If I’d Only Known…(Part 1)
I recently saw a question online – “What do you wish you knew before buying a house?” I imagine this list could be nearly infinite, but I wanted to pose this question to my friend group and see what interesting info, tips, or regrets may come from it. I was blown away with the responses (nearly 100!) and appreciate my friends’ feedback on the subject. Today’s post is going to focus on the location of the home/the property/neighborhood.
Starting things off…Be Realistic
Before getting into the location, there are three very basic points to make, but they still bear repeating. First, there’s no such thing as the perfect home. Even millionaires seem to sell their homes and build something bigger and better. When you’re buying a home, you should definitely have a list of your wants vs. needs and any dealbreakers. But, like every episode of House Hunters that exists, you’ll probably have to compromise on at least ONE thing about the house. Second, don’t try to fix everything up at once. Again, like most of the other HGTV shows, the hosts come in and fix everything from top to bottom all at once. This isn’t very typical of real life so plan on doing small repairs and updates over time. You also don’t want to overwhelm yourself and go broke immediately. And third, $$$$$. I always recommend you buy a home under your maximum limit so you have money left in case something breaks (WHICH IT WILL).
Welcome to Connecticut
Since we just got over a foot of snow, there were a number of people who commented on things related to the yard and location of the home. Think about how much lawn or snow care your property may need. Steep driveways can be a pain in the winter. 2 acres can be a lot to mow. Growing up, every house on my street (except ours, thankfully) had a very steep driveway so in the winter, all the owners would park their cars on the street and walk down very slippery yards.
Actual neighbor’s home. No, thanks.
Trade off was we had a super long driveway and had to pay someone to plow it every time (not that I’m not lazy now and still pay someone to plow my driveway even though it’s a lot shorter). Also, pay attention to whether your property has sidewalks. DREADED SIDEWALKS. Great for getting around the neighborhood, but most towns will fine you if you don’t shovel off your sidewalks within 24 hours. Even worse if you live on a corner and have TWO sidewalks to shovel. If none of these are for you, a condo may be more your speed!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Some noise is obvious – if you’re living in a city, you’ll have noise. If you’re on a main road, you’ll have noise. But other less obvious streets can have their share of traffic, noise, and busy-ness. Things to keep in mind when looking at a property – is it near train tracks or a train station? Is it near an airport or right under a flight path? (CT has a few small airports hidden around including Tweed, Meriden/Markham, Brainard, etc.) Is the home near a bus stop? Is your street a through street or a shortcut to get around a busy street? These are all reasons to scope out your neighborhood but also drive by during different times of the day and the week. Maybe 1 pm on a Wednesday the street is dead, but 5 pm Friday it’s swamped. Or there’s a church nearby and lots of traffic on Sundays. Don’t go crazy trying to see the property at every possible time, but try to cover your bases if it’s a street or town you’re unfamiliar with.
I live next to you now.
Also as someone on a similar Reddit post said, check out the house at night to make sure nothing nearby is a party & drug house. Unless, someone else added, parties & drugs are your thing…
No Goods in the Woods
These things might sound minor, but could turn out to be bigger nuisances. One friend mentioned a recent situation that his other friend is dealing with. They moved to a house in CT, more on the rural side, where it said Comcast was available. Come to find out, Comcast was available on their street, but not their house. This person LITERALLY cannot get any internet access to their house now. There are no other companies, DSL isn’t available. Their current option is to dig a $12,000 line for internet. Holy…bananas. This is probably a pretty rare situation but definitely find out if you have internet access and if your cell phone gets decent service!
Another friend also said at her previous property in CT, she found out that no typical restaurants delivered to her house. No pizza, no Chinese food, etc. With Uber Eats and Grubhub, things may be a bit easier now, but good to see how far restaurants/stores/gas is from your new property.
Finally…Lights, Camera, Sunlight
Take note of any street lights or traffic lights in your area – do any of them shine directly into your house at 3 am, where your bed is? Worst case scenario is you can usually just get blackout curtains but if you’re very sensitive to light, you may not want to live there. Same goes for what direction your house is facing. I’ve never paid attention to this myself, but some people do want the sun to be in their bedroom in the morning and living room in the evening kind of thing, so it may be useful to know which way your house faces as far as sunlight goes (breezes, too).
Again, a big thank you to all my friends who responded to my question this week. My next posts will involve the inside and outside of the house along with some maintenance concerns you might overlook when buying a property.
“I can tackle this. No prob.”
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