How to Choose the Right Neighborhood

Any good Realtor will share the mantra, “location, location, location” when talking to you about what attributes help a home hold onto its value and potentially appreciate. However, no one neighborhood is right every buyer. Determining which community meets your needs and your budget requires research and some soul searching about your priorities.

How to Choose the Right Neighborhood

Establish your priorities

Before a Realtor can begin to help you look for a home, you (and your spouse or partner) should develop a list of needs and wants. For some buyers, the home itself is of paramount importance: they want a particular style or size or a big yard. For others, the neighborhood is more important. If you have an unlimited budget you may be able to find the perfect home in a desirable neighborhood, but since most buyers need to meet a budget, you may have to compromise on either the house or the community.

Next, think about what amenities you’d like to have nearby or whether you’d like to live in a rural area without neighbors. If you like to swim or golf or play soccer or your kids do, facilities for those sports should be on the list of things you look for in a neighborhood. On the other hand, you could be more focused on easy access to cultural amenities or nightlife. Think about whether you’d like to live in place where residents interact often or whether you prefer to have cordial but distant relationships with your neighbors.

Schools matter – even if you don’t have kids
If you have children or are planning to have a family in the future, buying a home in a community with good schools is already likely to be a priority. Even if you don’t have children to educate, though, you should be aware that homes located in a good school district typically hold onto their value better than those in less highly regarded districts. In fact, Redfin real estate company completed a nationwide study in 2013 that shows that Americans pay $50 per square foot more for homes served by a top-ranked school than for homes served by an average-ranked school.

The Fair Housing Act prevents Realtors from providing information directly to buyers about specific schools, but they can share links to websites that rate schools and to local school systems.

Transportation issues
A major consideration for most home buyers when it comes to choosing where to live is how they’ll get to the places they go regularly. In communities near or in a city, prime locations are typically close to public transit options. Many suburban communities are being designed around a “town center” concept so that residents can walk to restaurants, shops and entertainment and sometimes even to work.

When you’re looking for a home, you should consider how convenient it is for you and for future potential buyers when you’re ready to sell.

Homes that are located close to a subway station or to popular commuter routes are often more costly than those that require a longer commute to a city center, so ask your Realtor to show you areas that may have similar attributes but are less expensive. Alternatively, if living in a particular neighborhood is your number one priority, you may need to compromise in terms of the size home you buy or its condition.

How to compare communities
It’s important to visit a prospective neighborhood at various times of day and on both weekdays and weekends to get a feel for what it would be like to live there. Look at how the homes are maintained to see if they meet your standards. Try to talk to residents about what the community is like and test out your commute at the time of day you typically go to work.

Finding the right neighborhood takes some legwork, but it’s important to choose a place to live where you want to come home every night.

This article was originally published by Michele Lerner on To see the original article, click here


Homes for Oktoberfest

From enjoying a seasonal brew to dusting off your dirndl, there are countless ways to partake in German-themed festivities this time of year. To spice up your Oktoberfest tradition at home, we’ve gathered a few gingerbread-style chalets and yodel-inducing Tudors for sale around the U.S.

Saratoga, CA

24098 Deerpath Rd, Saratoga, CA
For sale: $1.498 million

from Zillow

from Zillow

With mountain views from every room, this Swiss chalet-style home is an ideal retreat on 1.74 wooded acres. It’s also only 10 minutes from downtown Saratoga, where homes are hitting the market for amedian list price of $2.095 million.

Minneapolis, MN

2504 Euclid Pl, Minneapolis, MN 
For sale: $1.295 million

from Zillow

from Zillow

Parapeted gables and other architectural details reminiscent of a traditional German marketplace add character to this 5-bedroom home. In the market for Tudor? Check out more Minneapolis homes for sale.

Cavendish, VT

1589 Vt Route 131, Cavendish, VT 
For sale: $1.2 million

from Zillow

from Zillow

Located in a small town in Windsor County, VT, this home features the elaborate gables and stone-wall cladding seen in homes throughout Europe. Compared to other Weathersfield homes for sale, this one is on the pricier end but comes with a rich history dating back to 1845.

