The Buzz: Haunted House for Sale or Rent

A note before we dive into Halloween fun: stay safe out there, East Coast friends! We’re thinking of you.

Happy Halloween from all of us at Seattle Rentals! If you’re looking for something to do tonight, check out these options from the Seattle Times (scroll down for Wednesday’s offerings). Or maybe you’re looking for something a little more mellow–maybe mix up some Corpse Revivers and Bloody Rum Punches at home? In the meantime, we’ve got an extra-scary edition of The Buzz for you today.

Full replica of Disney’s Haunted Mansion is on the market in Georgia.

Not every contractor has the means to build a full-scale replica of a Disney attraction; but when Mark Hurt was designing his house, he knew exactly what to do. Hurt spent years working for Disney, and had access to the plans for the Haunted Mansion–so he built another one in Duluth for himself and his wife to live in. Now the house is on the market…care to move in to the Haunted Mansion?

If pet cemetery is on your list of must-haves, look no further!

That’s right, this property in Tempe, AZ costs $250,000 and has 4.8 acres, two bedrooms, one bathroom…and one pet cemetery. The first sentence in the listing ad? “SELLER WANTS THIS PROPERTY SOLD.” Hmm, wonder why…could it be the ghost of dachshunds past?

The house where the Amityville Horror was filmed is up for sale, too.

What is it with all of these haunted houses for sale? It’s almost as if the owners wanted to get rid of them for some reason…spooky. The Amityville Horror house is located in Toms River, NJ, and was originally listed at $1.25 million, but is now down to $935,000. It boasts four bedrooms and while the house was used for the movie in 1979, it is not the actual house that the movie was based on, which is located–of course–in Amityville.

And since we like to be scared on Halloween…here are some truly scary listing photos.

Any property manager will tell you: there’s nothing scarier than a terrible listing photo. AOL has a good slideshow of them up right now–check out photo number three for creepy-doll-in-fireplace action perfect for Halloween.

Well, that’s it for us today–did we scare you? Now go enjoy your holiday, and we’ll see you back here Friday with some real news.

The Green Report: the Costs of LEED, Living Walls & Net Zero Homes

Happy Friday! We were just checking out the new LEED-certified eco-friendly Starbucks in Colorado and realized it was time for another installment of The Green Report. Check out the latest from the world of eco-friendly multifamily below.

UNITS Magazine: “Going green has shifted from an idea…to an ideal”

This month’s issue of UNITS caught our eye with their article on going green in new multifamily construction. There has long been consensus that “both community and company value” increase when energy-efficient designs are implemented, and both companies and property managers have seen real savings (between 15 and 50%) in costs and energy usage just by implementing minor changes in their buildings: lightbulbs, insulation, water-flow regulators, etc.. But when designing or renovating a building, there are more drastic decisions that have to be made: will you truly go green? What does that really mean, and what will it cost?

UNITS explains the two major certifications: LEED, which originated in 1993 for industrial buildings and affordable housing but has recently jumped exponentially in popularity for standard multifamily housing; and NGBS, which was created exclusively for single- and multifamily housing. Susan Maxwell of Zocalo Community Development explains that LEED-certified construction has run about 2% over standard costs for their company; still, she says “we find that in development, ignorance is defined as not knowing the real costs,” and notes that the extra 2% spent upfront is generally made back in rent. Check out the full article–with plenty more info–here.

Lux Research: Living roofs and walls will be a $7.7 billion market by 2017

While they may look like a bit of an engineering nightmare to the untrained eye, vegetated roofs like the one shown here (on the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park) can do wonders for the environment, as well as the building they shelter. They reduce air pollutants and “sequester” carbon dioxide, as well as reducing stormwater volume and summer heat transference. But they’re not exactly mainstream…yet. Are they ever likely to be?

According to a new report from Lux Research as reported in Eco Home magazine, green roofs and walls can’t come soon enough–and they “will balloon into a $7.7 billion market in 2017, driven by mandates and incentives by cities across the globe.” According to the article, environmental problems stemming from urbanization is currently fueling initiatives in Singapore, Copenhagen, London and Chicago, among other cities–and as our population swells, the need can only increase. Read more here.

