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6 money-saving hacks for apartment renters

From the moment you start searching for an apartment until your last goodbye to the landlord, there are numerous fees, utility costs and more than can make having your own place a little more expensive than you planned.

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There are several money-saving hacks to trim some of those added costs, according to frugal bloggers, lifestyle pros and real estate experts.

Each one of the tips below will help you save a little money so that you can save toward splurges and bigger goals− like homeownership.

1. Check out rentals in the chilly months.

While November through February offer fewer rental options, you can strike a deal for a lower rent more often and more easily in the winter months, according to Lifehacker. Landlords have to look harder for tenants in these slow apartment hunting months, so they might be more willing to take less rent or a lower deposit, or to offer a few extra services than what you'd get in spring and summer.

2. Choose floor No. 2. 

While conventional wisdom indicates saving money by opting for a floor that's higher in the building, that cheaper rent could push your other bills higher, according to the Wise Bread blog. Choosing the second floor of a place with three levels of units saves dramatically on the utility bill -- far better than getting a nominal rent break. The best insulated floor of three is the second, which is particularly important if you'll be paying for air conditioning in the sunny South.

3. Power down on the electric bill.

If you're responsible for the electric bill at the apartment, hack away at it, real estate website Trulia advised. Be sure to identify energy sappers like appliances that use a remote control or an external power supply or have a continuous display, Trulia said. All of them continue to use electricity even after they're turned off. To save as much as $150 on your power bill annually, invest in a smart power strip and plug in such devices as TVs, cable boxes and game consoles to cut off "phantom power" at the source.

4. Save on renters insurance

You could always save on renters insurance by forgoing it altogether, but that leaves you open to losing all you own, according to The Balance. Instead, get the insurance, but economize by exploring professional discounts if you are in a profession such as police officer, firefighter, teacher or nurse or are a credit union member or retiree.

If you haven't already chosen where to rent, you may want to opt for apartments near a fire station, in a low crime area or in a newer building to further reduce your renter's insurance.

5. Make a movable bathroom floor upgrade

A lot of the most affordable apartments, and even some of the pricier ones, have unattractive, cold or warped bathroom floors. To keep from losing your deposit by altering the actual bathroom floor, consider making an inexpensive deck tile upgrade that merely rests on the floor and can be used at your next place, too, RentManager.com suggested. And instead of cutting tiles to fit that specific floor, fill in the hard-to-fit nooks and crannies with black river rocks.

6. Walk through on your way out. 

Make time to schedule a walk-through at the empty apartment before you're gone for good, Wise Bread recommended. Look at the place with your apartment manager, and review any charges you might incur against your deposit and any outstanding bills. While it's tempting to avoid the face-to-face even if you've had a wonderful rental experience, having the supervisor sign off on notes from your conversation lays the groundwork for protests far better than waiting to get the refund in the mail.

RELATED: Don't phone it in: 5 hacks for getting the best mobile phone plan

Could flood-ravaged Houston become jackpot spot for HGTV?

The thousands of flood-damaged homes across southeast Texas could bring a boom to at least one Lone Star industry.

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Some real estate investors are counseling buyers to purchase homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey, pay for the repairs and then resell them, according to Reuters.

These property “flippers,” as they’re known in the industry, expect to take advantage of a tight housing market, especially in Houston, to reap a potentially substantial profit, Reuters reported.

Ray Sasser, a real estate investor and advisor, followed a similar plan advisors are currently reemploying to attract the home front venturers when Tropical Storm Allison struck Houston in 2001.

He bought several homes -- some for as low as 30 percent of their market value -- selling many of them a year later at full market price.

RELATED: Houston suburb tops best value neighborhoods list

At a recent Houston real estate seminar, Sasser revealed his plan to purchase 50 flooded homes for pennies on the dollar, invest 15 to 20 percent for repairs, aiming to then turn them back onto the market in a short time.

With an estimated 268,000 homes suffering some damage due to the floods, what was a tragedy for a significant number of Houstonian homeowners may be a lucrative opportunity for eager flippers.

Many homeowners may consider walking away from their damaged homes with whatever cash they can get, so flippers can buy properties at near-record-low levels.

