Accountability Act and the Huntsville Real Estate Market Pt.1

With the passing of the new accountability act which allows students in failing school districts to opt in at another school of their choice I think this will significantly improve the sale-ability of homes in these failing districts. If you take the concern of school district out of the home buying process you now have ares of town that before did not compete for the same buyer competing. It is a known fact you can get more house for the money in certain areas of town and for many buyers it is all about the most bang for your buck and those buyers have been shying away from failing districts if they have school age children, intend to in the future or are concerned about resale options.

I read an article in the Huntsville Times yesterday that stated that areas of north Huntsville with failing schools would be affected negatively if these schools were closed due to low enrollment. I disagree with this theory. How can a failing school be better for your area than no school at all? Having no school and changing to a passing district can only help resale and values. But I go back to my prior statement that if you take the school district out of the buying algorithm then you have opened up a ton of available homes for buyers to look at.

It will be very interesting to see how home buyers respond to this change and if my theory proves right that homes in failing districts will become more desirable because parents can choose the school. If you want to put your child in a district closer to your office you can do so or if you want them near Grandma you can do so. I have mixed feelings about the bill in general and think it is going to hurt home sales in some of the highest scoring districts because I don’t need to buy in the district I want my children to go which opens a whole different discussion which I will talk about in my next blog.

What do you think? Do you agree with my theory or do you think homes in failing districts will be hardest hit with this change?


What features are you willing to sacrifice for the right location?

You hear the saying “location, location, location” all the time but what are you willing to give up for your perfect location? A perfect example of this is in SE Huntsville where the majority of the homes are 40+ years old but you can’t get a better location in town. It is close to great private schools as well as some of the highest state ranking public schools, close to the major highways, golfing, river for boating and fishing, and access to Redstone Arsenal but you may not find your dream home here. You can turn a home into your dreamhome with a little intuition. SE Huntsville has always been one of the most desirable zip codes in town and lately there has been an even higher demand for the area. Before you start looking at homes in this area you need to seriously discuss what type of updates you are ok with and what is a deal breaker. My word of advise is this.

1. Ugly bathrooms while horrible to look at are a fairly simple undertaking. Many of the home improvement stores now carry all in one vanity/counter sets that look very high end. You can also look into reusing the existing tub with a cover or refinish paint and that can save a furtune. The thing to ask yourself is are you ok with the location of the bathroom because moving walls, plumbing and electric is a much more specific skill set.

2. Hideous light fixtures are a conversation starter but probably not something you want to look at day in and day out in your home. Light fixtures are an easy thing to replace and can be done yourself with instruction just remember you are playing with electricity.

3. Curb appeal is a biggie. Many buyers will not even take the time to look inside if the exterior is not appealing to them. Well keep in mind that landscaping can do wonders and is another fun do it yourself project. Also, brick can be painted, shutters and exterior doors replaced or painted and voila you have a new house (from the outside anyway).

4. Those kitchen cabinets look like they came from my grandmother’s house. Ask yourself if they are solid wood can they be painted and put on new hardware or if not could you re-face them? These are huge money savers but just like the bathrooms if you want to extend the space or change the layout all bets are off. Painting the cabinets, new hardware and countertops may turn that stale dated kitchen into a Pinterest most wanted.

5. I hate popcorn ceilings and that wallpaper has got to be the ugliest thing I have ever seen. These are the cheapest fixes of all but can be very messy and time consuming so make sure you are prepared to undertake this update. Paint is one of the easiest things you can do to transform a space and its cheap.

While these are just some of the easy fixes I am sure I could spout off twenty more I am just trying to get you to look at potential homes with an open mind.

The updates that you want to make sure are done include big ticket items like HVAC, roof, mold, panel box to code, updated plumbing and any structural issues. These things can kill your budget and turn your new dreamhome into a nightmare. Make sure you use a highly recommended home inspector and walk with him during the inspection so you won’t be surprised when you see the official report.

Sequestration and the Huntsville Real Estate Market

Well I even heard the national news this morning call out Huntsville AL as one of the worst hit cities in the sequestration
path of destruction.

Almost everyone of my clients has called to ask how this affects the sale of their house and my response is “I don’t know. We have to wait and see”. If our favorite politians up in Washington can’t find some middle ground then Huntsville could be in trouble. I know my family can’t take a 20% pay cut with gas prices on the rise and health care cost said to increase shortly and I feel certain yours can’t either. For those looking to buy or sell a home I am hopeful that since rates are slowly climbing buyers will still sign on the dotted line and make that purchase even if that means they end of buying less of a home to do it. Homeownership is still one of if not the best investment you can make in your future and the dream of homeownership is still very much alive.
The best advise I can give is that and hope that some agreement is reached and the impact in minimal. On a good
note the 400k and up segment of our Huntsville market has been the most active over the past few months which is encouraging in an otherwise not encouraging climate.

If you don’t already own a home now is the time to realize that dream while the 30 year mortgage rate is still well under 4%.