Rent Negotiating Tips

Although most people realize that the buying price of a house is negotiable, and many are good at negotiating when buying a car, how many have thought of doing the same when renting a home or apartment?

Obviously, this becomes more difficult when rental units are in short supply, but even then, it may be possible. However, it does require that you possess certain desirable attributes.

  • Landlords love tenants that pay the rent on time. If you can show records of your previous rental and bill paying history, this will be a big asset.
  • If you have a job that you have held for at least a year, this will also be a plus.
  • References from former landlords are helpful in showing your reliability.
  • Appearance – you don’t need to dress up, but wear clean, neat clothes.
  • If the price isn’t negotiable, perhaps you can do some work in exchange for part of the rent.
  • If you’re sure you’re going to stay in the community for some time, offer to sign a two year lease.
  • Come to the table with facts. Find out what rentals are going for in your area, and how many are available. Check out this website to get you started: http://www.zillow.com/. It lists homes and apartments in your area for rent. It also gives a “rent zestimate”, which is what they estimate the monthly rental price would be.

Get Your House Ready to Sell

The housing market is starting to recover in many places, and yet there are still good deals to be found if you’re a first time buyer. However, what if you already own a home and need to sell it before buying another one? Here are some suggestions for getting your home ready to sell, with inexpensive things you can do to make it more attractive to a potential buyer.

  • Clear out the clutter. If every area of your house is packed with stuff, it will make your house look smaller. Think about renting a storage unit, and clear out anything that you don’t use on a regular basis. You may think that people won’t look in your cupboards and closets, but that’s a wrong assumption. The same goes for your basement and garage.
  • Paint – A fresh coat of paint can make a big difference. Use neutral colors. You may like red, but not everyone feels the same way.
  • Landscape – Get rid of the weeds and prune overgrown bushes. Keep your lawn mowed and plant new grass seed in the bare spots.
  • Get rid of musty smells. Use a dehumidifier in your basement or open a window to keep it fresh smelling.
  • Pets – Barking and/or aggressive dogs are a real turn-off when potential buyers visit. Loan your dog out for the day. Make sure your yard is free of pet droppings and your home and furniture free of pet hair and odors.
  • Repair – Make simple repairs such as taking care of leaky faucets, replacing caulking, or fixing torn window screens.
  • Clean – Wash the windows, clean the floors, doors and bathrooms.
  • Front Door – Paint it if necessary and check the area around the entrance. Remove cobwebs, sweep the porch, make sure the doorbell works.
  • Carpeting – If your carpeting is very soiled or an unusual color, you might want to consider investing in some inexpensive neutral colored floor covering.
  • Lights – If it’s a dark day, turn on the lights to brighten up the house.

Help for Those Facing Eviction

Are you worried about being evicted from your home or having your gas and electricity turned off? There is probably a community action agency in your town or county that can help you. The Community Services Block Grant program, run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, issues funds to the individual states which, in turn, pass them on to the agencies in order to assist residents in danger of losing their home or utilities. Those seeking help must have been issued an eviction or utility shut-off notice.

The purpose of the Community Services Block Grant program is to keep people in their homes, whether they are owners or renters, and to assist them with utility payments if necessary. The first step is to apply for help through your state’s Department of Human Resources. Even if you are turned down by your state’s human resource department, it may be possible to receive funds from the community program.

College Housing Savings

Co-ops can be a cost-saving alternative for students in many university towns. Instead of paying the high price of a dorm or living in an expensive apartment, one can choose to share a house and housekeeping duties with other like-minded individuals.

Many larger universities have more than one co-op, so that a certain type of person may gravitate to a particular one because of similar beliefs or personalities.

Most co-ops require a membership fee and basic duties. These may include such things as meal preparation for the shared dinner, food shopping, cleaning, painting or yard work. Attendance at house meetings is also mandatory, so that duties can be dispensed and any issues or problems can be addressed.

Co-ops are worth checking out if you’re looking for a way to save money on room and board. Not only can you develop cooperative living skills, but you may also learn from your fellow boarders such things as how to cook, paint or refinish a floor.

Fix Things Yourself

This is obvious, but try fixing things yourself. I recently fixed my toilet at a cost of $10. I bought a basic toilet repair kit to prevent the toilet from running. It took about 5 minutes to install and saved me over $100 in the cost of hiring a plumber.

Many things around the house can be easily fixed. Of course, safety first.

Are Home Improvements Tax Deductible?

Some home improvements may be tax deductible, some are not, and some even qualify for a tax credit. Generally, there are three ways a home improvement might benefit you financially on your income tax. Improvements made for medical reasons are tax deductible. If you pay for the improvements with a home equity line of credit then the interest is tax deductible. If you make certain energy upgrades, then you may qualify for a tax credit.

The 2010 qualified energy efficiency improvements result in tax credits which reduce your tax bill dollar for dollar and are thus much more valuable than mere deductions. These improvements include such things as new efficient doors, windows, insulation or roof. You may also get a credit for such equipment as furnaces, water heaters, or fans that get their power from solar, wind, geothermal or fuel cell technology. This is only for your main home located in the USA.