Leavenworth, WA

1528 Alpensee Strasse, Leavenworth, WA
For sale: $599,000

from Zillow

from Zillow

If you haven’t visited Germany, the next best thing may be Leavenworth, WA. Located in the Cascades, the entire town is Bavarian-themed from the architecture down to the street signs. For just under $600,000, this 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath “haus” has Wenatchee River views from two decks and a detached Alpine-style apartment. For a less expensive option, check out other homes for sale in Leavenworth.

Mound House, NV

400 Hwy 341, Mound House, NV 
For sale: $159,500

from Zillow

from Zillow

Looking for an off-the-grid escape? This Nevada home sits high on a hill overlooking Silver City and beyond. It’s also eco-friendly with solar panels and a well on the property. If you’re not familiar with theMound House real estate market, it’s just outside Dayton, where the median home value is $141,100.

Saint Helen, MI

1589 Stanley Ct, Saint Helen, MI 
For sale: $62,900

from Zillow

from Zillow

This gingerbread-style house could use a few interior updates, but its Bavarian curb appeal is a definite selling point with hand-carved shutters and diamond-shaped panes. The median list price for homes hitting the Saint Helen real estate market is $59,500, so this home is within the expected range for the area.

This article was originally published by Catherine Sherman on Zillow Blog. See the original article here

Security Deposits: Renters’ Rights You Need to Know

A security deposit is an amount of money you pay to your landlord to cover any damage incurred or necessary cleaning of the rental property once your lease has expired. It’s also one of the most common sources of disagreement between landlords and tenants.

Security Deposits FAQ

Rental laws vary from state to state, with some states dictating certain procedures that landlords must follow for refunding, using and accounting for a tenant’s security deposit. The following tips are some of the basics that every tenant should know about security deposits, because what you don’t know can cost you.

Q: Why is my landlord requiring me to pay a security deposit?
A: Security deposits are a guarantee that you will keep the rental in good condition. If you owe back rent or late fees when you move out, your landlord may deduct that amount from your deposit. Your landlord may also deduct from the deposit the cost of cleaning and repairs beyond normal wear and tear.

Q: How much can my landlord charge for a security deposit?
A: Every state allows landlords to charge a security deposit, but how much they can charge varies. In some states, limits are as low as $100, while others allow for security deposits equal to three months’ rent. Furthermore, 24 states have no statutory limits for how much you can be charged for a security deposit.

Q: What does my landlord do with my deposit during my tenancy?
A: Generally, landlords are required to put security deposits in bank accounts and may not commingle deposits with their own money. Many states require your landlord to notify you where the account is kept; this notification is often detailed in your lease. In some states, these accounts earn interest that you may be entitled to, and in some markets, your landlord may be entitled to a small portion of the accrued interest as an administrative fee.

Q: What can be deducted from my security deposit?
A: Landlords bear the brunt of taking care of the things that wear out in the rental, such as carpeting, floor finishes and fading paint. If you damage the property, repairs are your responsibility. If your child colors on the walls or you accidentally crack a tile in the bathroom, those repairs will come out of your deposit. Even if a guest who doesn’t live with you breaks something, you are liable for those repairs.

Q: When will my deposit be returned?
A: Again, this varies by state, but in general, within 14 to 60 days, your landlord is obligated to return to you:

  • Your full deposit (plus interest, in some cases), or
  • Part of your deposit, along with a statement of the costs that were deducted from your deposit, with an explanation of how those costs were used for cleaning, repairs or back rent and late fees

Two states have no set limits: Tennessee has no statutory deadline, and New York only requires that deposits be returned within “a reasonable time.”

Q: What can I do to make sure I get back all of my deposit?
A: Carefully document the state of your rental by completing a move-in inspection form. Take pictures of any problems, and use your camera’s time-stamp function or include that day’s newspaper in the photo. You and your landlord should each sign and keep a copy of this form. Before you move out, ask your landlord to walk through your rental with you so that he or she can point out issues you should resolve before you leave. If necessary, hire a professional to clean your apartment.

