6 Things to Keep in Mind when Renting a Home in Austin

What Factors Should You Consider when Renting a Home in Austin?

You’ve made the decision to rent. You’ve poured through numerous listings, looked at hundreds, maybe even thousands of photos of the houses and apartments available for rent in Austin…and you’re now ready to see them in person.

As a renter, you should be aware that sometimes the pictures you see online may not be a straightforward representation of what the property actually looks like. It may look great on the outside, there may be new paint, new siding, new appliances and more, but all that may actually be masking unforeseen problems with your promising Austin rental home. Although your due diligence may not be as imperative as when you’re buying a home in Austin, the last thing you want is to have to up and move or get tied into a lease you can’t get out of for a year, when you’re renting a house either.

While it’s a no-brainer to check out a home before you rent it, here are a few important things you should investigate before you sign a lease, and things to keep in mind when you’re looking for any type of Austin realty.

1. Air Conditioning and Heat

With Austin’s sweltering summers, temperatures regularly reach above 100 degrees here. In a city like Austin, it would be extremely difficult to live without air conditioning. Having a good working HVAC unit in the home you’re planning to rent is crucial.

Keeping any home cool often tends to be the most costly part of your electric bill, so you’ll want to check the condition of the home or apartment’s unit. Make sure that it’s in good condition, that it’s being maintained and that the filters are clean.

Ideally look for a home that has had its A/C unit replaced in the last few years; that way you will likely be getting an energy efficient unit in the home you’re planning to rent. Ask your Realtor® and/or future landlord if monthly electric bill estimates are accessible. If you can get a hold of one, it will help you to determine how much you’ll possibly pay in electricity down the road.

If you’re relocating to Austin, it’s likely you’re aware of the sweltering summers, but you may not be aware that Austin also gets fairly cool in winter. Heating your home will be a common practice during cooler months. Look for a rental home in Austin that uses gas as the main heating source, as that tends to be more cost-efficient than electricity.

2. Floors in Your Rental Home

Many rental homes in Austin have either wood, concrete, tile, carpet or laminate floors. Many of these finishes are very durable, but if not properly managed, they can deteriorate over time. Tile can crack over the years, wood can get scratched and laminate can peel. Carpeting can help muffle sound, but it can also get worn out over time and if not cleaned properly, it can become extremely dirty as dirt and dust get trapped within the fibers. Check the status of the floors in any potential Austin rental property.

If the house you’re renting is in a flood area in Austin, concrete and tile floors are typically your best bet. You don’t want to end up having to be re-homed if your house gets flooded.

3. Windows

The problem you may face if you’re renting an older home, is that the windows may not be as efficient as they should. If you have your HVAC unit running, and you notice drafts by the windows, valuable cold air and heat can escape.

Also, in the event that you open windows for fresh air and cross ventilation, make sure that the external screens are in good shape, and that the window frames outside show no signs of rot. Any screens with rips or tears should be replaced as they can allow for bugs to come in…and there are quite a few insects in Austin. If you’re looking at an older home and there’s difficulty in opening any windows, a structural issue with the house may be underway.

4. Kitchen Appliances

One thing that can be a deal breaker is the quality of home appliances. While older appliances may still work, they aren’t as energy efficient as today’s models.

A 40-year-old fridge may still keep your food cold, but it’s working hard to do so. Older appliances will also be in need of more frequent repairs. Always check if the appliances in a rental property are up to date and at least fairly modern. Older appliances will cost you more in electricity, compared to current ones.

5. Vaulted Ceilings in Your Rental Home

A vaulted ceiling adds dramatic flair to any home, but did you know that aside from giving off a grand impression that you’re actually paying more to keep your Austin rental home warm and cool? Heat rises, so any vaulted ceiling will allow for heat or cold air to rise upward and evaporate. The same goes for a home with a second floor.

If you’re thinking of renting, and you have concerns about cost-efficiency, go for a one story house or apartment with ceilings that are no higher than 9 to 10 feet. That height helps retain the heat and cool air and will save you money over time.

If you love the vaulted look and don’t want to budget on that, consider these tips for helping keep your energy bill more cost efficient with vaulted ceilings.

