Three Easy, Safe Ways To Get Groceries During COVID-19

Three Easy, Safe Ways To Get Groceries During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended everyday life. As people follow shelter-in-place orders and stay inside their apartments, once-thriving cultural institutions such as bars, restaurants, venues, and other entertainment spots have shuttered their doors (and some of these spaces may never reopen). Essential businesses, on the other hand, have remained open, but their inner workings and rules now differ, perhaps most noticeably in grocery stores. There, long lines, depleted shelves, and new rules intended to maintain social distancing and protect both customers and workers have caused some people to consider other easy, safe ways to get groceries during COVID-19. Here are some of those options.

easy ways to get groceries

1. Online grocery delivery services

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, online grocery delivery services have seen such sharp rises in usage that providers have struggled to keep up. The dramatic uptick in online grocery delivery service usage may stem from how easy getting groceries is through these platforms: After using a website or app to stock a virtual cart with your groceries, someone who works for the app does your grocery shopping for you and delivers your groceries to your doorstep. 

Not only does easy online grocery shopping save you a trip to the supermarket and thereby lessen your potential for COVID-19 exposure, but it also ensures social distancing. During the pandemic, grocery shoppers are dropping off bags of groceries at customers’ doorsteps, then leaving while alerting customers of their deliveries. This method eliminates face-to-face interaction and thereby drastically minimizes the chance of COVID-19 transmission. 

That said, online grocery delivery might not be right for you, and at times, it actually might not be easy. Since online grocery delivery is in such high demand, you may need to wait several days for delivery, and you might face challenges in even finding an open delivery window. Additionally, delivery fees tend to be high, and if you’re ordering produce, you might be frustrated that you can’t personally pick and choose fruits and vegetables of the exact quality or ripeness you want. Other options may suit you better.

2. Curbside pickup

Curbside pickup has emerged as a viable midpoint between traditional grocery shopping and online grocery delivery. With curbside pickup, you’ll still travel to the grocery store, and as with online delivery, you’ll pre-order your entire cart. However, with curbside pickup, you’ll neither enter the grocery store nor wait for delivery at home. Instead, when you arrive at your grocery store, someone will bring your groceries to the curbside, and after they depart, you’ll have enough social distance to retrieve your groceries with minimal potential for COVID-19 exposure.

3. Restaurants

Restaurants unable to host patrons for traditional dining have gotten creative during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to offering standard takeout options (though with strict social distancing measures), some restaurants have added grocery services. Restaurants unable to use all their bulk ingredients given the decline in patrons have repurposed them as traditional groceries and sold them to local residents. 

Some restaurants have gone a step farther and fashioned the ingredients for some of their most popular menu items into meal kits you can buy to make these staples yourself at home. You might not be able to visit your favorite restaurants right now, but making their food at home might be the next best thing – and it certainly keeps you out of the supermarket.

How have you been getting your groceries during COVID-19? Share your methods in the comments – other readers might find your ideas useful!

Published at Fri, 01 May 2020 13:01:36 +0000

Pros and Cons: Gym in Your Apartment Building

Pros and Cons: Gym in Your Apartment Building

In our Pros and Cons series, we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of important decisions that apartment dwellers are making every day.

By some standards, millennials are the healthiest, fittest generation in American history. Property managers have taken notice, centering fitness perks as part of the marketing of their buildings. If you’re wondering whether having a gym in your apartment building is a must on your rental checklist, consider the following pros and cons when making your decision.

gym in your apartment buildings

Pros of a gym in your apartment building

No monthly membership fee

If you live in an apartment building without a gym, then chances are you’re paying a monthly membership fee at a gym somewhere else. When you have a gym in your apartment building, you can stop budgeting for a monthly gym membership fee. Your gym costs will be included in your rent or the amenities fees you pay for access to other amenities such as your building’s pool, spa, or entertainment center.

Ease of access

A monthly gym membership doesn’t just mean extra costs. It means another trip out of the house – and the costs and time involved in traveling – every time you get the urge to lift weights or hit the treadmill. With a gym in your apartment building, you’ll never worry about ease of access again. You’ll pay no extra money getting to your gym, and you can go whenever is best for your schedule. If you struggle with motivation, this ease of access could also help you counter that.

Fewer people in the gym

If you’ve ever paid for access to a gym, you’re probably aware that if you go in at the wrong time of day, you’ll be competing with no shortage of other people for access to equipment. And even if you do find what you’re looking for, you’ll be surrounded by other people, and this crowding can make some gym users feel overwhelmed or even claustrophobic. Often, in-building gyms have fewer people in them, so you won’t contend as much with claustrophobia and unavailable equipment.

Social opportunities

When you see other people at a gym that’s not in your building, you know nothing about them. With a gym in your apartment building, though, you at least know that you’re working out alongside people who live in the same building as you, so you might be able to strike up some new friendships at your in-building gym. And if your building also has other amenities such as a pool, spa, or lounge, having more people to enjoy them with – many luxury apartment buildings limit the number of guests whom you can bring into amenity spaces – can be a major benefit.

