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Tips for Evaluating Schools Before Buying A Home

Shopping for a home leads buyers to consider an array of diverse factors, and one of the elements taken into account is the quality of the school districts. Navigating the world of real estate when deciding to buy a home can feel overwhelming, especially when shoppers are also examining school districts. Absorbing some pivotal information can make the process feel less overbearing. Be sure to check out our other Tips that every homebuyer should know.

The Connection between Schools and Real Estate

Individuals who attended private schools their whole lives, who are new to a real-estate market or who simply never thought much about school districts and homes before may not quite understand how the process works. In general, children will attend schools in the communities in which they live. Therefore, when current or future parents are purchasing houses, they need to know what the local schools are like. In other words, where a family lives typically determines where the children will go to school; for this reason, researching school districts along with prospective houses go hand in hand.

Varying Criteria

Some families who have decided to sell a home and buy another are in search of unequivocally good school districts. However, what’s important to understand is that the definition of a good school district can vary from family to family. For example, some parents want to send their children to schools that have the highest test scores or that boast the top graduation rates. In other cases, mothers and fathers are in search of schools with strong special-education programs or a focus on the arts or athletics. Before searching for a home based on the school district, families must determine exactly what it is that they want in a district.

Transportation Concerns

Before purchasing a home in a particular district, parents should find out how the district handles transportation concerns. For example, for working mothers and fathers, dropping the kids off and picking them up might prove problematic with scheduling; therefore, they would need to find a district that has buses available. Another issue here is where the children will go after school if their parents are not yet home. Parents should find out whether the school has late buses that will bring kids home from an after-school program. Sometimes, these services are available before the school day begins too. Families must also assess how far the house is from the school itself and if the distance will cause an issue. While the schools should certainly take up residence in the community, some houses are likely on the outskirts of the district.


Evaluating the safety of the schools in the district is of utmost importance. In general, the safety of a school is going to have a connection to the safety of the community in which it is in. In other words, schools in communities with high crime rates are likely to prove less safe than schools in communities with low crime rates. High crime rates in an area can also cause a number of other educational problems. For example, the schools may have low graduation rates, poor college-acceptable rates or too few resources to adequately educate the students. Crime statistics are available from Resources like or

Tours and Visits

Looking at schools on paper can make the process difficult. Instead, parents should find out if tours are available of the schools. While they may not have the ability to attend the school while classes are in session, they may have the option of going when the school is closed for a break. Taking a tour of the school can provide families with a sense of whether or not the school is the right fit for them. Also, speaking with school officials can help contribute to the decision-making process. Some schools host events that are open to the community at large. Attending one or two of these events can help parents to get a sense of what the school is like and what it may have to offer to their children.

Buying a house isn’t just about picking out the most spacious one with the most modern features, especially for people who have children or who plan to have children. Seriously considering these factors and evaluating the different school districts play major roles in selecting the right dwelling for the family.  For facts about specific schools, the best recommendation is to contact or visit the school and or district office personally. Contact your local Realtor for any questions about buying or selling homes or condos.

Find the best real estate markets in North America?

Special Ashley Bickford thanks to Stephanie Pepper of Coastal Properties of Cabo for these home buying tips.

myths about real estate

Myths About Real Estate – Debunked!

Debunked Myths About Real Estate

There are many myths that can either deter or promote investing in Panama City Beach real estate. For many, owning a home is one of the biggest decisions made in life. A potential homeowner will want to know the myths before deciding whether or not to purchase a home.

1) Buying is better than renting –

This can go either way. The truth is, one is not simply better than the other. It all depends on the person looking for a home. If someone is pro renting, they will have negative things to say about ownership, and the same goes for the opposite. The truth is, one is not better than the other. The potential homeowner or renter needs to make this decision for themselves. Creating a pros and cons list is a great way to decide which option is better.

2) Renters don’t pay insurance or taxes –

One reason that people suggest renting a home is to get away from the added expenses of upgrading a home, taxes, and insurance. The fact that a renter doesn’t pay these is false. If the landlord is not including this in the rent, then they are not breaking even on their investment. These charges are still there, they are just hidden from the renter.

3) Perfect credit score is required –

Having a high credit score does help keep the interest rate low on the mortgage. If your credit is low, this does not mean that buying a home is off limits. There are different programs and lenders out there that are willing to work with first-time home buyers. A potential home buyer can do research and look around to find a lender that can help with purchasing a home.

4) 20% Down payment required –

Much like the myth of the credit score, there is a myth that a 20% down payment is required when purchasing a home. The truth is, there is not a specific requirement that applies to all mortgages. There are plenty of programs that allow for a lower down payment, or no down payment at all. It is important to understand the resources out there for purchasing a home, and utilize these resources to your full advantage.

