Category Archives: Investments

Collaborative Study Environments Encourage Better Problem Solving

student taking a testA collaborative study in classroom settings allows students to come together and solve problems amongst themselves. This encourages better problem-solving skills and decision-making. It also helps children become more sociable and learn to work with others, skills that are valuable later on in life.

To encourage collaborative learning, more schools are increasing opportunities for students to discuss school work amongst themselves. Even school desks are evolving, with modular, flexible options becoming increasingly popular. Modern school desks can be pushed together with ease so that students can face each other whilst working in groups.

Student-led Learning

A study released by Richard Anderson of the Illinois College of Education in the U.S., studied 760 fifth grade students to determine the efficacy of collaborative learning.

Students were split into groups and allowed to learn together instead of the standard teacher-led instruction common in most classrooms. They were given a literary project to work on, where they were presented with several moral dilemmas relating to the characters in a story.

After completing the project, the study concluded that the children who worked together tended to make more thoughtful, reasoned decisions compared to those who worked alone. This is because a group environment allows them to consider a range of ideas to support varying view points – the students who worked in groups would often weigh the costs and benefits of each point before making a decision.

Improved Micro-creativity

Collaborative education also allows for the introduction of argumentation – groups that discuss and debate a problem first also tend to have higher levels of micro-creativity. Micro-creativity refers to a person’s ability to come up with new ideas. According to a study conducted by the State University of New York, polite disagreements between students increased micro –creativity by as much as 11 per cent.

There is no doubt that collaborative learning is a highly beneficial teaching method, especially for problem-solving and decision-making.

2018 is Promising for Singapore’s Property Market

Singapore city skyline at night

Singapore city skyline at night In Singapore, home ownership is a valuable symbol of independence and financial stability. The local property market in the country for 2018 is now a promising venture especially for those who intend to fulfil their dreams of private home-ownership.

The trend for home prices in recent years has been a steady decline, making more homes affordable for many people. Many experts explain that this decline has been largely due to the government’s efforts to regulate property prices.

However, there are other options for those who want to invest in Singapore’s promising real estate market. One of these is leasing property or land for commercial or residential purposes, which can be a good way to generate revenue.

This is where land and property lease in Singapore comes into play. Property investors now have the choice to lease their property for residential or commercial purposes. In such instances, the government needs to work with property developers to determine the amount payable to the government.

The land lease agreement

Singapore property buyers are familiar with the land leasing agreement for many years. First, the initial amount is considerably more affordable than a freehold purchase.  Depending on your needs and preferences, you may find that a land lease is an ideal agreement if you intend to purchase a more suitable property later.

Why you should consider leasing

Since 2015, the rental for many properties have gone down in value as the number of vacant properties has increased year on year. Many property buyers could take advantage of the lower home property prices; though residential leasing remains doubtful, commercial leasing remains a promising venture for many investors.

Experts predict that the market will double in the next decade, and so the best time to invest in property in Singapore whether leasing land or buying properties is now.  Besides, for those who want to experience home-ownership would find the values more accommodating now than a few years from now.

Northeast Tennessee Home Sales Reach $1B So Far in 2017

For sale sign in front of a house

For sale sign in front of a houseHomebuyers in Northeast Tennessee may have an easier time to look for properties, as the region’s housing market is tipped to set another record year for sales, according to the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors’ (NETAR) report.

Home prices in Northeast Tennessee during November fell by $3,689 to $169,452 year over year, while sales for the month increased 7.6% to 496 properties.

Record Year

NETAR’s report partly based its findings on property sales in five counties in Northeast Tennessee. For the first 11 months of 2017, there were 5,777 transactions exchanged possession. This may allow the market to sustain its record from last year, when sales amounted to its $1 billion.

Washington County registered the highest increase in average home prices, which rose by $16,960 to $228,693. In Johnson County, the average home price increased the most by more than $42,900, although prices remained the cheapest among the five counties at $128,244. If you want to buy elsewhere in Tennessee, the market in Nashville may be a good choice coming into 2018.

Nashville Market expects home prices in Nashville to decline next year, as more homes are sold in the city. Prices have been trending upward due to a limited supply of homes. However, the forecast only considers higher sales for listed home prices worth more than $350,000.

Entry-level property prices may take a long time before noticing any slowdown in growth, as first-time buyers make the most of low-interest rates from lenders like a mortgage company. Mortgage Investors Group noted that Hendersonville homes could be another option if you find Nashville to be a pricey market.

Whether it’s your first time to buy a house in Tennessee or not, it may be better to secure financing to close out a purchase faster than rival bidders. Where do you plan to acquire a residential property in 2018?


Rental Properties That Will Make Money for You

A house being put up for saleDo you own a number of properties or looking to buy a new one? Make them profitable by leasing or renting them out. A bit of remodeling, some marketing, and you’re ready to earn. The types of properties that could make money for you are:

Waterfront homes

The beaches and lakes are favorite spots for revitalizing and relieving stress from everyday tasks. You can look at listing sites such as Rockport Properties, Inc. to purchase any of the waterfront homes for sale in Rockport, and then advertise them for lease or for rent. From the money you make from the rent, you can save money for remodeling or buy another property for profit.

