Parking ticket hikes to fund transit work in Boston

As part of a new transportation strategy that is included in Mayor Walsh’s budget request, eleven of the city’s most complained-about parking violations may see fine increases this summer. Double parking violations would increase from $45 to $75, street cleaning violations would increase from $40 to $90, resident parking violations would increase from $40 to $60, and parking meter violations would increase from $25 to $40.

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These changes are predicted to raise an extra $5 million to fund transportation initiatives. The city plans on spending the money on new dedicated bus lanes, dedicated spots for ride-hailing services, biker and pedestrian safety, signal improvements, and repaving roads. However, some businesses are worried that these changes will have a detrimental effect. Existing parking spaces would be used to create the bus lanes and spots for ride-hailing services and parking garage conversions often result in the loss of parking spaces (for example, the Government Center Garage conversion will end up with 1100 parking spaces, less than half of the original 2300).

The increase to parking fines and the spending initiative have yet to receive approval from the City Council. The president of the council, Andrea Campbell, says she would review the plan once she receives it. Councilor Michelle Wu has already pledged her support.

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Top Tips for New Real Estate Agents

As a new real estate agent, you may find yourself overwhelmed with prospect of running your own business.  Between obtaining new clients, managing listings, and staying in the red you’ve got a lot on your plate.  But don’t worry we put together a list of tips to make sure you become the successful agent you want to be.

adult-arrival-beard-4292481.      Find a Mentor

Sounds simple enough, right?  Finding an experienced agent to mentor you is a great way to learn the ropes and keep yourself accountable.  Whether your working for an office/brokerage or freelancing, a mentor will make you a better agent.  Seek one out as soon as you can.  adult-architect-blueprint-416405

2.      Shadow Great Agents

Tying in with our first tip, find an agent to shadow.  Following, and adopting practices of successful agents can really jumpstart your career.  Target agents that have a strong social media presence, and a large book of clients.  Use their roadmap, they found success by sticking to what works.

adult-beautiful-blur-9357563.     Continue your Education

You already obtained your license, but your education does not stop there.  Commit to learning more about your craft through online seminars, books, and agent meet-ups.  Many agents suggest treating your first year in real estate as grad school.  Focus on learning and building for the future.

adult-beautiful-caucasian-9149314.     Fill your Pipeline

The key to making money in real estate is constantly adding clients to your pipeline.  Having a full slate of work lets you avoid the common mistake of putting all your eggs in one basket.  Perfect deals can fall apart, and it is easy to get discouraged.  You can’t assume all your deals will go through so always have a backup.

architecture-buildings-business-3031595.     Build your Brand

Your brand is everything in real estate.  It gives you clout, makes you marketable, and draws more clients to you.  First step to building your brand is to establish a strong social media presence.  Create professional pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and reach out to clients.  Offer advice and get involved with discussions.

adult-agreement-beard-5735656.     Stay Flexible

Being open to criticism and embracing change will lead you to success.  You are your own business now, so you will want to be flexible and adapt to the ever-changing real estate market.  Keep an open mind and an open schedule and find your way.

The Next Generation of Renters

As millennials continue to bore into the real estate market, renting has become the mainstay of the younger generation.  Inability to save and lack of a strong credit history are key contributors to homeownership rates dropping.  If this trend continues the next Generation, Z, will be absolutely forced into renting.

RentCafe recently released an incredibly detailed study indicating that Generation Z will pay over $102,000 in rent by the time they hit age 30.  This is based on millennials spending approximately 45% of their income on rent, which averages out to $92,600 by the time they hit 30.  Compare this to Baby Boomers who paid approximately $66,900 in rent before turning 30.

Florentina Sarac states “Given their overwhelming student loan debt, younger Millennials may carry on renting, simply because the prospect of buying is not yet attainable.  On the other hand, older Millennials are starting to slowly shift towards home ownership.”

Rent burdens have been the hardest on younger Millennials, aged 22-29, with 47%.  Older Millennials clock in at 44%.  With a substantial amount of income dedicated to renting, Millennials will not be afforded the luxury of owning a home easily.

Furthermore, Millennials earn and pay more in rent than both Generation X, and Baby Boomers.  The income difference ranges from $4,500 to $10,900 while the rent difference ranges from $10,400 to $21,600.

“It’s worth noting that the rent difference between Millennials and Baby Boomers is twice as big as the income difference.”

Without a drastic shift in the real estate market, it will become more and more difficult for Millennials and subsequent generations to make the leap from renting to home ownership.

