The difference between thrift stores and consignment shops

Consignment and antique shops are great, but they tend to be pricier because their collections are curated. These stores do all the hunting down and fixing up for you, and that service is offset via higher price tags. While consignment shops are more likely to have highly sought after antiques from pedigreed brands, you can still certainly find hidden gems at nearly any thrift store — you just may have to put in more effort to find what you’re looking for. Balance the odds of what you want being there with the price range you’re willing to pay when deciding where to shop.

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Getting what you need while giving back to the community

Many of your favorite causes run thrift shops to help fund their programs and services. Prime Thrift near Fair Park benefits American Veterans (AMVETS), Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and other local and national charitable organizations, while Out of the Closet in Oak Lawn benefits the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Genesis Women’s Shelter, a nonprofit that provides safety, shelter and support for women and children who have experienced domestic violence, operates two thrift stores: one in Oak Lawn and another in South Oak Cliff. There are four Soul’s Harbor locations throughout the metroplex, with proceeds going toward its programs to help men break the cycle of homelessness and addiction. Some of these shops even have exclusive relationships with estate liquidators, increasing your chances of finding treasures among their wares.

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If you’re looking for a bit more than just decor, check out your local ReStore, which benefits Habitat for Humanity. There, you can find actual building materials, such as tile, cabinets, wood flooring, windows, doors or even vintage brick. In addition to these, they also have plenty of new and vintage home furnishings, large appliances and more. With 10 locations across D-FW, it’s a convenient alternative to big-box stores when shopping for your next home design project.

Choose your shopping days wisely

For donation-based thrift stores, Mondays and Tuesdays are typically the best days to shop, because most people tend to drop off items early in the week after spending the weekend cleaning. Signing up for emails is a great way to stay on top of the latest finds and deals, but there’s just no substitute for going in regularly. It works the same with searching online, whether it’s eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. “I’m a huge fan of Facebook Marketplace” says Whitney Marsh, an interior designer and business owner who furnished her Oak Cliff coffee shop, B-Side, with thrifted finds. “I also really love Souls Harbor in Waxahachie,” Marsh notes.

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Whitney Marsh, an interior designer and business owner, furnished her Oak Cliff coffee shop B-Side with thrifted finds, including this handmade tile she found for less than $100.(Whitney Marsh)

Have a strategy before you start shopping

There are two ways to go about hunting vintage pieces. Either have a piece or project in mind and know what you want to pay for it, or be able to spot a good deal. This can involve researching brands, pieces, and eras to be able to find your ideal mix of quality pieces that aren’t in demand. Marsh says that’s her strategy. “I know what I like, and I also know what brands are known for quality goods,” she explains. “I definitely have a style. I’m drawn toward leather furniture, solid wood, wool rugs and unique art.”

Marsh created this seating area using chairs thrifted from Soul’s Harbor and a unique brass ship she found through Facebook marketplace.(Whitney Marsh)

For example, you may love midcentury modern (MCM) pieces, but the popularity of decor from that era means there’s more demand, and unscrupulous sellers may assign that label to random items in order to get them to sell. You may find more success by researching some favorite brands or designers from the MCM era and looking for those specifically to avoid fake listings and inflated prices. Be aware that people will list items online with a famous brand name keyword to get more hits, such as saying a “Pottery Barn-style” rug or “MCM-style lamp.” If you’re shopping in person, don’t be afraid to ask the store’s staff about an item you’re looking for; they may have something similar that just hasn’t been put out yet. Or, they might be willing to take down your name and keep an eye out for items on your list — especially if you’re a regular customer.

Simple design rules to consider

In this area Marsh designed for a client, she paired a thrifted console with a modern lamp and abstract art to create balance.(Whitney Marsh)

Once you’ve found that unique piece you’ve been searching for, how do you style it? Thrifted pieces bring character into a space, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing, says Marsh. “I like to pair thrifted pieces with more high-end textiles. I love an old leather sofa that’s worn in against a very bold luxury wallpaper.” If you buy a well-worn piece and want to play up that lived-in aesthetic, try to surround it with items that are clean and modern. Too much rusticity can end up looking like neglect. Same goes for smaller items, such as pots, frames or books — space them out in designed vignettes throughout your home instead of clustering them all together. Also, keep in mind that pairing thrifted furniture is easier when they share some similar elements. For example, mismatched nightstands look more cohesive if they are roughly the same size and color.

