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BEWARE OF RENTAL and RENT TO OWN SCAMS!

You’ve probably seen several listings online (often posted on Zillow and Craigslist) that seem “too good to be true” because of how low the rent is or because you can rent to own the property with very little down, low rent and a less than stellar credit score.  They seem too good to be true because most likely they are. These scams have become much more prevalent over the last couple of years and though your head might be screaming “This is a scam” your heart may be saying, “Wow it would be great to live in that neighborhood and maybe it’s true that the owner is building a bridge in Nigeria or has already moved and just wants to know that someone will love the home as much as they did”  and is looking for a perfect renter/buyer. Below are some red flags to look for and hopefully wave you in the other direction!

* They can’t meet you in person and show you the home because they are out of town or out of the country BUT they trust you so as soon as you send funds via wire transfer or Western Union to cover the security deposit and/or first or first and last month’s rent, they will send you the keys. Note: If they send you a long heartfelt email about why they can’t be there or share a sob story, google search the first couple of lines of the email and you may find that it is one that is used over and over again in the scam market. Run!

* Don’t assume because the ad includes a realtor’s name that this is an actual listing. Research the name, agency and phone number to see if they exist and are actively working in the marketplace. Even if you discover that they do exist and are actively working, take the extra very important step to see if the home is listed differently on the realtor’s website. If so, and clearly their listing has been hijacked by a scammer, take a moment and call the agent to let them know so they can handle it on their end and protect their client. Good Karma!

* They will always ask you for your personal and financial information either via the internet, an email or over the phone. SCAM! Hang up or shut down. Never provide any financial information over the phone or online to anyone you don’t know, haven’t met or cannot verify as legitimate.

* If you cannot tour the home with an agent or the owner prior to committing to the rental, take a pass! This is Scam 101!

* If they try to rush you because there are so many others who want the property and it’s first come “with the deposit”, think twice. This might be the case sometimes, but never rush without doing due diligence.

* If you see a home with a big Rent To Own regardless of credit or Rent to Own this home for a few hundred dollars move on to the next listing. These are typically fraudulent. Don’t hesitate to notify the site or even local law enforcement of these scams so as to protect others who might not have read this blog!

KEYS: Be diligent. Do your research. Don’t rush into anything. Decide with your mind and not your feelings. And as always, remember that usually if it seems too good to be true, it is!

 

 

 

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Crucial Real Estate Photo Tips

No matter how many times someone tells you not to judge a book by it’s cover, there’s that little part of you that just can’t help it!  If the cover looks boring or awkward… well, let’s face it, you’ve just lost some interest.

 

The same holds true with pictures of your home you’re trying to sell.

As someone who has been scouring the market for months for just the perfect home, I can personally attest to the simplicity & effectiveness of the below suggestions.

 

FIRST STEP SUGGESTIONS:

For those looking to utilize only the basics, while still having a shot at great photos.

  1. BRIGHT & LIGHT.  This suggestion is #1 for a reason.  If you look at professional photos, the one thing you’ll always notice is the grass is greener than green and the sky bluer than blue. And the sun seems to be shinning. Heck, the birds would be chirping too if you could hear them.  Why?  Because it sells.  When people are house-hunting, they’re on a mission for their “perfect home.” And nothing helps that more than a “picture perfect” feel with the curb appeal.
  2. MORE & CORE. A picture of the front of the house, a back yard view, and a kitchen view. Sorry, but unless that’s all your house contains, we want to see more! It’s all those other things, combined together, that help make a house into a home.  However, the second part of the saying is crucial, too.  “Core.” Your core is what’s at the very center, it’s the basic foundation, it contains a lot, but it’s the main thing.  And that’s the type of pictures that are best.  Don’t worry about the storage room that’s full of junk and the extra walk-way that’s kind of confusing to understand in a picture.  Stick to the main room and any “extra’s” that make people excited – like fireplaces, walk-in closets, large porches, or Jacuzzi baths.
  3. CLEAN & LEAN.  Moving is messy! But your pictures can’t be. Just like a bad book cover, a bad picture decreases someone’s eagerness to discover more.  Furthermore, rooms that are full of clutter make it hard for the buyer to envision how they’d stage that room.  Which results in one thing: confusion and discouragement. So pick up the mess, tidy the rooms, and de-clutter all the “extra” stuff.
  4. CLEAR & NEAR. Even if you have no place to go and your house is full of your living items, there are still solutions available to get great pictures. Your best-case scenario would be to clear select items out of the range of the camera while you take some shots of the house.  For example, move the beanbag chair, extra lamp, and picture frames off the wall in the living room when you take pictures.  And move the desk and pile of books/magazines out of the bedroom when you take a picture of it.  The second part of the suggestion is also helpful: keep it near.  No need to take a picture of your giant room and have the excess of wall and ceiling space in the photo.  Stay near to the main subject of the photo.

 

NEXT STEP SUGGESTIONS:

For those looking to take it to the next step.

  1. SIMPLE EDITS. Even if you don’t have Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, chances are you, or a friend, have Windows Photo Viewer, or an editing option that comes on the program you use to upload pictures to your computer.  Here are 3 recommended edits that will doll up that photo just right: (1) increase the contrast, (2) crop out unnecessary parts (ceilings, extra wall space, etc.), and (3) slightly enhance the saturation. If those last 3 tips were like reading a foreign language, here’s a translation: it will enhance the richness of the picture, enhance the colors to be brighter/deeper, and make the photo more balanced. Voila!
  2. SIMPLE STAGING. Depending on how close you are to moving, you’re either living with everything in your house still, living somewhere else with your house empty… or some combo of the two.  If you can afford to, leave the big items in the house: couches, table, flowers in vases, made beds, dressers, shower curtains, etc.  It helps warm it up and make the home feel welcoming.  And if you can’t make the home look completely staged, just leave a few items.  In one house I recently went to look at, it was completely empty sin 1 modern chandelier that hung in the entryway.  Even just that 1 light fixture, that they had intentions on taking with them, made a huge difference.  Maybe it’s a lamp, an extra couch, a glass kitchen container or two, or a pool table.

No matter how little you know or not matter your level of confusion.  Remember this: pictures are worth a potentially buyer looking at your home or not.  It’s 100% worth it to invest a little time and energy into this project.

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Apartment & Home Rental Landscape

Every day the world of renting a home or an apartment changes with the wants or needs of the renters themselves. The questions are, “What do renters truly want from their homes?” and “What is the current status of the rental market?” Learn the answers to these and other questions in the following infographic from ApartmentsForRent.

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