Cons of a gym in your apartment building

You might not go as often

On one hand, having an easily accessible gym right in your apartment building might increase how often you go there. On the other hand, for some people, the convenience may result in procrastination – it’s right there, so you can always go later, or maybe tomorrow, or even the day after that – that never leads to that workout after all. Consider whether you expect a gym in your apartment building to increase or decrease your chances of going.

You might not have as many equipment options

Although you might contend with fewer people for access to the same equipment at your in-building gym, often, the gym in your apartment building will have fewer equipment options than an off-site gym. Many in-building gyms comprise far less space than off-site gyms do, so they have less space to fit abundant cardio machines or weight-lifting setups. 

You might not actually need it

In recent years, at-home workout programs have come to dominate the exercise world. You might thus not even need a gym – whether in your apartment building or elsewhere – to get the exercise you’re seeking. Think about the type of exercise you’re interested in and what equipment, if any, you need for that exercise when deciding whether gyms in apartment buildings will be better or worse for your fitness regimen.

What do you think of gyms in apartment buildings? Sound off in the comments!

Published at Wed, 29 Apr 2020 14:31:55 +0000

FINDING AN APARTMENT DURING COVID-19

FINDING AN APARTMENT DURING COVID-19

FINDING AN APARTMENT DURING COVID-19

It looks as though social distancing will no longer be the new norm, but the way that we will now be living our lives. It was only 2 months ago that we had never heard of PPE, unless we worked in healthcare or unless you were a scientist, flattening the curve was about weigh loss. Mostly about flattening our stomachs. So here we are all settled at home wondering how to move forward. (Source: NAA)

But what about the folks who were thinking about moving or who were in the middle of a relocation? Any sort of housing transition is stressful enough without having to deal with a national health crisis. But during social distancing it could be additionally stressful.  Take heart, there are many technologies that can help us lease an apartment while keeping you and your apartment community staff safe.

There are many digital advertising sources that you can access from the safety of your living room or kitchen. You can search by typing the word “apartments” into any browser. This will give you a very broad search. After you feel comfortable with user experience with an Internet Listing Service provider, narrow your search by location, price, floorplan size, schools and amenities. Or you use a “long tail search”. For example, a “two-bedroom apartment in Richmond, Virginia with a pool”. This may be more time efficient than a more generic search such as “apartments”. It will provide a short and more refined list of apartment communities that fir those criteria.

Another new aspect to think about during physical and social distancing, is the systems that the community uses to communicate with their residents after you move in. Can you pay your rent on-line? How do they let you know about any community events or repairs? Many communities use Call Assist 24/7. It’s a way that you can send a video or photo of your emergency service request to the on-call maintenance technician.  This will keep you informed via text throughout every step of the process. You will even get a photo of the technician coming out late at night. How cool is that!

Most listings have virtual tours of generic units or their furnished model. Seeing a furnished apartment is always a good way to get a feel for what the space may look like with your own furnishings. (Source: Realtor.com) Many leasing agents are happy to use zoom, skype and Facetime to show you the actual unit that is available if it is currently vacant. Ask the agent to walk through the community as well so you may see the location of your apartment home. Is it close to the pool or does it have a view that you like? Google maps is a great resource for information on shopping, parks and interstates. If you are moving locally, go drive through the apartment community at different times of day to see where the sun sets or where the bark park is located. So there a lot of great resources to help you navigate through finding the perfect new apartment home during Covid-19. Be safe and have fun!

Published at Thu, 23 Apr 2020 12:40:08 +0000

Pros and Cons: Signing a Multi-Year Lease

Pros and Cons: Signing a Multi-Year Lease

In our Pros and Cons series, we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of important decisions that apartment dwellers are making every day.

When you sign a lease for your new apartment, chances are that you’ll sign a one-year lease, with the ability to renew your lease every 12 months. However, you might also have the option to sign a longer multi-year lease. As the name suggests, a multi-year lease obliges tenants to stay in their apartment rentals for longer than a year. The length of commitment involved in a multi-year lease – often 24 months, but sometimes 18 months – may work better for certain renters. 

multi-year lease

Is a multi-year lease right for you? Weigh the pros and cons below to help with your decision.

Pros of signing a multi-year lease

Rent stability

If you want to re-sign your one-year lease to keep living in your apartment, then some landlords might raise your rent for the next year’s lease. (This changes by jurisdiction; not all cities and states allow landlords to raise rent after the first year.) When you sign a multi-year lease, you lock in a rent amount for a time period longer than a year, which may prove better for your budget in the long run.

Cheaper rent

In some cases, landlords looking to find trustworthy tenants for longer periods of time will sign leases for lower rent prices to lure in good tenants who might otherwise look elsewhere. That’s why, when you sign a multi-year lease, your monthly rent might be much less expensive than with a one-year lease.

Location stability

Even if you’re happy in your apartment, when your one-year lease ends, you might find yourself at least toying with the possibility of moving. When you sign a multi-year lease, you can immediately nip that temptation in the bud. If you’re the kind of person who finds yourself moving more often than you’d like, then signing a multi-year lease on an apartment that meets all your standards can ensure the location stability you’ve been missing.

