Your home: The possibility of a new Prairie Village park and its effect on real estate

Homestead SignWhat an exciting opportunity! Really it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city. I am referring to the potential purchase by the city of Prairie Village of the green space (Mission Road frontage) that is being offered for sale at Homestead Country Club.

In full disclosure I am a member of Homestead and I live on Homestead Drive just south of the club. It is certainly in my family’s best interest that the city establish a park just north of us. I would love to be able to walk my boys over to a park. Currently we have to walk to Peterson Park in Fairway or to McCrum Park on Roe Avenue.

When I really gave it some thought, the north corridor of Mission Road in Prairie Village does not have a park to call its own. The other areas of the city have either a concentration of small parks or have the benefit of a larger park such as Porter Park or Franklin Park. The land that is for sale at Homestead would offer an opportunity for a spacious park, just shy of six acres.

Let’s get back to Porter and Franklin Parks for a minute. This week I researched the real estate trends in the surrounding neighborhoods of these two palatial parks. I found that homes within a half mile radius of the parks sold for (on average) 103 percent of the original list price. Compare that to the average home in the area that is currently selling for 96 percent of the original list price. That is a 7 percent swing! Might that have something to do with the beautiful parks that these homes can brag of being within walking distance? You better believe it.

The homes surrounding Franklin Park (the city’s second largest park at 11.12 acres) sell for an average of $657,000 compared to the city average of $257,000. The subdivisions in that area such as Town and Country, West Riding, and Red Fox offer some of the most impressive homes that the city has to offer. Homeowners are willing to invest top dollar in these homes due to the fact that it is located in a highly coveted area, and Franklin Park is a big reason for that draw. Just take a look at the real estate listings in the area and you will see over and over again, “walking distance to Franklin Park.” Lastly, higher property values result in higher real estate tax revenues. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Franklin Park is constantly buzzing with joggers, baseball teams, impromptu touch football games and families enjoying the awesome playground and pavilions. Isn’t that what community is all about? In my mind, that is what makes Prairie Village so unique. Wouldn’t we want that communal setting in all parts of the city?

I revisited the Prairie Village Vision this week and the Master Plan for the Parks and Recreation Department that was adopted in 2008. Please read this excerpt from the Master Plan:

Regardless of future opportunities or intentions to increase park land in the city, it will be important to establish a Park Land Fund with which to pursue a land purchase when the opportunity arises. The under-served areas of the city do indeed warrant serious discussion for new parks and finding opportunities to expand the smaller existing parks is also an important consideration. As with other elements of the community, be it housing or commercial development, the land-locked nature of Prairie Village provides limited growth opportunities for parks. Thus, the most effective response is to focus on making the most of what is already here, and seeking to add to the park land inventory as opportunities arise in the future.

Isn’t this the growth opportunity that the city acknowledges only comes once in a lifetime?

This week we are wrapping up my son’s first year at Prairie Elementary. What a whirlwind kindergarten year that we have had. On Monday, Miss Beaudet (a legendary Prairie teacher) orchestrated an event in the Prairie Elementary garden. Miss Beaudet was one of the teachers responsible for creating the Prairie garden. She is a remarkable lady. I was fortunate to be able to man one of ten stations that Miss Beaudet had set up to reinforce what the kindergartners had learned about nature and the outdoors. You should have seen the joy on their faces as they made their way around the garden. One station was set up to make a pledge to protect our environment. Another was set up to create birdhouses to hang under some shade trees and then to lay down in the grass and admire the trees. These kids ran around smiling throughout the entire activity. For them, admiring nature is just a way of life and I strongly believe that in a world that struggles to prioritize mother earth it is our job to seize this opportunity to protect our fleeting green space for them.

Your home: When my home sells, will there be one for me to buy?

“When my home sells, will there be one for me to buy?” This is a reasonable question and a valid concern. A concern, I believe, that is preventing many, many sellers from experiencing the joy of today’s market.

In most parts of town, a seller’s market still exists. Sellers are receiving multiple offers, homes are selling very quickly, and in most cases the seller is naming his terms. Sellers have only dreamed of a market this good.

