Archive for April, 2010

Evaluating the Schools in Your New Neighborhood

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

If your family includes kids and you’re thinking about moving to a new area, the schools are be among your first considerations. Does the neighborhood have good schools? Are the teachers and staff well-equipped to teach your children? Is there a good PTA that addresses the concerns of parents? These are pertinent questions you might need to look into before you commit to a decision on a new home.

Graduation Rate

Especially for families that have children who are in high school, the school’s graduation percentage may have a bearing on the decision. Schools that do not have good graduation rates have a bad reputation are categorically coming up short in their most basic job. For this reason, many parents want to live in neighborhoods where the high schools have a good graduation percentage that shows a dedication to a good education.

Standardized Test Scores

When you are checking out an area’s schools, one of the primary things to look into is the overall test score rankings. While these are not the only thing you should consider in judging the quality of a school, as some parents appear to believe, they can be a good indicator of how good the teachers are at the overall charter of providing their students a relevant education. Some high schools may even disclose the average ACT or SAT scores achieved by their students to be an indication of their competitive success rate.

Per Capita Expenditures

Some websites will disclose how much a school district budgets and spends to educate each student each year. This is the amount they provide to ensure that each student has everything they need for success in their academic career. The per-capita figure includes teacher salary, books, supplies and other equipment and classroom materials that are involved in the education process.


Finding a neighborhood in which schools are located close by is the ideal situation for parents with young children. When your home is situated close to the schools, you can walk with your small children to and from school each day. If you have a busy schedule, your kids can walk to and from school by themselves as they get older. It’s a terrific way for them (and you!) to get fresh air and good exercise besides.

Ratio of Students to Teachers

How many students there are for each teacher is often thought of as playing a big role in the successful outcome of the education process. The national average is between 16 and 17 students for each classroom, though as school districts are experiencing budget pressures that may be on the increase. In a school that goes over those numbers by too much of a margin, your child may not get the individualized attention they need if and when it is needed.

Enrichment Activities and Clubs

Have you looked into whether the schools in your new home’s district offer extracurricular activities? Do the schools have interesting groups and enrichment classes that will keep your young students involved in learning? This could be a major factor when you are making a decision about a new area to live.

Schools are one of the biggest factors of your decision when you are deciding on a new home. You want to find a place where your kids are comfortable and a place where you feel comfortable as well. By carefully researching schools in the different areas where you’re considering a next home, you can find the best place for you and your entire family in one spot.

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Appraised Value: The Ups & Downs Of How Much A House Is Worth

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Appraised Value: The Ups & Downs Of How Much A House Is Worth

Author: Trent

Determining Fair Market Value is an eternal struggle and major balancing act. That’s because buyers want a house to appraise on the low side—to keep the purchase price down. While sellers want the same house to appraise on the high side—to make the sale price higher. And then you’ve got the owners of the house—who also want the appraisal to be on the low side, in order to keep the property taxes down.

So with all these different agendas and points of view, how is the fair market value of a real estate property actually determined?

Once a year, your county sends all area homeowners official notices that put a dollar value on their property. And property taxes are based on those dollar values. But before those notices get sent out, a long, detailed process usually takes place. First, the land is valued as if it’s vacant—an empty lot, in other words. Then any improvements are described and measured. Improvements consist of the house and any other structures, pools, sheds, garages, and so forth. Next, most counties check the Marshall Valuation Service Cost Guide. It’s a standardized nationwide guide for determining the value of the cost per square foot to build a building that fits the description of the improved property. Next, if the house isn’t brand new, the replacement cost is considered, as well as depreciation; the year the house was constructed and the condition of the property are factors here. Appraisers then must take the critical step of comparing the value of the house with recent selling prices of similar homes in the neighborhood. At this point, the appraisal might stand “as is”—or it might be adjusted upward or downward.

Market Value is a theory, in other words—not an unchanging fact.

In a perfect world, you have to have willing buyer and a willing seller. Neither is under duress. Both are in a position to maximize gain and are trying to do this. But in the real world, things are rarely that simple and equally balanced. Which is why people feel differently about the appraisal value of a house. It really depends how strong their position is as a buyer or seller.

