5 Tips on How to Avoid Rental Application Rejection

If your apartment rental application was rejected, don’t be deterred – it’s time to get to the root of the problem.

5 Tips on How to Avoid Rental Rejection

Application rejection can happen for a variety of reasons. It could be a result of your credit history or a lack of references. Perhaps, like many first-time renters, you simply do not have enough rental experience. If you have dealt with rental rejection, consider the following tips before submitting your next apartment application.

1. Check Your Credit
Start by getting a copy of your credit report. You may find that your report has errors or marks you didn’t know about. Call any of the credit-reporting agencies’ toll-free numbers to find out how to get a copy of your report. If you request a copy within 60 days of the rejected application, you can obtain the report with no charge.

Don’t assume that you know why your application was rejected without examining your report. If you feel the company is incorrect, you are allowed to write a 100-word statement that the bureaus are required by law to distribute with your credit report to everyone who asks for it in the future.

If there are no errors on your report but your credit isn’t too great, you’ll need to do what you can to repair the problems. Watch out for people who claim they can “erase bad credit.” That miracle cure simply does not exist. The only solution for dealing with negative marks like late payments and bankruptcy are to wait it out and/or to rebuild your credit by getting your finances organized.

2. List Your Rental History
Just as your job history is an important aspect of an employment application, rental history is an important part of any rental application. If you have rented in the past, come prepared with a list of contact information for each landlord. In most cases, you will be expected to provide specific dates of when you lived at each rental property.

Landlords and apartment managers want to know that you will be a responsible tenant.  Showing that you have a strong rental history can go a long way toward avoiding rental-application rejection.

3. Bank Statements
Landlords and apartment managers want to know that you will be able to afford the lease you are about to sign. Be prepared to show bank statements and pay stubs from your place of employment to prove that you actually make enough to cover your rent. If you are going to rent an apartment with one or more roommates, be sure they can provide similar info.

4. Personal References
Personal references are essential in verifying such details as your employment, fiscal responsibility and your overall character. It is important to pick personal references who can best articulate these to your potential landlord or apartment manager. This means finding reputable references as opposed to providing a list of your friends from college.

5. Closing Tips
Rental markets, especially in more metropolitan areas, can be cutthroat. You’re often competing against dozens of other applicants, and winning requires a certain level of preparation, tact and skill. The more you come prepared, the better chance you have of avoiding rental-application rejection.

This article was originally published on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

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6 Tips for Apartment Decorating on a Budget

Good taste doesn’t have to be expensive. Whether you’re a first-time apartment-renter, newly single or a single parent trying to live frugally, trying to shape your home into something found in the pages of “Elle Décor” can be sobering.

6 Tips for Apartment Decorating on a Budget

Window-shopping can often prove discouraging, especially as you realize that walking into a furniture store and saying “I’ll take that” means sacrificing an entire paycheck. Being on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to resort to milk crates, cinder blocks and inflatable furniture, however. There are bargains to be found, and that’s where the fun begins: All you need is a sense of style and adventure – and a little advance planning.

To begin your budget decorating quest, look around your living space, whether it’s a studio apartment, a condo or a single-family home. What is your favorite part? Is it a large window that lets in the morning light? A window seat? A garden window? Some built-in shelves? Start by making your favorite thing the focal point of that room. If it’s the bookshelves, for example, be on the lookout for interesting objects and trinkets to add a little art flare. They don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, either.

Conversely, if you have a least favorite object in the room, and if you’ve been hanging on to it simply because you couldn’t afford an alternative, get rid of it if you can. If you can’t, can you hide it? Enhance it? Sell it and use the money toward what you really want?

Here are more ways to refresh your rooms on a budget:

1. Create a Personal Design Book
A personal design book can help you decide what type of space you would like to create. Head to the supermarket magazine stand or the local library, or jump online and explore the latest design trends. The social sharing site Pinterest is a great resource for not only exploring the world of design and DIY trends, but also saving or “pinning” them into your own online scrapbook.

