Helping Children Adjust to a Move

Moving is such an exciting time for families, and can be thrilling for kids! It can also be a stressful time with many changes. There have been many children’s books written to help kids cope with the big move, and we have created a list of some of the best reviewed books about moving available.

The following article was recently shared by Healthychildren.org, written by the American Academy of Pediatrics about helping children adjust to a move.

We are moving to a new community. How can we help our children with this big change?

In today’s shrinking world, job loss, promotions, and transfers are forcing some families to move frequently, across town, across the country and even around the world. These moves can be quite difficult for the whole family but particularly for the children.

Most people think that, in general, moving is harder on an older child – high school students, for instance, who are asserting their identities, forming meaningful friendships and becoming achievement-oriented. Older children do benefit from permanence and stability. Nevertheless, youngsters in middle childhood have some major adjustments to make, too, even if they seem more flexible. Children, of course, are different, and no two will handle a move quite the same. Stresses such as moving will tend to accentuate different aspects of your child’s personality.

Positive and Negative Aspects
Children tend to think about the negative side when a family moves. There is the loss of friends and, along with it, loss of a sense of belonging. In the new community the children will be newcomers, strangers and may need to learn some different social rules. In changing schools they might have to leave behind extracurricular activities – a sports team, a school drama program – that were important to them. Upon arriving at their new school, they may find themselves either academically ahead of or behind their new classmates, depending on the curriculum in the previous school.

In helping your child prepare for a move, place as much emphasis as possible on the positive aspects of what awaits her. This is an opportunity for her to live in and learn about a new city, perhaps even a new country, and its people. She may be exposed to new cultural traditions and interesting and different ways of life. It also is a chance to meet new people and make new friends. Explain how the family will benefit from the move.

For some children, particularly those who may have experienced academic failure or been rejected by classmates at their old school, the opportunity for a new beginning is an exciting prospect. It gives them a chance to be accepted in a new setting and to make friends free of their former reputations and self-images. If this is the case, talk about and plan what you and your child will do differently in your new community. Be cautious, however, of unreasonable expectations that a move will make things wonderful. Children take their likes and dislikes and personal strengths and weaknesses with them.

Let Your Child Express Her Feelings
Give your child adequate notice to get used to the idea of moving – even a year in advance may be appropriate. Acknowledge her sadness about leaving behind friends and familiar places. Let her know you are sympathetic and that you understand that she might feel nervous about what awaits her, whether it is the new people, the new school or the new bus ride. At the same time, tell her you will try to make the move as easy as possible for the entire family, and emphasize some of the positive aspects listed earlier.

If you are also experiencing stress about the move, be open with these feelings. At the same time, keep in mind that your own anxiety might rub off on your child. For that reason, try maintaining and communicating an optimistic attitude about what lies ahead. The stress of moving is greatest about two weeks before and after the move. Be sure to take some breaks to relax and play.

Emphasize The Excitement of Moving
Remind your child that while the move may be making everyone a bit uneasy, it will also be adventurous and interesting. Use the example of the pioneers or the immigrants who overcame their own fears and traveled to new lands, where they encountered new and stimulating experiences. Give her some age-appropriate books that describe families moving from one city to another. Encourage your child to make plans for the move. Have her make lists of tasks and projects to do.

Take Your Child To The Community Where You Will Be Moving
She will probably discover that the new city is really not that different from the one she is leaving. Drive by her new school, and even visit it for a few minutes so she can get a sense of what awaits her. Much of her fear of the unknown should dissipate with this trip.

Look for new things your child might enjoy. For example, if the family is moving to a larger house, maybe your child will get a room of her own for the first time. Perhaps the new city has a zoo or a science museum that she might find interesting. If you are moving to a different climate, there may be opportunities for new activities (skiing, sledding, ice skating; or, in warmer climates, the chance to play outdoors year-round). Plan in advance to enroll your child in sports, clubs, lessons, and the like so she has something to look forward to and so she doesn’t lose out on opportunities.

