What Do Apartments in Dallas Check For When They Run Your Application?

Apartments in each state and, even in each city within the same state, have their own different qualification procedures when reviewing the application of a potential new renter. Take the state of Texas as an example. The largest metropolitan areas in this state with the highest concentration of apartment communities are Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. There are thousands of various apartment complexes in each of these cities. You would think they would have the same requirements for approval when running an Application for a new renter since they are all located within the same state of Texas. However, Dallas has very unique requirements that are different from Houston and San Antonio as well as different from other cities and other states.

Apartments in the illustrious city of Dallas check four (4) major areas in order to approve your Application: criminal background, income/job, rental history, and credit. It is the combination of these specific 4 areas that make Dallas requirements unique as a city, as well as how lenient or strict they are within each of the 4 areas.

For instance, In Houston, located only 239 miles away from Dallas, there are some apartments that consider your debt and your debt to income ratios as well as Social Security fraud history, when checking your Application. These are items that are never checked by Dallas apartments when they run your Application. Also, Dallas is more lenient than Houston when doing a criminal background check when it comes to fraud and financial crimes. Several apartments in Dallas will still work with you if you have a misdemeanor or felony in those categories, whereas in Houston these two areas are almost always causes for denial of your application.

As another example of how unique Dallas qualification requirements are, consider how Dallas differs from another major city, San Antonio. In the city of Dallas, apartments do not check how long you have worked at a particular job. The length of your employment history is not a consideration. As long as you HAVE employment and income that can be verified, most apartments will approve your application. In fact, you can have a brand new job, or even be transferring here to Dallas from another location, and all you need is a “Hire Letter” from the new employee showing your start date and your rate of pay. This is different from San Antonio. Most apartments in San Antonio want to see at least 6 months of employment history.

So, as you can see, Dallas has unique requirements that they check for when running an apartment application. Here are the specific requirements that Dallas apartments look for in more detail:

1. The first area that the best Apartments in Dallas check is your income qualifications. They almost always require that you earn three (3) times whatever your rent amount is. Other cities and states may require that you earn 2.5 times, or even 3.5 times the rent amount, but almost all properties across the board in Dallas check to see that you earn 3 times minimum. For example, if your rent is $1000, they want to see proof that you earn at least $3000 a month. You can provide this proof of income in the form of paycheck stubs. If you are self employed, you can provide bank statements and the most recent year’s tax statements. If you are new moving into the Dallas area and have been transferred from your job, or you are just starting a brand new job, you can provide a letter from your employer on company letterhead from the HR department or the hiring manager. The letter should state that you are being relocated and what your income will be.

Many cities, such as Houston and San Antonio, check to see how long you have worked for a particular employer, and therefore will not accept a “New Hire Letter”. Dallas does not do this. As long as you have the Hire Letter, you can be accepted with a brand new job. More than likely, however, the new apartments will call the company and ask for verbal verification of the letter, and it must be signed by someone with authority, such as the Hiring Manager. They may or may not ask for the letter to be notarized.

What kind of income will the Dallas apartments consider? In addition to income from a business you own or from employment, you can also include funds that you receive as child support, disability, retirement, investments, etc. Any and all income that is legal and is provable will be considered.

What if you are retired and do not have income? Some areas would require you to move to a retirement community or senior facility. But most apartments in Dallas are flexible in this regard. They will just require a copy of your bank statements to verify that you have enough funds to cover the cost of the rent for each month of the lease. For example, if your rent is $1000 a month, and you sign a 12 month lease, they will check to see if you at least have $12,000 in savings. They will also consider any Social Security money that you receive as monthly income. And if all else fails, they will accept a co-signer. Because Dallas is flexible in working with retired individuals, many enjoy the freedom and dignity of renting their own apartment without having to move into a retirement home for seniors. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Money Magazine voted Dallas as one of the best places to retire in 2006 and 2007.

2. The second area that the best apartments in Dallas always check is your past rental history. They want to know if you have ever broken a lease or been evicted. They will check with the current apartments you are living in now, even if they are in another state, to verify that you are leaving on good terms. It may be tempting to try to “stretch the truth” and hide the fact that you owe past apartments money, but resist the urge. The credit check that they pull on you will reveal any debts that you owe to past properties. In Dallas, any past debts to properties that are still unpaid, even if they are many years ago, will mean an automatic denial if it shows up on your credit. The Manager does not have control over making the final decision in this regard. This is because most apartments in Dallas are managed by large Property Management Companies who make all the corporate decisions for their properties. They set the rules, and the rule is always to check for any property debts and automatically deny an application if such a debt appears. Other cities with a higher percentage of privately owned small apartment communities, such as San Antonio or Houston, may be more flexible in this regard since they maintain more control over who they accept or deny and the Manager may be allowed to make the final ruling.

What can you do if you do owe a past apartment community and you are searching for an apartment in the Dallas area? Well, it all depends upon whether or not it shows up on your credit report. If you aren’t sure if it shows up on your credit, you might first pull your own free credit report and look to see if it is there. Make sure to pull the credit from all three reporting agencies since you aren’t sure which one the apartments will use. If the incident is mentioned nowhere on your credit, then you may choose not to bring up the past, especially if you have had good rental history SINCE that occurrence. If it does show up on your credit, then you will not get approved at any apartment complex in Dallas. Your only option is to go back to that prior property that you owe funds to and pay them off. Be sure to receive a receipt or letter that shows your debt is paid in full so you can present this letter to the new Dallas apartments. Even with the receipt or letter, not every property in Dallas will work with you. A skilled Dallas Apartment Locator will be of great assistance in guiding you to the properties that are a little more lenient in this regard.

