Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Home Buyers' Decision On Schools

It may come as a surprise to most people that there are over 127,000 public and private schools throughout the United States. Of those, about 100,000 are public and almost 27,000 are private schools. Schools vary from each other in their curricula, class sizes, religious and secular affiliations, number of grades offered, etc. There are so many variables to consider that oftentimes, parents are confused as to what area schools can best serve their children.

For a homebuyers, the choices get even more complicated, as neighborhood characteristics have to be balanced with children's schooling needs. How do you reconcile moving into a great neighborhood with a mediocre school or vice versa? How do you strike the proper balance? The decision has to be based on information garnered on a neighborhood and its area schools, along with the knowledge on the children’s needs.

To help simplify the decision process, below is a list of some important school facts for parents to consider when deciding on schools for their children:
  • While private schools can teach and encourage religion, public schools are not legally permitted to do so.
  • Small class sizes and low student-to-teacher ratios can have a high impact on a child's education and well-being.
  • Some schools may not offer all the grades up to graduation, which means that, in a few years, you could be looking for a new school or even having to move.
  • Teachers’ qualifications and attitudes have a big impact on their students’ education and behavior. Better educated teachers, with enthusiasm and patience can make a big difference.
  • The tuition for private schools may be prohibitive for some families. If unaffordable, the availability of financial aid should be investigated.
  • Public schools are legally required to offer education that meets the needs of all students, including those with special needs.  Private schools, on the other hand, have no such requirements and may or may not have programs that support special needs.
  • Public schools are more culturally diverse than most private schools.
  • There are different types of public school:
- Charter schools which may be subject to some but not all regulations and statutes applicable to other public schools.
- Magnet schools operate with specialized curricula and diverse student bodies.
- Title I schools support failing students or those most at risk of failing.
- Schools with National School Lunch Program.
  • There are different types of private school:
- Boarding schools that run their own residences where students live and eat.
- Religious schools where religious teachings are encouraged. There are many schools that accommodate all types of religious beliefs.
- Special needs schools where specialized staff teach children with a wide range of learning disabilities, including dyslexia, attention deficit disorders and other conditions.
- Military schools encourage discipline and prepare students for a military career.
Montessori schools are based on Dr. Maria Montessori's philosophy of stressing independence and freedom, while promoting the natural development of a child’s physical, mental and social skills.
Waldorf schools are based on Rudolf Steiner's philosophy of emphasizing the role of imagination in learning, while encouraging the integration of a child's academic, practical and creative abilities.

Are you confused and overwhelmed? Don't be! Take it a bit at a time and narrow down your choices. Start of by listing all the schools that serve the neighborhoods you are considering. Expand the list with readily available facts on each school. Narrow the list down to only those schools that can address your child's needs. Then dig further on your shortlist by visiting those schools, talking to teachers and parents and asking others people's opinions. It won't take long before you'll have a pretty good idea on the direction you should be heading.

Get a list of all public and private schools in your city, including school details at Bocazo.com - Schools

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Crime Statistics - An Issue for Homebuyers

Neighborhood Crime
When buying a home, would you factor in crime statistics in your decision? The right answer should be: absolutely! With the median crimerate in U.S. cities at about 4.2%, you should at the very least be aware of what this means to you and your search for a home. If you think this problem is being exaggerated, consider this. Living in a town with a 4.2% crime rate, means that your likelihood of encountering a criminal act in five years is 21%! Double that for a period of ten years and you will understand my point.

The types of crimes being committed in the area you've targeted, should also factor in to your decision. If violent crime is relatively high in a neighborhood, then that will affect you, your family and the lifestyle you choose to follow. Letting the kids play out in the front yard or going out for a walk becomes an issue and staying indoors behind reinforced doors and windows can quickly become a reality. Property crime, while not as threatening as violent crime, can also influence your lifestyle. You still have to reinforce the entry points to your home, pay the higher insurance premiums and lock everything up, all the time. I don't know about you, but for me, I would much prefer to live with peace of mind than to have to look behind me every time I walk out of the house.

Here are some interesting crime statistics to look at. Based on the latest FBI published records, the highest crime rates in the top five U.S. cities are:

1. St. Louis, MO - 9.9%
2. Birmingham, AL – 9.8%
3. Springfield, MO – 9.8%
4. Little Rock, AR – 9.4%
5. Flint, MI – 8.8%

On the other hand, the following cities boast of the lowest crime rates:

1. Tucson, AZ - 0.07%
2. Toledo, OH - 1.0%
3. Simi Valley, CA - 1.4%
4. Centennial, CO - 1.5%
5. Sunnyvale, CA - 1.5%

Based on these statistics, it is evident that crime rates can vary significantly from city to city. It is only prudent to seriously consider area crime rates, just as you would account for area schools, home prices, real estate taxes, etc. Don’t decide that a neighborhood is safe based on appearances, which can be deceiving. During the day when you are visiting homes in an area, things may look calm and quiet. At night though, the story may be different. Your best bet is to talk to people living in the area and to pay a visit to the local police department. Be a well-informed homebuyer before you take the plunge.

Get a complete breakdown of crime statistics on over 9,300 cities and towns throughout the U.S. at Bocazo.com - Crime Statistics.