year.  This will help your plants to thrive in all conditions and live for longer.  

I have found that a good way to start preparations is often to do some general cleaning and clearing.  Pulling out weeds and raking up fallen leaves will rid your garden of any harmful insects and diseases that these sometimes carry. 

In my search for the best ways to ready my garden for winter, I came across what I thought to be quite an informative article on the Yates Australia website, entitled ‘Preparing the garden for winter’.  The piece contained a checklist of tips, some of which I’ve included as follows:

  • Move potted tropical plants and others that like warmth to more protected spots – such as a verandah or porch.  For those that are planted, or just too heavy to move, consider spraying them with products that are designed to provide a layer of protection.
  • Reduce your watering of potted plants as they require much less water when the weather is cooler.
  • Before winter, feed plants with a product that is high in potash so as to build up their strength.

If you like to have a bit of colour in your garden during winter, now is also a good time to start looking into the various varieties that are suited to cooler temperatures.  According to Yates Australia there are plenty of suitable varieties that will live through winter, such as polyanthus which bloom in a wide range of colours – blues, pinks, yellows, cream and white.  If cared for these flowers will re-bloom next winter as well. 

Preparing your garden for winter doesn’t have to be a hugely involved process.  And by taking a few simple measures you will be able to enjoy an attractive garden all year round. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 28/02/2011 at 1:17 PM | Categories: Around the house - CENTURY 21 Solutions -

The benefits of knowing your neighbours

These days, I think it is fair to say that there is less of a neighbourhood culture than there has been in the past.  I suppose this isn’t a surprising progression – people tend to lead busier lives, there are not as many people at home during the day and with the increase in apartment living there is less of that familiarity you get between people seeing each other out on the street on a daily basis. 

While not unexpected I still think it is a bit of a shame that people aren’t as ‘neighbourly’ anymore, as there can be great benefit to knowing and getting along with the people who live around you. 

In the first instance, simply knowing and being able to say a simple hello to neighbours when you see them can often help to make your general lifestyle more pleasant.  You don’t have to have lengthy conversations – even a quick wave and acknowledgement can be a nice way to start your day. 

In more practical terms, having a reasonably good relationship with your neighbours could be advantageous when you go away on holiday.  Your neighbours will usually be happy to keep an eye on your home for you, watching out for any suspicious behaviour.   This presence may help you to feel more comfortable and better able to enjoy yourself while away.

A neighbourly relationship can also be beneficial when it comes to your children, especially if they like to play outside your home or even on the street.  If there are other children who are also playing outside, it can help to have a good relationship with their parents (your neighbours), whereby the responsibility of watching out for any dangers can be shared amongst a group rather than borne by a few different individuals.  

Another area where having established relationships can be of help is when it comes to the dissemination of community news.  Often things will happen in your local area that are not necessarily reported publicly, however still relate to you.  Your neighbours may have knowledge of these events that they will pass on to you in the conversations that you may have as you pass each other by, whether it is when parking your cars, or in a proper catch-up over a cup of coffee.   

When it comes down to it, unless you are living in an area where the rental turnover is very high and people are continuously coming and going, you could be living near the same people for an extended period of time.  Simply taking the time to introduce yourself and establishing a rapport with them could make your home life much easier and enjoyable. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 21/02/2011 at 2:25 PM | Categories: Property Management - Around the house - CENTURY 21 Solutions -

Ensure your holiday home pays its way all year round

I always find summer time, especially the Christmas and New Year period (in the Southern Hemisphere), to be quite an interesting time for real estate.  Many people take time off work and while some go on extended overseas trips, lots simply spend a week or two in a rented house near a beach or other location away from home. 

The pairing of good weather (hopefully) and beautiful scenery with some much needed relaxation can often see holidayers start to contemplate the idea of owning a holiday home themselves.  

So what do prospective purchasers need to look for in a property intended primarily for vacation use, and how do you ensure you get the most from your investment outside the summer months? I read a great article the other week on the Domain website by David Adams entitled ‘Maximum pay-off for minimum outlay’ which I thought summarised very well the aspects of holiday properties that are important in determining rental returns and what investors should consider. 

A big part of the success of a holiday home in the rental market is the number of people that the property can easily sleep.  The installation of bunk beds, beds with trundle beds, and queen beds can ensure that a house is both couple-friendly while sleeping a large number of guests.  With some smart configuring, a house with as little as three bedrooms can then become attractive to families or groups of friends who wish to go on holidays together, who are then able to save on accommodation costs by hiring one house. 

Outdoor entertaining areas were also flagged by the article as an aspect that can increase the rental income from a holiday home, both in summer and during the colder winter months as well.  The inclusion of a barbecue, large outdoor setting and potentially even outdoor heaters can help to heighten your property’s attractiveness to holiday renters. 