Cons of signing a multi-year lease

Too much commitment

You might find that a one-year lease gives you more flexibility if you’re unsatisfied with your apartment. If the best apartment you find during your hunt is still not quite up to your standards, then if things don’t work out at the end of your one-year lease, you can just look again and potentially find an apartment that’s better for you. When you sign a multi-year lease, you don’t have this flexibility, so if you discover a dream apartment only to move in and find it deeply flawed, then you’re stuck there for much longer than you’d like.

Risky if your finances change

If you don’t think you’re particularly picky about apartments, keep in mind that the commitment of a multi-year lease can be stressful for more reasons than just your preferences. If your financial situation suddenly changes and you can no longer afford your rent, with a multi-year lease, you’re far more bound to your apartment than with a one-year lease. 

Breaking your lease is never easy (and rarely encouraged), but with a single-year lease, you may be able to try riding out the remainder of your lease if money gets tight. This prospect is far less realistic with a multi-year lease, and often, the penalties for breaking your multi-year lease are harsher than with a one-year lease. When you’re signing a multi-year lease, thoroughly read the consequences for breaking your lease before you sign it.

Would you rather sign a one-year lease or a multi-year lease? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Published at Thu, 23 Apr 2020 13:23:53 +0000

8 Things You Need to Know About Springfield, Ore. Before Moving There

8 Things You Need to Know About Springfield, Ore. Before Moving There

If you’ve set sights on Springfield, Ore. as your next moving destination, you’re in for a treat. The acclaimed TV show The Simpsons may have used the name Springfield because it sounds like a typical American town, but the show’s creator, Matt Groening, is actually an Oregon native! Besides this, the city is renowned as the birthplace of Nike, as the revolutionary waffle sole was most likely brought to life in a Springfield lumber mill workshop – a claim that stirred some rivalry with the city’s neighbor, Eugene.

Before you take to the road to make Springfield your new home, take the time to investigate some of the facts that make this city unique.

1. Diverse Neighborhoods for All Wallets

Springfield is Eugene’s more affordable neighbor as the housing market offers more reasonable prices. As it happens, Springfield doesn’t have officially established neighborhoods. The city is informally divided into a handful of unofficial ones, for example West Springfield, Downtown, East Springfield (Thurston) and North Springfield. Springfield really does have a bit of everything.

Living in West Springfield – especially in Kelly Butte, Glenwood or Downtown Springfield – gets you the best of two worlds: you’ll be a stone’s throw away from the hip city of Eugene while still having access to plenty else nearer home. Close to Downtown, West Springfield is one of the most desirable areas of the city, with homes that range from moderately priced ones to some more expensive houses.

Just north of Downtown, the Washburne Historic District oozes with charm, as many homes that adorn its streets were built around the time when the 19th century turned into the 20th. The Kelly Butte neighborhood west of Pioneer Parkway and South of Centennial Blvd. features scenic views as well as close proximity to the Willamette River and Island Park, a perfect spot for family events and community celebrations.

If walkability is what you’re looking for, then look no further than Downtown. Bustling with a variety of different spots to suit a variety of tastes, this is the place to be if you want to get a taste of Springfield. Not content with coffee shops, organic grocers, yoga studios and pizzerias, downtown Springfield also has a performing arts venue, all within a half-mile radius. If a little excitement is what you’re looking for, then the axe-throwing studio could be the place for you. The city’s tapestry of diversity wouldn’t be complete without the Simpsons mural in Downtown, a public acknowledgement of a secret but generally known fact: Springfield, Oregon is the real Springfield.

As it covers the area south of Highway 126 between Mohawk Boulevard to the west and 42nd Street to the east, Midtown is not your prime real estate area in Springfield. The neighborhood offers, however, more affordable homes, especially between Mohawk and 28th Street.

  • East Springfield

Thurston, to the far east, is an East Springfield neighborhood featuring newer construction that will be easy on your wallet. As far as the rest of the neighborhood is concerned, homes built in the 70s, 80s, and 90s are a lot more common. With more upscale homes that cost a lot more, the hillside homes south of Highway 126 and east of Bob Straub Parkway bring an exciting modern vibe.

  • North Springfield

Bounded by I5 to the west and Marcola Road and the MacKenzie River to the east, North Springfield has a charm all of its own. The streets north of Hayden Bridge Way and to the east of MLK Jr. Parkway are a real estate hotspot, with scattered luxury properties and desirable new construction that’s close to the downtown buzz. As you head east, the neighborhood has a more rural feel – an ideal location for those seeking a suburban setting that isn’t too far from the city.

2. Looking for a Steady Job in Springfield? Healthcare Has You Covered

With its connections to the timber industry, Springfield has traditionally been a blue-collar city. However, the city added new jobs in other industries. Healthcare workers can rejoice: the Sacred Heart at Riverbend, the region’s main hospital, is a recent addition to the area. Additionally, the midtown McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center also employs healthcare workers. Other employment opportunities include administrative, office and sales positions alongside tech jobs.

