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Renting an Apartment in NYC

Finding an apartment in NYC can seem like one of the most daunting experiences of your life, especially when on a budget in such an expensive city; but if you break the process down, it becomes far less stressful. The first thing you need to consider is your budget. This will help steer you in the right direction regarding realistic locations, and whether or not you will need a roommate(s). Once you have figured out your budget, begin to look into various areas in the city you are interested in to get a feeling for average pricing and availability. Depending on what you find, you will then be able to determine if you need a roommate or roommates to help split the costs of your apartment. It’s very important to have your budget, ideal locations, and roommates all finalized before beginning your search. This way, you won’t waste any time during the process.

 

New York City

Once all your preferences are set, you should first browse various websites to see what’s available. It’s important to be wary of what you see online, though, as many posts are scams. There are websites pertaining to all cities, but two of the most legitimate sites in NYC are www.citihabitats.com and www.streeteasy.com. Though these sites guarantee real listings and great service from licensed professionals, they often come with hefty broker fees. Broker fees are often 15% of one year’s rent. In addition to this, you will have to put down a deposit upon signing the lease, so it’s vital to keep these costs in mind when choosing how to pursue your apartment.

A different approach to take is to use Craigslist or sites like HotPads. These sites are more risky, in that one can never be sure who they are dealing with on the other end. However, some of the best deals are on these sites and often do not come with a broker’s fee. Craigslist has an option to look for only no fee apartments, and you can even look for sublets or roommates if you are having difficulty finding any. Sometimes going with a sublet is a favorable option, because you often won’t have to pay a broker’s fee or deposit, depending on your roommate. This is also a more non-committal option, as you won’t sign a lease. If you are looking for something temporary or short-term, subletting may be ideal.

Once you have found a bunch of places to look at, check them all out to get a feeling for what you like best. Walk around the area at night to make sure you feel safe, and get a feeling for the neighborhood at large. Other factors to consider are pets, walk-ups versus elevator buildings, and whether or not you prefer having a doorman. Once you figure out exactly what you want upon viewing these apartments, your search will narrow down quite a bit.

Once you’ve found the apartment you love, sign a lease – FAST! Apartments go off the market like rapid fire in NYC, and it can be horribly disappointing to lose a place you love; however, this is incredibly common. Once you do get to lease signing, read the fine print extremely closely, as you may be surprised by what you see. One of the biggest issues today with apartments in NYC is bed bugs. Landlords are required to tell you if there have been cases of bed bugs within the past year in the building, but they may not be as forthcoming with that information as you would like. If there have been bed bugs in the building recently, it will be in your lease, so be sure to look for that disclosure or anything else that seems out of the ordinary.

After you’ve signed your lease, celebrate and enjoy your new life in one of the greatest cities in the world!

Where to Live at College?

One of the first things students think about when college comes around is, “where am I going to live?!” For some students, living on campus in the dorms is where they belong. The dorms are close to class and student activities, and cluttered with other students just begging for a study buddy or a friend. For others, off campus living holds many benefits. Conversely, living off campus can be a make or break move financially for any young and eager student. There are generally two options a student has when it comes to off campus living; rent an apartment or live at home.
Renting an apartment can be a large commitment for a new student with a full class load. Rent can range anywhere from $500-$1000. However, there are also things like internet and electricity bills, not to mention things like cleaning, which can really take a toll on your checking account and free time. Students who make the decision to rent an apartment usually find themselves working at least a few nights a week, taking up valuable study time.

I, like many other students, have taken option number two; living at home. After moving to Iowa City from a little town in Illinois to attend college, my grandparents graciously offered my twin sister and I one of the apartments they rent out or a room in their basement. I was prepared to jump into apartment living. The excitement of living on my own was almost more than I could handle. I was ready to sign the lease when my sister stopped me and said we should consider living with our grandparents. Forgive me if I didn’t find as much excitement in living with my grandparents as I did with living on my own. Thoughts of curfews and homework checks clouded my mind. But, then I sat down and figured out how much money I would be spending renting an apartment. With a $500 rent, at least $100 in groceries every two weeks, and a little extra gas money driving the extra distance to class, living in the apartment began to lose a lot of its appeal.

My second semester of college and of living with my grandparents is rapidly coming to an end and I could not be happier with the decision I made to live with my grandparents. The money that I saved not renting an apartment now populates the empty space that I once called my savings account. The education I am receiving at college is paid for and I am able to afford filling up my gas tank to visit home every now and then. The choice I made to live with family instead of renting an apartment on my own was one of the best decisions I could have.