Give your child the chance to participate in decisions that directly affect her. For instance, what kind of wallpaper would she like for her room? If the new house permits the family to get a new pet, what kind would she prefer?

Become Involved In The New Community Yourself
As you meet new people through local schools, groups, or organizations, you can be opening some doors for your child to make new friends. Reach out to people who have children the same age as your own child. Invite them over to make it easier for your youngster to meet other children. Investigate community sports activities, YMCAs and Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs. As your child sees you finding your place in the new neighborhood, she will feel more comfortable and secure doing the same. If you are successful in finding a new friend for your youngster before school starts, your child will have the security of knowing someone on the first day of school.

Maintain Contact With The Old Community
If your child wants to keep her old friendships intact, help her do so. Host a farewell party with her friends, and take photographs as keepsakes. Encourage her to write letters and make phone calls. If possible, visit the old neighborhood from time to time, and invite some of her old friends to spend weekends and vacations with you. Let her know that even though you have moved, she does not have to break the ties that have been so important to her.

Make The Move A Family Event
If you plan the move as a family, and support one another as you adjust to the new community, it can bring your family closer together. Let your child know that you will be available to help her deal with any problems and concerns that arise.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is a policy that is usually issued by a title company to protect the lender against something that might have happened in the past, rather than something that might occur in the future. In essence, an extensive search of public records is conducted by the title company to validate who has held title to the property in the past. The lender wants to know if there are any liens, judgments or easements on the property that they should be aware of.

But title insurance also guards against hidden risks or unknown factors that might cause an encumbrance at some point in the future, such as unknown heirs, forged deeds or wills, misinterpreted wills, false impersonation of the true owner of the property, deeds signed over by persons of unsound mind, or defects in the recording of past titles. Title insurance covers the cost of the title search, and any legal fees that may result from any dispute over past property ownership. It is required by the lender and paid for by the buyer.

The smart home buyer will also purchase title insurance to protect their own interests. This is a one-time premium that protects the buyer or their heirs, as long as they retain an interest in the property.

Make Sure Your Deck is Ready to be Enjoyed!

Tips from The Handyman Connection

Thank you to Handyman Connection for sharing the following tips.

Collapsing decks is a serious problem.

Decks collapse for a variety of reasons but mostly because they were not built correctly, they have not been properly maintained and because they’re too old.

To make sure your deck is safe, look for these warning signs:

  • Missing Connections – Look underneath your deck for missing connections. A deck needs to be built with metal connectors, nails, screws, and bolts. Make sure all of the wood framing under your deck is tied together with metal connectors and that the deck is connected from the house all the way into the ground with metal connectors. The most critical connection of a deck is the ledger, where the deck attaches to the house. Ledger screws or bolts should be used.
  • Loose Connections – Check to see if any railings or stairs are loose. If they are, repair them immediately. Also, check the balusters on the railing and make sure they are spaced less than four inches apart.
  • Corrosion – Connectors, nails and screws can corrode. Look for red rust or other signs of corrosion. Make sure the hardware you use to replace the corroded metal is rated for the outdoors to resist corrosion.
  • Rot – To test the wood on your deck, stick a screw driver in the area of wood you think is rotted. If it appears soft, replace it.
  • Cracks – Look for deck boards with large cracks. Deck boards or posts with large cracks should be replaced.
    Moisture – Flashing is a metal or plastic guard that directs water away from sensitive areas (where the deck and house meet). This keeps moisture and debris from collecting between the house and the deck’s ledger board. Make sure the flashing is sound and firmly in place. If you see areas that collect water, add or replace the flashing.

New Home Construction Picks Up in Birmingham

According to today’s Birmingham Business Journal, new home construction is starting to pick up in Birmingham.

New home construction in the Birmingham area began to thaw in February, according to recent data from the Alabama Center for Real Estate.

The University of Alabama center said 120 single-family home building permits were issued in February, a 9.1 percent increase over January.

Statewide, permits increased 20.5 percent to 659 issued in February over January, the first increase after a 10-month consecutive decline.

