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.

Renting A Chicago Apartment

Illinois’ capital city and the largest city in the state, Chicago is a very well known city in the US and the world. A prominent economical hub of the Midwestern region in US, it houses the world’s second busiest airport, Chicago O’Hare. It also is home to some of the biggest corporations like Baxter International, Abbot Laboratories, etc. Financial institutions flourish in this part of the world with the presence of the very famous ones like Federal Reserve Back of Chicago, Chicago Stock Exchange, etc. With such a strong economy, it attracts a lot of relocations from various parts of the world giving rise to a flourishing real estate market.

People coming into the city typically look for a good place to leave and most likely will chose apartments that have all the basic amenities to lead a comfortable life. Most of the Chicago apartments offer all kinds of latest amenities that one can possible ask for at reasonable monthly rents.

If you are looking for Chicago apartments, then it is ideal for you to search on the Internet because you will come across numerous options that perfectly fit your budget. Chicago apartments offer all the latest amenities that you can expect from modern state of the art condos and villas. However, it is better to choose a studio apartment in some of the best areas across the city because of transportation and easy accessibility.

Chicago, Illinois apartments are quite reasonable in terms of rent, if you compare with the tons of features they offer. You can choose N. Wolcott Southeast studio apartment for which you will only have to pay around $815.00 per month. This studio apartment provides free cooking gas and you will have to pay security deposit for half month. It has 2-1/2 large studio rooms along with hardwood flooring, high ceilings, bay windows and big closets. It is close to Winnemac Park and has close by train stations. This apartment has all the latest amenities such as intercom security, digital cable, storage lockers, playground, full time janitor, ownership and management facilities, excellent public transportation, close to restaurants and shopping malls, parking zone, etc. This apartment is one of the best among the Chicago, Illinois apartments.

Three bedroom large apartments in Chicago will cost you little more than the previous one. The rent of these apartments can be anywhere around $895.00 per month. You can check out 4623 N. Lincoln apartment with square-one bedroom having hardwood floors and tall windows. This apartment is situated close to restaurants, train stops, Welles Park. This apartment is located right in the heart of Lincoln Square having spacious 3 room one bedroom along with kitchen, dining room and excellent storage facility. These 3 room one bedroom apartments in Chicago has all the latest amenities like the studio apartments except these are more spacious.

If you are willing to spend more than the studio apartments and 3 room one bedroom apartments, then extra-large one bedroom apartments in 4239 N. Hermitage can be ideal for you. These types of Chicago apartments for rent will cost you around $1295.00 per month. This apartment is more like a gorgeous castle having huge one bedroom, formal dining room, huge walk-in closet and brand new kitchen counter top. It is situated near to Cubs Park.

You can also opt for a studio apartment in W. Winnemac, which is a ready to move in apartment. It will cost you around $785.00 per month, which is very close to Winnemac Park. One bedroom apartments like the one in W. Belle Plaine is one of the most desirable apartments to live, which is situated nearby Kedzie Avenue Brown Line train station. It is can cost you anywhere around $835.00 per month. These Chicago apartments for rent have all the modern facilities that one can possibly ask for.

London Apartment – Everything You Need To Know Before Booking A Serviced London Apartment

A few weeks ago a secretary telephoned me in absolute desperation. She was desperately searching for accommodation in central London for some VIPs from abroad. She stumbled onto my website, not really understanding what the service was about. I think the words ‘free service’, ‘apartments’ just helped her to figure out that Quality London Apartments had something to do with accommodation. Apologies for my long opening, but it is a prime example of how little travelers in the UK and Europe know about the serviced apartment industry. After explaining the concept of serviced apartments and helping her find an apartment, I realized that I needed to share this knowledge further afield. Thus, this article is my contribution to open up this elusive industry and offer tips to travelers.

What is a serviced apartment?

A serviced apartment is a flat in a block, which has a separate bedroom, sitting room/lounge, fully equipped kitchen, your own private keys to own door. Serviced apartments can be in the form of a studio flat (all in one room with a kitchenette), one, two or three bedrooms.
All apartments enjoy maid service, utilities and a management team to help….just like a hotel. Guests only pay for a nightly rate and can live in a flat with everything they would have in their own home.

Pros: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • More value for money and cheaper. In a hotel, no matter which star rating, you pay per night for one room which will have a TV, bathroom, sofa and a bed. This is similar to a studio apartment! In an apartment there is a separate bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, bathroom and dining table (exception is studio)
  • Pay per apartment and not per person. An example would be paying £250 per night for a two bedroom apartment, which could accommodate up to 4 people, that works out at £62.50 per person.
  • Freedom and privacy. An apartment is like being in your own home and there is plenty of space. You have your own keys to your own door.
  • Booking is easy, just like hotels. The majority of apartments require a credit card to guarantee, pre-payment before you arrive and that’s it. No deposits, no tenants’ contracts.

Cons: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • Apartments lacks the buzz and services of a hotel such as restaurants and Room Service. Albeit some apartments are owned by hotels and offer you the use of their restaurants and other services.
  • No 24-hour service around the clock. The apartments are ran by a small team who work Monday to Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm, so you are on your own during the weekend. There are emergency numbers to call should you suffer an electric cut, but no 24-hours hotel Duty Manager to run to your room.
  • No pool, massages, saunas like hotels

What to look out for when booking a serviced London apartment?

1. Quality of the apartment – make sure you find out if they are clean, well furnished and well maintained. How? Check the photos, and ask if you can book an appointment to view the apartment. This is very important if you are staying over a long period of time.

