Consumer Real Estate News

    • How to Save Money in Your New Apartment

      20 September 2018

      Just moved into a new pad? Congrats! However, moving to a new spot always comes with a bit of financial strain. From setting a budget to finding the perfect neighborhood, everyone can take advantage of these easy tips on a dime while searching for the perfect rental. Below, Apartments.com offers tips to help.

      Set limits. Housing costs are dependent on location as rent varies by city and neighborhood. Relocating from the city to a suburb could save you hundreds of dollars in rent. In Chicago, moving from the city to Grundy County saves $458 a month and in Houston moving from the city to Austin County saves $332 a month! Most importantly, set a budget ahead of time. Going over budget by even $100 a month can set you back by $1,200 a year.

      Be a savvy commuter. Finding the right location can help cut on costs, especially if it’s closer to work or public transportation. With hundreds of thousands of apartment listings, Apartments.com offers the largest inventory available with the most advanced search tools renters want, including a commute-based search designed to show properties nearby where a renter works and plays most, whether it be by car, bike, public transit or walking.

      Go green to save green. While switching light bulbs to LED, washing clothes in cold water and turning off lights when leaving the room help save money, look for energy-saving features around the apartment when touring potential homes. Does the apartment have energy-saving appliances, ceiling fans and a programmable smart thermostat?

      Be a neighborhood trendsetter. Consider moving to an up-and-coming neighborhood - such as Fishtown in Philadelphia, Northside Village in Houston, Bushwick in Brooklyn, Eckington in Washington D.C. and Lawrenceville in Pittsburgh - to help lower rent.

      Insure and protect. Imagine having to replace clothing, food, personal items, furniture and memorabilia. Disaster is sometimes inevitable and renters insurance will provide protection in the event of emergencies. Renters insurance is affordable and a small price to pay for peace of mind in case of fires, flooding, electrical issues, stolen belongings and more. Keep in mind, however, that every policy is different, so be sure to understand what is and isn’t covered.

      Damage control. A security deposit is a fixed amount of money paid to the landlord or management company to cover any damage caused to the property, which must be returned if no damages occur. Document the apartment upon move-in by taking pictures of each room and notify the landlord of any pre-existing damages to ensure receipt of the security deposit back in full upon move-out. By documenting the apartment's condition at move-in and keeping the place clean and undamaged, no additional money will be lost throughout the lease.

      A new home for the holidays. During the second half of the year, a slow down in apartment demand leaves landlords with less of an ability to push rents toward the end of the year. If possible, wait until Black Friday to sign a lease, when rents average 10 percent lower!

      Don't be late. Be aware of when rent is due and all potential late fees. Mark the day on a calendar, set a reminder and always remember to pay on time. If in a tough bind, be upfront with your landlord about the situation and see if they’ll provide an extension – it never hurts to ask!

      Consider a roommate. Having a roommate might not be ideal, but the amount of money saved could make it worthwhile. For example, a two-bedroom apartment in Atlanta averages $1,270, whereas a one-bedroom is $1,093. Sharing a two-bedroom would cost you around $635, saving you almost 42 percent. Splitting other expenses such as cable, utilities, kitchen supplies, decorations and groceries can also help cut back!

      Take advantage of amenities. The search process is now significantly easier. Apartments.com simplifies the experience by allowing the selection of desired interior and community amenities, only delivering results based on those selections. Whether you are looking to explore rentals a four-legged friend can call home too, have a dire need for an elevator or simply want fitness center and pool access, the site can narrow down the options without having to sift through the good, the bad and the ugly.

      Source: Apartments.com

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Financial Anxiety Takes a Toll on Millennials

      20 September 2018

      Unfortunately, the age-old edict of “education and hard work is all it takes to succeed” is no longer the case for many millennials, who are burdened by soaring tuition costs, student loan debt and stagnant wages. The trend has led to an increasing amount of financial stress among millennials, with 74 percent feeling daily stress related to their student loan debt, according to a recent survey from the American Financial Benefits Center (AFBC).

      The facts prove millennials’ anxiety is warranted. According to the AFBC, since 1980, the cost of higher education has risen nearly 260 percent, making it more difficult for millennials to pay off student loan debt compared to previous generations. Baby Boomers, for example, would have had to work 306 hours at a minimum wage job, adjusted for inflation, to pay for four years at a public college; conversely, millennials have to work an average of 4,459 hours.

      Millennials are also carrying 300 percent more debt than their parents, the majority of which consists of student loans. The AFBC reports that many millennials with student debt have a net worth of -$1,900; in other words, they owe more than they own. In addition to student loan debt, they are also burdened with rising housing and medical costs, and wages that don’t match up.      

      A large source of the anxiety surrounding the student loan debt is a lack of education and understanding, with many millennials reporting that they don’t know the details of their loans or how long it will take to pay them back. For millennials with federal student loan debt, income-driven repayment plans (IDRs) may be a helpful option to reduce some of the financial stress, says the AFBC. By taking into account a borrower's family size and monthly discretionary income, loan payments can be recalculated to what should hopefully be a more manageable amount.     

