He’s the rare homebuyer who goes through the loan approval, closing, and move-in process and thinks, “Yeah, I’m 100% successful.” Nearly three-quarters of people said they regret at least one thing about buying their home, according to a recent survey by HomeLight. Twelve percent of respondents said they wished they had thought more about the location, and another 12 did not care about the political climate in their new area.
One of the reasons buyers often end up disappointed or disappointed is that in today’s tight and competitive housing market, many families feel compelled to compromise, cross their fingers and hope for the best. . Buyers need to make offers quickly rather than carefully considering all the things outside the home that will affect their satisfaction with the purchase.
“When buying a home, it’s easy to focus almost exclusively on offers, mortgages and inspection reports and overlook [what it will be like] live in this environment,” says Katherine Loflin, Ph.D., consultant and expert in local sciences. “I liken it to focusing on the marriage and not the marriage. It creates trouble.
As the housing market is expected to calm down in the coming months, buyers should have more leeway to consider the big picture before making an offer. But even with less pressure to bid, experts say many buyers typically overlook things that can significantly affect their happiness in their new home. Here’s what to consider to make sure you choose the right home for you and your family.
Condominiums and gated communities are often governed by a owners association (HOA). Depending on the location and the amenities they cover, HOA fees can be more than your mortgage. Some HOAs can be relatively hands-off, with modest dues covering grounds maintenance. Others may have strict rules regarding, for example, whether children’s play structures are allowed in your garden, what kind of pets you are allowed to have, or what size and style your mailbox can have. . It’s likely that any major improvements to your home will need to be approved by the HOA.
HOAs are generally subject to state laws, but can usually charge homeowners whatever they want in dues. Theresa Raymond, a real estate broker in Sevierville, Tennessee, says buyers should be aware that “HOA dues go up and may not be the same at year-end as when you made the purchase.” They could also vote to collect additional fees for special community projects.
Ask if the HOA of a home you’re considering will want to meet with you to approve you as a potential buyer, Loflin says.
“Also look at the HOA budget and ask to see a history of budgets,” she says. “Do you see huge increases every year? Where do they prioritize spending? »
2. School districts
Parents typically check grades from schools near a home, but school considerations can be complicated and nuanced for many families, says Tyler Keith, a licensed clinical social worker in Wilmington, North Carolina. Some parents may assume that their children will go to private school, so it doesn’t matter if local schools near their new home have low ratings. But that could become a problem later if unforeseen financial hardship necessitates considering public school options.
Parents should consider county as well as individual schools, Tyler says.
“In family therapy sessions, we talked a lot about school systems,” he says. Schools and counties have responded differently to the pandemic, for example, with some offering a remote option while others have not. Parents should therefore consider whether they would approve of how their potential local school might handle future pandemic protocols, Tyler says.
Tyler also had clients who ran into problems when they moved to different school districts or counties in more rural areas that didn’t offer the same services for kids who needed more academic support, he says.
It’s hard to plan it all out, but try to make sure there are at least a few acceptable schooling options for the kids. It may also be a good idea to research local school information to research, for example, book bans by school libraries that may not align with your family’s values.
Don’t trust what your real estate agent says about schools, either, says Andrew Westphal, a licensed real estate broker with The Corcoran Group At New York.
“They shouldn’t be involved in helping you choose a school. Do your own research,” says Westphal. “Blogging and social media can help here, but I recommend going to school board meetings and seeing where the resources (your new tax payments) will go as far as schools go.”
Think hard about whether schools seem like a priority for the neighborhood or an afterthought, he advises.
Buyers can be so focused on the details of the home itself that they may not think much about the larger community they will be part of, says Keith. Or, feeling obligated to just get an offer accepted, they might brush off the concerns.
To understand the social environment in which a house is located, walk around the neighborhood and try to observe what is happening there, recommends Jeff Tricolia real estate professional in Palm Beach County, Florida.
If you like to wave at neighbors and chat occasionally on nighttime walks, a lively neighborhood where people spend time outdoors might be a good choice. Maybe you would like to see children playing in the street, or maybe you would prefer a quieter place. There are no right or wrong answers; you are simply looking for an atmosphere that suits you and your family. Be as realistic as possible with yourself about whether a community might be a good choice.
But even a good fit can take some getting used to.
“There’s a level of comfort that changes as you move,” says Keith. You won’t know where people are at, or if a neighbor is prone to making mean comments that you might find off-putting, for example.
“You need to create a whole new inventory of who I go to and for what?” he says. “It’s not just a new neighbor, it’s the hairdresser, the grocery store clerks and the other parents. When everything and everyone is changing at the same time, it can be overwhelming.
4. Political climate
It’s important — with school board and city council meetings frequently becoming hotbeds of political discourse — that parents thoroughly research the political climate of a potential community, says Bob McCranie, a broker associated with Texas Pride Real Estate Group.
“Don’t ask your agent, because they may or may not listen to local advice,” McCranie says.
Instead, look for physical indications of intransigent political views such as road signs and flags, especially, as Loflin points out, if we are far from an election of any kind.
The biggest concern, from a psychological point of view, of living in a community in which people have opposing political views is loneliness, says Keith.
“And not in the traditional way you think, like you can’t greet your neighbor,” he says. “But feeling like you can’t speak up, whether that’s knocking on doors in support of a local politician or speaking your mind at a PTA or school board meeting.”
Many people seem to have forgotten how to handle conflict, says Keith, which makes them more likely to retreat into their own “camps” and makes it harder to live among people with opposing political views.
5. Land and logistics
If possible, ask your neighbors what the area looks like in different seasons. The most popular time to sell a home in most places is spring and summer, which means many buyers won’t get a glimpse of the mud or snow it might get during the winter months. Florida’s real estate market, on the other hand, traditionally heats up in winter, when it’s drier and northerners dream of driveways that never need to be shoveled. Homeowners in New Florida are sometimes surprised by flooding in their homes, yards and streets during rainy summer months after moving in.
It is also in your interest to carefully examine the streets of a potential neighborhood. Spray-painted tech markings on the road or orange flags in the yard could indicate an infrastructure change is coming that could affect your property, Loflin says. If you see any, find out how difficult it might be to get in and out of your home during construction or what services might be interrupted.
If you’re buying a home built within the last five to seven years, ask if there was a public improvement district (PID) or similar organization created when the neighborhood was built, McCranie says.
“Builders start deferring the cost of the community pool, park or community feature to a PID, which then carries the debt for that build,” says McCranie. “The owners of the neighborhood end up each owing a share of this debt for several years until it is repaid. Always ask your title company for details.
When buying a home, try to remember that stress and even buyer’s remorse are incredibly common, and feeling comfortable in a new place can be overwhelming, no matter how well you plan. .
“Among the families I work with, there’s a tendency to ‘the grass is always greener’ like, ‘If I have this house in this community, all my problems will be solved,'” Keith says. “People are overwhelmed and can lose perspective.”
During your search, make a list of your family values to refer to when looking for a home to ensure that you prioritize communities that offer what is most important to you. Also take the time to talk to your broker, neighbors, and even a few community leaders to help you understand what the next five or ten years of your life in a certain home will be like.
“The market is so tight that an accepted offer might look like a giveaway,” says Westphal. “Make sure it’s the house you want, not just the one you can have.”