Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How can debt consolidation loans help you?

There may be times when you cannot avert your debt. You may have been managing your debt quite well when you are suddenly faced with a situation that requires you to shell out extra cash rather unexpectedly. In the majority of cases, there are two reasons that may cause you to fall behind on payments – (i) medical emergency and (ii) job loss. If you have multiple debts that needs to be addressed and you are finding it difficult to manage these debts, then debt consolidation may be your answer.

Debt consolidation allows you to replace your various debts with a single debt account. You can consolidate your debts with the help of a debt consolidation consultant who will work out a suitable debt consolidation program for you. Debt consolidation loans will allow you to enjoy reduced interest rate and consequently lower your monthly payments. These loans can be of 2 types, namely: secured debt consolidation loans and unsecured debt consolidation loans.

When should you opt for debt consolidation loans?
If you are faced with any one of the following situations, you should attend to your debts without further delay.
  1. If you have missed payments for the last 2 to 3 months
  2. Creditors have been calling you up for their money
  3. You are receiving calls from the collections agencies.
  4. You want to enjoy lower interest rate and lower monthly payments
Secured versus unsecured debt consolidation loans
If you are planning to take out a secured debt consolidation loan, you will be required to have collateral. The collateral acts as a security against which the loan is taken out on. In most of the cases, your house is used as the collateral. The interest rate attracted by the secured debt consolidation loan is usually less compared to an unsecured debt consolidation loan where you do not use any security and the interest rate is, therefore, much higher.

Secured debt consolidation will allow you to enjoy better rates but should you fall behind on payments, your creditor will take away your home. So, if you are opting for a secured debt consolidation loan, make sure you stay current with your monthly payments.

Article by : Debtcc community member
Website: Debt Consolidation Care
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Cut in Repo Rate

Yesterday, 14 August 2009, the South African Reserve Bank made a surprising announcement regarding the repo rate. The repo rate will be cut by 50 basis points bringing it to 7%. Many economists did not see this cut in the rate coming. They had expected the rate to remain unchanged. Economists had expected this cut to have happened back in June.

On a bond of R500,000, this week's rate cut of 0.5% can give the home owner roughly a monthly saving of about R170. This cut in the repo rate doesn't mean that you should now go out and spend this saving on something else.

The repo rate is also known as the repurchase rate. This is the rate at which the Reserve Bank lends money to other banks.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Buying a house: The outside of the house – Part 2

The Woodwork and light fixtures
  • Check door frames. If it’s metal, check for rusting and if it’s wooden, check for rotting. Also check for gaps between the frame and the wall and also the condition of the wall, e.g. cracks.
  • Inspect the window frames on the outside of the house. If has not been looked after, it might just need to be treated. If the frames are badly damaged, it would probably need to be replaced.
  • Check to see how many light fixtures are outside. You many need to add extra fittings. Ensure that the light fixtures that are there are in working condition.
The Garage
  • If the house has a garage, ensure that you can go in and look. If it’s locked, make sure that the estate agent opens it.
  • If the garage is attached to the house and has an inter-leading door into the house, check it thoroughly. The wall between the garage and the house has to adhere to strict building codes.
  • Check the condition of the garage door. Is the door remote controlled and does it work? Is the house alarm connected to the garage?
The garden
  • Large trees close to a house always makes me a bit nervous. Speak to a professional about the type of tree the house has and what potential damage it could do. Some large trees could damage pipes and the foundation of houses. Ever seen a large tree growing on a pavement and it has destroyed that part of the pavement completely?
  • If there is a garden, it will need to be maintained. It might not be the type of garden you like, so think about what enhancements you could do to the garden.
  • If the house has a pool, check that it is in working condition. If has dirty water in it, the pump might not be working. There could be cracks in the pool that would need repairing.
  • Check the landscape of the garden. If it’s been uncared for, you would need to do quite a bit of work to get it all pretty again. Also, check the condition of the paving.
  • What type of outside security does this house offer? Is the front enclosed? Does it have railings or a wooden fence?
  • Check the condition of the wooden fence for rotting and weathering. It may just need to be treated or it might need to be replaced.
  • If it’s a metal fence, then it should be galvanized to prevent rusting.
  • Are the walls high enough (including those between your neighbours)? If there is an open field at the back of your house, you would need to take some additional measures to prevent unauthorized access onto your property.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Buying a house: The outside of the house – Part 1

