Buying Tools

You have probably heard the three most important things to consider when buying a home are: location, location, location. How true, for your personal enjoyment and for future resale value. The homes and community around yours may have a greater effect on what your home is worth than the specifics of the house itself.

Nationally, the long term increase in house prices exceeds the rise in construction costs. This suggests that the underlying land is appreciating faster than the structures themselves. In Orlando the cost of land and impact fees has risen dramatically, especially in areas close to the downtown core. This is part of the reason why housing costs more in the areas close in to downtown than in the outlying areas. You can take the exact same house and put it in two different areas of the city and the value can be dramatically different. So the same square footage and fewer amenities generally cost more in College Park, Thornton Park or Delaney Park than in Avalon Park.

So before choosing your house style, choose your neighborhood. Think about and examine your present lifestyle, as well as possible changes in the future.

It helps to make a list of your lifestyle priorities. Be specific, some things to consider are:

• Are good public schools a top priority for you, or do you want to be nearby your child’s private school? Are you looking for housing in a particular school district because of friends and family that you know are there?

• Do you want to be in a restricted and/or gated community? Gated communities restrict outside visitors and all have mandatory deed restrictions that are for the benefit of everyone. There are mandatory homeowner association dues and assessments decided on by a homeowner association Board of Directors ( or the Developer if they are still in control). Restrictions are put in place for everyone’s benefit, they sound great when your neighbor wants to do something that is not approved but you must be willing to obey all the rules too. Is this lifestyle for you?

• Do you want an urban or suburban lifestyle, or do you wish to be out in the country?

• What is the distance to work and other activities? How much time do you want to spend commuting? What is the cost? For example, if two of you commute on a toll road @ $3.00 each way, that amounts to $240 per month. If you both commute 20 miles each day (800 miles each month), and use the IRS mileage deduction amount (which is conservative by today’s gas prices) of 501/2 cents per mile the costs adds up to $440 per month. This $700 per month will buy you approximately $100,000 more house if it is better located for you.

• You should consider property taxes:
• Different counties have different taxes.
• Cities have both city and county taxes.
• Some cities’ taxes are more than others.
• Some cities have better services than others.
• Some cities, neighborhoods or communities have special taxing districts which can add a little or a lot to your property taxes.

• Do you want a golf course community? Be sure it is a stable community. If the golf course closes, what will that do to property values? Is membership mandatory? Is that a good or bad thing in your opinion? Is there an active, young membership or are most of the members elderly and don’t want to continue paying the dues?

• Are parks a priority for you? How important are bike paths for instance? Do you like to take your dog to dog parks and your kids to playgrounds?

• Where will you go grocery shopping? How important is it to you to have a mall nearby?

• Do you want to be nearby your church, synagogue or mosque?

• Do you want to be close to sporting events and cultural venues? How often do you visit museums and art galleries?

• Where do your friends and family live? Is it important to you to be close to them?

• Do you want to be in an established older neighborhood with a long history of stable property values or do you prefer a brand new house in a new subdivision?

• Is the community in a good area for resale? Someday you will want to sell. Consider how long you expect to live in this home.

• If you are considering a new subdivision be sure to find out what will be built on any vacant land that is around you. Also consider how many phases the developer plans to build in the community. If you need to sell in 3 years will you be competing against the developer who is still selling new homes in the next phase of the development?