6. Washing Machines

One particular thing to look for is if your Austin rental home has a hookup for a washer and dryer. If so, do you have your own washer and dryer, does the house you’re renting come with one, or will you need to get a pair?

If neither are installed, check for the nearest laundromat and whether it’s within a reasonable distance. Of course, it’s easier to do your laundry at home, but if there are no hookups, or you’re not planning to get your own initially, then you may have to go the laundromat route. If a rental property has both a washer and dryer installed, and they’re in good condition, then this is a positive sign for the type of maintenance that your landlord or property management company will provide.

Of course, these are just a few things to investigate during your Austin home or apartment search, but if you notice that something’s not right, this can cause problems for you down the road. Take the time to go through every rental property you look at with a fine tooth comb.

Having a qualified Realtor® with you as you’re searching for your next rental home can be extremely helpful in helping you to locate potential problems down the road. If you need a Realtor® that specializes in rental homes and apartment locating, Celebrate Austin Realty. Our 5 star team of Austin TX real estate agents have a longstanding history of finding the right homes that fit your needs. Questions? Concerns? Just ask us…we’re here to help you through the entire rental process.

Let’s get you in your next rental home! Contact Us Today!

Tips for Renting a House or Apartment in Austin TX

How to Get the Most Out of Renting in Austin

If you’re looking for a great rental property in Austin, TX, now’s the time to do so. Austin has been ranked the best US city to live in, making it prime pickings for those looking to relocate to the area. But even though competition can be tough, there are still plenty of great rental properties available throughout Austin in all shapes and sizes.

When looking to move, there are multiple factors you want to consider; for instance, are you looking for a house? A condo? An apartment? Not sure about which Austin neighborhoods you want to live in or where to begin your search? If this is your very first time renting in Austin, you probably have a bunch of questions regarding what’s involved. Austin realty can be a bit complex after all. We’ve gone ahead and broken the process down for you, to give you an idea as to what types of homes are available for rent in Austin, and what you may need to complete the process.

Where in Austin Do You Want to Live?

Where you want to live is the first thing you’ll want to consider when renting. Renting does make it easier to move than if you were buying a home in Austin, but it’s still a stressful endeavor that most of us don’t want to repeat in a year, so when you’re looking to make your move, it’s better to target the Austin neighborhood that you want to live in right off the bat.

There are 5 main areas in Austin: Downtown Austin, South Austin, West Austin, East Austin and North Austin. If you’re not yet familiar with these neighborhoods, be sure to check out our Austin TX neighborhoods guide.

When choosing a neighborhood, take into account how long your work commute will be. Although Austin doesn’t have the traffic grind of NYC or LA, it is a growing city and has its fair share of traffic bottlenecks. If you work in North Austin and you live in South Austin, you could find yourself with a rush hour commute of 45 minutes or more each way. That’s a lot considering that in terms of miles, it’s less than a 10 mile span. So choose your neighborhood wisely.

The good news is all of Austin’s neighborhoods are pretty great and there are many unique ones to choose from.

What’s Your Rental Budget?

It’s often the first question you’re asked, and with good reason. Finances can be a make or break factor, so be sure to consider this up front. Some rents in Austin can be rather high, depending on the neighborhood. Most landlords and apartment managers will want you to have an income that’s 3.5 times the rent of the property, before they’ll even consider you as a prospective tenant.

To really make the most out of living in Austin though, you’ll want to consider your lifestyle. If you’re mostly a hermit, that 3.5 ratio’s going to be fine. But if you love being out & about every night, and if you eat out more than you eat in, consider what ratio you’ll really need to be able to maintain your present lifestyle & have a place to call home.