Meanwhile, the tight nationwide housing market, combined with Houston’s diverse economy and growing population, are creating ideal conditions for flippers to find buyers.

As new homes go up on the old sites, flippers may also be looking at quick sales for prices at or near full market value.

RELATED: Some Houston neighborhoods better for investment return than others

For homeowners looking to sell their damaged homes, the Better Business Bureau posted some advice on how to avoid scams on its website, including the following:

  • Checking if the company has a local office
  • Meeting in person at the buyer’s office to learn about their processes
  • Avoiding paying any “application fees” or “processing fees”
  • Contacting the buyer’s lender to see if they have the funds to complete the purchase
  • Examining the contract to ensure that the seller is no longer obligated to make mortgage payments

Read more at Reuters.

Barack Obama not looking to buying Kennedy’s Martha’s Vineyard estate

Despite rumors, former President Barack Obama is not looking to purchase a home on Martha’s Vineyard, Business Insider reports.

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Obama’s spokesperson, Kevin Lewis, denied reports that the former first family was looking to purchase a vacation home.

The Boston Globe reported earlier in the week that the “word around the island” was that the Obamas, who have vacationed on the island off the Massachusetts’ coast multiple times, were looking for homes in the rural communities of Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury.

>> Related: Sasha Obama works summer job on Martha's Vineyard

The Globe listed properties owned by Caroline Kennedy and her husband, Edwin Schlossberg, as ones of particular interest to the Obamas.

>> Related: Barack, Michelle Obama sign multimillion-dollar book deal with Penguin Random House

Kennedy owns two parcels of land, which were both originally part of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ 366-acre estate, Red Gate Farm. Both pieces of property are currently on the market for $12 million and $15 million, respectively.

Donald Trump's childhood home in NYC listed on Airbnb

President Trump’s childhood home, located in Queens, New York, has been listed on home rental website Airbnb. The house is in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood.

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The listing provides a short history of the house, which was built by Trump’s father, Fred:

President Donald J. Trump’s childhood home. In 1946, Donald Trump was born to Fred and Mary Trump and brought home to Jamaica Estates. Here they lived, in a home built by Fred himself. This is their home. Five bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 14 beds and 2 sofa beds.

The house is conveniently located for those who wish to visit the city during the day and retreat to a calmer scene at night.

>> Earlier story: Donald Trump's childhood home goes on auction block

According to an earlier listing, the 2,500-square-foot house features "a brick and stucco exterior and an old world charm interior featuring arched doorways, hardwood floors, five bedrooms, four and a half baths, library, living room with fireplace, formal dining room, basement and more."

Anyone who’s interested can rent the house for $725 a night. They can also stay longer and receive a weekly discount of 20 percent and a monthly discount of 40 percent.

If one is looking for something a little bit more permanent, Chateau Des Palmiers, Trump’s St. Martin-based estate, is selling for $11 million cheaper than its original asking price.

‘Charlotte’s Web’ author E.B. White’s Maine home listed for $3.7M

The Maine barn from the beloved children’s book “Charlotte’s Web” is officially on the market.

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Listed at $3.7 million, the New England property, including the beautiful barn, was home to late author E.B. White. It was where he lived with his wife until his death in 1985, according to an online exclusive from Yankee Magazine.

Since then, Robert and Mary Gallant have made the lovely Allen Cove farmhouse in North Brooklin, Maine, their home.

“It’s clear they do not want to leave,” Yankee Magazine writer Mel Allen penned. “They know they should. It is time, they say, to downsize to one home and live closer to their four children and seven grandchildren, who remain in the Carolinas.”

» RELATED: For sale: ‘Scariest’ lodging in America, iconic Clown Motel 

So now, decades later, the Gallants want another family to love the home the way they have.

The more than 200-year-old New England property has the original swing hanging by the doorway (the same one that E.B. White’s character Fern enjoyed) and, Allen wrote, “there may or may not be a spider spinning her web in the darker corners of the rafters.”

It includes 12 rooms, six working fireplaces, three and a half bathrooms and a wood cook stove.

» RELATED: President Trump’s Caribbean estate selling for $16.9 million

The 44-acre saltwater farm also features views of the bay and mountains of Acadia National Park, a sun porch, a boathouse with a dock and more.

