To Buy or Rent….that is the question!

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It’s one of those major questions you’re bound to ask yourself at some point and probably the biggest decision from a financial standpoint you’re going to make. The answer though isn’t always a simple one, there are a variety of factors to take into consideration. Ultimately, your decision will be based on what makes the most financial as well as emotional sense for your particular situation.

There is a general belief that owning a home is the ultimate goal, the key to the “American Dream.” And while there are many great reasons to support this thinking, numerous pros and cons should be weighed before signing on the dotted line. And regardless of whether you’re a first time home buyer or a repeat purchaser, be sure to ask yourself a few important questions before contacting a real estate agent to get started.

Thinking about buying, consider the following…

Pros

  • Building equity over time which creates stability and security for your family

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  • Tax benefits – great news, now you can deduct many home-related expenses
  • Potential for rental income
  • More creative freedom – you won’t need to ask anyone’s permission (well maybe your spouse) before tackling a new project
  • Unlimited pets (if you want) – there isn’t a no pet policy when you own your own home

Cons:

  • Potential for financial loss
  • Responsible for all maintenance and repairs

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  • Higher upfront costs

Considering renting…

Pros

  • You’re not responsible for maintenance and repairs
  • No real estate taxes to pay
  • No large down payment
  • Credit requirements are less strict
  • Some utilities might be included in the rental agreement
  • Relocating is easier

Cons

  • No chance to earn equity on your property
  • No tax benefits
  • Limited housing security

Regardless of whether you buy or rent these costs you just can’t escape!

Buying

  • Down payment
  • Home appraisal fee
  • Home inspection fee
  • Property tax
  • 1st years homeowners insurance
  • Any additional closing cost fees

Recurring costs

  • Mortgage loan payments
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – if you put down less than 20% of the purchase price you’ll have this added monthly payment

Renting

  • Security Deposit
  • First month’s rent
  • Moving Costs

Recurring Costs:

  • Monthly rent
  • Renter’s insurance
  • Utilities (sometimes, certain utilities are included in the rental fee)
  • Laundry (not all rentals offer washer/dryer hookups)

As you’re going down your checklist, consider the following questions

  1. How long do you plan to stay? – The longer you anticipate you’ll be there the better off you are buying. Buying and selling a home requires a good deal of time and money so take that into consideration if you plan to stay less than five years.

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  1. Would you be happy staying longer than planned? – For first time home buyers, the idea of a starter home sounds great, but what if the time comes when you’re ready to sell and it’s not a sellers’ market? Or other unforeseen circumstances arise and you are unable to move when you thought you would?
  2. How stable is your job and your life? – If things both professionally and personally are not stable you might want to reconsider locking yourself into a big financial commitment at the moment.
  3. How do the monthly costs compare? – Do the math and be realistic. Consider all of the monthly costs that go along with owning verse renting.
  4. Do you have enough money for a down payment? – Sure you can get away with putting down less than 20% but that means you’ll be paying PMI along with a higher mortgage payment. Plus, sellers might choose offers with higher down payments and less contingencies.
  5. Do you have savings to pay for repairs? – All homes require repairs at some point, regardless of whether they’re brand new or not. If you’re leaning towards purchasing make sure you have some extra cash in your account for any unforeseen occurrences.

Whatever route you choose, finding the best real estate agent will help make either process as smooth and efficient as possible.

Making Room for a Roommate

The reality of high rent costs in NYC means that many of us can’t afford to live alone, and often you’ll need to split rent with another person or several people. Roommates can offer cost and space efficiency and become great friends, or they can be messy, unreliable and noisy. So, before you enter a semi-long-term, committed relationship with a complete stranger, here are some screening tips.

 

1cd092b0-77ed-0132-1d4f-0a2c89e5f2f5Bills, Bills, Bills
People often say that one of the biggest sources of stress in marriage is money. The same can be said for roommates. Money conversations can be awkward but are best discussed first up. It’s a good idea to establish, before you move in or someone moves into your place – obviously, can they afford rent? Do they have a steady job or is their rent paid for by someone else? How will the bills be paid each month? Who is responsible for paying them? Who will be paying who back for what? It’s also a good idea to establish an expected timeline for payments. If you pay the full rent every first of the month, do you expect your roommate to pay you back that day? A day or two before? Or is a few days later ok?

 

Experience Necessaryfriends-cast
Just like hiring someone for a job, you want to find a roommate who has been there, done that. Ask the potential candidate about the best and worst roommate experiences that they’ve had. You can learn a lot about a person by hearing about the troubles they’ve encountered and how they dealt with them. The more you talk with the potential roommate, the more you’ll get a feel for whether or not you actually get along. Do you enjoy their company? Or can you just not wait to get out of the situation? Taking the time to talk to the person and discovering if they’re the right person, could be the difference between a friend for life that you look forward to seeing at the end of the day, or horror stories that you’ll tell at dinner parties for years to come.

 

61324c703423de5f59050915a700d9b615cf1d81Shared Space
Consider the space you’ll be sharing. Apartments where autonomy is possible (e.g. having large bedrooms or two common spaces) work best in roommate situations, however this is not always possible. If you’re moving in with a friend or your roommate will never be home, it may not matter that the space is small and intimate. Think about if the space will work with your respective lifestyles. Do they have a pet? Like being alone? Watch a lot of TV? Determine how you’re going to decorate. Who will be responsible for contributing which items to the common areas? If you or they are particular about décor, let it be known up front. Talk about things you might be confronted with within your shared space – bedbugs, bad neighbors or an unresponsive superintendent for example, and how you would deal with these together.


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Once you’ve found the perfect roommate, it’s a good idea to come up with some rules together. Talk about how often you like to have friends over, if you expect the house to be spotless and tidy all the time, if they plan on getting a pet or how often a significant other is allowed to sleep over before they have to start paying rent. Even though it’s early days and these conversations may seem premature, it’s better to have an open discussion and maybe even put the decision in writing, that way if there are problems down the line, you can refer back to what you both once agreed upon.

 

While we can help you find the perfect home in Brooklyn, check out the below services to help you find the perfect soul/roommate!

 

Move it, Don’t Lose it!

Summer is the busy season for the rental market in Brooklyn and throughout New York and as if finding a new home isn’t stressful enough, the move has the potential to break you! If moving is in the cards for you, here are some tips to help the process go as smoothly as possible.

 

Picture1Declutter to Destress
Holding on to almost empty shampoo bottles, expired medicines, worn washcloths, clothes you never wear? Now is the time to let go! Decluttering will help make your move easier and your new home easier to set-up. Start with the bathroom where there is less sentimental attachment and discard any products you don’t use regularly. Donate anything worth donating. Don’t try to declutter every room at once – getting rid of excess stuff in even just one room will make your move shorter and less expensive. When in doubt, take pictures of clothes you no longer wear but which still have sentimental value – a photo takes up a lot less space!

 

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Move a Muscle
Now is the time to look at your family and friends verrrry closely. Are they strong? Do they work out? Do they owe you one? If not, you’re going to need some professional help. Don’t put off lining up movers. Get estimates and lots of them! The more research you do, the better deal you’ll get. Ask friends if they recommend any movers in your area, compare prices and look for a reputable company that’s bonded and insured. Check out local Brooklyn companies like JP Urban Moving, Get There Moving, Lightning Van  and Sweet Lou Moves You.

 

Picture12pngWise to Organize
Save your sanity and make your move smooth, short and sweet by preparing, organizing and packing! Start with the virtual move by backing up all your data. Next, label cords so you know which device each cord goes to – this will make setup easier later. Gather important papers like birth certificates, passports and financial documents in a fireproof lock box, and make sure this stays with you on moving day. Streamline your DVD and CD collections and save a lot of space by moving discs into binder sleeves and discarding empty cases. Come up with a labeling system – color-coding or numbering and keeping a record of the contents of boxes. Then when you are unpacking, you can simply check your master list to see which box you need. Keep a moving binder with info including your moving company, to-do lists, master packing list etc. Start a stash of essentials like toilet paper, trash bags, basic tools, bath towels and sheets, so that when you arrive you don’t have to go through boxes just to get through the first night.

 

Bust a Move
Picture13Okay so it’s time to move! If you’ve prepared properly, unpacking shouldn’t be too overwhelming. Start with assembling furniture. Items like your bed are best transferred in disassembled form. If you don’t remember how to put things back together you can often find manuals online or by calling the manufacturer. Clean and dust items before bringing them into your new, clean home. If you can manage, fill your closets first, even if it’s only temporary. Keeping clutter out of the way will leave you more room to unpack the important stuff. When you’re all done, you can get rid of boxes on Craigslist or trash/recycling, but best to check with your building’s management – some have policies that you might not be aware of yet.

A Solo Success

Having roommates can be a dream! They can help you save money on rent and utility costs, be great company, give you outfit advice… or they can be noisy, messy, inconsiderate and an overall nightmare. Living alone is a big move but if you’re in a position to do it, why not? There are a few things to keep in mind though if you’re about to go solo.