5) The payment is all that matters –

Many people go into purchasing a home with the thought that the monthly payment is the only important part. This is not the truth. Home ownership requires additional expenses, such as taxes and insurance to be paid. Understanding all the expenses involved with home ownership is important.

6) Real estate is always a good investment –

When you buy a home the intention is to start a solid investment for the future. However, it is not always the best investment. There are times when the market struggles and the home can be valued at less than purchased for. When this happens, the investment is not doing well. When selling a home make sure to pay attention to the market. Selling is important to do at the right time to ensure the investment was a good one.

7) The market can be timed-

Many believe that the market can be timed. This means that the market will rise and fall as predicted. This is not true. There are people out there who claim they can predict and time the booming real estate market. The truth is, no one knows for sure. Much like the stock market, the housing market is unpredictable.

8) A Realtor is a waste of money –

When buying or selling a home a Realtor is a great person to have on your side. When purchasing a home, the Realtor will have access to many homes for sale. This allows for the potential buyer to review homes faster and get the purchasing moving along. Sellers want to take advantage of the Realtor as well. They can help bring more buyers into the home to view.

There are many myths about home ownership. Understanding these myths before making the decision to buy or sell a home is important.

Upgrade Your Beachfront Home

Upgrade Your Beachfront Home

The Many Ways To Upgrade Your Waterfront Home

In real estate it is not merely location that can sell a waterfront home but the little details as well. When someone looks to buy a beach home they are looking for a place that they can settle into or vacation in Panama City Beach might be the place for you. Buyers will look at all the various amenities associated with the house. Some people look for all the usual features, ranging from pools to yards, and it sometimes interesting what can sell a home. There are a wide range of upgrades that can go into a home and, because they can all affect the price of the home, it can be interesting to look at some of he more basic upgrades in order to see what kind of options are available.


The outside is a good place to start. For most homes a pool is a major selling point, especially if the local climate is famous for hot weather; having somewhere to get cool in the middle of a hot summer is a major advantage. There are numerous options available here beyond just size, such as a diving board, an attached jacuzzi, or even just having a few rocks near the pool. The pool can be the center of summer entertaining and can also determine the popularity of the children who live there; as such its presence can make a huge difference in making the house an easy sell.


The presence of a deck or other area to entertain is also important. While a deck needs to be maintained, and thus represents some serious work, it can really set off a yard, especially one that has a serious inclination to improve it. It provides a nice area to have a party as well as just to enjoy the outdoors, and so it makes for an interesting addition to any beachfront property. This applies to any outside addition, be it flower beds, raised planters, or even having an area to place a vegetable garden. As people almost always enjoy spending some time outside having somewhere to do so that is more than just a place with grass is always appreciated.


While we are looking at the outside there are upgrades to the outside to consider as well. The appearance of the house can make a major difference and so anything that modifies its appearance can work as well, be it a different style of roof from the neighbors to changing the kind of windows. Even adding few bushes or trees can make a major difference, especially if they are designed to shade the house and thus provide a way to cool the house. Of course, it is important to consider the requirements of any local homeowners association, but there are usually ways to modify the home that keep them happy as well as allow for making the home stand out from those around it.


Most upgrades on the interior of the home usually center on the kitchen. This makes a lot of sense considering how much time is spent there and how almost ritualistic just being there is for some people; the kitchen is arguably one of the major centers of activity of any home. Interestingly, electronics are usually seen as an intruder in the kitchen as it is seen as an escape from television and even sometimes music. Nonetheless, anything that can help a person make food more efficiently is seen as a major plus. This can range from increased storage space to greater counter room to just having a great refrigerator. There is no such thing as a minor kitchen upgrade in the mind of anyone interested in cooking.


Other major upgrades usually apply to the structure of the house. In an era where saving the environment starts at home, anything to make the home more energy-efficient is usually welcomed, even though it can take some serious investment to do so, such as adding solar panels or even upgrading the hot water heater and toilets. Ensuring that there is a central heating and air system that can allow for personalized environments is also a major advantage, especially in larger homes. Even adding a security system can make a huge difference, especially considering how people feel a home should be a castle.

Consider Your Options

While considering the different upgrades can obviously feel overwhelming, they can make the difference in turning a piece of mere real estate into any home. For those first time buyers each of these choices represent a different kind of home, and the best options are those that make the house a home. While for the seller each option chosen makes it more like a home, and can make the difference between selling quickly or having it on the market for a long period of time, thus making each choice important. Everyone is looking for a home and these choices make all the difference in the world.

