Home Buyers Blog

Why the School District Should Impact Your Home Search

By Deanna Lawley

Buying a home in a good school district can result in resale advantages, offer protection from market fluctuation and provide a great education. Real estate experts in markets across the country share what you should know about a school district’s impact on real estate, whether or not you plan on using the school system.

Determine what you’re looking for in a school district

Before you begin your search, determine how you are looking to benefit from the school district.

According to associate broker Aisha J. Thomas, the most important quality of a good school district is unique to every buyer. “Although test scores and statistics are a great starting point, schools require a closer look. Factors to consider are the environment, active parental participation, teacher credentials/support, offering of core competencies, extracurricular and after-school options. These factors can contribute to a well-rounded education.”

“The quality of the school district is one of the first things home buyers evaluate before making a purchase. Many buyers filter their search by only looking for homes in a certain district,” says agent Jake Cain. “Defining what a ‘good’ school district is varies from one family to the next. While we often think of high test scores, some families may be concerned with their budding athlete playing for a top program and others may place a particular premium on student-to-teacher ratio.”

You don’t need to have children to benefit from buying in a top school district.

“A home located in a good school district carries the benefit of maintaining its value in comparison to lower tiered school systems,” says real estate consultant Linda Brincks. “Even if you do not plan to use the school systems yourself, many buyers (especially relocation buyers) will opt for homes in the top notch school systems when it’s time to sell the in the future.”

Consider the resale value potential

When thinking of the area’s long-term potential, the school district should be a top consideration.

“Before you invest in an area you should research as much as possible to determine the factors that could affect your resale ability in the future,” says agent Kristie Zimmerman.

“A school district is a very important factor to consider when buying a home even if you don’t have children, because it can have a dramatic effect on the resale value of the property,” says Thomas. “Properties located in good school districts tend to hold value or even increase in value when the rest of the market has stalled.”

“Parents of young children or individuals without children will look for schools in up-and-coming areas, where the influx of buyers could substantially change the schools, due to the increased enrollment and tax base, while the home prices remain on the lower end,” says Thomas.

“A good school district definitely adds to the value of a property whether you have children or not, however in my experience better school districts are usually located in more upscale neighborhoods, says agent Jim Esposito. “They are safer, offer higher appreciation, will hold value better through market fluctuations.”

Buying without children

Even if you don’t plan on using the schools, the school district should still be an important part of your home hunt.

“It is always a better investment to buy into a top school district,” says real estate professional Carol Huston. “In Los Angeles, properties located in high ranking school districts, which is California’s Academic Performance Index, school districts with scores of 9-10+ always sell at a premium.“

“Real estate values are driven by demand,” says Zimmerman. “The end buyer may make their decision to purchase based solely on a school.”

If you don’t plan on using the school district, it still pays to get involved.

“I always advise clients to support the school in their neighborhood even if they don’t have children,” says Huston. “It will help children and bring up the value of their own property.”

Weighing the cost of buying in a higher-priced school district

In addition to a higher resale value, buying in a good school district can save on the costs of a private school.

“Many of my clients sold their homes to take their kids out of private school and to move into a great school district, says Huston. “They felt that they would rather support public school and pay it into their house mortgage, than pay it to a private school.

“The higher home costs of a top district are worth it when you factor in the cost of private schools, says Thomas. According to the Digest of Education Statistics 2010, National Center for Education Statistics report the average cost is $8,549.”

Do your homework

To gain a full understanding of the school district, broker/owner Nicole Lee recommends looking into the teacher student ratios, testing scores, and any recent school of excellence awards.

Cain says, “One great place to get district information is from SchoolDigger.com.”

“Find your state’s website, which should offer district report cards that will let you compare schools against another,” says Brincks.

“Ask your real estate agent and any personal contacts in the prospective areas, or via Internet posts for opinions. There always seems to be one school or district that gets repeated,” says Thomas.

“Speaking from personal experience as I’ve relocated from Michigan to California then to Georgia within the past year; online resources, like GreatSchools.org, were instrumental in helping me find a good school for my child, like,” says Thomas.

