The Importance of Master Planned Communities

Why Master Planned Communities?

According to predictions, there will be changes around the globe in the future that will challenge the way people live. These changes include:

  • Much higher gasoline prices
  • Greater emphasis on energy efficiency
  • Environmental protection and other green features
  • Growing water shortages
  • A 24-7 world that will demand amenities that are open 24-7

To be able to keep up with the global changes, innovations are needed, especially in the real state industry. Understanding the future requires understanding the demographics and how they influenced the market. Thus the birth of the Master Planned Community.

What Is A Master Planed Community?

A Master Planned Community (MPC) is a large scale self-sustaining residential plan. It has a number of various essential amenities not normally found in a regular housing subdivision. A Master Planned Community gives the ability to work, live and play all within walking distance. Some real estate professionals consider this type of luxury real estate development a “Mixed Use” development since they include retail, housing and entertainment In previous times, clubhouses and pools were at the top of home buyers’ lists. Today, access to neighborhood retail services, hi quality restaurants and health care is becoming the top priority according to the latest research. People want to get access to everything they need quickly and at reasonable prices, thus walkable access to civic use areas is in high demand.

Convenience

Master Planned Communities are designed to provide a master planned convenience. In its varied housing within a community layout, homes are designed to conform to the lifestyle of diverse generations. They are created to provide both soft and hard amenities and services in the way people want them delivered. These luxury communities facilitate residents building and living comfortable lives and having more time to spend with their families. This lifestyle also enhances connectivity between neighbors and their surroundings through shared spaces created for everyone across varied demographics to use whether alone or together.

Important Aspects of Master Planned Communities

To highlight the benefits and most significant aspects of Master Planned Communities, listed below are some of the reasons why it is important to the home buyer.

1. Better Access to Important Resources

As mentioned above, people nowadays want to have easy and quick access from their own homes to their most important resources. In regular housing subdivisions, however, people bought all lands and built huge properties to maximize their lots, leaving no space for other amenities. In Master Planned Communities, lots and houses are planned accordingly by providing a required minimum and maximum size. That ensures that there are more open spaces for the building of other amenities. For example, park and play spaces are already built within the community and cannot be removed or replaced by any other infrastructures. In Master Planned Communities, virtually everything a resident needs is within the community or within short distances. This kind of setting is not just good for working parents, young professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, and retiring baby boomers, it is also great for children going in and out of school most of all.

2. A Sense of Community Among Residents

The quality of neighbors defines a community. Not surprisingly, most people living in a luxury real estate development such as a Master Planned Community share a common interest which instantly creates a sense of togetherness among neighbors. As a result, residents feel safer, more serene, and more secure. Community events are organized within MPCs to provide residents with an avenue to socialize, get to know each other, and build strong connections. Additionally, the Master Planned Communities are founded on good governance with the rules and responsibilities of every community member that are declared beforehand. Many Luxury Master Planned Luxury Communities provide a variety of different community activities based upon the area within the PUD. For instance, in the luxury area, where homes start at $850,000 or so, you may find high end marinas, with wet slips and dry boat storage. Some luxury developments even have their own private beach in the luxury sectors. In the sections of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) where the homes are in the $300,000’s you may find community activities that involve fishing and pool parties.

3. Incorporated Agriculture

Gardens owned by the community is becoming popular in some Master Planned Communities. MPCs work to assist its residents to have their own local food production through either providing community gardens or incorporating small-scale farms.

4. Best Practices for Handling Transportation Issues

The use of multiple trails for biking and walking as well as the presence of sidewalks are necessary features of Master Planned Communities. And, as a solution to the most frequent and current demands of the community on transportation, MPCs implement various, sometimes combined, options of transporting people such as an electric autonomous vehicle systems, bus transit stops, car-sharing services, charging stations for electric vehicles, providing golf carts for driving within the community, or implementing shuttle services.

