neighborhoods http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/6786/all en-US The Only 5 Rules You Need to Know About Investing in Real Estate http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000074853063.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The numbers are impressive: The median existing home price for homes across the United States stood at $232,500 in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's up 6.3% from the same month one year earlier, and marks the 50th consecutive month in which median housing prices have increased from one year to the next.</p> <p>This steady rate of appreciation might inspire you to invest in residential real estate. After all, the performance of the housing market during the last four years has been far steadier than that of the stock market. But be careful: Sure, investing in real estate can be profitable &mdash; but it can also be risky. Investors who don't do their homework before sinking their dollars into homes could lose a bundle of money.</p> <p>Here are five rules you must know before <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-investing-is-cheaper-and-easier-than-you-think" target="_blank">investing in real estate</a>.</p> <h2>1. Don't Let Your Emotions Betray You</h2> <p>Jamal Asskoumi, owner of the online real estate agency CastleSmart, says that too many inexperienced investors make the mistake of falling in love with a property for the way it looks. They then invest in it without running the numbers to make sure that the home has real potential to increase in value enough to make it a sound investment.</p> <p>Falling in love with a property can also cause investors to spend too much on it upfront, making it nearly impossible for them to make a profit after their purchase.</p> <p>&quot;Unlike stocks that are numbers on a screen, property must be liked and appreciated before it can be invested in, and this is the downfall of many investors,&quot; Asskoumi said. &quot;When visiting a property, investors sometimes become attached and feel as though they have to have it, regardless of the price. They end up paying more than what is necessary and lose on the investment.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Have Enough Money to Cover Both Known and Unknown Losses</h2> <p>Investing in real estate isn't cheap. You are buying a home, after all. But the real trouble spot for investors are the unexpected costs: If you rent out your investment, you never know what damage your tenants might cause. Fixing that damage could cost thousands of dollars.</p> <p>You also have to be prepared for possible losses. Housing values can go down as well as up. You need the financial cushion to handle these fluctuations, said Rocky Lalvani, a financial coach and founder of the Richer Soul financial blog.</p> <p>You also need the money to cover possible monthly losses until your property does appreciate enough in value for you to sell it and earn a big profit. Maybe your mortgage on the property you bought is $2,000 a month but you can only rent the home for $1,800 a month. You'll essentially be losing $200 a month while you wait for your investment to appreciate.</p> <p>&quot;Be prepared for losses; it's a cost of business,&quot; Lalvani said. &quot;Real estate may lose money in the short term while your asset is building over the long term.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Don't Rent to Just Anyone</h2> <p>Finding good tenants is one of the biggest challenges in investing in real estate. The wrong tenants could damage your property, stop paying their monthly rent, and force you to evict them, a process that is long and costly.</p> <p>That's why it's so important to do your research before renting out your home. Run the credit of potential tenants to determine if they've struggled to pay their bills before. Run criminal background checks, too, on potential tenants.</p> <p>Above all, never simply buy into the promises that potential tenants make to you.</p> <p>&quot;Tenants will literally lie about anything and everything,&quot; said Eric Bowlin, a real estate investor and founder of the real estate investing blog EricBowlin.com. &quot;Assume everyone has no job, no income, and a long eviction record, until otherwise proven.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Invest in the Right Neighborhood</h2> <p>You want to invest in an area in which homes are most likely to increase in value. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that any home, even if located in a desirable neighborhood, will be worth more 10 years from now than it is today.</p> <p>But investing in the right neighborhood can at least increase the odds.</p> <p>Study what homes are selling for in any neighborhood in which you want to invest. Study, too, the average monthly rents that homes and apartments in a neighborhood fetch.</p> <p>A neighborhood that is dotted with new restaurants and shops might be a good investment. So might be one that is gaining the reputation as being an up-and-coming area. Be careful, though: It's easy to spend too much upfront in these hotter neighborhoods.</p> <p>Paul Ullman, founder and chief investment officer of Asset Based Lending in Hoboken, New Jersey, says that the key is to look at the strength of nearby schools and to target areas that have positive job growth. It helps, too, to know the neighborhood in which you are going to invest.</p> <p>&quot;Ideally, invest close to home, at least initially,&quot; Ullman said.</p> <h2>5. Know Your Limits</h2> <p>Before investing in real estate, be honest about what you can and can't do. If you're not particularly handy, you might not be able to repair that leaking dishwasher on your own, for instance, and might need a plumber to resolve the problem. That will add to the costs of your real estate investment.</p> <p>You might also want to avoid 2:00 a.m. calls from tenants complaining that the heat in their apartment isn't working. To avoid these calls, you can hire a professional property management company to take over the daily operations of your real estate investment. Hiring such a company, though, costs money, and will eat into your profits.</p> <p>&quot;I always tell people who are interested in getting into investment real estate to consider how comfortable they are with doing any kind of repairs or construction to a house or rental property,&quot; said Todd Barton with the Atlanta office of Renters Warehouse. &quot;You'll have to budget in the costs of contractors or professional property managers. Be honest with yourself upfront so that you don't get into a situation where you are overwhelmed with projects and mounting debts.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you taken the plunge and invested in real estate? What other rules should new investors stick to?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back">20 Tips for Getting Your Security Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-sell-your-home-to-pay-down-debt">Should You Sell Your Home to Pay Down Debt?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-landlord-part-i">So You Want to be a Landlord? Part I</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-worry-about-missing-the-bottom-in-houses">Don&#039;t worry about missing the bottom in houses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-moves-to-make-if-you-need-to-break-your-lease">8 Moves to Make If You Need to Break Your Lease</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Real Estate and Housing appreciation housing market landlord neighborhoods property management renting residential real estate risks tenants Thu, 26 May 2016 09:30:22 +0000 Dan Rafter 1717920 at http://www.wisebread.com Housing Values in Relationship to Proximity to Certain Stores http://www.wisebread.com/housing-values-in-relationship-to-proximity-to-certain-stores <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/housing-values-in-relationship-to-proximity-to-certain-stores" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/starbucks_storefront_000024865185.jpg" alt="Learning about housing values near certain stores" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Finding a home in the right neighborhood can be a daunting task, especially if you're on a strict housing budget. But according to recent studies, you should also add the proximity to specific stores into consideration when looking for your next home. Having these stores in your neighborhood can actually boost your home's value.