General Rental Requirements in Austin TX

Though expectations do vary by landlord, there are some overall general requirements across the board. Here’s a look at some of them, so you can be more prepared when renting a home or apartment in Austin.
• Two years of valid residence history from a third-party landlord
• Anyone living in the home who is over 18 years of age will need to complete a rental application
• Proof of a valid income that is no lower than three and a half times the rent of the property.
• A criminal background check
• Good credit history
• A security deposit (the cost of the deposit can vary)
• A rental application fee (these are non-refundable fees to help verify your past rental history).
• Pet deposits (if you have pets). This can be a doozy if you have pets. Though Austin is certainly a pet-friendly city, some pet deposits can go up as far as $600/pet and in general, you’ll be limited to a certain amount of pets per household. Be sure to check each landlords qualifications and the cost of the pet deposit. Some landlords have age, weight and breed restrictions, so also keep that in mind if you have furry friends.

What Type of Home are you Looking For?

The best way to find rental houses in Austin is by doing an Austin MLS search. But if you’re looking for an apartment in Austin, you’ll need to perform a different type of search, for apartments specifically, which you’ll find here.

Before you begin your search, make a list of your must haves vs. your would like to haves. Some things to consider include how much space you’ll actually need. Is one bedroom or two sufficient? Do you have a large family, or will you be going solo? How many bathrooms are a necessity?

If you wind up getting a large home and it’s just you, then you might have a lot of unused space and a large monthly rent to deal with. If you have a family with a few kids, then you might want a home with a decent sized yard for them to play in, or a swimming pool, for those extremely hot summer days.

Another thing to consider is whether as a tenant you want to do yard work. Many landlords who rent houses require tenants to take care of yard maintenance, such as mowing the lawn, etc. If this isn’t your cup of tea, you may want to look into an apartment, condo or townhome instead. And, while Austin is a very pet friendly city, you may come across some properties that may not allow for your furry friends.

Below are some of the different types of rental properties you can find in Austin:

Duplexes: A duplex is a home that is split into two separate living spaces, with individual entrances, but is usually owned by one owner. These can be less costly than renting a full house, but still give you your own space & yard.

Townhomes: These are somewhat similar to the style of a duplex. They’re not individual homes, but part of a larger complex where the living spaces are adjacent to one another. Townhomes usually have a 12 month lease; though you’ll likely have to cover utilities, in most cases yard work and trash will be taken care of.

Condos: With condos, you’re allowed to buy them as well as rent them, and you have greater options to modify the space as you see fit. While most condos are connected to each other, as you find in most complexes, there are some that are standalone. Condos are extremely hot right now in Austin, so you have to dive in pretty quickly before they’re taken. Lease restrictions for condos are typically the same as townhomes.

Apartments: Many Austin apartment complexes come with a variety of amenities, including on-site gyms, conference rooms, community pools, decks, etc. If you like all the amenities, then definitely take a look at some Austin apartments. An apartment will usually have a signed lease ranging from 6 to 12 months. You’ll still have to cover most of the utilities, such as gas and electric. Some leases include garbage removal and yard maintenance, while others may not. Be sure to get a comprehensive breakdown, so there are few surprises that you may not have budgeted for.

Houses: Renting a house in Austin can range from affordable to high, depending on the size of the house and the neighborhood it’s located in. Most houses have a 12 month long lease, with the tenant responsible for all maintenance and utilities in most cases. If you need a larger home, but aren’t looking to spend a fortune, you may want to consider North Austin. Some of the city’s surrounding areas, such as Round Rock, Pflugerville and Cedar Park also offer larger homes at more affordable prices. If being in a cool, eclectic neighborhood is more your style, and price isn’t as much of a concern, consider South Austin. If you love the rustic feel, then West Austin may be the way for you to go.

Consider the Quality of the Property You’re Renting

After all the time you spent moving, the last thing you want is for your new home or apartment to be a nightmare of problems when you move in. Make sure that the quality of the space is in good shape. Older houses and apartments might need a bit of work, some utilities might need updating, etc., while more modern ones may or may not need repairs.

With any type of home that you’re looking at, make sure that the following are in good order:
• Air Conditioning
• Floors
• Windows
• Appliances
• Ceilings
• Washer and Dryer Hookup

Celebrate Austin Realty can help you find the right home or apartment in Austin. We’ve got a 5 star team of real estate agents that specialize in rental properties throughout Austin and the surrounding areas…we’re here to address all of your concerns, and make your rental process as painless and efficient as possible.