3. The third area that the Dallas Best Apartments check is your credit. As we mentioned above, they are mainly looking to see if you owe any past apartments money. However, Dallas is unique because they also will check to see if you owe past utility bills, mainly the electric company. The reason they check this is because you will not be able to turn on your electricity at the new apartment if you still owe the utility company money. So you will have to pay off any debts to the electric company prior to filling out the apartment application. In fact, some Dallas apartments even require you to call the power company and schedule the date for them to turn on the electricity to your new apartment, and get a confirmation number to prove it is scheduled, before they will give the final approval to your Application. Apartments in other cities are not as strict in this area as Dallas.

Another item they will look for on your credit, besides just past apartment debts and utility debts are housing debts. Perhaps you use to own your own home, and now you are moving into an apartment. The apartments will check to see your payment history with the mortgage company and will look for property debts and foreclosures. If a foreclosure shows up, then they may not be able to work with you. It depends on how many years ago the incident happened. An Apartment Locator familiar with Dallas apartments will be in the best position to assist you.

4. The last area that apartments in Dallas always check is your criminal background. Although most cities and states run background checks on applicants, each city is different in how they react to the findings. Dallas apartments run a background check that goes back indefinitely. It will show any past misdemeanors or felonies that you have ever received in your entire life. It doesn’t matter if the occurrence happened 30 years ago. It will still show up. Most apartments in Dallas automatically will decline your application if any felony shows up. However, they can be flexible in a few areas where other cities are not.

For example, if the felony or misdemeanor is for something that does not involve harm to another human and does not involve theft, approximately 10% of the Dallas apartments will work with you. Some examples of misdemeanors or felonies that SOME properties may be more flexible with are: check writing fraud, drinking while driving, possession of marijuana, etc. Other cities are not flexible enough to consider any exceptions and will deny an application for any crime, regardless of its nature.

If you have a non-violent glitch on your background criminal record, you need a qualified Apartment Locator in Dallas who has knowledge of second chance properties to assist you in finding the 10% who might work with your situation. If your particular offense is not one that any apartment property in Dallas will accept, then the Locator will let you know. In that case, your best bet is to find a privately owned house that is for rent by the owner. These can be found in the newspaper. Do not apply for a rent house that is represented by a Real Estate Agent, or they will have the same background check that the apartments have, and you will run into the same problem. Only rent houses that are for lease by the owner offer more flexibility.

The Apartment Search

When you are apartment hunting, prepare a rental search plan. Be sure to know in advance what you want in an apartment and what you can live without. Decide in advance what areas of the city you could consider living in and make a list of apartment buildings within that perimeter.

Be sure to consider how far and how convenient it will be for you to travel to your job or your school or your family and friends. Also, how far is the apartment from stores, banks, hospitals, Church (if you attend) etc. If you have a car, make sure that there is adequate and convenient parking space 24/7. If you don’t drive make sure that there is close by public transportation.

Narrow your apartment locating to the size of rental unit you need. Studio apartment or one bedroom apartment or 2 BR apartment or more. Are you considering a furnished apartment or do you possible need a short term rental. If you are renting an apartment with a cat, dog, or other pet, you need to find out which apartments allow renting with pets and which do not. And, if they do allow pets, is there an additional security deposit required and if so, how much it is. Do you need an apartment complex with an exercise room or tennis courts or a pool or a recreation room, etc. or do you simply need and desire a nice clean and quiet pad.

Be realistic about what you can afford. Most apartment renting guides suggest that your rent should not be more than 25% to 30% of your income. This can vary depending on the income bracket, but be sure to be “real world” when budgeting additional apartment expenses such as heating and air conditioning and other utilities. If you fall short of affording the apartment of your choice, you might consider sharing an apartment with a roommate or roommates. Keep in mind that living with roommates can help you afford an upscale apartment or even, in some cases, luxury apartments, but it also has extreme restrictions to your privacy.

If you are familiar with the area and its neighborhoods, that gives you a distinct advantage for your apartment search. If, however, you are relocating to a new city or are not particularly knowledgeable about the city, you may want to contact an Apartment Locator or an Apartment Finder.

Once you narrow your search for apartments down to apts which suit your needs and desires you must be well organized & well prepared for your visits to the apartment complexes. When inspecting the rental premises be on the alert for unsafe conditions, excessive noise from traffic or playgrounds or neighbors. Visit the apartment building at night as well as the daytime hours. This will give you a more comprehensive understanding of the total space you will be residing in.

When you find the apartment complex that meets your renting needs and desires, you must be ready to put your “best foot forward” when you meet the apartment’s rental agent. This person may be the apartment building manager or a renting agent for the apts. You should prepare for this apartment renting interview in a professional and intelligent manner. Be advised that you are going to be asked to provide proof that you are a reliable prospective tenant. You are most likely going to need references from previous landlords. You may also be required by the apartments to show that you are gainfully employed and can afford the rent. Many landlords may require a credit report. If you are a first time renter and/or you have limited credit history you may be asked for references from family, friends, employer, professionals, etc. Likewise if you are renting with bad credit you will certainly want to come to the interview with a strong selection of references.

You are not necessarily restricted from apartment renting with less than perfect credit, but you may be required to put up an additional security deposit and possibly have a credit worthy person co-sign the apartment lease with you. Don’t unprepared for by requests for any of these things. Be sure to fill out a 100% truthful apartment rental application and come to the interview with references, proof of employment, credit information and any other renting resources at the ready. If you do have a credit history or renting history that might be detrimental, going through an apartment locator or apartment finder may be the best solution. They will present your history to the landlord for you, (make sure they are 100% truthful about it) and they can also be quite helpful and save you a lot of time because they most likely will know which landlords and apartments are more lenient in these circumstances. They can also advise you as to exactly what kinds of references and documents you might need to prove that you can be a responsible tenant.