Does the local economy come into it at all? You bet it does.

Ask a successful Realtor about that! He or she will tell you they’ve noticed that the fast-growing economird are attracting people from other areas who consider real estate here a bargain. That helps fuel increases in property values.

How about your schoold district, the look of other houses near you, and walkability? Yes to all. Understand you houses pluses to different buyers and make sure you let everyone know about them.

So—now you know where that Grand Total comes from.

You’re armed with the information you need to make a better house-buying decision. For instance, you can understand how two virtually identical houses that are in two different neighborhoods could be very far apart in price and appraised value. And why your choice of the right house in the right neighborhood could be worth a not-so-small fortune to you right now—and years down the road.

Making Everyday Earth Day – Tips On Energy Efficient And Sustainable Living

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Today is Earth Day!!

For the past 40 years people have come together on April 22nd to celebrate eco-friendly education around the world.

Here are some facts about energy efficient and sustainable living, courtesy of Erica Christoffer, Web Producer for REALTOR® Magazine

Energy Use & ENERGY STAR

Upgrading single-pane windows to ENERGY STAR windows can save a home owner between $126 and $465 in energy costs per year.

An ENERGY STAR washing machine can help save 6,700 gallons of water per year.

Remember to turn off power strips and unplug electronics (TVs, computers, printers, and charging devices) because stand-by power can account for as much as 5 to 10 percent of a home’s energy use.

Building with Brick

Homes with brick veneer use 2 to 7 percent less energy than those with fiber cement siding.

Brick has a 100-year lifespan, or longer.

Clay bricks are recyclable. They can be reused in other structures or broken down to make new brick.

Consumer Waste

Every year, nearly 900 million trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper and pulp mills.

In the U.S., about 28 billion bottles and jars are thrown away every year.

Each year, Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam cups — 500 years from now, they’ll still be sitting in a landfill.

Full Article: Honor Earth Day By Passing On These Quick Facts

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For Rent in Tracy, CA – 4 to 5 bed, 3 bath $1,895/month

Monday, April 19th, 2010

If you like what you see, call me today! Tony Martin (209) 610-3431.

Beautiful 2,051 square foot home in Tracy, CA for rent at $1,895 per month.

4 – 5 bedrooms
3 full bathrooms
Built 2002
Carpet and Hardwood Flooring
Bonus Room
Inside Laundry Area
Covered Patio
Easy Freeway Access
Close to schools and shopping

homes for rent in tracy 2518 gaines lane

If you like what you see, call me today! Tony Martin (209) 610-3431.

If You’re Buying a Home in Foreclosure, Watch out for These Situations

Monday, April 12th, 2010

With so many homes in foreclosure, people with some money available are jumping at the chance to get a great house at an unbelievable bargain. In many cases, this is the perfect way to buy that perfect home. Surprisingly, though, it may not always be the best financial decision. Following is a list of five pitfalls you may run into when considering the decision to buy a home that is being foreclosed.

Different Contract Procedure

If you buy a home that has been foreclosed, you’re dealing with a risk situation. Foreclosed homes are typically sold in “as is” condition. If you’ve ever bought a car with that stipulation, you have experienced how careful you need to be. With a property that has been foreclosed, you don’t get the advantage of the customary safeguards and buyer protective contract provisions that provide you with something to rely on if anything goes wrong.

Tenants Staying in the Property

Although it does not happen very frequently, there is a possibility that the previous owners of the house could return and claim the house. Sometimes, they may even refuse to vacate the home in the first place. The law will be your ally, but it can be a distasteful experience for you.

Condition of the Property

A foreclosed home can be a home in poor condition. If the prior owner had financial difficulties and was unable to make repairs, some serious repair work could end up being your responsibility. Defects can be hidden until too late to do anything about them, and they can be serious. It’s a good recommendation to get a home inspection carried out by a professional home inspector before you buy, so there aren’t any undue surprises later.

