Buying a new house is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, which means there are a lot of important questions to ask the seller when buying a house. In the previous installments of our three-part series on common home-buying questions, we talked about the process of buying a home and the financial questions and neighborhood questions that you’ll run into. This time, though, we’re going to look at questions you should ask about the property itself and the surrounding neighborhood before you put in an offer on the home of your dreams.
Important Questions About Property & Neighborhood:
How are the schools?
This is one of the most common questions people ask when they’re buying a new home. In fact, roughly a quarter of all new home buyers cite schools as one of the major factors of their choice. It makes sense, after all. If you’re buying a home, chances are you’re planning to live there for many years, and your children will probably be attending the local schools. Fortunately, your Realtor or sales agent, if you’re shopping in a master-planned community, can give you enough information about area schools to help you make a decision. Keep in mind, even if you don’t have school-aged children, a high-performing school has a positive impact on the value of your home and the desirability of the area.
How long has the house been on the market?
The answer to this one might tell you more than you expect, but interpreting it might require some help from your Realtor or sales agent. Typically, housing markets fluctuate with the seasons. For example, warmer weather usually means faster sales. After all, nobody wants to move in the middle of January if they can help it. But houses may also sit on the market longer when the market in an area is glutted with houses for sale or because there’s something unappealing about the property that isn’t obvious at first glance. If a house has been on the market longer, that means the seller is more motivated to move the property, which may translate to a better opportunity for you to negotiate price or terms.
How much have other homes in the neighborhood sold for?
The value of a house isn’t just in the wood and drywall that make up the building. The value of other houses in the neighborhood affect the property value of the home you’re about to buy, and taking a look at the sales of other houses in the neighborhood can give you important data to help in the negotiation process. Fortunately, your Realtor should be able to provide you with data on home sales in the area for the last few months. If you’re buying into a master-planned community, it’s a benefit to know that these communities have been growing in popularity over recent decades and typically have a 5-percent to 10-percent price premium over other types of similar housing. That’s a benefit to the homeowners when it comes time to sell!
How much are the HOA dues?
These days, many homes – like those found in master-planned communities – are governed by homeowners’ associations, also known as HOAs. These HOAs collect dues in order to pay for everything from landscaping to maintenance of shared public spaces such as swimming pools and nature trails that everyone in the community can enjoy. A good HOA helps to maintain the value of the property and creates amenities for everyone who lives there, and the dues are usually a small price to pay for these advantages. However small the price, you want to know what it is before you move in. HOA dues for a single-family home in many communities will run anywhere from $200 to $300 per month. At Santa Rita Ranch, however, the HOA dues are $55 dollars a month. The dues run a bit higher in our garden homes and townhomes because the lawns are maintained. The additional cost covers the care-free experience of not having to do the lawn work yourself or hire it out. If you’re new to an HOA, you may not know how they work or what they offer. Santa Rita Ranch residents know that being able to call our master-planned community home means truly living the good life, and the Santa Rita Ranch HOA helps to make all this a reality. Santa Rita Ranch has an on-site HOA manager that residents may contact with any questions they have about landscaping, architectural changes, or maintenance of common areas and any amenities. The HOA manager is always eager to answer your questions and provide help. That’s a huge advantage for homeowners!
That’s the end of our three-part series on some of the most important questions to ask before buying a house. If this is your first visit to the series, though, you can still go back and get answers about the general home-buying process or explore the financial aspects of home buying in our previous posts. And, of course, if you’re shopping new homes for sale in Austin, Texas and looking for that brand-new house of your dreams, all you need to do is fill out the form at the top of the page and one of our Ranch team members will be in touch to help you find it!
Take some time and review the Santa Rita Ranch FAQ page to learn more about our 3x award-winning community and get a resident’s perspective on what it’s like to live on the Ranch!