Huston encourages her clients to go to the local school and check it out themselves. She says, “See if there are parents walking their children to school. Are there local businesses that support the school? How crowded are the classrooms? Are you guaranteed a space in the school just by living in neighborhood, or is it so popular that you have to be put on a waiting list or go into a lottery?”

Use this advice when home hunting to make the most out of your investment and increase your resale value—whether or not you have children.

This article was originally posted on the Homefinder.com blog.

Mike Spruell
Realtor®/Broker/ePRO
The Lake Norman Homes Team
Southern Homes Elite
www.LakeNormanRealEstate.pro
866-LakeNorman
704-907-7907

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

7 Helpful Tips for First-time Homebuyers

By Bill Gassett

Looking for a new home can be a pretty exciting task. With that much money on the line, it's worthwhile to read up on the process before you set out. Unnecessary mistakes can and should be avoided while trying to get the best deal for your money. As a first-time homebuyer, proper guidance from seasoned professionals can make all the difference.

Here are a few tips first-time buyers can take when trying to find their first home:

Get clear on what you want—This is the most important part of your preparation. You are about to enter a shopping experience that is unlike any other. At times, it can be stressful and difficult. There is a lot of money on the line and a big commitment to be made, so prepare accordingly. Get clear on what you really want and what you are willing to compromise on. This will make your home shopping experience much more efficient and will give you a map to go off of should tensions run high. The better prepared you are, the better chance of having a smooth transaction.

Do your research—Home shoppers today are more empowered than ever before. You have so much information at your fingertips. Go online and find the areas you want to live in. Narrow down the neighborhoods you want to consider to three or four, and focus on those. Learn about the cost of the things you really want and the cost of the things you can do without. The more knowledgeable you are the better you will be at negotiating a good deal.

Talk to the bank—Preparing to get a mortgage in advance of your actual purchase will be super important. Before you start looking at houses you should have a discussion with your lender. The lender will be able to give you an honest assessment of what your finances look like, how much house you can afford and what your rates will be. You want to know all of this – what it will really cost you – before you start looking at homes you can't actually afford. Find out what your monthly payment will be at different amounts and determine what your personal limits are as well. Depending on your credit, the lender may be willing to give you far more than you need. Once you know the time is right to buy a home make sure you get pre-approved by a lender. Make sure you understand the difference between getting pre-approved and pre-qualified for a mortgage. Without a doubt you will want to get pre-approved as a pre-qualification letter is not worth much. A savvy REALTOR® representing a homeowner will pick up on this right away. If you are competing with other buyers and are not financially prepared, you could lose out on your dream home!

Need some additional tips on how to save money? Check out these suggestions from Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Think about the future—Is this going to be a starter house that you will move out of in five years? Is it going to be a property that you fix up and flip? Is it going to be the home for your new family that you will be in for 10 or 20 years? Your long term plans will help dictate your purchasing choices. It is important to understand what you really want this home for before you go and sign any papers and spend any money. One of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers make is not thinking about their long term plans.

Find a good REALTOR®–A real estate agent can prove invaluable when shopping for a home. If you find one that is good – an agent that is finding people the homes they want at a price they are happy with – then much of the work will be done for you. The agent will talk about what you want, will run you through much of the above mentioned areas and will help you find the houses that are really what you are looking for. The agent will also be an effective negotiator, meaning that you will probably get more house for your money than if you went at it alone.

Set a timeline—The situation you are in is uniquely your own. You want to set a timeline for when you will find and buy home—a timeline that reflects your realities. If you have bad credit that needs to be cleaned up first, for instance, you will need to spend some time working on that before you actually start house hunting. If you need to move right now, that is another factor in your timeline. Give yourself some restrictions so you will be encouraged to move at a steady pace and get the job done. Hunting for a house can be quite stressful and it is not something that should be drawn out any more than necessary. Determine what you want, work with a REALTOR®, and get it as efficiently as possible.

Understand your fiscal responsibility—Another problem that first-time homebuyers don't always properly think through is the financial responsibility of owning a home. A large amount of buyers will think about making their mortgage payments and nothing else. If you have been renting for a while, or even living with mom and dad, it is easy to see why this can happen. Unfortunately, owning a home comes with quite a few more additional first-time home expenses that you may not have considered such as appliances, furniture, and even taxes and insurance. These are all important things to consider when putting together your home buying budget.