You Have Located Your “Dream Apartment”

Once you have located your “dream apartment”, or as close to your perfect apartment as possible, now it is necessary to pay extremely close attention to the particulars of the rental agreement. An Apartment Lease is a contract between you and the landlord. Once agreed upon and signed by the tenant and the landlord, the rental lease creates obligations and restrictions for both parties. The most obvious covenants of the apartment lease are the length of the rental, (Six month lease, one year lease, two year lease, etc.) The amount of the security deposit, when the rent is due, who is responsible for what utilities. Also in that apartment lease, however, are stipulations, (sometimes in small print) that can cover a great variety of landlord and tenant obligations and restrictions. They can include, but are not limited to, the following:

o Maintenance of the apartment

o Care of the premises

o Cleanliness

o Insurance

o Governmental regulations

o Eminent Domain

o Nuisance and noise clauses

o Stipulations as to the circumstances whereby the landlord can enter the premises

o Use of Common Areas

o Keys and locks

o Loss or damage

o Parking

o Pets

o Plumbing

o What the landlord may do if the rent is in arrears

o What the tenant can do to bring the rent current before any kind of action might be started

o Non performance or breach of the contract by the renter

o Renter’s penalties in the event of early termination

o Circumstances which might cause the tenant or the landlord to break the lease prior to the end of the term

o Heat and other utilities

o Removal of goods

o Surrender or Non-Surrender of the premises

o Waivers of various obligations

o Prohibited reprisals

o Garbage disposal

o Recyclables

o And the list goes on and on and on.

Prospective tenants should read an Apartment lease thoroughly. Prospective apartment renters should understand everything that is contained in that lease and make an informed decision to be 100% accepting of all the provisions for both the tenant and the landlord, that you are positive that you can live up to your end of the bargain and that you are comfortable with the provisions on the landlord’s end.

If you do not understand every single clause of that apartment lease then do not sign it until you do understand it. If necessary and if possible, request assistance in interpreting the lease from a trusted source such as a knowledgeable friend or family member or employer or professional, or anyone else who can understand it and explain it to you. If necessary get legal advice. It can cost additional funds if you do not qualify for free legal assistance, but that additional cost might save you a ton of money and save you a ton of heartache and aggravation down the road.

If you do not agree with any of the provisions of that apartment lease and/or you feel that you can’t live up to the tenant’s obligations, or if you are not in agreement with any of the landlord’s rights under the agreement, then do not sign the lease until/or unless it can be changed to your satisfaction. If the apartment rental agreement cannot be amended to meet your needs and desires and comfort level then do not sign the lease and do not rent that apartment. The Apartment Rental agreement that you sign as a prospective tenant will not change once you become the actual tenant of that apartment.

Water And Phoenix Real Estate

If you really know your American history (and/or have ever read the book or seen the PBS documentary Cadillac Desert) you understand full well that settlement of the West and water issues are inextricably bound particularly in desert areas like Phoenix.

The fact is that without water, there would be no Phoenix AZ real estate – nor the city of Phoenix proper, for that matter. Fortunately, the Gila River is nearby, as well as a number of creeks and reservoirs. Over 1300 years ago, these enabled the Hohokam People to grow crops on the exceptionally fertile land. Almost a century before the time of King Charlemagne, the Hohokam created a highly developed civilization in the Valley of the Sun that endured for seven centuries. Their systems of irrigation canals formed the basis of the modern metro area’s water systems today.

Those of you planning to invest in Phoenix real estate or settle down in the area will do well to remember however that Maricopa County is a desert. Water is a precious resource, and in order to maintain the quality of life we enjoy in this area, it is important to practice water conservation.

Many Phoenix homes are landscaped using the native vegetation within attractively designed rock gardens. While a home with a traditional lawn may appear to have greater value, the cost – both financially and ecologically – of maintaining a lawn will be high and not a particularly wise use of resources.

It’s also popular to have private swimming pools in climates such as we have here in the Phoenix area. Aside from tremendous drain on local water resources, your Phoenix real estate agent will advise you that a swimming pool, while lifting your property’s value, represents a considerable investment in terms of maintenance and a potential liability as well. The possibility of someone being injured or drowned in your swimming pool is something that home insurers take into consideration when determining risk and potential liability.

In general, when planning to settle down in Maricopa County, it’s good to consider living in harmony with the environment rather than attempting to adapt it to your own tastes. Choose a home with environmentally-friendly, less water intensive landscaping. Make sure your home has low-flow toilets and shower heads – then learn all you can about water conservation. The Arizona Department of Water Resources at azwater is a good place to start learning about the latter topic.

Fast and Efficient Ways To Finding An Apartment In New York City

Searching for an apartment in the biggest City in the country is a daunting task; whether you are new to NYC or a 12 year veteran like me, you will need thick skin to navigate this concrete jungle! Let me start with my personal experience.

I am originally from Portland, OR, I moved to the Big Apple back in 1998. My first 5 months living in New York were spent living out of a hotel because I had a hard time finding a place. My original intentions were to stay at my hotel for 2 weeks, but I had to extend my stay since I grossly underestimated the difficulty of finding a decent apartment in New York. Now after 12 years and 7 moves I consider myself an expert in New York City apartment hunting and now I will share the knowledge I have accumulated over the years of searching for apartments by myself or using a broker.

This article is a guide that will help make the process of finding an apartment in this “crazy city” easier, more efficient and less confusing (it might even save you a couple of dollars in the process). It is all laid out in an easy to follow 6-step process.

Step 1: Figure Out What Neighborhood You Want To Live In!

This may seem like the easy part because you obviously want to be in an area that is convenient, trendy and safe, however you will soon figure out nothing is that easy in New York City. You need to determine what neighborhood fits your personality/life style and at the same time determine what kind of space/amenities you will need. For example you may work in the East Village and love the energy there but are you willing to pay the steep price tag for a “shoe box”(and by “shoe box” I mean a tiny apartment) in a run down building that is a 4th floor walk-up. Do you feel comfortable living in an area where it’s a constant party scene every night?

