Preparing for a Hot Housing Market

(Sponsored Post)

Homes are flying off of the market—at least that’s the prediction for 2017. According to Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson, “We expect 2017 to break the 2016 record as the fastest market on record. Homes stayed on the market an average of 52 days before going under contract in 2016, the shortest time recorded since Redfin began keeping track in 2009.”

Record number of sales

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors® Housing Forecast 2017 report agrees; 2016 marked the highest level of homes sold in ten years. It also noted that the sale of multifamily units, such as condominiums, townhomes and twin homes set an all-time record.

Not enough inventory to meet demand

This record number of sales increases home prices, notes the report. “Utah’s rapid demographic growth has created what appears to be a housing shortage. For the first time in 40 years, the increase in households exceeds the number of new housing units. Consequently, all segments of the housing market report very strong demand and insufficient supply.”

Be prepared and move quickly

If you are one of the thousands of people wanting to buy a home this year, there are some important ways you can prepare yourself in a competitive environment:

  1. Select a reputable realtor who is familiar with your purchase area location. A professional realtor can often negotiate better pricing and inclusions, plus they help to keep your deal moving.
  2. Get pre-qualified with your lender of choice. A pre-qualification letter gives you more clout with buyers, especially if you get into a multiple offer situation.
  3. Choose a lender that can meet tight contract deadlines as timing can be everything in the current market. Many credit unions offer excellent rates and service on home loans. Mountain America Credit Union even offers an exclusive First-Time Homebuyer Program which helps members with as little as $1,000 down.
  4. Consider using Mountain America’s Quick CloseProgram to get the deal done faster. Quick Close is a secure electronic mortgage process that lets you to conveniently manage your closing documents from anywhere.

Follow these tips to make your home buying experience a positive one in this competitive market.

Mountain America Credit Union can be a big part of that positive experience—we have an amazing mortgage program including knowledgeable experts who can guide you through the entire process; a multitude of products with something for everyone’s financial situation; and a helpful staff that want nothing more than to answer your questions and get you the information you need for the life of your mortgage—and beyond!

For more information on mortgages or other financial questions, contact Mountain America Credit Union.

Bryan Packer is the AVP Public Relations at Mountain America Credit Union.

Mountain America Credit Union is a financial sponsor of National PTA and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Tell Congress to #STOPCutsToClassrooms

Our public schools are at a crisis point. Federal funding for public education has remained at 2% of the federal budget for decades, despite the increase in public school enrollment and the rising cost of education resources and services. This disparity between funding and actual cost means that Congress has essentially made cuts to classroom budgets across the nation.

These overall classroom funding cuts couldn’t be coming at a worse time. Today’s classrooms are more in need of funding than ever—most public-school students are now from low-income families, yet federal spending for high-poverty schools has decreased by more than 8% in recent years. There are also more students with special needs in our nation’s schools than ever before, but funding to serve these students has also decreased.

Congress must agree on the federal budget by Oct. 1, 2017. With restrictions on how much the government can spend in fiscal year 2018, there is a strong possibility that funding for education will be cut.

Already this year, President Donald Trump proposed cutting $9.2 billion. More recently, the U.S. House of Representatives proposed a cut of $2.4 billion. Both proposed cuts would be extremely damaging to public schools that already struggle to give students the education they deserve.

All PTA members and education advocates must take a stand. Tell your friends and family to demand that Congress “STOP Cuts to Classrooms” and invest more than 2% in public education before the Oct. 1, 2017 deadline.

One way to spread the word is by doing the National PTA #STOPCutsToClassrooms social media challenge. It’s easy!

  1. First, sign the #STOPCutsToClassrooms petition
  2. Then, take a picture and/or videoof yourself holding the “I signed the petition to #STOPCutsToClassrooms” official sign and post the image on your social media platforms.
  3. Finally, tag up to three friends to encourage them to do the same.

For those who have already signed the petition and taken the challenge, please continue to participate in Funding Fridays every Friday until September 29. Also stay tuned for the release of a #STOPCutsToClassrooms letter to Congress in September.

For more information about the #STOPCutsToClassrooms campaign and to learn more about the state of federal funding for education programs, visit PTA.org/STOPCuts.

Joshua Westfall is the government affairs manager at National PTA.

Becoming a National PTA School of Excellence

Have you ever wondered what PTAs have done to help their schools become nationally-recognized Schools of Excellence? Check out how these PTAs made a tremendous impact on continuous school improvement through the School of Excellence program. Enroll your PTA in the 2017-18 School of Excellence program now thru October 1 at PTA.org/Excellence.

Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary School PTA – FL

Through the School of Excellence program, the Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary School PTA created the Kindness Project with the mission to foster kindness and respect in our student body by engaging students, parents and faculty alike. All students worked together during their art classes to create art while focusing on 8 core values: Citizenship, Cooperation, Responsibility, Integrity, Fairness, Kindness, Respect and Honesty. Furthermore, families were encouraged to work one-on-one with their children at home by coming up with examples on how they could be kind at school.