Archstone buys green in Venice, California

Eco-conscious Southern California employees at Hulu, Viddy, Yahoo and Google will soon have a new LEED-platinum Archstone building among their choices of where to live. The apartment giant just purchased the upscale 70-unit apartment complex in Venice, Calif., formerly called The Frank, for $56.2 million. The building was completed earlier this year and boasts a number of eco-friendly implementations, including high-efficiency heat pumps, boilers and light fixtures; a solar hot water system; an energy-efficient façade; local and recycled materials; nontoxic finishes; and drought-tolerant landscaping. It is estimated that the building consumes 1/3 less energy than a typical building of its size. The purchase reinforces the market trend among larger companies like Archstone to think, build, and buy green. Read more here.

Net zero homes on Bainbridge Island now open for tours

Have you checked out the net zero model homes on Bainbridge Island yet? No, we’re not referring to the internet provider–net zero in this case refers to energy consumption. The homes are located in Grow Community, eight acres that have been planned to be a “pedestrian-oriented, energy-efficient, multigenerational neighborhood.” Eventually, Grow Community plans to situate 50 single-family homes and 81 rental apartments in the development, all clustered around green spaces in “micro-neighborhoods.” Check out more about what net zero looks like here.

…And those are our stories for today. Enjoy your weekend, stay dry…and we’ll see you next week!

Ten Days of Buzz: October 13-23, 2012

 

“The essence of an investment in real estate is a good tenant…A good tenant in a bad location is better than a bad tenant in a good location.”

James McClelland of Mack Cos. How to Find a Good Tenant for your Rental, Marketwatch, 10.13.12

“A potential renter needs to understand this market and how it affects them. There is little availability, and owners can be picky. That means this is not the best time to make an offer on the rent. It is also not the best time to ask for less than desirable situations for owners, such as waiving pet deposits and security deposits, and asking for short term leases.”

Irene Collins, CEO of Apartment People. The rental market is competitive, so put your best foot forward, The NWI Times, 10.13.12.

“It’s become a real marketing thing and a point of differentiation. If a property doesn’t have [a dog park and washing stations], it’s sort of old school.”

Rick Campo, CEO of Camden Property Trust. U.S. Apartment Owners See Profit Potential in Pooches, Nasdaq.com, 10.14.12.

“We find that in development, ignorance is defined as not knowing the real costs. We see our incremental costs running a little bit less than 2% over what they’d be without LEED certification. We get that back in rent.”

Susan Maxwell, CAPS, Zocalo Community Development. Green Certification: It’s Your Choice, UNITS Magazine, October 2012.

“Given the substantial increases that we expect in coming years in the demand for housing within walking distance of public transit, it will be essential to act proactively to ensure that affordable housing is preserved and included within new development in these areas…One of the recommendations we have is inspired by places like Seattle.”

Scott Bernstein, President of the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Seattle incomes doing best at keeping up with costs, Seattle PI, 10.18.12.

“The Seattle/Puget Sound Industrial market held static in the third quarter. The market ended the third quarter 2012 with a vacancy rate of 6.2%.”

Justin Sumner of the CoStar Group. Seattle / Puget Sound’s Industrial Vacancy Static at 6.2%, CoStar.com, 10.20.12.

“We don’t believe this problem will ever fully go away, but we remain on the offensive by being diligent about checking documentation and that has helped us tremendously.”

A property manager, as quoted by author Paul Bergeron. Accept No Substitute: Identify and Prevent the Proxy Renter, UNITS Magazine, October 2012.

“They have great credit and collectively earn $110,000 a year, but they still can’t find a place…The desperation of the search has made them manic. They are arriving to open houses as much as an hour early, peeking into the windows to try and scope the place out, and doing everything in their power to get their application in before anyone else.”

Sam Harnett, apartment hunter. San Francisco Rental Market Drives Applicants to Extremes, KQED.com, 10.23.12.

“Where are all of the young housing consumers coming from? Natural population growth…explains some of i. But a lot of this growth is expected to come from people moving here–Conway Pedersen Economics expects net migration to total 89,000 people to [the Puget Sound] region between 2013 and 2017.”

Dupre + Scott of DupreScott.com. The Units are Coming, Apartment Advisor, October 2012.

Seattle Centric: Amazon Purchases, Multifamily Lending & Seattle Cost of Living

Sigh…it really is fall now, isn’t it? Oh well, turn up the wood stove and curl up with all the pertinent Seattle-area rental market news for the week–that’s right, it’s Seattle Centric! This week, we’ve got more news about Amazon, plus good news about the cost of living in Seattle. Dig in!