A book that is an amazing source of info for the ins & outs of every neighborhood is the NFT (Not For Tourist) guide of New York City. You can buy this in any Barns & Noble and make sure it is the most up to date version because there is a new version every year. Another great way of getting to know a neighborhood is by Googling it. With an endless source of information in cyber space why not take advantage of it. If you prefer doing it the old fashion way, taking a stroll through the neighborhood, go for it! But make sure you have your trusty NFT guide with you so you can spot the important things.

Step 2: Determine What You Are Willing To Sacrifice

In your apartment search you are going to have to sacrifice something whether it be size, location or amenities. You are going to have to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally because the grim reality is the perfect apartment doesn’t exist (unless you have an unlimited budget) The general rule of thumb in New York is the further uptown you go the bigger and cheaper the apartments will be. The further downtown you go the smaller and more expensive it will be.

You need to determine what is most important to you within your unique budget and find that middle ground. My advice, is if you find an apartment that is 70-80% ideal, take it, because the pickier you are the harder the search will be! I learned this the hard way a longtime ago and you do not want to get stuck chasing around that “magical apartment”. Yes, it is possible you might get lucky and find that perfect apartment but so is hitting the jackpot in the lottery!

Step 3: Determine What You Can Afford And If Your Budget Is Realistic

Once you have an idea of which neighborhoods you prefer to live in, now you have to determine if your a budget is realistic. Determine what is the average price for an apartment for those neighborhoods. How? I recommend going to a website called apartmenthero. This website will provide current market averages for every size apartment rental in every neighborhood in the city. Results are usually pretty accurate but sometimes they can be a little off, about plus or minus $300. When you first enter the site you will be prompted to enter information to compare your current apartment to the current market rate. If you’re a “newbie” and do not have an apartment yet, go to the right column of the website, click on “average rents in Manhattan”. Another great way is to do your own research on nytimes. I find that nytimes rental listings are much more accurate and up to date, as opposed to Craigslist and other sites where there are tons of bait & switch scams.

Next, determine what you can afford, landlord’s make this part easy because to qualify for most apartments in the Big Apple, you need to have a good credit standing (650 or above), earn a yearly household income of 40-50 times your monthly rent and if you don’t, then you need a guarantor. He or she needs to earn 80-100 times the monthly rent. For example the average one bedroom apartment in East Village is about $2,300 -$2,600 per month; you will need annual household income of $92,000 to qualify and a guarantor, would need a yearly income of $184,000 minimum.

Step 4: Timing Is EVERYTHING

I have a good friend whose ex-wife worked as a real estate agent for eight years. When they were still together, I had the unique opportunity of getting some great tips on how to look for an apartment in New York. The most impacting tip she gave me was that timing is everything. New York is unlike any city in the country when it comes to this, in most cities you generally start your apartment search two or sometimes three months before your move out date. In New York the market moves so fast that most landlords want to sign leases immediately after your application is accepted. At the very most, you have a month to search, the best deals generally come out the first week of the month or the third week of the month. Approximately 70% of the listings in the first week of the month are for movers moving on the 15th, 30% are meant for movers moving at the beginning of the next month.

Make sure you secure an apartment at least 1 1/2 week prior to when you want keys! My advice is you only need 5 days (sometimes less) to find an apartment. The first 2 days should be getting to know what’s out there, the 3rd and 4th day should be narrowing down your search and 5th day should be getting your paperwork together & submitting your application. With every rule there are exceptions, if you find an amazing place that is 95% ideal on your 3rd or 2nd day do not hesitate, take it! What is great to you is more then likely great to most apartment hunters. The vacancy rate in Manhattan is usually around 1-2% so there will be always more people looking for apartments then there are availability.

Step 5: Determine What Strategy You Will Use To Find Your “New Home”

This decision can make or break you depending on your situation. There are two ways to go about finding an apartment in New York City, you can do it the easy/expensive way and hire a broker to find you a place or you can do it the hard/affordable way by doing it yourself. I personally have done it both ways and it all depends on what you are looking for and what is your situation. Here are the benefits of both methods:

Benefits of doing it yourself

1) You will save MONEY!!!

-Broker fees are expensive; they range from 1-month rent to 15% of the annual rent. If the broker has an exclusive on the listing, you will likely have to pay 15%

2) You avoid shady money hungry brokers

-Lets face it in every industry there are bad apples and the real estate industry is no exception.

3) You will learn the City

-With all the walking you will be doing you will get to know the city better then you ever have before.

4) You’ll be in better shape when your done

-You will be in better cardiovascular shape because you will be walking a ton! So you better have on some comfortable sneakers.

Benefits of using a Broker

1) Faster and more efficient

-Your apartment search will be less time consuming and more efficient because brokers have access to thousands of listings you will never have access to and can show you a bunch in one shot.

2) Avoid outdated listings

-Websites like Craigslist, Renthop & Apartments.com are flawed and poorly regulated and most of their listings are barely updated. Brokers listings are updated daily because they have direct contact with the landlord

3) Brokers know what a landlord wants

-Each landlord in the city has their own preferences and application requirements. Brokers know what each landlord is looking for in a tenant; this can save you time, heartache and expensive application fees.

4) You will have access to more Apartments

-Approximately 41% of available listings in New York are only accessible through brokers. These types of listings are called “broker protected listings”, the land lord will only take applications represented by a broker.

Step 6: Here Are Some Great Tips

1) Talk to a Doorman

-If you do decide to try doing it yourself talking to doormen is a great way to find an apartment. Doormen not only have info to the building they are working in but to other buildings the landlord may own.

2) More is not always better

-If you do decide to use a broker, more than one broker at a time is not always better. Brokers have almost all the same listings because most listing are open. For example if you call ten brokers and give them your detailed description of what you are looking for there is a distinct possibility you will be shown the same apartments. At the same time you should not limit yourself and work with one broker, you might be missing out, because some brokers have exclusive listings. My advice is, you should only use three brokers and if you find one that you feel is competent and trustworthy, stick with him/her.