Sacred Heart Hospital Springfield

3. Living Here Won’t Break the Bank 

Springfield, Oregon’s cost of living is significantly lower than that of its neighbor to the West, Eugene, largely because its housing market is not as hot. Would-be home buyers take note, however: Things may not stay that way forever.

Since real estate properties are in the affordable range compared to neighboring Eugene, Springfield’s cost of living tends to be lower. If you’re moving from a big city, your wallet will definitely notice the difference.

As part of Oregon, Springfield has no sales taxes. You might be used to finding out the final price of an item once you arrive at the cash register, but that won’t be the case here – the price tag is what you will actually pay.

Let’s look at the rundown of the common expenses in Springfield, with data on housing from Point2Homes, rent information from RENTCafé and information on other expenses from Numbeo:

You might, of course, see your utility bills going up in winter — or in August, when the air conditioning is running full blast.

4. Commuting Here Feels Like a Breeze

Springfield spells good news for the morning commute – it takes about 20 minutes to get to work in the city. As it happens, that’s substantially shorter than the national average of 26.4 minutes, according to data provided by BestPlaces. Most residents choose to drive their own car to work, while a small fraction of them carpool with others.

Not so many people take public transit, but if you choose this option, you should know that you can easily get to Eugene using the EmX line. If you’re a bike enthusiast, Springfield also offers miles of beautiful bike paths.

 5. Have Your Pick of Public or Private Schools

There are 23 schools in Springfield – 20 of them are public and three schools are private. With Eugene so close by that the two cities are practically fused together, it’s easy for all residents to have access to the University of Oregon, Pioneer Pacific College and Lane Community College.

6. The Vibrant Cultural Legacy Will Rope You in

Springfield’s signature features are all over the city – from the life-sized Simpsons family at the Emerald Art Center to collections of public art and outdoor murals that are well worth visiting.

Simpsons mural Springfield OR

Here are some outstanding landmarks worth touring:

  • Opal Whiteley Outdoor Mural

This is the most celebrated mural depicting the former Springfield resident who infused her work with mysticism. She penned the “Journal of an Understanding Heart,” a best-seller in the US. While her story was challenged, her portrait still enchants.

  • The Oregon Trail Outdoor Mural

Adorning the Emerald Art Center, this painting honoring the pioneers was created by the brush of Ann Woodruff Murray in 1993.

  • Ken Kesey Statue by Peter Helzer

While the famous writer who authored “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” wasn’t born in Springfield, he made the city his home after moving here early in life. A bronze statue representing him and his three grandchildren pays tribute to the writer in the Broadway Plaza now known as “Kesey Square.”

Besides all this, you can find out more about the city’s vivid past if you visit Springfield Museum, where you can peruse the exhibits about the regional’s timber industry and other subjects. Additionally, you can see first-hand how commercial filbert (hazelnut) is being processed at the Dorris Ranch Living History Farm, the oldest farm in the country of its kind currently still operating.

7. Nature Enthusiasts Rejoice: It’s an Outdoor Heaven Here

Springfield’s unique geography offers a plethora of opportunities for outdoor activities. The breathtaking cascades of the Willamette and McKenzie rivers appeal to all nature enthusiasts. And you can camp riverside by the Willamette Water Trail, for example. More than 200 miles of rivers flowing towards Springfield make for a nice day trip through a leafy mix of cottonwoods and willows.

Wilamette river Springfield OR

Just southeast of Springfield, you can go fishing or enjoy a relaxing boating trip if you choose Dexter and Lookout Point reservoirs. If whitewater paddling is your go-to type of outdoors adventure, there are a lot of great spots along the Willamette River, Row River, Calapooia River and Fall Creek. Other state and recreation areas include the Lowell State Recreation Site and Splash! at Lively Park, where you can have fun inside with a year-round water park with a wave pool, waterslides and a spa.

If hiking is more your idea of fun, Mount Pisgah Arboretum is close by. Winding along riverbanks and forests, trails here are the perfect places for your next outdoor adventure. Look no further than Eagles Rest Trail and the Teeter Creek Loop for some of the best trails the area has to offer. Also, for your picnic time, find the perfect spot in Willamalane’s numerous parks and playgrounds. For golfers, Emeralds Valley Golf Club, Oakway Golf Course and Laurelwood Municipal Golf Course offer plenty of options.

8. Time to Move? Pick the Right Springfield Out of Over 40 cities With the Same Moniker

With the multitude of cities bearing the same name, make sure you put in the correct city in your GPS when you are headed to Springfield, Ore.! As you actively plan your move, remember to look for local self storage solutions to temporarily keep your belongings until you are ready to find a permanent home in this charming city. And after you complete your move, self storage might come in handy to temporarily house some items, especially if you are the outdoorsy type. You will most likely pay $64 for a 5×5 self storage unit in Springfield.

Did you find out everything you needed to know about Springfield, Ore.? If there’s anything you’d like to know, please let us know in the comments section below.

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Published at Fri, 24 Apr 2020 11:25:56 +0000

How to Find an Apartment During the Coronavirus Pandemic

How to Find an Apartment During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I had to find an apartment during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how I did it.