How to Avoid Home Foreclosure

Foreclosure is a potentially devastating problem that faces homeowners. When a homeowner is not able to pay the mortgage loan, the bank will reclaim the mortgage property. This is the beginning of a foreclosure proceeding. Foreclosure can occur suddenly. If the financial situation of the homeowner changes, he could be facing the real danger of losing his property.

Before foreclosure happens, it is important that the homeowner takes steps to avoid this problem. Here are some steps to prevent this from occurring:

1. Get a fixed interest rate.

A variable interest rate on your mortgage is highly unstable. If changes in the economy occur, the rates could shoot up in an instant especially during economic recession. When this occurs, the monthly payments that the homeowner has to pay will rise drastically to the extent that the he could no longer afford it.

To avert this potential disaster, it is a good idea to get a fixed rate on the mortgage loan. A fixed rate will remain the same even if market situation changes. This means you know exactly how much monthly premium you need to pay each and every month. And, you need not worry about fluctuations in the economy because your interest rates on loans will be unchanged.

2. Dialogue with lender.

If you lose your job and you think you cannot make monthly payments anymore, it is good to arrange a dialogue with the lender or bank before the problem becomes full-blown. Talk to the creditor about your financial situation. And give him a satisfactory and valid reason explaining why you cannot pay monthly premiums. The lender might take into consideration your reason and give you a grace period, enough time for you to secure the money for payment.

3. Debt forgiveness.

This is one option that a debtor may resort to if he has a very considerate lender. A lender might waive your missed payments once he hears your reason. This is called debt forgiveness which seldom happens but it is a possible solution. However, you must agree to pay the monthly premium after the missed payments are waived.

4. Loan repayment plan.

This is another option that a homeowner can request from a lender. In this plan, the payments that the homeowner missed will be divided into easy to pay monthly plan. This way, he can catch up with the monthly premium payments.

5. Loan modification.

This is another option available for homeowners to evade foreclosure. In this process, the homeowner will negotiate with the bank for lower interest rates or lower monthly premiums. This will make the payments more affordable for the homeowner who is in a temporary financial bind.

6. Short sale.

The house is sold before reaching the point of foreclosure. This way, the homeowner is able to pay the debt in full. Sometimes, the sale price of the home could be lower than the actual mortgage. It is good to discuss this with the bank. The bank might accept the amount and forgive the unpaid balance.

7. Foreclosure mediation.

An arbitrator acts as the mediator between the homeowner and the bank. The meeting between the debtor and lender will focus on the reduction of principal or interest or issuing deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

How to Add Value to Your Home

Home improvements are always regarded as the ideal investment to make in a home. They work to greatly add value to your home price. The apparent belief is that home improvements not only make the house more of a pleasurable living experience to endure but they also increase the value of your property.

add value to your house

This is a fair definition of what home improvement should achieve but a lot of the home improvement carried out doesn’t actually get to reach these and other less obvious but just as important goals of home improvement.

So here are some basic characteristics of what would make for good home improvement efforts:

a) They should improve the overall value of the property, in particular regard to two potential audiences: banks and property buyers.

b) They should make the house more practical in terms of being used as a living space. Open space improvements, for example, help reduce on walls which take up space and make navigation cumbersome, even in large houses.

c) They should have an overall impact on reduction of the cost of utilities. Home improvement projects that improve water use, drainage systems, save on electricity bills by improving access to natural light or by providing efficient lighting systems as well as improving central heating systems certainly fall into this category. If by home improvement you are adding a paint type, for example, that enhances lighting in your house, even at that level, you are on the right track.

d) Home improvements that improve the safety of the property are certainly vital as well. These include improving heat and electrical insulation, fire systems as well as general security systems like alarms. If you install nets in areas with houses that can be accessed by insects or storm windows for bad weather-prone areas, you are getting value for your home improvement investment.

e) Home improvement is also probably best done by a professional. It is all very well to try and do things around the house once in a while but installing new garage doors or re-tiling the kitchen really should not be done by you. The less than professional work actually shows, even to an untrained eye.

f) Convenience also really helps home improvement worthwhile. If you upgrade some of the bedrooms, particularly the master bedroom an en-suite bedroom, the value for the property is bumped up considerably due to the added convenience.

Of course you may have some improvements that do not fall directly into this category, that though they may be pleasing to the eye or your own personal tastes, really do nothing for you intrinsically, or for the property in terms of adding value. These include things like interior decor and swimming pools. You may add them of course, but only as a bonus.

In the long run, it helps to get all the other aspects out of the way first.