3) Use NakedApartments

-This website gives you the ability to not only look for rental listings while discreetly contacting brokers/landlords but you can give them a review if you had a bad or good experience. You can also look at the reviews of other brokers or landlords before you decide to contact them.

4) Don’t be afraid to negotiate a broker fee

-Most brokers would rather negotiate and get the deal done then risk having the next broker showing the apartment and rent it before him/her. Do not get carried away, no broker will take less then a month. Remember if the apartment is an exclusive listing you will have no leverage for negotiations.

Phoenix Real Estate Market at Risk of Sudden Slowdown Due to Newly Passed Housing Bill

The Phoenix residential real estate market could see a 10% or greater drop in home sales with the elimination of down payment assistance tied to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, which would have serious repercussions given the market’s already challenging climate.

Nestled in H.R. 3221, or “The Housing & Economic Recovery Act of 2008,” passed into law on July 30th, the Congress and the President set a date of October 1st for the elimination of down payment assistance, a financing option for many home-buyers in the Phoenix real estate market.

Down payment assistance is provided in tandem with a Federal Housing Administration loan whereby home-sellers can contribute monies through an intermediary toward a down payment for home-buyers to purchase a home. The intermediary acts as a pass-through for seller contributions and passes these monies to the buyer as a ‘gift.’ Ameridream Inc. and Nehemiah represent the most visible of these intermediaries and have been involved in several legal challenges with FHA over the down payment assistance option.

But the hard truth is that elimination of these programs may adversely impact the Phoenix housing market and do more harm than good in the short term. This is due to FHA loans and down payment assistance programs’ prominence in the current housing environment. FHA loans haven taken on a hugely important role in the Phoenix residential real estate market. As loan programs disappeared, credit requirements tightened, and down payment requirements rose to 10% or more, FHA loans presented the only option for home buyers to get into properties with 3% or less down payment through the use of DPA. Some estimates are that FHA loans currently represent over 50% of closed residential real estate transactions for the year. As a result, the wholesale removal of down payment assistance programs may have an immediate impact.

If the legislation holds, the market may see two developments. First, there will be heightened activity in the period up to October 1st as affected home buyers seek to lock into homes before they get sidelined and aren’t able to. Second, there will be an appreciable decline in buyer activity and home sales as a result of down payment assistance’s elimination after October 1st. Buyers who could have purchased homes will have to wait or give up their search.

Phoenix could see a 10% or greater decline in an already suffering housing market that potentially moves it away from a market that is recovering to one that is stinging. Taking this one step further, if the impact is similar in other markets across the country, the effect on the broader economy of the United States may be problematic.

The Federal Housing Administration as part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is staunchly against the use of the programs citing that down payment assistance transactions incur a disproportionate number of foreclosures when compared to loans where the buyer accumulated the down payment. Higher FHA loan defaults raise the costs and risks to FHA. FHA cites that homeowners using these programs are able to buy their homes with effectively no money down and so have no personal stake in the properties themselves. With no personal stake, the buyers may not have the personal financial discipline to keep their commitments or the financial wherewithal to afford the properties in the first place.

Proponents counter that the programs simply allow viable and qualified buyers the ability to own their own homes and that elimination of the program will hurt American families.

Regardless of the side of the debate one is on, the market reality is that wholesale elimination of the down payment assistance option does present a risk to the Phoenix housing market. as it has been an important and prominent enabler for the local housing market. Time will tell if a viable compromise solution is put before the Congress and the President before down payment assistance goes completely away.

Money Saving Solutions For Living in Apartments

Only Visit Cheap Ottawa Apartments

Although this article is about saving money while you’re already living in an apartment, this tip is important enough that it still belongs here. You shouldn’t rent an apartment you can’t afford! Live below your means.

When you’re beginning your apartment search, create a budget, find a maximum amount you’re willing to pay in apartment rent, and don’t go over that amount – no matter what! You can visit apartments that are a bit over your budgeted number, but only if you think you can negotiate down to under whatever maximum you’ve set. And if you do visit the apartment but you can’t negotiate down, nix the apartment from you’re list.

Pay Yourself First

You might have heard this saying before. This tip can be applied to any one looking to save money. Whenever you get a paycheck, pay yourself first. Before you buy clothes, before you pay your apartment rent, put a little away in a savings account or an investment where you’ll never look at it or touch it.

The saying comes from the book, The Richest Man in Babylon. The book recommends putting away at least 10% of your total earnings. After you do that, and after you do things like pay off your apartment rent, you can do whatever you want with your money, guilt free!

Do It Yourself

One of the advantages of an apartment is that if there’s ever a problem with the apartment itself, or the appliances that came in the apartment, you can ask the landlord to fix it (assuming you’re renting an apartment from a reputable apartment rental company. However, for all the other stuff (your computer, your furniture, etc.) you’ll have to pay someone to fix it, or learn to do it yourself; same goes for decorating. Learning a few trade skills can save you a lot of money while you live in your apartment. They’ll also help if you make the switch from renting Ottawa apartments to owning an Ottawa home!

Make Use of Your Apartment Kitchen

It’s easy to spend a lot of money eating out. But if you cook at home, in your apartment, you’ll save lots of money very easily. The more you cook, and the more you shop for groceries, the easier it’ll be to know which foods are cost-effective, and which ones are a bit too expensive for your “taste.” Most apartments come with basic apartment appliances like a fridge and a stove.

Don’t Leave Things On

If you pay for utilities, you should be extra vigilant about letting anything run longer than necessary. Don’t leave a light on if you’re not in the room. Don’t let your computer “sleep” overnight – turn it off! If you pay for water, don’t take extra long showers.

Here are 12 more tips to lower your apartment electric bill.

