Monthly Archives: October 2020

EPC Requirements in Belfast, Northern Ireland

What are Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)?

Similar to how certain appliances like dishwashers and fridges have energy labels, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) reflect the energy efficiency rating of buildings. The energy performance of buildings is graded on a scale of A to G, where A is very efficient and G is very inefficient.

EPCs standardize the energy efficiency of buildings, enabling prospective buyers and tenants to compare buildings of the same type. Prospective buyers and tenants can learn about the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of a building and make their decisions on whether or not to buy or rent using this information. Not only is a building’s energy efficiency important for environmental reasons, but it is also important because it can be reflective of the fuel costs that will arise.

In addition to providing a rating system to compare the energy efficiency of buildings, EPCs also include a report with suggestions for improving the building’s energy efficiency. This report contains the recommendation of measures such as zero-carbon generating systems and also states which rating could be achieved if the recommended measures are implemented. The report is a useful thing to consider before buying a home in Belfast.

When are Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) required?

Energy Performance Certificates in Belfast (EPCs) are required for newly constructed buildings, as well as for existing buildings if they are going to be put on the market for sale or rent.

What does the Law say about EPCs and how long are EPCs are valid for?

For an EPC to be valid, it needs to come from an accredited energy assessor who has visited the property to conduct an assessment. Once this assessor completes a property’s EPC rating, a copy of the EPC will be kept on a national register available for a public query using the EPC Register provided by the Ministry of Housing and also by Communities & Local Government.

EPCs are valid for 10 years and can be used multiple times during that period.

What are the fines for not acquiring an EPC?

Since EPCs are required for newly constructed buildings or any buildings that are being put on the market for rent or sale, not having one can result in a penalty enforced in Northern Ireland by district councils. There are several penalties of varying severity depending on the nature of the offense and the property.

A full list of possible penalties and violations is detailed in the Energy Performance of Building Regulations (NI). Some examples of offenses and corresponding penalties include:

  • For failure to have an EPC or for failure to show, the individual may be required to pay up to £ 200 (dwellings) and £500-£ 5 000 (any other estate)
  • Not having an EPC, the amount will be £ 500
  • For failure to show a legitimate DEC at a certain time in a conspicuous position easily accessible to the public, the penalty will be £ 500.
  • For failure to provide a correct DEC advice paper, the fine is £ 1,000
  • For failure to have your AC system assessed or for forgetting to have a scan of the ACIR, the fine is £ 100.

The article is provided by epc-belfast.net  who are a provider of EPCs in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

What You Should Consider Before Buying a Home

Purchasing a home can be one of the most significant events in a person’s financial life. For most people, it can be their largest asset or their biggest obligation. Determining the right time to buy will make or break your investment. If you act responsibly, it could be one of the best periods in time to buy a home. Housing prices are at record lows and deals are in abundance. Taking the proper steps can ensure a return on your investment.

The housing market is definitely a buyer’s market. The truth is that most of the country is still recovering from housing decline that started in 2006. In some areas of the country, some homes are listed at prices lower than the average sedan. This won’t last because indicators are showing that the over all market is showing signs of recovery. Some cities are showing appreciation in median home prices and others are still down. Doing a little research about the city your planning to buy in can go a long way.

Interest rates have remained at an all time low. Prime rate has remained at 3.25% for over 8 years and conventional mortgage rates typically are not much higher. Depending on your loan program you could pay less than prime. Deciding on buying your rate will also be something to think about.

How much can you really afford? This is one of the most important questions. Some loans allow for a max of 50% Debt to income ratio. Note that all conventional loans currently have a 41% maximum ratio before the buyer is forced to pay private mortgage insurance. Keep in mind that guidelines change constantly, so make sure to ask your lender. Even with these underwriting guidelines there is still much to consider. You are likely to have other expenses that are not part of your debt ratios. Things like putting money away for retirement and a child that may be going off to college are important to consider.

Your loan program will be a major factor. 20% is a must for a conventional loan. It allow for an equity position from the start getting into a loan. This gives the owner the ability to maneuver if they have to refinance or sell. anything above the 80% the borrower will be forced to pay private mortgage insurance. The reason for PMI is that in case of default debt will fall in to lien positions. Any taxes owed first, 1st mortgage, 2nd mortgage. that 20% can easily fall into third position which creates the need for mortgage insurance. FHA and VA loans are government subsidized loans that come with their own requirements.

