Is moving for a better school district worth it?

I’m sure you’ve heard friends or neighbors mention how they wanted to move because they wanted to be in a better school district for their kids or they didn’t have kids yet but they wanted to make sure they found a home that was in a school district they wanted.  It’s one of the top ten reasons people choose a certain house to buy.  But is it all just a bunch of baloney?

MSN has a new article about whether that is, in fact, something you want to focus on that it causes you to move.  A house can cost more if it’s in a highly desired school district.  So before you choose to go that route, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions:

  • How many children do I have/plan to have?
  • How secure is my job?
  • How long do I plan to stay in this area?
  • What are my social expectations for this community outside of the schools?
  • How diverse is the school?
  • Is the environment right for my child? Is it too high pressure?
  • Will I need two incomes to make a mortgage payment there? Will we want to keep up with the Joneses and blow our budget?
It’s important not just to go by what you hear.  A lot of people have strong biases toward or against certain school districts because of personal experience or problems they may have had with a teacher or employee.  It could have just been a personality conflict.  So it’s important that you do your own research first.
Find out the student/teacher ratio.  Visit the schools and speak to the staff and ask for a tour, especially of the ones you’re interested in.  You may find that it’s not as good of a fit for your child as you had originally thought.  And then you just gave up your home because you heard how great the schools were.  
It’s also possible that your community offers a charter or magnet school that have a more progressive teaching philosophy.  For instance, there’s a charter school in a suburb near mine that’s very focused on green living, growing your own food, and sustainable resources.  Now, you have to be located in that suburb to enroll.  However, if you are located within a different school district, you’re open to enroll as well, and it’s not for the community that’s right next door.  So, again, it’s important to do your research.
Also, it could even save you money to send your children to private school rather than put down extra money to purchase a new home.  You’ll want to look at tuition costs and figure out if it is a valuable investment.  You also want to make sure you’re not shelling out a ton of money in gas by driving your kids to a school further away and going back and forth for all their various activities.  So research is key in determining what is best for you and your family.
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What to do with all these foreclosures

So inventory is high with all these foreclosures and, therefore, property values are down.  So what does the government want to do about it?  According to the Wall Street Journal, they have two interesting options to help drive home values up again.

The first scenario is to sell packages of foreclosed properties in batches of hundreds or thousands to investors who would in turn agree to rent them out.  At the end of June, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration owned about a combined 250,000 homes.  There’s about 830,000 that are still in the foreclosure process that would eventually land in their laps.  

 The second option they’re looking at is to “let investors enter joint ventures with Fannie or Freddie to invest in a pool of converted rental homes. A national property-management business would handle day-to-day landlord responsibilities. Investors would pay for rehabbing and maintaining properties and would share revenue from monthly rental income and the ultimate sale of the property.”  So they basically figure they can rent out the homes in order to keep them from being listed currently and to earn some money back.

Since there’s a lot less buyers today qualifying for loans or even willing to purchase, it’s investors who are picking up some of the inventory.

Both scenarios are interesting propositions.  I worry about the second one since that basically would make the government the landlord.  And that’s just another controlling factor that they shouldn’t be a part of.  And then on top of all the foreclosed homes they’re so slow to deal with already, how are they going to handle late rent payments or problems in the property?  They mention that a national property manager would deal with it, but that’s a huge influx of properties they will need to take over.  So can they really handle it?  I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but I don’t know if this is the best solution.

I’m definitely interested in hearing more about the first scenario, selling foreclosures in bulk.  By offering a package deal, that would also keep a lot of foreclosures off the market. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these scenarios and if you have other suggestions for how the government can or should be involved.  Please leave me a comment or visit me online.


Couponing coming to real estate

Couponing seems to be the biggest craze now.  Between shows like Extreme Couponing and all the new daily deal sites that pop up, like Groupon and Living Social, everybody is trying to get something for less.  I think these sites can offer some fantastic deals, so I was thrilled when I found out about a new site,

HouseTipper works similar to Groupon sites where you would pay ahead of time to get a discount from a real estate brokerage.  Some deals might include a commission discount, gift cards at closing, or cash back.  According to this MSN article, “In real estate, the deals are often offered for three to seven days rather than for just one day because these are not usually impulse buys,” says Tigue Bonneval, co-founder of and a real-estate agent in Baton Rouge, La. “This gives customers time to see the deal, make an inquiry with the real-estate agent and decide if they want to make the purchase.”

Bonneval also says that HouseTipper will refund the cost of the coupon if the consumer doesn’t end up purchasing a house or doesn’t like the particular agent offering the deal.  So it’s really a win-win.  They’re also trying to increase their business, so if you refer someone to the site, you can get a $10 credit to use when the referral purchases their first coupon.

Some states don’t allow real estate agents to give rebates, so you’ll need to do your research before you buy.  

I’d love to hear if you got a deal by using this site or what types of coupons you’ve discovered for your real estate needs.  Please leave me a comment with any info you can share!