I have spent some time recently with some new buyers shopping for a San Diego home. We first met at an open house in a school district they liked. As we explored homes and continued to talk it soon became apparent that they want a home in a particular neighborhood and are willing to pay a little more for that neighborhood. Great schools, good shopping options, pretty parks, short commute all combine to make their prefered neighborhood a perfect match.
Does that sound like you? I find that many buyers start tied to price. Then they move to size, enough room to actually live comfortably enters the picture. Next they move to area features, good schools, near-by shopping, shorter commutes, entertainment options. Finally they focus on neighborhoods that look and feel the way that makes them comfortable. But what if we turned that process around and started with neighborhoods?
I suggest to my clients that they drive around neighborhoods. Stop, park and get out of the car. Walk around a little and see how they feel. If they don’t feel safe even driving through the neighborhood, does price really matter?
Next, stop by the local grocery store. Walk around the shopping area and see if the location is easy to get to, has ample parking, carries the items they shop for regularly. If there is no parking or selections are limited, will you really shop at these stores? If not these stores, how much extra time will you spend driving further to shop?
Drive to the local school. Many schools in my area welcome prospective parents. They want to show off the accomplishments of the school. They want to showcase their facilty and test scores. Does the school setting seem like a good fit for your children?
I recommend my clients make a test drive to and from work during their normal commute hours. Usually we are viewing homes on the weekends when traffic is lighter, but what about Monday morning rush hour, or Friday evening drive-home time? If you are going to spend more time looking at your windshield than playing with your kids, does price really matter that much?
So back to my original question, if you are shopping for a San Diego home, which really does matter most?