Thrifting can be a way to save big, depending on when and where you shop, and what you’re looking for. “I definitely shop with a specific corner or space in mind. I also really only pull the trigger on things that seem like they’re good quality and the right price,” says Marsh. But if you’re patient, persistent and know what you want and what you’re willing to pay for it, it’s just a matter of time before you find it.

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Source: dallasnews.com

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Louisiana has a rich mix of culture, history, and natural beauty. From the vibrant jazz rhythms that echo through the streets of New Orleans to the historic charm of Baton Rouge, the state captivates visitors with its unique blend of Creole and Cajun influences. Whether exploring the lively French Quarter or meandering along the serene bayous, Louisiana offers a sensory feast for the adventurous traveler. However, living in Louisiana comes with its own set of challenges. In this ApartmentGuide article, we’ll go through the pros and cons of living in Louisiana, providing you insight on what life is like in the state.

Renting in Louisiana snapshot

1. Pro: Rich cultural heritage

Louisiana’s cultural heritage is evident in its diverse architecture, vibrant traditions, and exuberant festivals. For example, the French Quarter in New Orleans stands as a living testament to the state’s colonial past, with its picturesque streets lined with historic buildings dating back centuries. Annual events like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest epitomize Louisiana’s multicultural influences, drawing visitors from around the globe.

2. Con: Hurricane risk

Louisiana’s geographical location along the Gulf Coast exposes it to a significant risk of hurricanes, which can result in catastrophic damage to homes, infrastructure, and communities. For instance, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 left a trail of destruction in their wake.

3. Pro: Culinary scene

Louisiana’s culinary scene is renowned worldwide for its tantalizing array of flavors and dishes that reflect the state’s cultural melting pot. From iconic classics like gumbo and crawfish boils to innovative fusion cuisine blending Cajun, Creole, and international influences, Louisiana offers a gastronomic adventure for food enthusiasts. For instance, the West Bank area of New Orleans is celebrated for its Vietnamese-Cajun cuisine, where dishes like pho and crawfish are creatively combined to create unique culinary delights.

4. Con: Mosquitoes and pests

Louisiana’s warm and humid climate provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests, which can be a persistent nuisance and pose health risks to residents. From pesky mosquitoes swarming during outdoor activities to invasive species like Formosan termites wreaking havoc on homes and structures, you’ll want to try preventative measures to mange them.

5. Pro: Natural beauty and outdoor activities

Louisiana’s natural beauty is as diverse as it is breathtaking, encompassing swamps, bayous, and coastal marshes teeming with wildlife. Residents have many opportunities to immerse themselves in the picturesque scenery, whether it’s embarking on a swamp tour to encounter alligators and herons, kayaking through the tranquil waters of the Atchafalaya Basin, or birdwatching in the pristine habitats of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.

6. Con: Poor infrastructure

Louisiana ranks as one of the top 10 states with the worst infrastructure. The state faces ongoing challenges, including aging roads, bridges, and levees, which are susceptible to damage from hurricanes and other natural disasters. For example, the state’s transportation network may suffer from congestion, potholes, and delays, impacting residents’ daily commutes and hindering economic development.

7. Pro: Vibrant music scene

With genres ranging from jazz and blues to zydeco and Cajun music, Louisiana’s music scene is known around the globe. Cities like New Orleans and Lafayette are great cities to find some live music, where residents can revel in performances by local musicians and renowned artists. From the soulful melodies of jazz bands in Frenchmen Street to the infectious energy of zydeco dance halls, Louisiana’s music scene is an integral part of its cultural identity.

8. Con: Traffic congestion

Urban areas in Louisiana, particularly New Orleans and Baton Rouge, grapple with heavy traffic congestion, especially during peak hours, leading to frustration for drivers and increased pollution levels. From gridlocked highways to bottlenecked intersections, navigating the city streets can be a daunting and time-consuming task, impacting productivity and quality of life for residents.

9. Pro: Sports culture

Louisiana residents are fervent sports enthusiasts, with football reigning supreme as a source of community pride and camaraderie. Whether it’s cheering on the New Orleans Saints in the electric atmosphere of the Superdome or the LSU Tigers at the iconic Tiger Stadium, sports culture unites fans across the state in a shared passion for their teams.