Amazon to buy 11 buildings in South Lake Union

Amazon’s plan for a permanent Seattle headquarters just keeps growing; on Friday, Vulcan announced that the online sales giant plans to buy their 11-building campus in South Lake Union, with a cool price tag of $1.16 billion. The deal, hailed by the Seattle Times as “the richest office deal in Seattle’s history,” reinforces Amazon’s commitment to Seattle; as Vulcan’s Ada Healey put it, “”We know [Amazon] will be excellent stewards of this property and will continue to play a vital role in revitalizing South Lake Union and creating a thriving urban neighborhood in the heart of Seattle’s urban core.” Huzzah! Read more from the Seattle Times.

$103 Million in Multifamily Financing Granted for 880 Units in Renton

“Multifamily continues to be the strongest property sector in the greater Seattle MSA, as this financing proves.” Those are the words of Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Markets’ Holly Minter, on the occasion of reporting a $103 million deal that will allow Fairfield Residential Apartments LLC to buy two multifamily buildings in Renton. The buildings together, built in 2010 in the Landing, house 880 units that will be managed by Fairfield Residential. The move signifies multifamily’s continuing strength in the northwest market, as Gen Y-ers are lured to Seattle by employment or lifestyle; according to Dave Young, also of Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Market, “We’ve witnessed a strong economic recovery in this region, and a steady uptick in job growth leading to a surge in demand for apartment housing.” Read more at GlobeSt.com.

Short-Sales Set September Record in King County

Foreclosures can be lose-lose situations for both homeowners and lenders, while short sales provide a kinder alternative, if the lender is willing–and in Q3, in King County, a record number of homeowners opted for that alternative, avoiding foreclosure during their transition out of home-ownership. Short sales, in which the lender agrees to a sale price that is less than the mortgage balance because the value of the home has fallen below that balance, made up 16% of all King County sales in the third quarter–that’s up 10% from a year ago, and it’s actually the highest number since the NWMLS started tracking short-sales. So why are so many short sales happening? It may be due to a sea change with lenders: “In the eight years I’ve been negotiating short sales I have never seen banks so eager to make short sales happen,” said Richard Eastern of Washington Property Solutions. Lenders are preferring not to add more distressed properties to their portfolios, while homeowners are avoiding the dreaded F-word of real estate–works for us! Read more in the Seattle P.I.

Seattle Wins at Keeping Incomes in Line with the Cost of Living

Just how well have incomes done at keeping pace with the costs of living over the years? A new report from the Center for Housing Policy aims to answer just that question, and while the title starts with the words Losing Ground, it isn’t all bad news–especially for Seattle. The report, which analyzed data from the country’s 25 largest metropolitan areas, found that our city’s gap between housing/transportation cost increases and family income increases was the smallest of all areas analyzed. While housing/transportation costs in Seattle rose 33 percent between 2000 and 2010, and family income rose 28 percent (a gap of just about 6%), the nationwide averages showed far higher gaps: combined, a 44 percent housing/transportation increase with only a 25 percent family income increase. Mind the gap! Read more in the Seattle P.I.

Method Homes Tops List of Washington’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies

Speaking of employment, do you know who Washington’s fastest-growing companies are?  Could you guess? We were surprised by many of the companies on this list, from the Puget Sound Business Journal. Method Homes, LLC rang in at #1, with revenue growth of 784% between 2009 and 2011; Realogics Inc. dba Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty came in second, with C2S Technologies in third place. Check out a slideshow of the top twenty fastest-growing companies from the Journal–tomorrow, your renters may be working for them!

Five Ways to…Prevent Rental Application Fraud

Have you browsed the October issue of UNITS? This month, their article about preventing tenant application fraud caught our eye. There’s no doubt that rental application fraud does happen–especially when vacancies are lower, with apartments harder to find. But there are some simple things you can look out for when screening potential tenants–here are our five favorite tips for weeding out fraudsters before they become potentially less-than-perfect tenants.