In apartments it can get pretty cold during the winter. If you don’t want to blast your heat up, then you should close your apartment windows, and make sure they’re not letting cold air in. Tape can fix this, and heavy curtains can also help. As well, make sure your radiator isn’t covered up by furniture.

Use the Library

If you’re in any apartments near Universities or other schools, you likely have access to a library. Use it! Besides, how much space do you really have in your apartment for more books or DVDs? Speaking of which, many libraries offer DVD rentals, and you should check out the selection at whichever library is nearest to your apartment.

Here are the public library locations; their main library is near downtown apartments. But as you’ll see on the map, there’s almost always an ibrary near you – and that’s not even counting the student libraries around.

Why Phoenix Real Estate is a Good Choice

For those who are relocating to Phoenix, Arizona or current residents who may be looking for a new home, the best choice is to use a reputable Phoenix real estate agency to help you find one of the Phoenix homes for sale. Attempting to locate Phoenix homes for sale without using a Phoenix real estate agency can be a frustrating and lengthy process because of all the Phoenix homes that are available on the market at any given time. One of the best reasons to contract with a Phoenix real estate agency is to make it easy for buyers to find Phoenix AZ real estate and for sellers to connect with buyers who are looking for real estate in Phoenix, Arizona.

Although it is possible to find some properties that are available directly from the sellers, most Phoenix real estate is listed with an agency in order to make the process flow smoother and to allow buyers to have access to a larger network of Phoenix homes for sale. Working with a Phoenix, Arizona real estate agent can help a seller with presenting his home to the largest community of buyers. Although newspaper advertising may work for some things a person sells, it is much more practical to sell your home through a realtor.

For the seller utilizing the services of a Phoenix, Arizona real estate agency means he does not have to do any advertising, be responsible for showing the home, or negotiating the price of the home. In fact, most real estate agencies prefer the seller to leave the home when they are selling in order to prevent the seller from providing any negative feedback to the potential buyer. Leaving everything up to a Phoenix real estate agency takes the responsibility of presenting the property from the seller to the real estate agent who is more experienced in how to secure the sale of Phoenix homes.

One of the most important things is for a buyer to work with his own Phoenix real estate instead of using the services of the listing agent. This protects the buyer because the listing agent is working in the best interest of the seller rather than the buyer. It is essential for the buyer to have someone who does not have a vested interest in the seller and therefore will work with a buyer to help him or her find the property they want. Realtors work from both the seller’s and the buyer’s angle which is why it is essential for a buyer to secure his own real estate agent and settlement attorney. Buying a home is the biggest investment you will make, and you want to be sure the transaction proceeds smoothly and there are no problems that may develop after the sale is closed.

Free Move Apartment Locating Companies – Know the Truth!

We all are attracted to the word “free”, and the idea that we are getting something for nothing. There are many legitimate free offerings available to consumers in a wide variety of settings. For instance, Apartment Locators truly do offer a valuable service to all renters who are searching for an apartment, and the service is completely free to the renter, saving them countless hours driving around visiting thousands of properties, and very probably missing out on the best deals and the best apartments.

However, there are also many companies who use the word “free” to lure in customers, and then they may or may not actually deliver the product or service that they initially promised. They get past this deception by writing so many loopholes into the fine print of their advertisement that they can always excuse their lack of delivery. So caution is always in order when you are trusting any company who promises to give you something important for free.

Moving is a very stressful time for many. Often there are deadlines to be out of your current apartment by a certain time. There are items to sort and boxes to pack, and to pack carefully to avoid anything from being broken. Then there is the careful loading and the careful unloading and the unpacking and placing and sorting. You have to allow time to clean the old apartment before you turn in the keys, and you have to be sure you are stopping by the new apartment during business hours so you can obtain the keys to your new home. You have utilities to disconnect and new utilities to connect. A lot is happening at once, and there always is the concern that perhaps you have forgotten something important. You already arranged your schedule to have the day free for moving. You got all your affairs in order, and now you are just waiting for the moving company to arrive. The LAST thing that you need is a glitch over some small detail in fine print that causes your moving company to not show up and deliver that “free” move that you were counting on and planning for.

That is exactly what happened to a friend of mine very recently. She used one of those apartment locating companies in the Dallas, TX area that supposedly offered a “free” move. I wont mention names here, but it is a well known company. Anyway, she gets home from work and has all of her items packed and ready to go. It’s a Friday evening, and she has had the move scheduled with the movers for weeks. She has to be OUT of her apartment by midnight THAT night. They are suppose to come at 7:00 pm, so there is a bit of a time crunch but that’s the only time the movers had available. They finally show up, take a look at her small 1 bedroom apartment and tell her “The free move only covers 2 hours worth of free moving. It looks like you have more items than we can move in 2 hours” (fine print), and they leave!!!! My friend is panicking. She is a single lady who lives all by herself and has to be out of her apartment in just a few hours. If she lives in a small 1 bedroom and had too many items for them to move, it makes me wonder exactly who they COULD move?? Anyway, my friend calls me at 8:00 desperate and crying. I rally up our other friends and we manage to find a U Haul place that was still open and rent a truck. We all go over and move her that same evening. She got out of her apartment in time, and she got a free move all right, but it wasn’t from the company who promised her the move. She did everything she was suppose to do, wrote their name on the Leasing Application as the Locating Company who referred her to the new apartments, and THEY GOT PAID FOR THE REFERRAL, yet they did NOT deliver the move that they promised.

