Coronavirus Mortgage Relief: What You Need To Know

Coronavirus Mortgage Relief: What You Need To Know

Mortgage lenders, and the federal agencies that regulate lenders, are putting coronavirus mortgage relief measures in place to ensure homeowners have options if they’re unable to make payments.

Your first stop in the face of financial hardship is your lender or bank.

Just keep in mind lenders are working to figure out and implement the new mortgage relief polices outlined by the regulatory agencies. So you might read one thing from the FHFA, a federal regulator, but your bank might be doing something else.

In addition, due to the number of homeowners affected by the pandemic, lenders are dealing with a crush of calls and online queries. Be patient, persistent, and prepared to spend time on hold.  

Here are the resources you need now.

Your Mortgage

Federally Backed Mortgages
If you have a mortgage backed by Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veteran’s Administration (VA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac, your loan servicer must offer you deferred or reduced mortgage payment options – called forbearance — for up to six months. This means you don’t have to pay your mortgage and you won’t be charged late fees, penalties, or interest while you can’t pay.

Loan servicers for FHA, Freddie, and Fannie must provide an additional six months of forbearance if you request it. 

Not sure who backs your own loan? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have loan look-up sites where you can find out who owns it, and how to get in touch with them.

In addition, here are direct links to some lenders and banks’ Covid-19 resources:

Mortgages Not Federally Backed
If your mortgage is one of the 5 million in the United States not backed by a federal entity, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes a coronavirus mortgage relief mandate, doesn’t apply. But regulators have encouraged those lenders to work with borrowers who can’t pay their mortgages, and most banks and other lenders are suspending mortgage payments or offering forbearance.

The level of relief you get will depend on who owns your loan. Contact your lender to find out what’s available.

Regardless of the type of loan you have, you must apply for coronavirus mortgage relief through their mortgage servicer. That’s the entity that collects your monthly payments and decides how long the assistance will last. When you reach your mortgage servicer, you’ll need to explain your situation and provide information about your income, expenses, and assets. 

Foreclosure and Evictions

Federal officials have imposed a nationwide halt to foreclosures and evictions for more than 36 million Americans with home mortgages backed by the FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

The moratorium only affects borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, and RHS (Rural Housing Service loans through the USDA). This doesn’t apply to the roughly 35% of mortgages held in bank portfolios and private label securities. But some individual lenders are offering relief.

Some cities, counties, and states, including Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Texas, have placed a moratorium on foreclosures. Check with your city, county, and state governments. Find state-by-state tallies online.

Housing Counselors

Another tool in your relief toolbox are housing counselors. Counselors can provide independent advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s look-up tool lets you can find counselors in your state.

Your Credit

The CARES Act forbids lenders from dinging your credit score for missed payments on federally backed mortgages and student loans during your forbearance period. The federal government is also encouraging private lenders to suspend reporting late payments on eligible mortgages. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has more advice about protecting your credit.

By law, you can get a free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Note that these reports don’t include credit scores. Equifax offers six free credit reports every 12 months through December 2026 if you sign up for a myEquifax account

Your Student Loan

The CARES Act includes immediate relief for those who can’t make their monthly payments on federally held loans due to coronavirus. All loan payments (both principal and interest) are suspended through Sept. 30, 2020, with no penalty. You don’t need to apply for this program or contact your lender. It’s automatic.

If you keep making payments, they’ll be applied entirely toward the principal. These suspended payments will count towards any student loan forgiveness already in effect.

Here’s a list of servicers — and their phone numbers — for loans backed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Some loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program and some Perkins Loans not owned by the Department of Education aren’t eligible for suspended payments. Nor are private student loans owned by banks, credit unions, schools, or other private entities. If you can’t make payments, contact your loan servicer to find out what options are available. Many are offering ways, like forbearance, to postpone payments.

Not sure who your servicer is? Look on your most recent statement and contact the servicer immediately.

If your student loan is already in default, the relief act immediately suspends wage garnishments or tax refund deductions. They’ll resume after the suspension ends.