Read the entire article at the following link to the Birmingham Business Journal:

http://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/news/2011/04/20/new-home-construction-picks-up-in.html

If I Sell My Home, Will I Have to Pay Capital Gains Tax?

Thanks to Charles Bates for sharing this great description of a very important question: If you sell your home, will you have to pay capital gains tax?

The IRS permits a maximum exclusion on capital gain of $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for married couples filing a joint return who sell their home, but of course some conditions apply.

For the five-year timeframe prior to the date of the sale of your primary residence, you must meet the Ownership and Use Tests the IRS provides in Publication 523, Selling Your Home. These rules ensure you have owned the home for at least two years, and lived in the home for at least 24 months out of the last five years. Additionally, you may not have excluded a gain on your taxes from the sale of a different home within the last two years. Note that if you sell your property for less than your original purchase price, you cannot claim a capital loss.

A ‘reduced maximum exclusion’ can apply to those who must sell their home due to a change in their place of employment, health issues, or unforeseen circumstances that affect qualified individuals. In all cases, it is best to consult your tax professional or IRS guidelines if you have any questions about the taxes you may be responsible for if you sell your home.

Latest Census Information About Alabama…

The 2010 Census Information has been published for our state, with several interesting trends over the past ten years. Arcara Residential is pleased to have many choices of homes in the areas of growth! Do a property search by area to find the latest listings. Here are a few specific areas that line up with what we are seeing:

  • 2010 Census Showed that Calera and Chelsea both grew by 250%.  Check out Shiloh Creek!

  • The Fastest Growing Cities in the Jeffco/Shelby area were:
    (graphic from the Birmingham News)

  • Trussville Boomed! Population growth in Trussville was 54% over the past decade.  Visit the spectacular Brooke’s Crossing for a beauty in Trussville.

  • The three fastest growing “larger” cities (cities that started the decade with populations more than 10,000) were Helena, Trussville, and Pelham.  We are proud to feature neighborhoods in these areas such as Pelham’s Eagle Cove.

  • Hoover population soared 30% over the past decade.  Hoover’s Mayor Petelos attributes the growth to Hoover being a great place to live and raise a family, with one of the better school systems in the state.  It is amazing that million dollar views are still available in this beautiful city, such as you will find at Southpointe Ridge (with full basements, starting at $299,900). 

More detailed information and analysis is available at http://www.al.com/census/news/index.ssf/index.html.

Need a Smaller Down Payment?


While down payment requirements have increased for some programs, it is still possible to buy a home with less than 5% down…or even NO money down.

For example, FHA offers a loan program that requires as little as 3.5% down. In addition, the VA and USDA offer loans that require no down payment. Of course, there are restrictions with each of these programs that can include maximum loan amounts based on your location with FHA loans, income and property requirements for those offered by the USDA, and your qualifying status as an eligible Veteran.

In addition to those programs, keep in mind that many sellers in today’s market are willing to offer concessions, such as paying part or all of your closing costs. That can decrease the amount of funds you may be required to have to purchase your next home.

The point is that it’s still possible for millions of Americans to purchase a home with less than 5% down.

Birmingham Area Homebuilders may be Poised for Comeback

The following article by Dawn Kent was in the Birmingham News on February 3, 2011.

Metro Birmingham homebuilders could be poised for a comeback in 2011, after a steep market downturn left most of the industry battered.

During a two-week period in January, more than 50 building permits were issued for speculative single-family homes in area neighborhoods, according to data collected by Southern Exposure, a Huntsville firm that tracks permit activity. That’s up from roughly 10 a week in recent months.

The sharp uptick might be the result of seasonal factors, said Bart Fletcher, executive officer of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.

If builders want to have houses ready for the typically busy spring buying season, now is the time they start working on them, he said.

But, Fletcher added, “I think builders are more optimistic about 2011. I think that we really believe we have seen the bottom. A lot of builders have not built anything new for quite some time. We’ve worked through the inventory.”