Don’t be afraid to work offline, though. Do you see some paint that you like in a magazine photo? Clip that. Compile everything in one place, whether it’s a photo album or a photo box, and write the name of the appropriate room on each clipping. When you’re hunting for items for a particular room, bring the clippings with you.

Before you buy anything, think about your purpose for each room. Do you want your home to be a soothing contrast to your stressful job? Muted colors and neutrals will be your best bet. Or do you want to feel energized by your surroundings? Then consider brighter, bolder colors. Do your tastes lean toward the casual or the more formal? That might depend on the surroundings in which you work (for example, if you work in a rigid, ultra-corporate environment, you might wish to keep your home surroundings more casual), your personality, whether or not you have children and whether you entertain frequently.

2. Quick-Change the Upholstery
If you’re not thrilled with your sofa and a new one isn’t in your budget, slipcovers are the way to go. Watch for sales in summer and early January (New Year sales), when furniture stores clear out their inventories to make room for the new styles. That’s when you can pick up a slipcover at a discount of 30-40 percent or more and completely change the look of your living room. Add a few new pillows, and you’ll be amazed at the difference.

You don’t have to buy a card table and folding chairs for your kitchen. Instead, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to comparison-shop. Many stores offer inexpensive sets – a table and four kitchen chairs in butcher-block style, for example, for one price. Or try your local unfinished furniture store. Many such places mass-produce comparatively inexpensive oak and/or pine pieces that can be painted if you wish and dressed up with your own accessories.

3. Add Curtains and Color
Think about adding some new curtains for a splash of color or pattern. Granted, they can be pricey, but you can find inexpensive options. Many balloon-style curtains and simple drapes can be had for $10-20, particularly during sales.

Color adds warmth to any room. If you own your home and can paint, there’s a bit of psychology to keep in mind: Blue creates serenity and is intended to refresh and renew. Red increases intensity, gets the heart pumping and the blood pressure rising. Green, a popular choice right now, brings the outdoors indoors. It creates a sense of balance and harmony and can be a calming influence. Yellow and related shades are warm, cheery and inviting. And, of course, a nice touch-up of white paint can renew your house dramatically.

4. Make Your Own Art
For art, the best pieces are often the original ones you create. Buy a shadowbox and insert dried flowers, black-and-white photos, magazine clippings, postcards, anything that holds personal significance. Take a trip to the gift shop of your nearest museum or gallery for poster-sized reprints and postcards for framing. Although framing can be extremely expensive, your local craft store holds reasonable facsimiles for a fraction of the cost. Select something simple — after all, the picture should be the center of attention. Mirrors – even inexpensive ones – also are an excellent choice and create the illusion of depth.

5. Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize
Head to your nearest discount accessory store and pick up objects that attract attention without blowing your budget. Such pieces include unique photo frames, colored glass (an extremely inexpensive decoration), plate racks, linens, vases and pitchers with silk or other artificial flowers, and candles – including votives, candlesticks and larger varieties placed in glass bowls with potpourri.

Remember that groupings are more visually striking than single items. If you have an empty corner, purchase a small table (craft stores sell them cheap, and you can place a fabric cover or skirt on top) or pedestal there and top it with a plant. Traditional styles favor more accessories and, in some cases, even clutter. If you’re aiming for contemporary, a more simple, streamlined appearance is best (which may be more realistic anyway if your budget is tight).

6. Entertain Dinner Guests
If you plan to entertain, many professional chefs say there’s no space too small for a dinner party. You can always improvise. The company is indeed more important than the decor. Just make sure you have adequate seating and that guests are close enough to talk to each other. It doesn’t matter if your chairs are a hodge-podge of styles. Use what you have and create a warm atmosphere by arranging in a way that encourages close conversation. A little rearranging can completely change the feel of a room, lift your spirits and change your tune about those pieces you thought you didn’t like anymore.

Don’t rush any of your purchases. Take your time and save your money for the items you know you want and can afford.