Find out more about student loan relief at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Your Taxes

The IRS has pushed back the deadline for filing and payment of federal taxes to July 15, 2020. Many states are following suit. Check with your state tax agency, or see this list from the American Institute of CPAs for details on deadlines.

Related: Tips to Get Filing Ready for (Delayed) Tax Deadline

Your Real Estate Transaction

If you’re going to be buying or selling a home in the near future, find out if your county recording office can complete the deal online.

In addition, more than half of states, many under emergency state directive, allow for remote online notarization of documents. This makes it safe and easy to complete real estate transactions under social distancing orders. The number of states allowing remote notarization could grow as pandemic legislation expands.

Your Appraisal

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have provided detailed appraisal alternative guidelines, so homeowners and appraisers can practice social distancing on Freddie and Fannie loans through May 17, 2020.

FHA, VA, and RHS are also allowing variations on the usual appraisal protocol. Check with your servicer for details.

Look Out For Scams

Fear breeds scams. And scammers are out in full force during the pandemic. Beware of third parties offering mortgage assistance and other help. Seek help from your lender directly.

For information on circulating scams, and guidance on identifying them, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.  

With additional reporting by Christina Hoffmann

Published at Tue, 07 Apr 2020 13:23:42 +0000

Should You Pay Rent During The Covid-19 Eviction Moratorium?

Should You Pay Rent During The Covid-19 Eviction Moratorium?

Posted on April 09, 2020 11:28 am

If you decided not to pay rent in April 2020, you are in good company. About 31% of renters did not pay on time, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Clearly this is a time of financial hardship for many, and governors everywhere have announced a halting of foreclosures and evictions.

Only 69% of renters paid on-time

Ignore The Headlines – Bad But Not So Bad

So far, all of the headlines have said 1/3 of America is not paying their rent. That sounds horrible, but that’s the problem with sensational headlines. Everyone reads it and assumes we dropped instantly from 100% of people paying rent to every third household becoming deadbeats. It’s not true.

Just the month prior, for rent due March 1st, prior to almost all of the USA Covid-19 spread, only 81% of households paid their rent on time according to the same data source, the NMHC. And that was the month following all-time highs for the economy on many fronts (record low unemployment with record high stock markets).

It also helps to look at one year prior, where 82% of households paid rent on time. So 81% to 69% is the number. Yes, it’s a big blow to landlords. An increase from the usual 19% delinquent renters to 31%. More than a 50% increase in late or unpaid rent. But it’s not the mass wave of deadbeats suggested, where an apartment complex has 300 paying tenants and suddenly 100 of them stop.

Any Data Bias?

We are always mindful of any strange bias sources in the data. The 69% number comes from rent-collection and property management software such as Yardi / Appfolio. Who uses these? Mostly large, multi-family property managers who own big apartments complexes. There is a large number of tenant and landlord relationships that use more old-fashioned methods: the monthly check, or monthly cash payment.

Whether or not smaller landlords will see better payment patterns in unclear, but I would lean towards slightly better than the 69%. The relationship is more personal than a big, faceless company, and unfortunately collections is probably more stringent, with tenant rights not always respected.

Published at Thu, 09 Apr 2020 15:28:20 +0000

Free At-Home Workout Videos to Try During Quarantine

Free At-Home Workout Videos to Try During Quarantine

Staying healthy and in shape while quarantined is totally doable. Even if you have no equipment or very little time, there are many great options to help you exercise in your apartment. Here’s a list of some of our favorite at-home workout videos. They include yoga, Zumba, CrossFit, Bootcamp-style classes, kickboxing, and barre exercises.

Yoga with Adriene

Find a yoga practice that suits your mood with Yoga by Adriene. If you’re brand-new to yoga, check out the Yoga For Beginners and Foundations of Yoga series. For those of you experiencing back pain, she also features Yoga For Back Pain practices on her channel.

COREPower Yoga

COREPower Yoga is offering free access to a limited collection of online yoga and meditation classes on their website.

POPSUGAR Fitness

POPSUGAR Fitness offers an extensive library of fitness tutorials, workouts, and exercises with celebrity trainers on their YouTube channel, covering the most buzzed-about workout classes and trends, including the Victoria’s Secret workout, Tabata, P90X, Bar Method, and more.

