Hunting for a Home

13 Jan

Yesterday my sister-in-law let me tag along on her house hunting adventure. Her energetic fam of 5 (her, hubby, a 7 yr old boy and twin 6 yr old girls) NEED a house. Due to layoffs and resale trouble on their last home, they’ve been living with my in-laws for 2 years. So next time I start to complain about not having a house, please remind me that Ike and I at least have our own space. Anyway, things are finally looking up for the fam and they should be in a new house sometime this spring or summer. To prepare for the big move, she is searching the Little Rock area for the place that feels like home (and a place someone else would be likely to buy someday). Here are a few things that I learned from the outing!

Location, Location, Location

I know, the oldest Real Estate rule in the book. But is it so true. And there are so many facets to the rule.

#1. Neighborhood – Little Rock is an old town, something I’m not actually used to. I come from “the land where new construction never sleeps” or as the people from there call it, Katy, TX. I’m also not used to the general lack of planned communities. You know those dazzling places with uniform pools and stores and schools. Again, Katy spoiled me. But that doesn’t mean Little Rock is without charms. In fact, this part of AR is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. Huge trees and rolling hills make subdivisions seem like they are in the country when in reality, the comforts of Target and Super Kroger are just around the corner. Anyway, an especially interesting little neighborhood we found yesterday had 2 lakes in the middle of the community, one for swimming and one for fishing. The houses are charming but older, all from the late 60s to early 70s. Nevertheless, it was beautiful and I can imagine that it would be a great place to spend the long summer days of childhood.

What I learned: Something unexpected could be right around the corner. Just give it a chance!

#2 Street Cred – Another key location rule – follow the street signs. No, I’m not talking about Stop and Yield here, but the other more subtle signs of house value. For one, if a house is right by the entrance of a community or near a busy street, steer clear. That kind of local is not good for kids or sleeping. There was a house we didn’t even walkthrough yesterday because it broke this rule. Also, note the size and fanciness of all the houses on the block. Is the house you’re viewing the fanciest one? Red Flag! The idea is to have a small to medium house compared with your neighbors. It totally increases your value.

What I learned: Notice how people use the street. Another house had cars parked along the front yard. If there are things you don’t like about the street during the showing, it will definitely get old when you actually live there.

#3 Educational Value – The third location rule? School District. Even if you don’t have kids, the next buyer might. So take time to research the schools that your potential dream home is zoned to.

What I learned:
Again, Little Rock is very different than Katy. In TX, Katy ISD was king. In Little Rock, things aren’t quite so clear. So I’ve learned to reach out to the parents and teachers I know instead of just relying on raw data. So basically, things aren’t as black and white as I like, but gray is totally in this year, right?

Final thoughts:

Age can be deceiving:
I thought I wanted a newer home to avoid small master suites, wooden paneling and the musty smells of older homes. But yesterday I walked through some great renovated and updated homes from the 60s, 70s and 80s. I found that older homes often have charms that newer homes may not. So my new stipulations are newer or old but renovated.

Fancy extras may not add value: Yesterday we walked through a house with a pool and instead of being on the PRO list, we decided to list it with the CONS. Why? Pools need constant maintenance and may make people with small children nervous for re-sale. Just something to consider!

Well, those are my house hunting lessons! I hope to start my own house hunt this year or next year and I will keep you up to date.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: