Things to Do & Consider Before Moving Into a New Home in California  

Giving Away The KeysOne out of eight American individuals lives in California, the most popular U.S. state where all the dreams seem to become reality at some point. Buying or renting a house in California may be a good idea for you and your family for a number of reasons. You may want to retire in a happy place, party 24/7 or raise your youngsters in a safe environment. California is the best place to make such plans and accomplish them.

Nonetheless, this is a big move that requires proper planning and expert guidance from someone who is familiar with the real estate market and its inherent pitfalls.

Ask around. If you can count on acquaintances or family members who live in California, don’t hesitate to ask them for advice. They may be able to recommend the best neighborhoods and could even help you find great value homes before they actually hit the market. Existing connections are a gold mine for families planning to move to a different state. Explore them wisely to be able to find a good apartment or house for rent or sale that is actually in your price range.

Determine Your Long-Term Objectives. Are you looking for aquiet neighborhood where you could enjoy your retirement? Are you striving to find the perfect place where you could bring up your children without exposing them to considerable risks and temptations? Are you young, single and eager to inventory all the nightlife entertainment options available in your ZIP code? All these goals can be pursued in different Californian regions. Do your homework to prevent dissatisfaction and misguided decisions.

Check Out Listings. Naturally, this is one of the most important steps that you should follow to be able to take a look at the best properties for rent or for sale, listed on the Californian real estate market. Check out newspaper ads, but do beyond the traditional media for a much more complex, in-depth exploration. Real estate directories allow you to browse information by state and city and get more familiar with the local markets. By surfing the Internet you can profit from virtual tours, detailed, specific info related to the properties that interest you the most, contact details and high-resolution photos that can be more meaningful than 1,000 words put together.

Hire a Realtor. A realtor will represent your best interest by putting his or her expertise and connections at your disposal and enabling you to spot the hottest California-based properties in your price range before anyone else.

Ask Yourself This: Can You Actually Afford Your New Home?

Several coastal cities comprise a few of the most wealthy per-capital U.S. regions. In 2010, California was home to approximately 663,000 millionaires, becoming the American state with the highest number of wealthy people.

Life in California is far from being cheap. Even if you can afford a new mortgage, you have to get the bigger picture here. There are numerous lovely, decently-priced properties located in different top Californian cities, including San Diego, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Glendale, Fremont and Garden Grove, but could you actually keep up with the mortgage payments that they involve, cope with monthly expenses and still live a comfortable life at the same time? California invites you to discover its numerous appealing properties for rent or for sale, but sometimes the true real estate gems can only be mined with help from a competent realtor.

Jun 2014

Ways You’re Violating Your Lease and Don’t Even Know It  

signing a leaseThere is a lot to read in your lease — you know it. Most likely you skimmed over the important material, such as when rent is due, when you can end the lease, etc. But, if you are like most renters, you’re violating your lease and you don’t even know it. While most landlords won’t call you on it, if they do, you could risk not only being evicted, but lose out on your security deposit.

Your Cousin Is Staying With You for a Few Weeks

Your lease most likely specifies that any guest that stays for an extended period of time must be placed on your lease. A lot of renters don’t realize that their landlord stipulates what constitutes a guest and what is considered a “tenant”.

You Hung Up Your Photographs

You wanted your rental unit to feel more like home, but any improvements or alterations could reduce your security deposit. Some leases prohibit putting any holes into the walls what-so-ever. That means even a minor change like hanging a picture could mean you’ve just violated your lease.

You Have a Home-Based Business

Perhaps you do freelance art work or you’re a writer. But, make sure your lease doesn’t say “residential” only. Because, running your own business out of your home could be a violation. In most cases, however, if the business is just you and no one else — and clients don’t enter your home — you should be alright. But, you may want to discuss the situation with your landlord to clarify it.

You Display Campaign Signs on Your Windows

You’re political and it is within your right. But, displaying those campaigning signs might violate your lease agreement. Some lease agreements directly prohibit any display on the premises that doesn’t have to do with the apartment complex. So, check your lease before proudly displaying who you will be voting for this year.

You Got a Waterbed or Fish

Most leases have specific clauses regarding waterbeds and fish tanks. They are prohibited due to the amount of damage they can cause if they were to break. Check your lease before you decide to go retro or before you get a fish as a pet.

You Got a New Car and Didn’t Tell the Landlord

If you have assigned parking stalls, it is likely you register your vehicle with the property manager. If you got a new one and didn’t tell them, you could be in violation of that rule. Always let your landlord know when you get a new vehicle, especially if it is parked in assigned parking stalls.

Jun 2014

Tips for Finding the Best Rent in Los Angeles

Young couple buying or renting a home or apartment, they are meeThe rental market is heating up in LA. More consumers are opting to rent than buy in southern California thanks to the housing market, which means there is likely going to be an increase in rental rates very soon. To avoid paying these rates, most renters will stay put, which means the availability of new units is also going to be trying. But, there are ways to still find a good rental and a good price despite the market.

