Where are the best places to live in Massachusetts?

2.jpg(via RealEstate.Boston) If you are not from The Bay State but wanted to move here, how would you decide where to live? A site such as Niche.com would be a great place to start, as they combine rigorous analysis with reviews from millions of people to uncover the best places to live and go to school.

They recently released their updated list for Massachusetts, assigning an overall Niche Grade based on criteria that includes grades for public schools, housing, good for families, jobs, cost of living, outdoor activities, crime and safety, nightlife, diversity, weather, health and fitness, and commute. Data sources include reviews from actual residents, as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the FBI, and the Census.

Among the top ten towns and cities in the state is Sharon, Sudbury, Newton, Wayland, Belmont, Boxborough, Wellesley, and Brookline, with the town of Lexington ranked as the best place to live in Massachusetts in 2017. Lexington received an A+ grade for public schools and good for families, A grades for outdoor activities, health and fitness, and commute, and A- grades for jobs, crime and safety, and diversity.

The city of Cambridge, which landed 12th on the state’s list, was ranked 11th on Niche’s 2017 Best Cities to Live in America list, receiving top marks for public schools, good for families, outdoor activities, nightlife, and commute.

The city of Boston, ranked 262nd on the state’s list, received an overall Niche Grade of B+, brought down by its poor grades in crime and safety, cost of living, public schools, and housing.

Although these type of sites are a good initial resource, a local expert in the leasing market can provide invaluable insight. Rental Beast is partnered with some of the best-trained real estate agents in the business who can help their clients make more informed decisions and find the perfect place to rent or buy.

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Tips & Tricks to avoid Rental Scams

1Rental scams are at a fever pitch right now, and protecting yourself and your money while apartment hunting should be your number 1 priority.

In most cases, using common sense will help you stay out of trouble (we’ve all heard of the Nigerian Prince who will wire you a Million dollars as long as you cover the transaction fee) but even a street smart consumer can be fooled by a believable scam. Here are some tip & tricks to avoiding being duped.

1. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is…

1That newly renovated townhouse with all new stainless steel appliances, a small outdoor patio complete with a finished garden, and large three car garage that just happens to be in the heart of the city, and is going for a fraction of average rental? Yeah, thats too good to be true. Business Insider’s tip #6 is great advice – “Trust your intuition.” If the apartment of your dreams is at a price you didn’t even think possible, it is most likely a scam.

2. Never, under any circumstance, wire money to someone you have never met.

1Boston.com details the nightmare situation of finding out you have been duped online. If a landlord “had an emergency come up” or is “out of state working another property” do not wire them money to secure the apartment! Wait until they they are back (if they are actually coming back) and see the listing then. In the meantime, start your search up again. I can guarantee you, starting your apartment search over again is much less of a headache then wiring a few thousand dollars you will never get back!

3. See the listing in person!

1This is easily the best advice you can take to ensure you are not getting duped online. Schedule a showing, tour the apartment, and then you can start the process of actually applying for the apartment. If you physically cannot be present for the showing, make sure someone you trust is. Touring the apartment is your best way to ensure you are not getting scammed. Not to mention, actually seeing the apartment you will be renting for at least a year is a great idea.

The underlying theme in these tips? Common sense. Do not get yourself into trouble by rushing the apartment rental process. Take your time, do you your homework, and actually see the apartment in person.

Renting & Buying with the “Walk Score” in Mind

1The “Walk Score” is a procedurally generated number assigned to addresses to determine their specific walkability.  The true value in this number is that the higher it is, the less likely you will need a car to comfortably live.  The “Walk Score” calculates the distances to certain amenities that most renters and buyers look for; grocery stores, public transit, nightlife, etc..  Whether you are in the market for a temporary rental or your next home, this score provides a wealth of information.

Walk Score,” an automated efficiency model, has adapted its information gathering to provide scores not only on walkability, but also transit, biking, and crime.  Taking into account all of these different metrics, walk scores range from 0 to 100.  Scores ranging from 0 – 24 dictate a car as an absolute necessity while scores 70 and above suggest that you can accomplish all errands on foot.  

The most obvious money saving benefit of the “Walk Score” is  removing most, if not all, driving from your daily routine.  Save on gas, upkeep, and maintenance, and take public transit to work.  

walkConvenience is the other major selling point of the “Walk Score.”  Easy access to amenities and recreation can make or break a neighborhood.  Higher walk scores typically translate into higher quality neighborhoods.  Pedestrian Friendliness is determined too, by analyzing population density, block length, and intersection density.

On the other side of the argument, a high “Walk Score” often results in higher prices.  In a study done by Redfin, one point of “Walk Score” was worth up to $3000.

Most websites, including RentalBeast.com, feature the score on their listings.  So before you make your next move, make sure to check the “Walk Score.”  

Amenities: Things to consider…

1When leasing a place to live you’re going to find varying types of amenities based on the type of property you’re leasing and the location. In the suburbs, you most likely won’t have an issue with parking, but in the more urban areas, this can be one of the most important items you look for. Are hardwood floors and a gas stove a must have? What about a big back yard or someone to collect your packages?

There are so many things to consider before making your selection. It would certainly be ideal to do that without having to spend hours researching and making phone calls to confirm the information. If only there was something out there with all that information ready for you to use…oh, wait. There is!