2. Do they have a friendly and efficient management team? If you need the comfort of a welcoming face to greet you on arrival, then ask for an apartment with a reception. Some apartments provide key boxes, so you can arrive any time, but there is no-one to meet you. A friendly and small team will be able to give you a very personal touch.

3. Opening time of the apartments office – doesn’t sound important? Well it is because the majority of apartments’ operations team open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 6:00pm. If you arrive at your apartment during office open hours, then fine, but any other time and weekends will mean that you will need to pick up the keys from a different location.

4. Key delivery by car at the airport? – If you are flying from abroad to London, and do not fancy traipsing throughout London at night to pick up keys, the majority of apartments will hire a taxi to deliver your keys to the airport upon your arrival. Convenient for a small charge.

5. Payment procedure and cancellation policy – every apartment vary in their guest terms and conditions. All will accept a credit card as a guarantee of reservation, some will ask for 100% pre-payment at least 7 days prior to arrival and cancellation can range from 12:00pm on the day of arrival to 28 days. So, before you confirm the reservation, be very clear about the terms and conditions. Ask your apartment agents to explain the procedure to you and read the terms and conditions on your confirmation emails. It will save you a great deal of trouble and headache later.

6. Apartments are always allocated on arrival. This policy is the same as any hotel, so unless you are a regular guest to a specific apartment, apartments are on allocations. In the same breath, some apartments only have a small number of flats, so if you are reserving the only 3 bedrooms penthouse in their collection, then you are guaranteed that specific apartment.

7. Rates become more competitive the longer you stay. In this, we mean you have more bargaining power if you are staying for one month or longer. This is when your apartment agent can really help you by negotiating with a variety of apartments to get you the best deal.

8. Using an apartment agent will also save you time searching, but most importantly they will work with your budget and negotiate a great deal for you. Of course, you also need to be realistic about what you can book, don’t expect to spend £80 per night for a luxury apartment. For example, one of our clients had £300 budget per night for a two bedroom apartment and he wanted something luxury. For those readers who know London well, also understands that this budget is actually very small. Despite that, we booked him and 3 friends into the Victoria Park Plaza luxury apartment (£150 per night less than the usual price) for £300 per night with free breakfast, gym and access to the executive lounge. Any apartment agent worth their salt can and will move mountains to help you.

What if I don’t like the apartment when I get there?

If you really feel that you have been hard done by, tell the apartment management team and ask to be moved to another apartment. All of the apartments that we work with are very customer focused and try to help guests enjoy their stay. If this does not work, talk to your apartment agent, if that is how you booked. Best advice though, is to ask all the right questions before you book an apartment.

Your appetite for apartments is now whetted – how do you find London apartments?

1. As already explained, you can choose a free search and book service of an apartment agent or go direct to a specific apartment that you know. Both methods are absolutely fine, dependent of your knowledge of London apartments. Using an agent will mean that they will search far across their portfolio and present you with a variety of choices…all within 10-15 minutes. Agents are impartial and will only (good agents anyway) recommend the quality apartments for your needs.

2. You can use search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find apartments. Type in keywords like ‘London serviced apartments’ or ‘quality London apartments’ and so on.

3. Stating the obvious but, ask for a recommendation from friends and acquaintances.

4. Check on Tripadvisor and other customer review websites.

Summary

If you have read this far, then thank you for your time. I have tried to make this article clear and as helpful as possible, but I welcome your comments and any further information that you feel is very important.

Five Reasons to Invest in Phoenix Real Estate

If you are a real estate investor, then you understand how important it is to have a knowledgeable Phoenix realty in your corner, helping to find the right properties at the right prices for you.; Phoenix realtors are eager to share with you five reasons why it makes sense to invest in Phoenix AZ real estate.

Phoenix is a popular spot for “snowbirds,” or retirees who come to live in the area during its notably warm and pleasant winter months.; Many of these retirees are looking to permanently move to Phoenix, and would be interested in the properties you have to offer.

Another reason why Phoenix real estate is a smart investment is that the population here is growing rapidly as the economy diversifies.; You will find people moving here because of the great job opportunities in government, the research being done at Arizona State University, and the many high-tech and telecom companies that have moved to the area.;

Investors focus on Phoenix real estate because the geography and natural habitats draw many people to live in Phoenix due to its proximity to several beautiful parks.; Places like Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park with its botanical collection, the famed Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park in Phoenix, the 16,500 acre South Mountain Park and others draw new residents to Phoenix on a regular basis.

Sports fans use their love of their favorite games as an important reason for moving to Phoenix, and this brings more home buyers to the area.; Phoenix is proud to be called home for the Cardinals football team, the Diamondbacks major league baseball team, the Phoenix Suns NBA and the Phoenix Mercury Women’s NBA teams, as well as the Phoenix Coyotes ice hockey and Arizona Sting lacrosse teams.; Major league baseball teams, nine in number, also conduct spring training in Phoenix, and this is another draw that brings sports enthusiasts to the area to buy homes.

Golfers from around the world come to Phoenix to golf during its 320 days per year of sun, and many dream of buying Phoenix real estate so that they can enjoy golfing here on a permanent basis.; You will find famous courses such as the Arizona Biltmore-Adobe Course, The Legend at Arrowhead Golf Resort designed by Arnold Palmer, and the Superstition Springs Golf Club that has been a PGA Tour qualifying site are big reasons why golfing enthusiasts move to Phoenix.