Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Now is a Great Time to Purchase a Home in NW Arkansas

It is a great time to purchase a home in NW Arkansas and here’s why:

The median home price in Northwest Arkansas is approximately $155,000 and there are well over 1,000 homes for sale for less than that. New homes, resale homes, condos, country settings, subdivisions close to work, and everything in between are available.

Prices have come down but may not come down much more. No one can accurately predict when prices will hit bottom and begin to climb upward again.

Interest rates are extremely low -- 6% or below for fixed-rate 30-year mortgages. Rates on 15-year mortgages are even lower.

Interest rates and sales prices of homes do not go up and down together so waiting to see if home prices will go lower could cost you more in the long run. For example, say you waited for the purchase price of a home to drop $10,000 but interest rates moved up by as little as one half of one point during this period. You would end up losing money because of the higher monthly mortgage payment you would be making over the life of the loan.

Rent payments can change substantially from year-to-year but a fixed-rate mortgage offers unbeatable stability.

A wide range of financing options is available for consumers in all price ranges. Lenders have plenty of money to loan to credit worthy homebuyers.

Many sellers are offering incentives to buy, such as help with closing costs or allowances for repairs.

Although local housing markets adjust periodically according to overall economic conditions, over the long term real estate has consistently appreciated.

Homeownership is a stepping-stone to personal financial security and is the single largest creator of wealth for Americans. Historically, home appreciation has risen 5-6% annually. At that rate, the value of a home doubles every 13 years.

Income tax incentives are considerable. The interest you pay on your mortgage and property taxes are deductible at income tax time.

Even better than the annual income tax deductions for interest and taxes is tax-free profit when you sell your home. Couples who own and live in their home for two years and then sell can keep up to $500,000 of the profit tax-free. (An unmarried owner can keep $250,000 profit tax-free.)

Tax-free profit can be repeated over and over. If the person or couple buys another home and lives in it home for at least two years, the same rules hold true when they sell again.

The intangible benefits of homeownership are considerable. Overall, homeownership strengthens communities. Homeowners tend to be active in charities, churches and neighborhood activities. Homeownership inspires civic responsibility, and homeowners are more likely to vote and get involved with local issues. Children of homeowners are generally better students, due in part to the stability in their lives.

All the above, plus the personal satisfaction of owning your own home should be more than enough to take action now. Homeownership is truly the cornerstone of the American way of life, and the fulfillment of the American dream.

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Clean Up or Pay Up

Bella Vista is the latest city in Northwest Arkansas to pass an ordinance to control unsightly and unsanitary conditions. (Bella Vista became a city only 18 months ago – before that the property owners association enforced similar rules.)

Bella Vista’s recent action means all NW Arkansas cities now have laws on the books that cover such things as front yards that have been taken over by weeds, junk, or inoperable vehicles.

With the number of unsold, unoccupied homes increasing the number of complaints has also gone up. No one wants to live next door or even a few houses down the street from an eyesore. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics; overgrown yards become havens for insects, rodents and slithery creatures that few people want around.

Cities usually enforce their regulations beginning with a warning letter that states a time limit to correct the problem. Citations and fines come after that. Sometimes a city will have the necessary work done and bill the property owner. The final straw is a lien placed on the property.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Alignment Plans Finalized for U. S. Hwy. 412 Bypass

Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department unveiled June 4 the proposed final alignment for the U. S. Hwy. 412 northern bypass around Springdale. This project has been talked about since 1996 and may now be one step closer to reality. The bypass would begin west of Tontitown and end east of Sonora (west of the White River bridge). An entrance/exit at U.S. 71B would be the only other access.

While the alignment seems closer to finalization, the subject of financing is far from solved. Current estimates are $415 million to build the bypass – and that doesn’t include an estimated $80 million to purchase land for right of way.

In summer of 2007, estimates were $310 million for construction and $60 million for right-of-way acquisitions. The increase costs are due to inflation, increased constructions costs the fact that some of the land has been developed recently.

The Highway Department has a total of $27 million available to begin purchasing right of way and expects to start that phase before the end of this year.

Who knows when and where the rest of the money will come from. Requests to the state legislature have fallen on deaf ears.

Anyone driving the section of U. S. Hwy 412 (Sunset Avenue) in Springdale is cognizant of the fact that a bypass is sorely needed. Tractor-trailer rigs are bumper to bumper alongside cars trying to access the many businesses lining the road. There are all kinds of businesses lining the road; motels and restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, pizzerias, second-hand stores, car lots, shoe stores, ice cream parlors, movie rental stores, and lots and lots of traffic lights. Delays and frustration are the norm.

The need for the bypass exists – the money doesn’t.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Fayetteville High School Update

The Fayetteville School Board, at its meeting May 29, 2008, voted 6 to 1 to offer to sell its 40-acre high school campus to University of Arkansas for $59 million. The offer is for land and buildings, including the high school, administrative offices, and sports facilities. At a meeting last Friday, U of A officials responded with a counter offer of $50 million. Terms and conditions would still need to be worked out.

Of course, the amount is subject to much discussion. Whether it appears too high or too low depends on which side of the fence people interviewed are on. From the U of A side, some feel that even $50 million is too high, given that substantial remodeling and refitting of the building will be required. From the School Board’s point of view and that of Buildsmart (an organization which favors keeping Fayetteville HS in its current location), the offer seems low.

Another issue from the U of A point of view is where the money to pay for it will come from. Some oppose adding to student fees to finance the purchase.

A sale of this magnitude is the largest either the U of A or Fayetteville School Board has ever undertaken. An appraisal commissioned by the district has placed the value of the property at $61.28 million, while another commissioned by the university put the price at $56.4 million.

If and when the sale is accepted, Fayetteville School Board will have many more crucial items to face before a new high school is built. First is location and second is funding. (I should have said first is funding because without that, location won’t matter.)

A new high school (and land) will cost somewhere around $110 million and inflation drives up the price every day. Even with $50 million in hand, a millage increase (between 3 and 5 mills) will have to be approved by the voters and that’s tough to do in Fayetteville.

In April the Fayetteville High School Select Committee 2 recommended that a new high school be built on a 73-acre site they refer to as Morningside (701 E. Huntsville Road). The school board has authorized the superintendent to explore that purchase for $5 million.

The board will also have to decide whether to sell 100 acres it owns in the northwest section of the district since it has now been eliminated as the site of the new high school.

The whole responsibility of whether, where, when, and how to build a new high school is complex at best. There are so many what ifs ---

Will the U of A and the Fayetteville School Board be able to negotiate a price agreeable to both sides?

What if U of A buys and voters deny a millage increase?

How large a millage increase will be needed?

Stay tuned for further details.

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Fayetteville Girl Going to the Olympics

At 16 years of age, Margaux Isaksen is an amazing young woman. The Fayetteville, Arkansas native has qualified to represent the U. S. at the 29th Olympic games in Beijing, China. She will compete in the modern pentathlon -- epee fencing, equestrian show jumping, swimming 200 meters, cross-country running 3,200 meters, and pistol shooting.

It’s unusual to have someone so young train for the triathlon, never mind excel in it. Isaksen did not start training fulltime until September 2007. Her original plan was to train for the 2012 Olympics but she has performed so well in recent months that she is now ranked second highest scoring American in the Modern Pentathlon World Cup Standings.

Only two competitors are permitted from each country. Isaksen’s teammate is 39-year-old Sheila Taormina.

Isaksen’s accomplishments give me more reasons to follow the Olympics this year. I wish her well.

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