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Types of Rental Housing

What type of rental housing is right for you? That will depend on your needs and preferences.  To help you make the process of choosing a little easier, we’ve compiled this list of different types of Rental Housing.

Apartment 

An apartment is a housing unit occupying a single section of a common building.  There are different types of apartments including studios, consisting of one single room with all amenities combined.  These are great for single dwellers not worried about combining a bedroom with their living space.  You can also choose a low-rise apartment with one to four floors which may not have an elevator.  If you choose a high-rise with 12 or more stories you typically have multiple elevators and amenities in the building.

Duplex

This is a type of housing consists of two separate full units side by side.  It offers more privacy and independence, and usually a yard, than an apartment.

Condominium

Much like an apartment, condos have multiple stories and common space. However, the complex of units are individually owned.

Single-Family Home

A freestanding residence with its own lot and usually includes a garage and yard.  This type of housing is much like owning your own home and offers privacy.

Townhouse

This type of housing is a hybrid of a single-family home and a condominium. Typically they have multiple floors and share a common wall with a neighbor. Some may also have a yard and garage.

Design Ideas for Small Spaces

When designing a small space, you need to maximize functionality and think creatively.  Here are some tried and true tips for design ideas for small spaces.

Create an Illusion with Long Drapes

You can trick the eye into seeing a more expansive area by using floor-to-ceiling curtains.  Drawing the eye upwards will give a sense of grandeur.  Keeping your drapes long, even when your window is not, is also a great way to expand your space.

Maximize Functional Furnishings

Choose wisely when adding furniture to a small space. If you have a multipurpose area, make the best of the situation by buying furniture that is the right scale for the room or that serves more than one purpose.

Take Advantage of Vertical Space

By adding extra shelving or utilizing space above furniture, you can take advantage of any small space. The key is to stretch your storage space upward, so you are using vertical space and not floor space.

Add Mirrors

One of the oldest tricks in the design book is to add mirrors to visually expand your space.  You can add a large floor-length mirror, place a mirror behind a light source or even mirror an entire wall or closet door.

How to Build Credit

There are 5 easy ways you can establish your credit, especially if you are starting from scratch.

  1. Apply for a Secured Credit Card

A secured card is backed by your own cash deposit, usually the same as your credit limit on the card. You can use the credit card like any other one until you’ve established your own credit.

  1. Sign Up for Credit Monitoring

Stay on top of any irregularities or unexpected dings on your credit report by using a credit monitoring service that will alert you of any problems.

  1. Report Your Rent Payments to a Credit Agency

Your lease payments can help you establish credit if you report them.  There are several rent-reporting agencies that can assist you such as Rental Kharma and RentTrack. This is also a great way to set up good credit if your long term plan is for homeownership.

  1. Make Timely Payments

If you are someone who is overwhelmed with managing bills, set up automatic payments so that you’ll never be late paying your bills.

  1. Become an Authorized User for Someone’s Credit Card

A family member or partner may be willing to add you as an authorized user on his or her card.  You’ll be able to access and build credit, but will not be legally obligated for the debts. You’ll need to verify that the card used will report authorized user activity to credit bureaus before establishing this type of credit.

2017 Holiday Events in Austin

Austin Holiday Events

Holiday Trail of Lights at Zilker Park
Dec 9 through 23, 2017
Zilker Park
Zilker Park hosts the Austin Trail of Lights each year with light decorations, holiday scenes, events and more! Winding through 1.25 miles of the park, the trail has more than 36 stunning custom displays.  Come make memories with the ones you love in a uniquely Austin way!

Winter Wonderland at The Circuit
Dec 8 through 30, 2017
Circuit of The Americas
This new holiday festival in Central Texas features almost a mile of lights, a skating rink, Santa’s Village, petting zoo, carnival rides and much more! The kiddos can even take a trip to the North Pole.

Ballet Austin’s The Nutcracker
Through December 23, 2017
The Long Center
This performance is the longest-running production of the seasonal classic in all of Texas.  Stephen Mills’ take on this timeless tale features a cast of hundreds. Celebrate the magic of the holidays with friends and family.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Dec 14 through 24, 2017
Palmer Events Center
Fun music, fine art and cold beverages makes this Bazaar where Austin shops during the giving season. Visitors can explore a multitude of handmade items from 160+ artists while enjoying local music and sipping from a full bar.

Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic
Dec 23, 2017
Frank Erwin Center
Your favorite Disney characters come to live as they share their adventures with you! With more than 25 iconic characters, fans of all ages will enjoy this performance.

 

How to Grow Houseplants

Houseplants have wonderful benefits.  They can brighten up an area, they help clean the air, and relieve stress.  If you’ve been wanting to transform your living space with some plants but have been afraid of the upkeep, here are some quick tips to grow houseplants.

TIP 1: Feed them with Light

Houseplants need sunlight but with winter around the corner, be sure to move houseplants so that they can benefit from outside lighting or artificial light. Be sure to rotate the plant so each side receives sunshine.

TIP 2: Don’t forget the Fertilizer (and Water)

Fertilizer is great for indoor houseplants but be sure not to do too much, less is better.  Read the directions for each type of plant before feeding and make sure the soil is damp. In the winter, plants may need a break and don’t require as much maintenance. Check to see if soil is dry at least 2 times a week.  If it is, then give your houseplant some water.

TIP 3: Clean the Leaves

Many people often overlook the need to clean a plant, but dirty leaves do not allow all the sunlight in.  Wipe the leaves with a damp lukewarm sponge.

TIP 4: Humidity Control

In the summer most homes have a great range of humidity levels making it nice for houseplants to thrive.  In the winter heaters tend to dry out the air, causing houseplants to stress. You may want to move some plants to a bathroom or kitchen, where humidity tends to be a little higher.

Tips for Decorating a Rental Home

Many times when you are renting, you’re not sure how long you’ll be in the same location. But you can still personalize your space without breaking the bank, or house! We’ve compiled this list of tips for decorating a rental home to take advantage of what your rental has and to add to what it doesn’t.

If your rental has molding think about adding a glossy finish to it just to add a fun look but make sure your walls compliment the molding and style of the place. Some rentals come with great storage but most probably need more so adding custom storage might not be an option but Ikea bookshelves might just save you. You can also give your rental a new and modern look with something other than paint. By adding new hardware in the kitchen and bathrooms you can add your own style.  Just remember to keep the original for when you do end up moving out. You can also add a fresh new look by adding a lumber look with your furniture, like a coffee table.

To make your space appear bigger than it actually is, ditch those horizontal blinds and invest in some long drapes. The vertical lines will make the space seem taller. Remember not to throw those blinds away though because you do want your security deposit back.  You can add some personal accents with fun throw pillows, temporary peel and stick wallpaper, and chalkboard paint on furniture.  Art has the power to transform so make it a statement piece in your rental. Flea markets are a great way to find some interesting art and furniture but still be affordable. Statement pieces are a creative way to make your rental feel more personal.

Sometimes there will be flaws and that just comes in any home really but you can easily fix that. By using rugs you can hide anything you don’t like, like the weird carpet or that one stain you don’t really know how it got there. You can also use artwork and pictures to hide unwanted things on the wall like holes or cracks.  Make a focal point in your rental with little cost. By getting some painter’s tape and creating a cool graphic look on the wall near the fireplace you can create a fun look and have a cool focal point. You can also make a fun focal point by switching out your light fixtures for a more modern look or whatever you style is.

Basics of a 1031 Exchange

What is a 1031 exchange?

A proper 1031 exchange allows an investor to use the proceeds from the sale of one property to buy another property and defer all capital gain taxes.   This can help the investor accelerate substantial portfolio growth and increased return on investment because the exchange allows for 100% preservation of equity.

Who can qualify for a 1031 exchange?

Investment and business property owners may qualify for a Section 1031 deferral.  Under Section 1031, individuals, C & S corporations, general or limited partnerships, LLCs, trusts and any other taxpaying entity have the ability set up an exchange of business or investment properties for business or investment properties.

What type of property can be exchanged?

