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.

What does low inventory in DC mean?

vacation-rentalsA slow and low Winter of homes for sale tends to lead to a blossoming of inventory and a more active market in the warmer months. But this year seemed to be the exception; especially for the DC area.

Local real estate experts say that a healthy market should have around a six-month supply of inventory, but this year there is less then a two-month supply in the DC market. Based off 2012 numbers, DC inventory has dropped 27% and it has affected all price ranges and housing types. The inventory segment to be hit hardest by lackluster supply are the lower-priced starter homes, which are down 42%.

What does this mean for real estate agents in the DC area?

Lower inventory means higher prices which are scaring away first time home buyers like millennials and keeping them in the rental game. Because of this the multi-family market is seeing a huge boost.

Multi-family inventory saw a 3.6% increase last year – greater the national average of 2.4%. And, with over 4,600 units permitted in 2016 – the second highest and only exceeded by the record breaking 2015 – this new inventory has helped keep rents under control with a slim 2.6% year-over-year increase in rents – compared to 4% nationally. These numbers renting a viable option for those priced out of the competitive sales market.

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 11.40.44 AMNow that we’ve hit the Winter season once again, only time will tell whether or not the market can swing back around in Spring 2018.

How can agents capitalize on this strong rental market?

The Rental Beast platform provides the perfect addition to any real estate professionals business portfolio. We have the largest database of listings in the DC area including the MLS and other local sites that our Rental Beast ninjas have meticulously searched for, acquired, and added to our platform with the all information you will need to help your clients. Our platform provides several avenues to help agents market themselves and generate rental leads in the DC area.

Rental Beast agents live by the mantra that all rental leads are future home buyers. By building that relationship now handling their rental search, you ensure that when they decide to purchase in the future, you will be the first person they call.

 

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.

 

 

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.

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.    

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.