Love in the City.....With 3 Kids and a Dog???

According to the latest U.S. Census data; 80.7 percent of Americans live in urban areas, more than the 79 percent a decade ago. The population of urban areas has also increased by more than 12 percent, faster than the rest of the country's 9.7 percent growth rate from 2000 to 2010. The twentieth century brought rapid suburban development due to loans for purchase and highways that made it easier for the American family to migrate to the suburbs and abandon the cities, however, today more and more Americans are returning to bustling city. For hundreds of years cities have always been the epicenter of culture, in other countries such as Japan, families live in these massive urban centers, with young children taking public transportation to get to school and growing up with the energy of the city. Suburbs tend to encourage this disconnect between its residents, getting in the car to drive and get groceries doesn't allow you to communicate and engage your fellow neighbors, it creates an isolated, monogamous existence. When I read the above statistics I automatically think, young, single, childless, professionals, or students. Most home prices in cities do not allow large families to live comfortably. A lower end price range that can buy you a 4 bedroom house in the outer Houston "suburbs" will get you a loft condo or a 2 bedroom town home in an up and coming part of "urban" Houston. Personally, the larger space and school districts are the only reason I don't move to the city. I hope that this can change and housing developers will start to build not just for the single masses but for families, as well. I have no problem down sizing in order to be near the museums, parks, SIDEWALKS, etc; but the floorplans must be designed to accommodate multiple family members, ie; kids rooms and lots of storage. One of my favorite shows on the Bravo network that they really should have renewed was 9 By Design: 2 parents plus SEVEN kids!! The Novogratz family lives in New York City in a fabulous million dollar town home with plenty of rooms for their kids including a basketball court and elevator. Now it's clear to see why city living is both functional and practical when you have that kind of money as purchasing power but for the average family who doesn't have that kind of money there is a VERY limited inventory.

 Contemporary Style 3 Bedroom 2 Bath Home low $200's

Traditional Single Family, 3 Story Home, 3 Beds and 2 1/2 baths $300's

 Goregeous, Single Family Home, New Co nstruction, 4 bed, 2 1/2 bath low $400's


Renting out a home is becoming the obvious choice for many homeowners/investors but realistically how long should your home be sitting on the market? Many agents are choosing to focus on rentals due to the difficulties they are encountering in the buyer/sellers’ market, however, you want to be sure that the agent you have representing your property is experienced in handling rentals. Every month that goes by is a mortgage payment coming out of YOUR pocket or money NOT coming into your pocket. Choosing the right agent is extremely important when it comes to listing your property.


Many agents have a laissez faire attitude and wait for other agents to bring them the right renter. You want to make sure that your agent not only has the experience and connections to find you a quick renter but is also actively catching and pursuing leads. There are many marketing outlets available on the internet and no reason why your property should not be visible to all potential renters.


Presentation of a rental property is something that I feel is often overlooked by inexperienced agents or agents that frankly just don’t care; they tend to feel that the ‘look’ of the home is not their problem and they couldn’t be more wrong. Aside from making suggestions pertaining to cosmetic improvements, staging, an agent should always be sure that the home is clean. Sounds simple but many times vacant homes can become messy looking just by the amount of visitors that are coming in and out, would your agent be willing to ‘tend’ to simple maintenance of the home? Smells are also important, they are the first thing I notice walking into a property.  Hot weather, carpeting, many vacant homes tend to smell ‘stuffy,’ would your agent consider buying an air freshener or would that be asking for too much?? Taking proper pictures is crucial to the marketing of your home. Pictures are the first impression of your property to potential renters. They don’t have to be professional grade but they shouldn’t be blurry and have dark shadows either. Make sure that you request to see the images your agent will be posting.


I understand that for many real estate is a part time job, however, you as the owner really need to understand what that means. There have been many times when I have called to inquire about a property for a prospective tenant and there has been no answer until later in the evening, if that, no reply to emails, which nowadays has no excuse. These are all leads that you’re losing because the agent you selected is unavailable during working hours. Marketing is crucial and unless the agent’s day job is very lenient are they really going to be marketing your property during their work hours? Probably not, your home will probably get marketed when they have time. The main benefit of hiring an agent to rent your property is to make your life easier and to get the job done quickly, make sure that your agent is doing this for you.


