There’s so much to manage before moving to a new town. From finding the right home to arranging inspections, setting up utilities, and getting everything packed, it seems like the to-do list is a mile long. There’s one thing that might not be at the top of your priority list, but should be: Finding the right school for your kids. While it’s tough to check out teachers and administrators from afar, choosing the best learning environment can make all the difference for your family. When you’re making this important decision, consider these factors:
While teaching style will always vary from classroom to classroom, some schools take an approach that sets them apart. Among preschools you’ll find schools that are play-based or academic, Montessori or Waldorf. For older students, schools may emphasize hands-on or lecture-based learning, opt for ability grouping, cooperative learning, or mastery learning, and offer a high-tech learning environment or prefer books to tablets. Consider which learning styles have worked for your student in the past and find a school with a matching approach.
Some kids need more than the average school experience. Maybe your child has a learning disability and follows an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, to get the education he needs to thrive. Or perhaps you have a child with special interests in the arts or sciences that you’d like to see fostered.
Magnet schools are great options for kids with unique talents or interests to cultivate. You can find public magnet schools with a focus in science and math, the arts, world languages, and more, and all it takes to qualify is an interest in the school’s theme. For kids with special needs, consider a school’s student-to-teacher ratio, whether special education students are taught separately or alongside their peers, and whether teachers on staff have experience with the accommodations your child needs.
Losing an extracurricular activity when moving schools only makes the transition more difficult for your child. She may feel you’ve unfairly taken away an activity she loves, or struggle to make friends outside the dynamic she’s grown used to. Since extracurriculars influence social development, academic performance, and even college admissions, you don’t want to disregard their importance when it comes to choosing a school. If your preferred school doesn’t have a particular extracurricular, check for club teams in the nearby area.
The right school isn’t just about what goes on inside the walls. You should also consider the neighborhood a school is located in, especially if your child will walk or ride the bus to school. The wrong neighborhood could mean exposure to things your child isn’t ready to see, and studies show that exposure is the first step in early drug and alcohol use, especially among youth coping with the stress of a move and fitting in at a new school. And while you might feel your child is bright enough to resist temptation, the science shows that kids who live in good neighborhoods achieve better outcomes.
Now that you know what to look for, how do you find all the information you need to make the best choice for your student?
School and district websites are a great place to start getting a feel for an educational institution’s ethos and opportunities. You can also find and follow schools’ social media pages to learn about events, extracurriculars, and school news. The U.S. Department of Education publishes reports and statistics on school districts around the country. However, some of the best information comes from other parents. Reach out to parents on local Facebook pages for opinions on schools, check out forums like City-Data.com, and read reviews on sites like GreatSchools.org.
Other parents are also a good resource for discovering a neighborhood’s reputation, but you can weed out undesirable schools early on by checking crime maps, scanning the neighborhood on Google Street View for abandoned buildings, graffiti, and signs of illicit activity, and looking up neighborhood data on a site like NeighborhoodScout.com.
Image via Unsplash
Article Written by Alex Robbins
There are many things that can cause you stress when buying a home in today’s market. Some examples are saving enough money for the down payment, worrying about rising interest rates, concern about paying too much, anxious that the Sellers have the leverage….
A recent study by Owners.com indicated that 72% of prospective buyers deal with this stress. Do you know what the top reasons are? This was what respondents said:
1. Losing Earnest Money Deposit
2. Becoming “House Poor”
3. “Bidding Wars”
The third one on that list is particularly applicable to our DFW market – recently, with the high home prices and low inventory, there has been a major increase in competition in our area. Not only are bidding wars a concern but the fast-pace of the market also causes many buyers to make quick decisions and that can lead to second-guessing…another stress.
How can you as a Buyer be ready to tackle these challenges?
Answer: You must choose a real estate agent who is professional, trustworthy and knows how to help you navigate this crazy market – like me! While I recognize the serious nature of real estate, I also maintain that it can be fun. 🙂 My goal is to listen, be responsive, and be an advocate for you so that the home buying (or selling) experience is a positive one that will allow me to become your realtor for life. If you are looking for a diligent, educated, organized, and dedicated real estate professional, then I am The One for you!
Just let me know if you have any questions regarding the real estate market or your home in general.