MadFit

A fitness-focused YouTube channel led by Maddie Lymburner, MadFit features free workout videos on everything from no-equipment workouts to apartment-friendly workouts to low-impact ones. Try a full-body HIIT workout or focus on just one area: Whatever your workout preference, MadFit has a heart-pumping video for you.

STRONG by Zumba

Torch and tone with STRONG by Zumba. This high-intensity workout combines cardio and muscle-conditioning moves to the beat of some fantastic music!

Blogilates

Cassey Ho, the fitness guru behind the hugely popular Blogilates YouTube channel and website
continues to offer a massive library of Pilates-style toning classes. In
response to the outbreak, she also created a 14-day quarantine workout plan, a great option
for those looking to add structure to their at-home workout schedules. 

Orangetheory Fitness

ORANGETHEORY is sharing a new 30-minute workout video each day, featuring some of its most popular coaches from around the world

305 Fitness

305 FITNESS is offering cardio dance live streams twice a day on their YouTube channel. The sessions are held at 12pm and 6pm ET.

YMCA

YMCA launched on-demand exercise and youth programs called YMCA 360, including barre, boot camp, yoga and more to support the health and well-being of everyone staying home

Amazon Prime Video

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you
already have free access to a varied library of fitness videos, including
cardio programs such as 21-Day
Transformation from GymRa
. Just head to
Prime Video and search for “fitness,” then check the
“Prime” box in the left sidebar to see what’s available for
streaming. 

Published at Fri, 03 Apr 2020 16:51:07 +0000

A Cozy Astoria Apartment Has a Wonderfully Warm and Cheery Color Palette

A Cozy Astoria Apartment Has a Wonderfully Warm and Cheery Color Palette

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Name: Justin Russo and Pierce Atkins
Location: Ditmars neighborhood — Astoria, NYC
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years Lived In: 11 year, renting

New York-based artist and illustrator Justin Russo has lived in this apartment for a long time. Eleven years ago he found it on Craigslist, and after many years of different roommates and “mismatched furnishings,” he was finally able to make this two-bedroom home is own. Now sharing it with his partner Pierce, the apartment is full of warm colors, green plants, and lots of references to old movies.

Justin’s Warm and Cheery Astoria Apartment | House Tours

“My home feels like an homage to postwar New York, which is my favorite historical and artistic period,” says Justin. “I am a cinephile and art geek and each time I open my front door, it feels like I am stepping back into a period of creative frenzy. The apartment is on the second floor of a two-story home (very typical for Astoria) and was built in 1925. Seemingly unlike most of the HGTV generation, I prefer nooks and closed-off spaces. My home is resplendent with these details.”

Justin, who you might have seen on “Fire Island,” is also the host of an LGBT travel show, “Check Your Luggage,” premiering soon on HereTV! and Amazon Prime. You can find more of Justin’s art on Etsy.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I lovingly call my style “Secretly Gay WWII Veteran Returning to NY in 1946 to Mourn His Lover Lost in Battle.”  I think of it as Film Noir meets Technicolor.

Inspiration: Essentially that period of time where immediate postwar meets mid-century modern. The sets of such films as “Mildred Pierce” or “The Big Sleep” without a film studio’s budget.

Favorite Element: I love how the living room and bedroom are connected via double doors. The bedroom has a large picture window and lets in a lot a light, warming up the entire space. This also enables us to easily create privacy or enlarge the living area when necessary.

I also love how a color scheme has been introduced throughout the entire place as it makes the home cohesive and connective. I’ve tried to keep the palette colorful and bright but manageable: teal, burnt oranges, golden yellow, and navy.

Biggest Challenge: In an older home and a rental, there are lots of particular issues of age to overcome. The kitchen, hall, and bathroom still need to be brought to life. The cabinets have been painted white (from a dark brown) to lighten the space. The hall has a built-in curio cabinet that was initially closed off. The doors were removed, and the shelves are now a bar.

