Preparing for Apartment Life: Tips for First-Time Renters

Apartment living is simpler than home ownership in so many ways: You can call someone to fix whatever’s broken at no cost to you, you can move without all the stress and time involved in putting a house on the market and you never have to get out a lawn mower. But if you’re a first-time renter, living in an apartment community may take a little adjustment.

Plan Your Layout on Paper

In your new setup, space may be configured differently than what you’re accustomed to. It’s easy to envision your furniture in a familiar layout, but it may not be sensible in real life. Instead of asking your friends, family and movers to rearrange the living room three times, try printing out a floor plan, measuring your furniture and drawing accordingly. You’ll find out what works and what doesn’t before anyone starts any heavy lifting.

Donate Unwanted Items

Whether you’re moving into a space that’s smaller than your current home, the same size or much roomier, it never hurts to get rid of unneeded items before you move. Lightening your load will help you keep track of everything as you undergo the sometimes hectic process of moving, and it will make it easier to organize things to your liking at the new place. Some charities will even allow you to schedule a time for them to pick up gently used items from your house so you don’t have to get derailed as you pack.

Customize Beyond Hanging Wall Décor

In certain situations, renting rather than owning a property can feel limiting as far as décor. But with the creative options available today, there’s really nothing you can’t spruce up and make unique. From temporary wallpaper and backsplashes to peel-and-stick granite countertops, you can add your style to surfaces that used to be off limits for many renters.

Get to Know Your Neighbors

One of the biggest changes many people go through when living in an apartment is living in a close community for the first time. You may fear rowdy neighbors or barking dogs. But the proximity of other people can also be a great thing; if you find a neighbor you can trust, your apartment will be safer from break-ins, and you might find someone to check your mail and feed your fish while you’re gone.

Get Ready for Entertaining

The craziness of organizing your new apartment can keep your place out of commission for months if you let it. Instead of sacrificing a sense of community out of embarrassment for your “in-progress” entertaining space, break out the wine glasses and order takeout. Sure, it may be a while before you host a six-course meal using your grandmother’s dishes, but if you wait until then to invite people over, you may never get around to it.

Give Grace to Your Pets

If you’re a pet owner formerly living in a house with a yard, your furry friend will need time to adjust. The sound of other people walking and talking nearby may set off a nervous or territorial dog, and you can quickly become the villain of your new community.

Make sure to dedicate time every day to being active with your pet and making sure its needs are met. As soon as you can, establish a routine so your pet knows what to expect each day. Get friendly with your next-door neighbors and give them your cell phone number so they can call you before they contact management to resolve any barking or escape situation.

While there may be stairs, people and a whole new lifestyle to adjust to, flats and with apartment like Runwal EireneThane West, living can be rewarding for those who are prepared to make the exciting adjustment.

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Apartment-Friendly Storage Solutions You Need to See

Make a Roll-Out Pantry to Fit More in the Kitchen

An easy DIY rolling pantry can add to your kitchen stow space without the need to haul in bulky cabinets or touch your walls. This handy build can turn that empty gap beside your fridge into a helpful holding spot for cans, containers, extra spices or foil and plastic wrap containers.

Cover Cardboard Boxes in Burlap for Stylish Storage Bins

Get extra containers for free by covering cardboard boxes in burlap and then adding pretty painted details. Instead of paying for extra apartment storage, turn containers like these into desktop organizers, bins for linens and throws, or doubling up closet space. Find more clever storage solutions like this one on ForRent’s apartment living page.

Buy Some Plastic Containers From the Dollar Store for Under-Sink Space

You might be missing the valuable bathroom stowage space right under your nose … or more specifically, right under your sink. Get more out of that under-sink space by creating order with plastic bins, baskets and drawers. Store toiletries, cleaning supplies and much more out of the way but close by.

Store Clothing with Stacked-Up Wooden Crates

If you’re having trouble making room in your closet for all your stuff, this is about to save you from over-stuffed closets and drawers. Just stack up a few wooden crates against one wall so you can take some weight off your closet and switch up your bedroom layout whenever you need a new look.

Keep Shoes on a Ladder to Use Your Vertical Space

If you can get your hands on a plain wooden ladder, you’ll have the simplest and most adaptable shoe storage imaginable. Just lean your ladder against an open wall in your closet or bedroom and hang your heels from the rungs. You can even dress it up by wrapping rungs in ribbon or twine.

Organize Your Bulky Clothes in a Hanging Shoe Holder

Reduce some of the bulk on your closet shelves by taking those sweaters and stiff jeans out, rolling them up and storing them in a hanging shoe holder. Vertical space will definitely give you a better storage option, plus you’ll have an easier time choosing your outfits every morning!

