You can't escape reading the newspaper or watching the television without mention of the impact development is having on our community . To be sure, the strong economic climate has increased the demand for housing, spur red growth and expansion of business and afforded more people the opportunity to achieve the American Dream of owning property.
This "new" phenomenon has been dubbed "sprawl" by some folks. A result, there have been a number of proposals introduced designed to "preserve" farmland, reign in new development and , if some could have their way, halt future growth. There's a better way to deal with the issue -it's called "smart growth".
Smart growth is not an "all or nothing" issue. It means taking a long-range look at what's best for our community , in terms of both economic and social enrichment. For those of us in the real estate profession, smart growth is linked to our region's quality of life - sizing up demand for affordable housing, for schools, for adequate transportation systems and other community services that contribute to a well balanced community . It means coming up with a plan that includes as many interests as possible.
Any REALTOR will tell you that good quality of life is a selling point to both potential home -owners and business leaders. And a good quality of life doesn't come from unrealistic growth constraints that prices people out of entire communities, drive up homeowners' real estate taxes, and turn whole areas into "haves" and "have nots".
Balanced growth is very important to our community. The quality of life inherent is a com -munity affects the desirability , salability and value of homes. Remember that real estate practitioners don't just sell homes - we sell communities and neighborhoods. We are very concerned with preserving a high quality of life while recognizing the need for growth and development.
Community values include things such as easy access to transportation, good schools, attractive parks and recreation, libraries and facilities for social functions and enter tainment. A strong emplo yment base, clean air and pure drinking water are directly tied to wise growth policies. Without active participation for a wide cross-section of interests, decisions af fecting the entire community can be made that are not in the best interest of our community at large. As a result, it is critical for all residents - including REALTORS - to be actively involved in planning for future growth.
Real estate interests often find themselves in the front lines of the smart growth debate, trying to articulate a position that balances the potentially conflicting needs of maintaining the quality of communities through preservation of space and control of congestion, and allowing market forces to generate local growth.
The real estate industry - and in particular the Members of the Toledo Board of REALTORS - has been and will continue to be an active participant in discussions that will deter mine our community's quality of life for toda y and tomorrow.
Beware of Loans That Exceed Your Home's Value
We've all seen those oh-so-enticing flyers: Pay off all your bills! Consolidate your debts! No more high credit card interest rates! What's being advertised is a way for you to pay off your bills by refinancing your mortgage for more than the value of your home. Some lenders advertise these loans as "125 percent home loans".
Here's the way they work: You take out a loan for more than your home's value. So if your home is worth $100,000, for instance, the loan amount might be $125,000. You use some of the e xtra $25,000 to pa y off your credit card bills and the remaining amount on your boat loan.
Here's the catch, though: These loans don't come cheap. Typically, their rates are 14 percent or more, compared with traditional home loans now averaging about 8 percent. They generally can't be refinanced with traditional lenders at going market rates because they exceed the property's value.
Moreover, a big par t of the interest on these loans ma y not be deductib le, according to tax experts. The best advice I can give you: Beware of any home loan that exceeds your home's market value. Because in the course of paying off some nagging old bills, ultimately, you could lose the place you live. The risk just isn't worth it, and you'll be paying a high price in interest charges on the money besides.
Have questions about a home loan offer that sounds too good to be tr ue? It probably is. But talk to a REALTOR with your local Toledo Board of Realtors. REALTORS are real estate professionals who deal with home financing questions every day.