World of Hyatt Credit Card Adds Temporary Spending Bonus, Hikes Welcome Offer

The World of Hyatt Credit Card is upping the ante for existing cardholders and new applicants with a limited-time promotion and an increased sign-up bonus.

The promotion rewards you more generously the more often you use your card on eligible purchases. The tiered sign-up bonus offers rewards in two parts, and the total amount you stand to earn depends on your spending.

February spending bonus

Earn up to 5,000 points on eligible purchases over $1 from Feb. 1 to 28, 2021. The amount you can earn depends on the number of transactions you make during the month:

  • Earn 1,000 points for making 10 transactions.

  • Earn 2,500 points for making 25 transactions.

  • Earn 5,000 points for making 50 or more transactions.

You can register for this offer until Feb. 28, 2021. As long as you register by Feb. 28, all qualifying purchases made in February will count toward the promotion. Holders of the former Hyatt Credit Card who are waiting for World of Hyatt Credit Card to arrive can use their existing card for this promotion.

You can also combine these points with the World of Hyatt Bonus Journeys global promotion (registration closed on Jan. 15, 2021), which allows participants to earn quadruple bonus points on spending at participating World of Hyatt locations worldwide, plus double the credits toward elite status for every night’s stay.

You can earn all these additional points on top of the card’s ongoing rewards, which include:

  • 9 points per $1 for Hyatt stays.

  • 2 points per $1 on transit and commuting, dining, flights purchased directly from the airline, and fitness club and gym memberships.

  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

New sign-up bonus

World of Hyatt Credit Card is also getting a refreshed sign-up bonus beginning Jan. 29, 2021. It’s a tiered offer that breaks down this way:

Earn up to 60,000 bonus points (up to 12 free nights):

  • 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening;

  • Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent on purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening

Previously, the card offered up to 50,000 points — 25,000 points after you spent $3,000 in three months, and 25,000 more after you spent $6,000 in six months.

New cardholders are also eligible to participate in the February spending bonus promotion as long as they register their card by Feb. 28, 2021.

Source: nerdwallet.com

How To Sign a Lease on an Apartment You’ve Never Set Foot In

You finally found The One! After doing the virtual legwork to search for an apartment, you’re ready to take the plunge and sign on the dotted line. But how do you sign a lease on an apartment that you’ve yet to see in person?

“The virtual leasing process doesn’t need to be all that different than if you were able to tour it in person,” says Laurence Jankelow, co-founder and chief operating officer of Avail, an online rental management service.

“Once the virtual showing has been done through Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, the rest can be done online as well,” he says.

Online applications, credit checks, and deposit payments can make the process of leasing an apartment easier for both renters and landlords or property managers. Even if shelter-in-place orders are keeping you from touring an apartment firsthand, here’s how signing a lease from home would work.

By email

Pre-pandemic, some landlords or property managers may have been slow to embrace technology, but the new normal has forced them to get up to speed. This means leases can be sent to you by email, signed by you, scanned or photographed, and emailed back. You also may have the option of mailing your signed lease.

Some landlords will ask tenants to sign a document stating that they understand the risk of renting an apartment sight unseen, to avoid liability in case the tenant is disappointed in the actual apartment. Experts recommend tenants read the lease carefully and not rush to sign until they are satisfied that all of their questions have been answered.

“Renters should be cautious of any hidden fees above and beyond rent. Some buildings have additional charges for amenities like gym, pool, and parking,” says Liz Goldman with William Raveis Real Estate in Connecticut.

Goldman advises tenants, if not using a real estate agent, to consult an attorney before signing if they don’t understand the terms of the lease. Be sure to keep a copy of all the paperwork that you and the landlord sign as they are official documents.

Rental property website

Many apartment complexes offer the option of signing the lease through the property’s website. But before signing the lease, experts recommend that tenants know the exact location of the apartment being rented and to ask to see it, rather than just a model.

“They are entering in a legally binding contract, so they need to make sure they are comfortable with everything outlined in the lease,” says Adam Goldfarb, chief operating officer at Manco Abbott Real Estate Management and president-elect for the California Apartment Association’s board of directors.