Turn Plastic Crates Into Hidden Storage

Buy a bunch of those plain plastic crates for an amazing storage solution that’s kid-friendly and saves tons of space. Just spray-paint them to match your décor and craft a cozy cushion to sit on top of each. Voila: instant storage-ready seating that’s perfect for keeping toys, books or throws out of sight.

When you really, really, really need some serious storage, consider flats and apartment a raised platform in part of your space and make use of the now-underfoot space.

Guide to Developing Your Apartment Green Thumb

Plants are the perfect way to add décor to your apartment because they’re easy to move around, require no tools to “install” and are replaceable (although with this post’s tips, hopefully you’ll never have to replace a plant again!). If you’re looking to elevate your space with live plants, follow these tips for beautiful, stylish foliage.

Spruce Up Your Plants with On-Trend Containers

News flash: Terracotta pots, thankfully, aren’t your only option when it comes to plant containers. There are so many colorful, chic or just plain crazy plant containers on the market today that choosing the right one for your space and your plant is an easy way to add oomph to your décor.

For example, instead of a typical pot, I used a color-blocked basket woven out of natural fibers to hold my fiddle leaf fig — you’d never guess it was actually a wastebasket! Plus, while it’s a blogger favorite, the fiddle leaf fig can be notoriously fickle, and it doesn’t like moving around or being reported. I chose to use a basket so I could keep the fiddle leaf in its original plastic pot and just slip it inside the basket.

And for added visual interest, I like to hoist my plants up on plant stands. This makes my plant feel more like a cool piece of furniture, and it’s also a good way to prevent small pets from nibbling on leaves. The best part? Picking out a personality-packed container requires no green thumb at all!

Choose Low-Maintenance Plants That Make a Big Impact

If you don’t consider yourself a natural green thumb, go for plants that have a “wow” factor but are also easy to care for. For example, the thick, glossy leaves of my non-climbing philodendron is the perfect desk accessory, and it requires minimal care.

 Likewise, my pencil cactus plant (so named because its branches are about the size and thickness of a pencil), adds a totally unique element to my living space, and because it’s a member of the succulent family, it doesn’t take much water to grow. Other easy-to-care-for plants include on-trend succulents, climbing philodendrons, the rubber tree (which can grow up to eight feet tall!) and the snake plant. Be aware, though, that some houseplants can be toxic to children and pets, so read warnings carefully when picking out your plant.

Add Drama with Trailing and Climbing Plants

Is there anything more romantic than pretty green tendrils reaching up toward the sun or trailing over the edge of a chest or bookcase? I love to use trailing or climbing plants to add instant drama to rooms in my apartment, like this classic English ivy that feels right at home on my bathroom shelf. Plus, many trailing and climbing plants are low maintenance, ivy included. Other good choices include climbing philodendron, pothos and Swedish ivy. If you don’t have room on your shelves or furniture for a climbing plant, you can use a hanging pot secured from the ceiling so the plant’s tendrils can hang over the sides of the pot.

A terrarium is also a good choice for apartment dwellers who are working on developing their green thumbs. And if you’re looking for even more tips on indoor plant care.

What are the Pros & Cons of Buying a Resale House?

While the construction-related risks in resale apartments are generally lower, the financial burden and other risks may be greater. While most people prefer to buy a home from the primary market, the secondary or resale market is another option they can explore. Here are a few of the pros and cons of buying from this market.

The Advantages

The biggest advantage of buying an apartment in the resale market, at a time when the real estate sector is witnessing a slowdown, is that you can get handsome discounts. “Many speculators, who had bought several flats when the market was on an upswing, now find that they are unable to hold on to them.
Such speculators are now willing to sell their holdings, at a discount,” points out Bibhash Surya, head of Sri Sai Dreamlands, a Noida-based real estate consultancy. The slower the market, greater the discount.Many genuine buyers also offer discounts, when they have to sell their flats. Suppose that a buyer purchased a property at Rs 2,500 per sq ft, four years ago, in the Dwarka Expressway area.
Now, the builder may be selling the same flat at Rs 4,000 per sq ft. If a buyer wants to sell his flat, he will have to offer a discount of say, Rs 500, compared to the builder’s rate. If he quotes the same price as the builder, people will prefer to buy from the latter.
Ready-to-move-in options are easily available in the resale market. A home seeker can opt for projects that are close to completion and can take possession of the apartment, within six months to one year of purchase.

