Austin Home Buying - A Few Tips to Consider when Checking Neighborhoods
I had to run some errands earlier this evening and I went by to see a friend of mine briefly. He lives in a neighborhood that inspired this post, truth be known. When you are looking to buy a home, there are a few items which may not come to mind immediately, so I thought a short list of reminders might be helpful:
Does the area where you are purchasing have streetlights at all? How many? Are there any near the home you are specifically considering? My friend's house is in a neighborhood with ZERO streetlights, which makes evening walks an impossibility unless you are a daredevil.
Again, this particular neighborhood had no sidewalks at all. This is not bad if the area is really rural and has little traffic, but if you have small children, it does make it less safe regardless. Many of the small acreage areas in Texas (maybe 1/2 acre to 2 acres or so) don't have sidewalks.
Needless to say, if there are a lot of burglar bars on the windows nearby, that is a red flag. Additionally, if you see appliances in the front yard, I would probably avoid that area if possible. Ditto any cars up on blocks. If you want to get a good feel for the neighbors, show up on a weekend or (even better) an evening after work time to see what's going on. In most cases, you will be able to tell very quickly if the neighbors are your type of people.
Ideally, any listing that you are visiting will have a yard that is in decent shape. The notable exception would be for a short sale or foreclosure property, when the seller has sort of given up on things. Barring that, however, the yard probably looks okay. However, pass close attention to the surrounding yards. Does it look like the neighbors are preparing to harvest straw in the summer? Are the flowerbeds and lawns filled with weeds? Often, this is indicative of a neighborhood that has transitioned to primarily tenants rather than owner-occupants. I have found that this can swiftly drag your property value down if the next area is lax, namely:
I live in an area with relatively strong but not unreasonable restrictions. Deed restrictions are ultimately designed to protect the value of your property, even if some of the rules and regulations seem a bit arbitrary. Having sold homes in both restricted and unrestricted areas, I can now spot each one very quickly when driving through any part of town. We have clients who sometimes request a neighborhood without restrictions until they see the results of that method.
Usually, a good homeowners' association (please note that I said "good") will have a management company responsible for keeping the rules and noting violations. The only time that no restrictions are a good decision (in my humble opinion) are when purchasing a large piece of land or a property with commercial potential.
I would love the opportunity to speak with you if you are sincerely considering a move to or from Austin. Please feel free to give me a call anytime on my cell phone at 512-796-7653 or email me - Jason@austintexashomes.com. I look forward to hearing from you soon! You can also search the entire database of available Austin homes at our website, www.austintexashomes.com.