</p> <h2>Starbucks</h2> <p>According to <a href="http://amzn.to/1VVRWfd">Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate</a>, ever since 1997, homes located within a quarter-mile of a Starbucks appreciated in value at an average rate of 21%, while homes within a half to quarter-mile rose in value by 17%. In contrast, homes located within the same distance of a Dunkin' Donuts, and not a Starbucks, only appreciated in value by 15%.</p> <p>Zillow makes the argument that a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-tell-anyone-11-secret-starbucks-saving-tips">Starbucks in the neighborhood</a> isn't the result of higher home prices, but in fact, is the cause. Whether home buyers see a Starbucks as a sign of an up-and-coming neighborhood, or a testament to a sense of community where people meet and interact with each other, there's no arguing the data that shows a nearby Starbucks to be something to look for when house hunting.</p> <h2>Whole Foods</h2> <p>The proximity to a Whole Foods grocery store is another excellent thing to look for when shopping for a new home. Zillow discovered that between 1997 and 2014, a strange phenomenon occurred when a Whole Foods announced they were coming into a new neighborhood.</p> <p>At first, median home values within one mile of the future Whole Foods grew slower than other homes in the same city. But as the grand opening grew nearer, that trend started to reverse dramatically. Once the store opened, homes within one mile appreciated much faster than other homes in the area. While Zillow can't fully explain this phenomena, they point to an overall increase in a neighborhood's desirability as the root cause.</p> <h2>Trader Joe's</h2> <p>Similar to Whole Foods, the proximity to a Trader Joe's is an indicator of a neighborhood with growing home values. Whether it be the perception of a healthy lifestyle or a safer neighborhood, Zillow also found that homes within a mile of a Trader Joe's had appreciated by 10% more than other homes in the area during the two years after a location's grand opening.</p> <p>According to Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff, &quot;the grocery store phenomenon is about more than groceries, it says something about the way people want to live &mdash; in the type of neighborhood favored by the generations buying homes now. Today's homebuyers seek things in neighborhoods that weren't even in real estate agents' vocabularies a generation ago: walkability, community, new urbanism &mdash; and maybe we should add words like 'sustainable seafood' and 'organic pears.'&quot;</p> <p>When comparing homes near a Trader Joe's to those near a Whole Foods, TJ's appears to be the clear winner. According to a recent RealtyTrac study, which analyzed the values for 2.3 million homes, they found that houses near a Trader Joe's location &quot;have a <a href="http://www.realtytrac.com/news/real-estate-investing/better-to-own-near-trader-joes-or-whole-foods/">higher value on average</a>: $592,339, 5% more than the $561,840 average value for homes near a Whole Foods.&quot; Also, homes near a Trader Joe's have appreciated by a whopping 40% on average, while similar homes near a Whole Foods have only appreciated by 34%.</p> <p>While it should be pointed out that causation does not always imply correlation, I think it's safe to assume that looking for these stores in a neighborhood is worth adding to your arsenal of factors when shopping for a new home. This is especially true when you consider the amount of money and effort that these corporations put into scouting new neighborhoods for potential store locations that will be profitable.</p> <p><em>Have you ever used the proximity to these stores as a way to determine the desirability of a neighborhood?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/housing-values-in-relationship-to-proximity-to-certain-stores">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value">8 Ways to Boost Your Neighborhood and Your Home&#039;s Value</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate">The Only 5 Rules You Need to Know About Investing in Real Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-appraisals-ten-things-most-people-just-dont-understand-about-them">Real Estate Appraisals - Ten things most people just don&#039;t understand about them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-cant-trust-a-real-estate-agent">Why you can&#039;t trust a real estate agent.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-you-should-do-when-you-move-to-a-new-town">14 Things You Should Do When You Move to a New Town</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home values neighborhoods real estate Starbucks Trader Joe's Whole Foods Thu, 17 Mar 2016 10:30:11 +0000 Kyle James 1672231 at http://www.wisebread.com 14 Things You Should Do When You Move to a New Town http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-you-should-do-when-you-move-to-a-new-town <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-things-you-should-do-when-you-move-to-a-new-town" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_walking_outside_000049746022.jpg" alt="Couple learning what to do when moving to a new town" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Moving to a new town is exciting, but it also can be intimidating. The physical move and subsequent unpacking is stressful enough; then you have to set up a whole new life, which requires weeks of your time, money, and energy. To help make the transition at least a little smoother for you, here's a mini-checklist of a few things to do <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">when you move</a> to a new town.</p> <h2>1. Change Your Address With the Post Office</h2> <p>So you don't fall behind on your bills because you didn't receive them in time, it's probably best to change your address with the post office a couple weeks before the move. It'll take about that long for the change to be processed and instituted. In the meantime, it's not a bad idea to make nice with the new renters/owners of your old place so you can ask if they wouldn't mind holding any stragglers that the mail carrier delivers after the move. Send a polite email at two and four-week intervals to pick up anything that fell through the cracks during the changeover.</p> <h2>2. Visit the DMV If You Move Out of State</h2> <p>Nobody wants to visit the DMV because it's literally, like, the worst place on earth, but if you move to a new state it's necessary, whether you think so or not. You'll need a new license and new plates, and the process will probably be easier if you take care of these things sooner than later.</p> <h2>3. Stop by the Town Hall for Local Service Schedules and Policies</h2> <p>Some things you'll want to know that you may not think of immediately include trash and recycling days, street cleaning, how to dispose of yard waste, if you need permits for home-based activities like yard sales, and more. Every town differs in schedules and policies and you'll avoid unnecessary fines if you brush up early.