Sunday, September 22, 2019

Lowered Mortgage Rates Boosted US Home Sales 1.3%

As mortgage rates approach near historic lows, there has been a high increase in home buying. According to recent statistics, US home sales rose 1.3% to the highest level in 17 months. Furthermore, the National Association of Realtors stated that homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.49 million units, the best performance since March 2018.

The recent increase in home sales are a sign of US consumer's strong resilience, despite a darkening outlook for overall economic growth. Cheaper borrowing costs have resulted in improved affordability for buyers, making them more eager to buy despite rising property prices and a shortage of properties for sale.

The median sales price rose 4.7% from a year ago to $278,200, outpacing average wage gains.

Overall, home buyers are benefitting from the recent economic uncertainty, due to President Trump's ongoing tariff war against China. The 30 year mortgage rate averaged only 3.73% this week. However, the upside is limited due to a shortage in properties available for sale. There were only 1.86 million properties listed for sale at the end of August, down 2.6% from a year ago. The inventory shortage appears to be most pronounced in starter homes priced below $250,000, while sales of homes priced between $250,000 and 1 million have drastically risen.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

5 Easy & Creative Ways to Upgrade Your Rental

Renting does not always provide the exact renovations and design decor you truly desire. However, we rounded up some of the best budget-friendly design tips to upgrade and spruce up your rental.

1. Enhance Your Lighting 

Lighting is an overlooked yet powerful way to completely change the ambiance of any room. Switching out light fixtures and adding a trendy chandelier, or even adding smart light bulbs that connect to a Google Home or Amazon Echo, can brighten your apartment and add instant coziness. 

2. Upgrade Your Bathroom

Many rentals have bathrooms that are mediocre at best. Luckily, you can easily swap out your shower-head for something slightly more glamorous and high quality. You can also upgrade your towel bars or replace your toilet seat.

3. Replace Old Knobs & Handles

Looking to add some design and style to your bland or outdated rental? Consider replacing any old-fashioned kitchen and bathroom knobs with more stylish alternatives. Just remember to keep the original hardware safely stored away so you can put the old ones back before moving out.

4. Spruce Up Your Walls

As a renter, removable wallpaper will be your best friend. A bit of removable wallpaper can instantly add color and style to your apartment. Also do not underestimate the power of large wall art, it can instantly add glamour and a pop of color to any space. 

5. Add Custom Shelving

Introducing custom shelving can be a game-changer to your apartment. You can even position shelves to cover unattractive and outdated radiators. Adding shelving will add style to your apartment while simultaneously giving you the opportunity to better organize your belongings.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Top 10 Design Tricks to Make Your Small Living Space Look Bigger

1. Built-in Storage

Furniture that comes with built-in storage is a great solution to make your small living space look brighter and bigger. One ideal example is an ottoman with hidden storage space. Furniture with built-in storage allows you to live in a clutter free space, which will open up your living area to look more spacious. 

2. Add Mirrors 

Mirrors do a great job of adding style to your apartment while also adding the illusion of more space. Large mirrors especially can add dimension to your space when they reflect and enhance the light. The best place for mirrors are either on white and well-illuminated walls, across from a window to let in natural light, or behind certain furniture pieces such as a chest or an end table. 

3. Use Light Paint Colors

Interior designers suggest painting rooms in light and calming colors to add the illusion of more space. Light paint colors will make a living area look bigger, brighter, and more open. 

4. Curtains 

Curtains can be strategically placed to make an apartment look more open and inviting. By hanging curtains higher than the window, you will instantly add more light and dimension to your living area. This technique is especially useful to spaces with low ceilings. It helps draw the eye upwards, making the space look less cramped and the ceilings look higher. If you are against the idea of curtains, you could use either Roman shades or blinds. They make the room look less crowded which leads to more space and openness. 

5. Create a Focal Point 

To make a space look bigger and more open, interior designers suggest choosing one aspect of the room to highlight something that is visually interesting. Eyes will be drawn to this focal feature immediately and people will pay less attention to the small size of the room. Some of the most common focal points used by homeowners are fireplaces, a wall, and artwork. When using a wall as a focal point, you can either paint it or cover it with wall decor or wallpaper. 

6. Rugs

A rug is the perfect decor accessory to make a room feel bigger while simultaneously adding style. If possible, use a large rug which extends beyond the furniture. This trick makes the room appear bigger, especially when the rug is placed under a couch, coffee table, and other furniture. A small rug will make the space feel limited and small. You can even use multiple rugs in one space to separate one room into smaller areas. 

7. Use Both Natural and Artificial Lighting 

Surprisingly, lighting has the greatest impact on interior design, and if it's done right, it can change the perception of a living space, making it feel larger than it actually is. Desk lamps, wall scones, and floor lamps are just a few example of lighting sources which will add space and openness to any room. You can also utilize natural lighting by placing a mirror across a window, it will enhance the sun by reflecting it from a window. 

8. Add Stripe Decor 

By incorporating striped decor into your interior design, such as striped rugs, you will help expand the room and make it look larger and more open. You can even paint the stripes onto the wall. Horizontal stripes make the room look expansive, while the vertical stripes will make it look taller. 

9. Creative Furniture Layout

Arranging furniture is one way to make a room appear more expansive and open. One way to do it is by adding separation between different rooms. For example, you can separate the living area from the dining room by arranging the chairs and sofa in a way that clearly outlines the distinction between the two spaces. Another way to make your space feel more open is by pushing your furniture against the wall. 