Other Significant Aspects

Play spaces, fitness boot camps, sand entry beaches, and co-workspaces are a few additional amenities to present in Master Planned Communities. Health and wellness is also one thing that MPCs are giving special attention to as more and more people are wanting to become healthier. The great outdoors with fresh, local produce and fantastic health care are things they are incorporating into the community in addition to sidewalks, pedestrian ways, multi-use trails, and social gathering places. On top of it all, Master Planned Communities have long-term increase in value which leads to great Return On Investment for home owners if planning to sell or rent their property. Master Planned Communities are also great for entrepreneurs. Business opportunities tend to be in abundance as many new partnership opportunities with companies that offer products and services wanted by the new generation of consumers emerge. For aspiring business owners, office spaces tend to be nearby at reasonable prices. The workers of businesses within planned communities tend to earn higher than average incomes. Many residential buyers look for the best location, easy access, quality neighbors, important amenities, and valuable future developments in choosing a home. A Master Planned Community is the realization of what was once just a dream community for many.

Do You Know the Difference Between Cash Flow and Profit?

WHY MILLIONAIRES GO BANKRUPT

“That is exactly why we cannot loan you the money you need,” I said in response to a potential client explaining to me that he has over $20,000 a month going through his account.

Cash is king. If you have it, you stay in business. If you don’t… you don’t. A lot of money going through your account does not matter. In fact, that is not a good thing unless the money into the account is more than the money out. In this case, this particular client was doing very well financially on paper. He had a high net worth and several assets. The problem is, he set up the loans on his rentals to pay them off early and was spending all of his rent, and sometimes more than his rent, to make the payments. These rentals were profitable because income was more than the expenses, but he had no cash flow. The principal portion of your payment each month is a reduction of debt, so it is not an expense. In the long run this will prove beneficial, but it is risky. In this case, he was using shorter term amortizations to reduce his loan size quickly. All of his loans were set up as 15 year loans. Although, with the exception of a default, this is a sure fire way to speed up the loan payoff, I believe there are better ways to do it.

I made a similar mistake when I was really young. Whenever I got some cash in the bank I would want to invest it right away. After all, money in the bank is not working for me. I could earn much higher returns in other investments. I was buying houses at a rapid pace, and quickly became a millionaire. I was extremely proud that I hit that status long before my 30th birthday. The lesson I learned the hard way is that your net worth really doesn’t mean much. Net worth is simply your assets minus your liabilities. All my assets were in real estate. It was easy to buy discounted properties, so I increased my net worth each time I purchased a home. I am sure you have heard the term, “you make money when you buy.” That could not be truer. Although you make money when you buy, you can’t spend it until you sell. My model was almost exclusively buy and hold, so I never really generated the cash reserves I needed to withstand a problem. And a problem is exactly what I got. I was a millionaire and could not pay my bills.

I am a big leverage guy. I believe strongly that you need leverage to reach your potential. You will make more money and grow faster with leverage. Although I think you need to leverage people as much as money, I am going to focus on money for this point. If you have a lot of leverage in the way of loans, you need to make money to pay it off. Companies, and frankly our Government, end up spending all of its revenue to pay off debt; and although they are profitable, they are broke.

Once I shifted my focus to cash flow I was able to rebuild a much stronger financial picture. I rebuilt much more slowly and smarter. I still love and use leverage, but I am smart about it and stay diversified. I have access to cash if I run into a problem, and I use my assets to steadily pay off debt AND produce cash each and every month.

4 Advantages of a Virtual Doorman System

Virtual doormen are fast becoming a popular alternative to hiring a regular physical presence for many commercial properties, and their popularity is also rising for residential buildings. The reasons for this are numerous, as are the many advantages that this kind of service can offer.

Although there are several concerns that people may initially have with this kind of remote solution, the reality is that if put in place effectively, people can benefit from the following plus points that automatically come with adopting this kind of system.

Firstly, one of the main advantages of a virtual doorman solution is that it is far less expensive than hiring a physical presence when it comes to commercial properties. Many commercial buildings like to have a physical security presence, but in some cases this can be costly for something that is not entirely necessary.

A virtual system is a more affordable option as it involves only using the service when someone tries to enter a property to make a delivery or carry out some other necessary task. A link is established by video and audio so that identification measures can be made before access is allowed; this means that no full time staff member needs to be employed to complete this identification task.