1. Insist on seeing a real photo ID–not a copy or faxed version.

While there’s no question that the digital age has made our business lives infinitely easier, there’s just no excuse for accepting a photocopied, faxed, or e-mailed copy of an applicant’s photo ID. It’s simply too easy these days for someone to doctor the reproduction they send you, altering key information to line up with their story. State-issued  driver’s licenses and identification cards are now printed with an arsenal of security measured intended to make alterations and forgeries prohibitively difficult. And when you view an ID card, feel free to take your time–if it’s from your state, does it look like yours? And if it’s out of state, you may want to ask a few additional questions (or look up the state’s ID design and security measures online).

2. Charge an application fee.

While an application fee can be frustrating for a tenant applying for multiple apartments, it provides another layer of security for the landlord or property manager. Fraudulent applicants will often apply at any and all apartments they come across that do not charge an application fee–since they have nothing at all to lose if they subsequently have to walk away. Application fees also signal a small measure of commitment from a potential tenant, signaling that they’re interested enough in the apartment to pay to be considered–and the time you spend on their background and credit checks will not be wasted. If you prefer not to charge much of an application fee, consider waiving the fee upon the signing of the lease, or deducting it from the first month’s utilities–that way both landlord and tenant are happy.

3. Google the prospective tenant’s place of business.

Look familiar? Street View can verify an address in just a few seconds.

Is it becoming harder to be a casual fraudster in this digital age? When an employee turns in paystubs or lists their place of business, go ahead and Google the name, address and telephone number. Ensure that the phone number is actually linked to the business name (as it will be for all but the smallest operations), and consider viewing the business address on Google Street View for an added measure of security, ensuring that it’s not a vacant lot or an unrelated gas station. Also, note that many businesses register with the Secretary of State–when in doubt, you can check their website to be double-certain of legitimacy.

4. Double-check their tax forms.

First of all, you may want to require that prospective tenants turn in either a W2 or Form 1099–just about anyone who works for a paycheck will receive at least one of these each year; if a prospective tenant is unable to provide one of these, it may send up a red flag. Secondly, when looking over an applicant’s tax returns, ensure that they are signed by the tenant, and check to see if the address listed on the return matches the tenant’s current address–if not, find out why. If you’re unsure, you may want to request an income verification faxed directly from their employer–and look out for faxes that don’t look like they came directly from the business in question.

5. Beware of blank credit reports.

Did you know that not all people who have a blank credit history truly have no credit? From the UNITS article: “There is a technique called freezing or locking one’s credit report that can make it appear there is no credit history for the applicant to some screening-report providers.” While the occasional college kid won’t yet have a credit history, most older adults will–but if they have successfully frozen their credit history, many credit report agencies will report that they have no credit history at all. A blank credit report? Automatic red flag.

Scary, huh? OK, so maybe we won’t be dressing as rental application fraudsters for Halloween…but it’s definitely something to avoid! For a full list of UNITS’ original 27 tips, click here; in the meantime, do you have a surefire tip for recognizing application fraud? Post it in the comments!

The Numbers: It’s October’s Issue of Apartment Advisor!

Hey hey, the October issue of Apartment Advisor is out! This month’s issue from Dupre + Scott, ‘The Units are Coming,’ is all about the strongest trends of the moment–and that means one thing: numbers. With so many statistics to recap, we thought we’d give you The Numbers for Part 1–and there’s so much in the 12-page report that we’ll be back to recap the second half next week.

4.8% is the market vacancy rate in the Puget Sound area

21400 jobs have been added locally in the past six months and 19000 people relocated to Washington state in September

35000 new units are planned to open between 2012 and 2017

Average rent for a 1-bedroom Seattle apartment built within the past 5 years is $1726

Hard Hat Tour of West Seattle’s New Building the NOVA Apartments!

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Yesterday some of the Seattle Rentals staff got to take a hard-hat tour of the NOVA Apartments in West Seattle. The building is already pre-leasing units and will be available for move-in December 1st.

The NOVA is a smaller apartment community with condo-like finishes and some of the best views in West Seattle of Downtown. Instead of the pea-patch gardens that many other buildings have, the NOVA Apartments have a moonlight garden on their roof with an outdoor fireplace & a telescope.

The units featured incredible floor-to-ceiling windows which maximized the views of Downtown and expanded the feel of each space. They also had 9ft- and 17ft- high ceilings and quartz countertops throughout.

The NOVA has a variety of floor plans available is open for tours. You can view their ads on SeattleRentals.com here and here, or get more information from their website.