Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Austin Renters Should See Rate Relief Soon

Rent in Austin continues to rise, but the pace seems to be slowing a bit.  That's good news for renters who have seen a tight market make apartment hunting a competitive sport.  I was recently interviewed by the Austin American Statesman for their article on the current state of the rental market in Austin.  

In the first six months of 2014, 5,800 new apartment units finished construction, a huge increase over last year, which saw just 6,091 new units completed.  About 7,100 apartments are due to open in the second half of 2014 and about 6,400 next year.  In total, 17,000 units are under construction across 64 projects.

Despite all this new construction, finding an apartment in our clients' budgets can be challenging because most of the availability is in Central Austin where rents are much higher.

I recently helped a pair of roommates find an apartment and had to make several calls to find a community with vacancies.  Luckily, Austin Midtown, which is behind Northcross Mall, had a unit available immediately for just under $1,200. The pair pounced on it.  

Apartment hunters looking for moderately priced units need to be prepared to move in immediately and sign longer leases, 12 months or more.  Most have to compromise on price or location to get into an apartment.

Don't be intimidated by the tight Austin rental market.  Give Austin Apartment Specialists a call today at 512-241-1111 and let us help you find an apartment that fits your needs and desires.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ensuring You Get Your Security Deposit Back

When you move into an apartment, you usually have to pay a rather hefty security deposit.  Make sure you get most of it back with Life Hacker's Tips.

Before you move in, read your lease thoroughly to find out exactly what condition you are expected to leave your apartment in.  Before you move in, take pictures of the condition of the unit so you have photographic proof what what it looks like.  Discuss any concerns with your landlord in writing. 

While you are living in your apartment, if there are damages or appliances break, let your landlord know right away in writing.  Keep a copy of your letter or email, along with photos.  

If something does go wrong while you live in the apartment, fix it.  Even if it costs you money, it's still most likely cheaper than what your landlord will charge you after you move out.  

If you want to make any changes to your unit, get written approval from the landlord first and return it to how it was before, if that's what your landlord wants, before you move out.  

When you move out, clean the unit thoroughly and putty over any nail or screw holes.  You also might consider replacing the toilet seat if it looks worn out.  

Try to meet with your landlord and do a walk through before you move out. Ask them if there's anything in addition you need to do to make sure you get your security deposit back.  Take pictures of every room and send an email or letter to your landlord telling them exactly what you've cleaned and repaired.

If your landlord doesn't give you all of your deposit back, or is not forthcoming with a list of deductions, you can take them to small claims court.  

Ready to find a new apartment you can take the best care of?  Give Austin Apartment Specialists a call today at 512-241-1111 (North Austin) or 512-912-8000 (South Austin) for help!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Finding an Apartment You Can Afford

Are you afraid you can't afford an apartment?  When you first decide to look for a new place to rent, it's easy to worry about whether you'll be able to pay for the apartment of your dreams.  About.com will help you ease your fears and decide what you can afford.

First of all, don't let yourself be crippled by fear over the fact that you will be paying a lot towards your rent.  Paying for housing will take up the bulk of your income, whether you rent or own.  The rule of thumb is to spend no more than 33% of your income on rent.  However, some people choose to spend more so they can get the exact location they want or a bigger place, that's something you'll need to calculate for yourself.

Also, it's helpful to get a grip on what other costs will be associated with living in your apartment.  Security deposits, first and last month's rent, monthly utility payments, and renter's insurance can all surprise you if you aren't prepared. Read your lease carefully and do a little research to be sure you have a firm grasp of what costs you'll be responsible for above and beyond your rent.

Speaking of renter's insurance, consider buying a policy.  It covers you if your belongings are damaged, destroyed or even stolen.  Your landlord's insurance doesn't cover your personal belongings.  Also, it's a great idea to create a budget so you know exactly what you can afford before you start the apartment search.

Finally, if you have done all your math and discover you just can't afford an apartment, consider low-income apartments.  These are apartments specially set aside for people who make a lower income and are subsidized by the government.  Austin Apartment Specialistscan help you locate these apartments and let you know whether you qualify for them.  If you don't qualify, we can also help you find apartments in your price range.  Just give us a call at 512-241-1111.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Minimum Commute, Maximum Lifestyle: Samsung

Thousands of people move to Austin or relocate within Austin every year because of job changes.  In a city growing by 110 people per day, the complaint we hear most often centers around traffic.  The majority of the renters we see are hoping to find an apartment that fits their lifestyle and allows for a reasonable commute to their place of work.  With that in mind, we wanted to give some insight into Austin’s largest employers and the rental options that surround them.  This is the sixth in a series of articles titled ‘Minimum Commute, Maximum Lifestyle’ and will focus on Samsung Austin Semiconductor.