When buying a house, one should not only look at the inside of the house but also the outside. Take a walk around the outside and look around and inspect. When you apply for a loan, your bank will sent out their own assessor/building inspector, but it’s always good to do you own inspections.
The Roof
  1. Check the roof. Stand back and see if everything looks fine. Do you see any loose or missing tiles. Is the roof dirty (moss growing) and would it need to be cleaned?
  2. If the roof line is uneven or sagging, it could be a number of things like: rotting of the beams/frame, the roof is settling (if newly built), termite activity, etc.
  3. If the roof is not tiled but has metal sheeting, check for rust.
  4. Check the guttering and down pipes for cracks. If it’s metal, check for rust. If it’s plastic, check if it’s broken and if it needs to be replaced. The older type of homes usually have asbestos guttering which might need some screws replaced to prevent leaking.
  5. Some people don’t clean their gutters and their might have a little “garden” growing which just needs cleaning out.
  6. If the house hasn’t been well cared for, a pit of paint would nicely spruce up the outside of the house.
  7. Check the fascia boards as the ends do tend to get damaged from the weather if not cared for properly. Usually minor damage can be repaired but if it’s in a bad condition (rotten), then it would need to be replaced.
The Paint
If a house has been newly painted and is up for sale, I get suspicious and wonder what the owners are trying to hide. There might of course be nothing wrong at all as most people do tend to make their homes a bit nice looking, hoping to get a better price for the house.

The Wall and Brickwork
Check the walls for cracks. Many homes have minor (hairline) cracks to some extent. If there are big cracks, or even little gaps between walls it is advisable to get a professional opinion.

Some people prefer face-brick houses as it’s considered to be less maintenance than having to paint the house every few years (depending on the quality of paint). Face-brick walls has it’s own form of maintenance as it needs to be oiled every few years or so. If the brickwork was not properly cared for, then it could show signs of erosion and would crumble away due to moisture and salt or chemical attacks. If you see any of these signs, get a professional opinion.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buying a house: The inside of the house – Part 2

Here are some more things to look for when inspecting a house you like:
  1. Check for major cracks in the walls - a freshly painted house might be hiding this (and other faults) so be cautious .
  2. Do doors get stuck when opening and closing them. Are the doors damaged? You will be surprised to find that in some homes people actually kick in their doors.
  3. Check for leaky roofs – look for watermarks on the ceiling and/or walls.
  4. Open windows to see if they get stuck or if window panes are broken. Check the woodwork. Press your finger into the wood. If it is soft, the woodwork was not looked after and it is probably rotten.
  5. Check plug points in the house – are there enough – will you need to replace any?
  6. Check light switches – you may have to replace some of them
  7. Do you like the colour paint on the walls? If not, you will have to repaint it. It is always good to budget for this before going house hunting.
  8. Check the condition of the carpet in rooms. Find out how old is the carpet. If there are marks on them, can it be cleaned or does the carpet need to be replaced?
  9. Check the light fittings in all the rooms.
  10. Does the house have an alarm system? If yes, ask how long ago was it installed. Is it connected to an alarm company?
  11. If the house has a wooden floor (usually old houses), jump on it to feel how solid the floor is. Sounds of squeaking is usually not good. If the wooden floor is covered with a carpet, it could be hiding some problems. Ask questions about the floor and inspect it.
  12. Are the rooms in the house (bedrooms and other rooms) big enough for your furniture? Ensure that the house has the minimum bedrooms that you require.
  13. Is the house structurally sound?
  14. Take a torch with you to check behind furniture, fridges and dark corners in the house.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Buying a house: The inside of the house – Part 1

When going house hunting, it is a very good idea to take a notepad and pen to jot down little notes about the houses you like. You could even take a picture of the house This is part of your research. Old houses as well as new houses can have problems. At first glance, you may not see anything wrong with a house but on closer inspection you might find a few problems.

Some things to look for when inspecting a house you like:
  1. Turn on the taps in the kitchen and bathroom and even the shower to check the water pressure.
  2. If possible, check the water cylinder or ask the person showing the house some questions. If it’s old or too small , you will probably have to replace it.
  3. Check for damp. If the paint on the walls is peeling or has bubbles, a mouldy smell or watermarks; these could be signs of damp problems. Pull back curtains to see if there are any tell-tale signs.
  4. Check the bathroom thoroughly for mould. If there is any on the ceiling, painting over it will not solve the problem. The ceiling will need to be replace.
  5. Check the shower door – the glass may have to be replace if it’s broken.
  6. Check the toilet – ensure that it flushes properly. Check for leaks – i.e. water on the floor.
  7. If it’s a double storey house, there should be at least a toilet on each level.
  8. In the bathroom and kitchen, check for cracked and loose tiles. Will the grout need to be replaced?
  9. Check the bath and toilet for cracks.
  10. Check the cupboards in the bathroom and kitchen. Are any of the doors damaged? Would any have to be replaced?
  11. Check the sink in the kitchen. If it’s damaged, you will find tell-tale signs in the cupboard under the sink.
  12. Will your own appliances be able to fit into the kitchen, or would you need to install new cupboards or make minor renovations?
  13. If some of the appliances are being sold with the house, ensure that they are working and that there is no damage to them. If the appliances are old, you are probably going to replace them.
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