Can You Compromise? Tips for Couples on When to Rent Versus Buy

There will come a time in the lives of couples when moving in together or getting married is the next step in the relationship. The house or apartment search can be difficult if you are single or in a relationship, and knowing what you and your partner expect out of your new living arrangements is essential to being able to compromise on your next new living space.

There are compromises to be made when choosing whether it is best to rent a property or buy a home as a couple. You and your partner may have had a variety of living experiences between the two of you that may make choosing your future accommodations difficult to make a decision about.

There are pros and cons to renting versus owning a property, whether you are in a relationship or not. As a couple it is important to be realistic about your financial situation as well as your plans for the near future which could make the decision of whether to rent or buy much easier.

If you and your partner have the financial ability to put a down payment on a house and have decent credit in order to apply for a mortgage and other loans, you are in a financially stable position in order to buy a house. If you have consistent employment and are going to be staying in the same place for the next few years and have agreed that buying a house is also a good choice based on your lifestyle, then buying a house isn’t a bad idea.

Couples should remember that a home is an investment. Buying a home can be a good investment or a bad one, just like renting a home could be a valuable time and money saver in the short or long term. In many cities the real estate market is volatile, confusing, and unhealthy for buyers who wish to make a return on their investment in a few years when they sell their home.

Before choosing whether to rent or buy a property check to see the cost differential between the two options. If renting for a few years (factoring in utilities, parking, and other miscellaneous costs) is going to be cheaper than buying a home and taking on the extra costs of that (debt, Home Owners’ Association fees, etc.) then renting might be your best bet. Renting also allows you the flexibility to renegotiate a lease, take advantage of an inexpensive living situation, move easily if you need to, and gives you added time to decide if you want to buy a home in the near future.

Buying a home is not always the best financial option, but if you and your partner are financially stable and committed to living in a location for a few years or longer, then buying a home could be a good choice. Homes give your family room to grow, often have yards, and can offer more privacy than an apartment complex or duplex living situation.

Buying A Home in La Jolla Can Have Its Perks

Thinking of buying a home in La Jolla, California? The area is one one of the most beautiful coastal cities in the United States. Living here, near San Diego, has many positive perks. There are great restaurants, shopping, and a great active life.

  • Sammy’s Pizza – Sammy’s Pizza was the original Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza that opened in 1989. This was San Diego’s first restaurant that introduced the concept of woodfired pizza. Sammy’s Pizza is located on Pearl Street, a prime street, and only blocks away from the La Jolla Beach. Sammy’s has cabana covered settings outdoor, surrounding a large fire-pit. They also use local, organic, and nutritionally balanced ingredients when possible.
  • The Birch Aquarium – The Birch Aquarium, is a “public exploration center for the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography” at University of California San Diego (UCSD). This Scripps Aquarium provides education of ocean science through activities, creative exhibits, and programs. These creative approaches help children and adults use critical thinking and help show them how science is relevant to their daily lives.
  • Westfield UTC Mall – Westfield UTC Mall is an open-air shopping mall located the University City community of San Diego California. The UTC Mall has recently undergone extensive renovation in 2012 for more of a resort-inspired shopping. Now the UTC customers feel like they are on vacation while they shop. Shop and wander past chic boutiques under cabana-lined walkways. Relax and enjoy the nightlife at the new Palm Plaza – “a haven of palm trees and fire pits for cocktailing or catching a live performance”.
  • Torrey Pines Golf Course – Torrey Pines Golf Course is, a world-renown facility, situated atop of the coastal cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This golf course is “recognized as the premier municipal golf course owned and operated by a city”. It offers a widely distinguishable 18-hole championship golf course that yearly host the PGA TOUR’s Farmer Insurance Open event. “Torrey Pines also offers one of the largest on-course golf shops in the United States, expert instruction, tournaments, and advanced golf schools”.
  • CorePower Yoga – CorePower Yoga is located in the La Jolla Colony Shopping Center, off Regents Road in the UTC shopping district. “The studio is situated on a first floor suite within the University Town Center shopping district”. These yoga classes are done in their climate-controlled environments that efficiently heat and maintain the yoga class. These classes are set to energized music while helping those to become more strengthened, balanced and detoxified. While building a core powered body, you will also enlighten your body and mind.