Samsung Austin Semiconductor employs over 2,000 people in its Austin plant, which is Samsung Electronics' only semiconductor manufacturing plant located outside Korea. The complex has one of the most advanced semiconductor plants in the United States where state-of-the-art NAND Flash memory chips are made.  Samsung recently announced it will build a $1 Billion display module assembly plant in Vietnam, its first production facility in the country.  

Samsung employs people in a variety of positions at its Austin Semiconductor including Facilities Operations Engineers (Median annual salary $69,979 for a Facilities Engineer II), Facilities Senior Maintenance Technicians (median salary $65,709 for a Facilities Maintenance Supervisor), HR Benefits Specialists (median salary $88,604 for a Benefits Manager), IT Systems Engineers (median salary $59,233 for a Systems Engineer I), Procurement Specialists (median salary $97,887 for an IT Procurement Manager) and many more.  All salary figures are from www.salary.com for 78754, Austin Samsung Semiconductor's zip code.  

For lunch, employees have many options to choose from.  Pho King is just four minutes from Samsung by car and serve Pho, Vermicelli bowls, and other Vietnamese specialities.  Ross' Old Austin Cafe is ten minutes from Samsung and has American style food and a great salad bar.  

For happy hour drinks with coworkers, Zed's is a seven minute drive and has American food with a New Zealand twist, as well as great happy hour specials on their extensive beer, wine and cocktail list.  Vasquez Restaurant is 6 minutes away and serves authentic Mexican food and beer and wine.  