</p> <h2>4. Introduce Yourself to Your New Neighbors</h2> <p>Remember when we were kids and our neighbors were neighborly to one another? We're not as open and friendly as we used to be to the people who live in the vicinity of our home &mdash; many neighbors prefer to stick to themselves these days &mdash; but that doesn't mean that everyone is a Scrooge.</p> <p>I'm an outgoing guy by nature, so it's always my policy to introduce myself to my neighbors whenever I've moved. Most of the time a simple hello will lead to an initial conversation if you and your neighbors cross paths as you're moving in, but if that opportunity doesn't present itself, don't be afraid to knock on doors to let your neighbors know that you're new around these parts. If you're feeling particularly friendly, maybe you could host a mini meet-and-greet one early evening where you'll serve snacks and cocktails and get to know one another.</p> <p>Having at least a friendly relationship with your neighbors is important &mdash; in my book anyway &mdash; because you never know when you'll need a little help here and there, whether it's to keep an eye on your house while you're away, watch your pet for a bit, or that all-important cup of sugar when you're baking during a blizzard.</p> <h2>5. Explore the Area on Foot or by Bike</h2> <p>You can get a general idea of what's around your new home in the car, but you'll get a more specific view of the establishments that make up your area on foot or bicycle. Concentrate on the downtown area of where you live since that's likely where you'll find the bulk of the important businesses that you'll frequent as a resident.</p> <h2>6. Pop Into the Visitors' Center for Info on the Town's Highlights</h2> <p>I love visitors and tourists' centers because they have a comprehensive collection of all the info on your town that you'll need. Brochures, flyers, and coupons for the hottest restaurants, hotels, activities, and more are all available to help you familiarize yourself with the area as you get settled. Take home hard copies of these materials for your own use and for future guests who may visit you.</p> <h2>7. Patronize the Local Restaurants and Shops</h2> <p>While I don't recommend dining out often as a lifestyle choice, when you first move to a new place it's not a bad idea seeing as, your kitchen will probably be a mess for the first few days, and it's a good way to get out there and meet the locals. I also try to remember my servers' names &mdash; I jot them down in the notes section of my phone with characteristics to help me remember the person the next time &mdash; so eventually we can be on a name basis with one another. This practice not only helps me feel like I'm planting roots thereby becoming more comfortable with my surroundings, but it's a smart way to ingratiate yourself with local business owners and their staff as a supportive member of the community &mdash; and sometimes that has its perks, if you know what I mean.</p> <h2>8. Go Out and Get a Feel for the Social Scene</h2> <p>Where do the locals hangout? The best way to find out is to hit up a few of the bars, entertainment venues, and other party spots in town. You don't have to make this a regular thing &mdash; I totally understand that not everybody is built for this kind of social life &mdash; but I do think a night on the town hanging out at local joints is a good way to get a feel for the area's vibe and the type of people that make up its population.</p> <h2>9. Sign up for Meetup Groups That Pique Your Interest</h2> <p>If you're moving to a new town without any friends nearby, you'll want to make some; the transition will be much easier when you're not feeling lost and lonely. The online activity site Meetup helps connect users with groups and activities that pique their interests, and is a great place to start. Personally, I've joined groups that focus on brunch, my dog, outdoor activities, trivia nights, and more, and there are plenty of other groups that are sure to compliment your own idea of fun.</p> <h2>10. Research Local Clubs and Groups and Try a Few Out</h2> <p>One of the first things I do when I've moved to a new place is find the local recreational and social sports leagues. I love them because they get me out of the house, keep me active, and introduce me to new people. These groups aren't just kickball anymore either. I've joined dodgeball, bowling, trivia, cornhole teams, but other sports like softball, volleyball, basketball, flag football, and water polo also are offered in some areas. You'll also want to find other groups in which you want to participate, which includes church groups, professional groups, and support groups.</p> <h2>11. Find New Health Professionals in Your Network</h2> <p>While you may not need a health professional immediately when you move, eventually you'll need to find a new primary care physician and dentist, at the very least. To make the process more efficient, it may be helpful to ask your former health care professionals for your records to give to the new ones. Understand that it also may take a while to find suitable doctors in your insurance network and/or get an appointment, so you may want to plan ahead.</p> <h2>12. Register for a Library Card</h2> <p>Library attendance isn't what it used to be, but it's still helpful to have a library card in case you want to check out a book or free movie. It's also a good place to access free Wi-Fi if yours isn't set up right away.</p> <h2>13. Cross-Reference Your Social Media Contacts for Friends in the Area</h2> <p>Another great way of making new real-life friends is to cross-reference your friend list on social media to see who's in your area. Often just updating your status that you're moving to so-and-so area will reveal a few folks that are nearby. It's a good start, especially since you already know each other somewhat online.</p> <h2>14. Ask for Recommendations or Introductions From Social Media Friends</h2> <p>If cross-referencing your friend list with the area to which you've just moved doesn't pan out, don't be afraid to ask generally for recommendations or introductions. You don't know who may have visited or lived in your town previously or who may know someone in your area with whom they can connect you. This also works offline with neighbors, coworkers, and especially folks in the service industry in your neighborhood.</p> <p><em>Do you know other important things we should do when we move to a new place? Let me know some of your suggestions in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-you-should-do-when-you-move-to-a-new-town">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-100s-on-your-next-move">How to Save $100s on Your Next Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-you-should-always-hire-a-moving-company">6 Reasons You Should Always Hire a Moving Company</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">Moving? Don&#039;t Skimp on These Critical Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate">The Only 5 Rules You Need to Know About Investing in Real Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-lessons-from-the-tiny-house-movement">Big Lessons From the Tiny House Movement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Real Estate and Housing exploring making friends moving neighborhoods new town preparations Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:00:20 +0000 Mikey Rox 1500833 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways to Boost Your Neighborhood and Your Home's Value http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family-2503183-small.jpg" alt="neighborhood" title="neighborhood" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Neighborhoods are dynamic environments and go through ebbs and flows like most other things in the world. The recession and mass foreclosures of the past five years sped up this process in many communities across the county, and we're only now starting to see a gradual turnaround in neighborhoods that were all but abandoned by homeowners upside down on their mortgages. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors">25 Reasons Why It's Good to Know Your Neighbors</a>)</p> <p>If you've just moved into a new neighborhood or are worried about the state of a place that you've called home for years, here are eight strategies to help spark a revival.</p> <h2>1. Get Organized</h2> <p>Strong neighborhoods are built by motivated and organized neighbors. The first step in revitalizing a struggling community or establishing a great new neighborhood is to get organized. Here's how:</p> <ul> <li>Talk to homeowners and renters to learn more about the community and its specific challenges.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Develop consistent communication channels.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set primary and secondary goals for your neighborhood.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Schedule regular meetings that have clear agendas.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work with city officials to provide any additional infrastructure that may be needed or that could add to the quality of life of residents.</li> </ul> <h2>2. Light It Up</h2> <p>Adequate lighting is an often neglected part of creating a safe neighborhood. Functioning street lights, yard lights, motion-sensitive, and pathway lighting can help all residents feel safe &mdash; especially senior citizens, single parents, kids, and evening walkers and runners. Good lighting also supports neighborhood watch efforts and community policing initiatives.</p> <h2>3. Beautify</h2> <p>The best neighborhoods reflect the pride and devotion of their residents. Take a critical look at the common spaces in your community. What could be done better? What areas could benefit from some good old-fashioned TLC?</p> <p>Plant flowers, repaint fences, clean graffiti, design a community garden, and patch broken curbs or sidewalks. Before you know it, your neighborhood will begin to visually reflect the energy, vitality, and hard work of its residents.</p> <h2>4. Develop Social Spaces</h2> <p>People congregate more easily when there's a designated commons or social space. Consider what areas in your neighborhood could become a hub for get-togethers, warm-weather meetings, or potlucks. Is there a vacant lot that could be landscaped or turned into a temporary community park with the owner's permission? Is there a nearby city park within easy walking distance that could become your neighborhood's unofficial gathering place? Get creative; explore what works in your area and make it part of the fabric of your neighborhood's identity.</p> <h2>5. Watch Out for Each Other</h2> <p>Formal and informal neighborhood watchdog programs are an essential component of creating a safe and secure community. Whether part of a small town or large urban area, watch programs promote an &quot;it takes a village&quot; attitude to community safety. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">Why Don't People Share More?</a>)</p> <p>Encourage participation from all residents and <a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_6768521_create-neighborhood-watch-organization.html">set up a clear process</a> for escalating minor and major issues. If your neighborhood is challenged by consistently high crime rates, let local law enforcement know about your program and work with them to refine your program's safety strategies.</p> <h2>6. Celebrate</h2> <p>Secure a street closure permit from your city and throw a party. Labor Day or Halloween celebrations can include all the classic ingredients &mdash; potluck dinners, bobbing for apples, egg tosses, face painting, and live music. Celebrating responsibly together encourages neighbors to mix and mingle in a casual and light-hearted environment &mdash; building the bonds and personal relationships that help move other community initiatives forward. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/throw-a-swap-meet-party">Throw a Swap Meet Party</a>)</p> <h2>7. Establish Clear Communication Channels</h2> <p>Use technology to keep everyone in the loop. Establish an email distribution list or monthly e-newsletter for your neighborhood. Include regular posts about neighborhood news, events, issues, and crime reports. Take a broader editorial perspective and examine how city and county news could affect your neighborhood. For older or non-wired residents, add a snail mail option for the newsletter and organize a phone tree so they can be included in last-minute meetings or events.</p> <h2>8. Host Regular Events</h2> <p>You don't need a street closure permit for a casual neighborhood potluck or yard sale. Regular events help keep neighborhood residents engaged, talking to each other, and focused on building a better and safer community. As you organize and schedule regular events, don't forget about the elderly members in your neighborhood; solicit volunteers to provide whatever logistical support they may need to fully participate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">5 Potluck Parties That Help You Share the Wealth</a>)</p> <p>Great neighborhoods feel like little villages within larger towns, providing residents with a sense of identity and community. And better neighborhoods are built one step at a time through a combination of organization, determination, and simple face time. Residents that successfully revitalize their communities' past and reshape their futures take a proactive approach, managing neglected aspects of their neighborhood and engaging the talents, skills, and energy of each resident.</p> <p><em>Have you connected with your neighbors? What's worked to bring your community together?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/housing-values-in-relationship-to-proximity-to-certain-stores">Housing Values in Relationship to Proximity to Certain Stores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-right-mortgage-loan-15-or-30-years">Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan: 15 or 30 Years?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-maintenance-and-repair-whats-an-emergency-and-what-can-wait">Home Maintenance and Repair: What&#039;s an Emergency and What Can Wait?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/garage-triage-organize-your-garage-for-maximum-chore-and-storage-efficiency">Garage Triage: Organize Your Garage for Maximum Chore and Storage Efficiency</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing first time home buyer home values neighborhoods refinancing Mon, 12 Aug 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Kentin Waits 981183 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fence-194025-small.jpg" alt="neighbor" title="neighbor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="185" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes to buying a home, the old real estate saying holds true. It's all about &quot;location, location, location.&quot;</p> <p>The neighborhood you live in can make a big difference in whether or not you enjoy your home. You can have a great house, but if you don't like the neighborhood, living there can be unpleasant. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-you-can-afford-more-house-in-the-exurbs-think-again">Think You Can Afford More House in the Exurbs? Think Again</a>)</p> <p>Our next door neighbors are finding this out for themselves. When they moved in three years ago, they liked the house and the large yard. However, they are an older couple, and our neighborhood is full of starter families and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need">starter homes</a>. They were annoyed with all of the young children running around and the frequent family events and get-togethers. They've moved out, and the house hasn't even sold yet.