Generation Y: The Benefits of Leasing vs. Buying

     There have been many reports praising the value of leasing vs. buying a home. For many years purchasing a home was the American dream, now it seems that dream has changed, especially for Generation Y which has witnessed the recent decline and chaos of the housing market, high unempoyment and lower wages. For many older Americans the idea of purchasing a home was a promising investment, something that could be passed down to children, or used to put their children through school. This has all changed, home ownership is no longer being viewed as a business plan and in such a fast moving, global society, the new generation no longer wants to be tied down by a house they've inherited. In addition, those who do manage to pay off their home are left to deal with ever increasing property taxes. However, as much as there are negatives to buying there are still and always will be positives but let's take a look at three promising reasons to lease; at least before you commit to buying: 


During these economic times the unstable job market provides a very obvious benefit to leasing. If you get laid off from work and are unable to find a job in your city, state, country, than you probably don’t want to be tied to that one particular area. Having a mortgage payment hanging over your head while you are trying to find a job can be a complete nightmare. The same can be said when you have rent to pay, however, the benefit to leasing is that it is usually short term (1 year vs. 30 years). Most people can make ends meet by picking up part time employment, freelancing, unemployment etc.; With leasing you usually also do not have to worry about repairs, especially major repairs, which you would have to fix if you owned your own home. There is no home insurance to pay; renters insurance is typically much less expensive. Without the mortgage payment, you’re pretty much free to go anywhere in the world and rent a home; this is ideal especially for young people that are facing an extremely competitive job market and still need to acquire years of experience before they can enjoy employment stability and higher wages.

No Saving for a Down Payment

Being a generation that has been and is being highly influenced by global communication, travel, and the “cloud,” there are many more diverse living options for our future than in previous generations. High unemployment and school loans have pushed back many plans to purchase a home and/or start a family; becoming debt free is definitely a high priority. In addition, the increasing demand to travel out of state or out of the country for work definitely does not make home ownership appealing. Rather than saving thousands of dollars for a down payment in order to become debt free, Generation Y would prefer to pay off their debt, travel around the world, or start a business. Influenced by creative lifestyle books, such as “The 4 Hour Work Week,” my generation understands that there are other alternatives for success. A home is not a business plan, rather than investing your money into a home you could invest in a business that will provide you with additional income in the long run.


In addition to not have to worry about repairs, the next best thing that comes from leasing is the amenities that so many of these new apartments offer, such as, fitness centers, game rooms, free Wi-Fi, tanning beds, washer and dryer in units, swimming pools, etc.; Many of these new construction apartment communities offer a lifestyle to future renters, units tend to offer more creative updates, such as, granite counter tops, neutral paint coloring, hardwood floors, crown molding etc.;

Clearly, there will always be benefits to purchasing a home, especially once you start a family and schools start to play an important role. Until then, it’s important that the many benefits of leasing are not overlooked.


Simple and Inexpensive Changes You Can Make to Upgrade Your Rental, Make it More Attractive and Get More Money!

In today’s market, there is no doubt that you have seen an increase of “upgraded,” “high-end finishes” being offered in residential properties for lease.  It might seem unimportant from an owner’s point of view to spend additional money on a home that will be leased. However, due to a slower market many owners are choosing to lease their homes rather than sell, resulting in a large inventory of homes for lease.  Whether, you decide to sell or lease your home making small improvements for a significantly low amount of money can make all the difference in getting your home noticed and getting more money in your pocket.


1. Light Fixtures

Standard fixtures are not only an eye sore, a potential renter will begin to wonder why they should spend more money on your property vs. getting the same interior for less at a different property.  Upgrading from a standard fixture to something a tad more luxurious can be a relatively inexpensive upgrade for your home. Pick good quality fixtures, with neutral characteristics and you will notice an immediate change in your home.

2. Matching Appliances

No one enjoys mismatched appliances, whether they are black, white, or stainless steel; make sure that your appliances match. Many apartments offer only black or stainless steel appliances, this is your competition! A veteran renter will know what they can get for their money and you want the veteran renters with great rental history to be your tenants.

3. No carpet

It is not very expensive nowadays to install tile, laminate wood flooring, hardwood flooring, etc.; getting rid of the carpet will completely change the entire feel of your property. Carpet is only desirable in bedrooms or the upstairs floor. Not to mention, carpet in high traffic areas, such as living and dining, is dirty and if your renters have pets, even dirtier. Think of non-carpeted flooring as a long term investment, you will not need to constantly repair and clean tile or wood flooring as you would with carpet.

4. No Wallpaper

Get rid of any wallpaper, not only are most wallpapers unattractive, they tend to be very taste specific. Stick to neutral paint colors, they will automatically create a feeling of simplicity and cleanliness.

5. Kitchen

Obviously, having a great kitchen is always a major selling point when it comes to a home. Older cabinets, unless they are extremely outdated can be dealt with, however, countertops need to be upgraded. Granite is now available in many types that make it less expensive and installation is relatively affordable. If granite is out of the question for you, go for textured laminate or faux granite. Installing a deeper sink and getting a newer faucet not only changes the appearance of your kitchen but is much appreciated by cooks! Cabinet handles can be found on sale at many hardware/interior stores, as well as, flea markets and the internet. Go buy some, even a small difference can add to the overall look of a home.