It turns out that many of these “free move” companies have fine print that limits how long they will give you for the move. And what happens if the move happens to go over that time. Do they just leave? Evidently. Or, if they look over your items and feel the job might take longer than the allowed time, they may not even START the move. Another thing to beware of in the fine print….not only may there be limits to the time they will allow, but they often limit the types of items and the number of items they will move. For instance, if you have a one bedroom, they sometimes have a very specific list of the only items they will move. For example: 1 couch, 1 coffee table, one dining room table, 4 dining chairs, a bed, a dresser, a nightstand, 2 lamps, a few boxes (they often will only agree to move a small number of boxes) and many times that is it!! If you have a 2 bedroom, they may increase the list by adding another bed and dresser. But what if you happen to have an item that is not on their list…..such as a desk, or a curio cabinet, or a piano, or an aquarium, or a chest of drawers or an extra table or a loveseat, or a recliner, or a few more boxes than they allow? Do not be surprised if they leave all items behind that are not on their restrictive list, and you are just stuck figuring out what to do with them yourself. If it’s enough items, or items that are large enough, you may end up having to rent a truck or UHaul anyway, or call friends who can come help you.

Another friend of mine recently told me that something similar happened to him that happened to my first friend. He was using one of those apartment locating companies that offer a “free” move. He said they were calling him every day while he was looking for the apartment, trying hard to convince him to move into one of the few places they had recommended. Each day they called to check if he picked a place yet and if he put their name on the Leasing Application of any apartments yet. Finally he did pick a place, and he did put there name there as the Locator who referred him. After that, an interesting thing happened. He could never get a hold of anyone at the apartment locating company again! Once they found out he picked a place and wrote them down (their check was guaranteed), they never called him after that. They wouldn’t return his calls and he couldn’t find a real live human in the company to speak with in order to schedule his free move. He ended up having to hire another moving company in the end. The “free” move locating company got paid their money and they never delivered the free move.

How are the “free move” locating companies different from all the other Apartment Locating Companies? Well, there are some definite differences that you should be aware of. First of all, let’s establish the fact that most Apartment Locating companies do not need to offer a “free move” to lure in customers. It has been shown that their superb customer service and the expertise they offer will save the average renter $500-$700…..which is much more valuable than the cost of a 2 hour move. Plus, they truly help you find the BEST and most awesome apartment home. Another clear difference is this: Not all of the apartment communities out there will work with the “free move” locating companies. In fact, many of them will not. This is because of a combination of reasons.

For one, some of these “free move” companies do not have the best reputation. Secondly, some of the apartments do not feel that they actually earned the commission that they are wanting the apartments to pay them. Some of those free move companies simply have a website where you log on and search for yourself. They only will show you information on the limited number of properties that will actually work with them and pay them. Once you pick a place, you log on again to the website and tell them which one you picked and then the computer is suppose to schedule the move. Not all of the companies are identical, but this is the procedure for some. A real human is not even actively involved in helping you with your search in many cases. Many of the apartments feel that just putting a website online alone does not merit earning a commission. Anyone can have a website. In fact, the apartments already have their own website. Although there is nothing wrong with a Locating Company having a website (in fact, all of them do), the problem arises when the locator ONLY communicates through their website and are predominantly a dot.com business.

The apartment complexes don’t want to pay a dot.com for setting up a website and then only delivering what they promises part of the time. They want to pay Apartment Locators who have a brick and mortar office, who have actual live Agents who work there and who deal one-on-one with the potential renters, assisting them to find their new rental home with customized, individual lists of apartment information. Many times these Locators even escort their clients to the properties. If the client has a unique situation, the Locator can tell them which properties are most likely to work their their particular circumstances. They know who has the best specials out there, or who has the specific amenities that the renter is seeking. The renter can actually call their Locator and speak to them and ask questions and develop a working relationship.

What is the disadvantage for YOU, the prospective renter, when not all the apartments will work with the “move free” locating companies? The problem arises in that the “move free” companies are only going to recommend to you the particular apartments that happen to work with them. This means that you may not find out about the property who is actually the one that matches exactly what you want and has the best special. They will only display information for the properties who will pay them. When you work with a traditional Apartment Locator who works with ALL the properties in the City, you can be confident that you are getting the whole picture and will honestly be told about all the properties who have the best specials. This is a distinct advantage that real brick and mortar Apartment Locators have over the so-called “free move” locators. Most traditional Apartment Locators work with All the reputable apartment and town-home communities. It doesn’t matter to them which one you pick in the end as long as you are happy, because ALL of them will pay the Locator and work with the Agent. They have no need to try to steer you to one particular property over another. Their job is to recommend who has the best deal and seems to be the best match for you.

So, go with the Locating Company that is going to give you the best long term deal and the home that you will be the most happy with. These type of Companies should have years of experience and contracts with almost ALL the apartment communities in your area of interest. For instance, in the Dallas Fort Worth area of Texas (DFW), there are over 3000 apartment communities. Apartment Locators in this area should have brick and mortar locations with multiple Locators onsite who are all Licensed Real Estate Agents, and familiar with DFW. Listen to these comments made by a local DFW Locator: “I give my cell phone number to each client because I want them to be able to reach me any time they need my assistance. I’ve even had them call me while they were sitting in the chair at the leasing office at one of the apartments I referred them to, to ask me a question. I truly am their advocate, an expert on their side to make finding their new apartment as quick and easy and successful as possible. I work with them all the way through their move and have even assisted many people who were relocating from other states and were not able to come here in person to DFW to see the properties first. They relied on me to be their eyes and ears and select the best property for them and arrange all the paperwork so that their new place was ready and waiting when they arrived.” Try getting THAT kind of service from a “free move” company website.

Instead of opting to go with a “free move” Company that may or may not actually deliver their free move, and may or may not tell you about all of the choices you truly have at your disposal, go with a reputable and experienced live Apartment Locating Company who can save you $500-$600 average on your overall lease by telling you about specials you may not have ever discovered otherwise and give you complete information on all the awesome properties available.

Moving to Metro Houston Can Be Fun

Moving to Metro Houston can be quite an adventure, especially if you have never visited or lived here in the past. There are so many things to see and do that if you have a job waiting for you, maybe you should schedule your first day for a week or two after your move if you can afford to do so. This way, you can spend some time getting to know the city. You can visit all of the local attractions, learn how to find your way around town and get more comfortable with the area before you actually settle down and get to work.

