• Are the Higher Home Values Worth Living Near a School?

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    Fuse/Getty ImagesHomes near highly rated schools can be worth $200,000 more than a similar home near a lower-performing school.

    The following post is by BrightNest:

    Living near a high-scoring school can increase your home’s value by over $200,000, according to the Brookings Institution. That’s not chump change. And while some argue that the correlation between home prices and school systems is not linear — it’s a chicken-or-egg argument — there are plenty of attractive advantages that come with proximity to a school, including increased police protection, personal use of school facilities and living in a “Drug-Free School Zone.”

    “Even those couples who don’t have kids yet but are planning to are worried about the quality of schools in the neighborhoods where they are considering buying,” said Stacie Staub of Live Urban Real Estate. “My advice is to check out greatschools.org — and look not only at test scores but parent reviews, special programs that the school might offer, and also which alternative …read more  

  • Selling Your Home in 2015? Make 5 Resolutions for Success

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    By Brendon DeSimone

    If you’re considering selling your home in 2015, you should know that a lot has probably changed in the real estate market since you last sold. Knowing what works today will help you sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

    1. Appeal to buyers using mobile devices.

    Today many home searches begin on a smartphone or tablet.

    If you want to get the right kind of buyer activity on your home, you need to make sure you optimize your listing and your photos for mobile devices. If you use the tips and tricks of a generation past, you may miss out on today’s buyers.

    2. Be ready to separate your “home” from your “investment.”

    Many sellers make the mistake of letting their emotions get the best of them. Selling a home is not like selling a used car — it holds memories and occupies a special place in your heart.When it comes time to sell, however, it’s important to realize that your home is also an investment. Being able to change your homeowner hat to …read more  

  • 16 Uses For a Dead Christmas Tree

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    Richard Clark/Getty ImagesMillions of trees are discarded after Christmas each year, but there are many ways to avoid sending them to the landfill.

    Throwing out a Christmas tree can be depressing. There’s nothing sadder than a prone, browning Christmas tree with a few strands of tinsel and decorations still on it, waiting for the garbage truck to pick it up.

    With a little work and some creativity, there are other uses for discarded Christmas trees than just sending them to the landfill. Here are 16 uses for a dead Christmas tree:

    1. Firewood. As we’ve mentioned before on uses for dead trees in general, old trees can make great firewood. Cut your old tree up, remove all of the tinsel and any other decorations, and use it as kindling in an outdoor fire pit. Make sure the tree is completely dry before burning it.

    2. Fish habitat. Some cities take old Christmas trees to local ponds, rivers and lakes and put them in the water for fish to hide from predators and have a warm spot to live. Don’t go dump your tree at the lake …read more