A second major advantage is for tenants, rather than commercial building owners or users. Millions of parcels and packages are attempted to be delivered each year, yet often the tenant is not present to accept the delivery and therefore this results in a failed delivery.

This is especially important considering that so many people do their shopping online these days, meaning more and more parcels are being delivered at hours when people are at work or at school. A virtual doorman can assist in this instance, allowing parcels to be delivered first time, every time.

This can save a great deal of time and stress, especially if the delivery is urgent. Many residential property owners looking to improve the experience of their tenants would be wise to consider using this simple and highly convenient solution in their buildings.

Another major advantage is that this type of system can actually be used for different reasons other than allowing access for deliverymen. Although the delivery of packages and parcels is a major issue for many tenants, so is allowing repairmen to enter the building for work, or allowing access to emergency services.

A virtual doorman solution can assist in both of these two cases, and in fact entry to a property can restricted in any way that the building owner likes. This can involve using more or less stringent security checks, and can allow access for any number of reasons. This tailored approach can be very efficient in allowing repair work to be carried out or allowing emergency services in during a crisis.

Fourthly, a major advantage of this type of system is that it allows building owners to take advantage of the latest technologies, which are improving each and every day to be safer and more secure. The aiphone intercom systems now used in virtual doorman services mean that identity can be checked in a number of ways.

These technologies are sure to improve in the future, which means that investing in this type of system now can only bring further security gains and advantages in the coming years too. This is another convincing reason why choosing a virtual doorman could be a great choice for modern day property owners.

These are just four of the major advantages of investing in a virtual doorman service. From allowing commercial property owners and tenants to gain significant benefits in the way of allowing access to deliverymen, repairmen and the emergency services, the popularity of this solution looks likely to grow in the future too.

Doorman24 is a service provided by Visentry LLC and is a result of 12 years of experience in remote video and audio monitoring. Visentry LLC was founded 12 years ago by experienced security professionals to address the needs of businesses for cost-effective services for perimeter, asset, data and critical infrastructure protection. Visentry introduced a unique and groundbreaking service, named Virtual Sentry, which delivers around-the-clock, real time remote video and audio monitoring service. Virtual Sentry integrates “intelligent” video and audio technology with the most comprehensive central monitoring station. Based on its experience with Virtual Sentry which is presently installed at hundreds of customers, Visentry developed Doorman24 to provide an affordable and technologically advanced solution for remote access services for residential and commercial buildings.

How to Assess Any Real Estate With the Approaches to Value

The valuation steps applied to create a supported conclusion of a defined value based on an analysis of applicable general and specific data. Assessment in creating an opinion of real estate value follows specific sets of processes that reflect 3 different methods. These include:

– Cost Method
– Direct Comparison Method
– Income Approach Method

One or more of these methods can be used in the assessment of real estate valuation. The methods to be used will rely almost entirely on the type of property being assessed or appraised; however may also factor in the use of the appraisal, the scope of work involved, and the data availability for the analysis.

Cost Method

The cost approach to assessment and appraisal is established by understanding the construction methodologies and property attributes related to cost. The cost approach is estimated by adding the cost of land to the current cost of construction related to all improvement on land, and subtracting depreciation in all improvements on the land. The construction costs of buildings would include a reproduction cost or a replacement cost of the same or similar like materials or systems. This approach works best when it used for the assessment of new or newer properties that are not frequently exchanged in the market. The actual costs are usually derived from cost estimator software, cost manuals, builders, and contractors. Note: The land would remain a separate value when using the cost approach.

Direct Comparison Approach

The direct comparison method to assessment of real estate is most useful when there is a large number of similar like properties that have recently transacted on the market or are currently listed on the market. Using this method, the assessment would come from identifying the subject with similar properties, called comparables (or comps). The sale prices that most identify with the subject would have a heavier weight on the value, oppose to one that is further from the subject characteristics. Most of the time the comparables would create a range of value, upon which; opinion must be used to find an exact value. Several elements or factors are used to qualify the degree of similarity between comparables and the subject. This would include: real property rights, financial terms, property conditions of the sale, post sale expenditures, location, market factors, physical characteristics, economic characteristics, use/zoning, non-real estate components of sale (chattels, fixtures). After the best comparables are set, a dollar figure or percentage is applied to the sale price of each property to estimate the hypothetical value of the subject. For instance comparable A has 1 more bathroom than the subject; therefore subtract $9000 from the comparable to hypothetically get the sale to reflect the same characteristic as the subject.