 

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Don’t be a shut-in! When you live alone it can be easy to shut yourself in to your own world. This can sometimes magnify any insecurities or regrets, and be detrimental psychologically. Be sure to throw your curtains open every day and let the light in. Open the door and say hi to your neighbors. If you have an outdoor area, make it a place where you can comfortably sit and observe the world. Opening yourself and your home up helps keep things in perspective and reminds you that you’re not actually alone.


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We fully support your decision to trade-in your annoying roommate for a furry friend. Although they may be messier and demand to be fed, we guarantee they’ll take up less room and probably give you more cuddles. Plus, studies have shown that people with pets are healthier and live longer lives! Pets can fulfill our natural need for touch and companionship which can help manage stress and actually lower blood pressure. The perfect way to combat loneliness, they help give your life day-to-day structure because they must be fed and cared for. A canine companion for example needs to be exercised, which can get you outside, and up and moving, improving your own physical health in the process. Check out Brooklyn Animal Care Center for information on adopting or fostering a new furry roommate.


51f5571a74c5b641fa003410._w.1280_h.1280_s.fit_Be Prepared
Humans are social creatures! Don’t be in denial – living alone can get lonely. Get to know yourself and learn what triggers feelings of loneliness, and when these feelings hit, have a plan. Schedule a favorite weekly activity, join a Meetup Group, or embrace the best parts of living alone – wearing your underwear around the house, singing and dancing to Beyoncé. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and practicing self-discipline – don’t stop showering, getting dressed, exercising or start eating poorly just because no one is watching! Learn to cook for one, and have a plan for when you get sick and there’s no roommate or family member around to take care of you. Make sure you’re still spending time with friends and not cutting yourself off from the outside world.

 

Enhance your Environment506b1636d9127e310400169e._w.800.0_s.fit_
You can finally escape from your roommate’s terrible artwork and creepy doll collection and decorate your home to your taste! Make your place interesting to look at. Find items that are visually and tactilely appealing. Don’t hold back! Go above and beyond with decoration. Paint an accent wall and get art. Change up your lighting, bedding, curtains, etc. and rearrange your furniture. Make your home truly enjoyable, comfortable and a place that makes you feel good and that you want to come home to every day. Make your home welcoming to visitors too of course and keep it clean, because as we’ve talked about before, clutter can have a detrimental effect on your well-being and be a major source of stress.

 

The Lord of the Residence

Being in NYC, we know finding great housing can be a challenge to say the least. When you finally do find that perfect apartment (in Brooklyn, naturally), you don’t want to ever let it go! You might feel like the king of the (Boerum) hill, but the real lord of this land is the person you pay rent to, and if they are your best bud, you could be home sweet home forever. Here are some tips for fostering a flourishing landlord-tenant relationship.

 

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This should go without saying, but pile the smile! Be friendly, be honest and be reasonable. Wave hi or stop for a quick chat when you see your landlord. Come holiday time, send your landlord a small gift. Report any problems as soon as possible, because small problems can turn into catastrophic ones if ignored. For minor stuff, DIY! Replace the light bulb or batteries in the smoke detector yourself. Be clean and respectful – be the kind of neighbor you would want to live next to, and the kind of tenant you would want to rent to.

 

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How do you behave in the workplace? Are you courteous, efficient, a good communicator? Your relationship with your landlord is an investment, and you should consider your interactions in a professional context. Respect the rules set out in your lease and treat your landlord’s property with care. As with important business interactions, get everything in writing. Try to correspond via email when possible – this will protect both of you and reduce the risk of miscommunication. In the event that something goes wrong, be aware of your rights. There is legislation in place nationwide to protect tenants from discrimination, negligence and other issues that may arise.

 

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Rent Well Spent
A day late really is a dollar short if you get in the habit of paying rent late. Just as a homeowner needs to pay a monthly mortgage, many landlords depend on rental income to fund their mortgages. Late rent is not only disrespectful but can result in late fees, or even eviction. Of course there are legitimate reasons for late rent, and having a positive relationship may mean your landlord is open to negotiation. It is essential to discuss any concerns regarding rent with your landlord ASAP. Always strive to pay your rent on time, if not early!

 

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The Company You Keep
If you have a bad track record with landlords, it might be time to consider a building with a management company. Generally these companies have a good reputation and they require good reviews and positive ratings to stay afloat. Although this means living in a larger complex or building with more tenants, management companies usually have more organized and professional systems in place for maintaining and fixing your apartment. Oftentimes they’ll even give you a checklist when you move-in to make sure everything is satisfactory.