This article was originally published on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

Affordability Options For First-Time Buyers

First-time home buyers who want affordable homes may want to take a hard look at fixer-uppers, smaller homes and cheaper commutes to work to save on the costs of buying and owning a home.

Affordability Options For First Time Buyers

Real estate brokers say many home buyers expect more than they can afford in a home and once they start pounding the pavement for housing their disconnect could be discouraging.

In an online survey of 150 of its brokers, Coldwell Banker discovered some disturbing trends among first-time home buyers.

While nearly half of the Coldwell Banker brokers surveyed said affordability was the No. 1 concern for first time buyers, 81 percent of those buyers also consider move-in conditions to be very important when searching for homes. Only 7 percent are considering fixer-upper homes.

The real estate company suggests more buyers should examine the fixer-upper option — among others — to get the affordability they seek.

“In the past, first-time home buyers were willing to purchase older, more basic houses in an effort to save money and break into homeownership,” said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC.

“It is important for first-time homebuyers to remember that by considering a fixer-upper for their first home purchase, they can build equity over time and later move up and into their second-stage home that better reflects their expectations,” he added.

Buyers looking for affordability who go with the fixer-upper option should get the home professionally inspected to determine what fixing up is necessary, and certainly not bite off more than they can chew. Even homes that need a basic face lift — paint, carpeting, landscaping, window treatments and other cosmetic touches — can come with big savings. Homes that may require professional upgrades cost even less, but the buyer has to weigh the discounted price against the cost of the improvement.

Coldwell’s study also found some disconnect between affordability desires and what buyers want in home size and its location.

The vast majority of first-time buyers, 71 percent, were looking for larger homes than they were 10 years ago, brokers reported, but bigger isn’t better when it comes to price. A smaller single-family home or a condo or townhome can be cheaper by virtue of the smaller footprint and square footage. The smaller cost on a smaller home also could come with affordability.

Forty-one percent of brokers also said, for their buyers, proximity to their workplace was numero uno when it came to considerations made when looking for a home. Higher gasoline prices have made the job center location factor even more crucial, however, in most metros, a home’s proximity to employment centers comes with an added cost. Homes nearer job centers cost more because of the added value of reduced transportation costs and time (which is money) spent commuting.

However, buyers can enjoy the best of both worlds if they purchase a cheaper home away from job centers, but in a transit oriented development (TOD) or other distant community that offers low-cost public transit to work. Carpooling, trip sharing and car sharing communities boost the idea of affordable housing.

Coldwell Banker also said 46 percent of the survey respondents reported that first-time home buyers look at five to 10 homes, on average, before making a purchase.

The message is simple here. Spend more time looking at more homes for sale. Instead of five to 10, make it 10 to 20. Take the time to find affordability. Discounts were more likely available from homes that had been on the market for 90 days or more; homes for sale that were owned by long-time owners; homes for sale from flipping investors down on their luck; and properties owned by we-want-to-sell-real-estate banks who now know what it means to be careful what you wish for.

While nearly half of the Coldwell Banker brokers surveyed said affordability was the No. 1 concern for first time buyers, 81 percent of those buyers also consider move-in conditions to be very important when searching for homes. Only 7 percent are considering fixer-upper homes.

However, buyers can enjoy the best of both worlds if they purchase a cheaper home away from job centers, but in a transit oriented development (TOD) or other distant community that offers low-cost public transit to work. Carpooling, trip sharing and car sharing communities boost the idea of affordable housing.

Coldwell Banker also said 46 percent of the survey respondents reported that first-time home buyers look at five to 10 homes, on average, before making a purchase.

The message is simple here. Spend more time looking at more homes for sale. Instead of five to 10, make it 10 to 20. Take the time to find affordability. Discounts were more likely available from homes that had been on the market for 90 days or more; homes for sale that were owned by long-time owners; homes for sale from flipping investors down on their luck; and properties owned by we-want-to-sell-real-estate banks who now know what it means to be careful what you wish for.

The real estate company suggests more buyers should examine the fixer-upper option — among others — to get the affordability they seek.