</p> <p>Before you move in, take the time to evaluate the neighborhood, getting an idea of whether or not you will feel comfortable there. Here are some things to consider as you choose a location.</p> <h2>Schools</h2> <p>This is one of the biggest concerns that many homebuyers have. And why not? Do you want your child to attend a good school? One of the things I like about my son's school is that the test scores are great, and there is a lot of funding for at-risk children. The result is that his class sizes are small for our area, and there is a great enrichment program for him.</p> <p>Even if you don't have children, or if you decide to homeschool your children, it can still be a plus to have good schools nearby if you are looking for resale value. Chances are that whoever buys the house from you will want to know about the schools.</p> <p>You can evaluate schools by checking <a href="http://www.greatschools.org/">GreatSchools.org</a>, and even by visiting the school. If you are really serious about it, attend a PTA meeting, or meet with the school's principal for a tour. Most of the time, this can be arranged, and you can see what resources are available, as well as what kind of parental support you see in the schools.</p> <p>If you are unsatisfied with the more traditional school, you can find out about nearby charter schools and private schools.</p> <h2>Strike Up a Conversation</h2> <p>Nothing gives you the feel of a neighborhood like talking to your potential neighbors. If you see someone outside while you are looking at the house, don't be afraid to ask questions. You don't even need to get into an in-depth conversation. Wave and say, &quot;hi,&quot; and see if the neighbors wave back.</p> <p>Spend a few minutes observing the people and talking to a few of the residents. Are there children for your kids to play with? Does it look like the neighbors get along with each other?</p> <p>You'll get a good idea of what to expect and a feel for whether or not you &quot;belong.&quot; While I don't always feel like I belong in my neighborhood, everyone is nice, and my son has friends to play with &mdash; one of them is exactly his age and right across the street.</p> <h2>Watch for Negative Signs, Too</h2> <p>Pay attention to signs that the neighborhood could be headed for trouble. While there are one or two houses in my neighborhood that have unkempt yards, most of the homes are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-improvements-that-pay-off">neat and well-cared for</a>. The grass is trimmed, flower beds are attractive, and most of the neighbors clear their sidewalks during the winter. These are signs that your potential neighbors take pride in their area and that they care for their things.</p> <p>Also, watch for an abundance of &quot;For Sale&quot; signs. A <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-tip-how-to-sell-your-home-when-your-neighbors-are-too">lot of For Sale signs</a> can be an indication that the neighborhood is struggling. However, it's not the end of the world if there are a lot of homes for sale. Since I live in a starter neighborhood, there are several homes on the market as families, after five or six years, have decided to upgrade. You can look for indications that the home is well-cared for, even though it is for sale. A foreclosure/real estate owned property is likely to look a little shabby. If there are a lot of foreclosure properties in the neighborhood, that's a real red flag.</p> <h2>What's Nearby?</h2> <p>Don't forget to consider nearby amenities. Consider what you value in your lifestyle. Do you like to walk? If so, look for a neighborhood near shopping and restaurants. My husband likes privacy, so we looked for a neighborhood a little outside of the main part of the town with reasonably large yards and a quieter feel.</p> <p>Others, though, prefer to be right in the middle of it all, close to dining, shopping, and entertainment. We like to go out enough that we didn't want to go full-on rural. Instead, we are in a semi-rural neighborhood that is about 15 minutes from the things we like to do. It makes sense for us, and, even though I wish there was better public transportation near our house, we're reasonably happy with the location.</p> <p>You can use tools like <a href="http://www.walkscore.com/">WalkScore</a> to get an idea of what is close to your potential neighborhood. WalkScore helps you figure out what's close in terms of schools, activities, dining, shopping, and entertainment. You can see whether it makes sense to bike or walk, and whether there is public transportation nearby.</p> <p>I am painfully aware that the WalkScore for my neighborhood is 8. That's the one thing I'd change about my neighborhood; I'd like a little better access to amenities.</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>Currently, I'm faced with the possibility of moving in the next 12 months or so. I've been thinking about what I want in a neighborhood and how to evaluate what I find. Before you buy, think about the things that would make a neighborhood a pleasant place for you to live. Then, do a little research on communities in your target location.</p> <p>Finally, take the time to visit neighborhoods in the area. All the data in the world can't replace the actual gut feeling you get when you drive through a neighborhood and receive a first impression about how you might function as part of the community.</p> <p><em>Did you research your neighborhood before you bought or rented there? What tools or resources did you use?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/miranda-marquit">Miranda Marquit</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quiz-am-i-really-ready-to-buy-a-home">Quiz: Am I Really Ready to Buy a Home?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-neighborhood-and-your-homes-value">8 Ways to Boost Your Neighborhood and Your Home&#039;s Value</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-a-home-you-can-afford-with-the-mortgage-suitcase-trick">Buy a Home You Can Afford With the Mortgage Suitcase Trick</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate">The Only 5 Rules You Need to Know About Investing in Real Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors">25 Reasons Why It&#039;s Good to Know Your Neighbors</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a house first time home buyer neighborhoods neighbors Wed, 29 May 2013 10:24:31 +0000 Miranda Marquit 976251 at http://www.wisebread.com 25 Reasons Why It's Good to Know Your Neighbors http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/492693696_c1566581a5_z.jpg" alt="neighbors" title="neighbors" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="170" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you the kind of person who passes by the neighbors without so much as a wave or nod? Be warned, you may regret it when you need a helping hand. To help convince you to be a better neighbor &mdash; and go out of way to be nice to yours, even &mdash; here are 25 reasons why it&rsquo;s good to know the folks who live next door, down the street, and around the corner. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-a-rude-neighbor">How to Deal With a Rude Neighbor</a>)</p> <h3>1. So You Don&rsquo;t Have to Run to the Store When You Just Need One Egg</h3> <p>Nobody wants to drive to the supermarket in the middle of making brunch for one egg or a cup of sugar. But if you know your neighbor, they&rsquo;ll most likely be more than happy to let you borrow an ingredient or two here and there &mdash; so long as you return the favor, of course.</p> <h3>2. They&rsquo;ll Watch Your House When You Go Away</h3> <p>Your neighbor can keep an eye on your place while you&rsquo;re away. Much cheaper than hiring a house sitter who&rsquo;ll eat all your food and leave a sink full of dirty dishes for you to wash upon your return.