10. Con: High humidity

Louisiana’s subtropical climate brings high humidity levels, especially during the hot and humid summer months, which can make outdoor activities uncomfortable and exacerbate feelings of heat exhaustion. From sticky, sweltering days to muggy nights, coping with the oppressive humidity can take a toll on residents’ physical comfort and well-being.

11. Pro: Festive atmosphere

You’ll find a festive atmosphere year-round in this state, with a calendar brimming with cultural celebrations and events that showcase Louisiana’s way of life. From the colorful pageantry of Carnival season with its elaborate floats and masked revelers to community festivals celebrating everything from seafood to music, there’s always something to celebrate in Louisiana.

12. Con: Limited public transportation

Outside of larger cities like New Orleans, public transportation options in Louisiana may be limited, leaving residents without access to personal vehicles at a disadvantage. For instance, rural areas may lack reliable bus services or commuter rail connections, making it challenging for residents to access essential services, employment opportunities, and educational institutions.

Methodology : The population data is from the United States Census Bureau, walkable cities are from Walk Score, and rental data is from ApartmentGuide.

Source: apartmentguide.com

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Buying your first home can be tedious and overwhelming.

While it’s exciting to visit properties and daydream about your dream home, getting over the financing hurdles is another story. But don’t fret.

This comprehensive guide for first-time homebuyers will walk you through the entire process from start to finish.

Benefits of Being a First-Time Homebuyer

As a first-time homebuyer, you may feel a mix of excitement and apprehension. While the home buying process can seem overwhelming, it’s important to recognize the numerous benefits that come with this milestone.

Financial Assistance

First-time homebuyers have access to several financial assistance programs that can make homeownership more affordable. These include down payment assistance programs, low-interest mortgage loans, and grants specifically designed for first-time buyers. Some of these programs are offered by state and local governments, while others are provided by non-profit organizations or private lenders.

Lower Down Payments

Several loan programs offer lower down payment requirements for first-time homebuyers. The FHA loan, for example, requires as little as 3.5% down if your credit score is 580 or higher. The USDA and VA loans even offer zero down payment options in some cases.

Access to Educational Resources

There’s a lot to learn when you’re buying a home for the first time, but fortunately, there are plenty of resources available. Many organizations offer homebuyer education courses that can help you understand the process and make informed decisions. Some lenders and assistance programs require you to take one of these courses, but even if it’s not mandatory, it can still be a valuable resource.

Check Your Credit

Not only will your credit score play a considerable factor in whether you’re approved for a mortgage, but it will also determine your interest rate.

A small increase or decrease in interest rates may not seem like a big deal. However, mortgage loans are for a hefty sum and for an extended period of time. So, a slight increase or decrease equates to thousands of dollars more spent or saved over the life of the loan.

To have the best chance of being approved for a home loan, you should aim for a credit score of at least 620. It’s possible to get approved for select home loan programs with a score as low as 580, but you may have fewer lenders to choose from.

Run the Numbers

It’s tempting for first-time homebuyers to start searching for homes when they know their credit score is up to par. But that’s probably not a good move until you determine how much home you can afford. Yes, the loan officer will give you a figure when you obtain a preapproval, but that amount isn’t always indicative of what you can afford.

Why so? Well, they focus on the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to get an idea of a loan amount you qualify for. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, lenders prefer a DTI ratio of 43% or lower with your new mortgage payment. To illustrate:

CURRENT MONTHLY DEBT GROSS INCOME DEBT-TO-INCOME RATIO MAXIMUM MORTGAGE PAYMENT
(USING 43% RECOMMENDATION)
$1,000 $4,000 25% $720
$2,000 $6,000 33% $580
$3,000 $10,000 30% $1,300

Note: Debt-to-Income Ratio = Aggregate Amount of Monthly Debt / Gross Income

The problem is that it fails to consider any expenses unrelated to debt. And if you have hefty insurance, childcare, or even grocery bills, that could be a major concern.

So, your best bet is to look at your current budget and come up with a realistic figure for your new mortgage payment. But don’t forget to keep the recommended DTI ratio in mind.

Explore Mortgage Options

There are several mortgage options on the market for first-time homebuyers, but the most prevalent are:

Conventional Loans

A conventional mortgage is a type of home loan that is not insured or guaranteed by the government. It’s typically offered by a private lender, such as a bank or credit union, and is the most common type of mortgage used to purchase a home.