A coronavirus apartment hunt may sound like the last thing anyone would do right now, as the virus continues to spread and shelter in place rules have been extended.

The majority of states in the U.S. have told its residents to stay home and practice social distancing. As of this writing, there are about 750,000 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with roughly 70,000 recoveries.

Undoubtedly, coronavirus is hitting us hard, so the thought of moving in the near future felt impossible and overwhelming. I emailed my landlord, who said it would be OK to extend the lease. But because I had plenty of time to be inside, I decided to slowly start looking.

So, I started emailing apartments in prime areas in Oakland and realized that almost everyone got back to me. Competition for popular areas has gone down, and newer developments began slashing rent prices or even offering a month or two for free.

After searching for a few weeks, this is what I learned about my coronavirus apartment hunt and how to navigate this tricky landscape.

Note: With shelter-in-place in most states, it’s best to stay inside. This post is not encouraging you to move. Extend your lease or go month-to-month if you can. If you’ve lost your job and can’t pay rent, there are eviction moratoriums, depending on your state.

1. Virtual tours are a thing now

Many apartment leasing offices and landlords are adjusting to social distancing and offering virtual tours. On our partner site Apartment Guide, you can go on a virtual tour with a leasing agent or take advantage of extensive video and 3D tours.

virtual tours on apartment guide

You can then contact the property via email or phone. (Soon you’ll also be able to submit your application through the site as well.) The property will request you fill out a lease application, send the application fee and submit pay stubs. They may also ask you for your credit score and run a background check, which may be included in the application fee.

Pro tip: This is a great time to negotiate, so if you notice anything in the video that concerns you, bring it up in the follow-up conversation. For example, in the apartment I am moving into, the door to the bathroom was sticky, so I asked them to either replace the door or have it fixed.

2. Potential tenants may get to enter the unit without meeting an agent

Perhaps signing a lease on an apartment “sight-unseen” makes you uncomfortable. That’s perfectly understandable. If you’re interested in an apartment, ask if the building can leave the door unlocked.

Many places I looked at left a phone number for me to call, so I could be buzzed into the building without someone having to meet me.

3. Ask for discounts

Normally, I would never even consider asking for a discount on rent, especially for units that are in a prime location with tons of competition. However, uncertain times may mean people are willing to be more flexible, so I started asking if there were any deals they could offer me. I asked for a $150 discount on rent, and I got it.

I was also able to negotiate a temporarily reduced price on rent for the first two months.

In addition to asking for discounts on rent, you could ask if the landlord has any wiggle room for the following:

  • Discount or deferment of the security deposit
  • Waive or defer the application fee or pet fees

4. Reiterate the fact that you’re a stable tenant

It’s a good time to be braggy. Landlords are probably feeling the strain of filling empty apartments and want to know they’re renting to the right person, not the only person.

Give them peace of mind by showing them your strong credit score, your steady income and zero prior evictions.

man moving during coronavirus

5. Stagger your schedule with movers

This part might be tricky, because many moving businesses may be temporarily shut down due to coronavirus. Start by asking the landlord or management office if they know of any movers who are still operating.

At the time of writing, TaskRabbit, an online service with individual helpers and movers, is still open, however, they’re adhering to the social-distancing mandate.

Pack your valuable items ahead of time and leave the big stuff for the movers.

It may be challenging, but on moving day, you could pack your car ahead of time and head over to your new place before the movers, so you’re staggering the schedule and potentially lessening physical interaction.

Making the decision to move or stay put

Moving to a new place is stressful enough — throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix and it just got that much more stressful.

If you’re not finding a lot of places offering virtual tours or keyless entries (without having to meet someone at the building), consider going month-to-month or asking your building or landlord if they can extend your lease.

Of course, the best-case scenario would be to stay put until the virus is better contained and shelter in place orders are lifted.

Remember to always stay six feet apart from others in public, wear a mask and wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds when you return home.

Published at Tue, 21 Apr 2020 12:05:14 +0000

What to Do if You Can’t Afford Rent Payments Due to Coronavirus?

What to Do if You Can’t Afford Rent Payments Due to Coronavirus?

For the 36 percent of Americans that are renters, the virtual national business shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is hitting hard.

With an estimated 10 to 20 million people out of work, innumerable citizens are or will soon be struggling to pay their rent on the first or 15th of the month.

Housing is the No. 1 monthly expense for most people. So, amid the spread of this novel coronavirus, rent payments may be difficult to come by.

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If you’re having trouble paying your rent — or fear you soon will be — you can follow these steps to meet your lease obligations.

Communicate with your landlord if you can’t pay your rent

For many, even the combination of unemployment compensation and government assistance isn’t enough to cover the rent along with other bills. The best plan is to discuss your situation with your landlord or property manager and come to an agreement together. And regardless of what you need or the solution you may be able to come to with them, the first step is to be honest, open and upfront with them.

“[No landlord] wants to just get a text or email saying times are tough and we need help. What is your runway on finances? When do you think you might need help if it’s not right away? Be as honest and open as you can, because this will help your landlord plan too,” Portland, OR, landlord Colin Cook told CNBC.

And your best course of action is to get ahead of the problem. Don’t wait until your rent is due to spring your need for help. Give your landlord or property manager as much notice as you can, which gives them more time to put a plan into place and also shows your willingness to follow any agreement and that you’re acting in good faith.

Of course, if possible, do all this by email or phone. Don’t make an unnecessary trip to the property manager’s office if you can avoid it, for your safety and theirs. Chances are, they are working remotely anyway.

signing lease

Ask if you can restructure your payments

The most feasible arrangement to offer your property manager is a reasonable payment plan. Present them directly with a plan based on your current needs and limitations.

  • Show your need by providing documentation or proof of the severity of your financial situation. The more you have the better, whether it’s a memo from your employer indicating the length of your layoff or a copy of your unemployment compensation application. Don’t be ashamed of needing help. Millions of Americans are in the same exact situation as you are right now.
  • Let your landlord or property manager know how much you can reasonably pay now and how much you’ll be able to pay over the next month or two. Unless you’re in dire straits, you should offer to pay at least some of your rent. If you offer something, they’re more likely to agree to your plan.
  • Give them a specific date when you’ll be paying back the remainder, along with full payment of that month. Stick to that date. If you can’t, discuss an extension with your landlord as early as you can.
  • Provide all of this in writing, signed and awaiting their countersignature. Make it as easy for them as possible.
  • Assure them that this is only temporary until the crisis is over and that you do not anticipate this happening again.

There’s a chance the landlord will request a late fee to be paid at the time of settlement. Feel free to ask that it be waived if you’re a good tenant who has previously always paid on time. Your landlord might also present a counteroffer.

Know before you go in exactly how much you can afford and be clear about your limits. And if they’re not open to rent restructuring, ask them what solutions they may be willing to offer. All apartment communities will be handling this situation in a slightly different way, so don’t assume that this your only option or demand that your property manager accommodate you.

Have empathy for your landlord

We might think of our landlords as giant corporations getting rich off of our rents. But the truth is, almost half of rental properties are individually owned, mom and pop landlords and people just like us investing in real estate.

They’re also under stress from the coronavirus crisis with property taxes, insurance and mortgages coming due, repairs and upkeep to make and property managers and maintenance staff salaries to pay, with rent their only source of income. Even large rental companies will feel the pinch as they have difficulty covering expenses, utilities and mortgages.

Most landlords want to help you in this time of need, but they aren’t immune to the economy themselves. Be kind, have empathy and be patient with your landlord or property manager. Absolutely avoid making demands because you are asking them for help.

And don’t take advantage of the situation. If you can afford your rent, keep paying it. That will only lead to them being able to assist other tenants and staff.

stressed person

What if your landlord can’t or won’t help?

If your landlord is not willing or not able to help restructure your payments or offer any rent relief, you do have some other options.

1. Apply for rental assistance

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website offers links to a number of helpful resources for rental assistance, such as state or local financial assistance programs.

As well, the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities may also be sources of rental support. You can also contact the United Way by dialing 2-1-1 to be connected to local organizations that may be able to help.

And if you or anyone in your household is a veteran, HUD and the U.S. Veterans Administration has programs that can help with rent.

2. Take out a loan

If you have solid credit and can prove that despite the current crisis you’re a trusted recipient, you can turn to your bank and apply for a short-term loan. Banks will take into account your financial history and may be willing to loan you enough money to take care of rent and expenses.

Do you own a small business? Then you can apply for a Small Business Administration Disaster Loan. These loans are not only available for you to help keep your business afloat or pay employees but to keep your home and bills paid, as well. And through the Paycheck Protection Program portion of the federal government’s stimulus package, additional types of businesses can qualify for small business loans.

3. Take advantage of the CARES Act

The CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed last month, is offering a cash payment to most every American. The majority of those individuals making under $75,000 (or $112,500 as head of household) will receive a stimulus check of $1,200, plus an additional $500 per household with a dependent (a bit less for those making up to $99,000 individually or $146,000 as head of household). These payments have already started appearing in some bank accounts.

And for Americans who have lost their job due to the coronavirus crisis, the CARES Act is also providing an additional $600 a week for those receiving unemployment compensation through their state during the shutdown, on top of their regular payment, for up to 39 weeks.

Some states are also offering even more assistance to their citizens who lease. For example, Delaware is providing a payment of up to $1,500 for renters who have lost their income. Be sure to check if your state or city is offering similar programs.

The federal and state governments are encouraging Americans to use this stimulus money to help pay bills, including rent.

What shouldn’t you do?

It’s understandable that desperate times call for desperate measures. And for many people, this may be their first time in this sort of situation. Even if you can’t figure out other options, don’t put yourself in a situation where you kick the can down the road that will only make things worse.