Income Approach

The income method to the assessment of real estate would be from an analysis of present value of the future benefits of property ownership. A property’s income and resale worth upon return may be capitalized into a current, lump-sum amount. There are two methods of the income approach; one is direct capitalization and the other yield capitalization. Direct capitalization is the relation between one year’s income and worth indicated by either a capitalization rate or an income multiplier. Yield capitalization is the relationship between several years of stabilized income and worth at the end of a specified period reflected in a yield rate. The most commonly used yield capitalization method would be the discounted cash flow analysis.

Five Renovations That Don’t Increase Home Appraisal Value

Every homeowner must do routine maintenance to their home that more or less just maintains its current condition. However, some homeowners decide they want to improve their home’s value and marketability. The amount of value certain improvements cost may not add as much value as the cost to do it.

Homeowner’s are very biased when it comes to their own home, they see the things they have done to it and think dollar for dollar the home’s value should go up with each improvement, this is not often the case. A potential buyer or real estate appraiser may be unimpressed with certain improvements, what you must keep in mind is that what you view as a valuable upgrade may not be the same as what the real estate market sees as a valuable upgrade.

Below I am going to outline Five Renovations That Don’t Increase Home Appraisal Value.

1. Swimming Pools

There aren’t many areas of the world where backyard pools are common place. Before adding a pool think about your neighbourhood, do the majority of properties have pools? Would a potential buyer expect there to be a pool? If pools are not common place in your area and/or have a very short season you likely will not be adding much value to your home, definitely not as much as the cost to put one in. In fact, Many potential home buyers view swimming pools as dangerous, expensive to maintain and insurance claims waiting to happen. Potential buyers with small children could really be turned off by there being a swimming pool. In-ground pools come at a very steep price, my opinion is if buyers in your area would not expect a pool then this money is better spent elsewhere as you are not likely recoup the cost in a sale or appraisal.

2. Elaborate Landscaping

Home buyers and appraisers definitely appreciate good landscaping, but there is a line where elaborate landscaping no longer adds its equivalent in value to what it costs. Keep in mind that the next person buying your home may not want to take on the upkeep work of elaborate landscaping and may not want to have to hire a professional landscaper to take care of it. An appraiser will also only assess so much value to landscaping in their report as not a lot of emphasis is put on landscaping by the market, how often have you heard of someone buying a home because it had great landscaping? sure it is a plus but you are better off to just meet the standard in your area than to get too carried away.

3. Overbuilding for the Neighborhood

It is better to have the other homes in your neighbourhood “pull-up” your home’s value than to have them drag it down. Your neighbourhood plays a large factor in your home’s value, you do not want a large, elaborate, two storey home surrounded by older bungalows. The people that will be looking for that type of home will go to a neighbourhood where it will be surrounded by similar properties. Likewise, it will be very difficult for an appraiser to find similar comparables in your area and this could lead to a lower value being assessed.

4. High-End Upgrades

Most people are on a strict budget when it comes to home improvements, so what they will do is they will pick a room and do a complete remodel adding higher end flooring and fully modernize the room. This is good and I understand the strategy, next time you have some extra funds, pick another room and the same and after 5 years or so your home will be fully updated. But does that full remodel of that first or even second room really add as much value to your home as it costs? My opinion is now, if you full remodel one room and then plan on selling or getting an appraisal the appraiser is going to see the other 80 or 90% of the home is still dated and would be considered a project. An alternative strategy might be to take all of those funds that you were planning on sinking into an elaborate bathroom and spread them over the whole home, the cost of a full bathroom remodel could redo the flooring and paint throughout the entire home and this would be look upon much more favorably by a potential buyer or appraiser in their assessment of value than you just having one high quality room.

5. Invisible Improvements

New plumbing, electrical or HVAC might be necessary, but don’t expect to be adding dollar for dollar value for their cost. Home buyers and appraisers simply expect these systems to be up to date and in good working order. These items would be considered more home maintenance than home improvements.

