Things to Look For When Renting: Renting Musts for New and Experienced Renters

It’s easy to get caught up in wants when searching for an apartment. However, there are other things to keep in mind that are quickly forgotten when “the perfect apartment” presents itself. Even seasoned renters miss things when rummaging through apartments, or fail to prepare for the unexpected. Consider these three matters when searching for future rentals.


It’s awful to discover on moving day that what was perceived as “the perfect apartment” is in fact infested. Mice, rats, cockroaches, bed bugs – none are pleasant. While it’s common to see a mouse from time to time during the winter months, especially in older homes, infestation is a whole other ballgame. To know what to look for and how to identify an infestation, be sure to read up on common pests. In addition, these pests do not discriminate: they can be found everywhere from run-down houses to upscale condos.

What can be done? Pull out the fridge and stove to look for dead bugs or feces. Check out the cupboards. Look at the baseboards. If this issue is of great concern, consider having an exterminator come to the apartment prior to signing the lease to inspect the premises. It might seem like an unnecessary expense to have an apartment inspected, but consider the costs and inconvenience of having to face and deal with unwanted guests. If the rental is in a building, the cleanliness of the floors, the stairwell and the lobby are also a good indication of how well the property is maintained (and how quickly and efficiently the superintendent is likely to deal with an infestation if one is to arise in the future.)

Working Appliances

Many renters have faced months with faulty ovens or dryers. The appliances don’t have to be brand new, of course, but they do have to be clean and in working order. Open the fridge and freezer to check out both the amount of space and to see how cold they get. Try preheating the oven and turning on all the burners to see if they work as well. Do the same for the washer, dryer and dishwasher, if the apartment has them. If unsatisfied, ask to have the problem addressed and written into the lease agreement so that it will have been remedied by moving day. Be polite and reasonable, but be sure to let your landlord know that you will not tolerate sub-standard practices.

Water Pressure

Try out all the faucets both on cold and hot to know what to expect prior to moving in. Flush all of the toilets. Water (and access to it) is a basic essential; a tenant should be able to brush their teeth or wash their dishes. However, many a tenant has had to face a poor working faucet or faulty plumbing. If the apartment or building is older, inquire as to when the plumbing was last replaced. If renting a basement apartment, ask about flooding.

Water filtration is another important thing to look out for. We suggest utilizing a solid review site such as Barix to determine which kind of water purifier meets your needs the most.

Remember: there are many things that go into a fabulous rental. Be sure to outline what is truly important. Identify needs (proper ventilation) from wants (a fireplace.) If unsure, ask to check a place out for a second time, and bring an objective and more experienced eye along to weigh-in on the decision.


Tips for Being a Successful Employee

Tips for Being a Successful Employee

Except for some part-time, intermittent teaching, consulting and wedding officiating, I have always been someone else’s employee. Sometimes as line staff, sometimes as a middle-manager and sometimes in upper management, I have opted for the security of a guaranteed pay check and benefits over the higher risk and potentially higher earnings, of self employment. This is who I am and I know it. How well do you know yourself?

Being a successful employee is not simply a situation defined by the lack of having your own business. It is a choice and type of work well suited to some and a painfully poor fit for others. I have found that to be a successful employee – to work for someone else – to not be the person in charge making the decisions – requires certain mind sets and understandings. I offer the following list of criteria apt to enhance a person’s success at being a good employee.

To be a successful employee, one must come to grips with the following realities:

