Little to no housing being built in the suburbs

The Boston Foundation reports in their annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card that while it is true that new housing is being added in the Greater Boston area, the majority of the units are in the city of Boston itself and in just a few surrounding cities while towns in the suburbs are seeing little to no construction.

2Young and working families are finding it difficult to afford to live in the city but since housing prices are increasing in the suburbs because of a lack of new construction these families are left with few options. Only a handful of towns have added noteworthy amounts of housing, including Weymouth, Framingham, Plymouth, and Sharon. Out of about 13,000 building permits that were issued this year for the entire Greater Boston area, about 40% of those were issued by the city of Boston.

Although some believe that housing prices may inhibit economic growth, schools and jobs in the area continue to attract students and professionals every year. Rent prices are also slowly falling as a direct result of the additional housing that has become available.

 

 

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Private Owner Perspective: Why List Through An Agent?

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 10.09.46 AMThere are quite a few steps typically required for any private landlord to procure a quality tenant: marketing, conducting showings, screening tenants, and preparing lease documents, among others.

While seasoned private landlords might even enjoy the aforementioned processes, many landlords would simply prefer their unit be rented in a timely manner by a high-quality tenant.

The most obvious obstacle for any private landlord in this situation is time. It can be significantly difficult to juggle a full-time job, schedule showings, conduct showings, screen tenants and prepare documents.

Furthermore, there is a certain level of expertise and experience that a private landlord might want to have before tackling the necessary steps towards attaining a new tenant. For example, if a landlord has never drafted a lease on his or her own, an experienced agent can step in and do this on his or her behalf.

Marketing rentals is also a facet of the procuring process that agents may assist with. Both verbiage and listing flow are critical components to successfully attracting tenants when marketing online, and rental agents know what has been tested in the marketplace and works.

While agents have mastered the use public listing sites such as Zillow and Craigslist, they also have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), increasing visibility in ways the typical private owner simply cannot.

For screening purposes, Rental Beast provides both landlords and agents with a new ‘Apply Now’ function. Screening traditionally has been a burdensome process.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 10.31.14 AMNow, landlords and agents have the ability to seamlessly screen tenants via Rental Beast’s online application and integrated partnership with Transunion. It is important to note that only private landlords are able to view sensitive application results, even if a given application was triggered by a partner agent on behalf of the landlord.

We at Rental Beast understand that private landlords, regardless of experience level, like to control the tenant selection process with varying degrees of firsthand involvement.

Rental Beast lends a landlord the flexibility to simultaneously market a property on his or her own, and receive agent assistance via the Rental Beast platform.

With Rental Beast, a landlord will only pay the brokerage commission once he or she has decided to accept a tenant procured by the agent and the lease is officially signed. In the meantime, landlords are able to proceed exactly as they were before. There is no upfront fee that will be collected.

We hope this post helps you, the private landlord, decide what avenue is best for both yourself and your rental property. Rental Beast can serve as a zero-risk solution that both maximizes visibility on your property and lends you the ability to receive agent assistance.

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Cambridge imposes restrictions on AirBNB rentals

Cambridge.jpgMost of the focus on AirBNB stems from the money lost from a lack of taxation, an estimated $15 million from around 592,000 guests in Massachusetts last year. However, while other lodging establishments need to adhere to a strict set of municipal regulations, the owner of a unit on AirBNB currently does not.

State Representative Aaron Michlewitz recently proposed a bill that would impose safety and insurance regulations on top of taxing units, stating: “The taxation without the regulation piece is where the debate stands now”.

While some municipalities are waiting to see what the state decides to do, the Cambridge City Council has already voted to impose their own regulations on AirBNB rentals. Only hosts who live in the same or adjacent building would be allowed to make their units available. These units would need to be registered with the city and concede to inspections once every five years.

This would allow owners to continue to collect income from short-term rental units while ensuring guest safety. The new restrictions will take effect in April 2018.

It’s estimated that about 90,000 guests used AirBNB to find accommodations in Cambridge last year.

Shared Wheels and Cheap Rides: You don’t need a car in Chicago!

In most areas of the country having a car is a necessity. However, in Chicago one has always been able to get away without having a vehicle, and it’s only getting easier to do so.

2I’ve been a resident of the greatest city in the Midwest for 13 years and I just got my first car. I owned a home before leasing or owning a car and didn’t give it a second thought. I was even a landlord before considering having a car to fill my empty parking spot.

Between the CTA and Metra, Chicago has one of the best public transportation systems in the country.

The El is an easy way to get from almost any of the 77 city neighborhoods into the Loop, and almost every major street has bus service. Car sharing services such as Zipcar and Enterprise CarShare have been available for over a decade and continue to grow. In just four years the divvy bike share system has gone from 75 stations and 750 bikes to 620 stations and 6,200 bikes, and data shows that 42% of divvy rides are for work commutes.

Many argue that Uber and Lyft make it easier than ever to go car-less, and in the grand scheme of things those are relatively new to the market.

So how can it possibly get easier for Chicagoans without a vehicle? The transit-oriented developments are beginning to multiply. Several years ago incentives were offered to builders who developed multi-unit dwellings within a specified distance from transit stations. This program allowed developers to dedicate fewer parking spots per unit than the law previously acceptable. The initiative generated so much positive development activity that the specified distance from a transit station was quickly doubled, and the number of parking spaces was brought down further if developers agreed to build in alternative transit options such as zip car parking or divvy stations.

3There are now literally thousands of units available (and many more on the way) for carless Chicagoans to choose from that are mere steps from El stations. If a resident of a TOD (transit oriented development) needs to rent a zipcar to go play golf in the suburbs they probably do not need to leave their building to do so. If a person needs to travel between two points that are not on the same train or bus line quickly and cheaply there is guaranteed to be a divvy station close to both the departure point and destination.

In Chicago you can always get where you want to go, and unlike many other cities you can do this while avoiding huge car and insurance payments along the way!

Suburban Rent Prices on the Rise

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 2.18.55 PMWhen you think of more affordable housing, you think of the suburbs; more space, more land, better prices from homes to rentals.  However, as millennials begin to wiggle their way into the real estate market, pricing in the suburbs seems to be suffering.  

In the last year the cost of renting a home in the suburbs has risen higher than the cost of renting in the city.  In a new release by Zillow, median monthly cost of suburban rents rose by 2.5% while urban rents only rose by 2.3%.  

This is a stark difference from last year where urban rental prices were up 5% while suburban rental prices were closer to 3%.  The cities that are experiencing the fastest increases are Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco.  San Francisco experienced an urban rental price drop of 0.4% and a 2.6% increase in suburban rental price.      

The more prominent examples of this trend reside in cities where rent affordability is a main issue.  Renters who are paying more than 44% of their income in rent, like San Francisco, are the driving force here.  

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 2.18.55 PMAs rent continues to rise in cities, renters will either have to make due or forfeit their apartments for cheaper options elsewhere.  Choosing a longer commute for a drop in rent prices seems to be the main solution.  

While these statistics only define renting, home ownership plays a huge part in it.  Most millennials would like to buy a home but lack the assets, especially the down payment, to realistically make the jump.  With rent prices on the rise, and the inability to buy homes, there is no reason to not expect this trend to continue into 2018.     

Will we see a mass exodus of city renters transitioning to suburbs?  What effect will this have on the pricing of rentals and homes?  Only time will tell.    

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