The Bottom Line

When spending money on your home assess why you are doing it, if it is purely for your own comfort and enjoyment with no real intent in adding value then go ahead and add that pool. But if you are consciously trying to add value to your home then where to spend your renovation budget requires much more thought. Consider speaking with a realtor or appraiser and ask them where they feel your funds are best spent to improve value.

 

Options for the interior lighting of your home that work best

 

The Top Real Estate Apps for iPhone and Android Devices

In the earliest days of the Internet, some of the original architects of the web pursued real estate as the most obvious market that could widely benefit from independent web sites. Aggregation services for these sites were among the first web lists, which eventually grew into dedicated indexes, then searchable indexes. Eventually the idea was absorbed into more complete services like Craigslist and the earliest iterations of Yahoo.

Although those early sites had some tremendous advantages in that they could be viewed from neighborhoods far from the houses they featured, they weren’t mobile. The ability to find houses nearest a certain address as opposed to houses that match a particular keyword is equally effective and often leads to a better purchase and a happier buyer.

One thing to be aware of is many of the most popular apps are not designed for home buyers. Some of the best apps are built to be utilized by agents, real estate brokers and even residential and commercial developers.

Bigger Pockets

At the top of many app lists is a utility for investors called “BiggerPockets.” While it is primarily a gateway to its namesake’s forums, it is apparently a great tool for people who are out scouting for new investment properties.

Home Mortgage Calculator

For home buyers there is the “Homes Mortgage Calculator” available for both iPad and iPhone. With this app, any buyer can plug in the details of a proposed deal and get an accurate idea of the projected payment amount if they accept the deal and seek a mortgage to finance it.

Craigslist

Since Craigslist seemed to benefit so much from the Internet’s early history, it stands to reason it would find its way on to a list of the most useful mobile apps. When combined with the wide variety of mapping and communications utilities built into most phones, Craigslist can become a powerhouse of buyer and renter options.

Pro HDR

For agents and brokers, good photography is crucial in an industry that depends on how a product looks more than nearly any other. Granted, there is no shortage of options for taking pictures in 2015. With a utility like Pro HDR, even amateur photographers will find themselves able to take better pictures and use those pictures more effectively.

MiD Calculator

From the National Association of Realtors comes an app that, like the home mortgage calculator, will allow a buyer or seller to calculate the Mortgage Interest Deduction based on any set of financial details available. This can be a tremendous way to calculate the costs and balances of any home deal before it is negotiated.

IREM Comps App

This utility for iPhone and iPad allows a property owner to combine information from three comparable properties to determine a competitive rent for a subject property. It also gives the user the option to send the information in spreadsheet form to others for analysis.

Real estate apps for all kinds of interested parties are likely to become more popular as the capabilities of mobile phones and tablets continue to improve.

Become A Property Pro With These 5 Effective Real Estate To Do’s

This is where this article comes to your rescue. The following tips will help you get more acquainted with the real estate market, so you can hold your own when pitted against a real estate expert. Read on to know what to do, in order to get a hang of the workings of a real estate market:

Tip #1: Study The Latest Pricing Charts

This may sound boring, but keep a track of the latest prices in your locality on a regular basis. Over a period of time, you will learn the intricacies of changing realty prices and the factors that play a role in stimulating appreciation and depreciation. Also, make sure you compare the prices of neighbouring regions with your locality. This will tell you where the highest and lowest real estate demands spring from.

Tip #2: Research The Causes For Price Fluctuation

Real estate prices are not independent as there is always a driving force that causes the fluctuation. This can be due to various factors such as, a new school or mall that opened in close proximity to the house, or even the changing market forces of demand and supply. Consider investing in localities that have or will soon face appreciating prices, as they guarantee a high yield in a short period of time.

Tip #3: Keep Track Of Local School Rankings

Prices of properties are directly proportional to the rankings of the schools in the vicinity. The rationale behind this is, higher school ratings entice parents to move to localities where these schools are present, for the sake of their children. This in turn elevates the demand for houses and other properties in the surrounding areas.