The Risks & Disadvantages

The risks associated with cash payments exist in a resale market, as well. Suppose that the seller had originally purchased the apartment at Rs 2,000 per sq. ft and its price subsequently moved up to Rs 3,000 per sq. ft. He may ask you to give him a cheque payment at Rs 2,100 per sq ft and demand the remaining Rs 900 per sq. ft, in cash. “As most working-class people depend on bank loans to buy an apartment, it becomes impossible for them to rustle up so much cash,” says Surya.
The payment schedule, when one opts for a house in the primary market, is usually construction-linked and enables the buyer to pay in instalments. In the resale market, you may have to pay the entire amount upfront, or in a few instalments over a short period of time. Moreover, the cost of a resale apartment will invariably be higher, than the price it commanded during its construction.
“Thus, you need a high amount of money upfront, in the resale market,” says Manish Gupta, a south Delhi-based real estate consultant.Buying a house in the resale market, may also involve utilising the services of a broker and one needs to ensure that the broker does not resort to unfair practices.

Precautions You Should Exercise

1) On payment of a token amount, the seller will give you a photocopy of the ownership documents of the apartment. Get those documents checked by a lawyer, to ensure that the title to the property is clear
2) Check if the seller has any dues pending with the builder. You can do so, by getting an updated account statement from the developer, which shows how much payment has been made as well as the due amount. Watch out for late payment fines, or interest charges that may be due from the first buyer
3) Developers may also charge a transfer fee, if the apartment owner sells the flat before the conveyance of the project is completed. You can bargain with the seller, over the share of the charges that you have to bear

Tips for Improving Apartment Security

Are you really safe once you get apartment and lock your door? In an open society your apartment should be the sanctuary for you and your family. Your apartment is the only environment where you have control over who can get close to you or your family. Protecting your apartment and family from criminal intrusion should be high on your list of priorities. See my web page on Family Security Tips for more information on protecting your family from harm. See Apartment Security Advice for more original articles on Apartment Security. See also Home Invasion Survival Tips.

Burglary

By far, the most common threat to an apartment unit is burglary. Burglary, by definition, is a non-confrontational crime, but being victimized can leave a family feeling vulnerable and violated. To prevent a burglary, it is important to first gain an understanding of who commits them and why. The majority of apartment burglaries occur during the daytime when most people are away at work or at school.

Burglaries also occur at night when there are obvious signs that no one is home. Most apartment burglars are young males looking for things that are small, expensive, and can easily be converted to cash. Items like cash, jewelry, guns, watches, laptop computers, and other small electronic devices are high on the list. Quick cash is needed for living expenses and drugs.

Statistics tell us that more than 30% of all apartment burglars gained access through an open door or window. Ordinary household tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers, small pry bars, and small hammers are most often used by burglars. Although apartment burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a selection process.

The burglar’s selection process is simple. Choose an unoccupied apartment with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and with the best escape routes. What follows is a list of suggestions to minimize your risk by making your home unattractive to potential burglars.

Doors and Locks

The first step is to “harden the target” or make your apartment more difficult to enter. Remember the burglar will simply bypass your apartment if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools than they possess. Most burglars enter via the front, back, or garage doors. Experienced burglars know that the garage door is usually the weakest followed by the back door.

The garage and back doors also provide the most cover. Burglars also know to look inside your car for keys and other valuables so keep it locked, even inside your garage. Apartment managers should use solid core doors and high quality locks on exterior doors that will resist twisting, prying, and lock-picking attempts. A quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 deadbolt lock will have a beveled casing to inhibit the use of channel-lock pliers used for forced entry. A quality door knob-in-lock set will have a ‘dead latch’ mechanism to prevent slipping the lock with a shim or credit card.

Use a solid core wood or metal door for all entrance points

Doors should fit tightly into the door jamb

Use a quality, heavy-duty, deadbolt lock with a one-inch bolt

Use a quality, heavy-duty, door knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch mechanism

Use a heavy-duty four-screw strike plate installed with 3-inch screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame

Use a wide-angle 160° peephole mounted no higher than 58 inches

Forced Entry

The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden frame is simply to kick it open. The weakest point is almost always the strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place followed by glass panels in doors. The average door strike plate is secured with only 1/2-inch screws set into the soft doorjamb molding.