Vacation Rentals in Panama City Beach

Profiting From Vacation Rentals in Panama Beach

Panama Beach City, Florida is one of the fastest growing areas to buy property. If you are interested in not only living there but also want to own land, a condo, vacation rental homes or a resort property; as an investor, Panama Beach offers a wide range of possibilities. In 2016, a nationwide survey revealed that the area tops the US market for vacation rentals.

But, before you hop on a plane and scoop up beachfront properties, there are a few things to consider. Out of the 120 areas in the survey, Panama Beach City landed at Number One. It’s due to a number of attractive variables that include: affordability, prime location in the Panhandle, and it’s one of the largest tourist development areas. The market doesn’t cool off in Panama City Beach, because it’s a year-round travel destination. One of the most alluring features for investors is how people stay in vacation homes more than they do hotels in this tourist hotspot.

Getting Started

To invest in real estate doesn’t require making million dollar deals, but it does mean being privy to advanced knowledge about how to sell a home or how to buy a home. So, just what does it take to get started? Well, first off you need to have a steely determination to succeed, despite the trends. Because honestly, it doesn’t matter if it’s a buyer’s or a seller’s market. Why? Because market trends come and go, just as stock market fluctuations come and go.

But what doesn’t change is a smart, savvy local Panama City Realtor who can help you navigate the market. They know how to deal with the fickle nature of buying or selling trends. It’s easy to buy investment properties when you have a professional guiding you towards maximizing your profit potential.

Investment Rentals

So what does owning an investment rental in Panama Beach city bring? It brings a wealth of opportunities. What makes the area so popular is that there’s a dedicated advisory board, the Tourist Development Council (TDC). The TDC works hard to make certain that Panama Beach remains a top vacation destination, no matter what the season.

So, the opportunities include the possibilities of making your investment property yield high profits as a year round Airbnb. And the biggest plus is that you, your family and friends can also enjoy the property by planning vacations there as well.

Turnkey Properties

It’s a known fact that in general, turnkey properties means less risks than other types of investments. Investing in vacation rentals is especially appealing due to the profit potential.

And there are other added benefits. For example in Panama Beach City, you have the Tourist Development Council and then there’s The Florida Commission on Tourism and the Visit Florida partnership. All of which operate together to drive year round traffic to Florida. So, it’s like free advertising.

When you purchase a turnkey property as a vacation rental, with a few exceptions it’s ready to start earning you money right away. In an area such as Panama Beach City there’s going to be a mixture of old and new properties.

The old properties may also fit the bill as “turnkey,” but they might require some modifications, restoration or slight renovations.

Vacationing in the Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico: The Vacation Destination

The Vacation Destination Of 2018

Vacationing in the Gulf of Mexico is a lot of fun, the Gulf Coast has so much to offer. You can go anywhere from the Gulf Coast, and you can have a lot of fun going fishing, boating, enjoying the beachs, and exploring up and down the coast line. Consider all the things you can do when you come to the coast, and remember that the bayou will give you an experience unlike any other.

1. Why Is This Place So Lovely?

This is a very quiet coast where you can come at any time of year without being overrun by the tourists that populate other beaches around the world. This means that you can come here to get away from it all and not have to worry about being in places that are too noisy. Your whole family can stay in any kind of property, bayou cabin, condo, beach home or, on the water, or you could stay in a tiny town near the water.

2. Chartering

Chartering a boat to go fishing could be something that you would do every morning, or you could book your charter with a professional captain who takes you to different spots around the Gulf to put you on the fish. You could go out far enough to do some deep sea fishing, and you might get strapped into a chair that holds you safe while enjoying hours of catching prize winning fish.

Chartering boats is a great way to group up with your friends or family to be able to go out for as long as possible. You could actually stay on the boat for a couple days on the water where it is completely quiet, or you might try a houseboat rental that allows you to feel the rock of the waves without forcing you to be off the shore. You simply have to decide what your best options are when you get to the coast.

3. Check Out The Beaches

The beaches in this place are really exciting because they can provide you with the best experience that also includes quiet. These places are not too crowded like the other beaches around the world you have heard of, but you still get an amazing tan and have a chance to lay out for hours at a time.

The beaches that you want to visit also allow you to fish from the shore because their waves are not so heavy. This means that you can catch any fish that you want and go back to your chair and towel on the shore. You might find some places that have forgotten docks where you can rest and read, and you can look out over the expanse of the Gulf to see the curvature of the earth. This is a place that, on a clear night, could even give you a view of islands and coasts that are very far away.