Q: What if my landlord doesn’t return my security deposit?
A: When you move out, be sure to give your new address to your landlord, and cover your bases by sending a demand letter by certified mail. A demand letter simply requests the return of your deposit. In some states, if you don’t send a demand letter, your landlord may be entitled to keep your deposit.

If your landlord doesn’t respond, you may sue your landlord in small claims court for the return of your deposit. In some locations, if the court finds that your landlord has intentionally broken the law, you may be awarded two or three times the amount of the deposit, plus lawyer’s fees.

Tasha Schroeder contributed to this post.

Originally published by Neil J. Leitereg on To see the original post, click here.


The Most Expensive Apartment Listing in Manhattan

Consider it an empty canvas — albeit a very expensive, enormous canvas.

from Zillow

from Zillow

This empty 62,000-square-foot apartment just hit the market in Manhattan for $130 million and has replaced a $125 million penthouse as the most expensive listing in New York. The Residence at River House is also the new No. 2 on the most expensive homes list, trailing just behind the $140 million estate in Greenwich, CT.

The reason an empty condo is so expensive? The opportunity to create “what will truly be one of the grandest urban residences in the world,” according to the listing.

from Zillow

from Zillow

River House was constructed in 1931 by American architect William Bottomley, and when it opened was one of the premier addresses in the city. Overlooking the East River, the $130 million home (the largest in the Big Apple) sprawls across 5 levels and features 20-foot ceilings, enormous view-filled windows and “light-filled spaces.”

from Zillow

from Zillow

A proposed design by Tony Ingrao incorporates an IMAX movie theater, wine cellar, 62-foot-long pool with full spa, as well as an oversized master suite.

from Zillow

from Zillow

While $130 million is an incredible price for a home anywhere in the country, it’s even quite considerable for Manhattan. While a $125 million penthouse is on the market, as well as a home listed at $115 million and another at $95 million, the median list price in Turtle Bay, where this home is located, is currently $1.4 million.

The real question is what would a mortgage payment be like for a home this expensive? Using Zillow’s mortgage calculator, it’s worked out to be $501,320 per month, assuming a 20 percent down payment and 30-year mortgage. That’s more than three times the median U.S. home value.

Of course not all homes in New York are quite this fantastically priced. Check out other homes for sale in Manhattan.

The listing is held by John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens.

This article was originally published by Erika Riggs on Zillow Blog. To see the original article, click here.

10 Things to Do After You Sell

You’ve sold your house: Escrow has closed, and you’ve handed your keys to the new owners. But while the deal is done, you have a few more things to do. In “House Selling for Dummies,” authors Eric Tyson and Ray Brown lay out things you can do to save money and increase your peace of mind, post-sale.

10 Things to Do After You Sell

Here are 10 of their tips:

  1. Keep copies of all paperwork related to the closing and settlement. Although it might be tempting to shred the paperwork or put it in storage, you’ll want to have it handy for April 15. When you file your taxes, you’ll need documentation for the expenses and proceeds of the sale. And after you file your return, you’ll want to keep the paperwork in case you’re audited.
  2. Keep proof of improvements and prior purchases. This is for tax purposes, too. The IRS allows you to add the cost of improvements to your home’s cost basis during the time you own the home, which is nice if you have a sizable capital gain. But to use this tax provision, you need to keep receipts for everything you spent on home improvement.
  3. Stay on top of tax laws. Because tax laws constantly change, you’ll want to keep current to avoid losing money. For example, a recent law allows you to exclude from tax a significant portion of the profits from the sale of your primary residence.
  4. Put your proceeds in a money market fund. If you sell and then don’t immediately buy, you’ll need a safe place to put your money. A money market mutual fund offers safety, a reasonable rate of return, daily access to your money and check-writing privileges.
  5. Choose your next home carefully. Scope out a variety of areas and housing options that meet your family’s needs.
  6. Don’t feel pressured to buy. Take your time purchasing your next home; rent for awhile if you’d like extra time or want to try an area out first before buying. “Keep in mind that you have two years to defer tax on your house-sale profits,” Tyson and Brown point out.
  7. Reevaluate your personal finances. If your situation changes before you buy another house—you get a promotion, have a baby, go through a divorce—you’ll need to rethink your finances and how much you can afford to pay for your new house.
  8. Think about what you need from an agent to help you buy. Carefully consider whether the agent who helped sell your house can meet your needs when you’re buying. Buying and selling require different skills. And, if you’re moving to a new area, you may want someone familiar with the area.
  9. Think through your next down payment. Brown and Tyson recommend putting at least 20 percent down on your next house in order to qualify for the best mortgage programs. If you can afford more than 20 percent, consider whether it’s better to put that money in the down payment or to invest the money elsewhere. “Younger home buyers willing to take on more investment risk should lean toward a 20-percent down payment, whereas older home buyers, who tend to invest less aggressively, should opt for larger down payments,” the pair recommends.
  10. Remember to send change-of-address notices. The U.S. Postal Service recommends you complete your change of address 30 days before you move.

This information was originally published by Michele Dawson on To see the original article, click here.

Falling Into Foliage With 7 Stunning Private Homes

Fall: Crisp air, warm sweaters, sweet apples and glorious explosions of colorful autumn splendor.

Some homes are shown to their best advantage in fall, surrounded by trees, rolling landscapes and warm fireplaces near picture windows that perfectly capture the season. Like the thousands who flock to New York and New England for leaf-peeping this time of year, we also took a peek at properties that offer colorful seasonal panoramas. Warm the cider, pull on a blanket and take a look.



Fishing for Paradise



Dip your toes where presidents fished at Trout Run, a more than 450-acre estate near the presidential retreat of Camp David in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains.

A two-mile-long stream through sun-dappled forest gives this angler’s paradise a name, while hunting grounds provide outdoorsmen an ideal way to enjoy the season. There are separate guest quarters, including one with an enclosed, heated porch for the less adventurous — a space that was a favorite of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Hallowed in Vermont



The colors of the season surround this classic slice of rustic comfort in Vermont, with three ponds amplifying the reflection of the burnished trees amid the rolling hills of the Green Mountain State.

Trails along the 25-acre property provide a perfect excuse for a stroll. Leave your Wellies in the mudroom and warm up by one of the two stone fireplaces.

Run Free



If that’s still not enough leaves to satiate your peepers, how about another 100 acres worth of rolling red and gold Vermont hills?

This center-hall country classic includes a separate, five-story barn with office and guest quarters, so friends and family can join you amid the maples. Stalls welcome the equine-inclined.

Water, Water Everywhere



Across the state line with New York, pull up an Adirondack chair to this multimillion-dollar view of Kattskill Bay. Nature lies as close as the bay’s waters, which practically lap the home’s front door — a rarity in an area that typically requires a 100-foot setback.

Scandinavia in New York



Closer to New York City, you’d expect a pillar of Scandinavian design to erect a house worthy of the name. Jans Quistgaard, the mind behind the Swedish Dansk Designs, did his nation proud in a Westchester suburb.

The roof’s many arches perfectly frame the trees and water before wall-sized picture windows. The biggest danger here might be never wanting to leave.

Capital Destination



Farther south, a contemporary aerie above a Potomac River hilltop offers another modern vantage point. The home was designed to meld effortlessly with the natural beauty of the site.

The home’s wood siding gives way to glass expanses that offer views from every inside seat, and an outside patio boasts near 360-degree views of the foliage.

Mainer Bound



Finally, this Maine property holds a special place in our hearts, with more than 1,200 feet of frontage along Penobscot Bay in Camden, including three private beaches and views of wooded islands and hills.

The view is interrupted only by sailboats. But what really captured us was the rainbow arching over the water. Can you imagine that tree ablaze in autumn? Sign us up.