La Jolla has so many things to offer that are both exciting and family-friendly. Enjoy an amazing wood fire pizza with your family and friends on a Friday night, at Sammy’s Pizza. On Saturday, spend the day at the beach, Birch Aquarium, or the Westfield UTC Mall.. And if you want a Sunday to yourself, go golfing at the Torrey Pines Golf Course or unwind at CorePower Yoga. La Jolla has so many activities, restaurants, beaches, and active life to making it the perfect family community.

Home Buying: Prepare To Be CREDIT – Worthy

Since the vast majority of homeowners, especially, of first – time ones, use a mortgage, as a major component, in having the necessary funds, needed to purchase a particular property, common sense should indicate, it’s essential to ensure your CREDIT is of a quality, which makes you credit – worthy, and capable of qualifying, for the necessary financing. Buying a house, is a complex, complicated, important process, which, for most people, represents, not only a place to live, but their single – biggest, financial asset. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly examine, consider, and review, using the mnemonic approach, why this matters, and some things to consider.

1. Cash on hand; creative; consider: Buying a house requires having a considerable amount of cash, on hand, even when you use a mortgage. This includes, monies needed for a down – payment, closing costs, necessary reserves, and generally, at least 6 months, monthly payment, is required by many lending institutions. Home buyers should have the creativity and vision, to consider whether a particular property is right for you, and whether the bones, of the house, make it a smart decision.

2. Reserves; reside; region; right for you: Do you have the necessary reserves needed, both as a requirement of the lender, as well as for repairs, renovations, etc? Will it be a place, you wish, to reside? Always consider, after looking at the pros and cons, whether a particular house, is right, for you!

3. Exist; excellence; energy: Will a particular property, enhance your focus on doing more than, merely, existing, and, rather, seeking whatever you consider, to be, the utmost excellence? The right house should energize your existence!

4. Delve deeply; discover; deduce: Begin the process, by delving deeply, into your financial picture. Acquire your free copy of your Credit Report, and check for any detrimental areas, etc, and fix them, prior to beginning your search. Discover as much, relevant information, as possible, and seek, to deduce, what might be needed, to make you more credit – worthy!

5. Image; imagination; incentives; insights: For most, their personal self – image, directs them to a particular house. You need the imagination, to balance what is, with the possibilities, and potential. Examine which lending institutions, might be offering incentives, and whether, you qualify, or what you must do! It’s your personal insights, which make the biggest difference!

6. Timely: Is this the right time, to buy a house? Are you prepared, emotionally, and financially? Are mortgage interest rates, favorable, and are all your personal finances, prepared, and set – up, for the better? Once you discover the home, for you, will you be ready, willing and able, to take, well – considered, timely action?

Consider you CREDIT, and do all you can, to enhance your credit rating. If you want to purchase a house, it’s important, to begin, prepared and ready.

The Right Mortgage Option for Buying a Home

Things that can affect which type of mortgage option is right depends greatly on the home buyer. There are different types of low down payment and no down payment mortgages. Some homes loans are best suited for specific types of homes. Distressed homes, for instance are best matched with an FHA 203k renovation loan. This type of home loan has funds for repairs structured into it.

Of all the mortgage options available, fixed rate loans are the safest. Back in the days of subprime lending by predatory lenders, many borrowers fell prey to overwhelming debt. A fixed rate home loan is more secure for many home buyers; there’s no confusion about monthly payments and interest.

Compared to an ARM, it’s much easier to calculate a fixed rate mortgage too. The most familiar of these is the 30-year conventional. Home buyers usually make a 10% – 20% down payment with a fixed interest rate. FHA loan products have a 3.5% deposit.

Conventional loans have a lender insurance premium when less than 20% is deposited. This premium called PMI, or private mortgage insurance, protects lenders in case of borrower default. If the loan-to-value reaches 80%, PMI can be dismissed. Buying at lower rates enables buyers to make extra principal payments. This means PMI can be dismissed sooner rather than later.

