Most new home consumers these days go to a great deal of effort to make smart decisions when purchasing a new home. There is more information available to consumers than ever before. The power of the internet makes decision making more complex than ever. And yet, with the right considerations in mind, consumers can make great choices.
Home buyers’ circumstances vary, so the right options for one will not likely be the same for another. For instance, first-time home buyers are usually looking for a home in a more modest price range, but with plenty of room for a growing family. A family with teenage children will have different priorities than empty-nesters.
Everyones’ needs are distinct, and constantly changing. Often those changes are predictable and should be considered seriously by a buyer when deciding what kind of home is right for them. Obviously, how long a homeowner plans to live in a home determines just how critical the consideration of change should be, but change can happen whether predicted or not. With that in mind all decisions should be made considering the needs of the present, and the future.
In this series of posts, we will address a number of considerations we feel are important to most home buyers. We will be covering a variety of topics including location, type of construction, choice of builders, potential for resale, and architectural styles. These considerations should be given different weight depending on your particular circumstances.
School districts, lot sizes, lot and home values, availability of utilities and municipal services (i.e. police or fire protection), the existence of deed restrictions, proximity to shopping and medical facilities or resale potential are all affected by location. These are just a few important things to consider. You may come up with other points to ponder, but consider these first.
School District – Certainly school districts are more important to young families than families with college aged children or no children at all. But, whether you have children or not, you would want to consider a school district if for no other reason than potential resale. A good school district is high on most people’s list of consideration when it comes to buying a home.
Space Requirements – Owners of a garden home, with minimal yard maintenance and small pets will have different space requirements than someone who loves to garden, or perhaps plans to keep horses. A three-car garage demands a bigger lot whether in-town or in the country. Large pets require more room than smaller pets. Certainly, children would be less comfortable in the garden home than on an acreage where they have room to run and play.
Premium Lot – More expensive neighborhoods are great for resale, but they cost more going in, and the taxes and maintenance costs are an ongoing consideration.
Many buyers know how much they plan on spending for their home even before making any other decision. In such cases, that person would want to choose a neighborhood made up of other similarly priced homes. For instance, if one wanted to spend $250k for their new home they might consider building or buying an existing home in a neighborhood in which homes range from $200k to $350k. In that range they would find themselves toward the lower end in value of the other homes, but not the least home in the area. This ensures the likelihood that they will find good comparables for any appraisal considerations.
We recently contracted to add a room addition for a customer we built a new home for a few years ago. Their home originally had a 2-car garage, 3-bedrooms and was generally smaller than many of the homes in the neighborhood. They wanted to add a game room, bathroom and another garage bay. Had they already been one of the largest homes in the area, that might not have worked so well. As it was, the additional space worked very well. The overall value of their home was greatly enhanced because they had room to grow and still not exceed the averages for the neighborhood. It’s likely they would recover all the expense of the additional space should they ever decide to sell. Good decisions in choosing a location paid off well in their case.
City v. Country – Remember the old television series “Green Acres”? She loved the city life. The shopping, the people, and the security of neighbors all gave her the peace of mind it took to be happy. Those were the same things that drove him crazy. He wanted the solitude of a country-life, the freedom to do what he wanted with his property, and the self-reliance he had always dreamed about. And that drove her crazy. We all related to at least one of them, if not both.
Actually, city locations really do offer certain benefits. Police and fire departments are truly important to some homeowners. They contribute to their sense of safety. Medical facilities might be critically important for some. Water and sewer services mean no well or septic system will have to be installed. Even electric and gas service cannot be taken for granted. Some remote building sites may require very expensive service lines to be installed before service can be provided. In most cases, all of these services are provided in a municipal setting.
Acreage sites or farm & ranch sites have their own benefits, but sometimes have few of the services mentioned above. The peace and quiet of country living, the lack of deed restrictions against livestock or large out-buildings, and wide open spaces that kids love all make-up country living. In the cases of some country developments, paved streets and utilities might be present. If so, the lot costs are usually more in line with city lot prices, especially once the cost of a well and septic system is added in. But they offer a nice balance between city living and true country homes.
Another very important consideration of city v. country homes is the resale factor. The numbers alone indicate there are more homeowners interested in living in-town rather than out. Those same numbers would also indicate there are fewer homes available for someone who is interested in buying a country home. Still, generally speaking, there might be less demand for country homes simply because fewer people in the market can seriously consider them as viable choices.
Value of Neighboring Property – There is another vital consideration when it comes to location. Appraisals have become more and more important when it comes to obtaining mortgages. Regardless of the price a buyer is willing to pay or a seller is willing to accept for a piece of real estate, if the property will not appraise for that amount, no mortgage company will grant a loan to make the purchase possible. Appraisals mean everything when it comes to making a deal happen.
More than we like to admit, appraisals are all too reliant on one simple equation:
Price per foot x number of square feet = value
That simple equation means that without regard to a lot of very real factors the value of a home can be determined by the sales price of the neighbors’ homes. Unfortunately, such a simple equation ignores many things that might seem relevant to a consumer. There is very little anyone can do about this fact of life. One thing that can be done is to be aware of the fact, and give serious consideration to where you locate your home. If your home is surrounded by lower valued homes, know that is not a good thing. If your home is surrounded by other similar floor plans, its value will be limited by those other identical plans. This often happens with tract-homes, and is not all together a bad thing, but it is a fact. The significance of this fact will depend on whether you are buying or selling. We will explain more on this point in the next post.
We hope you benefited from this post. Expect much more in the follow-up posts about types of homes, choice of builders, potential for resale, and architectural styles.