Once you decide to rent the apartment, you can visit the property’s website to begin the process to sign the lease.

For example, at one of Goldfarb’s properties, tenants would go through their general leasing procedures by logging on to the portal, filling out an electronic application, and uploading necessary documents that the on-site staff would review. Then the staff would process the application and schedule the move-in.

“At time of move-in, we would need to verify that our future resident is the person that applied, given the ID that was uploaded,” says Goldfarb.

Digital signature software

Under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000, digital signatures are legally binding, just like written signatures. Digital signatures allow tenants to sign leases no matter where they are located. Any updates on changes are automatically sent to both parties.

“Digital leases that are state-specific automatically update based on real-time changes to the laws, and can be signed digitally, doing away with the process of printing and faxing documents—or the need to sign a lease in person amid the pandemic,” says Jankelow.

He says the largest risk isn’t the online process of leasing, but rather fraudulent landlords who don’t really manage or own the property. He says renters need to be certain that they’re talking to the real landlord before they sign a lease or pay any money.

“When it comes time to pay the first month’s rent or deposit, never, ever wire money. Wires are nonreturnable. Instead, paying with ACH or credit card, or through a secure, online platform for landlords, is probably the best option,” says Jankelow.

Some common and secure online tools renters use to pay rent and deposits include Yardi, Buildium, AppFolio, and Avail.

Source: realtor.com

Billionaire Steve Wynn sets price for Beverly Hills mega-mansion: $110 million

Steve Wynn is eyeing a jackpot in Beverly Hills. The casino mogul, who stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts in 2018 after accusations of sexual misconduct, just listed his extravagant showplace for $110 million.

That makes it the fourth-most expensive property currently up for grabs in L.A. County, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

If the billionaire gets his price, it will rank among the priciest home sales in California history. The crown currently belongs to Jeff Bezos, who dropped $165 million on Beverly Hills’ famed Warner estate last year.

It would also be a massive return on investment for Wynn. He bought it from Guess jeans co-founder Maurice Marciano for $47.85 million in 2015 and expanded the home dramatically, adding about 8,000 square feet to the already-colossal estate.

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The mansion now spans more than 27,000 square feet, which makes it the largest of his lavish, cross-country collection of homes. Records show he also owns a 25,000-square-foot retreat in Idaho, a 24,600-square-foot oceanfront mansion in Florida, a 13,500-square-foot Mediterranean villa in Las Vegas and an 11,000-square-foot penthouse in New York.

This one offers a more contemporary style. Accessed by a private gate on a cul-de-sac, the property sits on 2.7 acres with a main house, guesthouse, swimming pool, custom landscaped lawn and tennis court with a seating house. Terraces and patios hang off the back of the home, taking in views of the city below.

Inside, 11 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms are spread across three stories. In addition to the usual slew of chic living spaces including a reception area and bar room, there are amenities such as a movie theater, wine cellar, gym, office and elevator.

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Leonard Rabinowitz, Rick Hilton and Jack Friedkin of Hilton & Hyland hold the listing.

Wynn, 78, served as chief executive of Mirage Resorts before selling the company to MGM Grand Inc. and forming Wynn Resorts. He stepped down as CEO of that company in 2018 after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he has denied. In 2019, he was ordered to pay a settlement of $20 million to Wynn Resorts. Forbes puts his net worth at $3 billion.

Last summer, he offered up his Las Vegas mansion for sale at $25 million, which at the time was the most expensive listing in the city.

Source: latimes.com

Palatial $140M Mansion in Palm Beach Is the Week’s Most Popular Home>

Florida’s most expensive home floated to the top of this week’s 10 most popular homes for sale on realtor.com®. Listed for an eye-popping $140 million, the Palm Beach, FL, mansion landed on the market at an opportune moment—thanks to a buyer-driven frenzy in one of the nation’s most exclusive markets.

And because this magnificent mansion sits at the tippy top of the luxury market, curious clickers had to see what the utmost in high-end construction holds behind the high hedges.

What everyone peeped is a beachfront prestige property filled with exquisite art and finishes. Wide-open spaces and high ceilings define this chic estate available to only a tiny pool of ultrahigh net worth buyers.