High-end wood cabins

Different people have different tastes and different hobbies. Some enjoy the outdoors while others enjoy just being at home. Those who enjoy the outdoors also like to be able to feel the comfort of home. This is where your property comes in.

If you own cabins in the mountains, you can have them rented for specific seasons. Say, hunting season or summer is usually the time that families go out and have fun. Some just want to get some fresh air. If you are not going up to the mountains, you can have your cabin rented out to these types of people and earn in the process.

Condominium units in the business district

Condominium units can be used for a variety of purposes, especially if it’s located in the business district. Should you want to have it rented, people may want it for a place to say during meetings and conferences. It can also be a place to stay where friends can get together or stay a night or two away from their own homes.

If the property offers a couple of perks like massages and overnight pool parties, this is also an opportunity for your unit to profit.

Properties are versatile. You do not have to live on it once you purchase it. You can avail memberships or services from property managers, and they can do the job for you. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your properties.

3 Tricks You Should Use to Sell Your House Quickly

House for SaleTo make a speedy sale, there are things you could do to achieve just that. You could clean it out, set the right price, and use a good broker to sell the house for you. Know a number of tricks experts use to make a speedy sale even when it's the off-season.

Set the price right from the word go

When selling a house, nobody wishes to sell it at a loss. They want to make more money and think that they should set a high price in case they get lucky and if they do not, they will gradually reduce the price. This is a grave mistake for those looking to sell their house in St Louis fast. The first month when the house is on the market is the most critical and it will attract a lot of attention. Make the most of it and price it right from the start.

Make the house easy to show

The more flexible you are about house visits, the more potential buyers will be able to assess the house. Make it easy for potential buyers to make visits at any time with little or no notice, whether it is early in the morning or even on weekends.

Fix the house to improve curb appeal

Before anyone buys a home, they will first visit the house and then they can make a decision whether they want to buy it. This is why first expressions matter. When you are getting ready to sell your home take some time and enhance the curb appeal. Small improvements go a long way. You can change the mailbox or plant some lovely flowers.

Remember to declutter the house and depersonalize so that the potential buyer can picture themselves in the house. Use this easy tricks and see your house bought within a few short days.

Home Improvement Projects to Do Before the Year Is Out

A House Being RepaintedWhen looking to do improvement projects around the home, you may be overwhelmed the list of potentials. If you are looking to sell the home at some point in the future, choosing which project to start with can be more challenging. Here are few ideas to help you out.

Fix the gutters

One thing that often gets overlooked when homeowners are looking to improve the value and appearance of their homes is the gutters. But waiting to clean or repair your gutters until debris tearing from your roof can cause havoc in your home’s drainage system. Get a gutter repair expert in Southern Maryland to help fix things before it’s too late.

Remodel the kitchen

The kitchen, without a doubt, is the heart of the home. A great kitchen can make spending time there a great experience. It is also the first rooms interested buyers will look at when viewing your home. And you need not completely overhaul your current one. Installing new countertops, light fixtures and a few new appliances can make an incredible difference. 

Update your swimming pool

Who doesn’t dream of spending lazy weekend afternoons around their private pool? A pool, sure, is a glamorous perk, one that will amazingly improve your home’s comfort and value. But you need to keep it in top shape by maintaining it in top shape and throwing in a few additions every once in a while.

Consider finished basements

Finished basements can take your home’s curb appeal to the next level, not to mention make your home more appealing to buyers when the time to sell comes. An experienced contractor should help you do the project in a weekend, besides suggesting which material and style best complement your home.

The list of the projects you can do to improve your home’s visual appeal and value can be long. Start by picking a few projects that you can comfortably do this year, and begin them right away.

UK Construction Sector Suffers Lowest Output since August 2016

Construction Workers at SunsetThe pace of commercial construction in the UK fell to its lowest rate in August since the same period in 2016, according to the Markit's purchasing managers' index.

The index showed that the sector’s reading fell to 51.1 from 51.9 in July. Some economists believe that Brexit played a major role in the decline, which indicated that the referendum vote continues to manifest its negative impact more than a year after it took place.

Index Reading

An index reading below 50 signifies growth in activity, yet the latest reading came as a surprise instead of good news. Analysts had expected the index to reach a reading of 52. Tim Moore, associate director at IHS Markit, said that civil engineering work manifested sluggish growth.

On the other hand, housing activity served as the only bright spot in the sector due to strong demand for new homes. The residential sector somehow keeps the industry afloat, yet jobs in other construction sectors have become fewer as companies received fewer new orders for the second month in a row.

Building Maintenance

Even as construction work hit a snag, it does not necessarily rule out the need for continued building maintenance in the UK. Companies will still need to conduct routine checks and get the services of building maintenance and repair specialists like the M&E Maintenance Solutions Ltd to prevent any untoward incidents, including the widely publicised accident at the Grenfell Tower in West London.

