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.  

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Make the Most of Any Rental Unit: Property Upgrades and Maintenance

The key to maintaining a profitable rental unit can often time come down to maintaining and upgrading wisely. While some in-unit changes likely aren’t worth the money, many are. Often times, investing more initially will pay off over the long run. Here is a list of recommended changes and best practices that won’t break the bank over the long run. These changes will allow any landlord to keep the rent high and ensure less tenant turnover.

Focus on curb appeal.

  • Changes include landscaping, power washing, and repainting the exterior. This can be particularly helpful when it comes time to place a new tenant in your unit.

Upgrade the appliances.

  • This is a purchase that should be viewed as an investment, as band-aiding problems can be expensive long-term, cause tenant dissatisfaction and become a headache for you, the property owner.

1Add backsplashes in the kitchen.

  • This is a cheap addition that will light up any kitchen and provide a quality feel to the room.

Wash carpets instead of always replacing.

  • A professional carpet cleaner can make even the dingiest of carpets appear brand new. Give this a show before choosing to replace immediately.

Invest in high-quality fixtures.

  • Not only will this provide your tenant with a more polished look, the investment will pay off in the long run as less maintenance/replacement will be required. Band-aiding issues will most likely become more expensive in the long run.

Install new shutters or curtains.

  • Old shutters and curtains can make even the nicest of units appear worn and dated. Consider newer, more modern options to get the most out of your unit.

Keep it clean!

  • Perhaps the most important item on any landlord’s list is often the most overlooked. Always thoroughly clean between tenants to ensure your unit does not wear prematurely. It is recommended that a professional deep clean be done between each tenant.

New England cities among the safest in America

According to WalletHub, a personal finance site, New England is home to some of the safest cities in the nation. Using 35 key indicators of safety, analysts have compared over 180 cities and scored them in four separate categories: overall safety, home and community safety, financial safety, and natural disaster risk.

ClipThe cities of Nashua, NH, South Burlington, VT, and Warwick, RI, were rated as the safest overall and took the top three spots on the list respectively.

Warwick was rated second in terms of home and community safety, South Burlington was rated seventh in terms of financial safety, and Warwick was rated seventeenth safest in terms of natural disaster risk.

Boston is rated as the 133rd safest city. It was ranked fifth in terms of fewest traffic fatalities per capita and fourth in terms of lowest percentage of uninsured population but was tied for last in terms of most hate crimes per capita.

 

Landing a Tech Whale

Miami recently made the cut for Amazon’s much desired second headquarters. The area has pitched eight different sites throughout Miami-Dade County. Three of which are located within the City of Miami limits.

1One of the most exciting sites is the one being offered as the Innovation District/Worldcenter site. This site has 23 million square feet of planned developments which include residential, retail, office and hotel space. The clear goal is offering Amazon a place where employees can live, work and play. Several other factors in play are the potential for Tax Increment Financing with a possible $1 billion value, just in time breaking of ground, office space to meet the 8 million square feet that Amazon needs and transit availability.

In addition, HQ2 would have easy access to the new high speed Brightline rail service which will connect Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando (2020). The Tri-Rail, Metrorail, Metromover and I-95 are all also accessible within minutes.

Locally, there should be excitement about Miami making it to the final list of 20 cities. Cities that include New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Boston and Chicago. If we can attract a whale like Amazon then the future is bright for Miami’s burgeoning (and hot) tech scene. Whether it is Amazon or Apple the Innovation District is real and will bring in a whole new industry to our city. It is fair to say that real estate values, rents and transportation will be impacted if unlike Ahab we can bring one home.

 

Home Ownership & Wealth Generation: Should you be renting?

A recent study has suggested that renting an apartment can make you more money than owning a home.  As shocking as this may sound, a thorough review of the data, reveals you should take your time before doing anything drastic.

A Revision of the American Dream of Homeownership,”published in 2017, does not outright tell us that renting is more profitable, but sobers us with the fact that property appreciation is not as wealth generating as we have come to believe.

pexels-photo-572056.jpegHome owners tend to accumulate wealth more than renters, now, due to the accumulation of a strong down payment for a house.  From saving for a down payment to switching to home ownership, owners generate wealth easily while renters do not.

The study however, suggests that renters who invest in the stock market could easily outperform homeowners that do not.  “When you assume that those monies are reinvested at a rate of return, renting, on average, wins in terms of wealth creation,” states the study’s authors.

Also noted by the study, is that “the difference in wealth between renting and owning can be most affected by choices within the scope of the individual rather than through the impact of exogenous market variables.”

Cryptocurrencies and the Real Estate Industry

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are new electronic cash systems that are completely decentralized with no server or central authority. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies advocate that blockchain technology is the key to a secure monetary future. By providing unique access codes, secure transactions can take place from almost anywhere in the world and the blocks of code will create an incorruptible record of each transaction and access point.

This is relevant to the real estate industry because it would allow buyers to provide secure funds in a relatively short amount of time.

According to Bitcoin, there are several advantages of using their form of cryptocurrency. Users can make or receive payments regardless of location or time of day. Transfer fees are cheaper because they are not based off of the total amount of funds being transferred. Since private consumer information is not included in the transaction records, transactions are more secure.

Users can also add layers of protection to their crypto assets by using two factor authentication and alternative backup methods.

The real estate industry is slowly starting to accept Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies because of these advantages. The International Blockchain Real Estate Association is a member-focused advocacy, educational, and trade organization dedicated to implementing blockchain real estate.

According to their website, cryptocurrencies can “reduce costs, stamp out fraud, speed up transactions, increase financial privacy, internationalize markets, and make real estate a liquid asset”. Some luxury homes for sale are already being listed on MLS’ with cryptocurrency price tags and some landlords let renters to pay with virtual currency because landlords do not have to worry about checks bouncing and funds clearing after a day or two.

Blockchain technology is not without its own challenges. Cyber fraud has resulted in the loss of tokens worth millions of dollars. Many sellers currently do not accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies because they have little to no experience with them. Currency volatility has always been an issue and new cryptocurrencies are being invented on a regular basis. Despite these drawbacks, more and more real estate opportunities are beginning to welcome blockchain technology.

 

 

City Living on a Budget

As urban centers continue to see rents skyrocket, it is important for many to learn how to live in a city on a budget. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Build a real budget and stick to it.

Learvest is a financial planning tool created by a Harvard Business alum. Their team recommends at 50/20/30 rule.

50% of income should go towards fixed costs (this will largely include rent)

20% should go towards paying off debt or be put into savings

30% should be used for flexible costs (entertainment, eating out, etc)

2. Think about what your rent includes and take advantage of these offerings.

Think about what rent includes. Are utilities included? Do you have a gym? Is parking included? Is public transportation readily accessible nearby? Do you have access to free laundry?

These are all money savers that can lower your effective rent.

3. Reduce transportation costs

A car can easily zap your budget. Financing/leasing costs, gasoline costs, maintenance, and insurance add up very quickly. Instead, opt for public transportation and perhaps look into a bus pass. A bicycle can pay itself off in no time and prove to be a worthwhile investment.

4. Eat-in more frequently.

While it can be tempting to try the array of restaurants that come with living in a larger city, make a concerted effort to cook your own food. This can save hundreds of dollars per month. Try to make cooking a fun event and include friends when possible. Likewise, packing a lunch during the day can also have the potential to save hundreds of dollars per month.