  • Don’t send your landlord a check you know will bounce. You won’t accomplish anything but angering your landlord and possibly setting yourself up for future eviction. And worse, you’ll still owe the money.
  • Don’t just ignore the problem in hopes that it will go away. No one knows how this crisis will play out and the last thing you want to do is have unpaid bills and no recourse for how to resolve them. Your rent isn’t going anywhere, even if you ignore it.
  • Avoid turning to payday lenders and car title loan companies to find quick cash. In the end, you’ll be paying much more in the long run and putting yourself at risk of damaging your credit.
  • We’ve mentioned this a few times already, but don’t demand that your landlord or property manager needs to help you. They do want to work with you, but they aren’t going to let you live rent-free.
  • Lastly, and hopefully it goes without saying, absolutely don’t skip out on your rent. If you need assistance, speak up sooner than later.

Are you going to be evicted if you can’t pay?

If you can’t pay your rent on time due to income loss related to the coronavirus shutdown, are you in danger of being evicted? Most likely, no.

The CARES Act includes a freeze on evictions of tenants for non-payment in buildings financed by federally-backed mortgages (like those subsidized by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and HUD). However, this protection only applies to about a quarter of all renters, with the rest funded by banks and private lenders.

For those not covered in the stimulus, most states and a number of individual municipalities have issued their own stays of eviction, many in place between one and three months. Keep in mind, a few locales do require some type of proof you have suffered a loss of income due to the shutdown.

But just because your city or state has passed a moratorium on eviction doesn’t mean all landlords are aware of the new rules. If your landlord does attempt an eviction and you believe you’re protected, check with the local sheriff, who in most cities is the one that carries out evictions and knows the temporary restrictions.

Eventually, you have to pay

Be aware: Just because you’re a beneficiary of an eviction moratorium, doesn’t mean you never have to pay. These provisions are deferments, not cancellations. Just because you can’t be evicted now, doesn’t mean you can’t after the crisis has ended. If you didn’t pay knowing you couldn’t be evicted, plan to pay back any months you didn’t pay once the situation has normalized.

“A moratorium isn’t a pass to skip paying rent. It means that your landlord cannot sue you for nonpayment or pursue the eviction process while the moratorium is in place,” debt resolution attorney and author Leslie Tayne told The Huffington Post.

However, there are a number of housing rights groups advocating a movement to end rental obligations during the crisis, most notably under the #CancelRent banner. The effort is requesting the federal government subsidize property owners so rent can be exempted. While unlikely, renters should keep an eye on the story.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional financial or legal advice as they may deem it necessary.

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Published at Fri, 17 Apr 2020 14:07:58 +0000

WE ARE MADE OF TOUGH STUFF!

WE ARE MADE OF TOUGH STUFF!

WE ARE MADE OF TOUGH STUFF!

We are made of tough stuff. Now more than ever before, we need to know that we will make it through this unprecedented COVID-19 global health emergency. As an industry multifamily will remain a strong player in the US economy. But what will be the impact of this national health crisis for apartment housing?

As we look for answers in the short term, one thing is clear, no one really knows what may and can happen.  This is the time to pull together as a country and help our residents the best way we know.  First and foremost, communication will be crucial. Some apartment communities have a broadcast text or email system to keep their residents well informed in real time. Message Assist from @CallAssist247 is a simple easy way to message your residents via phone, text or email. Remote messaging is the best way to continue to maintain physical distancing. We need to be social as isolation can lead to depression and sadness for many.

In the short term, The National Apartment Association has given guidelines for their members and has been key in trying to keep pace with an event that changes hour by hour. As rents are at an all-time high and the typical renter is spending close to half of their income on rent, April 1st there will be delinquency. NAA suggests that there is no easy cookie cutter approach for how to handle default rent, but to take each situation on a case by case scenario. Perhaps partial payments? There will be many residents who have never missed a rent payment and may need to choose between food and rent. Local governments may offer some solutions. You can be helpful and keep abreast of these local resources to help your residents. Are there local food banks or state agencies that can offer some financial assistance?

What can we expect moving forward for our industry? Again no one has a crystal ball. Shelter is a basic need. Possible recession is a distinct possibility. Historically the apartment sector overall is likely to weather a recession well. We may see mobility slow as eviction and foreclosure processes evolve. The shortage of work force housing will be exacerbated by job losses from the service sector. And perhaps as more of us are working from home, the demand for commercial real estate will lessen. (Source: Apartmentlist.com)

We survived the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008, Black Monday in 1987 and recession in 1975. Often our greatest opportunity lies in our biggest challenges. With the strength of our nation, we will make it through this unprecedented global health crisis. As we pulled together as a country during 9/11, we will make it through Covid-19 as we are made of tough stuff!

Published at Thu, 26 Mar 2020 10:48:45 +0000

Bryant Park Whole Foods Closes To Become Prime Fulfillment?

Bryant Park Whole Foods Closes To Become Prime Fulfillment?

Most unfortunate and interesting. The closest Whole Foods to RentHop HQ will be closing to public shoppers. Instead, it will “focus more on prime orders” during the Covid-19 shutdowns.

 

 

I’m sure Amazon has smart people who have crunched the numbers, but it seems almost unthinkable only months ago. One of the most central and prime real estate locations in Manhattan will turn away all foot traffic, instead becoming a logistics warehouse for their delivery services?