Ready to check out some apartments and houses? Contact Us Today!

A Quick Guide for Leasing Commercial Space in Austin

If you have a business and you’re interested in leasing commercial property in Austin, then let Celebrate Austin Realty help.

Austin has an abundance of commercial space available, ranging from medical, retail, or a warehouse space, we’ll help you find the ideal location that matches your business and your budget.

Many Commercial Leasing Options Exist in Austin

There are roughly 20,000 commercial properties in the Austin area…so, there’s definitely to choose from. Of course, narrowing it down depends on what type of business you have. If you’re a small business, with a few employees, a basic office space might be all that you need. If you run a retail business and have a large inventory, then you’ll need something a bit larger in terms of commercial property.

While you may be eager to get into the first commercial space you see, take some time to see if it’s the right fit. Consider these options before diving head first into a lease that may not be satisfactory in the end:
• Will it accommodate all of your staff?
• Is it in a convenient location?
• Does it have all the amenities you need?

Other Things to Consider When Leasing Commercial Space

Location: Is the location ideal for your business? Does there seem to be enough traffic in the area to attract interest?

Accessibility: While you may have found the ideal space, is it accessible to your customers? Is there a parking lot, or will your customers have to park several blocks away to reach you?

Zoning: Make sure that the property you’re interested in is zoned for your type of business. Much of this depends on the type of space you need and what kind of business you have, especially in terms of how many employees you have. Having 100 employees to a space that accommodates 20 can be an issue…so select wisely.

Demographics: This can help greatly in determining if a commercial pace is in the best location, based on your customer’s demographics. Do they all live within reach of your business, or will they have to travel great distances to get to you. Something to consider.

Possible Competition: Make sure that there aren’t any similar businesses nearby. If you and a competitor are selling the same type of products or are in the same industry, it can cause issues.

This just scratches the surface, but as there is so much commercial space available for lease in Austin, it’s very likely that you’ll find what you need. However, it’s not something that you may want to tackle on your own.

Celebrate Austin Realty can work with you on all these questions. In addition, we’ll break down crucial information, such as city codes, permits, and any other additional items you may not be aware of before venturing into a commercial lease.

Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

Potential homebuyers are always cautioned to be aware of mortgage lending standards and the difficulty they might face when trying to obtain a mortgage. Credit availability is expanding, making it easier to get a mortgage now than it was a year ago. The market is still tight however, and homebuyers should be prepared to shop around until they find a lender who is offering something that will meet the needs of their family.

Mortgage lending companies have high standards so it is important to make sure you and anyone else who will be included on the mortgage have their credit in check. The mortgage market is strict because lenders do not want to be put in a situation where they are forced to repurchase loans that are not paid on. They also do not want to end up in a litigation situation due to loan issues.

What Has Happened to the Number of Mortgages?

Due to the strict nature and requirements of the lending companies, the number of mortgages given out has significantly dropped. A report by the Housing Financial Policy Center at the Urban Institute showed that about 6.3 million fewer mortgages were given out between 2009 and 2015. The reasons behind this statistic are strict regulations and policies. These mortgages would have been granted if the lending standards where more reasonable.

Mortgage companies rely on calculations to determine if a home buyer will become delinquent on their payment. They will not give you a loan if you are too much of a risk for them. Credit history has a huge impact on this decision since lenders can see how often you pay back your debts. The history they receive is extensive. This view into your financial past causes lenders to take less risk when lending to you for your mortgage.

The Effect on the Economy

The housing market is recovering at a slower pace than it should since less potential homebuyers are being offered loans. While the market is still recovering with positive trends, fewer buyers can create a strain on other economic factors like home goods or construction jobs. Bottom Line

After the housing market boom and bust, mortgage lenders became stricter in their lending standards. It is not impossible to get a mortgage loan, but it can still be difficult for potential home buyers. Stay on top of your credit and make sure you and anyone else who is applying are in a good financial position so you can be approved for a loan. It is important to research different companies and their requirements to ensure success in getting a mortgage.