While continued maintenance work remains ideal, most companies are expected to let go of office projects and consequently affect demand for commercial space, according to Samuel Tombs, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief UK economist. This contingency measure would occur if negotiations for Brexit will remain slow.

Construction activity serves as a major economic indicator in the UK, which is why the government should hasten negotiations on Brexit to clear uncertainty and encourage builders to get back to work. 


4 Things to Do Before Moving to a New House

Couple's new houseIf you have ever moved to a new house, then you know how stressful the process can be. Now that you are about to do it again, you want everything to run smoothly. With these simple tips, you can look forward to moving without any hassle.

Get professional help

There is a host of professional movers out there who can do all the heavy lifting for you. Look for a reputable truck for hire service company in your area. You may want to save some money by doing everything yourself, but unless you have the knowledge and experience, nothing beats professional service.

Start packing early

How much time do you need to pack your things? Well, that is not enough. Packing usually takes more time than you expect. Start packing as soon as you confirm the moving date. Begin with the things you do not use regularly and the rooms you rarely visit. Your spare rooms, garage and attic are excellent places to start.

Discard unnecessary things

There is no better time to de-clutter than when moving house. This is your perfect excuse to get rid of that extra furniture you rarely use. Get rid of those old books and magazines you read two years ago.

Get familiar with your new neighbourhood

You do not want to be a total stranger in your new neighbourhood. Visit the place a few times before the moving day and get to know your future neighbours and community. The local pub, retail stores and cafes are good places to start with. Who knows, you may even make some good friends in the process.

Moving to a new house does not have to be as difficult as you imagine. If you plan carefully and start early, you can make the process easy, quick and fun.

Getting the Best Mortgage Rates

Couple in a Meeting

Purchasing a home is one of the most important investments you will ever make, but it is also the most expensive. The mortgage you need will be a substantial amount for you to finance it. The mortgage rate you pay can either save or cost you a lot of money over the lifespan of your loan.

Diligently looking for the lowest mortgage rates you can qualify for just might be the best financial strategy you can make.

Here are steps to make sure that you get the lowest mortgage rates here in Utah.

Improve Credit Score

Lenders will determine your qualification for a loan and charge you the rate based on credit score. People with higher credit scores get lower interest rates by lenders. They require a score of at least 620, but the higher your credit score is, the lower the interest rates lenders will offer you.

A borrower with a 740 credit score and above gets to be in the best position to get the loan and lower rates.

Research and Compare Rates

Contact several lenders via phone, email, or in person. Do your research and compare rates between lenders before committing to one of them. If you do not have the time to do so, you can always hire a mortgage broker to find a lender on your behalf.

How Long Will You Keep the Loan?

The shorter the loan terms, the lower the interest rates will be. Choosing the home loan that has a fixed rate may seem like a sound decision because of the safety it provides, however, if you will only keep the property for a while or a few years, choosing a 5/1 hybrid mortgage can save you a few dollars each month.

In fact, 30-year fixed mortgage rates are about one-eighth percent higher than 20-year fixed mortgage interest rates. Shorter loan terms can save you thousands of dollars in interest payments.

Choosing the best mortgage rates, you can qualify for can potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long run. However, you do need to take a step back and check if you can still afford all your choices and decisions.

Refinancing Into a VA Loan: What Are Your Options?

Refinance Your Mortgage on Card

Refinance Your Mortgage on CardVA or Veteran Affairs loans are lifesavers for many homeowners who’re looking for extremely low home loan rates but are not eligible for refinancing with conventional mortgages. However, take note that you could only qualify for refinancing under the VA loan program if you’re a veteran, active duty military personnel, a National Guard member, or a reservist.

So What Are Your Refinance Options?

If you already have a VA mortgage, you could lower your payments every month or shorten your loan terms via the Veteran Affairs’ streamline refinance program called the IRRRL or Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan. Among the chief advantages of the IRRRL program is that it requires minimum paperwork. The Veterans Affairs don’t require an appraisal of your home or credit check. However, some lenders offering the IRRRL would still need these, as part of their underwriting requirements.

If you are a borrower trying to refinance your existing VA mortgage via the streamlined IRRRL program, you will be paying for a reduced funding fee than the fee you would be paying under other options offered by the VA. This fee is pegged at around .5% of your mortgage’s overall amount, and you could add this to your outstanding loan balance. Do take note however that you cannot use this refinance to repay a second mortgage. If you have a second mortgage, you’d need approval from your second lender to get your mortgage subordinated.

The VA also offers another refinance program, the cash-out option, for veterans who have an existing conventional mortgage or VA home loan, considering that they have enough equity in their homes. As per the VA guidelines, if you have sufficient equity in your home, you might be able to obtain a cash back when you refinance. Some lenders even enable borrowers to refinance as much as 100% of the value of their home to repay their old home loans.

The Main Takeaways

If you’re qualified for the VA loan program and need to refinance your existing conventional or VA mortgage, you have two options: the IRRRL and the cash-out refinance. While the VA have very lax rules regarding their requirements for refinancing, some lenders might have their approval and underwriting requirements. That being said, consult an experienced VA loan lender if you’re interested in these VA refinance programs.