Help to Buy: The Lowdown

bought a home

For home buyers on the south coast, one of the key steps they need to take is to find a firm of conveyancing solicitors in Portsmouth. While there are many cut-priced internet options available, for those taking the huge step of buying a home, maybe for the first time, having an experienced and steady hand to guide them through the process is of great benefit.

Conveyancing solicitors in Portsmouth aren’t just there to complete the paperwork in a machine-like way. They can be a human face on the legal contract and a much-needed source of information. Firms in the town, such as Andrew & Andrew, have a range of useful resources for home buyers.

One thing a firm of conveyancing solicitors in Portsmouth can provide information on is the government’s Help to Buy schemes. There are two aspects to Help to Buy: the ISA and the equity loan.

Help to Buy ISA

This is for first-time buyers only. If they deposit £1,600 or more in a Help to Buy ISA, when it comes time to complete the purchase of their home, the government will top up the amount in the ISA: £50 for every £200 saved. To qualify, the buyer must be over 16 and a UK resident.

The great thing about this for two people buying a home is that each of them can have their own ISA, as long as they are both first-time buyers. The minimum savings to qualify for the government top-up is £1,600, the maximum is £12,000.

This is for homes with a value of £250,000 or less, or £450,000 or less in London, bought with a mortgage, that will be lived in by those making the purchase. So, it’s not available for buy to let, but can be used towards a shared ownership property.

Help to Buy equity loan

This is for all home buyers who are looking at new build houses. The government can lend up to 20% of the cost of the home, meaning that buyers can get on the property ladder with a small deposit and still be an acceptable risk to a mortgage provider. The government doesn’t charge any fees for the first five years of the loan term.

Guide to Choosing the Right Insurance Marketing Organization


Being new to the insurance industry doesn’t mean you should undergo all the trials and rejections that many veteran insurance agents experienced when they were just starting out. Time is different now and it could be easier for you to become successful in the field, as long as you possess the important qualities.
All you need is to affiliate yourself with a trusted insurance marketing organization or IMO and you’ll go places. Think about it — even veteran insurance agents depend on IMOs for different reasons.


Some insurance agents are still curious about the difference between IMO, FMO, NMO, and perhaps, other MO terms out there. Don’t worry; as they serve the same purpose and a big part of it has something to do with providing the support you need.

Ordinarily, MOs are like the middlemen between the agent and the insurance company. The difference, however, can be felt with the support these groups can provide you. From continuing education on how to pitch sales and do marketing stuff to supporting you in completing the sales deals, you can have this valuable assistance with these organizations.

Value Added Elements

As a third party company that relies on sales from insurance agents, assistance in every possible step is the key to the success of the relationship. But aside from continuous training, what are the valuable things can IMOs offer you? What else could you get from working with them?

Basically, they should be your one-stop shop for whatever you need for your career. From helping you with leads to providing marketing materials, access to insurance software and system, they should serve as your most effective business partner.

Choosing the Right Marketing Organization

Employees working

It is true that there are many marketing organizations out there, even in just your state alone. So the question is which organization should you work with? It’s a difficult question at first but when you are able to completely identify your business agenda, it becomes easier to find the right insurance partner. Your goals must align with theirs and their strategies should be updated. The professional relationship with an insurance marketing organization that provides continuous training and exceptional assistance is for keeps.

Comparing the number of different assistance and types of support services is a top priority for most insurance agents who are looking for the right partner. But one strategic point many successful insurance agents share is that they choose an organization based on its strength, for which the agent is admittedly feeling weak, such as how to do a marketing pitch, among other things.

It is also important that you ask for pieces of advice and input from fellow insurance agents. From there, come up with your own conclusion, not just with what others think. Remember that a marketing organization should be able to meet your needs. Your success greatly depends on what they have to offer, so be careful when choosing one. Make sure you are working with the right partner to ensure a successful career.

Consistent and Unique Branding Strategies for Businesses

a business meeting

One of the most important aspects of any business, regardless of its size or nature, is an effective brand strategy. A company’s brand represents a promise to customers and tells them what they can expect from products and services and how the company is different from competitors.

Often, branding is derived from whom the company is, who they want to be, and how others perceive them. As it reflects the company, it is also based, to some extent, on what target customers want and need.

XXIIBrands, a branding agency in Fort Worth and Dallas, notes that branding and positioning are important for businesses to differentiate themselves from competition and achieve success.

