Whether you’re relocating across the country or across town, you’ll need help moving your possessions. Moving companies can be a great resource, but stay alert for scams that could ruin your move. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers tips for a successful move—including red flags that might indicate you’re being scammed: The mover or broker doesn’t perform an on-site inspection of your household items and gives an estimate over the telephone or online. The mover or broker doesn’t provide a written estimate or says they will determine the cost after loading. The moving company demands cash or a large deposit before the move. The mover asks you to sign blank documents. The mover or broker doesn’t provide you with a copy of the Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet and a copy of FMCSA’s Ready to Move brochure, which movers are required by federal regulations to supply to their customers. The company’s website has no local address and no information about their registration or insurance. The mover claims all goods are covered by their insurance. On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck. The mover claims that you have more belongings than estimated. Get more resources to ensure a successful move.
If you’re like most people, you accumulate a lot of things over time. It happens gradually, just one chair, painting, bike, TV, board game, or mixing stand at a time. All those possessions add up, though, which is never more evident than when it comes time to move. A little thought and planning Make Your Decisions Now Why lug an old couch—or pay someone to do it for you—if you’re going to replace it shortly after you get to your new home? Not only can getting rid of things before the move save time and money, it will help you start fresh at your new residence without a lot of clutter Offer Good Items to the Next Person If you own your current home, you can consider adding certain items that convey with the sale, such as freestanding appliances, artwork, landscaping machines, and more. (Keep in mind that most permanently installed and built-in items are considered part of the sale unless specified in the contract as an exclusion.) Sell It Estate and garage sales are options to get rid of large amounts of possessions at once. Individual items can be sold online through Facebook, eBay, and other online platforms. You can also check with friends and neighbors who may have an interest in purchasing items you no longer want. Give It Away Some charities may pick up large items if they are on their wish list; others have drop-off locations. You can also post items to Buy Nothing groups and ask acquaintances if they know anyone looking for the things you no longer want. Pay Someone to Haul Off the Big Stuff For large items in disrepair, you may have to hire a company to take it away. The good news is that you won’t have to do the dirty work yourself before moving day will make your experience much more pleasant. Your REALTOR® can help you understand what items are included in the sale of a home you are moving from or to, and can assist if there are particular items you’d like to ensure stay with the property.
Being a landlord can be a wise decision but it isn’t for everyone. Here are some things to consider before you put out a for rent sign. How Is the Rental Market? Just as you perform due diligence on a property and its condition, you should do your homework on the area’s rental market. Is there a steady stream of potential tenants? Some communities have an obvious source of tenants, such as a nearby university. Will the market support the level of rental income you envision? At a minimum, you want to be able to charge enough rent to cover the property’s mortgage, tax, insurance, and maintenance. If you’re unsure about any aspects of the market for a rental property or how much rent to charge, talk to a REALTOR® who’s familiar with the area. Polish Your People Skills Successful landlords find good tenants and retain them so both parties are content. If you’d rather not take on tasks like addressing complaints or maintenance issues, you’ll need to hire a property manager. Many REALTORS® specialize in property management and can take care of related duties including handling leases, managing funds, and screening applicants. Work with a REALTOR® who is knowledgeable about local and state laws and tenants’ rights to ensure you are in compliance. Being Handy Might Not Be Enough As a landlord, you will be responsible for the routine maintenance and emergency repairs on a rental property. Maybe you can handle annual touch-up work, but unless you’re well-versed in HVAC systems and your city’s plumbing and electric codes, you’ll need phone numbers for reliable repairmen. You’re Always on Call One nice thing about renting out a garage apartment or half of your duplex is that you’re never far away if there’s an emergency with the property, such as a burst pipe or a fallen tree. However, if you don’t live nearby, it may be difficult to keep an eye on the property to ensure it’s kept in good condition. This is yet another reason why it’s a good idea to work with a local property manager who can help look after your property. Protect Yourself and Your Investment The insurance coverage you need as a landlord is different than what you have as a homeowner. Landlord insurance can protect you and your investment property from loss of income in the event that the property becomes uninhabitable, like in the aftermath of a fire, or during a tenant-landlord dispute. Get an Expert’s Advice Finding a property, whether it’s for you and tenants or just to rent out, presents challenges that differ from just buying a house for you and your family. Use the services of a REALTOR® with a background in property management. She’ll help you guide you through the process, from deciding if it’s appropriate for you to become a landlord to finding properties that best fit your search criteria.
If your neighbor’s tree encroaches on the property you are renting, do you have the legal right to trim the branches? According to Texas law, overhanging branches may be removed up to the property line; however, that doesn’t mean you should immediately get your saw. First, speak with your landlord. The landlord may attempt to negotiate an agreement with the neighbor regarding tree trimming, or such an agreement may already exist. Next, check your lease to see whether the landlord or the tenant has the responsibility for maintaining the yard, which includes tree trimming. Last, visit the Texas State Law Library to learn more about local codes and ordinances. If the tree is damaged or a local ordinance is violated, you could be liable for damages or fines.