The House at Allen Cove listing is priced at $3.7 million.

According to The Associated Press, Down East Properties listing agent Martha Dischinger said Wednesday the property retains many historical touches, and the owners maintained the gardens tended by E.B. White’s wife, Katharine, before her death in 1977.

Read the full Yankee Magazine exclusive at NewEngland.com.

President Trump’s Caribbean estate selling for $16.9 million

President Trump’s St. Martin estate, Chateau Des Palmiers, has run into some issues selling since being listed in May.

Since its initial listing for $28 million on Sotheby’s International Reality, the price for the estate has dropped more than $11 million to $16.9 million, reports Business Insider.

Chateau Des Palmiers is a beachfront property that contains 11 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. A listing on 7th Heaven Properties provides details about the property for potential buyers:

Located in a highly exclusive gated enclave a direct beachfront location, the world-class residence comprises an ocean side villa, a garden side villa and a manager’s house, plus a wide range of amenities, including: a huge heated pool, an open air and air conditioned fitness center, a tennis court, and covered outdoor bar, billiards and dining areas.

Trump purchased the property for an undisclosed amount in 2013.

Oprah's Chicago home for sale for less than $400,000

Oprah Winfrey made her career in the windy city of Chicago. While she currently ranks as one of the wealthiest women in America, a home she bought in 2001 in Elmwood, Illinois, is for sale and you just might be able to put an offer in for it.

>> Read more trending news

The four bedroom, two bath single family home is for sale for $393,875, according to Trulia.

>> Related: Obamas go yachting with Tom Hanks, Oprah; Barack snaps photo of Michelle

Architectural Digest notes that “she previously listed the property in September 2016, but pulled the listing after a few months.”

Also an important detail: “Oprah has never actually resided on the property.”The media mogul recently sold a famous Austrian painting as well, so perhaps she is unloading some extra assets she owns.

PHOTOS: Celebrity homes

Faith Hill, Tim McGraw show off Bahamas beach house

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have opened up their vacation home on their own private island in the Bahamas, and your jaw is guaranteed to hit the floor.

>> Read more trending news

The couple created a dream world on the island, which is accessible only by plane. The process took a lot longer than they thought. They first bought the island in 2003 and only moved into their stunning home less than a year ago.

So, what was the holdup?

“We were a little bit naive, possibly,” Faith told Architectural Digest.

She continued: “We set out to build a house. We had no idea we had to build everything else. We basically had to build a little town.”

When they first bought the island, there was no electricity or running water, according to Architectural Digest. They had to build all that infrastructure, as well as housing for the construction workers and current caretakers on the island.

“You don’t quite put all that together at first,” Tim said.

In the decade it took to build their amazing home, Tim and Faith and their three girls all lived in a pair of seaside yurts, or portable round tents, when visiting the island.

“The kids loved it,” Tim told Architectural Digest.

As for the current home, Tim and Faith partnered with Nashville-based architects and designers to create a unique getaway. Everything about the house is designed to bring the stunning environment of the island indoors.

“We’ve been all over the world, and we really wanted to create a special place we couldn’t find anywhere else,” Faith said. “We wanted to feel connected to the outside. When the breeze comes through the room, it’s just life-changing. It really is! It’s something for the soul.”

Tim and Faith will surely enjoy their island paradise after putting in a year on tour together.

Read more at Architectural Digest and check out dates for their “Soul 2 Soul World Tour” here.

Donald Trump's childhood home sells for 'yuge' profit

A real estate prospector just profited big-league from the sale of President Donald Trump's childhood home.

>> PHOTOS: Donald Trump’s childhood home

According to CNN, the 2,500-square-foot New York Tudor has a new owner just three months after Michael Davis bought the property in Queens' Jamaica Estates neighborhood for $1.4 million. Last week, an unnamed bidder reportedly shelled out $2.14 million for the home where Trump lived until he was about 4.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Donald Trump's childhood home goes on auction block

The house, built by Trump's father, Fred Trump, has "a brick and stucco exterior and an old-world charm interior featuring arched doorways, hardwood floors, five bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, library, living room with fireplace, formal dining room, basement and more," Paramount Realty USA said in the listing.

>> Read more trending news

Read more here or here.

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