3 killer Reasons your rented property needs a Letting Agent

If interest rates are low and the stock market is unpredictable, purchasing a buy-to-let property is a shrewd investment opportunity – and although the market is not quite the goldmine it was during the boom years, it has gone through something of a revival recently.

Consequently, if you’re looking to hop on board the buy-to-let gravy train, or if you’re already in possession of a property, it’s vital to ensure the process of renting out a flat or house is managed efficiently.

Regardless if you’re offering flats to rent in Paisley or a bungalow in Birmingham, you can alleviate stress by involving a qualified and experienced letting agent to help you manage all aspects of the process.

Read our three killer reasons to find out why a letting agent is essential …

Letting Agent

Rapport with your tenant is unlikely to suffer

By employing a letting agent to manage your affairs and deal with the tenant on your behalf, the relationship between you and the occupant is shielded, with the agent used as something of a human buffer. Of course, this is beneficial to both parties, as it ensures any tenant grievances are dealt with swiftly and professionally, which offers you unrivalled peace of mind for an affordable monthly fee paid to the agency.

Time taken to fill a property decreases

If you need a tenant to fill your property, a letting agency can make that happen quickly and efficiently. Rather than placing an ad on Gumtree or in the window of the local post office, the agency can post details of your flat or house on their website, which allows the property to reach a wider audience. Quite simply, the advent of the internet has made property shopping an online experience, so it’s essential your buy-to-let receives the coverage it deserves.

Agents sort any issues your tenants may have

If you purchase a buy-to-let, it’s highly likely you will be involved in other time consuming projects, or still be employed full-time. Accordingly, a letting agent can deal with any problems that may arise with your property or your tenants before it evolves into a full-scale disaster. Owners who want the reassurance of knowing their property is in safe hands, then, should look to hire a letting agent to quickly nip problems in the bud and keep their tenants happy as a result.

10 Common Champagne Mistakes

At first glance, Champagne seems like a straightforward drink: You pop the cork, it fizzes, you pour it into a glass and enjoy it.

But for the inexperienced, there are several common mistakes which can make champagne a bitter drink, indeed! Here’s a list of mistakes to avoid if you want your champagne experience to be the very best.

Mistake #1: Spending Too Much Money

Champagne is a prestigious drink that has its roots in French nobility. Even today, it is associated with wealth and affluence. The price tag often reflects this fact, with vintage bottles selling for hundreds of dollars apiece.

Don’t let your champagne purchase become tainted by buyer’s remorse. Some wine merchants will try to sell you the most expensive brands, especially if they sense that you’re a new buyer with lots of money to spend. You can fight this upsell strategy by defining your budget beforehand, and sticking to it.

Remember: There are hundreds of champagne brands with quality offerings in every price range. A little research will point you toward the best brand for your special occasion.

Champagne

Mistake #2: Popping the Cork

Flying corks can be amusing, but real champagne connoisseurs know better than to waste their beverage by letting it erupt all over their guests. To open the bottle the right way, keep the champagne chilled at 45 degrees for a couple of hours. Avoid moving or disrupting the bottle during this time.

When it’s time to serve the drinks, gently remove the bottle and hold the neck with a towel. Drape the towel over the cork and carefully remove the wire cage. The cork might pop at this point, but the towel will prevent spills and mishaps.

If the cork did not pop, lay the bottle on its side and grip the cork through the towel. Use your other hand to turn the bottle until the cork comes free.

Mistake #3: Improper Storage

In order to taste its best, champagne must be stored in a cool, dark place where it is protected from sunlight and disturbance. The bottles should be stored horizontally so that the liquid inside stays in contact with the cork. (A dry cork allows air to enter the bottle, degrading the flavor of the champagne.)

The best place to store champagne is in a dedicated wine cellar, a dark cabinet in an out-of-the-way place, or the back of your closet. An ambient temperature of 45 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit, with about 70% humidity, is optimal. Never store champagne in a refrigerator for more than a few hours prior to serving, or you could get a nasty-tasting surprise!

Mistake #4: Gulping it Down

Fine wines should be savored with all the senses, giving the drinker an unforgettable experience rather than a quick taste. Never gulp down your champagne without first inhaling its aroma, feeling the bubbles on your lips, and swishing a bit around in your mouth before swallowing. If you’re pairing your champagne with cheese or fruit, take a nibble just before you sip to really bring out the flavor of both food and champagne.

Just like you wouldn’t want to wolf down a meal of lobster and filet mignon, you don’t want to chug your champagne. Besides missing out on a truly sensual experience, you could get an embarrassing case of gas from all of those bubbles! Drink it slowly to make the enjoyment last. Continue reading %s

6 Things the Executor Must Do To Handle a Will Properly

Dealing with issues on death and aging is never easy, nor should it be. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of decisions that have to be made in the last part of someone’s life, as well as right after their death. If you’ve been asked to handle any of these decisions, consider yourself very fortunate indeed. It’s a sign of trust that you would be appointed in charge of handling any of these points, especially the handling of someone’s after-death affairs. Executing a will is a tricky process that has to be handled very carefully. Failure to do it properly can cause problems for the estate, which in turn causes problems for the estate’s heirs.