You won't have to commute far to your new job at Samsung if you choose one of the apartments in the area, of which there are many with lots of amenities.  
  • Arium Tech Ridge was built in 2010 and is 5 minutes from Samsung via surface streets.  1-2 bedroom apartments are available, ranging in size from 648 to 1,240 square feet.  Apartments feature stainless steel appliances, full sized washer and dryers, large walk-in closets, and 9-foot ceilings.  The community has a large dog park and play area, attached and detached garages available, a resort-style pool with cabanas and a modern business center.   
  • Lakewood Apartments, built in 2013, are 10 minutes by car from Samsung and offer 1-2 bedroom apartments.  Apartments feature granite counters, expresso cabinetry with stainless steel pulls, oval garden tubs, high ceilings, and painted kitchen and bedroom accent walls.  The community features a poolside fireplace and lounging area, breezeway storage units, stainless-steel gas barbecue grills and dining area, and a dog park.  
  • Marquis at Canyon Ridge is only five minutes from Samsung and was built in 2008.  Apartments are from 1-2 bedrooms and 800 to 1,205 square feet and feature open floor plans, oversized private patios and balconies with exterior storage, gourmet kitchens, and full size washer and dryer connections.  This gated community was a 2011 Property of the Year, has breathtaking Hill Country Views, an resort-style pool, walking trails around the property, and a clubhouse with resident events.  
  • Marquis at Center Ridge, built in 2008, are 8 minutes away and feature one and two bedroom apartments ranging from 615 to 1,045 square feet.  Apartments feature European Shaker Style Cabinets, nine-foot ceilings with crown molding, large balconies or patios, and large walk-in closets with custom shelving.  The community has a complimentary tanning studio, executive business center, clubroom with fireplace and conversation area, and wi-fi throughout the clubhouse and pool area.
  • Marquis at Tech Ridge is 8 minutes via surface streets from Samsung and was built in 2007.  1-2 bedroom apartments are available which range from 565 to 1,045 square feet and feature built-in microwaves, designer drop pendant lighting, built-in cabinets and computer workstations, and open floor plans.  The community is close to shopping and dining, has a 24-hour laundry facility, computer lab, and covered parking and garages are available.  
  • The Oaks at Tech Ridge, built in 2012, are ten minutes away without ever getting on the freeway and have one and two bedroom apartments.  Units feature energy-efficient double-paned windows, granite countertops, faux wood 2" blinds, and ceiling fans in the bedrooms.  The community has a cabana with a big screen television, an oversized resort-style swimming pool with cascading fountains, and a 24-hour fitness facility with the latest cardio and weight equipment.  
  • Parmer Place, constructed in 2008, is just four minutes from Samsung and has one, two and three bedroom floorplans available, ranging from 667 to 1,521 square feet.  Apartments feature home intrusion alarms, full-size washer and dryers, private entrances, oversized walk-in closets and nine-foot ceilings with crown moulding.  The gated community includes cable, has resident events, a high-tech cardio strength training center, and a drive-through mail kiosk.
  • San Paloma was built in 2000 and is 7 minutes from Samsung.  Featuring 1-3 bedroom apartments from 575 to 1,250 square feet, amenities include berber carpet, oval garden bathtubs, pre-wire for telephone and cable in the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms, and designer white wood cabinetry in kitchens and bathrooms.  The community has an on-site massage therapist, coffee bar/cafe, free video library, two complimentary tanning beds, a community amphitheater, and an indoor heated swimming spa.  
  • Settlers Ridge, just five minutes from Samsung, was built in 2000 and has 1-3 bedroom apartments ranging in size from 657 to 1,395 square feet.  Apartments feature built-in 12 bottle wine racks, intrusion alarms, oversized walk-in closets, and washer/dryer hookups.  Community amenities include controlled access gates, covered parking, complimentary fitness classes, an indoor basketball court, a lagoon style pool, storage spaces, a surround sound movie theater, and valet trash pick-up.  
  • Villas Tech Ridge are 10 minutes from Samsung, were built in 2008, and offer 1-3 bedroom apartments ranging from 712 to 1,336 square feet.  Apartments include washer and dryers, have hardwood flooring, ceiling fans, double-paned windows, and mahogany cabinetry.  The community has direct freeway access, is within walking distance of public transportation, has an e-lounge with free Wi-Fi and Billiards, and 3-12 month leases are available.  
These are just a few of the rental options for Samsung employees.  Our database features the most accurate and up-to-date pricing and availability for thousands of apartments across the city.  Finding the perfect balance of minimal commute and maximum lifestyle for your budget can be challenging.  As apartment locators, it is our job to provide you valuable insight into each of your rental options so you choose the best apartment the first time.  Our service is free to our clients and can save you valuable days looking for a rental.  Call 512-241-1111 today to schedule your appointment or visit www.austinapartmentspecialists.com for more information on our apartment locator services.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How to Clean Your Refrigerator

Cleaning your refrigerator is certainly not a fun task, but refrigerators take an enormous amount of abuse and can get downright disgusting.  When you're embarrassed to have your guests get a beer out of the fridge, it's time to use About.com's tips to get your refrigerator so sparkling clean you'll be proud to show it off when friends visit your apartment.  

First, take all the food out and throw away anything that's old or expired.  The food that is still edible should be placed in an ice-packed cooler so it won't spoil during the cleaning process.  Next, remove all the shelves and drawers.  If they are metal or plastic, they can be washed with hot water and dishwasher soap immediately.  If they're made of glass or ceramic, allow them to warm up to room temperature before you wash them or they will crack.

Wipe down the refrigerator from top to bottom with a clean cloth, hot water and dish soap or another mild cleaner.  Don't forget the door!  Dry the interior as well.  If you had to wait to wash the shelves and drawers, clean and dry them now.  Put all your food back now, organizing them by type so it will be easier to find things in the future.  Wipe down any jars or food containers that are coated with sticky food residue.  

Time to move on to the freezer.  Follow the same steps as you used on the refrigerator.  This part should go much faster because freezers don't usually get quite as yucky as fridges.  Now, clean the outside of the fridge, top to bottom.  Use hot water and a mild dishwashing detergent.  If your fridge is stainless steel, be sure to use a soft rag and vinegar or window cleaner to get the surface shiny.   Make sure to clean the rubber gasket around the edges of the door!

Periodically throughout the year, you also should check and clean the drip pan and vaccuum the refrigerator coils.  To keep your fridge clean longer, clean up spills as soon as they happen and throw old food out each week. Keeping a box of baking soda in the back of the refrigerator will absorb odors.

Refrigerator so bad it's time to move?  Give Austin Apartment Specialists a call today at 512-241-1111 and find a new #apartment!