“In the past, first-time home buyers were willing to purchase older, more basic houses in an effort to save money and break into homeownership,” said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC.

“It is important for first-time homebuyers to remember that by considering a fixer-upper for their first home purchase, they can build equity over time and later move up and into their second-stage home that better reflects their expectations,” he added.

Buyers looking for affordability who go with the fixer-upper option should get the home professionally inspected to determine what fixing up is necessary, and certainly not bite off more than they can chew. Even homes that need a basic face lift — paint, carpeting, landscaping, window treatments and other cosmetic touches — can come with big savings. Homes that may require professional upgrades cost even less, but the buyer has to weigh the discounted price against the cost of the improvement.

Coldwell’s study also found some disconnect between affordability desires and what buyers want in home size and its location.

The vast majority of first-time buyers, 71 percent, were looking for larger homes than they were 10 years ago, brokers reported, but bigger isn’t better when it comes to price. A smaller single-family home or a condo or townhome can be cheaper by virtue of the smaller footprint and square footage. The smaller cost on a smaller home also could come with affordability.

Forty-one percent of brokers also said, for their buyers, proximity to their workplace was numero uno when it came to considerations made when looking for a home. Higher gasoline prices have made the job center location factor even more crucial, however, in most metros, a home’s proximity to employment centers comes with an added cost. Homes nearer job centers cost more because of the added value of reduced transportation costs and time (which is money) spent commuting.

This article was originally published by Broderick Perkins on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

Rent Vs. Buy: Six Questions Newlyweds Need to Ask

The newlywed year is full of milestones including, of course, your first married home together.

Rent vs. Buy: Advice for Newlyweds

It is often a natural step many couples take after tying the knot, but choosing whether to rent or buy is an important decision that needs to be made together. There are some major lifestyle factors that impact that choice.

When you are ready to have a serious conversation about your future home, set up a date with each other either at home or in a place where you can talk quietly and at length. Turn off your phones and other distractions so that you can truly focus. The six questions below are conversation starters to help you evaluate whether or not now is the right time for you to look at buying a home.

1) Where do we see ourselves in the next five years? If you are planning to move to another state, graduate from school, or change careers soon then you may want to rent for a time to give yourself flexibility when the time comes to make a move. Buying a home and keeping it until it appreciates in value is a way to increase your personal wealth but having to sell a home quickly can result in decisions that could cost you money in the short term.

2) Is our credit in good shape? In the last post in this series we talked about coming clean with your partner about your credit status and getting recent credit reports. If you’ve done this you should know where you both stand in terms of credit scores and debt. Home ownership provides attractive tax benefits. People who take out mortgage loans to buy homes can deduct the points paid to obtain a mortgage when they bought their home and they also may deduct mortgage interest payments and property taxes each year.

3) Can we afford the overall expense? Many young couple use some of their wedding gifts or a loan from their parents to float the down payment but there are other expenses to consider as well. You’ll need to have an emergency fund set up for home repairs and include monthly maintenance into your budget. You will also have property taxes and insurance to consider.  On the plus side, your house payment will be a consistent number unlike rent which can be subject to dramatic increases.

4) How is the market where we want to live? Despite the advantages, buying a home is a major financial decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you are buying in a market where real estate prices run in cycles, the timing of your purchase will be very important. If you buy during a rising price bubble, the value of your home could plummet when that bubble bursts. Also when there is low inventory and the prices are rising, it can be tempting to pay more for a home because it seems like the market will soon escalate out of your reach. The most recent survey from mortgage-finance company Fannie Mae showed that now over half of Americans believe real estate prices will continue to rise. When you are considering buying, take a look at not just where prices are now but where they have been over the past few years.

5) What’s our exit strategy? If you do decide that you want to move to another home will you try to sell first and move up? That can be a challenge depending on the market. If home prices drop below the amount you owe on your mortgage, you won’t be able to sell at a profit until values rise. If you have to relocate and can’t sell quickly you may need to rent the home for a time.