But it wasn’t the only megamillion-dollar mansion from Florida to crack this week’s list. Race car driver Johnny Gray‘s $32.5 million mansion in Jupiter features a “megayacht” dock and an incredible garage.

Other homes you clicked on this week included a Pennsylvania home in an art community, a funky geodesic dome in a Missouri lake community, and a Sacramento-area castle known as Swan Lake.

For a full look at this week’s 10 most popular properties, simply scroll on down.

Price: $340,000
Why it’s here: In search of a bohemian vibe? Amid the trees, this three-bedroom Bucks County ranch house oozes cool vibes. It’s situated on a 2-acre plot in the Bryn Gweled co-op community. The home is owned by the resident, while the land is leased from Bryn Gweled following a membership application process.

The listing notes that the co-op community includes artists, musicians, and professionals from all walks of life who are “looking for a slightly alternative living style.” The community offers residents a number of shared amenities.

Southampton, PA
Southampton, PA

realtor.com

———

Price: $379,900
Why it’s here: This beautiful old church dates to 1928 and is available for residential or commercial use. A three-bedroom residence sits separate from the house of worship to save on heating costs. The house has a new furnace, plumbing, and electrical. The church itself retains original details such as stained glass, ornate millwork, and wood beams.

Bethlehem, NH
Bethlehem, NH

realtor.com

———

Price: $699,900
Why it’s here: This 25-acre farm includes a stone house built in 1832. The five-bedroom residence has been expanded to 4,622 square feet of living space. The interiors have been updated with contemporary fixtures that meld beautifully with rustic elements like stone walls, wide-plank wood floors, and beamed ceilings.

Other highlights include the sunroom, a covered porch, and a new roof.

Leighton, PA
Leighton, PA

realtor.com

———

Price: $32,500,000
Why it’s here: This megamansion is the largest intracoastal property in the desirable Admirals Cove neighborhood and is being sold by NHRA race car driver Johnny Gray. It’s filled with high-octane amenities like a massive garage, a plush home theater, and parking for a yacht. The 29,676-square-foot mansion comes with 365 feet of waterfront.

Jupiter, FL
Jupiter, FL

realtor.com

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Price: $189,000
Why it’s here: This groovy geodesic dome was built in 1986 and is located in a private community with a 26-acre lake, beach, swimming, boating, fishing, and more. The roomy three-bedroom dome has a private deck, oversized windows, and a crow’s nest on the third level.

Fenton, MO
Fenton, MO

realtor.com

———

Price: $28,000,000
Why it’s here: Swan Lake Castle is headed to auction. The 5-acre property includes gardens, manicured lawns, and landscaped ponds and waterways filled with “exotic water fowl.”

Inspired by European royalty, the castle near Sacramento is hoping for a bidder with royal dreams to step up. The listing agent says the interiors aren’t being shown to preserve the mystery within for a deep-pocketed buyer.

Granite Bay, CA
Granite Bay, CA

realtor.com

———

Price: $299,000
Why it’s here: Get back to the country with this quant log cabin built in 1991. The farmhouse-style interiors include an open sunroom, hickory wood paneling, front porch, and attached workshop. A new HVAC system, 4-year-old roof, fresh paint, and refinished cabinets are just a few of the recent updates to the home.

Florence, SC
Florence, SC

realtor.com

———

Price: $3,495,000
Why it’s here: A slice of the French Riviera in Pennsylvania? This five-bedroom mansion was built in 2014 and boasts a saltwater pool, home theater, gym, and many more luxe amenities.

Huntington Valley, PA
Huntington Valley, PA

realtor.com

———

Price: $683,000
Why it’s here: Once a humble brick schoolhouse, it’s been transformed into a whimsical and charming two-bedroom home.

The one-room schoolhouse was built in 1883, and the conversion project has won awards for its smart reuse of a historic structure. It features original slate chalkboards, old carvings, and original beams—all lovingly maintained and restored.

Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne, IN

realtor.com

———

Price: $140,000,000
Why it’s here: Florida has a new title holder for the state’s most expensive home. This magnificent mansion was built on a vacant lot that was sold in 2017 for $37 million.

Spectacular in every way, this brand-new, nine-bedroom mansion is elegant and tasteful. Windows throughout allow the oceanfront vistas to take center stage.

The land beneath the beachfront home was once owned by former President Donald Trump, before he sold it in 2008 to a Russian investor. It now awaits a buyer enamored with the idea of the ultimate in Palm Beach luxury living.

Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach, FL

realtor.com

Source: realtor.com

5 Common Mistakes You’ll Make When Getting Out of Debt

You’ve made the decision that you want to get out of debt.  Good for you.  You’ve got your budget and your debt pay down plan ready to go.  You are ready to attack your plan.

Before you start I want you to do one thing.  Stop right there.  Don’t do another thing to get out of debt.  Not until you read this.

When people are trying to get out of debt, they are willing to do and try just about anything to get those bills paid down.  This results in many mistakes.  Things that can actually cost you in the long run.

Before you go on with your own debt plan, do what you can to avoid making these mistakes.

Read More:

 MISTAKE YOU’LL MAKE GETTING OUT OF DEBT

JUMPING IN WITHOUT A PLAN (or budget)

Picture this.  You want to go on vacation to the destination of your dreams.  You pack and get in the vehicle, but then what.  How will you get there?  Did you create a plan on how to arrive?  If not, then you are going nowhere – and nowhere fast.

The same is true with your debt.  If you try to get out of debt without having a plan of action, you will just end up spinning your wheels and make no progress.

Make sure you have your budget and debt pay down plan in order before you start to work on paying down any debts.  You have to understand where you can make adjustments in your spending in order to free up more income to pay off your debts.

Read More:  Create A Debt Pay Down Plan

NOT CHANGING YOUR ATTITUDE

Change is tough.  If you are eliminating your luxuries from your budget such as the morning coffee, the gym or even dinner out, it can really be a tough pill to swallow.

Before you can allow change to happen, you have to be open to it. If you find that you are not ready to totally look at your spending in a different way, make changes to your spending and really get your debt paid off, then you need to stop right now.

There is no way you can be successful if you are not willing to make the change and put in the hard work needed to reach your goal.

Read More:  Change Your Attitude to Change Your Finances

TRYING TOO HARD

One way to get out of debt is to make changes to your spending.  However, you can take this too far and make it too difficult to maintain.

Look at it as you would if you were on a diet.  If you suddenly force yourself to eat nothing but salad, you are bound to go to extremes.  Before you know it, you’ve consumed the entire bag of potato chips, thereby undoing all you’ve been working to change.

The same is true with changing your spending to try to get out of debt.  While it is important to scale back on your spending, make sure you allow yourself an occasional fun way to spend be it dining out, picking up a new pair of shoes or a day out with the kids.

Read More:  Why You Keep Overspending

WRONG PRIORITIES

If you want to get out of debt, then that has to be your one and only financial goal.  Nothing else should get in the way.  You can’t get the new car.  You can’t upgrade your cell phone.

Nope.  That all has to wait.

Your priority has to be to get out of debt.  You need to develop tunnel vision when it comes to this goal.

Once you have started to pay off those debts and are on the road to financial freedom (meaning, you are debt free), you will have income freed up and then, and only then, should other financial purchases even come into the picture.

FORGETTING TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT

This is actually a grey area as some experts will say you need to continue saving for retirement, while others will recommend that you suspend contributions.  There is actually a middle ground you can strive for.

If your company offers any sort of a matching contribution, make sure you continue to contribute the amount needed to maximize your contributions.  For instance, if they match you 25% of what you contribute, up to 4% of your income, make sure you are putting away the 4%.  The reason is that you are passing up 1% of your income going right into your account for retirement – and it costs you nothing!

Even just scaling back on the amount you save can make enough of a difference in your take-home pay to free up money to pay off your debts, still while continuing to grow your retirement savings account.

Read More:  Seven Different Types of Retirement Accounts

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

5 Crucial Questions To Ask Before You Renew Your Rental Lease Right Now

Is your lease almost up? Before you renew your rental contract for another year, there are numerous questions you should consider, particularly in the era of COVID-19.