Conventional mortgages typically require a down payment of at least 3% of the purchase price of the home. Borrowers typically must have a credit score of 620 or higher and a DTI ratio of 36% or lower to qualify. If you have bad credit or are unable to make a large down payment may have a harder time qualifying for a conventional mortgage.

If the loan amount is over $726,200, it becomes a jumbo loan and requires a higher down payment.

FHA Loans

An FHA loan is a type of home loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a government agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

FHA loans are designed to make it easier for people to buy homes, especially for first-time homebuyers. They offer lower down payment requirements and more flexible credit guidelines than conventional mortgages.

The minimum credit score required for an FHA loan is 500. If your credit score is between 500 -579, the down payment is 10%. However, if you have a credit score of 580 or above, the down payment is 3.5% of the purchase price.

VA Loans

VA Loans are insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They don’t require a down payment and are easier to qualify for than conventional loan products. However, you must be an active-duty member of the armed forces. Surviving spouses also qualify.

USDA Loans

A USDA loan is a type of mortgage offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to low- and moderate-income borrowers who are looking to buy a home in a rural or suburban area.

See also: 14 First-Time Home Buyer Grants and Programs

Check Out Our Top Picks for 2024:

Best Mortgage Lenders

Most mortgages have a 30 or 15-year term. The latter will cost you more per month, but you’ll save a load of cash on interest.

You can also choose from a fixed or adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Fixed-rate mortgages have the same interest rate for the duration of the loan. But ARMs typically start with a lower interest rate for a set amount of time. In fact, they usually span from five to ten years and then adjust depending on the housing market.

Some first-time homebuyers choose ARMs over fixed-rate mortgages because it gives them the option to make a smaller monthly payment in the first few years. It could also mean that you can qualify for a more expensive home. But, be careful not to get too overextended, as erratic market behavior could cause the rate to skyrocket.

Get Preapproved

This is one of the more time-consuming parts of the entire mortgage process for a first-time home buyer. The good news is you don’t have to settle for the first offer that comes your way out of fear that your credit score will take a hit.

“FICO Scores ignore [mortgage] inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring,” according to myFICO. So, you won’t be penalized for multiple inquiries.

So, start by researching mortgage lenders that you may be interested in working with. You could also solicit the help of a mortgage broker if you’re strapped for time or want someone to do the legwork for you.

Once you’ve settled on a few lenders, be prepared to provide the following to get preapproved:

  • Financial statements to confirm your assets, including retirement accounts and real estate
  • Recent bank statements
  • Last two pay stubs
  • W-2s from the last two years

They will also pull your credit report and credit scores. If you qualify, the mortgage lender will then provide you with a preapproval letter, valid for a certain time period, that specifies how much you’re eligible for.

Save Up for a Down Payment and Closing Costs

During the preapproval process, the lender should have discussed loan options that could be a good fit for you. They should also have communicated how much you will need for a down payment and closing costs.

While some sellers may be willing to cover closing costs, be prepared to provide earnest money to secure your offer. And you may need a large down payment if you’re taking out a jumbo loan, or don’t qualify for the FHA or VA loan program. If that’s the case, now’s the time to figure out a plan for it.

If the seller is not paying closing costs, expect to pay between 2% and 5% of the sales price. And if a hefty down payment isn’t required, it’s not a bad idea to bring money to the table. Doing so allows you to reduce the Loan-to-Value, which positions you as less risky to the lender.

You may also be able to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is required until you reach 20% in equity, and possibly qualify for a reduced interest rate.

How to Find the Perfect Home

Go Home Shopping

All squared away with a preapproval and planned to save up the cash you need? Now, it’s time to go home shopping. But before you go, you have to decide if you want to enlist the assistance of a real estate agent.

It’s possible to find a slew of listings within your price range on the web with minimal effort. However, real estate agents have access to a system that could expand your reach. Even better, they could be integral in helping you choose a home that’s a good buy and negotiating the final purchase price.

And the seller’s agent pays their commission, so no need to worry about forking over extra cash. Just be sure to hire a real estate professional that is seasoned and reputable.