  1. You are always entitled to your own opinions. However, they are not welcome in every work situation and being asked for input should never be confused with the responsibility for making the decision. Sometimes, opinions that are at odds with those of the ‘boss’ are considered insubordinate, inappropriate and cause for either discharge (“You just don’t seem to fit in here”) or being frozen in a non-advancing position (“We think that so-and-so is better qualified. S/he thinks more the way that we like to see in our senior people.”)
  1. Eating crow may need to become a regular diet. Deferring to decisions you feel are mistakes are not uncommonly aspects of being able to survive a work environment – especially one where, particularly in public service, it does not appear to be the ‘cream’ that has floated to the top.
  1. You need to develop comfort and attain satisfaction from what you CAN accomplish given the constraints placed on you and your authority by the people you work for.
  1. There will be times when other people will claim (and be rewarded for) ideas that were actually yours. This is particularly irritating to creative types whose need for security keeps them in the employee group.
  1. You can’t always tell everyone (or sometimes anyone) how you really feel about things. Your feelings are apt to be regarded as signs of weakness and may reduce your value to the company.
  1. It is not reasonable to expect that you will like or be liked by everyone you work with. Figuring out who is who -and quickly – is a key element in planning an achievable career path iwithin an organization.
  1. Security, though likely with ambivalence, is a higher priority than risk-taking and higher earning potential, and finally,
  1. Regard no job as the ‘last’ job. Sometimes, as an employee, differences, much as they sometimes do in other human relationships, become irreconcilable. Leaving a job on your own volition in recognition of such a situation looks a lot better and is probably easier to explain than is being fired or ‘discharged’ by the employer. Like most other things in life, changes are generally preferable at your own initiative.

These are but a few of what might be a much longer list of guidelines. A lot of them are hard to swallow but working for others is just that, working for others who usually put their own priorities and values well in front of your own. This is reality.

Working for yourself is entirely different. You make the decisions and are responsible for what goes well as well as for what fails. There is no one else to blame. If you do well, you succeed. If you don’t, you fail. Self-employment brings a higher degree of risk and personal responsibility. There is no one else to blame if things don’t go right. There is no insensitive manager to hold responsible. It requires a higher degree of self-confidence and, simply, gumption!

Unlike some paid employment, you cannot continue to earn money if you don’t do things right. Sadly, the obverse is likely best personified in the public sector where actual performance and longevity or promotability seems to have little if anything to do with actual competency.

The old saw of “To thine own self be true” applies when it comes to how you decide to choose to make a living.


Finding Rental Property in Memphis: Help Locating a Home or Apartment to Rent in Western Tennessee

The following is a guest post from Nigerian real estate developer Michael Chudi Ejekam.

Memphis is a Unique Place to Live

Memphis is unique from other metropolitan cities, and research is suggested before relocating to the area. In most cities, there are definitive districts and parts of town that appeal to potential residents, and finding property within that area is a matter of checking the classified section. In Memphis, districts change on every street corner, and crossing the street can make a significant difference in the amount of crime or poverty you’re subjected to.

What Type of Apartment or House would you Like?

Memphis has soul, and culture and most of all, history. Recently, Memphis Business Quarterly reported that Memphis has an abundance of old historical buildings in comparison to other cities. When other cities were going through rapid growth, demolishing entire blocks and rebuilding, Memphis grew slow and steady reducing the need for destruction of old buildings. If you’re comfortable living in a building with old fixtures, there are a multitude of apartment and homes available that were built at the turn of the century. If you love open rooms and elaborate architecture, you may want to consider Mid-Town or Downtown. If you’re not a fan of really old plumbing and radiators, this might not be for you.

If you’re looking for an affordable apartment, or an area with a lot of nightlife look for properties advertised near any of the colleges and universities. Usually these properties have low or negotiable deposits, quick move in, and short term leases. These neighborhoods generally have a lot of traffic, and aren’t always the quietest place to live, but there is always something to do and an abundance of neighbors.

Low rent properties can be found in Whitehaven, parts of Bartlett, Frayser, Raleigh, Orange Mound and Millington. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Security is a big concern in Memphis, and if the rent is below a reasonable amount, you may not be happy with the neighborhood. If you’re not concerned about crime, or neighborhood aesthetics, these areas will definitely save you money.

The suburbs, Cordova, Germantown, Collierville and beyond are generally considered some of the more expensive neighborhoods. In the last ten years a large crop of apartments have sprouted up, and many offer competitive rates. If you like the amenities of the city, just outside the urban sprawl these areas may be for you. If you find subdivision and large scale design gated apartment complexes not to your liking, this may not be the place for you.