While signing a new lease should never be done without pondering your current circumstances, the coronavirus pandemic has made it all the more crucial to weigh your options first. After all, COVID-19 may have changed many things about how you live and work—and how well your current space and location suit your needs.

So before you sign on that dotted line of a new lease, consider these questions first to make sure it’s the right decision for you.

1. Can I still afford this rental?

The first and most important question to ask relates to your current financial situation. Are you fearing a layoff or pay cut? Or worse, have you already experienced it? If so, it may be time to consider downsizing to a less expensive rental, or negotiate with your current landlord for a rent reduction. You might be surprised by how accommodating your landlord is right now.

“Landlords are in serious competition for quality renters now,” says Justin Pogue, a residential property manager for nearly 20 years. “With millions unemployed, the pool of qualified renters has shrunk, which may give you the ability to negotiate.”

If you like your apartment but can’t afford it anymore, take a price survey of other apartment communities that meet your livability criteria before your lease is up, says Pogue. “If you find a better deal, ask your landlord to match it.”

Just make sure you’ve done your research first.

“Tenants should only renegotiate their rates after finding another comparable, but cheaper unit,” says Berk Cagatay, an apartment rental manager in Los Angeles. “It’s a good strategy for the renters who want to lock in a low rate before the economy picks back up.”

And if your landlord won’t budge, you may just want to move to less expensive digs.

2. Should I look for a roommate?

If you’re dogged by financial concerns, one of the easiest ways to control monthly expenses is by splitting them. Unless there’s a significant other in the picture, you may want to consider finding a trustworthy roommate or two. They can help you make ends meet, and provide some company in these isolating times.

“You may have dismissed the possibility before, but after living in the solitary confinement of lockdown, having the right roommate just might be more appealing now,” points out Pogue.

Just make sure to clear such a change in your living arrangements with your landlord so this can be reflected in your new lease.

3. Should I negotiate for lower rent where I am, even if I can afford it?

Even if your finances aren’t in jeopardy, negotiating for lower rent is still a smart option if you feel there are better deals to be had out there—or if you’re no longer able to use many of the amenities you once enjoyed, like the building gym or community swimming pool.

“Reach out, and ask for what you want. The worst they can say is no. And in that case, you’re no worse off than when you started,” says Seth Rouch, a landlord in Aurora, CO. In fact, he’d just offered one tenant a monthly discount of $300, totaling $3,600 for the year.

“I did this because they are great tenants,” he explains. “Landlords often confuse themselves, thinking their building is the asset. However, the truth is the tenant is the asset. Without a tenant, I just have an extra house payment.”

4. Does my rental still meet my space needs?

Though cities across the U.S. have slowly opened up, many people are still cooped up at home, either working virtually or home-schooling children. With that in mind, rental units have transformed from places to eat, sleep, and relax to doubling as offices, classrooms, and entertainment areas.

“One of the first questions I would ask is, ‘If I’m working or home-schooling kids from home now, does this rental meet those needs and space requirements?'” says Rob Carrillo, a property manager with Century 21 Haggerty in El Paso, TX.

It’s also worth pondering whether your apartment is conducive to being in quarantine. By that, think about your comfort level inside the space itself for long periods of time and in the surrounding neighborhood.

“Are you in an area where you want to live if you encounter a serious health issue or other crisis?” asks Chris Gold, CEO of Chris Buys Homes in St. Louis. “This virus may stick around for a while, and people should plan for it. Maybe you’d like to be closer to family or emergency services? Or maybe you’d like to get out of the city to live in a place where you are not directly in contact with people on a regular basis?”

5. Should I buy a home instead of renting?

There are numerous reasons why someone may choose to rent instead of buy. However, with interest rates hovering at all-time lows, renters may be surprised to find out they can often save money in the long run if they buy instead of rent.

“I understand down payments may be difficult for some people to come up with,” says Mike Zschunke, a real estate agent in Arizona. “However, it doesn’t hurt to call a mortgage broker to review your current situation. You may realize your situation is different than you initially thought.”