4. Where Can You Go From Here?

You can go anywhere on the coast that you want from this place. The coast itself goes all the way around the south of America, and it juts south to Texas and Mexico in the west. You could cross the Gulf of Mexico if you wanted to, or you might come where on a cruise. There are charter ferries that will take you across the Gulf, and you will find that you could stop off on the shore for a couple days to get off the water.

Hiking is great in these places because the marsh is so beautiful, and you might want to come here just to see how lovely it is when you are in a place like this. There are a lot of people who come here to see the water, but they want that couple days of exploration in a place like New Orleans. You can still take boats from New Orleans to fish, and you might charter boats to sleep on the water. This is the best place to come when you want to enjoy the water because you are not confronted with a harsh and unforgiving ocean out there.

5. Low Costs

You will spend much less money on your vacation, and you will find that you could come out at any time with the extra money you kept in your pocket. You must be certain that you have chosen a quiet place to go where everything is affordable, and you can find a place for everyone in your family to sleep and cast their line into the water.

6. Conclusion

The best vacation is the one that you spend on the water enjoying every aspect of this place and how it helps you relax. You might want to fish, and you could try to have much better experience by simply getting away from the crowds and not being in any of the traditional tourist spots that are much too loud.

Energy Efficient Windows

Energy Efficient Windows can Decrease Heating and Cooling Costs

Are your windows and doors old?

Do they cost you money on heating and cooling bills?

Energy efficient windows, skylights, and doors can reduce the cost of heating and coolingThe ratings on energy efficient windows can be confusing, and you want to be sure that you are purchasing the right ones for your home or business so it may be time to call a professional window company who deals in energy-efficient windows and most companies who do also do the installation of the windows and doors.

What are energy efficient windows

Energy efficient windows can reduce the heat and cold leaking out of the windows in your home or business. Today, they even have UV protection in them.  There are 2 or 3 panes of glass in energy efficient windows that have air or argon gas in between the panes. It helps with insulation and, noise reduction.

How energy efficient windows benefit you and the environment

There are several benefits of using energy efficient windows.

  •    Save money on your cost of heating and cooling your home or business
  •    Help keep your home or business at a more comfortable temperature
  •    Reduces UV damage to your floors, carpets, and furniture
  •    Helps the surroundings by reducing greenhouse gas emissions since you use less energy to heat and cool your home or business
  •    Improves resale value of your home
  •    Energy efficient windows last 10 to 20 years, as the windows become better with new technology that number will probably go up.

How to shop for energy efficient windows

Shop for Energy Efficient WindowsWhen you buy energy efficient windows, skylights, and doors, it helps to understand the ratings.The U-factor on windows frequently run between 0.20 and 1.20; the lesser the U-factor number, the more insulating to reduce heat loss.  The R-value is the insulating value and is opposite of the U-factor, so if the R-value runs between 1 and 2, you want 2. There is also the solar heat gain coefficient which indicates how well the glass blocks heat from the sun. This number runs between 0 and one you want the lower number of 0. Visible transmittance or VT number runs between 0 and one this number tells you how much light is transmitted through the glass.  Condensation resistance (CR) is shown as a number between 0 and 100. The higher the number, the better the window resists condensation between the panes of glass. Look for the energy rating tags or stickers on the windows and compare the numbers.

If you are unsure of what the numbers mean it is best to speak to a professional so they can help you understand the ratings better and help you choose the right values for the needs of your home or business.

Widows and casings

Energy efficient windows alone will help, however; you should also invest energy efficient casings when you replace old windows. It helps ensure that you pay less for heating and cooling costs as well as have better noise reduction. If you live in a city or place where traffic is heavy, the noise reduction is essential.

The future of energy efficient windows

The future of energy efficient windows will bring about even better energy efficiency when it comes to heating and cooling, as well as, protection from UV rays. It will also bring better technological advances in the way windows can detect how much light should be filtered from coming in or solar heat gain should be allowed.

Home Values

Needless to say, having your home “energy efficient” will help you not only reduce energy costs, but ultimately increases your home’s value.  Read our other tips for selling your home.

vr and the future of real estate

VR and the Future of Real Estate

Technology is at the forefront of almost any industry that comes to mind. As the technology changes and advances so do the ways that we humans interact with things in that industry. The real estate market is no exception to this trend.

Virtual Reality

In recent years, the tech industry has brought forth some very interesting technologies that are going to revolutionize the way people interact with the real estate market. Everything from the way the agent lists the property online, to the way the consumer browses those listings. The internet alone was a game changer in the 90s allowing pictures of homes to be posted online giving the potential buyer multiple views of the property or home.
As big of an impact that the internet brought to the Real Estate industry, as big as it was, is small compared to what is coming.