</p> <h3>3. They&rsquo;ll Collect Your Mail When It Accumulates</h3> <p>Your neighbor can fetch your mail so your box doesn&rsquo;t overflow while you&rsquo;re away.</p> <h3>4. They&rsquo;ll Shovel Your Snow and Mow Your Lawn</h3> <p>Many neighbors mow each other&rsquo;s lawn or shovel each other&rsquo;s snow from to time. If you&rsquo;re physically unable to return the favor, be sure to send at least a small thank-you gift to let them know that you appreciate the thought and effort.</p> <h3>5. So You Have Someone to Gossip With About All the Other Neighbors</h3> <p>In this case, it&rsquo;s best to know the neighbor who has been on the block the longest; he or she will have the dirt on everybody.</p> <h3>6. They&rsquo;ll Lend You a Tool That You Don&rsquo;t Have</h3> <p>When you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10-items-to-borrow">don&rsquo;t want to buy an expensive tool</a> for one-time use, neighbors are a good resource.</p> <h3>7. They&rsquo;ll Give You a Break If One of Your Parties Gets a Little Loud</h3> <p>They&rsquo;ll let your summer bash slide if it gets too loud. Just make sure it doesn&rsquo;t happen often and that the neighbors are invited.</p> <h3>8. They&rsquo;ll Invite You to Their Parties and BBQs</h3> <p>Free food! Free booze!</p> <h3>9. If They Have a Pool, They Might Let You Swim in It</h3> <p>Why spend $15,000 on a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-places-to-go-to-beat-the-summer-heat">swimming pool</a> of your own when you&rsquo;ve got a perfectly clean one next door?</p> <h3>10. They&rsquo;ll Pet Sit for You</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s an expensive service otherwise, plus, if you know your neighbor, then so do Fluffy and Fido, which makes your absence a little easier on them.</p> <h3>11. They Can Recommend Service Providers You Might Need</h3> <p>Sure, you can find a plumber on Craigslist, but without references, you don&rsquo;t know what you&rsquo;re going to get. Your neighbors can provide solid recommendations for everything you&rsquo;ll need since there&rsquo;s a good chance they&rsquo;ve needed it before in the past.</p> <h3>12. It Makes Your Neighborhood Safer</h3> <p>Neighborhood crime is less likely to occur if the neighbors are friendly and look out for each other.</p> <h3>13. They&rsquo;ll Accept Your Packages When You&rsquo;re Not Home</h3> <p>You won&rsquo;t have to worry about your packages being jacked from your doorstep; your neighbor will keep them safe and sound until you get home.</p> <h3>14. They&rsquo;ll Bring You Food During Hard Times</h3> <p>When there&rsquo;s a death in the family or you&rsquo;re ill, your friendly neighbor will bring you sustenance to get your through the hard times.</p> <h3>15. They Can Let You in When You Get Locked Out</h3> <p>Probably the best reason to know your neighbors. If you give them a spare key, not only can they let you in if you forget or lose your keys, but if you forget to turn something off while you&rsquo;re at work or on vacation, your neighbor can take care of it.</p> <h3>16. Because It Never Hurts to Have Another Friend</h3> <p>Anybody who thinks otherwise should stay out of my neighborhood.</p> <h3>17. They Are a Good Source for Networking Opportunities</h3> <p>Your neighbors know a whole different set of people than you do. When you need a job, they might just be the folks who have the lead you&rsquo;re looking for.</p> <h3>18. They May Be Willing to Watch Your Kids</h3> <p>Drop the little buggers off and have yourself a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/from-5-to-30-date-ideas-for-every-budget">date night</a>.</p> <h3>19. You Have Someone to Share Coffee, Tea, or Wine With</h3> <p>Lonely? Invite over a neighborhood, and it&rsquo;s all good.</p> <h3>20. You May Be Able to Carpool Places Together</h3> <p>Maybe not to work, but you might be able to go to the grocery store or mall together.</p> <h3>21. They Can Give You a Jump If Your Car Battery Is Dead</h3> <p>Think about the alternatives if you didn&rsquo;t know your neighbors. It would be a costly hassle without your neighbor&rsquo;s help.</p> <h3>22. You&rsquo;ll Get Changes Made to the Neighborhood Faster</h3> <p>If you want to make neighborhood improvements, it&rsquo;ll be easier to implement them with neighbors on your side.</p> <h3>23. They Might Offer Produce From Their Garden</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s just one of those things that good neighbors do. Enjoy the tomatoes, and say thank you.</p> <h3>24. The Holidays Will Be Tastier</h3> <p>Friendly neighbors love to bring by cookies, cakes, pies, and wine during the holidays. It&rsquo;s not a bad circle to be involved in.</p> <h3>25. Life Is Just Easier This Way</h3> <p>Neighbors who dislike or mistrust each other often resort to childish, petty acts to make each other uncomfortable. Sometimes it can go so far as to make people feel like hostages in their own homes. You don&rsquo;t want or need that nonsense. Being nice to your neighbors just makes life easier.</p> <p><em>Do you have even more reasons it&rsquo;s good to know your neighbors? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-it-pays-to-be-friendly-with-your-neighbors">6 Ways It Pays to Be Friendly With Your Neighbors</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">Why don&#039;t people share more?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-dont-actually-need-to-buy-for-your-new-baby-plus-5-you-must">10 Things You Don&#039;t Actually Need to Buy for Your New Baby (Plus 5 You Must)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-diy-projects-you-can-do-in-one-day">10 Home DIY Projects You Can Do in One Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-prevent-plant-theft">How to Prevent Plant Theft</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Lifestyle build community neighborhoods neighbors Mon, 21 Jan 2013 11:24:33 +0000 Mikey Rox 963740 at http://www.wisebread.com Why don't people share more? http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-dont-people-share-more" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tools-in-garage.jpg" alt="Tools in garage" title="Tools In Garage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a name="jump" title="jump"></a>I saw an article recently suggesting that neighbors share a garbage service. One neighbor hires the service, the other kicks in to cover half the bill, and both bring their stuff to the same spot on the curb on garbage day. The standard deal with a hauling service will take away a lot more garbage than a small household produces (or even a large household, if they compost and recycle). It&#39;s a good idea, and not just for garbage. Why don&#39;t we see more of that?</p> <p>It used to be normal for people to share stuff. From small-scale sharing, like neighbors sharing tools and kitchen supplies, to large-scale sharing, like villages with communal bread ovens, where housewives would make their bread dough in their own kitchens, but all bring it to a central oven for baking.</p> <p>There&#39;s huge opportunities for that to happen still. Look in any suburban garage and you&#39;ll see a bunch of stuff that only gets used for a few hours a year--tools, garden implements, a snow shovel, a lawn mower, a BBQ grill. Look in the garage next door, and you&#39;ll see a very similar collection, give or take a leaf- or snow- blower. Surely there&#39;s a more efficient way for people to tend their lawns and gardens than for every family to invest thousands of dollars in stuff that spends 99% of its time sitting idle.</p> <p>Of course, there are a lot of reasons people want to own their own stuff.