Use all of the above tips for finding your first home and you will be well on your way to enjoying your new life as a homeowner!

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past 27-plus years.

View this original post on RISMedia's blog, Housecall.

Mike Spruell
Realtor®/Broker/ePRO
The Lake Norman Homes Team
Southern Homes Elite
www.LakeNormanRealEstate.pro
866-LakeNorman
704-907-7907

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

4 Painless Ways to Pay Down Your Mortgage

By Barbara Pronin

Paying off a mortgage is a long-term commitment—30 years in most cases, and costing hundreds of thousands in interest. But if your goal is early retirement with a paid-off mortgage, you can meet that goal—and save many thousands in interest along the way—by paying down the principal with a few extra bucks here and there.

The caveat, said Moneycrash.com financial advisor David Bakke, is that you specify on these extra payment checks to your lender that the funds are to be used for principal deduction only.

Bakke offers four ideas for paying down your mortgage early while hardly feeling the pinch:

  • Lower the interest rate – Stay alert to opportunities to lower your mortgage rate. Dropping 1.5 to 2 percent interest from a 30-year fixed rate mortgage can lower your payment by several hundred dollars per month. That’s money you can put toward retirement savings, vacations, or kids’ college accounts – or toward paying down your mortgage even faster.
  • Turn a small luxury into an extra payment habit – Consider the small, perhaps daily luxuries you are willing to forego; the $4 latte every morning…a magazine subscription you don’t need. Stash that money and use it toward principal reduction.
  • Turn underperforming investments into equity – Many people have investments that are returning less, as a percentage, than their home mortgage interest rate is costing them. If that’s the case, and you have no reason to think that the investment will turn around soon, it might pay to put that money toward paying down the principal on your mortgage.
  • Stash those regular or unexpected little windfalls – Got an unexpected tax refund? A larger-than-expected birthday check? Or perhaps you save a few bucks on groceries each week by using those clipped coupons? Stash the money you saved, or any other extra amount, and apply it each month to mortgage principal.

Mike Spruell
Realtor®/Broker/ePRO
The Lake Norman Homes Team
Southern Homes Elite
www.LakeNormanRealEstate.pro
866-LakeNorman
704-907-7907

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

Q: How Do You Choose a Good Condo?

A: Seek ownership in a well-maintained building, and pay special attention to the financial health of the condo association. Lax maintenance may be a sign of financial trouble, which could result in higher maintenance fees and problems trying to resale the property later.

Things to consider:

Get a copy of the latest financial statement from the condo association.

Ask the board of directors – which is elected by the unit owners from among themselves – if major repairs or improvements are imminent. If so, find out how much they will cost and whether there is enough money in the reserve to cover them.

Check the by-laws, rules and the covenants, codes and restrictions (CC&Rs). You may find, among other things, that they prohibit or restrict pets and the renting of units. Some may require that the board have the right of first refusal on the sale of any unit.

Learn everything you can about the homeowners association, including legal disputes and conflicts. Start by reading the minutes of the association meetings.

Find out the owner-to-tenant ratio. Because many condominiums are often purchased as investments, there could be a high percentage of tenants in the building.

 

 

 

Mike Spruell
Realtor®/Broker/ePRO
The Lake Norman Homes Team
Southern Homes Elite
www.LakeNormanRealEstate.pro
866-LakeNorman
704-907-7907

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

Fixed Mortgage Rates Near Seven-Month Low

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving lower for the fourth consecutive week with fixed mortgage rates hitting new lows for this year.

"Mortgage rates continued to decline this week as industrial production slipped by 0.6 percent in April, below the market consensus forecast,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Meanwhile, housing starts jumped 13 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,072,000 units, well above expectations. Permits rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,080,000 in April, also above expectations."

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.14 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending May 22, 2014, down from the previous week when it averaged 4.20 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.59 percent. ?

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.25 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.29 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.77 percent. ?

Results show that the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.96 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.01 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.63 percent.?

For more information, visit FreddieMac.com.

Mike Spruell
Realtor®/Broker/ePRO
The Lake Norman Homes Team
Southern Homes Elite
www.LakeNormanRealEstate.pro
866-LakeNorman
704-907-7907

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.