Both the property you sell and the replacement property you buy must meet certain requirements.  Both of the properties used in the exchange must be held for use in a trade, business, or for investment, it will not qualify if the property is used primarily for personal use (primary residence, second home, or vacation home).  To qualify, they must be like-kind as well, meaning they have to be of same nature, character or class even if they differ in grade or quality.  For instance, real property that is improved with a residential rental house is like-kind to vacant land.  Property in the United States is not like-kind with property outside the United States.

Is there a time limit to complete an exchange?

The swap of properties in the exchange does not have to be simultaneous but does have to meet two time limits or you will face taxes on your entire gain.  It is important to note that with the exception of presidentially declared disasters, these limits cannot be extended for any reason.  You have 45 days from the date you sell the relinquished property to find potential replacement properties.  You must provide identification of the property with proper description in writing, signed by you, to the seller or qualified intermediary of the property involved.  The replacement property must be received and exchange completed within 180 days of the sale of the relinquished property or their tax filing date, whichever is earlier.

It is vital to have a comprehensive knowledge of the exchange process and the Section 1031 code if you wish to take advantage of the full potential of these benefits.

Rent or Buy? How to Make a Decision

Rent or Buy?

No matter where you live, how much you earn, or how much you’ve saved, you’ve probably asked yourself at some point: Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

Home ownership has been on the decline for many reasons – the economy, downsizing, elevated housing prices in some areas.  But regardless of your means, home ownership is still a great way to earn wealth.  You need to ask yourself a few simple questions to determine if you should rent or buy.

    1. Do you have savings for a down payment and closing costs?
      • Although there are some programs that offer no money down, it’s typical to have 3.5% to 20% of a price range as your down payment.
    2. How long do you plan on living in the home?
      • The longer you live or hold onto a property, the more likely it will increase in value.  But if you don’t plan on staying long or you are unsure of your future plans, it may be safer to rent.
    3. How much home do you qualify for?
      • Depending on your credit and income, you may qualify for a low interest rate and good mortgage terms.  Talking with a lender will help you understand how much house you can afford. If you need to work on your credit, renting may be the short term option for you.
    4. Are you prepared for home ownership costs?
      • Many people like renting because there are no responsibilities that come along with it.  But with buying a home, you can expect routine maintenance, property taxes, insurance, home owner association fees, repairs, etc.

There are some additional benefits to buying a home including tax exemptions and deductions.  And you may want to consider purchasing an investment property that you can then turn into a source of income.

Property Management 101

As a property manager, less turnover with tenants means happier owners and better relationships.  But getting to that point takes some work.  You need to educate yourself about property management and be prepared to become a jack of all trades!

Know the Rental Laws

You will need to have knowledge on current real estate laws that involve property management. It will be your job to have answers to specific questions regarding tenant and landlord rights.  You will also need to know the proper procedures for evictions and other legal disagreements.

Search for Good Tenants

The right tenant can make all the difference in retaining low turnover.  Ask for references, check credit, criminal and eviction history, and verify income.  Always ask for an application fee when a tenant is applying for a property.

Create a Handbook or Procedures

You’ll need to be consistent and clear on your office policies and procedures with both tenants and landlords.  Make sure they know how to access maintenance requests, payment portals, and statements.  You’ll also need to set up an emergency phone and procedure.

Build Relationships

This is a relationship business.  It’s important to have open and honest communication between your tenants and your owners.

If you are looking for a property manager around the Austin metro area, contact us today.  We’d love to work with you!

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Austin Real Estate Market Update February 2017

In the latest Central Texas Housing Market Report released by the Austin Board of REALTORS® showed the single-family home market slowing down, creating more stable conditions. Single-family home sales in the Austin-Round Rock metro area remained flat last month, increasing 0.9 percent year-over-year.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • 1,829 – Single-family homes sold, 1% more than February 2016
  • $287,000 – Median price for single-family homes, 7% more than February 2016
  • $368,259 – Average price for single-family homes, 9.3% more than February 2016
  • 61 – Average number of cumulative days single-family homes spent on the market, 4 days less than February 2016
  • $652,000,000 – Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, 9% more than February 2016

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