6) What’s our lifestyle? Are you homebodies or party animals? Do you like to entertain? How do you feel about home maintenance– will you be avid do-it-yourselfers or will you hire help? Knowing what you are willing to do to maintain the home is an important part of the decision process. Owning a home means tending the yard, keeping up with repairs, and regular trips to the local hardware store. Making the transition from being a renter whose first call is to the landlord, to a homeowner who needs to troubleshoot the problem, can be startling.

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to get to the hard numbers. Start browsing realtor.com® to get a sense of the options in your area. This should give you a sense of the options in your area. Once you have a better idea of the price of the type of home you want, use the realtor.com® Rent vs. Buy calculator. This calculator will help you to compare the costs of renting to the costs of buying a home. It takes into account a variety of considerations such as property taxes, appreciation of homes in your area, and the current interest rate for savings in order to help you forecast the net effects of all the hidden forces so you can make an informed decision.

Emmet Pierce contributed to this article.

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

Neighborhood Red Flags When Renting

So, you have found a great apartment, one that is in your price range. While it seems perfect, it is important to consider not only the apartment itself, but also the neighborhood you will call home for the foreseeable future. You want to feel secure in your neighborhood, have access to the basic amenities that you need and feel that you’ll live there with peace of mind. Here are tips on looking for neighborhood red flags when apartment hunting.
Freinds group

Ask Questions
The best way to find out about an apartment building or an area in general is to ask survey the neighbors already living there. When you tour your apartment, not only take notes about the rental itself, but also about the social climate. If you happen to bump into residents, be proactive and ask them questions about the apartment. If you don’t run into any potential neighbors, quiz the landlord or apartment manager giving you a tour about the neighborhood.

Scope Out the Local Atmosphere
Before signing a lease, drive around the neighborhood at different times of day to get an idea of the atmosphere and to observe your potential new surroundings. Is it safe? Are people socializing or loitering? An obvious police presence should alert you to potential criminal activity in the neighborhood. You can also research crime rates online. Will you feel comfortable walking your dog in this neighborhood after dark?

Local Businesses and Storefronts
As you tour the neighborhood, scout out the local businesses. What types of stores are there? Small mom-and-pop stores and a rustic-looking downtown shopping district may indicate a warm, community-minded neighborhood. Large shopping malls with major chain stores and fast food restaurants could indicate a suburban, working-class area. Count how many boarded-up storefronts or run-down strip malls you find. A large percentage of closed businesses could indicate that the neighborhood is in the midst of an economic downturn. If you have children, look at school ratings online.

Neighborhood Maintenance and Homes for Sale
Try to get a feel for the economic direction of the neighborhood by examining the area’s real estate market. Well-maintained homes with nicely kept landscaping, fresh paint and modern cars in the driveway signify economic well-being. Untidy homes with junk littering the lawns indicate a lower quality of life. Look out for “home for sale” signs. A glut of houses for sale or declining home values could indicate a neighborhood that is going south.

It’s impossible to ignore the ever-present real estate and rental mantra of “location, location, location.” No matter how nice an apartment looks and how beautifully it suits your needs, it cannot compensate for a bad neighborhood. Inspect the neighborhood carefully to make sure that you buy a house in a neighborhood where you will feel happy and safe.

This article was originally published by Neil J. Leitereg on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here

No Painting Allowed! 6 Tricks for Adding Color When Living With White Walls

So you’ve received the dreaded news: No, you can’t paint the apartment walls.

Design by Sardone Construction

Design by Sardone Construction

With that two-letter word, decorating depression is bound to set in as you resign yourself to living with blah beige or white. However, there is good news. A nicely painted wall is a great way to make a space your own, but it’s definitely not the only way; there are plenty of great options that can help alleviate the no-paint problem. Try out these fun and renter-friendly ideas!

Invest in removable wallpaper

Often called renter’s wallpaper for a reason, removable wallpaper is available in endless colors and patterns, so you can easily find a style that fits your taste. Oh, and no worry about damaging the wall. Removable wallpaper doesn’t create any more damage than hanging a photo. So wallpaper away!