Now for the fun part: home shopping. Be careful not to judge a home solely by its appearance. Some other important factors to keep in mind:

  • Taxes: are the property taxes affordable or beyond what you can comfortably afford? (You can roll property taxes and homeowners insurance into an escrow account, but they can easily make or break your budget if the figures are steep).
  • Location: is the home in an area that has historically held its value? Is the location optimal for your commute to and from work?
  • Crime: is it a high crime area or is it relatively safe?
  • Condition: how old is the property? Does it need tons of repairs, or is it close to being move in ready?
  • Floor plan: is the floor plan feasible or ideal for your situation? Would it be appealing to other buyers if you had to sell?
  • School district: how are the schools? Have they received a good rating, or do they struggle to stay afloat?

All of these factors can have an effect on the value of the property over time.

Submit an Offer

You’ve found the perfect home, and you’re ready to sign on the dotted. Before you can finalize the paperwork and move in, there’s one more important step. And that’s making the offer. Even if the sales price seems fair, you may need to make an offer that’s higher or lower to snag the home.

Why so? Well, there could be a slight or drastic bidding war going on, and the only way for you to win is to beat out the competition. Or maybe your real estate agent did some research and determined the asking price was a bit high based on similar properties in the area or the home’s current condition.

Either way, you want to submit an offer that stands out and gets accepted. Your real estate agent will be able to do so on your behalf. But if you don’t have a real estate agent, check out these letters from Trulia to get you started.

The Mortgage Process

Even after your offer is accepted, there’s still more work to do. You’re not done just yet! It’s time to move on to the mortgage process.

Remember that preapproval letter? The lender will make sure all the information you initially provided is accurate through a process called underwriting.

Depending on how long it’s been since you were preapproved, you may be asked to provide updated bank statements or pay stubs.

The faster you submit the requested information, the quicker you’ll get a response. So, don’t drag your feet if you want a closing date that’s sooner than later.

Home Inspections and Appraisals

Before you close on the home, you will need to have a home inspection and appraisal complete.

The home inspection shouldn’t cost you more than $500. It will give you an overall assessment of the property and identify any potential issues.

The appraisal also plays an integral role as it will give you a solid idea of the home’s fair market value. The lender will mandate it, but it’s not a bad idea to get an independent appraisal done to serve as a second opinion.

An inspection and appraisal may help you decide if you should lower your offer or walk away from the property.

Purchase Homeowners Insurance

Your mortgage lender will require that you take out homeowners insurance. So, you want to start shopping around for quotes and select a policy prior to closing.

Close on Your Loan

At last! You’ve reached the finish line, and it’s time to close on your loan. During the closing, expect to:

  • Sign a load of paperwork.
  • Provide any amounts owed for the down payment.
  • Pay closing costs, which could include property tax obligations, premiums for homeowner’s insurance and association dues, title insurance, and any other costs associated with finalizing the loan.
  • Pay discount points or prepaid interest that can reduce the interest rate.

But before you show up at closing, it’s a good idea to speak with the lender, so you’ll know what to expect. You can also request a copy of the final closing document, or Closing Disclosure, to see a detailed breakdown of expenses.

A Few More Tips

Here are a few more suggestions for first time home buyers to help you get approved for your first loan:

  • Refrain from applying for new credit before you close. This could throw off your DTI ratio, lower your credit score, and ultimately prevent you from closing on the loan.
  • State and local programs may be available to assist with down payments. If you’re low on funds, be sure to explore options that may be available to you.
  • Several builders offer buyer incentives, like allowances for upgrades and closing costs. So if you haven’t considered new construction, it may not be such a bad idea to take a look if the price points are within your budget.

Should You Rent, Instead?

Perhaps you’ve done a little legwork, ran the numbers, and are on the fence about home buying. You will typically find that it’s cheaper to make monthly mortgage payments than to pay rent.

You can also take advantage of tax deductions and build up equity as you’re making monthly payments. The equity can be borrowed against for a loan or put some extra money in your pocket should you decide to sell before the repayment period ends.

However, renting a home gives you the flexibility to move to a new location if the home isn’t quite what you expected, don’t like the neighborhood, or want something more affordable.

Furthermore, renting allows you to pass the costs of maintaining the home on to the owner. But as a homeowner, you’ll be responsible for costs associated with maintenance and repairs.

Another reason why some choose to rent over buying is the upfront costs. Most landlords require a security deposit. However, it could be substantially lower than the money you may have to bring to the table for the down payment and closing costs.