Virtual Reality in Real Estate

We are talking new VR technologies in the making that are hitting the markets now. Virtual Reality will allow consumers to view an entire home or property from the comfort of their own home. In the past some pictures did not do well for selling a home. The picture may have been bad or some other issue, albeit not provided a good image of the home. With 4k image technology readily available and affordable, bad images are mostly a thing of the past.
Agents in the past spent much of their time moving back and forth around their area meeting people all over to look at homes. Today, VR will allow the agent to essentially walk through the home one time to create the virtual tour of the home. Once it is available online the consumer can view the listing and do a virtual walk-through from home. With image quality being high the virtual representation of the home is no longer computer generated, but rendered as an actual image looking as real as the real thing. Not having to walk through homes to show them to potential buyers all the time will save the agents and the consumers a lot of time.
This technology is also being implemented into new construction. This is allowing builders and consumers to work together and modify a home before it is built. Giving clients a walk-through of the home unfinished in a virtual environment where the consumer can pick and choose the interior and exterior aspects of the home. These would be things like wall colors, tiles, fixtures, doors, and so on. Essentially giving the buyer the ability to customize their new home with anything the builder has available. This will potentially save the consumer and the builder many hours over time.

Demo of VR in Real Estate Sales

New listings or new construction, VR is a new game changer for the real estate industry. The ability to save time and money makes VR a worthy investment on both sides. As VR becomes more available and more affordable, the ability to produce the virtual breakthroughs will become cheaper and easier while reaching a larger audience.

lakeshore cove

The Hottest Real Estate Developments

The Hottest Real Estate Developments In The Country

We work very hard to pull out the best real estate markets in the country.  With everyone claiming to have “the best real estate market”, we feel that its important to point out some truly outstanding real estate developments.

Today, we will be looking at some of new real estate developments that are making waves.

Lakeshore LA – Luxury Condos

lakeshore coveLakeshore Cove Condos are the most recent development for Lakeshore LA – which is the largest luxury real estate development in South East Louisiana.  Lakeshore features multiple waterfront subdivisions including Lakeshore Estates, The Villages at Lakeshore, Marina Villa East and now Lakeshore Cove Luxury Condos.   The brand new luxury condos at Lakeshore are now for sale and starting at $325,000 which is considered a very affordable price for brand new, luxury waterfront condos. All of the new condominiums featured two bedrooms and two full baths and are 1295 square foot of living area.

Prices for the brand new luxury condominiums range from $325,000 to $365,000 depending on how spectacular you want your view to be.  Looking over Lake Pontchartrain, Lakeshore Cove condos feature a plethora of hi-end luxury amenities including:

  • In-ground Community Pool
  • Your Own Private Beach
  • Direct Access to Lake Pontchartrain
  • Clubhouse
  • All Stainless Steel Appliances
  • Absolutely No Carpet
  • Luxurious Waterfront Living

Pecan Plantation – Luxury Homes For Sale

pecan plantationPecan Plantation is a luxury development in Granbury Tx that has taken the area by storm.  With a variety of home options, Pecan Plantation features everything from mansions to ranches, single family homes and even condos.   Pecan Plantation even still has vacant land still available if you have home plans and would like to build the perfect home of your dreams.

Pecan Plantation is a private, gated community with its own golf course.  Additional luxury amenities include a high end fitness area, its very own air park for private pilots, lots of green space and parks, walking trails, stables and even archery.  At the center of Pecan Plantation is the luxurious clubhouse which has private swimming, tennis courts, pro golfing, four star dining and even 18 hotel rooms.

Located 35 miles South West of Fort Worth Tx, Pecan Plantation was previously known as deCordova Bend, after Jocob deCordova who was the surveyor who planned out most of the area within Hood County Tx.

Panama City Beach Condos

Panama City Beach is known for vacations and Spring Break.  In certain times of the year, Panama City Beach has an huge influx of people, all wanting to enjoy the sandy beaches.  Because of this, the beachfront condominium market for Panama City Beach has been growing for years.  Many condo owners actually live in other cities — own a vacation condo on the beach in PCB and lease it out throughout the year to offset their investment.  Needless to say, there are many homeowners who enjoy the year-long beachfront lifestyle.

All in all — Panama City Beach’s real estate market has been solid for years and continues to grow by leaps and bounds.  Some of the additional draw is the ability to leverage your 2nd home as an investment.  Some of the more popular condos on the beach are Calypso Towers, Majestic Beach and Edgewater.


Check back soon! We will keep you informed with more of the hottest real estate developments in the country.