Make textiles your best friend

When it comes to adding a nice pop of color to a bland space, textiles are a great option. From curtains to vintage quilts to a whole wall covered with a fabric panel, you can surely find a way to use textiles to work around the white/beige wall issue. This trick also allows you to add some texture to your look.

Art, art, art!

Ever wonder why galleries and museums often utilize stark white walls? It’s because they are perfect for displaying art without distracting from the work. Make use of this technique in your own home and create a bright wall gallery or hang a very large, vibrant piece of art. Either way, art is one of the best and most common ways to add color to a space. The blank background allows the colors to pop, and the design really shine.

Paint what you can

You can’t paint the walls, but that doesn’t rule out painting other things, such as your furniture, frames or neutral decor items that you may already have. So pull out those paint swatches and get to painting! With neutral walls, painted decor items stand out and really command the room. Use the white walls to contrast your newly painted table, vase, etc.

Experiment with room dividers

From folding screens to funky divider walls to hanging collages, room dividers provide an easy and creative way bring some color into a room. Whether actually used as a room divider or placed against a wall, these pieces can effortlessly perk up a space with some color.

Use colored light

Whether it’s colored lanterns, bright Christmas lights, a tinted bulb or uplighting, colorful lights are a fun and surprising decor trick. Try out different techniques in different rooms and see what works for your style. This trick not only adds that extra pop of color you are looking for, but it makes a room feel more warm and inviting.

This article was originally published By Audra Jones for MyFirstApartment.com on Zillow Blog. To see the original article, click here

House of the Week: Al Capone’s Estate

Al Capone was Brooklyn-born and long ruled the streets of Chicago before he decided to make Florida his permanent residence. The notorious mob boss moved south in 1928, buying an enormous beach-side estate that would serve as his final home.

from Zillow

93 Palm Ave, Miami Beach FL  For sale: $9.95 million

Sixty-five years after his death, Capone’s home is for sale. Even after several renovations, the estate still carries a lot of historic details from the mobsters’ reign there.

When Capone arrived in Miami Beachhistorians say, the mob boss wasn’t looking to expand his empire of bootlegging, gambling and money laundering but was searching for a place to retreat from the stresses of running the mob. His new residence on Palm Island was the perfect place to do so.

Capone reportedly purchased the home for $40,000 cash from Clarence Busch of the Anheuser-Busch family. Capone set about making the enormous 30,000-square-foot property his own.

“He wanted the biggest pool, so he built one 30 by 60 feet,” said Jorge Alonso of Prudential Douglas Elliman Florida.”He built the two-story cabana pool house, where he kept the guards, and he also built the guest house and a wall to guard the house.”

from Zillow

from Zillow

from Zillow

from Zillow

from Zillow

from Zillow

The home was not only where Capone and his family stayed full time, it was also “supposedly where he planned the entire Valentine’s Day Massacre,” Alonso said. Miami Beach also served as Capone’s alibi during the event:

“He made sure that everyone saw him in South Beach on the day,” Alonso said.

For most of the 1930s, Capone was in prison for tax evasion, but he returned to the Palm Beach home upon his release and lived there until his death in 1947.

Capone didn’t pass away in the master bedroom, however, explains Alonso. He spent his final days in the guest bedroom in the front of the house where he could always see who was coming and going.

from Zillow

from Zillow

Capone’s home has only passed through a few owners since and under the current owner, the house had a complete renovation while still maintaining the “old Cuba, Havana style,” Alonso said.

“The home has high ceilings, great moldings, the construction is amazing and they made sure the architect kept the original things,” explained Alonso.

from Zillow

from Zillow

Well, everything, except Capone’s cache of bootleg liquor.

According to Zillow’s mortgage calculator, a monthly payment on the Capone estate would be $36,078, assuming a 20 percent down payment on a 30-year mortgage.

from Zillow

from Zillow

This post was originally published by Erika Riggs on Zillow Blog. See the original post here.