The Buzz: Landlord Banks, College Towns, and…Virtual Staging?

Say hello to your new landlord: Bank of America?

Faced with customers who don’t qualify for mortgage modifications, Bank of America has decided to try an unorthodox approach–renting to their customers. The pilot program, in California, Arizona, Nevada and New York, has only just begin, with invitations mailed to 1,800 customers in California alone.

The plan is to sell the homes to investors, which will allow families to stay in their homes; meanwhile, the bank will recoup more costs than if they simply evicted borrowers. Could this be the new model for mortgage defaults? Read more in the Seattle Times. 

Looking for a temperate rental market, investors turn to college towns.

The rental market is strong these days, with ever-falling vacancies–but that hasn’t always been the case. In years when it has been more popular to buy one’s home, there is one demographic that always, always rents: college students.

While college kids generally don’t go for high-end apartments, if you invest in the right kind of place, you can expect to fill units quickly and easily–so the risk can be fairly low. According to Trulia, demand for college-town rentals went up 5% this year. See you in the U District! Read the article from KTAR.com.

This sale was brought to you by the Amazon Effect.

The Plaza 600 building, located at Sixth Avenue and Stewart Street in downtown Seattle, has just sold, the Seattle Times reports. While “historically, Plaza 600 has been on the fringe of the downtown core,” according to Kip Spencer with OfficeSpace.com, the building is just across the street from Amazon’s proposed three-tower complex–and that has really upped the ante for prospective buyers.

While Plaza 600 is primarily an office building, the Amazon towers may be mixed-use–and as the Amazon Effect continues to make the area popular, rental housing is sure to follow. Read about the sale here.

Don’t have the perfect sofa to stage that apartment? Consider virtual staging.

When showing a currently empty unit, it can sometimes be difficult for a prospective tenant to get a good understanding of scale, especially when the empty unit is on the larger size. But finding attractive furniture to stage an apartment with can be difficult–and expensive. Enter virtual staging (or in laymen’s terms, “photoshopping”).

Daniella Schlisser of the Corcoran Group in New York explains. “In an empty space, people can’t really understand how big a couch or a bed is;” but if they tour the unit equipped with the staged photos, “they bring with them the knowledge that everything they want would fit.” Meanwhile, the empty apartment–so full of possibility–still sits before them, spacious and sparkling. And professional virtual staging starts at around $75, making it much cheaper than a rental sofa. Check out the article here.


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