Friday, November 28, 2014

Decorating a City Apartment on a Tight Budget

Are you on a tight budget but you still want to decorate your apartment and make it feel like a glamorous abode?  Apartment Therapy's tips, gleaned from their house tours, will help you decorate your city apartment even on a minuscule budget.

Adding color needn't cost a lot of dough, and it has a big impact on spaces.  If your landlord allows it, paint the walls or bring in color without painting by adding textiles in the form of curtains, rugs, blankets, or throw pillows.  You can even make your own curtains and throw pillows if you are on a really tight budget.

Make inherited furniture work with your decor so you don't have to buy lots of new furniture.  Recovering or even just putting a blanket or piece of fabric that covers the fraying parts of an old couch or chair will help you get more mileage out of it.

Mixing expensive with bargain finds is another great way to make your place look chic without costing an arm and a leg.  Splurge on something you really love that will last forever like a high quality couch, and then use cheaper resources like IKEA and Craigslist to furnish the rest of the room.

Make furniture yourself from scratch, or makeover furniture you have with paint, stain, new knobs, etc. to make your apartment unique without costing a lot of money.  After all, if you make it yourself, you will truly have a one-of-a-kind piece that no one else can claim.

Artwork and accessories are a great way to personalize your home.  Maybe you can swap with artist friends or even make your own artwork.  You'd be amazed what you can do with a little painter's tape!

Ready to find a new apartment for the new year that you can really put your own personal stamp on?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400 to find the perfect apartment for you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Austin Green Building Requirements

Austin has its own system rating how "green" apartments are.  Austin Energy assigns buildings one through five stars to show how much they adhere to green building standards.  The standards specific to apartments are called Multifamily and only apply to residential and mixed use developments six stories or less in height.  What exactly are those standards?  Read on for a quick primer on what Green Building means for apartments in Austin.

The city uses a scorecard to decide what a development's overall rating will be.  This scorecard is divided into different categories, each of which contribute to the overall score:  site, energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, education and equity, and innovation.  

The site category encompasses environmental factors like environmental sensitivity, brownfield redevelopment (a site previously used for industrial or commercial purposes, that usually has some low level contamination), habitat restoration and protection, and heat island reduction.  It also covers transportation issues like density, diverse and walkable communities, bicycle storage, parking capacity, and public transportation.

The energy section is focused on the energy efficiency of the building and the systems inside, everything from heating and cooling systems to the lighting, both exterior and interior.  There is also a rating for using green energy and having on-site renewable energy. 

The water portion of the scorecard takes into account outdoor water use reduction, building water use reduction, water efficient appliances, and stormwater management.  

Indoor environmental quality covers indoor chemical and pollutant services, green housekeeping, use of natural sunlight to illuminate indoor spaces, and the use of low emitting construction materials as much as possible to reduce offgassing, aka that "new house smell". 

The section on materials and resources covers how the construction waste is managed, whether the amount of building materials used is reduced, durable floor materials, sustainably sourced materials, certified wood, and the use of PVCs and Phthalates, which have been shown in some studies to change hormone levels and cause birth defects.

Education and equity covers more quality of living type concerns such as housing affordability, access to information, car free living, accessibility (for mobility-impaired individuals), construction worker equity (paying them a fair wage), and educational outreach (using the building to educate others on green building techniques).

Finally, the section on innovation awards points to builders who go above and beyond the city-mandated requirements to build an even more energy efficient and earth-friendly building.  An example of this would be onsite composting, but really it is only limited by the imagination and resources of the builder.

Are you passionate about being green and want to live in a community that takes steps to do the same?  Talk to your apartment locator about green apartments in Austin and ask to see their Austin Energy Green Building Score Card. 
 Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400 for help finding apartment communities that share your passion.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tips for Finding an Apartment in a Hot Market

Austin is an incredibly tight rental market, with occupancy rates at 94.8 percent.  To get an apartment in such a tight rental market, you need to have the inside track.  Check out Trulia's tips on finding an apartment in a hot market.

Landlords are most likely to rent to people who are in a strong financial position.  What this means for you is that you should go to an apartment hunt with proof that you aren't a financial risk.  Pay stubs, proof of renters' insurance, and your credit report all show potential landlords that renting to you is a no-brainer.  If you're renting your first apartment, don't have much savings or have a low income relative to rent, you may need to approach your parents or other relatives about co-signing your lease.  If you do have a poor credit score due to a lay-off or other financial disaster in the past, bring proof that your situation has recovered.

Listings go quickly, so be prepared to go see new ones as soon as they come up.  If your schedule is flexible enough to allow you to go during the day, that puts you at an advantage.  Start your search early, at least 90 days before your move-in date, and reach out to friends through social media and ask them to let you know if they hear of any apartments for rent.

Go into your search with realistic expectations:  you aren't going to get everything on your wish list.  In the most expensive markets, you may have to pay more than the recommended 30% of your annual income for rent, and look for other places to cut back.  Be flexible about what amenities you want, and be reasonable about what you really need. 
 You can live without a rooftop pool or a gym, but you need to live in a place where you feel safe and feel like your dwelling is properly maintained.

Overwhelmed by the lack of apartment listings in Austin?  Bad credit or a low income scaring you away from finding a new place to live?  A Plus Apartments' can help you find the perfect apartment, even if you have limitations or blemishes on your credit.  We know the up-to-the-minute vacancies and amenities so you don't have to waste time driving to apartment complexes without vacancies. Give us a call today at 512-231-1400 to take advantage of our free apartment locating services.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Apartments Across America Annual Conference

The Apartments Across America Annual Conference was recently held on October 23rd and 24th in Washington, DC.  A Plus Apartments is a member of this organization, which brings together the leading apartment finding agencies and brokerages focused on rentals from across the country.  At the conference, rental industry professionals are able to share their knowledge on marketing, acquiring and retaining talent, and technology with one another.

Some highlights from the conference specific to the Texas Apartment Market were that Austin sees the most rentals each year, but Houston has seen the most growth in development.  In Houston, there will another 12,000 luxury apartments added by the end of the year across the city.

I attended the conference and learned so much from these other industry leaders.  I was also proud to bring back the Best Website award for  
The next Apartments Across America Annual Conference will be in October of next year in Chicago.  

Ready to find your own apartment in Austin's hot rental market?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-416-8100.