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Courtesy of The Dawn Thomas Team
This week we present you Part I of our two part series about the most important consideration to Buyers in California. In C.A.R.’s 2012 Home Buyers Survey, “neighborhood” was identified by nearly half the respondents as the number one factor in choosing a new home. Even bargain hunting took a back seat, with “good price” chosen by only 29 percent. Thirteen percent cited home features, and nine percent gave the nod to a combination of home features and neighborhood. But how do buyers define “neighborhood”? If you’re thinking about buying a home in the Silicon Valley reach out to The Dawn Thomas Team today!
Walk Scores Rising
A new dimension that is increasingly factoring into clients’ definition of neighborhood is “walkability.” Not only has walkability proven to have health and community benefits, it also increases home value. A recent study by a group called CEOs for Cities found that one walk score point can increase the value of a home by $700 to $3,000. San Diego REALTOR® Kimberly Platt with Willis Allen Real Estate is definitely seeing this trend. “With today’s emphasis on healthy and sustainable lifestyles, buyers of all ages and demographics are interested in the MLS ‘walk score.’
This number between one and 100 denotes whether amenities are within walkable distance of the address.” Long Beach REALTOR® David Montgomery of Main Street REALTORS® concurs that walkability has vaulted up the scale in importance. “People are looking for convenience for the post office, the grocery store and schools.”
Schools have long been an important factor for families buying a home, and if you can walk to the school, even better. Montgomery works primarily with first-time home buyers, many of whom are young families. As such, he’s become an expert on local schools and helps his clients sort through their choices. But many clients aren’t just eyeing the elementary school. Some buyers are thinking more long-term. Susan Walker, who is currently renting in Belmont Shore, gives excellent marks to the elementary and middle school her daughters, ages five and eight, would attend, but frets about the high school. “I know I’m being really particular but…we want to establish ourselves with our neighbors and the schools, to put down roots and become part of the neighborhood.”
She says that since inventory in her price range is relatively slim right now, the family is biding their time. “We don’t intend to rush into anything. We’ll wait for the right schools in the right neighborhood.” Brett Bocook and his wife Laura, who have been looking in Palo Alto, know that the better school districts come with a higher price tag, but Bocook asserts that the higher price is not only justified, but makes economic sense. “Yes, the house costs more in a neighborhood with amazing schools, but does it really? If you run the numbers on private school for two kids, you very quickly realize that you can afford a larger monthly mortgage payment in exchange for a good school district.”
New vs. Old
Besides safety, schools and walkability, which score high on almost every client’s “wish list” for an ideal neighborhood, clients all have their own individual circumstances, which further dictate their needs. Sue Rubin of Empire Realty Associates, who specializes in Danville in the East Bay area, says that her town scores high on these three neighborhood must-haves by default. So for her clients, it’s primarily about choosing between “newer” and “more established.” “Some want the community aspect of the newer areas that have clubs and pools. But others rebel against communities with HOAs and the associated dues and rules. ‘Don’t tell me what color to paint my house!’ is what I hear from them.”
Stay Tuned for Part II!
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