At Rental Beast we partner with expert Real Estate agents who then have access to the most robust, accurate, and up to date listings in your local area. These experts will be able to help you find the perfect place with all the right amenities for you.

Here’s a handy list of just a few things to think about when you get your search started. Always remember, it’s what’s on the inside that counts!

  1. Washer/Dryer hookups vs. In-unit washer/dryer
  2. Stainless steel appliances
  3. Hardwood Floors
  4. Pet specific amenities – Pet washing stations, dog runs/dog parks, on-site doggie day care, etc..
  5. Utilities included with rent
  6. Rooftop patios
  7. Mixed use
  8. Tenant Appreciation events
  9. Concierge
  10. On-site Gym

 

 

Managing Applications Online

Long gone are the days of multiple hard-copy applications and burdensome, time-consuming vetting processes. Multiple online services have now made the application process a breeze for landlords.

The top benefits of managing applications online:

  1. Generate More Applicants

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Online applications are easily shareable and can be posted on a multitude of social media channels. Connect with tech-savvy, young consumers who are accustomed to using the internet. As a landlord, the more applicants you are able to easily generate, the more comfortable you will be with the tenant you accept.

  1. Save Time and Be Organized

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Life is much easier for a landlord who doesn’t have to print, mail, deliver and sort through hard-copy applications. Instead, digital applications are neatly organized in a single, easily accessible place.

  1. Security

1Sensitive information from hopeful applicants will be stored in a secure location, yet can still be easily accessed by landlords on the go. For applicants, this means peace of mind that only the correct people who are legally able to see their information actually do.

As a caveat, landlords will want to review the online application form of choice and what specific information is being collected. Rental Beast offers landlords a thorough application process with checks conducted directly through TransUnion.

It is also recommended that landlords reach out to applicants prior to filling out the online application. Submitting a substantial amount of personal information can be off-putting to some renters and can, therefore, lead to a lack of pertinent or comprehensive data.

4. Be Kept in the Loop as an Agent

1On Rental Beast’s unique application platform, agents are able to stay informed regarding where a client’s application stands in the process. While an agent won’t be able to access or see a client’s personal information (only the landlord will), he or she will remain a party to the entire process and won’t be kept in the dark.

 

 

Rent Prices in Boston Causing Exodus?

2Boston has consistently been one of the most expensive cities in the United States to rent an apartment for a number of years, so it should come as no surprise that affordability is the top reason renters cited as the reason for wanting to leave the city.

Apartment List, a real estate listings site, surveyed around 24,000 tenants across the United States to find out why they chose to continue renting or pack up and move to a different city. In Boston, 81% of renters expressed interest in moving, which is much higher than the national average of 64%. The second most common reason for moving was “switching jobs” at 19%, followed by those who were “unhappy with the weather” at 11%.

One of the demographics most impacted by the city’s rent prices are the older residents. Among residents who are at least 65 years old, over 61% of singles and over 29% of couples can not afford the cost of living, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Since many of residents in this demographic can not receive public assistance, they have no choice but to move.

Rental Scams: What you need to know

We have all been on a rental hunt before; plowing through dozens of listings with little to no luck, when suddenly we find one that seems to too good to be true. Well in the fast paced, competitive, and murky waters of rental housing…it usually is.

Rental scams are found all too often on rental search sites and, with each passing season, scammers and their devious plots become more advanced and increasingly difficult to detect. Here a few notes to look for when search sites for rentals:

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  1. Funds Up Front: Never send money or provide your credit card information before seeing the property, even if the landlord or agent says its just a holding fee or sends you to sight that seems legitimate. Take your time and make sure to see properties or have someone you trust go see properties for you.

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  2. Holy Grail:  If it seems to good to be true, it most likely is. If the rent is well below market value or the lease terms are very flexible, these are probably not due to an overly generous property owner. Run your own search for the property and make sure it does not come up for a different price or as a for sale property. Often scammers take one listing and replicate it as their own.

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  3. Grammar and Gotcha: Emails, text messages, and other communication that includes broken English, excessive punctuation, and other grammar mistakes are often signs of scams. The use of “God bless,” “reverend,” or “doctor” can be signs of a scam as well hoping to build trust.

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  4. Outlook is Out: Email addresses from Outlook are 19 times more likely to be a scam than those from Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail — and those from non-United States accounts for properties in the U.S. are almost always scams.

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  5. Cash is Not King: If all checks out – you see the property, love it, and the price is right – never deal in cash. Always have a paper trail and pay in a way that is traceable and trackable – if you’re being pressured to give a cash deposit, it’s a red flag.

Rental Beast is helping agents, renters, and landlords alike better identify and remove scams and fake rental listings with a team of database ninjas working across the United States. Their sole job is to monitor, measure, and manager all listings the enter and are loaded into the Rental Beast database to confirm contact information, financial requirements, unit information, and showing instructions.

Agents and renters alike can be certain that active properties they find on our site are listed by actual agents and landlords with direct contact information provided. By cleaning up and managing our listings from the start, we are able to help agents and renters find their perfect rental faster and more conveniently –  as we say at Rental Beast ‘less hunt; more find.’