Whether it’s a family moving to the Twin Cities or a student coming to the community to attend college, one of the primary considerations is housing.

This year the news about housing has emphasized some pretty extreme conditions throughout the country. Does L-A’s housing market reflect the same extremes? What’s the housing and rental market like in the Twin Cities?

A look at statistics provided by the Maine State Housing Authority shows that swings in real estate have not been as dramatic in this part of the country as they have been elsewhere.

Nevertheless, it takes a higher income to afford a house this year, and the median home prices are up.

The median home price in Lewiston-Auburn was $155,000 in 2007. It was $153,600 in 2006. It now takes an income of $53,528 a year to afford that median priced home, compared to an annual income of $53,055 in the previous year.

The Maine State Housing Authority also provides some recent rental housing facts for the Lewiston-Auburn area. In 2007, the average two-bedroom rent would cost about $734 a month. That’s down a dollar from last year.

Statewide, two-bedroom rents were going for $842, one-bedroom rents were about $661 and efficiency units were around $537.

In Lewiston, there were almost 8,553 renter households in 2007 – up a bit from the previous year. There were about 4,410 in Auburn, also a slight increase.

The Lewiston Housing Authority and the Auburn Housing Authority handle subsidized housing in the Twin Cities. Newcomers who meet income eligibility guidelines might find help at many L-A facilities of these agencies.

Families making a move to the Twin Cities will find plenty of capable real estate firms and, for renters, local property management firms can provide guidance.

Realtors explain that big swings can take place in the market in Boston.

Then the effect comes to Portland, but it’s not quite as dramatic. By the time the market swing gets to L-A, it’s much more moderate, and that’s what has happened in recent months.

Homebuyers also get a lot of help from banks. There are many ways the lending institutions help out with down payments and closing costs.

Although most Bates College students live on-campus, many others rent apartments nearby. There also are a lot of students from away at the other L-A colleges who look for housing in the community. For them, the housing departments of the educational institutions will have good advice.

The Maine Apartment Owners and Managers Association, Inc., based in Hallowell, has some advice for renters seeking housing.

In addition to searching ads and letting friends know about your search, the organization suggests approaching the rental-housing search like a job search. They advise calling a prospect early and making all phone messages and call-back info concise and clear.

MAOMA also advises rental searchers to maintain good credit, have all information on prior addresses, references’ phone numbers, and credit card numbers, and be prepared to decide on-the-spot and to leave a deposit and/or credit check fee.

Consider preparing a renter’s resume and go to interviews prepared to make a good impression.

MAOMA’s Web site at www.maoma.org has a Renter’s Bill of Rights, as well as a list of renters’ responsibilities.

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