Use Rental Websites to Their Fullest

These sites tell you everything you need to know about a place. From the rental rate to the square footage to pictures of the units themselves. Use this as a starting point to research potential rentals. This will save you time looking at stuff in person that you cannot afford.

Ask Around

Los Angeles has a lot of hidden rentals. Sometimes all it takes is asking a friend or even co-worker and you can find a new place. Social media is also great for finding new rentals. A lot of landlords post their ads in Facebook groups rather than through traditional outlets.

Compare Rates

There is a huge fluctuation in rental rates in LA. You can find one apartment for $800 per month and then the building next door with a similar unit for $1200. So, always be ready to do some comparison shopping. Take a look at apartments and see what you can find within that price range, but don’t forget to compare it to next door.

Get Away from Downtown

If you want to save some money on your rental rates, stay away from the downtown area. Downtown LA is up to 25 percent more than the outer boroughs. Also, by staying away from downtown, you might even be able to avoid some of that classic Los Angeles traffic on the way to work or even the grocery store.

Remind Landlords About Credit

Landlords are always looking for tenants with good credit. Some may even be willing to offer a better rate if you have perfect credit. While this isn’t a guarantee, it is always worth a shot. Ask the landlord if they have any specials or lower rates for people with impeccable credit scores.

Remember that Los Angeles is a metropolis. You will pay more in rent here than other areas in Southern California. But, if you take the time to research and get to know the area, you might just walk away with something you can afford.

Jun 2014

Rental Red Flags to Be on the Look Out For

Right Facing For Rent Real Estate Sign Over Clouds and Sunny SkyHunting for a new apartment isn’t easy. There are dozens to choose from, but they are all hard to decide. You like the area, but will you like the neighbors? How will the landlord be? While there is no 100 percent proven way to pick the perfect apartment, there are some red flags that are good indicators you might want to keep looking. So before you settle, check out these top red flags.

How is the Parking Lot?

How a property manager takes care of the parking lot is a good indicator of how they take care of the units and the rest of the property as well. If the parking stalls are cracked or there are missing lines in the parking lot, it tells you that management isn’t very concerned with the appearance of their property. Also, look for other signs of neglect. Is there a car that appears to be parked there for months? Does the manager allow junk vehicles covered in tarps to be parked in the corners?

Lack of Parking

While the appearance of the parking lot is okay, how is the parking situation in general? Is there enough space for you? Will there be assigned spots or does each tenant have to fight over what is available? Also, what is the situation for guests? Unfortunately, a lot of apartment complexes in the downtown area are severely limited on parking. Guests have to park on the street and some tenants have to wait for a reserved spot to open up — which could take months or the entire span of the lease.

What is the Current Tenant Situation?
Before you schedule an appointment to take a look at the inside, why don’t you show up early and just people watch. See what type of tenants are already living in the apartment and if they are going to mix with your personality.

Also, look around at how other tenants treat the complex. Look at balconies too. Are they cluttered in excess? Or does the property manager seem to have a hold on how people treat their units? Also, look at the trash dumpster. If it’s overflowing, not well kept or even closed in, that’s a good indicator that property management doesn’t care how tenants treat it and they don’t care how it looks.

Inspect the Apartment

If the property owner won’t let you thoroughly inspect a unit before renting it, it is a good indicator they have something to hide. Go through the unit and turn on everything — from lights to faucets to flushing toilets and turning on the oven. You want to make sure you’re getting a quality apartment and not moving into a headache.

Jun 2014

5 Ways to Ensure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

SavingsApartment managers and landlords often request a security deposit from all new renters. And, you are promised that you will get that security deposit back at the end of your lease term. While you might assume that there is no way to ruin the chances of that, you would be surprised at how many renters never find that security deposit coming back to them in the end. So, before you sign the lease or even put down the money — which could be thousands — make sure you know what it takes to keep that security deposit.

Document the Condition Before You Move-In

Before you even move your first box into the apartment, document the condition of the apartment. Take photographs and make sure they are time-stamped. When you do the initial walkthrough with your property owner, take the photographs and make sure you write everything down on the inspection list. Then, get a copy of that inspection list and store it with your photographs. That way if the landlord tries to state you caused damage and withhold your security deposit, you have proof that the damage was already there before you moved in.

Give Notice Properly

Look at your lease and see what notice is required by the landlord. Even if your lease is up, the landlord may require that you give a 30-day notice before leaving. To keep your security deposit, you will want to follow all notification rules.

Fill In Holes

It is likely you are going to leave behind a few holes in the wall, especially if you hang anything during your stay. If the lease states that the apartment must be returned in the condition you received it, then you will need to fix a few holes before moving out. Use plaster to filling the holes and repaint the spots using the same paint color originally on the walls.

Maintain the Apartment While You Live There

While you live there, don’t act like a renter — act as if you own that space. That means reporting any maintenance needs right away, cleaning up after yourself, etc. Not performing proper maintenance or keeping the unit clean could result in you not getting your security deposit back.

Do Not Leave Stuff Behind

When you move out, take everything with you. Any trash or items left behind could be considered not returning the apartment in good condition. And, an apartment manager could keep some or all of your security deposit for doing so.

Jun 2014