Fun Family Activities

Once you have arrived at your new home and you have a few days to explore the area, you are probably going to be looking for plenty of family-friendly activities, especially if you have young children. Luckily, you have definitely come to the right place to find activities that the entire family will enjoy. One of your first stops should be Space Center Houston, where you will learn everything you ever wanted to know about the history of the United States space program. You can take a tram tour around the Johnson Space Center and sit in models of various space craft, including a space shuttle, and see suits that were worn by NASA astronauts. There is even a space-themed play area for children.

Another fun activity for the whole family is the Children’s Museum of Houston. After moving to Metro Houston, you really should check this place out. Don’t let the name fool you, because there are exhibits here that are going to be interesting to all ages, and adults and children alike will be amazed at the things they see and learn, including nanotechnology, art and various inventions and how they work. There is an awesome play area, and even a café with plenty of menu options.

While you are exploring the area, don’t forget to take a trip to the Houston Zoo, where you will find many wonderful exhibits with wild cats, primates, reptiles, birds and a whole lot more. Here you will find a children’s water park, a beautiful animal-themed carousel (located right at the entrance), and an aquarium with 23 different exhibits, including jellyfish from the South Pacific.

Moving can be a really stressful thing, and it is nice to be able to take some time after the move to just relax and get to know your new surroundings. With so many fun things for everyone in the family to do, you won’t have much time to sit still because your family is going to want to check out these and many other attractions after moving to Metro Houston.

With the Current Stock Market Malaise, Investment in Phoenix Real Estate Makes Even More Sense

The Phoenix residential real estate market represents a great opportunity to individuals, families, and investors who are weary about the stock market and are realizing that their investment portfolios are too exposed to fluctuations in Wall Street. By now, the reality has sunk in with most people – the stock market’s decline has hit 401K and other retirement investments hard. As a result, this is a critical time to for individuals, families, and investors to rethink diversification of their portfolios again. Portfolios need to be more highly diversified than ever before.

And it’s time to rethink real estate as one component of your diversification in the future in addition to stocks, bonds, commodities, international investment, and low-risk savings instruments, to name a few.

Wall Street, Main Street, and My Street, and Real Estate

There is no doubt that the goings-on in the real estate industry are intermingled with the market challenges that Wall Street is facing, which in turn impacts Main Street and “My Street.” But the issues with real estate largely emanated from the many corporations that make up Wall Street combined with lack of government oversight and inaction. Lack of personal discretion also contributed to the problem.

Having said that, here is why real estate should be a component in your investment portfolio once again, and why the Phoenix real estate market is an excellent choice for investment to help you diversify that portfolio.

First, due to the wave of foreclosure-related properties, prices have declined to 2004 and even 2003 pricing levels. This is pricing that is pre-run up. Though there is a risk that prices may drop further, the extent of a further decline may be limited in the short term while the long term outlook gradually gets stronger.

Second, real estate can prove to be a more reliable investment in a normal market environment. Prior to the run-up in home valuations in the second half of 2004 through 2005, annual home appreciation in the Phoenix residential real estate market averaged 5%-6% . Playing the long game as investors should, holding a property for 5-20 years could yield a solid return.

Long term is key here. The investor has to be committed to a lower but steady return on their investment when it comes to real estate. The Phoenix housing market will not likely experience a meteoric rise in valuations like it did again. That’s not to say that there won’t be some opportunities to turn properties fast (whether through acquisition at a foreclosure auction or wholesale, or a flip), but this model will have the high risk that most investors will and should shy away from.

One note here. At least in the Phoenix area, investors have to weigh the merits of investments in homes and real estate by several components to get a true picture of the return on a property. These factors are growth in appreciation, rental income and offsets, tax benefits, and equity paydown and buildup.

Third, real estate is real. You can see it. You can touch it. You can check up on it (if you buy locally). And it will always hold some intrinsic value no matter what happens. If you have a home in Chandler, it is easy to get across the Phoenix area, to check up on an investment property in Glendale. Or, perhaps the investment property you choose is right next door to your home in Tempe.

Fourth, under certain circumstances, real estate taxation on capital gains growth can be minimal. The same cannot be said of many other investment vehicles.

Fifth, an investor has much more control in determining the value of the property. Smart improvements and renovations combined with effective property management can increase the value of the property substantially.

Sixth, the Phoenix area continues to grow. The Valley saw a 2.8% increase in the number of residents here last year. This trend will continue as Phoenix and surrounding areas are perceived as a stable, optimum climate to live and to work. With the decline in real estate prices, this perception will also be reinforced by a sense that Phoenix and surrounding areas are once again affordable.

Finally, real estate can serve a dual investment/personal objective. For instance, an investment in real estate can serve as a later gift for children. Or, it can be utilized as a sort of savings plan for children’s college tuition as a complement to 529s and Coverdell plans. The investment could be a retirement property for later in life. Real estate investments can also be used to create income streams to live off of (when rents and equity buildup eventually turn the property cash-flow positive).

There are numerous reasons to invest in real estate even beyond this list.

Real Estate Has A Role to Play in Your Investment Portfolio

The difficult truth about the stock market is that over the past eight years, the U.S. economy has seen two major disruptions or recessions that were severe enough to have rippling effects for all Americans as seen by the decline in 401K and other retirement savings values. As a result, further diversification of investment portfolios is needed across many different asset classes with a regional focus as well.

Real estate should be one of those classes. Given real estate has seen real substantial pricing declines over the last three years to levels seen before the run-up period, one has to consider that there are real deals in the marketplace for real estate. Coupled with the right long-term outlook and commitment to investment fundamentals, real estate can have a more effectual, countervailing purpose in investment portfolios that can help Americans better weather substantial market disruptions in the future. For investors looking for specific markets that may be worthwhile to investigate, real estate in the Phoenix area is a compelling choice.