18
Dec 18

The NYC Hood Most Tourists Miss Out On (But That's Why It's So Great) — Zip Code

You’re more likely to see someone in Paris sporting a “Brooklyn” tee than a “Queens” one, but despite that (or maybe because of it), Queens’ greatest neighborhoods are among New York City’s most appealing right now (especially since Amazon’s HQ2 is moving in soon). Hop on an uptown N or W, and you’ll soon find yourself in one of them: Astoria, the colorful and unselfconscious neighborhood that stands across the East River from Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Occasionally—and almost accidentally—hip, Astoria is one of those New York City neighborhoods that really feels lived in—no mean feat in a city where living anywhere is more often than not an economic stretch. That’s not to say that this old Greek neighborhood hasn’t been transformed by waves of Broadway actors and yuppies, but there’s plenty of authenticity left beneath the elevated subway tracks and on thoroughfares like Ditmars Boulevard, 30th Avenue, and Broadway. Astoria has a relatively high and diverse homeownership rate, which has limited gentrification for now. And there is a large and diverse immigrant population that mixes with the domestic arrivals—in fact, there are more languages spoken in Queens than anywhere else in the world. We’ve seen plenty of new luxury buildings pop up here in the past decade, but most of the neighborhood landmarks have so far survived it all.

Here’s looking at a few of them, old and new, with a help of Bridget Mallon, fellow Astoria resident and Apartment Therapy‘s design editor. Here, she takes you around a tour of our neighborhood in the third episode of “Zip Code,” a new series exploring the best of everything in our favorite neighborhoods—whether you live there, move there, or just want to visit.

Watch the third episode of Zip Code:

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18
Dec 18

A $879K California Canyon House with Instagram-Worthy Views

This home has not one, but two decks to soak in the sun.

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17
Dec 18

How to Improve Your Credit Score in 30 Days or Less

When I first started house hunting at 25, I knew my credit score was too low for a mortgage. A year earlier, I’d barely been able to snag a loan for my car. Instead of giving up, I dug into my credit score using Credit Karma.

I discovered errors in my credit, like a bill in collections from a doctor whose services I hadn’t scheduled or received. Multiple accounts were missing from my report. Using a tool on the Credit Karma website, I reported the errors to TransUnion and Equifax. I paid down my balances as much as I could on my miniscule teacher’s salary.

By the time I found my dream home a month later, I’d managed to raise my credit score 30 points, and snagged a mortgage approval letter from my credit union.

While this credit makeover may sound too good to be true, these experts agree with me. And since then, I’ve even discovered even more hacks to raise my credit score. Follow our tips if you’re looking to improve your credit score in less than 30 days:

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16
Dec 18

Here's How Much It Would Realistically Cost You to Build a Home

When you’re house shopping, it’s easy to find faults with the homes you tour. Why is the master bedroom Cookie Monster blue? Whoever designed the kitchen didn’t know a thing about cooking. Did vampires live here; there’s hardly any natural light?!

Sure, most design flaws could be remedied with renovations. But, we don’t blame you if you’ve ever fantasized about buying a plot of land and building your own house so you can have a say in every single design element—from the teak hardwood floors to the slate roofing.

So, how much, exactly, does it cost to build your own home?

The short answer: An average of $427,892, or about $154 per square foot for a 2,776 square-foot house. That’s according to the latest report from the National Association of Home Builders, which uses data from 2017.

Although, real estate professionals will warn that’s really just a base and on the lower end of the scale.

“The costs of building have increased. We are looking at what was once $150-ish per square foot, now looking like $220 per square foot minimum,” says Michelle Mumoli, the CEO and Realtor of The Mumoli Group at Keller Williams City Life Jersey City.

Also, unexpected home building costs can easily run into six figures, warns Dan Lesniak, a real estate agent and author of the Hyperlocal Hyperfast Real Estate Agent.

“Home builders usually go under contract for a base price, which doesn’t include a lot of the selections: cabinets, appliances, tile, counter tops, carpets, alarm systems, exterior lighting,” Lesniak says. “These things add up very quickly.”

What we’re getting at: $427,892 is really just a baseline because there’s a whole lot of factors that can affect the cost of building a home, including custom finishings, where you’re building your house, and if you run into any construction problems along the way.

Here’s a look at what it costs to build a home, including some unexpected expenses that can throw off a budget:

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15
Dec 18

HGTV's Dream Home 2019 Is Its Most Expensive Ever

The HGTV Dream is going up—and not just in altitude. According to PEOPLE, the 2019 Dream Home is the priciest one yet—valued at over $2.3 million.

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15
Dec 18

This 'Fixer Upper' House Is for Sale for Under $500K

If you’re a frequent “FixerUpper” viewer, then you may remember the Prickly Pear House from last year. Named for its giant, overgrown cactus in the front yard, the four-bed, three-and-a-half bath home in Woodway, Texas was entirely overhauled thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines. And the best part? It can now be yours if you’re willing to drop $499,000.

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15
Dec 18

7 Inexpensive Bathroom Upgrades That Will Up Your Home's Value

Potential buyers can be thrown off by the littlest things (just consult any episode of House Hunters). Even if you’re not thinking about selling your home now, you can make small improvements while you’re still living there without dedicating a lot of time or money to the cause.

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14
Dec 18

6 Things Everyone Seeking a Small Apartment Should Know

If you’re in the market for a small apartment—whether it’s your choice or not!—rest easy. Small living is trending and, anyway, who needs all that extra space? More room, more collected clutter! That said, there are a few fundamental attributes of a space that, while small in size, can actually feel larger than a floor plan can make it appear. We asked the experts for what to look for when shopping small. Read on for six key apartment features to consider:

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13
Dec 18

Why Are Mortgages Usually 30 Years Long?

You’ve scrimped, saved, and spent more time on Zillow than you’d care to divulge, and you’re ready to add “homeowner” to your list of accomplishments. Now, to choose the right mortgage for you. When it comes to fixed-rate loan programs, there are several options—from five to 50 years. But it’s the 30-year mortgage that’s been most popular among Americans for decades.

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11
Dec 18

How I Got All the Benefits of NYC Life Without Actually Having to Move There — Zip Code

I moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, after college because I’d heard it was a great place for young people to live when looking for a job in Manhattan, if you couldn’t yet afford Manhattan prices. Little did I know that apartment prices were high here, too, but for that I got more space, wider streets, and a quicker commute than had I moved to a less-expensive Manhattan neighborhood or another borough.

I figured I’d stay for only a few years, but the city kept evolving—with waterfront parks, more options for families, and more businesses and restaurants on the main drag of Washington Street. My life kept evolving, too: I started my journalism career at the local paper, published a novel about a confused single girl, began a writers’ group, and made good friends—I even ran into a famous musician (Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze) on the sidewalk!

Despite all the changes, I’ve stayed a resident of Hoboken for the past 20 years. Yes, it may still be expensive and there may never be enough on-street parking, but its charm and accessibility really make it all worth it.

Don’t believe me? Just watch Anne Ebeling, fellow Hoboken resident and Apartment Therapy’s executive producer of video, as she tours our neighborhood in the second episode of “Zip Code,” a new series that exploring the best of everything in our favorite neighborhoods— whether you live there, move there, or just want to visit.

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