Tip #4: Glance Through Property Tax Percentages

Consider there are two cities, side by side. The property tax percentage is significantly higher in one city as compared to the other. There is a definite chance that the city with low property rates will be on the list for many potential buyers. However, there is a need to be cautious here as property rates could go down, when there is low growth potential and if the infrastructure is inadequate to sustain the inhabitants. This is when first-hand research is necessary.

Tip #5: Look Out For The Outskirts

The real estate markets follows a trend where, if the developmental works in the cities reach a saturation point, the demand decreases. This is when properties in the outskirts gather more demand than expected as people start looking for better alternatives. Other areas that are close to major transportation hubs like bus and railway stations, will also face increased property demand.

Real estate professionals use their experience in the field, and their connections in the zonal commission to determine how good or bad the market in a particular region is. These few facts are sure to help improve your current real estate knowledge.

Homes for Sale and the Challenge of Change

The only thing more stressful than moving or starting a new job is moving AND starting a new job. Whether buying or listing Homes for sale as part of work relocation, it’s exciting to embrace the next chapter of your life.

Of course, with challenge and opportunity comes the stress of turning that page and transitioning from the familiar to the foreign. Done the right way, it’s a feel-good story of sweet success. Done the wrong way, however, and it reads like a horror novel that would spook Stephen King.

Sure, a major life change is always a gamble. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some steps you could take to turn the odds in your favor with homes for sale? As luck would have it, there are.

The More You Take In, The Better You’ll Make Out

Just as you didn’t land your dream job by leaving it to chance, you shouldn’t make a career move into or out of homes for sale without thorough research and planning.

For example, consider the neighborhoods you wish to target. Apart from the regular considerations of safety and availability of good schools, think about proximity to your new workplace. Specifically, if you’re moving to or a city of comparable size, you can settle almost anywhere without being burdened by a lengthy commute.

Conversely, the right choice of locations in a large metropolitan area can make the difference between a short drive to the office and a long haul traversing two time zones. Taking a new position is stressful enough as it is, so why compound it with a trip that really puts the “hour” in rush hour?

If they’re Giving it, You Should Take it

Relocating for work, like the work itself, is a two-way street. Not only does it benefit you and your family in the form of more opportunity and perhaps better pay, but it also helps the company put the right person in the right position.

That explains why many businesses offer relocation assistance ranging from reimbursement for moving expenses like transportation and storage to free temporary housing that can ease the transition to or from homes for sale. Should they fail to offer anything, ask what’s available and be prepared to negotiate for moving support that’s not currently being given. Remember, if you’re valuable enough to be uprooted from your present life for the betterment of the company, they can darn well help to replant you.

Don’t Cry, Unless it’s for Help

Before you start shedding tears of stress and get overwhelmed with homes for sale, cry for help instead. Ask the realtor who’s assisting you with the sale to connect you with one of their colleagues in your new city. If they don’t know anyone, check with friends, family or your new co-workers for a recommendation.

Once you find someone you trust, they can ease your burden by suggesting neighborhoods that meet your needs, scheduling viewings and offering lots of suggestions to facilitate the moving process. Best of all, since realtor fees are paid by the seller, you can get expert advice and peace of mind without spending a dime.

Dealing with homes for sale is a major undertaking, and doubly so when you’re changing jobs at the same time. Some stress is inevitable, especially if you’re wading into uncharted waters and trying to get your bearings. Through careful planning and research, though, you can embark on a new chapter and ensure a happy ending. Moreover, when the next promotion comes your way, you’ll be more than ready to write the sequel.

Ten Factors That Favour an Increase in the UK Housing Inventory

Politicians of all stripes made housing promises in the May 2015 election. But what’s already in place or on the drawing boards is helping to add much-needed homes.

With the 2015 election now settled, many Government programmes and policies are a little more certain. The re-election of the incumbent Mr. Cameron suggests a likely continuation of many initiatives, including those affecting the supply of housing. This can be largely reassuring to homebuilding companies and investors and it should at least define the playing field for homebuyers.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, real estate company Savills predicted that prices of homes in prime central London will increase by 22.7% by 2020. The head of residential research also projected that prime properties outside of the capital will increase by a bit more, 23.9%. Lower-priced properties will likely rise more modestly, by 10.4% in London and 19.3% elsewhere.

