Forbes.com has published its report on America’s Best and Worst Cities for Families. These are metros where people have enough money for everyday living and places where families’ daily budgets take a chunk out of their incomes.
The study is based on the 40 most populated metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs or metros), geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget which collects, tabulates, and publishes federal statistics. That information, along with the Economic Policy Institute’s Basic Family Budget Calculator, was used to determine which areas were most and least affordable for two-parent, two-income, two-child families in those cities.
Top five rankings for most and least family-friendly areas:
The country’s most affordable major city is San Jose. The least-affordable metro for families is New York.
Most family-friendly for budget: San Jose, CA; Salt Lake City, Utah; Baltimore, Md.; Detroit, Michigan; San Francisco, CA.
Least family-friendly for budget: New York, N.Y.; New Orleans, La.; Los Angeles, Ca.; San Antonio, Texas; Orlando, Fla.
According to the study in 15 of the 40 cities studied, families need to use 80 percent or more of their annual incomes just to pay for the "bare essentials". Tough times turn homeowners into landlords The ailing real estate market conditions haven’t helped. Some homeowners have been eager to leave higher cost states but have been trapped because they couldn’t sell their home. So, instead they decide to hang on to their home, rent it out, and then sell when the market improves.
Homeowners owning second homes and luxury homes are also choosing to rent them out and that’s increased inventory on the rental market. With the financial collapse, more retirement-age second- home owners are pushing back their retirement and finding that in order to hold onto their second home they need to rent it. Some are opting to turn them into vacation rentals.
Internet site aims to help get properties rented The ripe rental real estate market made it a prime time to launch a rental network that aims to help get properties rented. "We just wanted to make things easier for people," says Jamin Bollen, chief operating officer for RentalSpaceNetwork.com, a site that started two years ago.
His member-based Web site is growing. "What our Web site does is it allows landlords, property managers, Realtors, anyone who deals with rental properties, to advertise their properties. It also allows them to screen their tenants and to manage all the paperwork that goes with it such as applications, leases, invoices and it allows people to do it online through the use of electronic signatures," says Bollen. "It basically makes the advertising, tenant screening, and leasing process completely paperless," he says.
Bollen’s site helps with a process that many homeowners who wind up renting their properties fail to do. "A lot of people right now are desperate to rent out a place and they find it difficult to do the proper screening because of [the rules of the] Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)," says Bollen. Many times homeowners find the FCRA difficult to understand and are therefore reluctant to attempt to screen tenants. But Bollen site simplifies the process. He says that, "You can screen tenants and get a credit report as well as a criminal report through a portal that we use; it’s called TransUnion Smart Move." All the documents are stored online and are accessible via a computer. The cost to upload and advertise one property is a yearly fee of $39.99. "We have a network of over 250 Web sites. So it gives landlords a lot of exposure through our network," says Bollen.
It’s always recommended to consult a real estate market specialist to help you study the market conditions. For more information on getting your home rented, read my column, Can’t Sell Your Home? Why Not Rent It?