Thursday, July 28, 2011

Renting Instead of Buying

For many people, home buying is not a good option, renting an apartment is better. Finances, short term move, and many other reasons can be factors when deciding to rent or buy a home. Below is an exerpt in an article from the National Real Estate Investor. It explores the housing market and where renting is a better use of your money. Find the complete article here.


The U.S. housing market has been declining since the expiration of the tax credit last spring, although recent data show some signs of leveling off. Helped by the 2011 spring selling season, the April S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices dipped 0.1% month-over-month, the smallest decline since July 2010.

Nonetheless, U.S. home prices have declined by approximately 30% on average since peaking in the summer of 2006. As both current and potential homeowners consider their housing options, we believe that continued price declines and a slow recovery in home prices are reshaping the economics of the “rent or buy” question.

With housing affordability near its all-time high, does it still make sense to rent? Here we compare the costs of renting versus owning in the top 49 markets across the country.

The price-to-rent ratio is one of the most common metrics used in assessing the health of housing markets. Historic data from 1983 through 1998 show a steady relationship between median home prices and rents at the national level [Exhibit 1].

Starting in 2000, rent growth did not keep pace with the steep home price appreciation, pushing the price-to-rent ratio well above the historic average. Many market observers have identified the dislocation between prices and rents as both an indicator of the housing bubble and as a tool for helping to understand the relative affordability of these two housing options.

Home prices have been declining since 2006, forcing the price-to-rent ratio to revert to its long-term average. As of the first quarter of 2011, the price-to-rent ratio is slightly below 1.0, suggesting that on the national level renting is essentially the same as buying economically, although the trend seems to be tilting toward buying going forward [Exhibit 1].

Although the price-to-rent ratio is a simple and effective comparison of the costs of buying and renting, it does not take into account the full range of economic considerations associated with the two housing options.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Criminal History: Felony


Renting when you have a criminal history is complicated and can be very difficult.  If you have been charged with a crime, whether you were convicted or not, if can and will be found during a criminal background check and can make it difficult to rent.  Two types of criminal records make it difficult to rent: misdemeanors and felonies.

For misdemeanors, the major components that the landlord will look for is the age of the offense, the degree of the offense and whether the offense was aggressive or non-aggressive.  Regardless of the degree of your misdemeanor, typically if you are within 5 years of your offense, landlords will address these on a case by case basis.  Typically apartment managers will not accept applicants whose criminal record contains crimes of person or property.  For example DUI & public intoxication is accepted more often then an aggressive assault, drug charges, or theft which is sometimes considered a crime of property.

For those whose criminal record contains a felony, your Austin rental options are very limited.  Due to Fair Housing regulations apartments don’t want to open themselves up to the possibility of having to accept higher degree felonies if they accept lower degree felonies, so they tend not to accept felonies of any kind.

If you have a criminal record you will need extra help to find rentals that will work with your situation.  An apartment finder may be able to help.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Humane Society Renting With Pets


Great article from the Humane Society regarding renting with pets.

Following these steps will help you conduct a successful search for animal-friendly rental housing.

1. Give yourself enough time.

No one likes the hassles involved with moving, much less finding rental housing that accepts pets. If possible, start to check ads and contact real estate agents and rental agencies at least six weeks before you plan to move.

2. Understand why many housing communities reject pets.

Put yourself in the shoes of a landlord, housing manager, property owner, or condominium association board member for a moment: They may have had bad experiences with irresponsible pet owners who didn't safely confine their animals or pick up their feces, sneaked pets in, or left ruined carpets and drapes when they moved out. They may be worried about complaints from neighbors about barking dogs and wonder how they are going to deal effectively with pet owners if problems arise. All these concerns are legitimate.
That's why people looking for an apartment, house, or condominium to rent must be able to sell themselves as responsible pet owners, who are committed to providing responsible pet care and being responsible neighbors.

3. Make use of available resources.

Contact the humane society or animal care and control agency serving the area into which you are moving; the agency may be able to provide you with a list of apartment communities that allow pets. If you know any real estate agents, rental agents, or resident managers who own pets themselves or who share your love of animals, ask them for leads. Look for a community apartment guidebook at the supermarket or near newspaper distribution boxes on the street. The guide may indicate which apartment communities allow pets and may list any restrictions, such as species allowed or weight limits.
In addition, be sure to check local newspapers. Finally, take a look at our links to sites that list animal-friendly apartments.
Looking for an animal-friendly apartment? We have a state-by-state list to help you on your search »

4. Recognize that it may be futile to try to sell yourself and your pet to a large rental community with a no-pets policy.

You're more likely to be successful if you focus on places that allow most pets, allow certain pets (for example, cats or dogs weighing less than 20 pounds), or that don't say, "Sorry, no pets." Individual home and condominium owners may be easiest to persuade. Ideally, look for a community with appropriate pet-keeping guidelines that specify resident obligations. That's the kind of place that's ideal for pet owners because you'll know that other pet caregivers there also are committed to being responsible residents.