10. Multi-purpose furniture 

When living in a small space, you ideally want your furniture to serve many different purposes, allowing your space to be more open and inviting. The best options include a console table which also can be used as a desk, and a sleeper where you can sit during the day and sleep at night. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

As Summer Approaches, Boston & Cambridge Apartment Rents Rank Highest in U.S

According to recently published reports, Boston and Cambridge were among the most expensive U.S markets heading into July. These results aren't surprised considering Boston has consistently ranked among the likes of New York, San Jose, and San Francisco in terms of affordability. The report from real estate listings and research site Zumper calculated the median rent for a Boston one-bedroom at $2,450, up 0.08 percent from the same time last year, and calculated the median rent for a Boston two bedroom at $2,840, up 3.3 percent annually. The latest statistics come out as city officials discuss the increasing rental prices in Boston, and search for solutions. Many officials are interested in visiting the topic of rent control, or establishing private, independent dorms or other co-living arrangements.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Here Are Average Rents near Boston Universities

Renting near Boston Universities can vary, but can offer relatively good deals. Northeastern, Boston University, M.I.T, and Harvard have the highest apartment rents within a one-mile radius of their campus. According to newly released data, average rents near Northeastern, BU, and M.I.T, were particularly expensive: $3,335, $3,321, and $3,286 a month, each. Meanwhile, the average rent within one-mile of Harvard was $2,780. Although very pricey, this is still cheaper than the overall Cambridge average of $3,031 a month.

For Chestnut Hill, the general average rent is $3,103. Thus, renting within a one-mile radius of Boston College is significantly cheaper than renting in Chestnut Hill overall. The average rent within one-mile radius of Boston College is $2,137 a month.

Renting near Brandeis University also appears to offer a discount over Waltham rents on average (more than $100), and renting near Tufts University can also provide a generous discount against renting Medford in general.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Boston Affordable Housing Program Kicks Off Best Year Yet

Boston policymakers and developers have been making serious strides to ensure Boston is a more affordable and inclusive place to live. Statistics shown on the city's Inclusionary Development Policy, reveal there were 546 new units of affordable housing created in Boston in 2018. Despite these strong developments, Boston's real estate community has been stressing the importance of everyone's involvement in continuing to fix the city's housing crisis and achieve housing targets set by numerous Boston lawmakers. 

Developing housing in Boston is no easy task. One-bedroom residential units can cost upwards of $450K to build, and the median rent for the same units runs $2,400 per month on average. By utilizing a mixture of federal and local programs, the state has been taking steps towards creating more affordable housing. Nationwide, one of the most effective ways to create and sustain affordable housing, has been the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Developers have had the incentive to construct and build affordable housing thanks to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and tax-exempt bonds. 

Furthermore, Boston has its own tax credit program in place to further encourage affordable housing opportunities. There are programs like the Affordable Housing Trust Program, the Housing Stabilization and Investment Fund, the Capital Improvement and Preservation Trust Fund, the Housing Innovations Fund and the Facilities Consolidation Fund. Also, Mayor Marty Walsh introduced a 14-bill legislative package in January in an effort to build a more inclusive and equitable city, which called for more affordable housing funding and stronger protections for low-income residents facing eviction. He also signed a law into measure which regulates and restricts short-term rentals for units listed on Airbnb for free up more housing in favor of people signing a yearlong lease.  

Mayor Marty Walsh hopes to see 69,000 new units of housing created by 2030, while Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker wants 135,000 new houses statewide by 2025. Along with the creation of more affordable housing units, many Boston lawmakers want to address the issue of affordable housing by enacting rent control in Boston. A group of state lawmakers, including representative Michael Connolly, intend to file a bill to allow municipalities in Massachusetts to enact rent control, which was officially banned by voters statewide in 1994. However, rent control imposes many issues and hampers the desire for investors to build housing. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How To Master Running a Rental Property

1. Understand the Market

Knowing the market is a very simple step which many property investors and property managers skip. By researching your market and city, you can make notes about essential factors including the local economy, employment sectors, and the average rent for specific areas. Knowing this information will allow you to manage your rental property with more expertise and rise to meet certain expectations. 

2. Properly Screen Tenants

Properly screening tenants is imperative to running a successful and profitable rental property. By properly screening tenants, you can avoid tenants who will miss rent payments, destroy your property, and make you undergo the eviction process to remove them from your property. By background checking your tenants, running thorough credit checks, and confirming their employment records, you can make the management of your property flow smoothly and successfully. Finding the right tenants also requires intuition and sometimes interviewing the potential tenants to get a feel for their personality. 

3. Educate Yourself With Current Tenant-Landlord Laws

Another imperative key to running a successful rental property is keeping current with the updated tenant-landlord laws in your state. Becoming fully aware of all relevant regulations and statuses governing real estate is extremely important and will prevent complicated issues in the future. Often consulting a local real estate attorney to help you navigate the real estate laws will be worth the money and effort. 

4. Perform Routine Maintenance 

Performing regular and routine maintenance on your property is one of the most important factors required to run a successful rental property. It's also highly suggested you check certain areas to prepare for the summer and winter months accordingly. By making routine maintenace on critical areas a priority, you will highly improve your rental property and prevent small issues from developing into large and expensive repairs.