Why It Makes Sense

Anyone who has been to Whole Foods in the past 4 weeks knows it is a lot busier than in normal times. However, the slight surge is minuscule compared to record-breaking surges in delivery demand. FreshDirect has had no delivery slots most days for weeks, and that’s with many paying customers on Delivery Pass (obviously some get slots, but I’ve refreshed daily and now my subscription has expired, which I will not renew).

So what did the Operations Research geniuses at Amazon conclude? They can serve many more customers by increasing online delivery capacity. They are already near 100% capacity, and must have taken a careful look at the system bottlenecks.

Identifying Growth Bottlenecks

Part of the bottleneck is supply of goods – but even if they are out of Classico Basil and Tomato sauce, there is always someone willing to order Raos. Tech technology is also clearly not the bottleneck – they are already one of the world’s leading cloud providers, and despite the occasional bugs, their site can withstand a lot. It is possible they lack available staff to delivery the goods – but with 16 million newly unemployed, they should getting an influx of new applicants to join the ranks.

Removing Variation

Most likely, the bottleneck is preparing the orders and distributing them to the delivery staff. By converting centrally located stores into exclusive fulfillment hubs, they no longer need to dedicate much of the staff to the cash register, the food bars, and any of the stations that require customer interaction (“how many pounds of ground beef?” “do you want 85% lean or 90% lean?”). Most importantly, it’s about reducing variation. When they need to be ready for customers who might want or need anything, it doesn’t take much to slow down the capacity of the entire system.

Simplifying Product Lines For Higher Capacity

When they slice off the foot traffic arm of the business, what is left? All of the space and personnel can focus on only online orders. The orders are pre-determined AND pre-paid. They can revamp the logistics so orders are already pre-bundled and ready for pickup when the delivery person arrives. They are also no longer confined to working regular store hours. Deliveries and inventory can happen at all hours of the day.

Order packing is more complex – the deliveries can only go out at certain day hours (7am to 11pm), and some items are temperature sensitive down to about 2 hours prior to delivery. But at least they know about the complex orders with enough lead time and can plan for them in special ways.

Will I Order More?

Where does that leave us? Unfortunately, I doubt there will be priority slots for nearby residents and offices. Instead, they might add 1000 new delivery slots per day, but I’ll be fighting for them alongside the 20,000 others reloading their Amazon checkout carts!

Published at Mon, 13 Apr 2020 13:52:12 +0000

The trick to staying away from holiday snacks

The trick to staying away from holiday snacks

The trick to staying away from holiday snacks

If there’s ever a time to indulge, it’s the holiday season. The nonstop family gatherings, workplace celebrations, and get-togethers with friends certainly provide ample temptations in the form of festive treats. And while it’s fine to nibble on something sweet at the occasional soiree, when you make a habit of it, you could enter the new year carrying some additional weight. Here’s how to avoid going overboard with the holiday snacks.

  1. Preemptively eat a healthy snack.
    When you grab a healthy snack before you head out to a holiday party, you won’t be ravenous by the time you show up. This will make it easier to stay away from the festive spread, or at least to keep yourself from overdoing it. So nibble on some fruit or veggies the next time you’re getting ready for a holiday party.
  2. BYO noshes.
    If you don’t think pre-gaming with healthy snacks will be enough to keep you away from the buffet table, here’s another way to avoid temptation: bring your own bites. Instead of chowing down on holiday cookies, chips, and other unhealthy snacks, bring along veggies and hummus, fruit and yogurt, or low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers to share with the crowd. Other health-minded partygoers will probably thank you!
  3. Focus on balanced snacks.
    If you do intend to partake in the provided nibbles at a holiday bash, make smarter selections. Opt for a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrates, ideally with a small amount of fat. This combination will help to keep you full and avoid overeating.
  4. Sip on tea or coffee.
    When you’re at the family holiday party, do you devour snacks because you’re actually hungry, or simply because they’re sitting on the table next to you? Many people will absentmindedly snack just for something to do. Distract yourself with a hot cup of peppermint tea or black coffee instead. Sipping on the warming beverage will keep your hands busy, but it won’t add any calories to your daily intake.
  5. Chew gum.
    Another way to distract yourself from the snack spread is to chew gum. Most gums contain only a few calories, and they help to trick your brain into thinking you’re snacking freely. If you’re not actually hungry, just looking for a way to keep your teeth busy, pop a stick of gum instead of snacks.
  6. Keep treats out of sight, out of mind.
    When you go to a party hosted by someone else, you don’t have control over the menu. That’s when the previous tips may come in handy. But when it comes to your own home, you can choose what you bring into it—and how you display (or don’t display) holiday treats. Try to avoid bringing candy, cookies, and other desserts into your apartment altogether. When you can’t, at least keep them stowed away in the cabinet and showcase fruit and other healthy snacks on the counter. This makes it more likely that you’ll choose a light and healthy bite over a calorie-dense treat.

Published at Sat, 01 Dec 2018 20:52:20 +0000