On the web there are thousands of websites and documents promising insight on how to buy a new home, but not many resources on how to select a new urban home. So I thought I would put together some quick tips for the new urban house hunter on the move.
You’ve heard it before — location, location, location. Where your dream home is located is a very important factor especially when your priorities are not only to live in an eco-friendly community but to live a greener, healthier lifestyle.
You can lose sight of those important considerations pretty quickly if you’re not careful. You definitely don’t want to make a decision based only on the look of the home. If that home is 2 hrs. away from you or your partner’s place of employment, the transit cost, impact on the environment, and the cost to your family’s quality of life may not be worth the move.
Of course if you’re self-employed or choosing a new urban development where there’s viable opportunity to work close by, your choices may open right up.
#2 Exterior Considerations
For some people the exterior is very important. That’s often the feature that grabs you in the first place. But don’t get swept away by exteriors only. Keep in mind:
- Construction quality: Ask about the quality of the windows and doors and make sure you get information regarding energy efficiency ratings.
- Accessibility: Does the garage block most of the home or is tucked away nicely?
- Leisure – Are there sufficient places around the exterior of your home where you can enjoy the outdoors and neighbors (e.g. porches, patios, backyard etc.)?
#3 What to look for inside the home
- Quality of cabinetry, flooring, trim work and painted items – if you’re not comfortable assessing these features, take some with you that is.
- Interior space – is it adequate for your family’s needs? For example if the bedrooms are small, are there central area(s) where the kids can do their homework and/or where the adults can pursue their hobbies/interests/home businesses?
#4 What about the COMMUNITY?
- Are there sufficient green spaces for parks, gardens and community meeting places? If the community is still very new, make sure to ask about viewing blueprints for future plans.
- Are there recreational facilities or schools nearby that can be used by the community to encourage healthy living, continued learning, etc.
- Is it a mixed-use development (residential dwellings and commercial buildings in the same area)? True new urban communities are mixed used developments that offer residents real opportunities to shop, play and even work close to home.
- Eco-friendly, green communities should have reliable transit options. Look to see what’s available or what will be coming in the years ahead.
#5 Builder History
So you’ve made the decision to move your family to a “new urban” community that will offer you and your family the opportunity to “live, work, learn and play” all in the same community. There are quite a few developments springing up all over that fit the bill. But before you make a final decision always practice due diligence and research the company that will be building your family’s dream home and community.
- Are they reputable?
- Have there been many consumer complaints?
- How long have they been in business?
- How active are they in community philanthropy?
- What do the builder’s other community developments look like?
- What do the people who live there think of the homes they’ve purchased?
- Take the time to answer these questions – you’ll be thankful that you did.
To help spark some ideas for your summer house hunt I’ll be once again publishing the Top 10 New Urban Communities List. The list includes descriptions, pictures, prices and web links for some of the newest and most innovative new urban communities in the United States and Canada. As an added benefit this year, I’ll be including information about various home shows being held throughout the season and throughout the country (U.S. & Canada).
As always, the list is free and will be available to view on this website (and in PDF format) on Monday, July 11, 2011.