Chances are the home you select to live in will be home for years to come. If that is your intent, then you want to make sure you are not only happy with the home but the community it sits in. This is easy if you are from the immediate area because you are likely familiar with the various communities and have done your homework.
However, many buyers in SW Florida are coming from outside the area. If that describes you, how can you do enough diligence to increase the chances that the community you select is one you will fall in love with?
This blog shares a few things you can do to increase that satisfaction factor, after the close and move in.
Do some online investigation. Simple searches for “best places to live” or even “living in… fill in the blank” will bring up blogs, chat groups and other articles that will give you information to consider. You can even make your search more specific to your circumstances… “best communities in Naples for families”… “best Naples golf communities, etc. You may also want to tap into Facebook groups set up for Naples. There are groups such as “Ask Naples”… “What’s Happening Naples” etc. These groups are ripe to ask questions of the members to get their perspective.
Engage the internet. Look at the surrounding area. There are some proven indicators of community growth and stability. As an example, did you know that having a coffee shop nearby has been statistically proven to make a difference. A study showed that over 17 years leading up to 2014, homes adjacent to the local Starbucks almost doubled in value, up by 96%. Those further out appreciated by 65% over the same period.
If coffee isn’t enough to grab your attention, you might be interested to know that similar studies by RealtyTrac found that on average homes near a target store appreciated 72% higher than homes near Walmart locations.
In 2015, RealtyTrac also studied the impact of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s on 4 million homes. Homes in the same zip code as these grocery stores had good appreciation. Those near Trader Joes appreciated by 40% and homes near Whole Foods weren’t far behind at 34%
Study the SchoolsMany homebuyers realized that even if they don’t have any school age children, the schools still affect the home values. According to Brookings Institution, living near school with high scores can increase a home’s value by over $200K. There are often also positive byproducts such as police protection and activities and space provided by the school for community consumption.
Calibrate the commute. Spend some time considering the most common places you would be community in the course of your weekly life… work location, kids activities, friends, etc. For those things that you will spend the most of your time doing, assess what the commute looks like at various times of the day and the year. This may help you eliminate some options and shorten your list of viable communities.
Do the drivebyOnce you get a short list of potential communities, spend time around them. Go through the neighborhood a multiple times picking different times of the day and days of the week. This will give you a sense of how the neighborhood functions. Are people out walking around and talking to one another or are all cars in the garage, doors closed with little activity? Are there children around at the time that buses would typically arrive before and/or after school? The other things to look for is how the community is maintained… are lawns neatly manicured and cared for?
Sample the area. Not only is it good to drive through the neighborhood itself to see how the community “lives” at different times of the day or different days of the week. You can also spend time in the local establishments to get a feel for the community composition and connectivity. Hit the grocery store, restaurants, parks, etc.
Recheck priorities. If you took the time on the front end to truly assess what your driving priorities were before you started falling in love with homes, this should provide you with a great compass to come back to for validation before making an emotional buying decision. Finding that home that just speaks to you can sometimes cause you to not fairly assess the other aspects of a home ownership experience that could later bite you in the tail. Be sure that you stay true to the end game and be selfish enough to look for the home that meets the house criteria in a community that meet the community criteria.
Remember you can also make modifications within the walls of the home you own… but you can’t change the specific piece of land it is on that sits inside the community it is in.