5 home updates to do NOW to ensure you’re ready for winter

Winter is just around the corner. Find out what you can do to update your home for the cooler times ahead.

Some aspects of your home don’t have to stay the same all year round. In fact, a few small changes can go a long way towards making your home more energy efficient, less expensive to run and more comfortable during the winter months.

Here are a few tips to help dress your home for the cold.

Choose blockout curtains
Preparing your home for winter is all about insulation. It’s officially time to layer up!

Your window coverings do more than control light filtration. Up to 40 percent of your home’s heat can be lost through the windows. Therefore, when it gets colder outside, it’s a smart idea to invest in blockout curtains for added warmth.

Blockout curtains help with energy efficiency and reducing draughts.

A good option is Spotlight’s range of blockout curtains which not only help block out light, but they also provide insulation to keep the warmth in and the cold out.

Spotlight also has options for thermal insulated curtains, which come with an acrylic backing layer for added thermal protection. With a range of colours and sizes, you can also find the best fit for each space.

Change your bedding
Most of us are well aware that we can add blankets for warmth, but have you thought about the role of your bedding?

Linen bedding can still be an asset in winter.

First of all, you may need to swap to a heavier duvet if you’ve been using a lightweight style for summer.

Next, consider warmer quilt covers and sheets. Flannelette is a popular option given its higher thread count. However, for something more breathable try a natural fabric such as linen. You just need to ensure you top it all off with something heavy and insulating on top, like a woollen blanket.

Block draughts
While blockout curtains can help reduce draughts around your windows, you should assess any gaps that create potential draughts and allow heat to escape and cool air to enter.

Draught protection may include re-caulking around windows and doors to seal any cracks. Even non-invasive, simple solutions like door snakes placed at your door to prevent air leakage can have an effect.

Moveable door seals are also an option for under-door gaps. However, nothing quite does the job like a door snake!

Add a rug
Rugs are also another layer of insulation, especially if you have hard flooring. While a looser weave or polyester fabric rug may do the job in summer, consider something heavier for winter. Think of it like a coat: you need quality materials to keep warm.

Put an underlay under your rug for extra insulation and comfort. Picture: Unsplash

However, if you don’t want to invest in a new rug entirely – or children or pets prevent you from opting for something pricey and harder to clean – consider adding an underlay to improve insulation and provide a cushier feeling.

Extra padding
While it might not revolutionise the temperature of your room, adding extra fabric items – like throws and cushions – can improve insulation and provide added warmth. Cool air can blow right through a room and even more so if it’s slicking off timber, tiles or across the surface of your leather couch.

Cushions and throws can make your place feel cosier in an instant. Picture: Spotlight

Draping a throw over your couch and layering a few plush cushions will not only keep you warm while nestling in to watch a movie at night, but will also create a warm look and feel to a room – which never hurts! Load up on wool, velvet and chunky knits to really capture that winter vibe.

Home buying checklist for 2021..

Buying a property is a big investment, so to make sure you’re on top of the fine print we’ve created this handy checklist of some of the legal things you’ll need to do in order to make the transaction painless.

If this is the year you want to buy a home, it’s time to sit down and familiarise yourself with the process and going through the necessary steps to ensure you’ve covered off all basis when it comes to the home buying checklist. Here are the steps you need to take.

Make a shortlist of properties you like
Finding a new place is an important move so you are going to want to take the time to do the appropriate amount of research and shortlist a few places that ticks your boxes.

To start, narrow down the neighbourhoods you like. Somethings you might want to include on your “must have” list include:

Transport in the area
Access to schools
The facilities and features of the suburb like parks, cafes, restaurants and so on
Suburb profile including the people that live there and crime rates
Engage a conveyancer
Once you’ve made your shortlist of places, you need to check over the finer details of the properties of interest and this is where you need to engage experts.

The conveyancing process usually will be what kick starts your legal journey to property ownership so it’s important to engage a solicitor or conveyancer who will be able to take care of the legalities for you.

But what’s the difference?

“Registered conveyancers are experts who specialise in conveyancing work … Some conveyancers are qualified solicitors but many are non-solicitors who have completed specialist tertiary education in conveyancing. In fact, many law firms employ registered conveyancers to undertake their conveyancing work.”

The conveyancing process will be what kick starts your journey to property ownership.

While there are DIY conveyancing kits available, these are useful only for the most straightforward property transactions.

But even the most simple-looking transactions can become complicated by legislation and regulations, making DIY a riskier move on your big investment.

You’ll want your conveyancer to consider things like local or national planning controls, permitted uses, heritage overlays and body corporate constraints.

And like any transaction, if you have any concerns or additional knowledge regarding the property you’re buying, communicate them to your solicitor or conveyancer to ensure the best outcome.

Get to know the sales process
Conveyancing in Australia varies slightly from state to territory. And so does the sales process.

For instance, there’s no cooling-off period for auctions (which are popular in the big cities), but with private treaty sales it’s different. And it’s even possible to buy via ballot.