Ultimately, you have to decide which is the better fit: investing in an asset that could build wealth or continuing to pay rent until you feel the time is right. There is no right or wrong answer; it just depends on your personal preference and financial situation.

Bottom Line

By taking the time to learn about the home buying process, you’ll be well-prepared and save yourself time and headaches. Best of all, you’ll increase your chances of landing your dream home with the most competitive mortgage product on the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process for buying a home?

The process for buying a home typically involves the following steps:

  1. Determine your budget and get preapproved for a mortgage.
  2. Find a real estate agent and start looking for homes.
  3. Make an offer on a home and negotiate the terms.
  4. Get a home inspection and address any issues that are found.
  5. Get a mortgage and close on the home.

How much house can I afford?

When determining how much house you can afford, there are several factors to take into account. You should consider your income, expenses, down payment, credit score, and mortgage type before making a decision.

A larger down payment can help you get a lower mortgage rate, and a higher credit score can qualify you for better rates and loan terms. Shopping around for mortgage rates and considering different types of mortgages, such as fixed-rate or adjustable-rate, can also help you find the best deal.

Keep in mind that owning a home involves more than just the monthly payments. You will also need to factor in property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs. You should create a budget that includes all of these costs and leaves room for unexpected expenses.

How much money do I need for a down payment?

The amount of money you need for a down payment will depend on the type of mortgage you get and the price of the home you are buying.

Some mortgage programs, such as FHA loans, allow for down payments as low as 3.5%, while others may require a higher down payment. It’s a good idea to speak with a mortgage lender to determine how much you will need.

Can I buy a house if I have a low credit score?

It’s possible to buy a house with a low credit score. However, it may be more difficult to get approved for a mortgage, and you may have to pay a higher interest rate. Before applying for a mortgage, work on improving your credit scores, as this will help you qualify for a better loan and save you money over time.

How much will closing costs be?

Closing costs are fees that are paid at the closing of a real estate transaction. These costs can vary widely and may include things like mortgage origination fees, title insurance, and appraisal fees. On average, closing costs can range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price of the home.

What is a mortgage preapproval?

A mortgage preapproval is a letter from a lender that indicates how much you are qualified to borrow for a mortgage. The preapproval letter is based on a review of your financial information, including your credit score, monthly income, and debts. A mortgage preapproval can help you understand how much you can afford to borrow and can make you a more competitive buyer in the real estate market.

What is a mortgage rate?

A mortgage rate is the interest rate that you will pay on your mortgage. The mortgage rate will determine the amount of your monthly payments and the overall cost of your loan. Interest rates can vary depending on the type of mortgage you get and your credit scores.

What is PMI?

PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is insurance that is required by lenders for certain types of mortgages when the borrower has less than a 20% down payment. PMI protects the lender in the event that the borrower defaults on the mortgage. The cost of PMI is typically added to the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment.

Source: crediful.com

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Renting in Rhode Island snapshot

1. Pro: Rich historical heritage

Rhode Island boasts a rich historical heritage, evident in its colonial-era architecture, maritime museums, and significant landmarks. Cities like Providence and Newport are treasure troves of history, with attractions such as the Providence Athenæum, one of the oldest libraries in the country, and the Newport Mansions, opulent Gilded Age residences open to the public.

2. Con: High cost of living

Rhode Island’s high cost of living can pose challenges for residents, particularly in areas such as housing and utilities, which often exceed national averages. The state’s limited land availability and high demand for coastal properties contribute to inflated real estate prices and rental rates, making housing affordability a concern for many. For instance, Providence, Rhode Island’s largest city has a median sale price of $470,00 and an average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment of $2,075.

3. Pro: Access to beautiful beaches

Rhode Island’s abundant coastline offers residents easy access to some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, perfect for leisurely strolls, sunbathing, and water sports. From the sandy shores of Misquamicut Beach to the tranquil coves of Block Island, there’s a beach to suit every preference and activity.

4. Con: Limited public transportation

Rhode Island’s public transportation system is limited, with fewer options compared to larger metropolitan areas, making car ownership essential for many residents. While the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) provides bus services across the state, routes may be infrequent or limited in coverage, especially in more rural areas. Cities like Central Falls has a transit score of 36, meaning that most errands require a car.