For some home-buyers a 15-year or bi-weekly fixed rate loan is more attractive. These debts are paid off much faster than 30-year conventional mortgages.

An ARM, or adjustable rate mortgage, can be a useful product for some home buyers. This type of loan is best for buyers when interest rates are low. What borrowers must consider is the length of time they intend to stay in the home. Borrowers benefit if they are going to stay only a few years, sell the property and move before rates rise. If a borrower can pay the mortgage off before rates rise, that’s even better.

ARM’s also have fixed rates, but harder to understand. There is a specific rate which, as interest rates rise and fall, remains the same. As rates go up and down, a percent is added or subtracted but subject to caps. These caps dictate the maximum and lowest rates you can expect. Make sure you understand the loan terms on an ARM.

Buyers should spend time calculating mortgage options with different down payments and interest rates. This helps them to see how the expense of carrying a mortgage will impact their finances.

Foundation Failure! 5 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Home

There it is! Your dream home sits there before your very eyes. You found just about everything you ever wanted and it’s in a great location. The house passed inspection. You’ve worked, sacrificed, and saved to make a down payment. You’ve jumped through the hoops and moved Heaven and Earth to make it a reality. What else could you possibly need to do before signing on the dotted line and walking into your dream?

Well, as it turns out, there are 5 more things to consider… and they all have something to do with your future dream home’s foundation.

1) Not all home inspections are equal.

Though most professional inspectors are extremely good at what they do, they can and often do miss signs of future foundation failure. A professional inspector’s field is so broad that it can be difficult or almost impossible to be proficient at every single area. Often, what passes inspection as “settling cracks” is really a neon sign announcing upcoming Foundation Failure.

2) It’s All About Location, Location, Location

Where you buy is just as important as what you buy. Houses sitting on flood plains are a disaster just waiting to happen. Even houses on the highest parcels of a flood plain are susceptible to the devastating results of flooding. A home owner may breathe a well deserved sigh of relief when his or her home is spared from water in the house and not realize the impact flooding has had on the soil on which the house sits. Soils react to standing water in a negative way through either expanding and contracting or erosion. Either can lead to Foundation Failure.

3) The type of soil beneath the house dictates the future.

Different soil types do different things. Clays tend to expand and contract with moisture or the lack thereof. Sand mixes often erode with sever rain conditions. Loamy mixes, both sand and clay, can be vulnerable to the proportions of the soil mixtures. A soil analysis can almost predict the future of a home’s foundation.

4) Outdated plumbing is a recipe for disaster.

In older homes, cast iron plumbing was installed in the initial construction. As time passes, cast iron becomes porous and eventually starts to leak. The ground surrounding the leak softens and gives way to the incredible amount of weight of the house above it. This creates unnatural stress on a concrete slab foundation and leads to foundation failure. It is important to note that not all plumbing leaks manifest symptoms! Home owners will often state emphatically that there’s been no change in water pressure in any of the home’s fixtures, therefore there cannot be a “plumbing leak”. The reality is that a plumbing leak can actually be a sewer drain leak. Sewer drain leaks do not create decreased water pressure because they use gravity to carry away waste and waste water. Once water hits the sewer drain, it has served its purpose and is leaving. The functional capabilities of faucets and toilets are unaffected by sewer leaks, hence, no lowered water pressure.

5) Everything is subject to change without prior notice.

Though not often, a house can pass inspection and then have issues almost immediately after purchase. Timing is tricky because things don’t come with an expiration date on them. Couple that with an overloaded professional inspector and you could have a potential time bomb on your hands. It almost makes a potential home buyer want to just stay put and forgo that dream house… almost. There is still hope for that dream house.

A Foundation Repair Specialist is worth every penny he charges if he saves a potential home buyer his or her life savings. Unlike a general house inspector, a Foundation Specialist knows all the signs and can see where they’re going. Additionally, he knows all the right questions to ask the current home owner and can build the home’s back story. This enables him to tell you if there’s a happy ending or not.

Before you make a decision on purchasing a home, consult a local Foundation Professional. His or her expertise will come with a reasonable price which will insure that your interests are served and not the interest of someone trying to unload a “money pit”. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.