Consistent Branding

A company has to ground their brand promise around reality and be able to consistently live up to it. Providing a consistent experience for customers builds trust and can serve as the foundation for customer loyalty. For instance, the language and tone used with the company’s social media voice should be similar to the product packaging language to avoid a disconnection.

The brand logo should be integrated into a company’s website and packaging and promotional materials. It should be included in the client-facing aspects of the business, like customer service and sales. However, a solid brand logo and website should not comprise a company’s entire branding strategy. Other departments in the company should also play a role in branding, as those from research development or finance.

This enables each team in a company keep brand values in mind and have a clear idea of what the company is about. In turn, having a consistent tone and language ensures that customers do not get confused with mixed signals.

Branding Strategy and Equity

Branding strategies do not work on a one-size fits all basis. While there are some commonalities between branding across various businesses, the strategies that are effective for some may not work for another. They will vary within and across every size of business, industry, and kind of goal.

The company’s distribution channels are part of their overall branding strategy. This refers to where a business intends to advertise to their target market. Similarly, everything that a company communicates both visually and verbally is part of this strategy.

thinking of new strategies

Consistent and strategic branding will lead to strong brand equity. This refers to the added value to products and services. Companies are able to charge more than identical and unbranded products can. Essentially, customers pay more for products with a stronger brand equity.

Small Businesses

With small businesses, it may take hitting rock bottom for the business to be reevaluated and to provide a new perspective on their branding strategy. These dramatic reevaluations can give the company direction and further differentiation from competitors.

Small businesses can also stop following branding models intended for larger businesses. They can take advantage of their small business to develop a more unique brand and selling point for themselves.

Companies with an effective brand strategy and that are able to deliver on their brand promise can encourage customer loyalty and find an edge in increasingly competitive markets.

Simple and Effective Ways of Caring for Your Office Furniture

an office

Engaging in business means that you have to interact with throngs of customers and clients dropping by your premises to inquire about your products and services. Since there will be plenty of people coming in for different reasons, your furniture will take the brunt of use and misuse, inflicting upon it a lot of wear and tear that will make it and your office less appealing to others. It is in your best interests to keep it in pristine condition, and here are ways you can do it:

Train Your Employees in DIY Fixes

DIY fixes are common since they’re the most practical options available if you factor in the savings and convenience that you get. Even if your staff can only perform minor repairs, the difference that it makes in keeping your furniture almost good as new cannot be overlooked. Hence, make it a point that each of your maintenance personnel is well aware of how to fix the most common issues such as scratches and tears. Woodwork should also get some attention as dents and loose screws will not only look unpleasant but also weaken the overall stability of a particular furniture piece.

Prevent Damage in the First Place

Why put all your effort into simply fixing damage when you can prevent it in the first place? You’d want to keep your leather furniture away from direct sunlight so as not to affect its color. Do not put your metal cabinets in humid or damp locations in the office to prevent rusting. Other precautionary measures include using saucers for your teacups, only going with mugs on wooden surfaces, and placing seat covers on your couches. Make sure that they’re cleaned on a regular basis, too, while you are at it.

a clean working space

Consult the Experts

There’s no better course of action to take than asking the professionals themselves if you’re unsure of what to do next. Sellers of furniture for offices in Las Vegas do their best to keep their customers fully informed about the pieces they sell and how to take care of them. Hence, make sure to pay attention and ask for clarification if you’re uncertain about some parts. However, if you require more extensive knowledge about them, then you can always direct your questions to the manufacturers themselves.

Fix Issues Immediately

Putting of cleaning and repairs will do more harm than good, especially on certain types of furniture. Liquid spills will cause unsightly warping in your upholstery and ripples in woodwork if not removed immediately, so wipe them down the moment someone accidentally spills drinks or other liquids on them. Have your employees report any defect that they see, hear, or feel as soon as possible, no matter how small they seem to be to prevent further complications.

Every part of your office is a reflection of your company’s image, and you don’t want that image to be awful. Be more stringent in doing these maintenance checks since each step helps to keep that image positive. Your goal is to make your place as enticing as possible to your potential customers, so your office has to look the part.

Four Tips for Investing in a Rental Property in Utah

If you live in (or are planning to move to) Utah and want to buy a rental property, you’re in luck. The Beehive State is home to some of the hottest real estate markets in the United States.

Utah has a burgeoning tech industry, which creates new jobs and attracts more renters. The state’s tourism is doing well too, increasing the need for transient accommodation arrangements. As the state economy grows, so will land values. Since inventory remains low, the demand for housing is still strong enough to justify relative high rent prices.