The PTA communicated this program by reaching out to all faculty members via emails and educating the faculty at their Faculty Meetings. Parents and students were sent home “kindness contracts” to fill out and work on together. “Kindness Necklaces” were given out to all students “caught” being kind in the classroom and during lunch. Each week, winners were chosen by teachers and faculty members and children were asked to make a special appearance on the school’s television stations so that they could be recognized for their kind acts. At the close of school year, the classes with the most participation throughout the process were awarded with a cookie party. The Kindness Project was so successful that the pilot event will become a permanent program at the school.

Thomas B. Chinn PTA – MO

As a Title 1 school with 41% free and reduced families, Chinn Elementary PTA chose the goal of increasing access to the arts so that all of their students had access, regardless of their economic situation. The PTA met one of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, Collaborating with Community, by making connections with a local ballet school to host workshops for the students. The ballet school introduced the history of ballet and demonstrated ballet moves.  The students were then challenged to do moves themselves, gifting many of the students their very first dance class.  At the end of the week, the ballet studio performed the Nutcracker Ballet for the whole school community, including family members, again, bringing the arts to many whom may never see a ballet. One of the students summed up the experience perfectly: “I’ve NEVER seen a ballet before…. and it was BEAUTIFUL!”

Floranada Elementary PTA – FL

The Floranada Elementary PTA worked to increase male role model participation by creating the Floranada Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program enlisting male family role models to volunteer at least one full school day during the year. The program was promoted by having the Watch D.O.G. and the students he represented wear designated t-shirts during the volunteer day and having their picture taken for a Wall of Fame. The Watch D.O.G. started the day by greeting families in the car line at drop off, then joining in on classroom activities, specials and even field trips, and closing out the day with the children at dismissal. Most importantly, the Watch D.O.G.s were encouraged to pay particular attention to children who demonstrate a need for male role model interaction and act as a mentor to those children. The program was so successful that it increased exponentially by mid-year through student recommendation.

Johns Creek High School PTSA – GA

Johns Creek High School supported student success through a College and Career Fair, with over 60 college representatives to provide hundreds of students information to assist them in their college and career planning.  They welcomed all of our diverse families by displaying a welcome banner created by the PTSA.  JCHS PTSA spoke up and advocated for every child by holding registration drives, attending PTA Advocacy Day at the Capitol and hosting a Voter Information Night and Candidate forum open to the entire community. JCHS PTSA collaborated with their community by bringing in community members to speak with students during the PTSA sponsored Red Ribbon Week (to address issues of drug and alcohol abuse) and for Wellness Week (to promote mindfulness and stress management).

Enroll now to start the process in becoming a School of Excellence! Visit our website at PTA.org/Excellence, contact Excellence@PTA.org or call (800) 307-4782 for more information.

Amy Weinberg, MA is the Associate Manager of Programs & Partnerships at National PTA and serves as the primary contact for the 2017-18 School of Excellence program.

Start the School Year Right With Healthy Habits

(Sponsored Post) Help Protect Your Children From Germs This Back-To-School Season

With school bells ringing and teachers diving into their lesson plans, help your children focus on what matters most during the school year – learning! As part of the Healthy Habits Program, Lysol alongside the National Parent Teacher Association hope to spread the word on healthy habits, starting with simple yet effective tips to help keep germs at bay and help prevent your children from getting sick, whether in the classroom or at home!

Set your children up for a successful and healthy school year with the following tips:

  • Kick-Off The Year and The Germs: Start the 2017 school year by stocking classrooms with disinfectant cleaning product. Using Lysol products, such as Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Disinfectant Spray, kill bacteria and viruses on hard surfaces in your home and classroom. If you’re one of many parents who collect Box Tops for your children’s school, you’re in luck! Now all Lysol products are eligible for Box Tops for Education redemption, so you can continue to help earn cash for your school.
  • Get A Good Night Sleep: With homework, soccer practice and science projects filling up your children’s schedule, it’s important that they get an adequate amount of sleep each night. A good rule of thumb is 9 to 12 hours for children ages 6-12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[1]
  • Reinforce Healthy Habits: The third week of September marks Healthy Habits Week. Use this time as your reminder to start the school year off on a healthy note by teaching your children to use proper etiquette for sneezing and coughing to help keep sick days to a minimum! Make sure they’re frequently handwashing at home and at school too –use warm water and soap to create a nice lather – scrubbing for at least 20 seconds!

Visit Lysol.com for more information and tips to help keep your family healthy and always check with your school before bringing products to the classroom.

 

Rory Tait is the Marketing Director at Lysol. He drives the Lysol Healthy Habits campaign, a program focused on educating parents across the country on the importance of healthy habits and good hygiene practices.

Box Tops for Education and associated words and designs are trademarks of General Mills, used under license. ©General Mills

[1] CDC.gov. “Are you getting enough sleep?” (April 24, 2017)