Finding the Right House
Choosing The Right Neighborhood
As often as it has been said and as important as it is, we are amazed at how many buyers skip right over this most important step. Whether purchasing real estate for your primary residence – YOUR HOME – or for an investment, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of:
LOCATION – LOCATION – LOCATION
Why is location so important?
- It is permanent – You can change a lot of things about your house including moving walls, painting, updating kitchens and baths, etc. but the location is permanent.
- It is the first and single most important factor in determining the value of any given property – What value is a beautiful, 5,000 square foot restored Victorian home if it is located in a declining area with high crime and poor schools? Conversely, a fixer-upper in an appreciating neighborhood with desirable infrastructure, schools, low crime, etc. may be worth much more than you will have to pay for it after you put a little TLC into it.
- It is your base of operations – Whatever else you do in life, you always come back HOME. When looking at various neighborhoods, ask yourself the following questions:
- What will my commute to and from work be like? How much traffic will I encounter coming and going at the hours I will be traveling.
- What schools are in the district? This is important even if you do not have school age children because if/when you decide to sell, it will be important to a large number of potential buyers you’ll be trying to reach. The quality of the schools also affect the value of your home so it is to your benefit to know as much about them as possible. Duval County Schools, St Johns County Schools, Clay County Schools
- What is the crime like in the area? There are a number of different websites where you can check this information including Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
- How accessible are shopping centers, grocery stores, libraries, churches, entertainment and other places that are important to me?
- Do I prefer urban life, suburban life or country living?
- How much activity is there in the neighborhood at different times of the day and on different days of the week? Drive through the neighborhoods you are considering during the day, in the evening and on weekends to get a better “feel” for the neighborhood.
Choosing The Right Kind of House
When we say “the right kind of house” we don’t mean the “style” although that may be important to you also. ”Style” refers to Architecture such as Cape Cod, Victorian, Ranch, Colonial, etc.
By “kind of house” we are talking about:
- Single Family Detached
The kind of house you choose should reflect your needs and your lifestyle.
The kind of house you choose often depends on just how much common interest you want to share with your neighbors. For instance, condominium owners share common walls, common public areas, common amenities, etc. Residents aren’t required to maintain those common areas because maintenance (and insurance) is the responsibility of a management company via the Homeowners Association (HOA) paid for by monthly fees. While these fees may appear high at first glance, they are often expenses you would have anyway with a single family detached home.
There are advantages and disadvantages of each and which kind you choose will depend on your particular needs, not what someone else tells you, you ‘should’ choose.
Nobody knows you and your needs better than you so don’t let someone else talk you into making a decision you’ll not be happy with for the long term.
- The kind of building/ownership you choose has its own pros and cons.
- Learn all you can about HOAs. Some are stronger than others and some are more restrictive than others. Know what your needs are and choose to meet those needs.
- Do you prefer an existing pre-owned home or are is new construction more your style? There are advantages and disadvantages to each – we have had both over the years and are happy to share our experiences to help you decide.
- Decide what features and amenities are most important to you and your family. Here are a few questions to consider:
- Do you have pets or do you plan to get pets? If so, what kind and what will they require in a home?
- Is you family growing? Do you plan to have children? Do you have aging parents who may need to move in with you in the future? What needs/requirements might they have?
- How much and what kind of storage space do you need now? Might you need more in the near future?
- Do you want to make architectural changes in the future? If so, will the HOA allow for the changes you plan to make?