You know the right location is key to making a good real estate decision. But there’s more to it than simply selecting a neighborhood where you want to live or locate your business. Here are some factors to consider. Small Distances Can Mean Big Differences Two homes only steps away from each other could belong to different school districts. Property taxes on one side of a street may be higher than the other side. You may also find differences in views, homeowners associations, noise, zoning, traffic, and other factors that will affect your enjoyment of your property. These differences not only affect whether the property is a good choice; they may also affect the purchase price or ongoing costs. Conveniences and Amenities Matter, Too While you must narrow your choices by price and general location, don’t forget to consider other characteristics of an area. How convenient is it to get from your home to stores, schools, work, entertainment, and recreation? For a commercial property, what will traffic be like for customers or employees? Each Property Is Unique Even condos in the same complex that seem similar may have differences, like which side of the building they are on, the condition they are in, or the finishes and customizations previous owners made. These distinctions can affect value and your enjoyment of a property Your REALTOR® can guide you through your real estate transaction and help you achieve your goals, in whatever location you choose.
Looking for a rental home? Beware of real estate scams. Here are four tips to avoid being a victim. Google the Landlord or Property Manager If you contacted the owner of the property, check to see if that person’s name is on the county tax records. If you spoke with a property manager or real estate agent, Google the name to see if that person shows up on a company’s website. Search the Address Scammers often skim legitimate listings and post them on a site they control. If you’re looking at a place for rent and see it listed for sale, that could be a sign of a scam. If you search for the address and find it listed on other real estate sites, see if the person you talked to is listed anywhere. See it Yourself Ask to meet the person you’re talking to at the property and see it in person. Even a scammer who is bold enough to appear in person won’t have access to the property. Take Your Time Don’t let anyone pressure you to pay a deposit or do anything else until you’re sure that the listing is real. You risk losing a legitimately popular rental, but you avoid losing money or being a victim of identity theft. The rental market can be competitive, but that doesn’t mean you take unnecessary risks. A member of Texas REALTORS® can help you find a place to rent.
Finding the right REALTOR® for your needs is an important part of a successful real estate transaction. Some REALTORS® earn designations or certifications that show they’ve had additional training with certain types of clients or transactions. Those certifications or designations are indicated by letters after an agent’s name, and you can see a list of the ones available in Texas. But those letters are only one of many ways to determine if a REALTOR® is right for you. Consider how much experience someone has, where the REALTOR® works, what types of transactions the REALTOR® usually handles, and any testimonials from past clients. Find a REALTOR® whose background and expertise match your needs with the REALTOR® search at texasrealestate.com.
Moving doesn’t always mean that you have to hire your own truck or movers. There are other options to relocate your possessions. Share a Truck You may not need a moving truck all to yourself. If you aren’t moving a great deal of possessions, you might be able to share a moving truck with another moving company customer. Ask about this option for interstate moves. Ship By Freight FedEx says that any shipment over 150 pounds is considered freight. You can ship items in bulk by land, air, or sea or some combination. It could be cost effective depending on the circumstances of your move. Portable Storage Containers With portable storage containers, a company drops off a container at your current home. You fill it with your possessions. The company picks it up and ships it to your new home. Remember to ask if portable storage containers are allowed on the property or street of your current and future homes. Replace It Not everything you own is a treasure. Ask yourself if it is worth the cost and effort to move an item. If it isn’t, donate, sell, or dispose of the item and buy another one when you reach your destination. Anything you don’t have to take with you makes the move a little easier and more affordable.
Whether you want to save energy to lower your carbon footprint or reduce your bills—or both—here are four things you can do as a tenant. Make it Darker One reason that tinted windows in cars are popular is that they help keep a car’s interior cool. You can benefit from tinted windows in your rental property, too. They offer a lower cost alternative to installing energy-efficient windows and can cut your air conditioner use. Unplug Devices Standby power, also known as phantom load and vampire power, refers to energy used by appliances and electronics that are plugged in but turned off or in standby mode. TVs, computers, and gaming consoles are prime examples of devices that continue to use power when not in use and can be unplugged without significant consequence, unlike a refrigerator. Consider plugging these into a power strip that you can switch on and off as needed. Change Bulbs LED light bulbs use significantly less electricity and last much longer than incandescent blubs. However, those improvements come at a higher cost per bulb. Depending on who pays for the bulbs and how long you intend to stay in the rental, it might make sense to swap out the existing bulbs. You can always purchase and install your own LED bulbs, save the existing bulbs, and reinstall the incandescent ones when your lease is done. Help the Dryer If don’t have a high-efficiency clothes washer, running a quick extra spin cycle cuts down on drying time. Keeping the lint trap clean can also make your dryer work fastest and use less energy.
Your real estate transaction isn’t the same as anyone else’s, and your REALTOR®’s services should match what you need. Lucky for you, REALTORS® offer many types of business models to guide you through your transaction. Here are three common examples. Traditional Brokerage With a traditional brokerage model, brokers and agents provide a full range of services in exchange for a commission. The commission is negotiable and covers the REALTOR®’s time and efforts on your behalf, whether it’s marketing your home for sale, finding a great space for your business, or locating the perfect home for you and your family. Flat-Fee Brokerage A flat-fee brokerage provides all the services of a traditional brokerage, such as advice on pricing, help with negotiation, and market analysis. But instead of charging a fee equal to a percentage of the sales price, the brokerage charges a negotiable flat fee for its help. A La Carte Brokerage With the a la carte model, clients choose what services they want the brokerage to provide—and only pay for those. For example, a seller may want a REALTOR® to include the home in the multiple listing service and to coordinate showings. However, the seller will handle contracts and negotiations on her own. While these examples are popular business models, they are far from the only ones. No matter what type of model your REALTOR® uses, you will get a professional who follows a strict Code of Ethics to achieve your real estate goals