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Housing and Real Estate

Housing and Real Estate

PLANNING YOUR MOVE
You’ve decided to make the move to south central New Jersey. Will you be living in a rental unit while storing your furniture during your search for a home to buy? Or did you already buy a house? Is your company (or the military) paying for your move? Or are you paying out of your own pocket? If you are paying for your own move with professional movers, be sure to get three bids and compare services provided.

A reputable mover will come to your home to view your possessions before preparing the bid. Whether moving across the country or across town, you want all your items to arrive intact. If you are paying for your own move, the best way to save money is to rid yourself of anything that is not worth taking. If you are not going to have use for an item in a new location, have a garage sale or yard sale.

Pack your suitcases
If you have luggage, make sure you pack clothes in them before you move. You would be surprised at how many people move, dragging along empty suitcases. Get a floor plan of your new house or apartment. Having a floor plan, (even if it is drawn up by you) can help you plan your move. Mark each room with a color code. You then can mark each moving box with the corresponding color as you pack. Then give the movers the floor plan before your move. The movers are then able to use the color-coded plan to pack the truck, which will help you have the items you need first when the movers unpack the truck.

A good tip involving color coding is to print a large dot with each of the colors used for your boxes on your home printer. Before your movers start unloading your boxes, go to each door in your new home and post the big dots as a guide for the movers. A mistake that most people make is to mark boxes with information that someone outside the household doesn’t understand (i.e., Jimmy’s room, Kathy’s closet, etc.).

Having a floor plan that is drawn loosely to scale can also help you arrange your furniture in your new home. Just cut out small boxes and mark them sofa, coffee table, etc.—then move them around on your plan. Sometimes what seems to Vt in your old home may not fit in your new home. This can save you a lot of time and money because if it doesn’t fit in your new home, why move it there? Sell it before you move.

A common scenario is starting to move into your new home and finding out at very awkward moment that the previous occupants have not left you any toilet paper. To avoid this awkward situation, pack and mark OPEN ME FIRST moving boxes and ask the movers to load them at the back of the moving van.

Moving with pets
Most likely you will transport your pets in your car with you. Make sure that you have plenty of water, food (if it is a long trip), a leash, paper towels and newspaper. Animals can get car-sick, so you can’t just drive straight through. Your pet will require plenty of stops. If your relocation is an overnighter, make sure that any hotel or motel where you would like to stay will allow pets. If you are planning on shipping your pet by air, you can phone ahead to a kennel to have someone from the kennel meet your pet at the destination airport and take care of it until you arrive, or keep your pet until you have completed your move.

FINDING YOUR DREAM HOME
House searching tips
Whether you buy or rent, determining your needs, budget issues and location are all priorities to be addressed when searching for a residence. The next big step is the actual house hunting. The Internet is an excellent source of information, as well as checking local newspapers and real estate offices. http://www.rent.com offers a wide range of listings in the area and some photos are included of available properties.

Local real estate companies sometimes have housing available for rent. These agencies can be found in the local phonebook or online and even if they do not have the type of property you want, they should be able to refer you to other companies that do.

Another means of finding a new home is to simply drive around the neighborhoods you are interested in living. Often landlords will not advertise in the paper or online and instead rely on the old fashioned “For Rent” sign in the window or front yard. Although this may be a little costly in terms of fuel and time, it allows you to get a good feel of each neighborhood area before moving in.

Getting ready
Initial preparation is often overlooked by people searching for a new home. It is recommended that you follow these simple steps to save you time and also to cut back on other expenses:

Step 1 —
Compile a list of your current and previous Vve addresses and landlord phone numbers, your employer and length of employment, your current salary and other income, as well as personal references and keep them on hand. If you have a current copy of your credit report, include it.

Step 2 —
Look in the newspaper classifieds, apartment hunter publications, college campus bulletin boards and online for homes that are available in the area.

Step 3 —
Consider what your budget will allow you to afford. An easy formula to use is no more than 30 percent of your take-home monthly income should go for housing.

Step 4 —
The enlistment of a rental agent can help you narrow your search. These agents generally charge a fee so if you can avoid using them it is advisable to do so. Step 5 — If your budget doesn’t leave any other option open, or if you prefer, look for a roommate. Most classified sections will have an area for people looking for roommates. Be very specific on what type of roommate you are looking for.

The rental search
When you have found the property you are interested in there are a few important things to look at before deciding on whether or not to rent. Take into consideration the following:

• When looking at a potential residence always carefully inspect the property. If there is any damage evident not only ask for it to be fixed, but also ensure you will not be blamed for it. It is also a good idea to see where the landlord’s responsibilities are going to be. Get it in writing what issues he will take care of and what he will not.

• If you are looking at renting an apartment, inspect common walls (walls shared with adjoining apartments). The more walls in common, the greater the chance of noise from next door. Also consider a common entrance in terms of how much privacy you may want. • Finally be sure to understand what amenities are available to you, such as enclosed parking or garage, a yard, storage, laundry facilities, pool, tennis, gym or concierge services.

Finalizing the lease
Before you sign the lease, examine the contract carefully. Make sure you understand it and do not be afraid to ask questions. If something is not covered in the lease that you would like, ask if it can be included. Follow these simple guidelines:

• If you find an apartment you love but it is out of your budget, ask if there are duties you can take on to lower your rent. Some examples are cutting the lawn, sweeping common areas or taking deliveries. If you find an apartment but it lacks services such as utilities, laundry facilities, cable TV and Internet access, ask the landlord to provide some at no charge. It might seem like a stretch but many newer apartment complexes will. Offering to sign a longer-term lease or give a higher security deposit in exchange for more services is also another option.

• Examine your lease in detail! Examine how much notice is required prior to moving, how large of a deposit do you have to make, how much cleaning is required upon leaving to get your deposit back and other provisions. The time period of the lease is another major factor. Is the lease month-to month or is it a 6- or 12-month period?

• Find out what kinds of personal touches you can make, such as painting walls, or structural changes, such as adding shelving.

• If you really like the home that is being offered for rent, ask for a lease with an option to buy if you’d be interested in purchasing the property in the future.

Other issues to consider
What follows is a list of other things that many people do not consider when looking for a new home to rent. It is advisable to get the answers to these issues before they come up.

• If the building allows pets, you may have to pay
an additional damage security deposit.
• Get in writing how soon after you move out you will receive your security deposit. Some landlords may take a while to return your deposit.
• Look into renters’ insurance. It’s worth it.
• Ask if your security deposit can be placed in an interest-bearing account so that you’re at least earning money while your landlord holds it. Many states have specific laws about how security deposits are treated.
• In some cases, you can negotiate to have a percentage of your rental payment applied to a future down payment.

BUYING A HOME
Do your homework
Because of the current economic recession, many home prices have come down and it is an excellent time to buy. When you apply for a home loan, the lending agency will order a credit report. To make sure your credit report is in good shape and to find out in advance what it says, you can get a free credit report once every 12 months.

Call toll free (877) 322-8228 for information on the program or visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com. You can download the request form at http://www.ftc.gov/credit. You can then mail your completed request form for your free credit report to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. If you contact the three individual credit report companies individually, they will charge you.

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