Our Foray into the Suburban Jungle Part IV: Decisions, Decisions…
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Heading to the NYC suburbs…Tara Giblin and her family had settled on the right town from among the MANY NYC suburbs they explored (thanks, Suburban Jungle!). But now they needed to tackle the “h-word”—the HOUSE. So what did this city-dwelling mom of two learn in the process? That you’ve got to dig into three key factors during the actual house hunt process and, above all, determine what’s most important to YOU and your brood.
You’ve found the right town in the NYC suburbs (or anywhere, really). Now, to find your ideal house, you’ll have to answer a few incredibly important questions and take a lesson in value-economics.
- What type of neighborhood do you want to live in?
With no friends in our chosen suburb (yet) and young children, we wanted to settle in a part of town that encouraged a social lifestyle. While there were certainly options with large lots and plenty of privacy, that’s not what we were going for. We looked forward to seeing and interacting with neighbors—and we do, on an almost-daily basis. Kids spontaneously appear in our yard to play on the swing set, and we’ve already provided the proverbial cup of sugar to the baker next door. One street near us closes to traffic on Halloween; while the kids run noisily from house to house getting candy, the adults follow with their own “spirit-filled” Solo cups. Deciding if you’d prefer spontaneous play dates or quiet seclusion will be key to the process.
What are your deal-breakers and where is there flexibility?
As we started looking for “the one,” it became increasingly apparent what we needed from move-in day forward and what really wasn’t a deal breaker. For our family of four, a three-bedroom house could technically work, but with out-of-town family members, a fourth bedroom was a requirement. With recent Northeast winters, a garage (or the potential to add one) became a must, whereas a mudroom was more bonus than breaker. In this regard, we also learned that sellers were often willing to do some leg work to get their house sold. For example, the owners of one house we liked procured an estimate for adding a garage upon learning that it was one of our concerns.
What does value mean to you and your market?
In addition to understanding what you want in a neighborhood and home, you need to understand what influences pricing in your suburb. In NYC, we were so used to hearing about price-per-square foot that we figured it would be a pretty solid way to compare home prices. Not so in our town or in many of the NYC suburbs we explored. Oh, sure, we could go ahead and compare price-per-square foot til the cows came home, but instead, our broker told us we really needed to look at recent sales and how those compared to the homes we liked. An extra bedroom might not add much in square feet, for instance, but going from three to four bedrooms in our town could cause a listing to jump into a different price category altogether. Same for an extra bathroom or renovated space. Now we needed to decide if it was worth it, to us.
Bottom line—big decisions do not end once the town is found. That’s just the beginning of the journey. But remember, with every big decision made, you get closer to finding…home.
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