Proudest DIY: Older homes tend to lack closet space. I turned an alcove in the studio into a functional storage space for my clothes and turned a very narrow “closet” (a closed space over the staircase) into a shoe closet using shelving from Home Depot and the help of my mom (who is an organizational whiz).

Biggest Indulgence: The orange sectional was definitely a splurge but easily the best purchase for the space. My sister helped source the piece and we somehow bought it at a steep discount. I also have an obsessive personality, hence the multiple photos of Lauren Bacall, bevy of art and film books, and an assortment of plants. I sometimes hide new books from my boyfriend.

Best Advice: Not everyone has a fully realized concept of their style but ultimately, if you are drawn to a color or a piece, start there. I drew my color inspiration from a 1942 “Casablanca” film poster and my love for a particular era. If something speaks to you, own it.

What’s your best home
secret?
My tendency for neatness has
been passed along from my great-grandparents. One can have many items, say a
pile of books, and it feel open as long as the space is organized. Simply put,
finishing chores promptly (i.e. doing dishes after cooking) rather than waiting
keeps a home in order.

Published at Tue, 07 Apr 2020 16:00:00 +0000

What Do I Do If My Roommate Needs to Quarantine?

What Do I Do If My Roommate Needs to Quarantine?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take an outsize toll on everyday life, staying at home has grown beyond just sound medical advice. In several states, it’s become the law of the land. With mandatory stay-at-home orders enacted across the country, some people living with roommates or partners may be grateful they’re not alone during this unprecedented ordeal, but others may worry about what happens if their roommates get sick. Here’s what you should do if your roommate needs to quarantine after showing COVID-19 symptoms or testing positive for the virus.

roommate quarantine

Keep up your usual preventative actions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a primer on everyday preventive actions for limiting the spread of COVID-19. If you’re not already practicing these actions, then you should absolutely do so if your roommate needs to quarantine.

Separate the sick roommate as much as possible

When you share an apartment with people, you’ll be using the same common spaces as them. Some of these spaces, such as the kitchen and bathroom, are vital, so you can’t easily avoid sharing them. That’s why these spaces can be hotbeds for picking up illnesses that your roommates have. Thus, if your roommate needs to quarantine, they should be staying in their room as much as possible and limiting the time they spend in your common spaces. If your apartment has more than one bathroom, sick roommates should be relegated to one bathroom and all other roommates to the other bathrooms.

Don’t share personal items

Even if your roommate spends as much time alone in their room as possible, they simply can’t avoid the kitchen or, in a one-bathroom apartment, the bathroom you all share. In this case, don’t share personal items such as food, kitchen and bathroom supplies, linens, and more. In the kitchen, for example, a sick roommate should only use silverware and kitchenware designated solely for them.

Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces even more often

Viruses are distinctly difficult enemies to fight because they’re invisible. Thus, even if you think your kitchen countertops are sparkling clean, they could be home to virus particles, and if your hands come into contact with your countertops and then your eyes, nose, or mouth, you could be exposed to the virus. It’s thus important to disinfect surfaces regularly if your roommate needs to quarantine. Be sure to use proper disinfecting techniques to ensure a clean, safe household. Additionally, regularly washing your hands can reduce your chances of accidentally transmitting the virus from household surfaces into your body. 

What if I’m the sick roommate?

Conversely, if you’re the roommate showing COVID-19 symptoms, you should take extra care to not accidentally infect your roommates. If possible, cover your nose and mouth whenever you’re in common spaces. Cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue, paper towel, or the inner elbow of your sleeve. Wash your hands before and after entering common spaces. If your symptoms are severe enough that you think you might need hospitalization, don’t hesitate to seek it, as this can both increase your chances of recovery and separate you from your roommates, reducing their risk of exposure.

Additionally, be sure to counter your physical isolation with digital communication with friends and family, as isolation can be detrimental to your mental health. Even if you can’t be in physical proximity with your roommates, you can still be in touch with your other loved ones, and their support – in addition to proper hydration, nutrition, and rest – can help you get through your illness.

Published at Fri, 03 Apr 2020 13:03:04 +0000

How Does the Coronavirus Stimulus Package Address Mortgage Relief?