</p> <p>One good one is that some things all want to be used at the same time. Outdoor Christmas lights, for example, spend 11 months a year in storage, but the few weeks a year that they&#39;re up are the same few weeks for everyone. </p> <p>People want their own because they want a particular one. That&#39;s fair. There&#39;s a market out there for stainless steel BBQ grills whose prices put me in mind of Pentagon procurement scandals. I wouldn&#39;t buy one, but that&#39;s what the free market is all about. </p> <p>People want their own because it&#39;s convenient. If you just have your own, you can do stuff on a whim, without planning ahead. Also, if you do plan ahead, you don&#39;t have to coordinate your plans with anyone else (or deal with the conflicts when plans don&#39;t mesh). </p> <p>People want their own because they want the item to be treated well. In college I lent my typewriter to a girl in the dorm and it came back with white-out all over the bit of clear plastic cover that had (until then) let me see the letters I&#39;d just typed. (I&#39;m no longer bitter about that.) There are lots of things that can stand up to heavy use, but need a certain minimum amount of maintenance--shovels need sharpening--and it&#39;s human nature to be a bit more casual with stuff that isn&#39;t theirs. </p> <p>Contrariwise, people also want their own because they don&#39;t want to have to worry abut taking good care of it. I know a guy who has never changed the oil in his lawn mower. His dad harped on him a few too many times about taking care of his stuff, so now he doesn&#39;t. He figures he&#39;ll just use it until it grinds to a stop, and then buy a new one. Last time I talked to him, the lawn mower was still going strong, long after he&#39;d expected it to have failed.</p> <p>Having said all that, I think the real reason a lot of people want their own comes down to being estranged from their neighbors. The social structures that used to let people <strong>expect</strong> to borrow from their neighbor and <strong>expect</strong> their neighbor borrow from them simply don&#39;t exist any more. In many neighborhoods, unless they have children the same age, people don&#39;t even know their neighbor&#39;s names, let alone know them well enough to ask to borrow the lawn mower. </p> <p>And being estranged to that extent makes people&#39;s fastidiousness kick in. If you don&#39;t even know your neighbor well enough to borrow their lawn mower, you&#39;d certainly feel uncomfortable if they asked to run a load of laundry in your washing machine. Think of the cooties! </p> <p>The only way we see much sharing nowadays, except within families, is when an institution supports it. I share washers and driers with my neighbors, but none of us own them--the apartment complex has them in every building. I don&#39;t own a grill--the apartment complex has charcoal grills scattered about in the common areas. I do own a lot of books, but I read a lot of books I don&#39;t own--they&#39;re owned by the public library.</p> <p>Basically, sharing has been institutionalized.</p> <p>The fact is, though, that sharing doesn&#39;t just depend on neighborliness, it <strong>creates</strong> neighborliness. Neighbors who depend on one another for small things gradually learn that they can depend on one another for big things.</p> <p>Sharing is frugal, but it&#39;s also part of the adhesive that holds society together. </p> <p>Over the past couple hundred years, we&#39;ve become so wealthy that everybody can afford to have their own everything. I think that&#39;s likely to change, as energy gets more expensive, and as people come to realize that externalized costs (like environmental damage and climate change) are still costs--people will find themselves less wealthy and will turn to their neighbors for support. The social structures that make neighborhoods work will come back.</p> <p>People who can get ahead of the curve, and share things with their neighbors before it&#39;s cool again, will have a leg up on the rest.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-10-items-to-borrow">The Best 10 Items to Borrow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-it-pays-to-be-friendly-with-your-neighbors">6 Ways It Pays to Be Friendly With Your Neighbors</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors">25 Reasons Why It&#039;s Good to Know Your Neighbors</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need">How Big of a House Do You Really Need?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Lifestyle garbage neighborhoods neighbors sharing tools Tue, 18 Dec 2007 14:02:26 +0000 Philip Brewer 1510 at http://www.wisebread.com How the subprime lending boom hurt everybody http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-subprime-lending-boom-hurt-everybody <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-the-subprime-lending-boom-hurt-everybody" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/subprime-impact.png" alt="Graph showing foreclosures on subprime mortgages leading to net loss of homeownership" title="The Impact of Subprime Lending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Among the Wise Bread community, I get the sense that there&#39;s a kind of &quot;pox on both their houses&quot; attitude to the problems in the subprime mortgage markets. People who worked through their own credit problems (or avoided having any) can&#39;t stir up much sympathy for people who bought houses they can&#39;t afford--and pretty much nobody has any sympathy for the mortgage brokers and hedge funds that lent them the money. A new guide from <a href="http://www.affil.org/">Americans for Fairness in Lending</a>, though, shows that the damage actually hits at every level, from the individual borrowers (including borrowers with good credit), through the neighborhood, local economies, and the national economy. With their kind permission, we&#39;re presenting the guide here on Wise Bread.</p> <p>The study is <a href="/files/fruganomics/AFFIL-Reporters-Guide.pdf">Neighborhood and Individual Impact of the Subprime Mortgage Lending Crisis: A Reporter’s Guide</a> and has two parts. </p> <h2>Part one--negative impacts of the subprime lending crisis </h2> <p>The guide lists half a dozen negative impacts that the crisis has had on borrowers and the economy. Among them are: </p> <p><strong>Loss of homeownership</strong> One of the supposed benefits of subprime lending was that it made homeownership a possibility for people who had been shut out. It turns out that, because many of these loans didn&#39;t go to first-time homebuyers, the result has been an actual reduction in number of homeowners. </p> <blockquote><p>According to the Center for Responsible Lending, “Subprime loans made during 1998-2006 have led or will lead to a net loss of homeownership for almost one million families.” </p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Weakening Property Value</strong> The crisis is pushing down property values in multiple ways. People who can&#39;t afford their mortgage are putting their homes on the market--either voluntarily or through foreclosure. Plus, as the crisis makes it harder to get a mortgage, there are fewer buyers--putting downward pressure throughout the housing market. </p> <blockquote><p>Homeowners who took subprime loans are not the only ones impacted by the crisis. It is estimated that each foreclosure lowers the property values in its neighborhood by about one percent.