You’ve toured a home with your Realtor and checked off all the boxes:
- Square Footage
- Good size backyard
- In your price range
- Excellent schools
What are you forgetting?
Here are a few other things to consider before signing on the dotted line.
NOISE. The World Health Organization considers excessive noise a serious health problem that can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reduce performance and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behavior. It has risen on enough people’s radar that Realtor.com now has a noise indicator feature on its app. You can also enter an address into Howloud.com and receive a Soundscore™ for that particular location. The app factors in vehicle traffic, air traffic and local sources (restaurants, schools, stores, etc.). The higher the score, the quieter the address. My home scores an 82 with a ranking of “CALM” on each measure.
NEIGHBORS. You can only tell so much about a neighborhood by driving around. Be like some old neighbors of ours—get out and knock on some doors. They were a young couple wanting to make sure that other young families lived in their neighborhood and we assured them they would be in plenty of company at the time. Neighbors can also give you the lowdown on how friendly (and quiet or loud) the neighborhood is. Ask them what they like best about where they live. What are the drawbacks, if any. Do the neighbors seem to get along? Is there anything they think you should know? A little time spent doing this in-person research could leave you feeling much better about your homebuying decision.
SUN EXPOSURE. Location is certainly one factor to consider when buying a home. Its orientation is another. How much natural sunlight you need can be very personal but it’s good to know that about yourself and factor that into the home you are buying. In the Pacific Northwest, south-facing windows receive the greatest amount of sunlight because the sun shines from the south. And depending on your lifestyle, you’ll want to factor in morning (east-facing homes) or afternoon (western exposure). Especially here in Lake Oswego, where our winter days can lean towards dreary and gray at times, reaping in as much natural sunlight as possible can keep our serotonin levels charged.
WALKABILITY. If you’re like my son who has spent the last few years living in San Francisco and London, being able to walk to the grocery store, restaurants and entertainment is important. And if you’re like my wife and I, being able to walk around safely for recreation is also a factor to consider when deciding where to live. Fortunately, you can just type in your address on walkscore.com and it will show where your property falls on their ranking system from 90-100 being a Walker’s Paradise to 0-24 for areas that are car-dependent, requiring a car to do most errands. You will find quite a range in Lake Oswego with the First Addition capturing the Walker’s Paradise title and River Run coming in at a 14. There is also a bike score that seems to factor in bike/pedestrian pathways so a neighborhood like River Run scores higher there, in the 44 range. Again, this is one of those issues that may be more important to some homebuyers than others.
PROPERTY TAXES. If you’re considering buying a newly built home or one that has been remodeled, make sure the estimated property taxes you are factoring in reflect the new appraisal for the upcoming year. New construction and major renovations trigger reappraisals come property tax time so you may not know the actual figure until November rolls around but I usually advise my clients to assume the new tax will be based on an appraisal that is close to 75 to 80% of the sales price. The previous rate, which in many cases is the rate listed with the sales listing, is based on the home/property’s value the previous year BEFORE construction/renovation. In the case of new construction and/or significant remodeling, you most likely will be facing much higher property taxes and want to ensure that those figures are part of your calculation when deciding whether you can afford a home or not.
ASSESSMENTS. If the home you are considering is part of a homeowner’s association, you want to make sure there are no sizeable assessments in the planning stages. This should be identified in the seller’s disclosure but it never hurts to double-check. Contact the homeowner’s association directly and confirm what fees traditionally are and if anything outstanding is on the horizon.
A professional Realtor will work with you to make sure you weigh in all the significant factors relevant to your home purchase. I’ve helped many Lake Oswegans find the perfect fit when it comes to buying a home in Lake Oswego and I’d love to do the same for you. Please give me a call at 503.939.9801, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or check out my website.