These lightweight moldings are often tacked on to the door frame and can be torn away with a firm kick. Because of this construction flaw, it makes sense to upgrade to a heavy-duty four-screw strike plate. They are available in most quality hardware stores and home improvement centers and are definitely worth the extra expense. Install this strike plate using 3-inch screws to cut deep into the door frame stud. This one step alone will deter or prevent most through-the-door forced entries. You and your family will sleep safer in the future.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors are usually installed at the rear of an apartment making them good candidates for entry by a burglar. In warm climates, an experienced burglar knows that sliding glass doors are often left standing open for ventilation or for pet access. Since they slide horizontally, it is important to have a secondary blocking device in place to prevent sliding the door fully open from the outside.

This can be easily accomplished by inserting a wooden dowel or stick into the track thus preventing or limiting movement. Other blocking devices available are metal fold-down blocking devices called “charley bars” and various track-blockers that can be screwed down.

Sliding glass doors are notorious for failing to prevent a forced entry attempt especially in apartment buildings. This is because of the wear and tear and lack of maintenance they receive and due to the inadequate nature of many of the latching mechanisms. Sliding glass doors don’t have locks on them, only latches.

The latches are made of aluminum and can become worn or out of adjustment. The most common methods used to force entry, aside from breaking the glass, is by prying the door near the latch or lifting the door off the track. The blocking devices described above solve half the equation. To prevent lifting, you need to keep the sliding door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted.

You can also install anti-lift devices such as a pin that extends through both the sliding and fixed portion of the door. There are also numerous locking and blocking devices available in any good quality hardware store that will prevent a sliding door from being lifted or forced horizontally.

Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification is in place, if applicable. Apartment managers should be careful not to misrepresent that these devices are in place if they are not. Burglars dislike alarm systems and definitely big barking dogs.

Use a secondary blocking device on all sliding glass doors

Keep the latch mechanism in good condition and properly adjusted

Keep sliding door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted

Use anti-lift devices such as through-the-door pins

Use highly visible alarm decals, beware of dog decals, or block watch decal, if applicable

Sliding Windows

Windows are left unlocked and open at a much higher rate than doors. An open window, visible from the street or alley, may be the sole reason for an apartment to be selected by a burglar. Ground floor windows are more susceptible to break-ins for obvious reasons. Upper floor windows become attractive if they can be accessed easily from a stairway, tree, fence, or by climbing on balconies.

Windows have latches, not locks, and therefore should have secondary blocking devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside. Inexpensive wooden dowels and sticks work well for horizontal sliding windows and through-the-frame pins work well for vertical sliding windows.

For ventilation, block the window open no more than six inches and make sure you can’t reach in from the outside and remove the blocking device. In sleeping rooms, these window blocking devices should be capable of being removed easily from the inside to comply with fire codes. Like sliding glass doors, anti-lift devices are necessary for ground level and accessible aluminum windows that slide horizontally.

The least expensive and easiest method is to install screws half-way into the upper track of the movable glass panel to prevent it from being lifted out in the closed position. Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification system is in place, if applicable. Apartment managers should be careful not to misrepresent that these devices are in place if they are not.

Secure all accessible windows with secondary blocking devices

Block accessible windows open no more than 6 inches for ventilation

Use anti-lift devises to prevent window from being lifted out

Use crime prevention or alarm decals on accessible windows, if applicable

Be a Good Neighbor

Good neighbors should look out for each other. Get to know your neighbors on each side of your apartment and the three directly across from you. Invite them into your apartment, communicate often, and establish trust.

Good neighbors will watch out for your apartment and vehicle when you are away, if you ask them. They can report suspicious activity to management, to the police, or to you while you are away. Between them, good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence by allowing authorized vendors to enter your apartment.

Good neighbors can pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and can inspect the inside of your apartment periodically to see that all is well. Allowing a neighbor or management to have a key solves the problem of hiding a key outside the door. Experienced burglars know to look for hidden keys in planter boxes, under doormats, and above the ledge.

Requiring a service vendor to contact your neighbor to gain access will send the message that someone is watching. This neighborhood watch technique sets up what is called ‘territoriality.’ This means that your neighbors will take ownership and responsibility for what occurs in your mini-neighborhood.

This concept works great in apartment communities. This practice helps deter burglaries and other crimes in a big way. Of course for this to work, you must reciprocate and offer the same services.

The biggest difficulty getting to this level of oversight is taking the first step. You can take it by calling your local crime prevention unit at the police department. Most police departments in large cities have neighborhood watch coordinators to help you set this up. You should invite your adjacent neighbors over to your home for coffee and begin the information exchange. You’ll be amazed how the process runs on automatic from there.