If purchasing a holiday home that requires renovation, or even just a little bit of a sprucing up, remember that this is not your primary residence and you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on it. 

There are definitely ways to give a property a make-over without having to go overboard.  According to the article, a fresh coat of paint and a carpet cleaning can often be enough to substantially improve the presentation of your holiday home.  When painting, remember that large groups of people may be staying in your house – the use of lighter and more neutral colours can help to increase the property’s feeling of space, often making for a more enjoyable experience for renters. 

So if you think you may be in the market for a holiday home, remember that this is not your main residence and you may need to consider different requirements than you would with a normal home.  Such contemplation will help to ensure that as well as a holiday home, you will have a viable investment option both within and outside of the summer months. 

4 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 24/01/2011 at 2:43 PM | Categories: Property Management - CENTURY 21 Solutions -

Property Marketing - The different ways to find a new home

I often find that reading through the property lift out of a newspaper can be quite an enjoyable way to look at what properties are available for sale.  The beautifully laid out advertisements take on an almost picture-book like feel and in combination with my morning coffee make a great way to start the day!

However there is no doubt that my slow browsing is not the preferred method of the majority of home-hunters in the market.  The advent of the internet has seen online real estate search sites take off, with people able to isolate the exact properties that fit their criteria in a number of seconds with a few clicks of the mouse. 

But even the way real estate agents are using the internet to market their properties is changing.  And it most certainly pays to keep up with these shifting methods to ensure that you find out about your dream property the moment it is placed on the market. 

It is becoming increasingly common for agencies, as well as individual agents themselves, to operate Facebook pages.  Through this avenue they may disseminate information via status updates and posted links regarding new properties that have been listed with them.  Facebook’s photo sharing function also allows agencies to post images of individual properties, enabling viewers to get a better idea of the house or unit than they would have had from the two or three photos available in the paper or from online advertising. 

In synchronicity with Facebook, we are also seeing agencies creating Twitter profiles.  ‘Tweets’ are used to publicise new properties with links provided to either the online listing, or back to a Facebook page or other online photo album containing further information. 

To make sure that you take full advantage of the Facebook and Twitter updates given by different agencies, it could be a wise move to make a list of all the real estate agencies that operate in the locations in which you are interested.  Armed with this list you can visit their individual websites, Facebook pages, Twitter pages and the like, subscribing or ‘becoming friends’, to make sure that you start to receive a continuous flow of current information relating to possible buying opportunities in the areas you like. 

With knowledge of individual agencies, you can also ask to sign up to their database.  This will ensure that you receive all electronic communication sent out by the office which again will keep you updated about their property offerings. 

It is also worth noting the various internal innovations that real estate companies provide as search tools.  CENTURY 21 Australia, for instance, offers Smart Book, a unique search function that creates an online magazine filled with all the properties that fit your search criteria.  This tool uses dynamic data, so as soon as any information regarding a property is changed, or a new listing that fits your criteria is added to our system, your Smart Book will update itself instantaneously – meaning that you will always have the most current information and set of property options at your fingertips, without having to search again. 

With the property shortage that Australia is predicted to see in future years, it will certainly pay to develop novel ways to search for property purchase opportunities.  I have no doubt that the internet will continue to offer many unique avenues and I will strive to keep you informed about these developments.  

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 10/01/2011 at 10:00 AM | Categories: Buying - CENTURY 21 Solutions -

Ensuring your home is safe for Children

As parents and responsible home owners, we do everything we can to make sure our homes are safe for our children.  Even if you do not have kids, it remains important to ensure that your property will not pose a threat to any young visitors. After all, there is nothing worse than having an accident occur in your home (whether life threatening or not) that could have been easily prevented.

The Australian Institute of Architects and Kidsafe have a safety checklist that is quite comprehensive in listing the various dangers that can exist in your home and how to address them.  I thought I would use this blog to go through some of the less obvious issues that may be present in your home and how they can be avoided. 

Poor air quality in homes can be quite problematic, with various pollutants such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide building up to unacceptable levels if air flow rates are not above a certain point.  This can lead to stuffiness and sneezing for all occupants of the home, not just children.  Opening windows (with stay locks to avoid break-ins) is one way to achieve the appropriate air flow level in your home. 

Be wary of the cords around your home, such as those hanging from blinds or electrical cords.  In the past, there have been cases of cords strangling children.

Allergens and Asthma
There are a variety of things in your home that can contain asthma-triggering allergens.  Surfaces such as carpets can harbour dust and dust mites, as can bedding.  Pets with fur (especially long hair) can also cause asthma problems. Reducing reaction-causing exposures is a wise move to avoid asthma attacks from occurring in your home.  Frequent vacuuming, dusting, washing and airing of bedding can be good first steps to take.  It may also be a good idea to restrict pets from entering bedrooms.  