5. Gather proof that you're responsible.

The more documentation you can provide attesting to your conscientiousness as a pet owner, the more convincing your appeal will be to your future landlord. Compile the following documents:
  • A letter of reference from your current landlord or condominium association verifying that you are a responsible pet owner.
  • Written proof that your adult dog has completed a training class, or that your puppy is enrolled in one.
  • A letter from your veterinarian stating that you have been diligent in your pet's medical care. Supply documentation that your pet has been spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies. (Sterilized pets are healthier, calmer, and far less likely to be a nuisance to neighbors.) Most veterinarians routinely fulfill such requests for their clients.

6. Make your request to the individual or group with the ultimate authority to grant your request.

Usually this will be the owner of the house or apartment. The owner may, however, delegate the decision to a property manager or resident manager. Check to see if, in addition to obtaining the landlord's approval, you must also submit a written request to the building's board of directors (or association, in the case of a condominium community).

7. If you encounter a no-pets policy, ask if it is the result of a negative experience with a previous resident.

Addressing your landlord's prior experience may show you how to present your own request most effectively.

8. Let the landlord, manager, or condominium board know that you share any concerns about cleanliness.

Point out that your pet is housetrained or litter-box trained. Emphasize that you always clean up after your dog outdoors and that you always properly dispose of your pet's waste.

9. Promote yourself.

Responsible pet owners make excellent residents. Because they must search harder for a place to live, pet caregivers are more likely to stay put. Lower vacancy rates mean lower costs and fewer headaches for landlords and real estate agents. Let prospective landlords and managers know that you understand that living with a companion animal is a privilege, not a right.

10. Promote your pet.

Offer to bring your pet to meet the owner or property manager, or invite the landlord to visit you and your pet in your current home. A freshly groomed, well-behaved pet will speak volumes. Emphasize that the same pride you take in caring for your pet extends to taking care of your home. Many landlords are concerned about fleas, so be sure to let your prospective landlord know that you maintain an active flea-control program for your pet and home. Provide written proof that your pet is spayed or neutered and is, therefore, healthier, calmer, and less likely to be a nuisance.
Make it clear to the landlord, manager, or condominium board that you keep your cat inside and your dog under control at all times and that you understand the health and safety benefits of doing so.
If you can't arrange for a meeting, consider making a short scrapbook with photos of your pampered pet in his or her current home, and/or draw up a résumé for your pet. Scrapbooks and résumés are unique ideas that are guaranteed to make a strong, yet positive, impression.

11. Be willing to pay a little extra.

Tell your prospective landlord or resident manager that you are willing to pay an extra security deposit to cover any damages your pet might make to the property.

12. Get it in writing.

Once you have been given permission by a landlord, manager, or condominium committee to have a pet, be sure to get it in writing. Sign a pet addendum to your rental agreement. Comprehensive agreements protect people, property, and the pets themselves. If your lease has a no-pets clause, verbal approval won't be enough. The no-pets clause should be removed from the lease (or crossed out and initialed) before you sign it. Be sure it has been removed from or crossed out on your landlord's copy, too.
You may be required to pay a pet deposit, some or all of which may be nonrefundable. Be sure to discuss deposits and monthly pet-related fees in advance. And have these fees put into writing, too. Request a copy of any house rules pertaining to pets. Let the landlord know that you will abide by the rules set for the broader community and respect the concerns of residents who do not own pets.

13. Be honest.

Don't try to sneak your pet in. Keeping an animal in violation of a no-pets rule contributes to the general inclination of landlords not to allow pets. You also may be subject to possible eviction or other legal action.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What TAA Can Do For Renters

The Texas Apartment Association has many great resources available for apartment renters. Below is an excerpt from their site.
  • TAA has developed a new Lease Contract Overview video that highlights important information in the lease for residents. This resource is available in both English and Spanish.
  • The TAA Education Foundation offers Renting 101, a free online program to better educate first-time renters about their rights and responsibilities.
  • TAA communicates regularly with our members about changes in the laws and regulations that govern rental property.
  • TAA provides resources and assistance to ensure that our members are operating effectively, legally and ethically.
  • TAA has been a key proponent of legislation that has increased habitability and security standards for residents of rental housing.
  • Legislation supported by TAA has set the standard for security devices (locks and other items) required in residential rental housing. Texas laws are among the nation's toughest for required security devices and for return of security deposits.
  • TAA has also supported uniform statewide fencing requirements for pool yards at rental properties to improve pool safety and reduce the likelihood of accidental drowning.
  • TAA has also been instrumental in supporting the passage of meaningful tort reform in the state. These reforms have helped keep a lid on operating costs and costs associated with frivolous lawsuits, which can add to the cost of rent.

Monday, July 4, 2011