-Heather Kinder Sims
(Article taken from the desk of Mary Frances Burleson, President & CEO of Ebby Halliday Companies)
Simply placing a ‘For Sale’ sign in the yard and posting the listing on MLS no longer gets buyers to the door. A good realtor today must do their other HOMEwork – diverse platforms such as social media, real estate blogs, YouTube and Broker web sites must be used to pique buyer interest. Here are a few action plans that you should check to make sure that the realtor you choose uses to attract buyers:
Online presence – The number one strategy for selling fast is good internet presence. People who keep their homes a “secret” hurt their chances of getting the highest price. You want to be EVERYWHERE online. Focus on the home’s “online debut” – research shows that a property has only about nine seconds to get a buyer’s attention, so you have to make it count. I encourage my sellers to go online and check out how their house looks, and how it stacks up against the competition.
Quality photos – Smartphone photos no longer make the cut. Your agent should be using professional photographers to shoot pictures of homes for sale. The photos should tell a story about the house…essentially, they’re your first “showing”. It’s also really important to prepare the home in advance to ensure compelling photography, which is why I use a professional stager for all my listings along with professional photography.
Virtual Tours – Give potential buyers a high-resolution, interactive tour through the home. It helps people who are looking for a specific plan or special features.
YouTube – Videos can really tell the home’s story. The key is to have well-produced video with good sound and crisp, clear visuals. The key in my opinion is to keep the video short and to not give too much of the house away – you still want to encourage buyers to actually come view the home. It’s also important to give some extra details and not just recite that the home has three bedrooms and a fabulous dining room.
If you are thinking about selling your home, I have the perfect strategy and tools to be successful in today’s market – professional staging, photography, and video are cornerstones of the way I do my HOMEwork. This year alone I have already completed over 25 Real Estate transactions, and I’m proud and humbled to say that D Magazine just voted me as a “Best Real Estate Agent and Top Producer in 2017” for Dallas! Please visit all my social media sites to learn more about me…or give me a call today!
If you’re trying to sell your home, you’ve probably scrutinized it, staged it, and scrubbed it down as if the folks from Architectural Digest were stopping by for a cover shoot. OK, so it’s in immaculate shape — but your home isn’t the only thing under scrutiny here. You are, too. That’s right: No matter how nice your home is, your behavior can also affect how buyers feel about making an offer.
Below are seven etiquette rules sellers should follow to show their home — and themselves — in the best possible light.
Leave — Sure, you’re dying to know if prospective buyers will love what you’ve done with the kitchen, but Realtors agree sellers should not be there lurking in the shadows during an open house or showing.
Take your pets with you — You may think your dog is the cutest ever, but not everyone is bound to share that opinion. In addition to having allergies, some home shoppers may not be in the market for a run-in with an animal they don’t know.
Move your car — Make it easy for visitors to park and view your home. No one likes parking issues. Having them is a sure way to get a viewing off to a bad start.
Offer some refreshments — House hunters can get parched and hungry. You can help. Putting out a few small bottled waters in a bowl of ice is always appreciated, along with some light, easy grab-and-go refreshments such as mints or cookies.
Be patient waiting for feedback — Of course, you’re dying to know what buyers thought of your home, but that information may not flow back to you instantaneously. It’s reasonable to ask for feedback from your Realtor after the showing, but understand it may take a day or two for the buyer’s agent to respond.
Don’t be greedy — Who doesn’t want top dollar for their home? But an unwillingness to negotiate can kill a possible deal and keep your home on the market long after you were hoping to be unpacking at your new place.
Listen to the professionals — If your Realtor has some suggestions for improvements that may help sell your home faster, take them to heart but don’t take them personally. Keep emotions out and listen to what a licensed, trained, professional – like ME! – has to say about your house.
If you are interested in hearing more about selling your home, contact me for information. I’m always ready to send you a complimentary Comparative Market Analysis that gives you an idea of how much you can sell your home for. Looking forward to hearing from you!
-Heather Kinder Sims
A house hunter’s first view of your property is often online, and if the photos accompanying your home’s listing don’t impress, you may not get a second chance to entice that potential buyer — meaning your real estate photos are valuable assets when it comes to selling your home. The following tips can help your home put its best foot forward on picture day.