Still, hurdles remain for an overall recovery in home building, notably low consumer confidence and high unemployment, which make buyers wary.

Lending also continues to be tight, which means many builders can’t get financing for new projects.

That’s been true throughout the recession, Fletcher said, as a number of area homebuilders have exited the market. In early 2007, membership in the local homebuilders association peaked at 551; it is now down to about 245.

The group does not cover 100 percent of area home builders, he added, and some may not have officially closed their companies.

“Some may have dropped their membership, but their corporation remains intact,” Fletcher said. “They’re just not doing any work.”

To help put them back to work, the homebuilders association has been meeting with U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, for help in communicating with regulators. The group is trying to determine where the brakes are being applied when it comes to lending in an effort to loosen the purse strings, Fletcher said.

“The type of lending environment that is necessary to keep small- to medium-size builders in business, that’s just not happening right now,” he said.

Despite such an environment, there are green shoots in the market.

In December, new single-family home sales rose 17.5 percent, the Commerce Department reported. It was a strong finish to a year that had the lowest total of new home sales on record, at 321,000, since the records started being kept in 1963, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

While discussing the sales rise, NAHB officials cited concern over declining inventory.

“.¤.¤. It means that the critical lack of acquisition, development and construction financing continues to pose a tremendous obstacle to medium- and small-sized builders across the country, thereby slowing the arrival of a true recovery and the jobs that could generate,” the group’s chief economist, David Crowe, said in a prepared statement.

According to local real estate analyst Tom Brander, the Birmingham area’s inventory of new homes for sale totaled 1,078 in December, a 14.6 percent decline from November.

By comparison, Brander’s statistics show the local new home inventory hovered around 3,300 in early 2007, before the market tanked.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the 50-plus new home permits pulled in metro Birmingham from Jan. 7 to 21 are tied to Fort Worth, Texas-based home builder D.R. Horton.

As one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, publicly-traded D.R. Horton is in a better position to capitalize on a rebounding market, since it doesn’t have to rely on banks for financing individual projects, as smaller companies do.

Locally, D.R. Horton is building new homes in areas including Hoover, McCalla, Leeds, Moody and Pelham, according to the permit information collected by Southern Exposure.

Birmingham-based Signature Homes, which has continued to build and sell homes at a healthy clip throughout the recession, also accounted for a portion of the recent uptick in permits.

The company is working on four new communities, in addition to ongoing work in Hoover’s Ross Bridge and Chace Lake communities, said Chairman Dwight Sandlin and President Jonathan Belcher.

The new communities include Water’s Edge at Bent River, a Hoover neighborhood where homes start just below $200,000, and Miller Hill in Vestavia Hills, where lots are being developed and home prices are expected to range from the high $300,000s to the low $400,000s.

Signature Homes also is building in new communities in Calera and Chelsea.

Last year, the company’s home starts were up 40 percent over 2009, despite a drop off in the last half of the year that was caused by the expiration of last spring’s federal tax credits for homebuyers.

And so far this year, the company’s January sales are up 40 percent over the year-ago period.

“We’re looking for a really big year,” Sandlin said.

As for the area’s overall new home market, Sandlin points to declining inventory and says he expects builders to start filling in those gaps.

It’s moving toward a “new normal,” he added, nowhere near the super-heated housing market of 2005 and 2006, but toward the healthier levels of the early 2000s.

“There’s pretty good stuff going on,” he said. “It’s not great, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

Home Staging is All the Rage!

Home Staging is the art of decorating a home to sell quickly and for top dollar. In the Birmingham and Huntsville areas, we are lucky to have SWAG Home Staging and Design close by to perform this magic for homeowners and realtors! Thanks to Erin Dunavant from SWAG for passing along these home staging tips. Erin can be reached at erin@swaghomestaging.com, swaghomestaging.com .

Home Staging Tips, by Erin Dunavant

Home staging is all the rage… and with reason! Staged homes sell much quicker and for higher prices than homes that are vacant.