High prices stimulate increased supply in classic economic theory, however the shortage of housing amidst high prices – unaffordable to many – have confounded theorists with regard to UK housing. It’s clear that inventories need to be increased, building 200,000+ new homes per year simply to meet existing demand; instead, far lower numbers (120,000-140,000 new building homes) have characterised the past decade.

That said, several factors suggest homebuilding will be on the increase, funded by housing associations, REITs, individuals, homebuilders and real asset fund managers. Following is a run-down of ten factors that will and can drive an increase in the number of homes being built – and perhaps which will challenge those price increase projections:

1. Employment – Not only are more people working in the UK today than since the financial crisis of 2008, but employment in Britain is rising at twice the rate as elsewhere in the Eurozone, including Germany. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith announced in early 2015 that about 11,000 people are returning to work every week in the UK. Figures from Eurostat indicate that 30.8 million people across the continent have returned to work, taking employment throughout Europe to pre-recession levels.

2. Help to Buy – Buyers of homes up to £600,000 value can finance their purchase with just a 5% deposit, while the government will loan the buyer 20% of the value and a mortgage is necessary for the remaining 75%. Fees to the government for the 20% equity loan are not charged for the first five years of ownership. Propertywire.com reported in early 2015, about two years after the scheme’s introduction, that more than 77,000 homes have been purchased under the plan and that “as a result house building levels continue to climb.”

3. Right to Buy – This is the scheme that allows most council tenants to buy their council home. The purchase is at a discount. While it is focused on existing structures, it technically should contribute to new building as council homes are intended to be replaced when sold to private owners. This is a contentious issue, as social housing construction has lagged. The charity Shelter, which advocates for more affordable housing in all forms, notes that the waiting list for social homes has 1.8 million households, up 81% since 1997.

4. Starter Homes Initiative – Aimed to satisfy first-time buyers (under age 40) by eliminating the 20% portion of a new-build price associated with Section 106 affordable housing contributions, this programme involves the construction of quality homes (up to £500,000 value) mostly on brownfield (previous use) land. Much of this is in urban environments and thus makes use of existing infrastructure and does not encroach on greenfield/greenbelt lands.

5. Right to Acquire – Similar to Right to Buy, this enables housing association tenants to buy their homes at a discount (purchase from housing associations, councils, the armed services and NHS trusts and foundation trusts). Discounts range from £9,000 to £16,000, depending on local costs. While this funds purchases of existing structures, the housing associations theoretically (and practically) can use proceeds from those sales to build more, according to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

6. Low interest rates – Political analysts say with the Conservatives’ victory in the May election that interest rates will remain low for longer. Those rates are at historic lows, such as ten-year fixed (<3%), five-year fixed (<2%), and three-year fixed (<2%). First-time buyers have more difficulty finding the standard 20-25% deposits, however the aforementioned programmes help with that when individual thrift or, more likely, the “Bank of Mum and Dad” are unable to assist.

7. NPPF – The National Planning Policy Framework is almost entirely about increasing the supply of housing that is affordable. It places mandates on local councils to establish growth plans, and more than half of the country’s local planning authorities have done so. This replaces a regional system that did unpopular top-down planning and which was bureaucratically unwieldy.

8. Right to Build – Aimed at self-builders and small homebuilding firms, this land release scheme provides access to council-owned land. Would-be builders can challenge local councils to release appropriate land, which also helps satisfy NPPF mandates. There are 11 local councils among a first wave offering Right to Build plots, using a pot of £550,000 to fund “suitable and serviced” plots of land. For example, Cherwell will receive £90,000 to expedite construction of 2,000 custom-build homes.

9. Greenbelt relaxation and adaptation – One of the most contentious issues around housing in the UK is to expand development into the many greenbelt lands surrounding most major cities. Alternatives are to build on urban disused land (brownfields) or to increase the reach of high rises. But the pressure to build out has many proponents and in fact more than 5,600 homes were constructed on these areas in 2013 alone. Some cities do greenbelt swaps, trading disused greenbelt land for urban brownfields, allowing houses on the periphery of the city and installing parkland in the urban core.