At the same time another parallel universe exists for buyers. All of the circumstances that I just named that make it great for sellers also make it challenging to be a buyer. When sellers receive multiple offers, only one buyer gets the call that they got the house. The others are left disappointed. Because homes are selling as soon as they are listed, buyers are struggling to keep up. And when sellers are naming their terms they are also working with who they feel is the strongest buyer.

So let’s get back to the question: “Will there be a home for me to buy?” The answer is yes. Please let me explain.

Today’s market is a skill-based market. In order to feel comfortable selling your home today, you need to know that your Realtor has the skills that it takes to win in this market. Skills like knowing how to draft a winning offer, a constant and immediate awareness of all new housing inventory, and the ability to coach you into the best potential home buyer that you can be. Not to mention the tenacity and the stamina to keep up with the fast pace.

Succeeding in today’s market is also about setting proper expectations. When buyers and sellers know what to expect, they don’t have as many fears concerning the market.

Most potential sellers are feeling the itch to sell because they have a need for something more when it comes to their home. Or maybe it’s a dream that is pulling them into the market. Well I say dream big! Has there ever been a time when you had to let go of something to get what you want or to get where you needed to be? Well, this time is like that time. I liken it to the monkey bars that we all used to play on as kids. To get from one side to the next, what had to happen? You had to let go of one hand to swing it forward to get to the next bar. Well, it is time to let go again and swing on into the market. Don’t get left hanging on the wrong side of the monkey bars.

One last thing: When a great home for you does show up one day, and you are competing for it, do you think that seller would rather accept an offer from someone who had a home to sell or someone who had cash in hand and coming to them because their house had already sold? Of course, the cash in hand buyer will win every time. If you want to show a seller how committed and motivated you are you must sell your home first. In a low inventory market, the goal is to eliminate any potential objections that a seller might have of you as their buyer.

Your home: Realtors giving where we live

KW Red DayI am so very proud to be a part of a company like Keller Williams Realty and yesterday was a prime example of why. Yesterday was RED (Renew-Energize-Donate) DAY for Keller Williams agents all over the world. Yes that is right, Keller Williams went global about two years ago. The intent of RED DAY is for our Realtors to give back to the communities that support our businesses. It is one thing to help a homeowner sell a home or to help a potential buyer purchase a home. But to give of your time to support a community effort that needs and deserves your support is extremely rewarding and humbling I would like to share our story from yesterday.

In 2013, our office in Prairie Village became aware of Sleepyhead Beds during one of our charity efforts. In 2014, we selected their organization as our RED DAY partner. Yesterday a little less than 50 of our agents and support staff descended upon Sleepyhead Beds.

We chose Sleepyhead Beds because of their incredible cause: to provide children who are currently sleeping on the floor with a bed. That’s right, children sleeping on the floor. Can you imagine how restless sleep must be for these kids? And how that lack of sleep then affects them in all aspects of their lives like school, sports, and their overall health? Sleepyhead Beds shares on their website that one in 42 children in Kansas City sleep on hard floors, on sofas or in cars.

Our team had the joy of working yesterday with SHB’s Director of Operations, Melissa Evans. I would guess that she is about 5’2″ and every inch of her is full of energy and joy. And her passion for these kids is beautiful. I asked Melissa what it is that she loves most about her job and she shared, “It is the joy on a kids face when they receive their own bed. It is like they just got an Xbox.”

I stuck to Melissa’s side yesterday because I could tell that she so appreciated all of our efforts and I wanted to make sure that I did everything that I could to help. Many of us cleaned and organized their warehouse where they store and sort the mattresses and bedding. Several of our group picked up moving trucks and delivered beds to kids in need or picked up mattresses from donors. I knew it was going to be a great day when Melissa started our morning announcing that we were going to get 53 kids off of the floor today. That simple statement struck me to my core.

Later in the day, I asked Melissa to share with me a favorite story from her Sleepyhead Beds experiences. Here is what she said: “A couple of weeks ago, one of our volunteer groups brought a bed to a young boy. He was so excited to receive the bed that he immediately tore open the bedding bag, made his bed, and then jumped up and down on it announcing that he was going to take four naps that day. That is why I believe so strongly in what we do here.”

