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B is for Blacksburg

by Desi Sowers

 

Bowl You Over!

B is for Blacksburg Virginia and for "bowl you over." This picturesque small town home of Virginia Tech University is known for academic accomplishments and bowl games. Since 1993, the Virginia Tech Hokies have played in 18 successive bowl games!  That is a record that would bowl anyone over! Last year we competed in the Orange Bowl and in 2012 we headed for New Orleans.

This January in a real bite-your- nails thriller, the University of Michigan narrowly defeated the Hokies as the Allstate Sugar Bowl Game that went into overtime.  Congratulations to the Hokies for a remarkable season!  We are proud to be the home of the Virginia Tech Hokies! To watch highlights of the Sugar Bowl go to http://www.hokiesports.com/football/#

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Town is Best Place in the U.S. to Raise Kids

 

With good schools, an affordable lifestyle, and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the backyard, Blacksburg, Va., is No. 1

More than half the population of Blacksburg, Va., is Virginia Tech students, so it may be easy to mistake this town of 41,383 as just another college town. Yet this small community, between the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains, also has the makings of a great place to raise children. Excellent schools draw many families to Blacksburg, which also has such amenities as a community center with sports, fitness, educational, and social activities; an indoor pool; and even a nine-hole, 54-acre municipal golf course.

 

“There’s very little crime. There are kids’ programs, green space, trails. It is a nice place to live and a nice place to raise kids. Everyone knows everyone. The weather is nice. The cost of living is not that high,” says Becky MacKenzie, a 34-year-old mother of three and a resident of Blacksburg since 2003.

Excellent schools, combined with an affordable cost of living, relatively low crime, and plentiful amenities lifted Blacksburg to first place in Businessweek.com’s sixth nationwide ranking of best places in each state in the U.S. to raise kids.

MacKenzie says that Blacksburg can seem small at times unless you are a true “Hokie,” or Virginia Tech fan, and there is little interaction with communities beyond the university—similar to many college towns—but “everyone thinks it’s a fabulous place to live.”

With help from Bloomberg Rankings, Businessweek.com evaluated 4,169 places with a crime index less than 10 percent above the national average, populations between 1,000 and 50,000 people, and median family income within 20 percent of the state median, using data from real estate information firm Onboard Informatics.

We evaluated educational factors (such as school scores, the number of public and private schools, and colleges), economic factors (including median family income, expenses, job growth, and unemployment), crime, amenities (such as child day-care centers, zoos, aquariums, museums, theaters, recreation centers, green space), air quality, and ethnic diversity. School performance, expenditures, and income were given the most weight.

After Blacksburg, Arlington, Neb., ranked second, and Morton Grove, Ill., placed third in the country.

East San Gabriel, a community near Los Angeles, took the top spot in the most populous state, California. In Texas, the second-largest state, the Austin suburb of Wells Branch beat out competitors. The best place in New York: Hampton Manor, a suburb of Albany.

Blacksburg’s large university population brings its median age to a low 22 years, but the town is also home to thousands of families. About one-third of households are family households, including 13.3 percent that have children under age 18, according to 2010 Census data.

Blacksburg also is more educated than most: About two-thirds of residents ages 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and nearly 40 percent have a graduate or professional degree, the Census figures indicate.

 

In the No. 2 town in this year’s ranking, Arlington, Neb., 24.3 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and in the No. 3 town, Morton Grove, Ill., 40.7 percent, as the U.S. Census measures it. Median family income in these places is $70,881 and $83,601, respectively, Onboard estimates.

Blacksburg has a large middle-income population: According to Onboard, median family income, at $83,670, is slightly higher than the state median, $72,476, and is also higher than in such nearby communities as Merrimac and Christiansburg. The median home list price in the town was $234,900 in October, according to real estate website Zillow.com.

The town’s economy relies heavily on Virginia Tech, Blacksburg’s largest employer with 1,306 full-time instructional faculty, who make an average salary of $87,400. Other employment hubs include the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, which has more than 140 high-tech companies with more than 2,200 employees, and Blacksburg Industrial Park, home to manufacturing and research-and-development businesses.

Blacksburg is also home to such tech startups as Modea, a fast-growing advertising agency founded by Virginia Tech grads in 2006, and e-mail hosting company Webmail.us, which was acquired by Rackspace in 2007.

To develop the economy further, the town, university, and economic development organizations are trying to expand the local technology industry, taking advantage of talent coming from the school’s engineering program. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, for example, aims to “develop a growing, prestigious research park for high-technology companies” and has an incubator program called VT KnowledgeWorks that creates companies based on VT-developed technology.