If you seek FHA multifamily financing services, you can buy a property with several rental units provided that you’ll also live in it. While the timing seems perfect, understand that failure is still a possibility. Being a landlord is no joke, and real estate is only a lucrative venture to investors who regularly do their homework.

To minimize the risks of owning a rental property in Utah, use these expert pieces of advice as your guide.

Think About All Costs

Only two words decide the fate of any business: cash flow. Regardless of how much rent you collect every month, you can’t turn a profit without controlling your costs. Pay attention to fixed expenses, such as mortgage, tax, insurance and maintenance, since you can’t avoid or skimp on them no matter what.

Moreover, make sure to set aside enough funds to cover unexpected costs, like emergency roof leakage or unscheduled furnace replacement. Calculate your projected costs to the last penny to determine how much income you may generate.

How do you know if your rental property is a viable investment? Follow the 1% rule, which states that a property must bring in monthly income equivalent to 1% of its price. You can only break this rule when you’re positive that the property is likely to appreciate fast and the rent isn’t going to drop soon.

Pick the Prime Spot

Be picky when choosing a neighborhood. Uncover anything you can about your prospective area to forecast its growth and anticipate the headaches it may bring you. Sometimes, you need an analytical mind to connect the dots and discover the negatives of a location no one likes to mention. For example, a rather high insurance premium may suggest that the area is prone to flooding and other natural disasters.

Choose a Property Objectively

property owner in his new rental property

Don’t buy the first property you fall in love with. Curb appeal is a major renter magnet, but don’t forget about structural integrity. Have your prospective multifamily piece of real estate professionally inspected to reveal its deep, dark secrets. This way, you’ll know whether the seller’s asking price is reasonable and what improvements still need to be done.

Learn About Property Management

Being a renter in the past doesn’t make you a qualified landlord. Be prepared to handle demanding responsibilities and make hard decisions for the better of your business and other tenants. One of the primary skills you need to master is identifying a high-quality renter. You would be surprised how much hassle one bad tenant could cause to everyone in the building.

Invest in yourself before investing in a rental property in Utah. Although no one is born ready to be a landlord, you can succeed in this endeavor if you dedicate yourself enough to it.

It Rocks: Building a Japanese Rock Garden

Japanese gardens are known for their harmonious and perfectly balanced aesthetics. The philosophy of minimalism, simplicity and cleanliness is clearly injected to every layout and design plan. Their characteristic trait is that they value the balance and interaction between human and nature. This is why many homes and offices usually use this type of design. But if you want to try something new that is still very Japanese, a rock garden may seem like a good choice.

A rock garden? Yes, it is a garden full of rocks. But it is not just a random space where rocks are randomly placed. It is a traditional garden look with many philosophical undertones, such as steadfastness and stability. What’s good about rock gardens is that they are easy to maintain, and they look calm and serene. If you are planning to create a rock garden, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind. Here are some of them:

Building the Sea

japanese garden

Japanese rock gardens are basically composed of two components, namely the sea and the islands. In this case, your space will be your sea. The sea will be comprised of crushed stones and gravel. Scatter them all over the place until the frame is filled. To create some drama, you may want to build a winding pathway or a cobbled pavement that will lead you from one end to the other. This is where you will need to have hardscaping materials delivery services in Utah.

Incorporating the Islands

Now that the sea is created, it is time to build the islands. These islands can be massive rocks or stones scattered sparsely throughout the stone canvas. You can have variations when it comes to this. Use big and small rocks. You may even use rocks with different colors to signify different characteristics and personas. Create texture by using a mix of rough and smooth materials.

Having Some Greens

While the rock garden may look barren and uninspired, you may still incorporate some greens to breathe more life to it. But you ought to keep the flowers and plants simple and unassuming so as not to overpower the aesthetics of the barren area. Plants and flowers, such as lavender and irises, will make good choices. For grass, you can have some bamboo. An important rule here is that your plants should also be easy to maintain, just like stones and rocks within the garden.

Adding the Waves

Since your elements are in the sea, you need to make sure that the rocks and stones will simulate the movement of the water. You should create waves and ripples. You can use a rake to create a pattern. Rake the stones in different or uniform directions. Circular, wavy and straight—you can always have it your way.

A Japanese rock garden is something you may want to build if you want a different approach to gardening and aesthetics. What’s good about this garden is that it is calm, serene and beautiful. It is also easy to maintain.