If your home is vacant (that is, unfurnished), you should definitely consider the possibility of staging it. A professional home stager can make small rooms appear more spacious, awkward spaces feel usable and lofty floor plans feel cozy. A staged home will stand out among the competition and is more likely to be remembered at the end of a long day of showings.

There are many good reasons to stage a home. First, staged homes photograph better, which is critical for today’s Internet-driven buyer. Staging also helps the buyer imagine how a room can be furnished; it’s common knowledge that the vast majority of buyers do not have the vision to mentally furnish and decorate a vacant room. A staged home also appears to be occupied, giving a measure of security as well.

If your home needs staging during the marketing process, ask your real estate agent to contact SWAG Home Staging & Design. Yes, it’s another added expense, but for the right house – worth every penny!

Below are a few Staging Tips to help get you started:

Disassociate Yourself With Your Home.

Sellers need to realize: This is no longer their home; it is a house. Make the mental decision to “let go” of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours. Say goodbye to every room as each space will be need to be transformed into a product.

De-Personalize.

Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Buyers can’t see past personal artifacts, and you don’t want them to be distracted. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can’t do that if yours are there! You don’t want to make any buyer ask, “I wonder what kind of people live in this home?” Rather you want buyers to say, “I can see myself living here.”

De-Clutter!

People collect an amazing quantity of junk. Consider this: if you haven’t used it in over a year, you probably don’t need it. If you don’t need it, consider donating or throwing away unnecessary items. Be sure to remove all books from bookcases and pack up all knickknacks. The most valuable space in a home is the kitchen; therefore, clean off the countertops & remove all items from the refrigerator. Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use. Think of this de-cluttering process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.

Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets.

Buyers love to snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if she sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well. This means to take a little time to alphabetize spice jars, neatly stack dishes, turn coffee cup handles facing the same way, and line up shoes.

Rent a Storage Unit.

Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s purpose and plenty of room to move around. You don’t want buyers scratching their heads and saying, “What is this room used for?”

Remove/Replace Favorite Items.

If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won’t want it. Once you tell a buyer she can’t have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.

Check Curb Appeal.

If a buyer won’t get out of her agent’s car because she doesn’t like the exterior of your home, you’ll never get them inside. Contact SWAG Services, LLC for all your lawn maintenance needs such as:

  • Mow the lawn. Edge the Yard. Blow off the Side Walk.
  • Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion.
  • Trim your bushes.
  • Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.

SWAG Home Staging & Design has an organized system to help start the process of preparing the home for sale and it begins with the Staging Consultation. This Home Evaluation will diagnose and recommend special room-by-room enhancement instructions. Additionally, SWAG will supply you with suggestions on repairs/improvements that will benefit the property and suggestions on how to prepare the home to sell. We are a unique service provider, in Birmingham & Huntsville, with the goal of maximizing your profit potential.

7 Ways to Prevent Water Damage

Gary Davis  from Farmer’s Insurance  shared the following tips about preventing household water damage.

Did you know? Ninety percent of household damage is the result of water damage and flooding.  Broken water pipes are a major contributor to that figure. Electronic items are destroyed. Rugs, curtains and clothes are ruined. Electric shock risk is dramatically increased. At the very least, you’ll spend days cleaning up the mess, getting rid of the resulting mildew smell and getting your pipes fixed so you can resume your water service.

7 Ways to Prevent Water Damage

  1. Check your water heater annually for rust or leaks.
  2. Replace washing machine hoses every five years.
  3. Check washing machine control valves every five years.
  4. Locate the turn-off valve for your city water supply. Learn how to operate it.
  5. If your water bill is abnormally high for no apparent reason, do a complete inspection of your water system.
  6. Do not pour grease of any kind down your sink or disposal.
  7. Winterize outside water faucets during freezing weather and disconnect outside garden hoses from the faucet.

 

For more information, Gary Davis suggests visiting this link – http://www.farmers.com/flood_damage.html

All information on this website is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed, and may change without notice. Any square footage is approximate.

Property of Arcara Residential, LLC; 771 2nd Street; Helena, AL 35080