It seems right now that everyone is talking about the strength of the housing market, and how difficult it is for buyers to secure a home they love. With multiple offers, bidding wars, and homes going for way more than list price in some cases, it might seem like you just have to take whichever home you can get. But it’s important to remember that you still get to choose where you live – you should enter into the buying process with a clear vision of the type of neighborhood that suits your family, and don’t settle for a place you just don’t love. Here are 6 tips to help you articulate your wants and needs so that you can aggressively go after the homes that truly meet your location criteria.
1 – Stick with your style
Every neighborhood has a vibe or feel that is pretty obvious if you spend some time there. While some neighborhoods are quiet and sleepy, many bustle with activity from dusk til dawn. Other neighborhoods are full of outdoorsy types or tons of kids. Think about yourself and your family, and what feels right to you. Are you the type of person who wants to walk everywhere? Does community activism matter to you? Are you a stickler for safety and security? Do your kids need miles and miles of safe streets to bike on? Do you even spend much time at home, or are you out at the beach or boating every chance you get?
2 – Think about the commute
Many of us haven’t thought about a commute in about 15 months, but the world will eventually return to normal for many, and if you’re going back to work in person, distance might matter to you. If you hate sitting on I-4 for hours and you work downtown, a community like Alaqua Lakes is probably not for you. Do you want to start riding the Sunrail? Take a look at the transit-oriented neighborhoods that have been popping up around South Orange, Downtown Longwood, Maitland, Deland, and narrow your home search to places that are walking or biking distance from a Sunrail station.
3 – Research nearby amenities
Do you have a favorite Italian spot, or restaurant you dine in EVERY Thursday night? Everyone has their favorites, and when you move to a new neighborhood, you’ll want to find some hot spots where you can become a regular. Hop on YELP! and take a night or two every week to find restaurants, vendors, and shops that you might enjoy. Then research doctors, dentists, and daycares in the area. It might be worth it to change a couple providers if you’re not attached to the ones you currently see. Nobody wants to commute across town for EVERY amenity.
4 – Join the neighborhood Facebook Group
Most neighborhoods have some kind of social media presence. A Facebook page can help residents socialize, share vendors, schedule meetings, keep track of comings and goings in the neighborhood (and sometimes gossip). Many neighborhoods allow anyone to join their social media groups and these are a great resource for buyers looking to move or learn more about an area. A few pages we like are the Lake Davis/Greenwood Neighborhood Association, Lake Eola Heights Historic District, Delaney Park, and Conway Community Orlando.
5 – Spend some time there
Attend the local farmers market. Try to catch a neighborhood meeting (some of these are open to the public). Take your kids to the parks around town and find their favorite…wouldn’t it be nice if your children could walk to the local park with their friends? Do you take morning or evening walks in your current neighborhood? Change it up and drive to a few different areas for your morning or evening walk. This will help you see the area at a variety of times during the day. Make sure you know what life is like there in the morning, mid-day, and evening. And don’t forget overnight! Some neighborhoods have beautiful views that only come out at night…others are close to loud venues, or roads that stay busy 24/7. You don’t want to find out about negative issues on your first night in your new home!
6 – Think about your future
Perhaps you’re single at the moment, content with a couple of sweet pups and a cat. But what about 5 years from now? 10 or 20 years? The average mortgage term is 30 years…that means you’ll likely be in this home for a long time. Think about if you want to have children and where you want to send them to school. I’ve seen many families move to a neighborhood before their kids are born who think that by the time their kids are school-age, they’ll just move to a better school district. But when the kids get to that age, the family has already made friends and established a life in the current neighborhood and moving is more traumatic on the whole family. It can be much easier to stay put!
As with everything, trust your gut!
Only YOU know what kind of neighborhood will work for you. Keep a few non-negotiables at the top of your mind, but if you get a bad vibe from a spot that checks all your boxes, trust your gut and move on. You’ll find the exact right spot for you and your family if you keep searching.
When you find the perfect spot, make an offer RIGHT AWAY! Click here to get pre-approved for a loan through America’s Money Source.