What does an executor do? In short, they handle all of the legal obligations of the estate on behalf of the deceased. While outsiders can be appointed by a court or by the will, most of the time the executor is someone closely related to the deceased in some way. This is usually a spouse or a child, but it can be distant relatives as well. It can take several months or even several years to fully settle an estate, depending on how complicated it is.

The estate consists of all of the assets a person leaves behind, no matter the value. So some estates are extremely large, while others are quite small. Let’s go over each of the top tasks an executor must do.

will executor

1. Paying bills

Think you have a tough time paying the bills now? Wait until you become the executor of an estate. You have to track down all of the bills and debts the estate owes before you can distribute any funds. This means that if someone died with a large amount of assets but they have debts to resolve, you have to be willing to resolve those debts before you can just proceed to the distribution stage.

2. Following the wishes of the deceased per the will

Handling funeral arrangements and other after-death requests of the deceased will also be a strong priority. You may also have to navigate a family that isn’t really ready to face that a death has occurred. Be prepared to defend the wishes of the deceased as much as possible, because a death can really bring out some strong emotions.

3. Addressing taxes

Tax liabilities have to be addressed with an estate as quickly as possible. This primarily means calculating and paying inheritance taxes that are due on the estate. Not all estates have to worry about this. It’s possible to exempt the estate from some or all of the taxes required, provided that proper estate planning has taken place. Continue reading %s

4 Small Car Choices for 2015

Before we chose our 4 small choices of 2015, we had to think about everything people like you are looking for in a compact car. Do you want to find something that provides the best gas mileage? Do you have children, so safety and comfort will be your main focus? Are you okay spending $30,000 or do you need something less expensive? We tried to take all of these into account before we decided on these four choices.

BMW i3 Electrical Car

BMW i3 Electrical Car

The BMW i3 is considered, by far, the best small car choice on the market. Outside of the fuel efficiency, the BMW i3’s electric motor is equivalent to a 170 horsepower. So anyone driving the vehicle will still feel like they are going fast in this lavish little vehicle.

It takes about 4 hours on a 240v circuit to fully charge the vehicle, which can be done while you are sleeping. Most importantly, this SUV provides 139mpg, which beats its competitors by 28mpg. It is also very agile in regards to handling performance. The only downfall is the $42k cost.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE

Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE

If you need something a little less expensive, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE (say that 10 times fast!) is the smart choice. Coming in at $22,995, this vehicle is considered one the cheapest electric cars today. It takes a few hours longer (6 to 7 hours total) to charge than the BMW i3, but that shouldn’t be a huge deal if you are charging while you sleep.

However, this has to be done on a 240v charger, because it takes as long as 21 hours on an 110v. The energy equivalent to the miles per gallon comes out to 111mpg, which is still fantastic. Unfortunately its super slow (66hp) and the ride can be quite bumpy. We understand this is going to turn several people off to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV SE, but thanks to the lower cost, it was worth discussing. Continue reading %s

3 SUVs to consider in 2015

It’s amazing to think about minivans 10-15 years ago. They were the ideal choice for bigger families, because of the comfort and roominess. Over time, automobile manufacturers decided to get away from minivans and focus on sports utility vehicles (SUVs). Today, you can drive down any road and about 30 to 40 percent of the vehicles are SUVs. Well, it might be a little bit different in your area, but the numbers are staggering.

If you try to find a minivan they look old, rusty, and it’s almost hard to believe it was the perfect option in the 1980s and 1990s. However, today you can find more comfort, more technology, better handling, and sportier design an SUV. Since you’re here, we can only assume you have started looking for your next sports utility vehicle, and we have four choices that might get your attention.

The Nissan Juke

The Nissan Juke

Probably one of the coolest SUV designs on the market, the Nissan Juke looks more like an oversized car. It’s also one of the most inexpensive SUVs on the market; coming in at just over $21,000. This speedy little toy provides 188 horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder, and two different options for driving (front wheel and all-wheel).

The performance handling of the Nissan Juke allows you to take corners like a champ, and maneuver through traffic with ease. It also gets 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 26mpg in the city, which is great considering it’s not an electric vehicle. Add in the top-out speed of 124mph and you have yourself a great SUV starter.

Mazda CX-3

mazda cx-3 2015

A little less powerful than the Nissan Juke, the Mazda CX-3 still offers 146 horsepower and a top speed of 120mph. This new innovation offers everything from a suspension that is sports-tuned, to creative weight saving measures. While some of its competitors have moderate materials, the Mazda CX-3 is nothing short of high quality. Continue reading %s

Check Out These 4 Wearable Tech Gadgets You Probably Missed

Move over Apple Watch. Step aside, Android Wear: you two aren’t the only games in town. While most people are still buzzing over some kind of Android vs. Apple war, there are plenty of great startups and even established companies that are turning to wearable technologies. Smart watches and bands aren’t necessarily new, but they’re getting interesting updates that make us very excited for the future. After all, why shouldn’t you have an app that really monitors what you’re doing, how you’re taking care of yourself, and helps you make smart changes to your health? The future just looks better and better.