Play Equipment
One loose bolt on a set of play equipment has the potential to cause some serious damage to a child.  Consider the materials you use to construct the set, with an aim to avoid sharp edges and the possibility of splinters.  Also take care to choose a soft landing material for around your play equipment set, such as a rubber floor (indoors) or pinebark or sand (outside). 

There are some very easy steps that can be taken to make sure dangerous and completely avoidable situations do not occur in your home.  I would advise all home owners, especially the owners of older homes, to consider their property implementing any changes required to make it a safer environment for inhabitants of all ages. 

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 06/12/2010 at 11:28 AM | Categories: Around the house - CENTURY 21 Solutions -

Living with a tenant - how to be a flatmate and a landlord at the same time

From a landlord’s perspective, living in your own home while tenants occupy any spare rooms can be an effective means of property ownership.  Not only do you have regular sums coming in to help cover your mortgage repayments, you also have an extra set of eyes to keep watch on the property if you are out or away.     

Living with a friend or family member also has a certain appeal –a shared history means you probably already have a fair idea of what the tenant may be like to live with and a good level of trust will exist.

However, regardless of whether it is with a friend or someone you have only just met, living with a tenant does not come without issues.  From my own experiences and what people living in this situation have told me, there are common problems that can sometimes arise.  It is important to avoid these issues from the outset so as to ensure a harmonious living environment.   
The first is that a feeling of discontent can develop as the tenant may not feel as comfortable as they would if the landlord didn’t live in, even if you are a friend.  There is not that feeling of paying a regular sum of money to an anonymous party; rather the landlord is right there privy to their every move.  There may also be a feeling of imbalance as the notion of friends ‘renting together’ is absent -  the tenant may feel that they can’t make the same requests of their housemate as they would if renting with another person (e.g. rules around partners staying over, cleaning etc) because the housemate owns the property. 

The second issue which may come up is when the landlord experiences problems with the tenant, but does not wish to confront and create a tense environment with someone they must live with and see on a daily basis. 

To further complicate the issue, when living with a friend or family member, difficulty can sometimes arise when certain steps that are normal in a rental situation are ignored due to the landlord’s familiarity with the tenant.  A bond isn’t received for instance, or the proper legal paperwork is put to the side. 

Once the shared living situation commences, for the landlord it can also be difficult to treat a friend as you would a normal tenant if a dispute arises, for instance you are not happy with their treatment of the property or if they fall behind in rental payments.  It is often easier to exercise legal rights on an unknown than it is on a friend.

To protect against such problems arising, in any shared living situation where the landlord lives in, it can be helpful for the landlord to establish from the very beginning that the tenant should feel at home in the property and for a set of mutually agreed upon house rules to be put in place.  These might include policies on cleaning, cooking and how often guests (such as partners) are able to stay over.

It is also very important that all the legal avenues are taken so as to protect both parties.  Even when the parties have known each other for a long time, there is nothing like an outstanding expense or charge for damage to push the friendship to its limits.  Legal protection should hopefully ensure the friendship can withstand any disputes that arise. 

Living in your own property should be an enjoyable experience, especially if you find yourself able to share with a friend.  Ensure that your time spent living together is mutually beneficial and take time to ensure that all proper rental processes have been followed and satisfied.

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 22/11/2010 at 2:14 PM | Categories: CENTURY 21 Solutions -

Sales Results - Are They Dependant On The Market ??

Welcome to my first ever blog from Century 21 Solutions and no doubt it will be an exciting journey particularly when we look back at where we all started and where we have got to...THE PROCESS. I certainly hope you enjoy the content. Sales Results - Are They Dependant On The Market ?? Very often you here of great results happening in the 'good times' and as we know the real estate market like most sectors has had a tough time of late. But guess what ? The market values across the country have held themsleves up with PROPERTY VALUES remaining stable throughout this great country of ours. What has changed is that today the consumer gets to work with true professional salespeople and particularly at Century 21 we pride ourselves in the quality of our people. You see homes sell in all market conditions, people always need a place to stay, people transfer, upgrade, downsize, you name it someone is doing it. So the point is is not about the market but more about THE PROCESS we undertake in marketing your home that counts. At Century 21 Solutions we pride ourselves in having a structured system (THE PROCESS) that ensure we get you the Sales Result you want no matter what the market conditions are doing....We Produce Outstanding Results in All Market Conditions. Attitude, Commitment & Process determines the outcomes. Until next time have a great day..keep smilingSmile

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 19/02/2009 at 6:43 AM | Categories: CENTURY 21 Solutions -