I left yesterday’s event so thankful for people like Melissa and her organization. I was also very thankful for the humbling experience. As a dad, I cannot imagine my boys not getting adequate sleep because they were sleeping on the floor. Lastly, I left yesterday so proud of my office and how they gave of their time to support this beautiful organization.

If you too would like to support Sleepyhead Beds, please visit their website. I asked Melissa what is the most helpful to their organization and she said that funds are the most needed currently to keep their non-profit going. You can also donate previously used beds or new beds of course. If you donate a bed via the website, they will come and pick it up. You can donate bedding and pillows at any Sleep One location.

Your home: School boundaries and their effect on real estate values

Westwood_View_ElementaryAll you have to say is “possible school boundary changes” or “proposed school closings” and the emotions start to run high. And understandably so. We have had clients purchase a home specifically because of the elementary, middle, or high school.

School boundaries and school attendance are certainly a moving target. Because all school districts are big businesses, they are constantly looking at budget and attendance numbers. The challenge is that behind those budget and attendance numbers are real people.

I am sure many of you remember the most recent boundary change when the south boundary for Shawnee Mission East High School was moved from 103rd Street to 95th Street. That change caused a tremendous uproar. Many parents who had graduated from SM East were furious that their kids would not be able to attend their alma mater due to the boundary change. As soon as the rumors hit the street of the proposed boundary change, we saw real estate signs popping up between 95th and 103rd. Residents were defecting north of 95th Street in anticipation of the change. This reaction, in my opinion, was more about a sense of belonging and a loyalty to one’s high school than for any other reason. If you do the research, both SM East and SM South are highly regarded schools with impressive records.

I probably shouldn’t even bring it up, but when the Mission Valley Middle School closing was proposed the local residents were again up in arms. As a proud Prairie Elementary Panther dad, I think I understand why. Although the parents are the voices in a school closing or boundary change debate, it is the children who are affected. And when something affects your kids, you come to their defense. Most parents are willing to fight for a sense of normalcy for their kids.

One last example. Do you remember a couple of years ago when the school district was discussing the possibility of closing Westwood View? Again, the neighborhood united to challenge the closure and eventually it was dropped. So let’s pretend for a minute that Westwood View had closed. How would that have affected the city of Westwood? My answer would be that it would have had a dramatic impact on the neighborhood.

Westwood View is nestled in the heart of the city and supports a strong sense of community for Westwood. Westwood is so walkable that its residents are able to experience a setting that does not often exist in today’s world: a short stroll for residents to the local elementary school. A value cannot be placed on this experience.

I have shared before that my family lives on Homestead Drive in Indian Fields just north of Prairie Elementary. The highlight of my day is walking our kindergartner to school in the morning and then often walking him home in the afternoon. Many of my neighbors feel the same way. And how does that affect the real estate market? One example is that the last three homes sold on my street have sold with multiple offers their first day on the market. Another example is that “tear downs” are popping up all over the place. Buyers are purchasing lots with existing homes on them (for as much as $350,000) and then tearing them down to build a new home.

Great local schools support local real estate values and improve buyer confidence. Both of which help to increase tax revenue.

If Westwood View had closed I am confident that it would have had a negative impact on home values and on the overall desirability of the neighborhood. When home values are less, tax revenues are less. A loss in tax revenue certainly doesn’t do anything to help improve a city. Quite the contrary, actually.

So let’s look at Westwood today. The housing inventory is at an all-time low. Approximately eight homes are selling in Westwood each month and there are currently only four homes for sale. The rest are under contract. Also, our team is proud to have set a new record in Westwood recently by selling the highest priced resale property to sell in MLS history at $480,000. That same home sold for $425,000 in 2006. I am confident that the existence of Westwood View Elementary has helped Westwood continue to be a highly sought-after community.

My hope is that any further discussions concerning boundary changes or school closings are to be focused on long term solutions with strong consideration given to housing trends. Young families re-investing in the neighborhoods around local schools can only improve the stability of that neighborhood and foster a sense of community that does not often exist in today’s world.