So make sure you know and understand the different sales processes before you start.

Check the title
Freestanding houses in Australia typically have a freehold Torrens Title. But other types of title exist for different property types and come with their own legalities.

Strata Title was introduced to Australia in 1961. It’s a system for handling the legal ownership of a portion of a building or structure including units, townhouses, villas, commercial offices, factories, warehouses, retail shops and more.

Before 1961 buyers used Company Title to effectively purchase shares in a building, and some older buildings remain under Company Title. Each system has its own pros and cons, as well as its own legalities.

Moving into your new apartment…

The day has finally arrived and you’re preparing to move into your brand-new apartment but there are still a few further things to think about before you settle in.  

Moving

Moving into your new apartment can be one of the most exciting moments of your life, especially if it is your first home. Most people take a few days to move in after they have settled but others cannot wait and dive straight in. However, moving into an apartment is not the same as a house and it may take a little more planning. 

Things to think about include: 

Access

Will you be carrying your whole life up the stairs or taking the elevator? You will need to inform your movers if they are going to be carrying things up themselves. Alternatively, if you’re using the elevator you may have to alert body corporate who may book an elevator for you and request protection be placed in the lift prior to the big move.

Your building manager

Having a building a manger and getting permission to move to a new house may be a new feeling but it is step one of realising you now live in a complex and need to be respectful of your neighbours. Chat to your building manager to discuss any issues that may arise. They likely have also seen many other people move in and may have a few tips.

Removalist insurance

Apartment complexes can be tricky environments to move around in with big furniture, and bumps and accidents are almost certainly likely to occur. This should be a consideration when choosing a removalist and it is worth checking what their policy is on damage and whether their insurance is up to date. This will give you peace and mean you’re covered in the case of something going wrong.

Height restrictions and parking

When it comes to moving vans, a little pre-planning will make the day run smoother. Most apartment blocks don’t have a driveway you can park in and most car parks will have height restrictions, so it could be worth taking note of these before you choose what type of moving van to go with.

Time of day

Out of hours moving will not go down well with your neighbours. It is also normal that newer and larger complexes have rules about time of days you can do the heavy lifting. If you’re moving outside 9am and 5pm you also will likely encounter lots of people heading to work or coming home, so maybe take the day off and get it done during the quiet period.

Reserve Bank pours cold water on inflation and rate hike fears…

Wages will have to grow at an annual pace not experienced for eight years before the Reserve Bank considers another interest rate hike.

The central bank said as much in the minutes of an April board meeting released on Tuesday.

While noting the economy was recovering faster than anticipated from last year’s recession, the RBA said wages growth and inflation was expected to remain subdued for several years – which means an interest rate hike is off the table for the foreseeable future.

The Reserve Bank said too many people are looking for jobs or more hours for the economy to generate enough wages growth to achieve its inflation target of 2 to 3 per cent per year.

“It would take some time to reduce this spare capacity and for the labour market to be tight enough to generate wage increases consistent with achieving the inflation target,” the board minutes read, in stark contrast to fears among financial markets of a potential inflation outbreak.

“It was likely that wages growth would need to be sustainably above 3 per cent, which was well above its current level.”

The last time Australian workers enjoyed pay rises of this magnitude was in the March quarter of 2013.

Stagnant wages

Wages growth since then has dragged on consumer spending and acted as a handbrake on the economy – hitting a record low of 1.4 per cent during the pandemic last year.

And despite the rapidly improving outlook for jobs, the RBA does not expect the labour market to be strong enough to trigger decent pay rises “until 2024 at the earliest”.

But not everyone agrees.

Economists at Commonwealth Bank believe the recovery in the labour market will lead to a pickup in wages much sooner than the RBA anticipates, which would trigger a rate hike before 2024.

The bank’s optimism is based on the fact international border closures will restrict the supply of labour at a time when demand for labour is strong.

“We expect wages growth to lift to 2.7 per cent by end 2022,” CBA economist Belinda Allen wrote in a note.

“This could prompt the RBA to eventually change its forward guidance around the conditions not warranting a lift to the cash rate until ‘2024 at the earliest’.”

RBA to monitor housing market

Elsewhere, the RBA board acknowledged “housing prices had increased significantly in recent months”, and noted low interest rates and government incentives had contributed to the boom.

Commonwealth Bank expects national house prices to rise 10 per cent in 2021 while Westpac has tipped annual growth of 10 per cent in 2021 and 2022.

“Given the environment of rising housing prices and low interest rates, the bank would be monitoring trends in housing borrowing and the maintenance of lending standards carefully,” the RBA said.

But the central bank said there were currently no signs of a deterioration in lending standards.

“The share of loans with higher loan-to-valuation ratios had increased, but this was in part explained by the larger share of first-home buyers,” the minutes read.

“Members agreed that it would be important to watch carefully for increased risk taking by lenders and any deterioration in lending standards and larger shares of higher-risk loans.”