But since we’re trying to move away from the “big stuff”, who else is shaking up this space? Glad you asked. Below are four interesting examples of wearable tech that you might have missed.

1. Nixie

nixie

People that lead active lifestyles love to post about it on social media. But trying to take a good action shot can be difficult if you’re into extreme sports. Even if you’re just trying to perfect the ultimate skateboard trick, you don’t want to pause too long to take pictures.

So, imagine having a camera that lives on your wrist and then flies around to take a shot at the perfect time? Not only can you take still photos with Nixie, but you can get great videos that capture all of your adrenaline junkie moments. We really liked seeing Nixie in action, and imagined it would be something cool to check out very soon.

2. Blocks

Blocks

Ever wanted to take a smartwatch and fine tune it to meet your meets? Well, Blocks helps you fulfill that need. It’s still in the pre-launch phase, which means that it’s not quite ready yet. What makes Blocks so interesting is that it’s designed form the ground up to be modular. So if you want a personal assistant on your wrist, you can get that. If you want to focus more on travel, you can do that. Just about everything you can think of can be accomplished by mixing and matching different modules together. That type of custom experience can be difficult to have through other channels, which is why it’s cool to see it here. Continue reading %s

Top 4 Most Beautiful Churches in the World

Local churches provide a safe haven for their congregation, and some look beautiful, but none of them are in the top 4 most beautiful churches around the world. After months of research, we found four jaw-dropping churches you might have never seen:

#4 Saint Mark’s Basilica (Venice, Italy)

Saint Marks Basilica church

Constructed in 1650, Saint Mark’s Basilica church is considered the most famous in Venice, Italy. We believe it’s the fourth most beautiful church in in the world thanks to a combination of Byzantine, Gothic, and Italian Gothic architecture. When you visit this magnificent church, most of the “to-do” options are free, but there are still areas you have to pay to see. Our favorite is being able to see St. Mark’s tomb.

St. Mark, the patron saint of notaries, wrote the second Gospel. History only takes an educated guess and believes it is some time before 60 A.D. He was a part of the missionary journey to Cyprus along with St. Paul and St. Barnabas (his cousin). He even brought for St. Peter’s teachings to the Romans.

The next time you visit this top 4 most beautiful churches in the world, be sure to go straight to the top. The views of Venice are nothing short of enchanting.

#3 Westminster Abbey (London, England)

westminster abbey church

Creating a top 4 church list wouldn’t be the same if Westminster Abbey was missing. It is considered one of the biggest landmarks the entire country of England, and one of the most beautiful structures. Built in the 10th century, Westminster Abbey mainly utilized Gothic architecture when it was built. A renovation of the abbey took place around 1245, but lasted an astonishing 200+ years.

In 1539, King Henry VIII changed the status of the abbey to a cathedral. This was due in part to most of the abbeys in England were being destroyed. By turning it into a cathedral, Henry VIII was able to keep Westminster Abbey from crumbling. However, today it is neither a cathedral nor an abbey, but it’s still #3 on our top 4 most beautiful churches in the world.

#2 Hagia Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey)

Hagia Sophia church

This Greek Orthodox patriarchal church was built in 537 A.D., and served as a premier church in Turkey for over 900 years. By 1453, the Hagia Sophia was switched over to an Eastern Orthodox cathedral. However, due to wars in the first half of the 13th century, it was even a Roman Catholic Church.

Over the next 475+ years, Hagia Sophia was transformed into a mosque (Muslim place of worship), and continued this practice until 1935 when it became a museum. It is by far one of the most magnificent architectural structures in the world, especially when compared to other churches.

Even though it became a museum, the building is still in existence today. We were going to remove the Hagia Sophia from our top 4 most beautiful churches in the world list, but with such beauty and appeal; we couldn’t resist.

#1 Sagrada Familia (Barcelona, Spain)

sagrada-familia

The first time you see images or visit the Sagrada Familia, you will be taken-back by its surreal setting. Even though this beautiful church starting being built in 1882, it still isn’t complete today. However, architect Antoni Gaudi’s vision was far more advanced when compared to other church structures.

If the Sagrada Familia ever gets completed, this Roman Catholic Church will still look like its well ahead of its time. Standing 558 feet tall, seeing it in person will be quite overwhelming. Once you get inside, Gaudi’s vision was for us to see three vaults (nave, crossing, and apse) as soon as we entered.

Long story short, once you see this for yourself, it’s easy to understand why it’s our #1 choice of the top 4 most beautiful churches in the world.