Get to know your adjacent apartment neighbors

Invite them into your home and establish trust

Agree to watch out for each other

Do small tasks for each other to improve territoriality

Return the favor and communicate often

Lighting

Interior lighting is necessary to show signs of occupancy inside a residence at night. Seeing a dark apartment night-after-night sends a message to burglars that you are away. Light-timers are inexpensive and can be found almost everywhere. They should be used on a daily basis, not just when you’re away. In this way you set up a routine that your neighbors can observe and will allow them to become suspicious when your normally lighted apartment becomes dark.

Typically, you want to use light-timers near the front and back windows with the curtains drawn. The pattern of them clicking on and off simulates actual occupancy. It is also comforting not to have to enter a dark residence.

Timers can also be used to turn on the television or radio to simulate occupancy during the daytime. After dark, a bright television can be seen flickering through the curtains and gives the feeling that someone is home. Similarly, the radio or television can be heard through the door if turned on loud enough.

Exterior lighting is also very important. It becomes critical if you must park in a common area parking lot or underground garage and need to walk to your front door. The purpose of good lighting is to allow you to see if a threat or suspicious person is lurking in your path. If you can see a potential threat in advance then you at least have the choice and chance to avoid it.

Exterior lighting needs to bright enough for you to see 100 feet and it helps if you can identify colors. Good lighting is definitely a deterrent to criminals because they don’t want to be seen or identified. Apartment management needs to have a system in place to periodically inspect and replace lighting outages.

Another important area to be well-lighted is the perimeter of your apartment building especially at the entryway. Common area lighting on apartment properties should also be on a timer or photo-cell to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn.

 Exterior lighting at the rear of an apartment are usually do not turn on automatically. They require you to turn on the light inside switch. The resident can choose to turn these lights on or off. A better idea is to install security lights that activate by infra-red motion sensor.

They are relatively inexpensive ($25) and can easily replace an exterior porch light or side door light on townhouse style apartments with rear doors. The heat-motion sensor can be adjusted to detect body heat and can be programmed to reset after one minute. These infra-red security lights are suggested for apartments with patios and back doors.

Use interior light timers to establish a pattern of occupancy

Use timers to activate the radio or television while away

Exterior lighting should allow 100 foot visibility

Use good lighting along the pathway and at your door

Use light timers or photo-cells to turn on/off lights automatically

Use infra-red motion sensor lights for the back door of townhouse apartments

Alarm Systems

Alarm systems definitely have a place in an apartment security plan and are effective, if used properly. The reason why alarms systems deter burglaries is because they increase the potential and fear of being captured and arrested by the police.

The deterrent value comes from the alarm company lawn sign and from the alarm decals on the windows. Apartment burglars will usually bypass a unit with visible alarm decals and will look for another property without such a decal. Some people, with alarm systems, feel that these signs and decals are unsightly and will not display them. The risk here is that an uninformed burglar might break a window or door and grab a few quick items before the police can respond. Also, don’t write your alarm passcode on or near the alarm keypad.

Alarm systems need to be properly installed and maintained. Alarms systems can monitor for fire as well as burglary for the same price. All systems should have an audible horn or bell to be effective in case someone does break in. However, these audible alarms should be programmed to reset automatically after one minute.

The criminal will get the message and will be long gone without your neighbors having to listen to your alarm siren for hours, until it is switched off. If you use a central station to monitor your alarm, make sure your response call list is up to date. Burglar alarms, like car alarms, are generally ignored except for a brief glance.

However, if you have established and nurtured your neighborhood watch buddy system, you will experience a genuine concern by your neighbor. It is not unusual to have a neighbor wait for the police, allow them inside for an inspection, and secure the residence. A good neighbor can also call friends or relatives for you, if pre-authorized by you.

Alarm systems are effective deterrents with visible signage

Alarm systems to be properly installed, programmed, and maintained

Alarm systems need to have an audible horn or bell to be effective

Alarm systems should automatically reset in one minute or less

Make sure your alarm response call-list is up to date

Instruct your neighbor how to respond to an alarm bell

Operation Identification

This is a program supported by most police agencies. They recommend that you engrave your drivers’ license number (not social security number) on televisions, stereos, computers, and small electronic appliances. They suggest this so they can identify and locate you if your stolen items are recovered. I suggest that you go way beyond this step.

I recommend that you photograph or videotape your home furnishings, electronic devices, and small appliances and make a list of the make, model, and serial numbers. You should keep this list in a safety deposit box or with a relative or neighbor for safe keeping. Beyond that I recommend that you photocopy important documents and the contents of your wallet annually. You will be thankful that you took these steps in case your home is ever destroyed by fire or flood, is ransacked, or if your wallet is lost or stolen.