“Always evaluate the opportunity cost of renting versus buying,” adds Michael Chadwick, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Corcoran Group in New York City. “If you are at least four to six months from when your lease expires, and you have the means to buy, consider if you want to continue to dump thousands of dollars into rent when you could be investing in yourself. Despite every crisis in the past 30 or 40 years, home prices on average always rise. You have to play the long game.”

Not sure whether renting or buying is right for you? Use an online rent vs. buy calculator to see what’s cheaper in your area, or check out a home affordability calculator, which helps estimate how much you can afford to spend on a home and monthly mortgage payments.

Source: realtor.com

7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score

Woman sitting on exercise ball
Photo by cunaplus / Shutterstock.com

The next time you check your credit score, you might discover it has taken a tumble because of a seemingly small mishap on your part.

This happened to me once because I misplaced a bill for a whopping $12.70. My nonpayment ended up being reported to credit bureaus, also known as credit-reporting agencies.

The result was an 80-point decrease in my credit score and several months of regret. My credit score rebounded, but this small oversight still haunts me.

With my precautionary tale in mind, here are some other types of mishaps that can damage your credit score.

1. Car rental reservations

Planning to rent a car? If you use a debit card to make the reservation, the rental car company might require a credit screening. That can ding your credit score, as we detail in “9 Things You Should Never Pay For With a Debit Card.”

Here’s a better option: Confirm the reservation with your credit card to avoid the unnecessary credit inquiry. Then, settle the final bill with your debit card upon returning the vehicle.

2. Closing credit cards

Closing a credit card account sounds smart, but it actually can hurt your credit score. In fact, we cite it in “10 Common and Costly Credit Missteps.”

Closing an account affects what’s known as your credit utilization ratio. That is the percentage of your available credit that you are using.

This ratio affects both FICO credit scores and VantageScore credit scores. The lower your ratio — meaning the least of your available credit that you’re using — the better your credit score will be.

Closing a credit card account you’re not using decreases your available credit, however. That increases your credit utilization ratio, hurting your credit score.

3. Past-due rent payments

Fail to pay the rent on time, and the landlord might report your delinquency to credit bureaus.

If you’re having trouble with the rent, meet with your landlord and propose an alternative payment plan until you’re caught up. That way, you can salvage your good name and credit.

4. Defaulting on recurring bills

If you are even slightly past due on a bill from a cellphone or utility company or other provider of recurring services, chances are you’ll receive several notices before services are terminated.

But once the provider has had enough, expect to be turned over to debt collectors and subsequently reported to the three main nationwide credit-reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Don’t ignore correspondence or fail to settle outstanding obligations.

5. Breached gym membership contracts

Even if you are tired of forking over hard-earned cash each month for a gym membership you aren’t using, don’t just walk away.

Properly close the account, or it could cost you in the form of early termination penalties and a damaged credit score.

6. Outstanding medical bills

If you’re having trouble paying medical bills, make sure you tend to the matter promptly. Request a payment plan, for example.

Ignoring collectors by muting the ringer on your phone or sending their calls to voicemail can eventually result in a blemish — in the form of a collection account — on your credit report.

Due to credit industry changes announced several years ago, medical debts are reported only after a 180-day waiting period designed to allow enough time for insurance payments to be applied. And in general, credit-reporting agencies are placing less weight on outstanding medical debt.

Still, tending to medical bills promptly can help you avoid a credit blemish in the first place.

7. Too many credit card applications

Ten percent of your FICO credit score is determined by how you shop for credit. According to Fair Isaac Corp., or FICO, the company behind FICO scores:

“People tend to have more credit today and shop for new credit more frequently than ever. FICO Scores reflect this reality. However, research shows that opening several new credit accounts in a short period of time represents greater risk — especially for people who don’t have a long credit history.”

So, remember this the next time you’re offered a store credit card at the checkout counter as part of a deal that could save you some significant cash on the purchase. The price of that one-time savings might be a lower credit score.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

7 Red Flags Renters Need to Know About Apartment Shopping During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s not a secret that the coronavirus pandemic has made renting a home or apartment stressful for both landlords and tenants.