How Does the Coronavirus Stimulus Package Address Mortgage Relief?

On March 27, President Trump signed a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that provides financial relief for individuals, small businesses, state and local governments, and other entities. Included in the package are significant mortgage relief options for apartment owners who are at least temporarily unable to make their usual monthly payments. Here’s everything you need to know about how the coronavirus stimulus package addresses mortgage relief.

coronavirus mortage relief

Forbearance options

According to the coronavirus stimulus package, apartment owners with federally backed mortgage loans issued by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mac can apply for up to six months of forbearance on their payments. To apply for forbearance, apartment owners must submit their requests directly to their loan servicer and verify their inability to pay their mortgage. Letters of termination and other documents proving job loss may be helpful to include with request submissions.

Additionally, during this six-month period, no lender may apply extra interest, fees, or penalties to an existing mortgage, though interest will accrue as usual during forbearance. Outside the terms set in the coronavirus stimulus package, certain loan servicers and banks have introduced waivers and special programs intended to help homeowners with their payments. 

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mac have taken additional measures beyond the terms of the coronavirus stimulus package to help homeowners. Lenders who must answer to these companies have been ordered to give homeowners payment breaks lasting as long as one year – twice the length that the coronavirus stimulus package mandates for new forbearance applications – and suspend all penalties and late fees. Additionally, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mac are requiring that lenders not report late payments by affected homeowners to credit bureaus.

Despite the terms that Freddie Mac, Fannie Mac, and the coronavirus stimulus bill have set, it remains vital for you to contact your loan servicer if you’re affected. These terms are not automatically set and only apply to apartment owners who present and prove their situations to their loan servicers. It is also important to remember that these measures present options for delaying your payments rather than entirely forgiving your debts.

Limits on foreclosures and evictions

Over the next six months, apartments with federally backed mortgage loans cannot be foreclosed upon. Additionally, tenants renting these apartments from their owners may not be evicted, nor may landlords charge these tenants with late fees, penalties, or any other charges associated with late rent payments. If you’re an affected tenant in such an apartment and your landlord is still demanding your rent in full, you may have other options for tending to your situation

Individual taxpayer checks

Though not directly related to mortgage relief, the individual taxpayer checks included in the coronavirus stimulus package may be helpful for your mortgage payments. If your income has been somewhat reduced rather than eliminated, this one-time check could help you to make upcoming payments. However, since this check is a one-time payment that begins at $1,200 and increases by $500 for every dependent filed on your tax return, it may not be enough to cover your mortgage. Even if you can use these checks to help with payments in the short term, you may need to consider other options in the long term – and with the pandemic’s effects changing every day, other options could be rolled out in the near future.

Published at Thu, 02 Apr 2020 13:02:07 +0000

How to Incorporate Nature Into Your Apartment

How to Incorporate Nature Into Your Apartment

Can’t get out and enjoy nature right now? Bring nature in your home. You may not own your dwelling, but you can still find ways to bring the outdoors inside. Whether your space is large or small, gardening enhances both your health and happiness. 

Living in the middle of a city, disconnected from nature, makes it all the more important to add some green in your life. You’ll find yourself feeling better and thinking more clearly. Here, we’ll go through the main benefits and the basics of incorporating more green space into your home.  

Plants Add Humidity 

indoor plants

Apartment plants are desirable because they add a bit of humidity to the air through transpiration, releasing moisture through small pores in their leaves. Lack of humidity usually leaves you with dry skin, and dry air can cause lung irritation and dry mouth. Recent studies suggest that increasing the humidity can also lower the odds of getting a cold or sore throat. Group a few of the right plants together in a couple of rooms, and you should see an increase in humidity. Some of the best plants for adding moisture to the air include: 

  • Rubber plant 
  • Peace lily 
  • English ivy 
  • Spider plant 

Plants Clean The Air

Taking deep, cleansing breaths is great for your health and you want to take in the purest air possible. Houseplants help with that. The NASA Clean Air Study (1989) started out as research on ways to clean the air in the Space Station. It found that certain plants filtered pollutants — including benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene — out of the air. While more recent research shows plants may not work as well outside of a controlled environment, scientists agree that they are removing harmful chemicals. Here are a few of the plants recommended for scrubbing the air. 

