‘Housing After Etown’ seminar presented by S.T.R.I.V.E

Kristen Hain February 27, 2013 0

One of the most difficult tasks following college graduation is finding a place on your own for the first time. On Monday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m., S.T.R.I.V.E held a workshop titled “Housing After Etown” in Hoover 110. S.T.R.I.V.E stands for Senior Transitions: Realized, Identified, Visualized, and Enacted and is part of Elizabethtown College’s Career Services department.
Steve Walthius, operations manager at Prudential Real Estate, was the primary speaker for this event. The primary focus of the workshop Walthius held was to inform seniors at the College about the process of renting an apartment or home. When renting for the first time, it is likely that potential landlords or real estate agents will run a credit report and a criminal background check. Real estate and rental agents do not make judgments on these things; they are solely collecting this information to show the owner of the property in which you are interested. In order to rent a home or apartment, you usually need to have a good credit score. This means that if you do not have a credit card already, it is essential that you get one before you begin your search. “Get a credit card. No credit is worse than lousy credit,” Walthius said.
In the case that you do not have any credit when starting the renting process, you may be required to obtain a co-signer. A co-signer is a person who promises to pay a renter’s debt if that person fails to do so. It can sometimes be difficult to find a co-signer, however, so the best bet is to establish and build your own credit.
When renting a living space, you will be required to sign a lease, which is an agreement between the owner and the tenant. A lease can include everything from pet policies to prices and even insurance requirements. It is important to review a lease carefully and to negotiate the terms stated within the lease. “Anything in real estate is negotiable, but it must be in writing,” Walthius said. It is also vital to thoroughly examine the property before signing the lease to insure you will not have to pay for any problem the property may have shortly after moving in. Most leases have a 12-month renewal term, meaning that after 12 months, the lease will either be terminated or renewed. “Make sure you know how to get out of a lease,” Walthius said.
Insurance is another critical part of renting a home or apartment. Although some leases may not require renter’s insurance, it is always a good idea to have it. If there is an accident or disaster in your home, the owner of the property is only responsible for the structure, not the things that are inside of the structure. This means that renter’s insurance is extremely important. The only way your personal belongings can be replaced or compensated for in the case of an accident or natural disaster is if the items are insured. If renting in the Palmyra/Hershey area, it is also a good idea to look into sinkhole insurance. Etown alumna Patti Hivner, a real estate agent at Prudential, expressed the importance of obtaining proper insurance for the area you are living in and making sure your insurance company provides the appropriate coverage.
Down payments are also an essential topic that needs to be covered when it comes to renting or even buying a home. The most common down payment for a rental is a security deposit in addition to the first month’s rent. In some cases, a security deposit plus first and last month’s rent may be required. There may also be other costs associated with this, such as additional expenses regarding pets. There are often other costs besides the actual rent for which you will be responsible. It is a good idea to ask your landlord what the average cost for heat, electric and other miscellaneous expenses are. When looking to buy a house, it is almost always required to provide at least five percent of the total cost as a down payment.
It may seem like a good idea to move in with college buddies after graduation, but be careful when it comes to who you rent a place with. Make sure everyone living on the property is listed on the lease and has their own renters’ insurance. Even if your roommates don’t have the rent money, it still has to be paid. “Don’t be late on your rent payments! Always pay! Always pay on time!” both Walthius and Hivner said. Not paying your rent, or even paying late, can severely affect you later, especially when trying to buy a home, rent a home or rent an apartment. Getting a place of your own is an important step to take on the road to independence after college. It is important to understand the process of renting and buying so that you are able to find housing after Etown.

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