About 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, according to Moody’s Analytics, and rental rates in big coastal cities have fallen year over year as renters flee to the suburbs. But rents in fast-growing cities and spillover markets like Rochester, NY, and Tacoma, WA, are on the rise, according to realtor.com’s September rent report.

But no matter where you’re renting—or how many times you’ve rented in the past—looking at and leasing a home safely during a pandemic is complicated. It requires forethought and consideration, taking into account your budget and additional safety measures so everyone involved in the process can stay safe.

With the pandemic still presenting a risk for apartment shoppers, here’s what renters should be asking about and what red flags should send you running.

1. Suspiciously low rent

Everyone wants a deal, especially in the face of economic challenges. But if you’re seeing a too-good-to-be-true deal, especially in historically high markets like New York City or San Francisco, be wary.

“These historic low prices aren’t going to last forever,” says Beatrice Genco, a real estate adviser with New York City’s Triplemint. “There are some properties giving away one, two, even three months free, but what does that mean for next year? Landlords are hurting and want to increase prices as soon as they can, so lock yourself into a longer lease or make sure you understand how much the landlord is going to increase the rent.”

2. No COVID-19 policies

Your potential new landlords should be able to share the ways in which they are keeping their community clean and healthy based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes the measures they’re taking for disinfecting high-touch areas and enforcing social distancing. If this information is not presented to you up front, ask. Landlords should have a clearly outlined policy in place to safeguard tenants, and if they don’t, you may have to walk away from the deal.

It’s also important to find out what has been done to clean the individual unit you’re interested in since the last tenant vacated.

“Have the rugs been deep-cleaned?” asks Deidre Woollard, a real estate expert for the investing service Millionacres in Alexandria, VA. “Have all walls, floors, and countertops been wiped with bleach or antibacterial cleaning products? Have they replaced HVAC filters?”

3. Pricey shared amenities

Shared amenities like gyms, roof decks, and pools are normally a draw (and a justification for above-average rent rates) for larger apartment complexes. But during the pandemic-induced era of social distancing, many of these amenities have been closed or significantly limited.

Woollard reminds would-be renters to “find out what shared amenities are open and what precautions are being used to keep those spaces safe and clean. If a gym or pool is closed, will renters be compensated with a rebate?”

4. No social media presence

It’s almost 2021. Virtually every business and individual have a presence online, and that includes apartment complexes, brokers, and landlords. Part of a prospective renter’s due diligence should include checking out potential leasers on social media.

Greg Bond, president of Greater Orlando Home Buyers, warns that if you can’t find their social media accounts, that might mean they’re using a fake identity. These untraceable individuals are the same ones, he says, who “try to reel you in quick so you don’t notice the small details that can derail their shenanigans.”

5. Neglected maintenance

Whether they’re working with an agent or not, renters should consider conducting their own pre-leasing inspection of appliances and utilities in the apartment.

“As a renter, you need to make sure that everything in the property is in working condition before signing a lease,” says Max Cohen, CEO of Sarasota’s Florida Home Buyers. “A lot of landlords are dealing with cash flow shortages and are pushing off major repairs that can end up costing you. For example, an inefficient air conditioner can raise your electric bill significantly, and a slow-leaking toilet can cost you hundreds of dollars over the course or your lease.”

So before you sign on the dotted line, go ahead and turn on the air conditioner, turn on sinks, flush the toilet and let it fill up, open and close windows, run the shower and tub, inspect the microwave and other appliances, and switch on the oven.

6. Freshly painted wood

A newly painted trim may seem like a welcome sign of diligence on the landlord’s part, but it may actually be hiding a problem.

Rotting wood can require extra effort and cost to replace, so landlords often paint over it. This hides it temporarily, but by move-in day, the problem is often visible.

Paige Nejame, a Boston-based house painter who sees this a lot, suggests pressing or poking freshly painted wood to check for soft spots, especially near the seams and edges of rooms where water can gather.