5. Pro: Vibrant arts and cultural scene

The state boasts a vibrant arts and cultural scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and live music venues. Providence, in particular, is home to the renowned Rhode Island School of Design Museum and the Providence Performing Arts Center, enriching residents’ lives with diverse artistic expressions.

6. Con: Weather variability

Rhode Island’s weather variability presents a challenge to residents, as they must adapt to frequent fluctuations in temperature and conditions throughout the year. The unpredictability of coastal weather can disrupt outdoor plans and activities, from sudden rain showers to icy winter storms, impacting daily routines and travel.

7. Pro: Excellent seafood cuisine

Rhode Island is renowned for its excellent seafood cuisine, offering residents and visitors alike a delectable array of fresh catches from its coastal waters. From succulent lobster rolls served in quaint seaside shacks to flavorful clam chowder and crispy fried calamari, the state’s culinary scene celebrates its maritime heritage.

8. Con: Small state size

Rhode Island’s status as the smallest state in the U.S. can present challenges for residents, particularly in terms of limited land space and resources. The compact size of the state means that housing options may be more limited and densely packed, leading to higher property prices and potential congestion in urban areas. Additionally, the state’s small size may result in fewer job opportunities and amenities compared to larger states.

9. Pro: Strong sense of community

Rhode Island’s strong sense of community fosters close-knit neighborhoods and supportive networks among residents, creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. Whether through annual events like WaterFire in Providence or local gatherings in historic towns like Bristol, residents come together to celebrate shared traditions.

10. Con: Traffic congestion

Rhode Island grapples with traffic congestion, especially during peak commuting hours on interstate 95 along with tourist seasons, which can lead to delays and frustration for residents. The limited road infrastructure, particularly in urban areas like Providence, exacerbates congestion, resulting in longer travel times and increased stress for commuters.

11. Pro: Proximity to major cities

Rhode Island’s close proximity to major cities like Boston and New York City offers residents convenient access to a wealth of cultural, educational, and employment opportunities. Within a short drive or train ride, residents can explore world-class museums, attend concerts and sporting events, or pursue career advancements in bustling metropolitan centers.

12. Con: High property tax

Rhode Island’s high property taxes can be a significant financial burden for homeowners, often ranking among the highest in the nation. With property tax rates averaging over 1.3% of a property’s assessed value, residents may find themselves grappling with hefty tax bills each year.

Methodology : The population data is from the United States Census Bureau, walkable cities are from Walk Score, and rental data is from ApartmentGuide.

Source: apartmentguide.com

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Getting the most money possible when selling your car isn’t as difficult as it once was. The internet allows you to reach a wider audience and increase your odds of finding a buyer willing to pay more — whether selling to an individual, online-only auto retailer or traditional dealership.

When choosing where to sell your car, the decision comes down to whether your top priority is convenience and speed or getting the highest sales price. If your main objective is getting the most money, expect to spend a little more time in your endeavor.

Here are steps to help you get the most money for your car, from prepping for the sale to selecting the best sales platform.

Preparing to sell your car

Before presenting your car for sale, there are some preliminary steps to take. These can vary depending on where and how you intend to sell it.

Know your car’s fair market value

Regardless of where you sell your car, research what dollar amount you can realistically expect to receive. Online valuation sites like Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book show average prices paid to buy a vehicle like yours from individual sellers or dealerships in your area. Providing your vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number, as opposed to just entering the make and model, will give you a more accurate value.

Have a price range that you’ll accept in mind. That way you can be prepared to set your asking price at the high end if you create your own listing. And, you’ll know a realistic bottom line if a potential buyer wants to negotiate or a dealership makes you an offer.

Invest time to present your car in its best light

Clean your car inside and out, and have this done professionally if possible to remove any odors or stains. You may also want to clean the engine bay and make any minor repairs, such as restoring cloudy headlights. Your car’s appearance can be very important in convincing a potential buyer (or dealer) that the vehicle is well-maintained and worth more.

Also, gather maintenance records as proof that your car has been taken care of and is less likely to have mechanical problems.

Create a detailed description of your car

This step is needed only if you plan to list your car on sites that sell to private parties. Write a description that shows and tells potential buyers why your car is worth the price you’re asking. Take quality photos from all angles, and write a description highlighting selling points like low mileage, upgrades or any remaining transferable warranty.

