Saturday, April 28, 2012

Renting an Apartment with Bad Credit

Renting an Apartment with Bad Credit can be tricky, but offers certain guidelines you can follow to try and increase your chances of being able to rent an apartment no matter what your credit rating. 

Typically, large apartment complexes always run a credit check, but smaller, independent landlords may not.  So look for houses, apartments or townhomes that are individually owned.  You can also figure out whether the owner is likely to do a credit check by talking to them.  Ask, "what criteria do you use to approve tenants for rental?"  If they don't mention a credit check, you should be safe, but if they do, there is more you can do to improve your chances of being approved.

You can get letters of recommendation testifying to your financial responsibility from people you have had a good financial relationship with, such as landlords, your bank or current or previous employers.  If you have past due balances, particularly to past landlords or utility companies, you are most likely to get denied.  The best way to fix this is to pay those balances and get the person you paid to write a letter stating you have paid in full.  Do be careful when you use either of these letters, as you don't want to raise an unneccessary red flag with a landlord who wasn't already aware of your credit history. 

If you are worried about being able to get an apartment on your own, you can have a co-signer on your lease.  This would be someone such as your parent or a trusted relative with good credit.  The downside of this is that if you do not pay your rent or are evicted, the landlord has legal rights to go after your co-signer for the money you owe.  Finally, you may have to pay more for your apartment, whether it be a larger security deposit or paying several months of rent in advance, if your credit is poor.

Looking for a new apartment and concerned about a less than stellar credit report?  Apartment Specialists can help you find apartments for bad credit that will work with your situation.  We have relationships with the apartment complexes and we know who will listen to your side and who just looks at a piece of paper.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring Changes for Your Decor

Apartment Specialists CardChanging your decor for Spring is a great way to make your home feel as fresh as the beautiful weather outside. has some helpful suggestions for how to transform your space for the new season.

One of the quickest ways to make your space feel fundamentally different is to rearrange your furniture.  Make sure to allow enough room around the furniture for people to flow naturally in and out of your room and to keep it light and airy.  A great way to usher Spring into your home is to literally bring pieces of nature into your space.  Put cuttings of your favorite flowers in your vases, add shells or rocks to glass containers, or use driftwood or branches as decorations.

Now is also a great time to make sure your outdoor space, if you have one, is inviting and somewhere you want to spend time.  If you're lucky enough to have a balcony, fill it with throw blankets, pillows, rugs, even mirrors to add dimension.  Next go back inside and decorate with color.  If your landlord won't allow you to paint your apartment, brighten up your room by switching out accessories for ones in a brighter hue, or even use slipcovers to transform your tired old furniture.

Another trick for giving your space a quick makeover?  Swap out your heavy drapes for something made of lighter material or in a brighter color.  Finally, use the urge to "Spring Clean" to organize all the stuff that's weighing you down so you can enter this wonderful time of year as light as the Spring breezes!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Travis County Property Values

Travis County Property values rose for commercial real estate, but most home values remained flat, according to the Travis County Appraisal District's Chief Appraiser.  The overall market value of all of the properties on the appraisal role increased 7 percent from 2011 values, but 5.5 percent of that rise was in commercial and industrial properties, reports.

The average market value for Travis County houses increased less than a percent, from $271,438 in 2011 to $271,991 this year.  71 percent of homeowners' market value for their homes will stay the same or decrease and just 29 percent will see an increase.  Value depends largely on where a home is located, true to the "location, location, location" mantra of real estate.  Areas west of 35 showed stronger growth, while homes east of 35 and in the suburbs saw decreases in their market value.

On the other hand, values for apartments and offices increased 15 percent, making Austin one of the best markets in the nation for apartments.  Accordingly, average Austin apartment rents saw an increase in 2011, but office rents have just begun to climb.  Homeowners can file protests through May 31st, and many can even file them online this year.  Notices should go out next week.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Moving with Kids

Moving with Kids can be extra stressful for everyone involved.  Children don't always understand why they are moving and probably don't have much or any say in what's happening. has tips to help you make this upheaval smooth for your little ones.

Make it clear to your children that they can ask you questions and answer their questions clearly and honestly with lots of specifics.  This will help your child feel more comfortable with this big change.  Make, or encourage your child to make, a plan for their room and tell them as much as you can about their new apartment or house.  Tell them they can use the plan, as well as paper representations of their furniture and belongings, so they can play with where they want to put things in their new room.

Help your child make an address book with addresses of all their friends and important people in their lives so when they get to their new city they can still contact them by email or mail.  Also, help your child say goodbye to their friends by hosting an event or events where they can see their friends one last time.  Involve your child in the process so the event reflects what they are most comfortable with. 

Follow these tips and you'll be sure to make the transition much less traumatic for your family.