Relocation = Renovation..... My Top 10 Considerations When Selecting A Neighborhood

Monday, October 21, 2013

This weekend we took to the sidewalks of the top two neighborhoods in consideration for our renovation project and new home.  I'm going to take you through my check list I used for selecting a neighborhood.  I have to make sure we find one that's a good fit for me and Bubba.  (For those that don't know who Bubba is, he's my main squeeze/husband.  Oh, and his name isn't real Bubba.  That's just what everyone calls him.) 

First and most important piece of advice I can give anyone, starting the process of buying a new home, is to be PATIENT.  Buying any home is an important and expensive decision.  Be prepared to take some deep breaths and relax into the chaos.

Have a little notebook and pen handy at all times to take notes.  For instance what draws you to the neighborhood.  It could be it's charm, location, etc...  For me this neighborhood has real charm.  Ok, not this is where you actually get out and start hoofing it.  You can only see so much whizzing by in a car. 

Everything you see around you can tell you something about your potential neighbors and the future of your investment.  This lovely street is lined with nice, well maintained cars.  Owners are taking care of their investments.  This is always a good sign. 

Search for any signs that homeowners regularly maintain their homes and property value.  This man working on his gutters was a welcomed sight, but one homeowner alone is not enough.

Are other people renovating in the neighborhood?  Finding an area in full gentrification is fantastic.  For this neighborhood many homes are going through full renovation which makes me excited.  The check marks are piling up for this particular neighborhood.

This home is currently for sale and on my list.  The interior is in great shape, but the exterior needs renovating.  This is when a general idea of your budget can come in handy.  Exteriors can be costly.    Knowing your budget can keep you on task and from flooding your list with homes that are out of budget.   Remember that exterior work is seasonal, depending on where you live. 

 This is the neighbor of the previous photo.  At first glance it looks like a wicked mess.  Upon further inspection I can see that they have pulled up all the preexisting landscape and scorched the earth to prepare for new plantings in the spring. It's a high five for this neighbor!

Consider the view.  It can be a wonderful asset or terrible deterrent for future buyers. 

 Off street parking can be another added value for a home.  In this neighborhood it's a premium.  Bubba and I love to entertain, so this is a must for our final decision. 

 Cobble stone streets and mature landscape can really raise the charm factor.  They are perfect for this historical neighborhood.
 Don't be afraid to get out and talk to the neighbors.  They can tell you everything you need to know.  Are there issues with city maintenance?  Do many of the homes rent?  Is there a neighborhood association?  These can really help the decision making process.  Plus you get to know your neighbors before moving in.

 This could be my dream home folks!  Can't blame this one for not being on the market.  One Day.....

 Meandering through the hood gives you a good idea of property values and the potential of the neighborhood.  This home has been beautifully renovated.  Using and Zillow you can see what home values are currently in your area and what they've sold for in the past.

This Behemoth is in a different neighborhood, but a great example of a Money Pit!  (I love that movie.  Bless you Tom Hanks and Shelley Long for the laughter and life lesson.)  What's that song?  "If I Had A Million Dollars" by the Bare Naked Ladies..... That's what you would need to fix this diamond in the rough.  I would be way out of my depth on this one, but Oh can you imagine the finished product?  It would be Ah-Mazing!

Let's Recap 
  1. Location, Location, Location!  Does the area have everything on your Must Have neighborhood check list?  Grocery stores, restaurants, parks, commute time are important parts of the equation.  There is a lot to consider.  Think about the things you dislike about your current residence and compare with where you're currently looking.  This neighborhood is in walking distance to retail shops and restaurants.  A major plus in our book.
  2. Be PATIENT!  This is a huge decision.  You may not find something as quickly as you like and some deals may fall through.  Discoveries can be made upon the homes inspection that would blow the budget on your renovation.  Older homes can be unpredictable.  Be prepared to take your time.
  3. Do people in the area care for their cars?  Are there signs of other homeowners maintaining and renovating their homes?  You want to protect your investment.  Knowing that others residence are caring and investing in their property can bring great comfort when thinking about the future of your investment.
  4. How is the landscape?  Are there invasive species or trees that threaten the structure?  These will be an added expense as they may require a professional.
  5. What's the parking situation?  For some neighborhoods this is a major asset.  Off street parking can be considered a hassle and deterrent.  Something to consider if you may need to sell your property in the future.
  6. How's the view?  You're going to see it every day.  Make sure it's a view you want in your life.
  7. Who are the neighbors?  Neighbors can be like extended families.  Is this a family friendly neighborhood?  If you're have or are considering having a family you're going to want others families in the neighborhood.  Are homes being rented to college kids or noisy young adults?  Is this a place of retirees?  You want to make sure you're a good fit and will be happy.
  8. Be realistic.  We all drive through a neighborhood that makes our mouths drop open.  We dream of what our lives would be like in one of the homes.  Unfortunately living in those neighborhoods can come with a heft price tag that may be out of your reach.  Search within your budget.  You can have the most beautiful house in the world, but will you really be happy when you're sleeping on an air mattress and eating ramen noodles because it's all you can afford? 
  9. Oh, you also want to find out some general facts about the neighborhood.  Are there city or county maintenance issues?  Is there a neighborhood association you can join or an HOA that will require dues?  Some neighborhoods have organized groups like a book club or mommy and me club that could be of great interest to you. 
  10. Lastly, try and have fun.  Selecting a neighborhood can be a little overwhelming at times.  Enjoy what you can of the process.  
Be sure to resource all professional advice you may need during this process.  Find an experienced local realtor to help guide you.  If there is a question they can't answer then find someone who can.  It may take some digging, but nothing beats being informed.
For the next entry of Relocation = Renovation I'll be navigating the world of finance and budget for our renovation dream home.

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