Available Resources for Finding Property

If you have the money, there are many Apartment Locator firms in Memphis. They are skilled in finding exactly what you’re looking for, but be prepared to pay a premium price. This is an excellent resource if company is paying for you to relocate. If you’re paying for your relocation on your own, however, you have options.

The Commercial Appeal and The Memphis Flyer, two local publications often have numerous rental properties advertised in the classified section. You can view both online, and sometimes the listing offer pictures. Be weary when calling on ads, of any “rental companies” that require you to pay a registration fee to be privy to their property listings. An application fee for a rental property is commonplace, though it can be avoided with the right land lord.

Online browsing is an effective way of gauging the market if you’re already familiar with Memphis. It can be dangerous if you’re taking the listings at face value. A “rustic apartment near Downtown in a diverse neighborhood” may conjure an image that is somewhat deceptive. If you are in town, and have the ability to drive past properties, do so. If you do not, utilize web sites like Craig’s List and City Data and ask locals to describe the area of town.

Price Range of Property for Rent in Memphis

As of May, 2017 you can realistically find a rental property that is safe and conveniently located near city amenities with two bedrooms anywhere from $650.00 up. Below $650.00 and the quality you can expect from such property would need to be reviewed on a case by case basis. In the suburbs, expect to pay $750.00 a month and up for apartments, and more for homes.

Usually, Memphis rental properties require a deposit, application fee and pet deposit. Finding homes and buildings that allow pets is relatively easy. Expect to either have two forms of ID (Social Security Card doesn’t count) to have your utilities turned on, or pay a $250.00 deposit. Cable and Internet services can usually be hooked up within three days of calling the company.

Take Time to Shop, Extended Stay Hotels

If you have the time, look into several low priced extended stay hotels in the Sycamore View area. This part of town is mainly offices, and the price range of hotels can be significantly lower for extended stay compared to other areas of town.

Good luck in finding a place, and feel free to respond with any personal experiences.

Negative Equity and Short Selling in the US: Increasing Mortgage Foreclosure a Feature of American Housing Market

The following post is a guest post from Houston, Texas area real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles. Tracy can be best contacted for questions, comments and concerns on Twitter at @tracydsuttles.

First quarter property values in the US dropped around 14% from the year before: “Reducing the median value of US, single family homes, condominiums and cooperatives to $182,378. The decline has left about 20.4 million of the US’s 93 million houses, condos and co-ops with loans higher than the property is worth. The gain in underwater (negative equity) homeowners will lead to more bank repossessions,” said Zillow.

A further report released by First American CoreLogic said the 8.3 million American mortgages were “upside down” at the end of the year up from 7.6 million the previous quarter. In the United States a staggering 17.6% of homes are now underwater as are 41.2% of all mortgages for homes bought in the last year, according to Zillow.

Negative Equity

The report highlights not only the increasing levels of negative equity, particularly in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida, but also expresses concern about its geographical widening. Nevada was the state with the largest percentage of negative equity with more than half its residents in that unenviable position. The average loan-to-value ratio said CoreLogic was 97%, or less than $8,000 in equity. California topped the list in terms of numbers with around 1.9 million people in negative equity.

Short Selling

Increasing negative equity and short selling has become a feature of the US real estate market. Short selling can be a time consuming process, as the mortgage lenders have to agree to write off the difference between what’s owed and what the house sale realizes. With job losses and falling house prices added to the mix, foreclosure has now become a reality for many Americans.

US Foreclosures

CNN Money reporting foreclosure statistics revealed a catastrophic rise of 81%. That was 861,664 real families that lost their homes. There was an element of surprise in some quarters at the rise, particularly in December, because of the moratoria put in place by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and other key lenders, which was aimed at delaying foreclosure action to householders in financial trouble.

There seems little good news on the horizon and to make matters worse there are, say CoreLogic, a further 2.2 million mortgaged properties, throughout the country, that are approaching negative equity. They are within 5% of being underwater.

Although the US administration has a mortgage plan in place to help homeowners refinance, Sam Khater at CoreLogic said: “It probably won’t be enough to solve the foreclosure problem.”