In addition to the benefits of a college town, Blacksburg provides the blessings of a family-friendly community. Data from Onboard Informatics reveal that the town has some of the best schools in Virginia. Part of the Montgomery County School System, it is home to seven public schools—five elementary, one middle, and one high school—as well as several private schools, day-care centers, and preschools.

Gilbert Linkous Elementary School, for instance, scores well above average on standardized math and reading exams and is among the few in the state to receive a top score of 10 from Greatschools.org, a nonprofit that provides school performance data. Students at Prices Fork Elementary and Harding Avenue Elementary also test above average, according to data from the Virginia Education Dept.

Blacksburg also has many recreational options. A downtown improvement project recently added wider sidewalks, a traffic circle, and new trees. Green space is abundant, with 400 acres of parkland in town, plus the Appalachian Trail and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests nearby. Sports at Blacksburg’s community recreation center include basketball, volleyball, and soccer, along with a fitness center, a computer lab, and social activities such as senior programs. And while the memory of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting remains fresh for many, the town in fact has a relatively low crime rate.

Blacksburg celebrates holidays with music and fireworks on Independence Day, a 10,000-egg hunt on Easter, and games on Halloween.

Says MacKenzie: “People in Blacksburg are very passionate about Blacksburg.”

 

By 
updated 11/15/2011 11:00:00 PM ET

Own Your Own Private Getaway on 45 Acres

by Desi Sowers

 

Rockin' Chair View

Panoramic scenes are the norm from every living space of this charming home.

Own your own mountain of 45 acres conveniently located just 10 miles to downtown Blacksburg or 20 miles to Roanoke.

Home has recently been totally renovated and boasts beautiful flooring, skylights and walls of windows to take in the views of Catawba Valley.

Enjoy relaxing on the gorgeous covered porch, hiking, mountain biking or 4 wheeling - this home will be your private retreat from the hustle and bustle!

What Does The Economic Stimulus Package Mean To You?

by Desi Sowers, REALTOR, ABR, GRI, SRS, CRS
 

Since passed by overwhelming Capitol Hill majorities in January, there has been much talk regarding the economic stimulus package. Yes, it will cost $168 billion, but what does it actually do for individuals?

The stimulus package is designed to help the country moderate the worst effects of a slowing economy and perhaps even avoid a recession. The idea is to encourage spending and with more spending to increase economic activity. While the theory looks good on paper, it will likely take months or years to know if it actually works.

From a personal perspective the January stimulus package has five major components that will immediately impact individuals with an interest in real estate.

1. Checks from Uncle Sam: According to the White House, taxpayers can receive rebates of up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples. A minimum of $300 per person and $600 per couple will be available to those with at least $3,000 of earned income. This relief will be available to everyone with adjusted gross income less than $75,000 for singles and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. The rebates will be phased out for taxpayers above those income thresholds.

2. Additional rebates will be mailed out for those with children. Everyone eligible for a rebate would also receive an additional $300 per child. For example, this would mean up to $1,800 of tax relief for an eligible couple with two children.

3. Reduced Income Taxes for Low-Income Wage Earners: The legislation says that 2008 taxes will be eliminated on the first $6,000 of taxable income for individual taxpayers and the first $12,000 of taxable income for couples. The tax rate used to be 10 percent on such income.

4. FHA mortgage loan limits will more than double in some cases. The usual limit in high-cost areas in the lower 48 states will rise from $362,790 to $729,750. Such financing allows buyer to purchase homes with 3 percent down.

5. Conventional loan limits will increase. The maximum size of a "conforming" loan will go from $417,000 to $729,750.

While the benefits for individuals look good, there are some caveats to consider.

First, those rebate checks are a one-time deal. While the government hopes that individuals will use the money for spending, many recipients will use the cash to pay down debts. Paying off bills can be a good use of your cash because it can mean lower monthly costs and better credit scores, thus lowering interest costs when you borrow to finance a home or car.

Second, if you want to buy or refinance with the new class of "conventional jumbo" mortgages, be aware that the FHA and conventional loan limits have only been raised for 2008. It's possible that the old limits will be reinstated in January 2009, so if you want a larger mortgage start planning now.

Third, while the conventional loan limit applies nationwide, the maximum amount you can borrow under the FHA program varies by location. In other words, the biggest loans will not be available everywhere. For specifics regarding your area, please speak with a mortgage counselor.

Displaying blog entries 61-64 of 64

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