Common Things to Look Out for Before Buying Your Dream Home

It is easy to become overwhelmed when you enter the home buying market. Friends, family, colleagues, and even acquaintances will give you their opinions if you are a first time home buyer. While most of them are looking out for your best interest, they are not fully aware of what is happening in the housing market.

It is important for you to be prepared and have your own questions ready. No matter what other opinions you are getting, you are the one buying the home and your comfort level will help make your final decision. Here are three important questions to ask before you purchase a home.

1. Why am I Buying a Home?

Regardless of the finances, it is important to think about what made you want to buy a home in the first place. Usually the reasons don’t have to do with money. Instead, home buyers are focused on how the house will impact their family in the future. A study done by the Joint Center for House Studies at Harvard found there are four reasons people buy a home. Those reasons include schools for your children, a safe environment, more room for your family to grow, and control of your own space.

These factors are the most common reasons people look to buy a new home. When you ask yourself why you are looking to purchase a home, do any of those factors come up? Spend time with your spouse or family members who are involved in this decision and determine why you want a home in the first place. Creating this list will help when searching for a home and can help your real estate agent find the best home for your needs.

2. What is the Trend with Home Values?

Our current economy and housing market is strong. That means home values and mortgage rates are increasing. If you are looking to purchase a home but want to stay within a budget, it may be in your best interest to move quickly. It is forecasted for these trends to continue in an upward motion, causing home values to continue to increase.

3. What About Current Mortgage Rates?

The ticket price is not the only thing you should be concerned with when purchasing a home. Mortgage rates are always changing and can have a huge impact on your monthly payments. Current trends show mortgage rates are rising. This is something to consider if you are debating the right time to purchase a home, since the rates may be even higher down the road.

Bottom Line

You and your family are the only ones who can determine the right time to purchase your dream home. It is important to decide exactly why you want a new home for your family and decide on a budget that will be comfortable moving forward. This budget may affect the amount of time you have to search for a home, since home prices and mortgage rates are increasing.

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices?

There has been some discussion recently on home prices in relation to mortgage rates. Some believe if there is a rapid rise of mortgage rates, home prices should decrease. Logically it makes the most sense for the price of the house to drop when interest rates are rising, but this is not always the case.

This theory of home prices decreasing is typically discussed by future home buyers. As a buyer you would like to think if you are paying higher rates on your mortgage, you should be able to see a decrease in cost somewhere else. Unfortunately, these rates are rising because the economy is in better shape. As the economy succeeds, incomes rise, rates go up, as well as the price of the home.

A recent study by the John Burns Real Estate Consulting found mortgage rates have very little impact on the cost of the home. The housing market and price increases are affected by things like job growth in the area and rising wages. Coincidentally, these same factors are causing the rise in the mortgage rates since people can afford to take out more.

Bottom Line

As the economy progresses and strengthens, mortgage rates and home prices will fluctuate. It is a misconception as rates increase, home prices will decrease. Advances in the economy have shown that rates and home prices are more likely to increase together.

Why You Should Consider Selling in the Winter

Selling In Winter Attracts Serious Buyers

The season you sell your home can have an impact on how much you get for your home and how quickly it sells. The season that has the most success in selling homes is spring. This is a good time of year for families moving to new school districts and is also more convenient weather for moving. Because of this trend, most people will recommend waiting to list your home until after the winter is over. Avoiding the winter is a huge misconception in the housing industry and can cause homeowners to miss out on opportunities.

Selling in the winter can give you a few advantages. There will be fewer houses on the market since most people assume winter is a bad time to sell. This gives your home more attention. Potential buyers are always looking no matter the time of year. Keeping your house on the market in the winter might bring the right buyer to your door. Real estate agents also tend to be less busy during these months and commit more time to getting your home sold.

Studies have shown winter buyers are buying because they need to move right away either for a relocation or personal situation. They will want to close quickly and allow for a much smoother sale.

Bottom Line

If you need to sell your home right away, or have some time but want to see what is out there, consider listing in the winter. Most homeowners who are going to sell will list their home in the spring, making for a competitive market. The winter allows buyers who are in a hurry to move consider your home and sell for more money than you would have in the spring.