Boston gondola transportation project

An aerial gondola system from an elevated platform next to South Station, to the Marine Park in the Seaport District is still being considered by private developers and public officials. If approved, it would be around a mile long and run thirty to fifty feet above Summer Street.

1The developers, Millennium Partners and Cargo Ventures, have been talking to city and state officials about the gondola and recently found support with South Boston’s congressman, Stephen Lynch. Millennium is willing to foot the bill for the construction costs, an estimated $100 million, that would include the gondola’s Seaport terminus. Such a project would help reduce vehicular traffic and reduce carbon emissions but have yet to receive official support from the city of Boston or the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Despite concerns regarding the gondola system’s aesthetics as well as potential issues with other transportation projects like dedicated bus lines, Curbed Boston readers recently voted for this project as the best idea for Boston, beating out options to build more housing, going all out to draw Amazon’s second headquarters, implementing a tap-and-go fare system for the T, and co-living.

Is Congestion Pricing coming to Boston?

After seeing success in the city of Stockholm where they saw a 22 percent reduction in traffic, New York could become the first city in the United States to implement congestion pricing.

If it goes through, motorists driving in and out of the main commercial districts of Manhattan would be charged a fee to do so. The main reason to start a program like this is to ease traffic in the city’s most congested areas by forcing people who want to access those areas to make a decision—pay to drive through those areas or save money by walking, cycling, or taking public transport. The proposal has the backing of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a number of business groups as well as ride-hailing apps such Uber. If New York approves this plan, will Boston follow suit?

Perhaps the strongest argument in support of this plan making its way to Boston is that the revenue from congestion pricing in New York would be allocated for repairs to the region’s public transit system.

Besides having some of the world’s worst traffic (Boston ranks 14th among the world’s most congest cities), the T and commuter rail are constantly in need of monetary help to improve infrastructure and service.

However, opponents against the plan are worried that congestion pricing would send property values and prices even higher than they already are and make it harder for people to be able to afford to live within the congestion pricing zone.

Renting in Modern Atlanta

atlanta-juneteenth_article_story_mainJust like in the rest of the country, residential real estate in Atlanta is changing quickly as many people, especially those often-cited Millennials, move into more urban and metro areas seeking not just jobs but also all the excitement that living in a more densely populated area often brings. As a city with one of the highest rates of renters vs homeowners, Atlanta offers some interesting perspectives and insights into what renting in today’s market looks like and into why people choose to rent vs buy to begin with.

It  is interesting to note that over the past several years, the number of renters has greatly increased in the suburbs compared to Atlanta’s more urban areas. According to Rent Café, the number of suburban renters increased by about 25% from 2011 to 2015, more than 50,000 people, compared only about 15,000, or 10%, in urban areas. Atlanta is definitely an urban city of suburban sprawl, and with 61% of total renters in the suburbs and those areas capturing a lot of the rent growth it seems like it may stay that way for some time. Those suburban renters cite better schools, quieter communities, and lower rents ($1,277 urban vs $1,006 suburban averages) as reasons they choose to leave the city’s inner neighborhoods.

Some good news for all these Atlanta renters? Zillow says it anticipates that rent growth will, after years of hearty spikes, start to level off  around .9% nationwide in the coming year. Maybe that is why only 41% of current renters say they expect to move or have any interest in owning a home– the lowest number ever recorded according to a recent Freddie Mac survey. Times they are a’ changin’, but it looks like renting is here to stay, and that’s certainly true in Atlanta. 

How to save money furnishing your apartment

So you’ve got the apartment, what are you going to put in it?  Are you going to venture into your grandmother’s basement to find that dusty, 1920’s armoire?  Maybe your old beer-stained college couch?  Probably not.  How can you fill your new place without breaking the bank?  We’ve got you covered.  

If you plan on buying furniture, it’s best to know where to look and what to look for. 

Look for sales and consider using a credit card that offers free extended warranty options on furniture.  Ask to purchase the floor model as these are often considerably cheaper.  Shop at second hand stores, flea markets, and yard sales to find a good deal.

(Check college campuses for leftover furniture.  As semesters start and end there will always be excess furniture.  Make sure to clean it first, though)  

If your more of a “Do it Yourself” person, you can repurpose old furniture or even build your own.  Cleaning, sanding, and adding a fresh coat of paint will have any of your old furniture looking like new.  Get milk crates and fruit boxes from supermarkets to convert into shelves.  Old tables can be repurposed to be used as desks.