Check out potential agents’ listings. Before diving into photo-day planning, choose a good realtor who knows how to market your property through high-quality photos! It’s so important to be sure your real estate agent is prepared to deliver quality listing photos, so before choosing your realtor, study each candidates’ listings to get a feel for the quality of the photography. Here are a few questions you may want to ask about how the agents you’re considering handle photos:
* Do you use a professional photographer? THE ANSWER NEEDS TO BE YES!
* If you take the photos yourself, what equipment do you use — professional camera and tripod or a cellphone? THE ANSWER NEEDS TO BE THAT THEY NEVER TAKE THEIR OWN PHOTOS, unless they are also a professional photographer, of course!
* How much time is typically allotted for the photo shoot?
* What can I do to make my home look its best in photos?
Clean the windows and open the shades. Ample light can go a long way toward making your home shine in photos, so get those windows sparkling clean, and open the shades and curtains wide.
Perk up houseplants. Fresh green plants add a feeling of life and vibrancy to interior photos…ailing plants, not so much. Trim away dead leaves with a pair of sharp scissors. Dust large-leaved plants with a soft cloth. And this needs to be minimal – you don’t want a jungle of plants, but just a few strategically placed is ideal!
Remove counter clutter. Gleaming, clutter-free counters will make your kitchen look more spacious. Put away everything, then clean counters well. It’s fine to leave out one or two small appliances, such as the toaster and coffee maker, but stash anything extra, as well as small appliances (especially the ones that have seen better days!).
Polish wood floors and shine appliances. Wood floors can be a major selling point, so be sure they look their best in photos by treating them to a thorough cleaning…dirt and dust show up so easily on wood floors, especially dark ones. The same goes for those stainless-steel appliances — using a product designed for stainless-steel, buff the surface until it gleams.
Hide toiletries and freshen bathrooms. Aside from a fresh bar of soap at the sink, the bathroom should be completely free of toiletries — too many products crowding the sink and shower suggest that there’s not enough storage space. Pull open the shower curtain, clean the mirror, put the toilet seats down (this is a huge pet peeve of mine!) and turn on the lights. Remove old towels and put out fresh, fluffy white towels if you have them. If not, just leave the towel racks bare.
Neatly tuck in bedcovers. Photographs seem to pick up every little imperfection, so spend an extra few minutes straightening up the beds on picture day. Fluff the pillows, pull the bedcovers taut, and clear away clutter and personal items from bedside tables.
Do a photo-ready walk-through. The aim on photo day should be to make your house look as spacious, clean and inviting as possible — so it’s in your interest to declutter as much as possible. Here are some under-the-radar items you may want to stash before the photographer arrives:
* Shoes in the entryway, but also anywhere and everywhere!
* Piles of mail and paperwork
* Remote controls
* Kids’ toys that can’t be put neatly away
* Pet food bowls, beds and litter boxes (temporarily move these to an area that won’t be photographed)
* Fridge clutter (magnets, photos, cards)
Switch on all lights & turn off ceiling fans. Unless your home is flooded with natural light or you know that your real estate photographer will be using portable studio lighting, the general rule is to turn on all lights, including lamps. Be sure they all have bulbs! Also, turn off the ceiling fans – if they’re on, the blades will blur in photos and it’s not a good look. 🙂
Highlight special features. Have a lovely working gas fireplace or an outdoor fire pit? Make sure it’s lit on photo day. Likewise, if you have a hot tub or a pool in the backyard, make sure it’s uncovered and clean for the photos.
Focus on the first impression. This isn’t the time to worry about major landscape changes or reviving a dead lawn. Instead, focus on the quick fixes that will make a positive impression in a head-on photo of your home. Deadhead flowers, rake leaves, clear away porch and driveway clutter, and set out a few pots of blooming flowers. You may also want to leave your own car parked in front of the house until the photographer is ready to shoot the street view — otherwise you could wind up with your neighbor’s SUV blocking the shot!
Last but not least, check that all outside areas are neat and tidy, with outdoor furniture in place, tools put away and garbage cans tucked out of sight.
I always enjoy articles written by Houzz magazine. The tips are great in this one – not only for the photographer but for me as I am preparing for showings. The Real Estate business is hard work, lots behind the scenes, but what a fun business! If you are interested in seeing all the listings I have available, you can click HERE or don’t hesitate to give me a call at 214-549-7978.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
Heather Kinder Sims