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Don't Wait for Winter to Service Your Boiler

      20 September 2018

      While late fall or early winter is the time most of us begin to crank our heat, if you’re using a boiler, it's important not to wait until the last minute to service it.

      "A lot of homeowners have good intentions when it comes to scheduling maintenance," says Mike Nicholson, owner of Nicholson Plumbing, Heating, & Air Conditioning. "The problem is that it's easy to forget things like tune-ups when your equipment is still operating correctly. It only becomes an issue when something breaks or fails. The last thing anyone wants is to be without heat when the temperatures are below freezing."

      According to Nicholson Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, homeowners should consider early tune-ups for the following reasons:

      Prolong the life of your furnace. Regular maintenance can keep your furnace working at maximum efficiency and actually lengthen the life of the equipment. Many homeowners might not know skipping annual maintenance can often void a manufacturer's warranty.

      Prevent frozen pipes. It's not unusual for homeowners to lower the thermostat while they're away from home. However, Nicholson recommends residents maintain a regular temperature in their home — around 65 — to avoid bursting or frozen pipes.

      Stay safe. Most furnaces are gas-burning, which produces carbon dioxide. A leak could prove dangerous or even fatal. During routine maintenance, a technician will take preventative measures to ensure this can't happen, such as changing the filter and giving the furnace a thorough cleaning.

      Source: Nicholson Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Retirement Planning Is Not for Wimps

      19 September 2018

      Almost any senior citizen will tell you, ‘getting older is not for wimps.’ Generally, they’re talking about the aches and pains that are a natural part of aging. But getting to retirement with enough money to enjoy it is no walk in the park either, even if you think you are stashing enough into your retirement accounts today.
      Retired benefits expert Richard Quinn, who blogs with insider insight at QuinnsCommentary.com, suggests seven tactics you can use now to ensure a more comfortable retirement:

      Save early. Save and invest early in your career because compounding is powerful. You may be forced to save less later, as obligations increase, but save every dollar you can early and let it work for you in the decades to come.

      Put retirement goals first. Retirement savings should come before other goals such as travel or buying a vacation home. The choice to spend is yours, but it’s wise to remember there are no second chances.
      Pay attention to employer communications. What you don’t know about changes in Social Security, Medicare, your 401(k) plan and more can hurt you. A missed deadline or any number of other goofs can do severe financial damage down the road.

      Have a financial and estate plan. Have a plan in place that will protect your surviving spouse and family; investments, life insurance and income annuities may all be part of that plan.

      Don’t count too much on Social Security. It’s probably secure, but it’s only designed to replace about 40 percent of pre-retirement income – and for some, that’s an overestimate because the system is skewed toward lower income workers.

      Take care with your pre-retirement lifestyle. Living high on the hog can endanger your golden years. Your lifestyle should be set with a view toward what you can sustain in retirement.

      Investigate possibilities now. If you’re thinking about relocating to cut expenses when you retire, check out the options beforehand. The same is true if you’re thinking about a second career, part-time or otherwise. The more you know beforehand, the fewer mistakes you’ll make.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Tips for Marketing With Memes

      19 September 2018

      If you have a small business or social media presence you hope to bolster, you may have noticed that memes are a fast way to snag eyeballs. Internet marketing agency Fishbat notes that savvy businesses can employ memes as a valuable tool for viral marketing. Unfortunately, using memes incorrectly can have the opposite effect, making your business appear out of touch. To help, Fishbat shares the following four tips for marketing with memes.

      Know your audience. One of the primary aspects to keep in mind when considering marketing with memes is to know when they’re appropriate and when they’re not. Memes primarily appeal to the younger generation, and the content may not deliver the results intended if they are used in an industry with an older average buyer. Knowing the demographics that the meme will be viewed by can also better inform the content of the meme, as many memes are highly tied to current trends and viral images that will vary in popularity across different groups. Do market research to understand whether this type of content will appeal to buyers before spending the time to craft the perfect meme.

      Don't force it. Memes are a great way for a company to establish a reputation for being "cool" and relatable, but trying to force memes that aren't funny or relevant into every article will come across as trying too hard. While young consumers are definitely receptive to memes, they can also be very judgmental of companies that are obvious in their attempts to promote their business through "relatable" content. In many instances, they have responded quite negatively to clear marketing ploys. Memes can be extremely effective, but they should be used sparingly and with restraint for the majority of companies.

      Understand the memes you're using. To expand on the section above, it's important that memes are used correctly. Since the popular memes change on a near-daily basis and often require some sort of context or even knowledge of previous memes to understand, it's important that all memes are both funny and fall in line with the spirit of the meme. A company trying and failing to relate to users with memes is much worse than not using memes at all, so the marketing team should only create content that they truly understand.

      Don't sacrifice originality or quality in other content. For a talented marketing team, coming up with memes is relatively simple and doesn't take much time. Effective memes are also a valuable way to engage with an audience and increase hype for a company or product. With that said, they aren't a substitute for quality in other areas of online content. Providing value through regular articles or blog posts still remains one of the best ways to increase a website's online ranking in search engines, and an overload of memes will lower the quality of the company's online presence as a whole.

      Source: Fishbat

      Published with permission from RISMedia.