Identify your valuables by engraving your drivers’ license number (not your SSN)

Photograph, video, or record the description and serial numbers of all valuables

Photocopy the contents of your wallet annually and other important documents

Store the copies off-site in a safe deposit box or with a relative or neighbor

What are the Pros & Cons of Buying a Resale House?

While the construction-related risks in resale apartments are generally lower, the financial burden and other risks may be greater
While most people prefer to buy a home from the primary market, the secondary or resale market is another option they can explore. Here are a few of the pros and cons of buying from this market.

The Advantages

The biggest advantage of buying a house in the resale market, at a time when the real estate sector is witnessing a slowdown, is that you can get handsome discounts. “Many speculators, who had bought several flats when the market was on an upswing, now find that they are unable to hold on to them. Such speculators are now willing to sell their holdings, at a discount,” points out Bibhash Surya, head of Sri Sai Dreamlands, a Noida-based real estate consultancy. The slower the market, greater the discount.
Many genuine buyers also offer discounts, when they have to sell their flats. Suppose that a buyer purchased a property at Rs 2,500 per sq ft, four years ago, in the Dwarka Expressway area. Now, the builder may be selling the same flat at Rs 4,000 per sq ft. If a buyer wants to sell his flat, he will have to offer a discount of say, Rs 500, compared to the builder’s rate. If he quotes the same price as the builder, people will prefer to buy from the latter.
Ready-to-move-in options are easily available in the resale market. A home seeker can opt for projects that are close to completion and can take possession of the apartment, within six months to one year of purchase.

The Risks & Disadvantages

The risks associated with cash payments exist in a resale market, as well. Suppose that the seller had originally purchased the apartment at Rs 2,000 per sq. ft and its price subsequently moved up to Rs 3,000 per sq. ft. He may ask you to give him a cheque payment at Rs 2,100 per sq ft and demand the remaining Rs 900 per sq. ft, in cash. “As most working-class people depend on bank loans to buy an apartment, it becomes impossible for them to rustle up so much cash,” says Surya.
The payment schedule, when one opts for a house in the primary market, is usually construction-linked and enables the buyer to pay in instalments. In the resale market, you may have to pay the entire amount upfront, or in a few instalments over a short period of time. Moreover, the cost of a resale apartment will invariably be higher, than the price it commanded during its construction.
“Thus, you need a high amount of money upfront, in the resale market,” says Manish Gupta, a south Delhi-based real estate consultant.Buying a house in the resale market, may also involve utilising the services of a broker and one needs to ensure that the broker does not resort to unfair practices.

Precautions You Should Exercise

1) On payment of a token amount, the seller will give you a photocopy of the ownership documents of the apartment. Get those documents checked by a lawyer, to ensure that the title to the property is clear
2) Check if the seller has any dues pending with the builder. You can do so, by getting an updated account statement from the developer, which shows how much payment has been made as well as the due amount. Watch out for late payment fines, or interest charges that may be due from the first buyer
3) Developers may also charge a transfer fee, if the apartment owner sells the flat before the conveyance of the project is completed. You can bargain with the seller, over the share of the charges that you have to bear

9 Natural DIY Tips to Cool your Home this Summer

Electricity-guzzling air-conditioners and coolers, are not the only ways to beat the summer heat. Try these natural, do-it-yourself tricks instead.
“ACs and coolers are fine, but nothing evokes my memories of childhood summers like a ‘khus ki tatti’,” says Gurgaon-based businessman, Avinash Arora. Confused? Arora spent his summer vacations in a little town named Tundla in UP.
North Indian summers are infamous for their intense heat, which can even prove fatal. Very few things can help you survive such weather and a ‘khus ki tatti’ is one of them, the businessman maintains.
A ‘khus ki tatti’ is a wholly natural blind/ curtain mat that is made of reeds and special grass, laid out neatly in a box and complete with water pipes for drip wetting. This mat is laid across open doorways and windows and helps lower the temperature indoors.