  • Elephant ear philodendron 
  • Aloe Vera 
  • Bamboo palm 
  • Barberton daisy 

Plants Boost Mental Health 

nature apartment

Houseplants may have an even bigger impact on our mental health. Working near greenery helps with concentration and memory. Flowers can boost the feeling of happiness through their appearance and scent. Keeping them in your home makes you less stressed and more relaxed. And whether you’re growing your plants out on a balcony or indoors, they need sunlight. As the plants are exposed, so are you. Sunlight increases our brain’s release of serotonin, the hormone responsible for boosting good moods and helping you feel calm and focused. 

All plants in your apartment garden have the power to positively impact your mental health, but you may want to give careful consideration to a money tree plantWhile money doesn’t grow on treeslegend has it that carefully tending to this particular green pal brings positive energy, good luck and prosperity! It’s a great way to spruce up your apartment. 

apartment flowers

Now that you know the why, let’s talk about the how. Apartment living often comes without a yard or a large space to turn into a garden. However, you can still get your hands in the dirt by bringing nature inside. 

Use Native Plants 

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, growing plants and flowers in pots is simple. Turn them into conversation pieces by choosing native plants. These flowers and shrubs have adapted to your area’s climate over many thousands of years. They typically require less water and fertilizer. Choosing native plants celebrates the heritage of the region. Not sure where to start? The National Wildlife Federation has an easy-to-use website where you simply type in your ZIP code and suggestions pop up, along with pictures. Find out which natives are best for apartment gardening from your local garden center 

Plant an Indoor Herb Garden 

herb garden

Limited indoor space practically screams for an herb garden. It’s a bit more challenging than growing potted plants, but extremely satisfying. You can grow herbs indoors year-round or put them on your terrace or patio during the warmer months. Perennial herbs, such as mint, thyme and sage, flourish when you’re able to set them outside. Growing herbs in your apartment has many benefits, among which their homey fragrance and aesthetically pleasing appearance, as well as a constant supply of herbs to season your meals. The herbs that grow best in an apartment garden include: 

  • Chives 
  • Rosemary 
  • Oregano 
  • Parsley 
  • Thyme 

Create Living Wall Art 

A distinctive way to Incorporate nature into your apartment is by adding living wall art. Also known as a vertical gardenthis assembly of wall-mounted plants is a perfect trend for smaller apartments, with plants that grow up instead of spreading out. Think “Jack and the Beanstalk,” only classier. To create your living wall, you’ll need a support structure like a trellis, chicken wire or planters secured to the wall. Vertical gardens can get heavy, so make sure your wall has enough support. Be sure to build this green wall somewhere where it can get direct sunlight.

There’s another aspect you need to consider: how you’re going to get water and nutrients to the plants. Living wall art can be made of greenery such as ivy and pothos, flowers including roses, wisteria and morning glory, and edible plants like kiwi, peas and tomatoes. 

Use a Jungle Theme 

jungle room design

Elvis Presley knew what he was doing when he created the Jungle Room at Graceland, back in the mid ’60s. That trend is still en vogue, and it’s a great way to bring nature into your apartment if plants aren’t an option. Most people don’t decorate their entire apartment in this theme but, rather, choose a room or two. Maybe a bedroom or a hallway.

You still have the option of adding a few plants, but the right patterns and materials can create the same jungle effect. Think bamboo furniture, woven floor mats and colorful jungle wallpaper, oeven a painted mural on one wall. Mix and match green with more subdued tones of tan and brown. Throw in animal ceramics like giraffes, apes or lions. Creating a jungle-themed room is different for everyone. You can go as big or as toned-down as you like. It’s a great way to bring nature into your apartment if you don’t have the time or the desire to have an apartment garden. 

 

About the author: Jayce Lambert is a graduate student in Texas who loves traveling, camping, hiking, and cycling. Her love of the outdoors is apparent in her dorm room, which she adorns with hanging plants and ferns. 

