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  • Pamela Punzalan

Market-Specific Home Buying Strategies

At one time, homes were purchased primarily based on how close they were to the workplace. Now, however, for many buyers the post-COVID increase in work-from-home options and the adoption of the remote workplace have made it possible to consider a wider range of residential options. Whether you’re looking to move into the city center, out to the suburbs, or to a rural area, you’ll want to adjust your expectations and strategies depending on the market you choose.

Buying in urban markets

If you’re considering a home in an urban market, take into account the way the following elements will impact your buying decisions.

Cost Both because of the desirability of urban settings, the population density, and the lack of space, you’ll pay far more per square foot for your urban home. You’ll also probably spend a fair amount on condo or co-op fees in addition to your mortgage payment. If you choose to keep a car, you’ll probably need to purchase a parking space or budget for a hefty monthly parking fee.

While the demand for in-town homes makes it difficult to negotiate on cost, consider looking for ways to save on fees or extras. If you won’t use the building’s recreational facilities, for instance, you may want to look for a building with fewer amenities and lower fees. In addition, you may want to look for a building that offers discounted parking facilities or consider keeping your car garaged further outside of town, especially if you won’t use it often.

Proximity One of the advantages of purchasing in an urban market is the ability to be just steps from your workplace and from premier shopping, dining, entertainment, and cultural options. Remember that urban markets can be large and congested, however, so just because you’re in the city doesn’t mean that you’re close to the specific places you’ll visit most. Ensure that you choose a building or neighborhood in the right part of your chosen city center.

Transportation Getting around town will require you to spend money on cabs, Ubers, or public transportation. Often you’ll pay a premium for a home that is closer to subway stations or major transportation hubs. Determine whether that extra cost will be worthwhile if the added convenience saves you time and money every day.

Security Crime rates in urban areas can be higher than in suburban and rural markets. Depending on the neighborhood you choose, you may find that it’s worthwhile to spend more for a building with better security and with a manned lobby or doorman.

Noise While many people want to live in town for the proximity to the area’s best nightlife or major entertainment or sporting events, they quickly find that what’s fun in small doses becomes a frustrating source of constant noise and other disturbances. You may choose to look for a building that’s off the beaten path on a side street or in a smaller neighborhood enclave away from the busiest parts of the city. Alternatively, you may want to pay more for a unit on a higher floor far above the hustle and bustle.

Pets You may struggle to find a building that allows pets. Be sure to check out the building’s policies when starting your home search so that you can identify those that welcome animals. Some luxury buildings lean into their pet-friendliness with amenities like on-site dog parks and grooming stations.

Buying in suburban markets

If you’re looking to move to the suburbs, here are some things to consider when choosing the right home and neighborhood.

Commute If you are able to work from home, you’ll enjoy the convenience of choosing your suburban neighborhood without having to consider its proximity to the city. Otherwise, you may want to limit your home search to specific areas along the commuter route you use each day. You may also want to identify areas that are convenient to the local airport if you travel frequently, or to favorite in-town features like shopping centers or sporting venues.

Schools Many suburban buyers are primarily interested in proximity to the area’s best school systems, so do your homework. If you are purchasing a suburban home and you homeschool or do not have school-age children, you may be able to find better deals in idyllic neighborhoods further away from the top-tier school systems where demand is greatest.

HOA If you are buying in the suburbs, you may find that some of the most desirable neighborhoods come with expensive HOA fees. While these can be advantageous if they offer amenities you’ll use, they can also be a source of frustration, governing everything from the height of your shrubbery to the color of your front door. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of the HOA when determining which neighborhood is right for you.

Amenities Some suburbs are relatively monotonous expanses of nearly identical homes and neighborhoods while others offer beautiful parks and greenspaces plus community centers that are reminiscent of charming small towns. If you’re looking for an opportunity to get to know your neighbors and get involved in your local area, you may want to consider a suburban enclave with more amenities.

Buying in rural markets

If you’re looking for wide-open spaces and a little more peace and quiet, a rural market may be right for you. Here’s are some things to consider as you decide.

Proximity In rural markets, you’ll be less concerned with a commute and more concerned with the distance to the nearest market and well-run medical facilities. Different buyers have different priorities when moving to rural markets—you may want to visit town only once a month for supplies or be a regular part of a friendly, small-town community.

Zoning If you’re buying rural land and planning to develop it, you’ll want to have a real estate agent or broker research zoning in the area. This is especially important if you’re planning to farm, open a business on your property, or subdivide your property for multiple homes.

Availability One challenge you may run into when purchasing a home in a rural market is the lack of homes available at any given time. You may also have less variety than you’re used to and homes may not have all of the bells and whistles you’ve come to expect. Start early by connecting with a real estate professional in the area so that you can get a good idea of what is normally offered.

Technology Many rural areas have limited access to high-quality internet so it’s vital to determine the tech capacity of your chosen area. This is especially important if you work from home and have the need for a more robust tech setup than what commonly available.

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