Here are several other simple methods to cool your home:

1) A simple trick involves using a bucket of water. Dip the bottom hems of your curtains into the bucket and leave the fan on. The water slowly seeps upwards through the fabric and the breeze will carry the coolness into the room.
2) Keep things dark. We all know how relaxing it is, to get away from the glare of a hot summer sun and into a cool space, under the shade. To achieve this, buy cotton curtains in the darkest color possible. Ensure that the curtains have a thick lining, so that the sunlight doesn’t fade them. Dark green or brown are easy choices. Keep the curtains drawn shut, right from morning. If your room stays shielded from sunlight all day, it is bound to remain relatively cooler.
3) Use the bathroom. Keep your bathroom door ajar, pour a few liters of water on the floor and let the breeze do its job again.
4) Leafy plants, too, can work wonders. If you have some large decorative or potted plants around, move them closer to your windows. They will absorb most of the heat and create a cooling effect around them.
5) Leave the fridge alone. You may be tempted to reach for cold water and ice-cubes frequently, but opening and shutting the refrigerator multiple times, increases the load and temperature on its motor. This, in turn, increases the ambient temperature in your house.
6) Take a look at lighting. From LEDs to fluorescent lights, there are many cool lighting options available, so there’s no reason to continue using hot incandescent bulbs. Similarly, switch off all electrical appliances, especially the TV, when not in use. Even a mobile charger emits heat.
7) Buy a dehumidifier. You will breathe much easier, once the intense humidity is reduced. You can check online sites for the best deals.
8) Cotton is king. Summer is no time for fancy satin or silk bed-sheets, or for faux leather upholstery. Buy at least one set of crisp cotton bed-sheets, in white or pastel shades. If your couch is upholstered in any fabric that’s not cotton or linen, buy some sofa covers or throws that are made of cotton.
9) Open up at sunset. If you throw open your windows at the right time, you will get the benefit of the cool evening breeze. This will lower the temperature of your home and make it more comfortable for the night ahead. Also, open up every internal door in your house, including kitchen cabinets and bathroom, bedroom and closet doors.
 This will help, to dissipate the heat that is built up during the course of the day and reduce the overall temperature. Remember to close these doors as soon as the next day dawns and the sun is up again.

How to Effectively Use Lemons for Cleaning

There are a wide variety of ways you can start using lemons for cleaning. The acidity of lemons makes them a great all-natural cleaner. Keep them on hand for a variety of tasks, especially if you are trying to eliminate chemicals from your cleaning routine.

Be sure to test any of the methods on an inconspicuous area before going over the entire surface. Also, any surface that has been cleaned with lemons should be rinsed well with water prior to use. Do not clean brass-plated, marble and granite items with lemon. Lemon juice can act as a natural bleach in some cases, so be cautious!

Start by trying a lemon to clean your wooden cutting board. Use diluted or full-strength lemon juice on stubborn stains. You can also scour the entire surface with coarse salt and a half of a lemon. You will be surprised at how much grime this scouring action will lift from the surface. Freshen up all of your wood cutting boards with this method.

Speaking of wood, you can make a great all-natural furniture polish with lemon as well. Just combine 1 cup of olive oil with 1/2 cup of lemon juice and mix well. This will restore your wood and remove rings in many cases. Use a squirt bottle to apply to a microfiber cloth and go with the grain when polishing.

Need help with your pots and pans? Yes, a lemon can help you there as well. Try using half of a lemon sprinkled with baking soda. This makes an excellent scrubber for pots and pans. Scour off a variety of messes and restore your pots and pans with the all-natural cleaning power of lemons. Please note that you can expect some foaming anytime you mix baking soda and lemons.

You can also try lemons for cleaning up the grout on tile around your home. Mix a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar, then use it to scrub along your grout lines. This will naturally bleach away any grout stains and leave you with white grout lines. Both lemons and cream of tartar are natural bleaching agents, so their combined power is incredible.

Do you have some messy spills on your stove top or in your oven? Just mix a paste of lemon juice, water and baking soda. Apply it to stubborn stains, allow it to sit a few minutes, then scrub away.

Remember that anytime you mix baking soda and lemon juice, you can expect some foaming. These ideas for using lemons in cleaning will help you eliminate harmful chemicals from your home and still keep it clean. You should also try these other DIY cleaning recipes around your home.

Apartment Searching Tips: What’s Your Choice?