Lien Problems

You have to consider that although you may be seeing what seems to be a great deal on the property, unpaid tax bills and other problem situations such as old unpaid debts for things such as association fees or repairs or remodeling done a long time ago on the property, could push that price up and make it equivalent to a non-foreclosure home. You may be required to pay any taxes or liens that the previous owners left behind. In that case, your risk is greater without even getting the peace of mind that is associated with a traditional home purchase.

The Home Could Be up for Auction

Often, a foreclosed property is auctioned off to the highest bidder. It can disappear after you have set your sights on it. In order to buy at an auction you must have proof of financing along with 10 percent down on the spot. This can be disheartening for someone who isn’t prepared to shell out the amount of cash that is needed all at one time.

Buying a home in foreclosure, as a reminder in closing, can still be a good deal despite the problems. You can eliminate some of these traps by simply doing some investigating before jumping into the purchase of a foreclosure. A licensed Realtor can also help you make the best decision.

When you want to find real estate in Louisville, use the premier Colorado real estate specialists,

Kids And Family Camping Trips. Be Prepared So Your Kids Will Have Fun Camping! by Dave Clair

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Kids And Family Camping Trips. Be Prepared So Your Kids Will Have Fun Camping! by Dave Clair

Taking your kids camping can create the kind of fond memories that they will cherish for a lifetime. In order to make sure your trip is a success, be prepared on your next camping trip. Being outdoors with their endless energy and imagination is all they need to have a great time, as long as the basics are covered.

You’ve heard it said: Safety first. First aid kids are a must. Kids are great at getting bumps and cuts and scrapes when they are outdoors. Make sure your first aid kid is up to par.

Personal care items are very important. Bring toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, tissues, and other related items.

Nothing is worse than sleeping on the hard ground with a poor sleeping bag. Bring good sleeping bags, along with some extra blankets and extra pillows to make sure they are comfortable.

Lanterns and flashlights are a must. Bring plenty of batteries for them, too. Your kids will have more fun if they have their own flashlights and they’ll be a lot safer in the dark.

With younger kids, you need to prepare for boredom control. Small toys and coloring books can work wonders for this. For long car rides, bring some travel board games.

Bring food that kids will eat! Hot dogs, marshmallows, trail mix, etc. Don’t assume that your kids will be happy eating things they aren’t used to just because you are camping. Don’t forget to pack plenty of clean water.

You might like sitting on a tree stump all weekend, but your kids probably won’t. Camping chairs and folding tables can make a huge difference and make your family way more comfortable around the campfire.

Be ready for any kind of unforeseen accidents by packing extra clothing. Kids have a gift for getting dirty, wet, or rips in their clothing.

Follow these tips and your kids will have a wonderful time camping with you. They will have memories they will treasure for a lifetime.

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Free Articles from Kids And Family Camping Trips. Be Prepared So Your Kids Will Have Fun Camping!

Real Estate Investing Mistake #2: Inspections and Repairs

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Real Estate Investing Mistake #2: Inspections and Repairs

Real Estate Investing Mistake #2: Inspections and Repairs

The only real solution for real estate investing mistakes is consistent action! You’ve got to stick with it and realize that part of learning process. You WILL make mistakes… and you will continue to make them for as long as you choose to invest.

The key is to learn from each and move on. Add it to a policy and procedure manual so to speak! And avoid that particular real estate investing mistake in the future!

When I first started in real estate, I would document every real estate deal in detail. I would be sure to document: (1) What went well, (2) What didn’t go well!, and (3) How to improve on the next deal.

In this article series, I’ve highlighted 17 mistakes that I made early on and share with you what you can do to avoid making the same real estate investing mistakes I made…

Real Estate Investing Mistake #2: Assuming the repairs and maintenance

This is a biggie early on for real estate investors. They assume that properties have been maintained and/or that the owner is telling them the “whole story” about everything. I know that some will tell you it’s a waste of time and money to have inspections done on all of your deals.

When I got started in real estate investing, I primarily rehabbed properties, and because I had ZERO construction knowledge going into it all, I had a formal inspection on every single property I purchase. And without fail, 100% of the time, I made the inspection costs back in renegotiations with the homeowner.

