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

 

 

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.’

New Brightline Rail connects South Florida

2Brightline Rail Service, connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, will soon launch and offer discounted rates for its first few trips. The tentative first runs will begin in late summer with full service opening up in early autumn. Ride ticket prices have not been announced, but CEO Dave Howard stated that it is, “going to be less than the cost of driving your car” regarding the discounted tickets.

The bigger picture to this private endeavor is that it will connect our metro and stay east of I-95. At full service the rail will offer 32 daily round trips between Miami and West Palm Beach. This is a crucial step into changing South Florida’s car-centric culture. Traffic continues to be one of the leading limiting factors for economic growth in our market. Brightline expects a ridership of three million passengers per year.

Each county is getting its own station starting with a more than eleven acre Miami Central Station that will offer residences, offices and retail. Broward and Palm Beach Counties will get 60,000 square foot stations right in the heart of their urban core.

Landlords in the area should get excited because this brings the city connections that renters look for in a short or long-term home. The Millennial generation tends to especially enjoy alternative travel and staying close to major elements in the city.

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Top cities in the world for quality of life includes Boston

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Deutsche Bank puts out a report every year called “Mapping the World’s Prices” that lists the best cities in the world in regards to quality of life. They look at a number of variables including climate, pollution, traffic commute time, property price to income ratio, cost of living, health care, safety, and purchasing power.

Boston is ranked eighth on this list, behind Wellington, New Zealand (1), Edinburgh (2), Vienna (3), Melbourne, Australia (4), Zurich (5), Copenhagen (6), and Ottawa (7). Boston is the highest ranking city in the United States that made it on the list, which also includes the cities of San Francisco (18) and Chicago (22). Purchasing power was the main factor behind the lofty ranking, according to Business Insider.

Boston was also named the best city in the Northeast by Money magazine in 2016, as well as the fifth healthiest city in the country last year by The American Fitness Index.