 

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Published at Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:43:14 +0000

Pros and Cons: Living in a Doorman Building

Pros and Cons: Living in a Doorman Building

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

As luxury rentals and mixed-use developments become more common in the U.S., doorman buildings have also become more abundant. In these buildings, a doorman greets you as you enter, though the term “doorman” can sometimes be inaccurate, as they don’t just hold or open doors – they often perform additional tasks including signing for packages and checking in visitors. If you’re considering making the shift to living in a doorman building but can’t quite decide whether this extra feature is right for you, consider the below pros and cons to help with your decision.

doorman building

Pros of living in a doorman building

Safety

Doormen are tasked with ensuring that all people who enter your apartment building log their entry before visiting any apartments. Some people who live in doorman buildings thus feel especially safe in their apartments due to their doorman’s presence.

Easier deliveries

In the era of shipping, it’s easy to worry that a package directed to you will get misplaced. Maybe a passerby outside swipes your package from your doorstep, or maybe someone else on your apartment building’s floor accidentally takes your package. In many doorman buildings, the doorman will ensure that your package is held for you until you’re ready to come to the front desk to retrieve it.

Spare keys

When you hire dog walkers, cleaners, or other people who might need access to your apartment while you’re not in it, chances are that you give them keys to your apartment. If you’re worried about the risk that accompanies someone else having access to your apartment, then doormen might allay that concern. They’ll hold onto your spare keys and give them to whomever needs to enter your apartment — with your permission. This person will then return the keys to the doorman upon leaving.

Someone to talk to

Whether you’re just looking to chat or need to find someone for a maintenance issue, a doorman can be your first stop. On your way back in from your day at work, you might enjoy catching up with your doorman about family news, TV recommendations, and other things. If you’re having trouble with something in your apartment, your doorman can help to direct you to someone who can fix it. And if you leave your keys in your apartment, your doorman can solve that problem, too.

Cons of living in a doorman building

Price

Generally speaking, the rent in apartment buildings with a doorman will be higher. In New York City, for example, apartments tend to cost 10 to 15 percent more if the building has a doorman. Even if an apartment building with doormen were priced the same as one without them, the doorman building might still be more expensive around the holidays, when tipping doormen is encouraged.

Less privacy

When you live alone without a doorman, you can bring people to and from your apartment without anybody seeing you. When you have a doorman, though, there’s always someone watching the flow of people to and from your apartment. And since other tenants might be especially friendly and chatty with your doormen, you never know if other people around you might learn things about your personal life.

Someone to talk to

Sure, having someone to talk to can be a pro, but it can just as easily be a con if you’re not a particularly social person. Even if you do consider yourself a people person, you might not want to have to talk to someone or at least say a polite hello every time you enter or leave your building. 

Illusions of safety and easier deliveries

You might feel safer in a building with a doorman, but you might quickly begin to feel too safe. Just because non-tenants or non-visitors are prevented from entering your building doesn’t mean that your neighbors won’t enter your space if you leave your door unlocked. And if you’re especially worried about safety, you might not love the idea of a doorman potentially having spare keys to your apartment.

Additionally, many doorman buildings operate separate package rooms where shipping and postal office workers can leave your packages for you without any doorman involvement. In these cases, doormen provide merely an illusion of safer package delivery rather than actually being involved with the process. When you look at apartments in doorman buildings, be sure to ask about the exact duties of the doormen.

Would you prefer a doorman building or a non-doorman building, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Published at Tue, 31 Mar 2020 18:06:43 +0000

Updates Versus Radio Silence: How Not To Die

Updates Versus Radio Silence: How Not To Die

Posted on March 31, 2020 11:33 am

Just before the Covid-19 realities forced everyone to stay-at-home, I was having tea with one of RentHop’s long-time angel investors. Fortunately, for us, we don’t have real board meetings, so I try to do individual syncs as often as possible. It’s one of the key hacks in How Not To Die, to force yourself to give regular updates. That way, you commit beforehand to having everyone assume radio silence is failure.