Think of your home inspection costs early on as a invaluable education! People will spend 10s of 1000s of dollars on home study courses, but will balk at $200 on a home inspector that will literally give you on the job training.

On my very first deal, I assumed that everything was in good working order because I knew the owners. They were related to my business partner! Well, needless to say, I was VERY wrong! Fortunately, things worked out in the end, but this “mistake” SHOULD have cost me nearly $5000. And it w

as something a home inspector would have easily caught! Sure the obvious stuff stood out on this real estate deal… things like the rotted wood siding and the “pond scum green” pool! But I didn’t know the first thing about what to look for in terms of plumbing, roof, electric, structure, etc.

How to Avoid Real Estate Investing Mistake #2

First and foremost, the key to avoiding this real estate mistake is to LEARN the majors of rehab!

These include:

1. Roof

2. Structure (Including the foundation)

3. Electrical

4. Plumbing

5. HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioner)

These are the items that can cost you (or your retail buyer) BIG dollars on a deal… and these are things that will make or break a deal in a matter of minutes. In some cases, they can take you right out of the real estate investing game (I’ve got lots of stories of deals – some good and others… a good learning lesson). These are things that can literally make or break a deal and you certainly don’t want to turn into a motivated seller yourself!

These items might seem scary when you’re first getting started in real estate, but in reality, a little education goes a long way. And the best type of education is hands-on. I asked questions and got involved. I also worked closely with my home inspector as I took on more and more rehabs in the beginning of my career.

After I negotiated the contract, I always got a professional inspection. This has earned me thousands and thousands of dollars in my real estate investing career. After simply having a third-party expert do the inspection, I found it’s virtually always possible to renegotiate the price of the contract and receive credit for repairs.

To Avoid Making the 17 Most Common Real Estate Investing Mistakes, Claim Your FREE eGuide Entitled: “17 Mistakes New Real Estate Investors Make” at . Inside, you’ll learn the 17 most common mistakes and, more importantly, how to avoid them!

Save Money! Improve Your Home With Artifical Building Materials

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Believe it or not, you can build with plastic and no one will ever know! It’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between artificial materials and materials found in nature.

And artificial is so much cheaper!

Here are some of the best state-of-the-art building material look-alikes:

Fiber Cement Siding

Average price: $13,000 to replace existing siding and trim with fiber cement
Savings: 25% less than wood

Unlike vinyl siding, which comes in large sheets, this consists of individual shingles or clapboards nailed in place one at a time to closely resemble wood. Made from recycled wood fibers mixed with cement, this siding won’t rot.

home improvement fiber cement siding

Manufactured Stone

Average price: $1,700 to create an interior floor-to-ceiling wall above a fireplace
Savings: 50% less than real masonry

Get the look of real stone for a chimney, a fireplace or porch posts with these artificial rocks that are molded from concrete and then individually tinted to slightly different colors for an authentic appearance.

home improvement manufactured stone

Engineered Stone Countertops

Average price: $2,500 to $5,000 for an average kitchen countertop
Savings: Same price as granite, but needs no sealing

Made from chips of quartz pressed together with resins, the best-engineered countertops look like real stone that just happens to have an extremely uniform pattern on its surface (man cannot mimic a highly variegated look yet – maybe in a couple of years).

home improvement stone counters

Cellular PVC Trim

Average price: $120 per window or door, installed
Savings: Costs 20% more than cedar up front but lasts longer and better

Made by injecting air into vinyl chloride (a liquid form of vinyl) and then forming it into solid pieces of trim, the resulting boards get cut, nailed and even shaped into custom profiles by the same tools and techniques used for wood.

home improvement cellular pvc trim

Stamped Concrete Patios

Average price: $4,000 for a 16 x 20 patio
Savings: Half the cost of bluestone

Instead of laying individual bluestones, cobbles or bricks, a contractor can simply pour a slab of concrete and then emboss and tint its surface to make it look like any one of those far more expensive materials.

home improvement stamped concrete

Find out more about Plastic fantastic building materials at Money.Cnn.Com