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Damaging Neighborhood and National Economies</strong> More money going to money center banks and hedge funds means less money going to local business. Rising numbers of economically troubled families has ripple effects throughout the local economy. </p> <blockquote><p>The Center for American Progress notes that foreclosure is more than an individual tragedy: “A spike in foreclosures can also create a domino effect in a single area, leading to a sharp depreciation in property values, decreased business investments, and lower tax revenues, which in turn affect the quality of schools and decrease nearby property values.” Stores such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart are reporting reduced consumer spending in the wake of the meltdown, resulting in a loss of tax revenue. Counties are reporting losses in revenue from filing and tax fees. Property values are decreasing, yielding even greater losses for local communities in tax revenue.</p> </blockquote> <p>Part one ends with some policy suggestions for fixing the problem, including help for homeowners stuck in troubled loans, laws against predatory lending practices, and incentives for lenders to come to the table to work out problem loans. </p> <h2>Part two--how did we get here?</h2> <p>Part two provides a look at how we got here, and has a pretty good explanation of the changes in the way mortgages loans were made and what happened to them afterwards. It also takes a look at the question, &quot;How do the lenders make any money loaning money to people who can&#39;t pay it back?&quot; The answer has to do with the incentives at each layer in the process.</p> <blockquote><p>Subprime loans are generally made through brokers and with some lenders, loan officers who, despite popular perception, are under no obligation to find the borrower the best rate...or even a loan they can afford. On the contrary, the commissions of brokers and loan officers increase based on loan size and the interest rate charged.... </p> <p>Subprime lenders immediately dispose of the loans they write by packaging them for quick sale to Wall Street investors. Lenders make their profits up front, from the sales of those loans and the fees they pack into each mortgage...</p> <p>Until very recently, when the loan volume grew so large and default rate skyrocketed, Wall Street investors were generally insulated from the impact of bad subprime loans. The loan portfolios pooled risky subprime loans, reducing the chances that a small percentage of defaulting loans would hurt the bottom line. </p> </blockquote> <p> As you might expect from the name, <a href="http://www.affil.org/">Americans for Fairness in Lending</a> is an advocacy group that works to protect consumers from abusive lending practices, and the guide is written from that perspective. I expect you&#39;d get a very different analysis from an association of mortgage brokers or bankers. With that caveat, <a href="/files/fruganomics/AFFIL-Reporters-Guide.pdf">Neighborhood and Individual Impact of the Subprime Mortgage Lending Crisis: A Reporter’s Guide</a> is an excellent overview of the situation and is well worth reading. </p> <p> <span class="Apple-style-span"> </span></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-the-subprime-lending-boom-hurt-everybody">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-we-all-just-stop-paying-the-mortgage">Should We All Just Stop Paying the Mortgage?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-foreclosure">How to Avoid Foreclosure</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-afford-your-mortgage-payment">Here&#039;s What to Do If You Can&#039;t Afford Your Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate">The Only 5 Rules You Need to Know About Investing in Real Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">3 Hidden Dangers of Refinancing Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing Economy mortgage neighborhoods subprime Sat, 22 Sep 2007 14:17:33 +0000 Philip Brewer 1193 at http://www.wisebread.com Dangerous neighborhoods are safer than commuting http://www.wisebread.com/dangerous-neighborhoods-are-safer-than-commuting <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/cars-in-apartment-lot.jpg" alt="Cars in apartment parking lot" title="Cars in apartment parking lot" width="439" height="142" /></p> <p>Why do so few people live within walking--or at least bicycling--distance from where they work?</p> <p>I&#39;ve asked a lot of people this question and gotten a lot of different answers. Some people want big houses, others big lawns. A lot of people think--for reasons that they can&#39;t really articulate--that suburbs are the right place to raise kids. But one reason that you hear a lot is that people want to live somewhere safe--a low-crime area.</p> <p>The fact is, that&#39;s not a good reason to live a long way away from where you work, because a long commute is more dangerous than living in a dangerous neighborhood.</p> <p>It&#39;s one of those odd quirks of the way people&#39;s brains work that people don&#39;t recognize this immediately. People drive all the time, so driving seems safe. Violent crime, on the other hand, is rare, making it seem like a bigger danger than it is. A quick check of the statistics, though, tells the story.</p> <p>The most dangerous neighborhood I could find in a quick search on the internet was census tract 440100 in south-central Chicago. According to the <a href="http://gis.chicagopolice.org/">Chicago police department</a>, there have been 225 violent crimes, including 5 murders, this year in this neighborhood, which has a population of 9324.</p> <p>So, that&#39;s 5 murders per 9324 people per 365 days which comes to 0.00000147 murders per person per day.</p> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.bts.gov/">Bureau of Transportation Statistics</a>, there are 100 injuries, including 1.5 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles, which works out to 0.000000015 traffic fatalities per mile driven.</p> <p>That&#39;s all the information we need to find the commute that&#39;s as dangerous as living in the most dangerous neighborhood in Chicago: 49 miles (a 98 mile round trip). </p> <p>Granted that&#39;s a long commute. On the other hand, that assumes that there&#39;s a zero percent chance of being murdered in whatever neighborhood you do live in, which is at least a little optimistic.</p> <p>Of course, there are other scary crimes that can happen in dangerous neighborhoods, but if you compare all violent crimes to all traffic injuries, the long commutes come out even worse. If your commute is 33 miles each way, you can expect to be injured in a traffic accident about as often as you&#39;d be a victim of a violent crime living in the most dangerous neighborhood in Chicago.</p> <p>None of this is to suggest that you ought to live in a dangerous neighborhood. Often just moving a few blocks can make a big difference. Move a few blocks west to census tract 440200 (where there&#39;s been 4 murders in the past year and 167 violent crimes) and the equivalently dangerous commute drops to 24 miles each way. If you&#39;re driving further than that because you want to live in a safe neighborhood, either there&#39;s blood running in the streets or you haven&#39;t done the math.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dangerous-neighborhoods-are-safer-than-commuting">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-smart-ways-to-boost-your-gas-mileage">11 Smart Ways to Boost Your Gas Mileage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate">The Only 5 Rules You Need to Know About Investing in Real Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-you-should-always-buy-used">8 Things You Should Always Buy Used</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-things-you-should-do-when-you-move-to-a-new-town">14 Things You Should Do When You Move to a New Town</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car">7 Hidden Advantages to Getting Rid of Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Real Estate and Housing commuting neighborhoods safety Sun, 15 Jul 2007 01:55:16 +0000 Philip Brewer 838 at http://www.wisebread.com