Required Weight Loss Update

Speaking of forced updates, we are almost at the first checkpoint of my Weight Loss hack. How’s that going? So far so good. When we were still going to the Grand Central Tech office, my daily lunch consisted of two feet of Subway Sandwiches, sans the bread.

Steak and Cheese or Oven Roasted Chicken Breast from subway, without the bread, is under 400 calories per foot long, even with veggies and cheese (red wine vinegar sauce)

Cruise Goal Approaching

The original first deadline was a late April cruise from Long Beach, California to Mexico, aboard the Carnival Panorama. Unfortunately, it seems highly unlikely we will be sailing next month. As we speak. cruise ships are being turned away at ports for fear the spreading the virus.

The original Diamond Princess is considered Patient 0 to 300 for one of the largest Japan clusters. The Grand Princess is the California ship stranded for weeks, back when things on land seemed under control (how we long for those days). Apparently, my older brother had just taken the Grand Princess two weeks prior to the fateful virus sailing.

I think it’s safe to say, we will play it safe. Even if the boat was clean, do we really want to leave the comfort of home to fly to California, spend a week, or much longer, in close quarters with 2000 others in various ports of call?

Weight Status Update

So far so good! At the beginning of the challenge, my wife purchased a new bathroom scale – one of those “smart” scales that can send your data to your phone and track for multiple household members (and catch cheating spouses). Interestingly, the brand is called RENPHO, which always kind of looks like RentHop.

From 150+ to 145.2. Halfway there!

Published at Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:33:42 +0000

Ways to make your space feel bigger when you meditate

Ways to make your space feel bigger when you meditate

Ways to make your space feel bigger when you meditate

In a world that moves at a breakneck pace, finding time to slow down and quiet your mind is difficult—and it’s also essential. Many people turn to meditation to help. The practice guides the mind to a calmer place using breathing techniques, mantras, and imagery. It can be as simple as breathing deeply and repeating a phrase or as complicated as traveling to a different plane tucked away in the recesses of your imagination. Either way, you need a quiet, calm space to do it in order to really reap the benefits of meditation. Here’s how to make your apartment feel bigger when you meditate.

  1. Oust any clutter.
    One of the most obvious ways to make your space feel larger is to rid it of any stuff that’s non-essential. Purging extra clutter is a good habit to get into, whether you meditate or not. Donate any knick-knacks, furnishings, and decor that you don’t really need in order to open up some space for your meditative practice. This will make it even easier to get into the zen zone.
  2. Welcome natural light.
    When sunshine comes streaming into your home, it makes your world a bit brighter and bigger. Harness the power of natural light and pick a corner for meditation with ample windows. The sunny rays, and the view visible through the windows, will make your meditation nook feel instantly more spacious.
  3. Enlist neutral hues.
    While dark colors tend to make a room feel smaller, light and neutral tones do just the opposite. Whites, creams, and shades of beige create the illusion of extra space. So when you pick furnishings for your meditation area (or for any room in your home, really), opt for these lighter colors instead of dark, bold hues. If you already have darker furniture in the area where you intend to meditate, there’s no need for a full makeover. Just add some lighter elements, like a whitewashed throw blanket or set of pillows.
  4. Just add mirrors.
    Mirrors instantly add square footage to your home, almost in the same way that a window does. The reflection seemingly doubles the size of any space. Affix a mirror to your wall or find a small stand-alone mirror that you can incorporate into your meditation nook.
  5. Strategically place your pillow.
    One essential that every meditation space must have is a cushy pillow for you to perch on. Pick your pillow and then arrange it strategically to make your space feel larger. Instead of pushing it up against the wall, pull it out at least six inches. This is an old trick for arranging furniture. When you let your furnishings float, the room feels bigger. When they connect with the wall, that seems to suck up space—or, at least, make a room look smaller. You can use this tip with any piece of furniture or decor in your meditation area.

How to Make a Small Room Look Bigger: 25 Tips That Work [StyleCaster]

5 Steps to Creating the Perfect Home Meditation Space [Yoga Journal]

10 Sneaky Ways to Make a Small Space Look Bigger [The Nest]

Published at Sat, 01 Dec 2018 20:53:45 +0000