10. Greater London Authority interest free credit – Builders who construct affordable homes in the capital are eligible for no-cost credit. This programme is entirely designed to increase the stock of properties that are available to middle income workers. Investors clearly find it appealing because of the reduced development costs of interest-free loans.

What still looms is the slight chance a mansion tax will be imposed, which would affect prime properties valued at £2 million or more in London and the foreign investors who are largely blamed for price run-ups.

Investing in real estate in any form carries risk and reward. Speak with an independent financial advisor (IFA) to discuss what best fits your individual investment goals.

5 Key Advantages of Natural Ventilation Systems in Buildings

All buildings, whether residential or commercial,require adequate ventilation in order to protect the health of occupants in regular circumstances as well as in emergency situations such as fires or other contaminations of the air.

There are several types of ventilation systems, with the two main ones currently in use being natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation. Each of these is distinctly different in its way of working as well as the advantages and disadvantages it brings to the structure it is integrated into or installed in.

The presence of either of these systems is critical for a number of reasons, including the removal of stale air and toxic gases, the replenishing of fresh and clean air in an environment, the removal of moisture, and the elimination of odours, bacteria and excess heat.

Natural ventilation basically refers to any system that does not require the use of mechanical devices to displace air in the structure, instead using organic airflow and openings to draw stale air and pollutants through and out of the building.

In this lies the first of five major benefits that this type of system offers – potentially reduced installation costs compared to its mechanical counterpart. This only applies in certain circumstances however – if an effective system is designed as part of the structure before construction, then the costs are absorbed into the build.

It should be noted that mechanical systems can still offer better value for money where having the maximum surface area available is important for getting the largest commercial return, for example in car parks, some retail environments and other similar venues.

The second advantage to natural ventilation is also budget-related; mechanical installations can be very costly to operate, not only due to the need for fans, but also because of air conditioning units which can increase energy consumption costs by up to 30% per building according to reports.

On the other hand, more organic ways of optimising air circulation in structures can mean that this cost is practically eliminated, making it a financially-sound long term solution for companies that are looking to economise in all the areas that they can.

It is should also be noted that this type of ventilation is also a great deal greener than mechanical ventilation systems, as it uses significantly less energy to operate efficiently. For this reason, the third advantage of natural ventilation is the fact that it is the far more environmentally-friendly solution out of the two main choices, and is therefore also possibly a real solution for the future.

A fourth benefit that comes with using a more organic and already-integrated ventilation solution in a building is that fact that its rival – the mechanically driven system – requires regular maintenance to make sure that it is doing its job properly and that it meets the relevant healthy and safety requirements.

This is not so true for natural ventilation systems, which do not have as many essential parts that need regular upkeep and replacement on a frequent basis. Although all systems should be regularly inspected to ensure that they are working optimally, costly and lengthy maintenance work is virtually eliminated with this option.

The fifth and final advantage of natural ventilation is that it has been shown to be a popular choice of system with building occupants compared to the mechanical variety. The reason for this is thought to be due to the level of thermal comfort that each choice provides, with many finding that mechanically operated solutions often make a room too cold or too warm.

Conversely, the other option is often able to effectively maintain an ideal temperature, despite the fact that there are no controls apart from simply opening or closing a window.

All types of ventilation systems have their good points and bad points, and the natural solution is no exception. That said, it is an option that brings considerable cost savings, not to mention improvements in occupant comfort and less of a negative impact on the environment, making it a potentially ideal solution for a greener future and a thriving global economy.

Vent Engineering is a leading provider of natural and smoke ventilation systems to business and local authority customers throughout the UK and abroad. With over 25 years in the industry, Vent is well known for its innovation, commitment to customer service, reliability and value. Vent prides itself on being able to take complex problems and make them simple, bringing a straightforward and practical approach to ventilation solutions. Vent’s experienced design and technical team are able to advise, design and deliver standard and bespoke systems depending on customers’ requirements, and the company’s solutions adhere to and even exceed all British Standard and European regulations in the industry. Vent provides fully trained and qualified personnel for installation, commissioning, handover, training and maintenance of its controller and actuator systems.