This article was originally published by Anne Miller on To see the original article, click here.

See the Real Homes of ‘Breaking Bad’

Saddle up and take a deep breath, all of you tense-with-anticipation fans of “Breaking Bad.”

Jesse Pinkman and Walter White from “Breaking Bad.” Source: AMC

Jesse Pinkman and Walter White from “Breaking Bad.” Source: AMC

That’s the advice from Peter Gould, the writer of the penultimate episode of the genre-bending TV series that’s set to conclude at 9 p.m ET Sunday on AMC.

What’s going to happen?!

“I think they should do some deep breathing. Sit in a comfortable chair. Try not to eat for 45 minutes before. Each of these episodes screened, and I’m so excited about the response,” said Gould, who penned last week’s intensely fraught “Granite State” episode.

In addition to turning the concept and execution of a TV drama series on its head, “Breaking Bad” also has contributed to the pantheon of TV shows that have turned certain swaths of real estate into co-stars. In the case of “Breaking Bad,” the showplace has been Albuquerque, NM, where a string of real locations have become tourist attractions and photo opportunities throughout the five seasons of the Emmy Award-winning show.

The dusty, rocky, light-infused desert location of this monster series gave it a particular look and feel. In homage to the show’s conclusion, here’s a look at the places where Walter White and his “Yo-Yo” sidekick, Jesse Pinkman, go from artistic meth-makers to drug kingpins in the ABQ.

My name is …

Source: Google Street View

Source: Google Street View

As Walt begins his transformation from suburban-dwelling teacher to drug lord, the very first words uttered on the show place him squarely at the imagination-deprived dwelling in which he somewhat cowardly had been just getting by:

“My name is Walter Hartwell White. I live at 308 Negra Arroyo Lane, Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

In reality, Walter’s home is at 3828 Piermont Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111.

Either way, by the end of the series, the condition of Walt’s home mirrors his own descent into hell. Gasoline has been soaked into the rugs. The pool is a sordid mess of scum and leaves. And there’s a chain-link fence run around the entire perimeter of the property, since the Drug Enforcement Administration is hunting for Walt.

No, Mr. White, you can’t go home again.

Yo, like, Jesse Pinkman lived here

Source: Google Street View

Source: Google Street View


For a punk druggie, Jesse Pinkman lives in a very nice crib. But very soon into Season 1, we learn the house where Walter and Jesse make quite a mess was left to Jesse by his aunt. Without spoiling any more of the plot, let’s just say that Jesse finds himself out of luck at the nice abode.

On the show, the address is shown as 9809 Margo St. But in reality this single-family home on a quarter-acre lot is at 322 16th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104. The Huning Castle neighborhood,where homes are listed for sale from $220,000 to just shy of $1 million, is located near the Albuquerque Country Club.

Hank and Marie’s house

Source: Google Street View

Source: Google Street View

Hank is a federal Drug Enforcement Administration officer. He is married to Marie, who is the sister of Walter’s wife, Skyler. Tracking with us so far? Anyway, Hank and Marie are a big part of the show, and their superior station in life compared to Walt and Skyler’s is demonstrated by their nice stucco home at 4901 Cumbre Del Sur Ct NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111.

Duplex love

Source: Google Street View

Source: Google Street View

It’s not easy finding a rental when you have no job or documentable source of income, but Jesse manages to finesse an apartment from an intriguing property manager. Better yet, for Jesse, the attractive property manager lives next door in this stucco duplex, which really does exist at 325 Terrace St SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106.


Source: Google Street View

Source: Google Street View

Jesse earns his reputation as a stone-cold killer after a wild scene that takes place in the downtown Albuquerque home at 217 13th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102. But the episode’s real dramatic tension comes from a dirt-smudged and neglected child of meth-heads who startles Jesse. In the middle of the impending violence, Jesse shows his tender side by connecting with the kid — via a game of peekaboo.

This article was originally published by Laura Vecsey on Zillow Blog. See the original article here