7. The landlord won’t show you the apartment

Be on the lookout for property owners or agents who won’t let you tour the space, citing fears over COVID-19 as the reason. If your city or state is on lockdown, you may be forced to delay touring the apartment. However, there are ways to tour an apartment safely; some properties are offering self-guided tours while others give the option of a socially distanced tour with face masks and gloves.

“Many owners are trying to rent out units sight unseen, saying they want to limit in-person interactions,” says Ashley Romiti, a senior associate at Vantis Capital Advisors in Irvine, CA. “But photos and virtual tours can be misleading.”

If you’re adamant about touring the apartment before leasing, say so.

“If they refuse to accommodate your requests, you have probably dodged a bullet,” Romiti says.

Source: realtor.com

NBA star Blake Griffin buys a new home court in Brentwood

With all the Los Angeles real estate moves Blake Griffin is making, you’d think he’s still a Clipper. The Detroit Pistons star just bought his second Brentwood home this year right before the start of the NBA season, shelling out $5.87 million for a 1930s traditional.

If he wants to visit his other Brentwood home, all he’ll have to do is hop the fence out back. His new spot sits directly behind his other one, a modern farmhouse that he bought in the spring for $19.1 million. If he combines the two lots, the compound will exceed an acre.

His new place is the smaller of the two, covering about 5,900 square feet with five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. A stone pathway winds through the front yard, approaching a tan exterior marked by sets of shutters.

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The living spaces could use an update, but highlights include a gym, wine cellar, kitchen with Brazilian granite and billiards room with a massive stained-glass window. Upstairs, the primary suite features three closets.

Outside, the house wraps around a spacious stone terrace complete with an outdoor dining area and covered lounge with a fireplace. Down below, a tropically landscaped backyard adds a swimming pool and spa.

A native of Oklahoma, Griffin became the national college player of the year with the Sooners before being drafted first overall by the Clippers in 2009. He rose to stardom soon after, winning NBA rookie of the year in 2011 and becoming a six-time All-Star.

Jordana Leigh of Rodeo Realty Beverly Hills held the listing. F. Ron Smith and David Berg of the Smith & Berg Partners team at Compass represented Griffin.

Source: latimes.com

This Supplement Could Lengthen Your Life, Study Finds

Man taking supplements
Photo by Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Many of us dream of a simple pill that will boost our lifespan as effectively as arduous regular exercise. Now, research suggests that wish has become reality.

Taking a glucosamine and chondroitin combination supplement might reduce overall mortality to a degree similar to the benefit of exercising regularly, say disease researchers at West Virginia University.

Two researchers — Dana King and Jun Xiang — discovered that taking glucosamine/chondroitin every day for a year or longer is associated with a 39% drop in death from any cause. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Taking glucosamine/chondroitin daily also was linked to a 65% reduction in the likelihood of death from cardiovascular-related causes like stroke, heart disease and coronary artery disease.

In reaching their conclusion, the researchers looked at data from more than 16,000 adults who completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010. Survey participants were at least 40 years old.

The researchers controlled for various factors, including age, sex, activity level and whether participants smoke.

In a university announcement, King says the findings indicate that taking a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement has a “pretty significant” impact on health.

However, a daily glucosamine/chondroitin supplement should not be used as a replacement for exercise, King says:

“Does this mean that if you get off work at five o’clock one day, you should just skip the gym, take a glucosamine pill and go home instead? That’s not what we suggest. Keep exercising, but the thought that taking a pill would also be beneficial is intriguing.”

King also notes that the research was part of a study, not a clinical trial. That means it does not offer definitive proof that taking glucosamine/chondroitin every day lengthens life.

Instead, he calls the results encouraging. He notes that he takes glucosamine/chondroitin daily and adds that because the supplement is available over the counter, it is readily available to most people.

Of course, don’t run out to buy the supplement without first talking to your health care provider about whether it is right for you.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are both natural compounds found in cartilage. They are sometimes taken as a supplement for arthritis or joint pain, although the West Virginia University study notes that large clinical trials have found their effect on such pain was not significantly better than that of a placebo.

For more recently revealed benefits of supplements, check out “Can This Vitamin Help Protect You From COVID-19?“

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Source: moneytalksnews.com