Choosing where to sell your car

A lot has changed since the days of selling your car by putting a “for sale” sign in its window, a flyer in the supermarket or a classified ad in the local newspaper. While those are still options, you have a wide range of other possibilities available, too.

Here we focus on the three main avenues for selling a car — selling to an individual, to an online-only retailer or to a traditional dealership. Some websites enable you to use more than one approach, for example getting both private party and dealer offers for your car.

We’ll start with the option that typically results in car sellers receiving the highest prices.

Sell your car to an individual or private party

Selling your car to an individual, also called a private-party sale, is typically where you can get the most money. However, it can also be more time-consuming and come with added risk.

You can use traditional ways of letting people know your car is available, like word of mouth. But you can reach a bigger audience by listing your car on online private sales sites — like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Autotrader or eBay Motors.

While you can make the most selling your car privately, that amount could be reduced slightly by certain expenses. Some private sale sites let you list a car for free while others charge a fee, so consider what you’ll be paying. For example, Autotrader charges $49 for a listing, but this fee also includes a Kelley Blue Book listing and a free vehicle history report for possible buyers. Remember to take into account whether you could have travel or transport expenses to get your car to someone who doesn’t live near you.

Also, be wary of scams when selling your car to an individual, which could be the difference between receiving the most money for your car or not receiving payment at all. Scammers can fake just about every form of payment — including cash, cashier’s checks and certified checks. If your buyer is local, you could meet at that person’s bank to ensure the cash or check is legitimate.

If the buyer isn’t local, using an escrow company — a third party that holds your car title until payment is confirmed — is a good option. But beware that escrow companies can be fake, too. To avoid escrow fraud, don’t use a company suggested by the buyer. Take time to identify a legitimate escrow service, such as a local bank or attorney, or a well-known online service. AutoTrader offers escrow services when you sell through its site, but expect to pay the greater of $49 or 0.99% of the car’s selling price.

Sell to an online used car retailer

Selling your car directly to an online-only car retailer, like CarMax, Carvana or NerdWallet’s own Automotive Marketplace, provides a middle ground. The nonnegotiable offer you receive is likely to be less than what you could get from an individual buyer. However, it’s typically quite a bit more than you would get from a traditional dealership.

Online auto retailers provide an easy way to submit your vehicle information online, receive an immediate offer and in some cases even have your car picked up. At pick-up, you’ll most likely have a check handed to you, or you may receive payment into your bank account via direct deposit or wire transfer. You won’t have to worry about scammers or a possibly drawn-out process of fielding inquiries from strangers.

Online retailers do have vehicle requirements. For example, Carvana only buys cars that are model year 1992 or newer, have a working odometer and are safe to drive. However, if your vehicle doesn’t meet such requirements, you may have options to sell to companies like Peddle and NerdWallet Automotive Marketplace that accept older and damaged vehicles.

Sell to a traditional car dealership

Selling your car to a nearby used car lot may be convenient, but it’s usually where you’ll get the least amount of money. Brick-and-mortar dealerships have overhead business expenses that individuals and online retailers don’t, so dealer offers are commonly the least competitive.

Occasionally a dealer might beat other offers, especially if you’re selling an in-demand car that the dealer needs in inventory, but that isn’t the norm. And, it’s up to you to provide other, higher offers for the dealer to beat.

One way to do this is to get offers from online-only retailers, then ask the traditional dealership if it can do better. Another option is to get and compare offers from many dealers through companies like Cars.com, CarGurus and TrueCar, where you can request bids from local dealers or a network of dealerships.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you’re buying a car from a dealer and trading in your old one, expect the trade-in value to be less than what you could get selling the car yourself. But you may pay less in taxes, since most states charge sales tax on the difference between the trade-in value and new-car price.

Getting more offers can mean more money

Whether you decide to sell your car privately, through an online retailer or at a local dealership — or in some combination of the three — it’s a good idea to cast a wide net. Unless you’re paying to list on a private sale site, it won’t cost you anything to seek offers from multiple sources.

For example, offers from sites like CarMax and Carvana can vary by thousands of dollars, and one doesn’t consistently pay more than the other. So why not get offers from both, along with several other sites? It’s a small investment of time to find the highest offer and make the most possible when selling your car.

Source: nerdwallet.com