One of the first questions you should ask yourself when beginning the search for an apartment is the following: What are my needs? Having the answer to this question before you start your search can easily help you narrow down your vast number of options, and make the overall process less stressful for you. When apartment hunting, we first break down the search by deciding the type of apartment we are looking for:
L & T Eden Park
The Studio vs. the One-Bedroom
Do you need separation of space or do you prefer to live in one big open room? If you are moving into an apartment alone, this is a crucial question. Studios are typically one large room with a kitchen and full bathroom. On occasion, there is a dividing wall, but no doors except on closets and the bathroom. One bedroom apartments are usually larger than a typical studio with a bedroom, kitchen, and living room that are separated by both walls and doors. The one bedroom offers more privacy while the studio allows for an open concept space.
The High-Rise vs. the Mid-Rise
This is especially important if you live in a city location. If you love being away from the noise and hustle and bustle, then a high-rise may be the perfect fit and the type of apartment you need to focus your search around. Many high-rises offer great views of the city and have high security standards. Looking for something not as high up? A mid-rise may be the right choice for you. Due to mid-rises being less in the city and more in suburban settings, it could be the perfect fit for a family, with options like parks and play areas nearby.
Live and Play vs. the Duplex
Are you interested in having other amenities and commercial business nearby?  “Live and Play” apartments feature great additional properties that can enhance your living situation by offering restaurants and shops, however these apartments also mean increased foot traffic in the area. If you don’t want as many people in or around your space, duplexes are another living option. They can have 2-3 separate units or a single apartment with multiple floors. A duplex will have stairs connecting the different floors and will still offer the privacy that you desire.
Although it may not seem like a big deal, figuring out which type of apartmentsuits your needs is crucial in the apartment hunting process and can save you time and effort in the long run. What type of apartment do you live in? Has it met all of your needs? Share your story below!

Use This Handy Guide If You’re Planning On Selling Your Apartment

You’ve probably heard a million times by now that a house is a great asset. But when it comes to selling it, your house starts to seem like less of an asset and more of a headache.

It’s very tempting to flail about like a headless chicken when you think about the process of selling a house. You’ll find out that it isn’t as easy as just deciding to put it up for sale.

The Indian real estate market is pretty saturated with houses, so the buyer has the advantage right now. If you want to get a good price for your property, you need to treat it like a product for sale rather than your home, price it right, and choose the best way to sell it.

Still confused about where to even start? We’ve got your back.

When it comes to India, property doesn’t stay stagnant for too long, if you’re smart about how you sell it. This handy guide will help you plan out your apartment for sale from start to finish.

  1. Picture Perfect

Think back to when you were looking for a house. Didn’t you choose between property listings based on the pictures? You know you did.

A pretty house will always warrant a second look from potential buyers, which is why you need to make sure your apartment is in the best possible condition. To that end, here’s a couple of things you can do.

  • Scrub Till It Shines

Clear out your junk and give your house the deep-clean treatment, and make sure you get all the nooks and crannies. Buyers tend to have a sharper eye for grime than your grandmother.

  • Fix It Up

Broken doorknobs or latches, and the cupboard door that needs to be slammed shut are all things which need to be fixed because they’re really not improving your resale value.

  • A Fresh Coat

No matter how much you like the lime green wall in your living room, you’ll just have to accept that it’s an acquired taste. Paint your house in neutral tones if you can, so potential buyers are able to visualise themselves living there.

  • Curb Appeal

The outside of your house is going to be the first thing people see, so weed your garden if you have one, and definitely paint the exteriors even if you can’t afford to repaint your entire house. Your house should look so good that you’d reconsider selling it!

  1. Get Your Papers Together

If you’re selling your house, you’re going to need to get all the important documents together. These include the letter of allotment, the sale deed from the previous owners (if any), and the encumbrance certificate as proof that the house has no legal dues.

If your house doesn’t have all the right documentation, it raises red flags not only with potential buyers, but also with the authorities, so make sure you’ve got the originals and several copies. There is no overkill when it comes to official documents.

  1. Price It Right

It may seem like a good idea to set a high asking price for your house and then bargain from there, but this is a house, not a t-shirt you’re buying from a street vendor.

You should definitely set your asking price to the actual value you’re hoping to sell at. In fact, today, with real estate prices falling somewhat, you might want to shave off about 15% of your actual price and let potential buyers bid up.

If your price is too high, buyers will stay away because they’ll assume that you aren’t open to negotiation, which is the opposite of what you meant to do.

  1. The Best Listing

Once you’ve fixed up your house, got your documents together, and priced it, it’s time to put up your listing. Make sure the pictures you’ve taken are flattering and you succinctly describe the apartment’s best attributes.

Then, put this up on well-known portals for maximum visibility. There’s no point going through the effort of getting the property ready to sell if no one even knows it’s available for purchase.

  1. Showing It Off

So your house is all ready, and you’ve got a few interested buyers coming for a viewing.

Clean your house again, and this time, check for any funny smells. Get rid of your garbage and make sure the apartment smells nice by letting a capful of vanilla essence heat up in the microwave. This will make your house smell welcoming and home-y.

In the meantime, stage your rooms and furniture so that it’s clear what each room is used for.

And that’s all folks! 5 simple steps to get your home sale-ready. Good luck!