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Old 04-28-2015, 07:28 PM   #21
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Hubby and I did something similar a number of years ago and we made sure to do some of our favorite activities when we visited our future home town. We went out hiking and went out with an organized bird watching trip. It gave is an opportunity to meet with locals who could be potential friends.
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Old 04-28-2015, 08:38 PM   #22
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Having moved lock stock and barrel 22 times... all of the advice above is correct.
Rule #1 Stay away from realtors (they'll tie you up forever)
Rule #2 Don't look for houses (there will always be a perfect house)
Rule #3 Talk to the people
After picking the general location... State, Town, Neighborhood...
Then the people... You'll know.
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Old 04-29-2015, 05:06 AM   #23
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Huh? Who says? Real estate agents have no magic ropes.

I either get along with them immediately, or don't. If we don't "click," I move on to another agent. If they push (and some will) to get me to sign a bunch of paperwork, I look slightly shocked, and decline. It's that simple.

I would advise talking to more than one agent for the area that interests you. We looked at some houses with one young lady, who advised us to avoid a certain gated community because "the people there are kind of strange." [cue zombie-movie music] The next agent said that very community was the best match for us that he could think of. He was right - I loved the community's layout and some of the houses, and it's still on our radar when we finally make up our minds about moving.

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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Having moved lock stock and barrel 22 times... all of the advice above is correct.
Rule #1 Stay away from realtors (they'll tie you up forever)
Rule #2 Don't look for houses (there will always be a perfect house)
Rule #3 Talk to the people
After picking the general location... State, Town, Neighborhood...
Then the people... You'll know.
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Old 04-29-2015, 08:10 AM   #24
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The battle joined....


Our last"search" was in FL, two years ago... considering different senior communities. It's a dog eat dog battle of realtors, trained to capture the client, and hold him/her there for as long as possible. Leading the tour around the property, the clubhouse, the pool, tennis courts and the unbelieveable listing of 2,000 different activities. Two or three hours of wearing the customer down and brainwashing. Not just at the Villages, but in almost all of the hundred+ communities in the general area.

In the gated communities... (most of them) unless you know someone who lives there, it's hard to get in, and to explore on your own, at your own pace. For the places we were interested in, we arranged an invite fom a resident, and did the tour at our own pace. That's the only way to guage what is really going on with activities, and to find out what the residents think and do.

It's quite surprising how different similar looking communities can be. Some are behives of activity while others are comoletely dead. Matching ages is not easy when there is no one around. Some communites are forever young, busy and with a good turnover as older folks move out and younger ones move in. Others are more like nursing homes, with the only well attended event being Bingo.

And thus my argument for avoiding realtors in the initial search, to concentrate on the day to day realities of the residents. After all... in retirement communities, there's a reasonable expectation that one may live out the rest of life. It's not the house... it's the people.

When we did get serious, we'd go to the community website, to seach houses... narrow down the choices... and then go through the realtor. Saving our time and hers.

We ended up not buying the permanent home in Florida, and opted to come back to Illinois, where we found our nirvana.
That said, we did due diligence in looking, ... a mini project over a 2 month period.

All of this assumes wanting to be part of an active, social community. Having made the rounds... can direct to some beautiful, well managed, private, quiet communities for those who prefer that lifestyle.
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:21 AM   #25
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I can't imagine buying a home ANYWHERE that I haven't lived for years, without talking to realtors that you don't plan to use, before eventually starting one's house search.

Some realtors (certainly not all) are a goldmine of information. Many have a great deal of experience in the area in question, and can tell you things about neighborhoods that you might not be aware of without living someplace for a long time.

Sure, you might luck out and find that the first neighborhood you find that has the perfect people that you like, is also free of problems with sinkholes, flooding, electrical outages, traffic, huge new low income apartment development for Section 8 planned, freeway to be put in through a neighborhood, zoning issues, unusually high property taxes for whatever reasons, high percentage of rentals vs owner occupied homes, traffic bottlenecks, and more.

But gosh, a really excellent realtor can point out some of these physical issues with various neighborhoods that you might not be aware of, and more, if you get to talking with him or her. They can also tell you good aspects of certain neighborhoods as well.

If a realtor is shallow and does not have helpful information, which I think is probably the case with over half of them, it's perfectly easy to be firm about not continuing to talk with them. Well, it is for me, anyway. I'm probably a little too assertive sometimes.


Imoldernu, I wouldn't have let a realtor show me that gated neighborhood either, unless/until I was ready to buy. That's going a bit far since they are likely to think you are a "hot prospect". But talking to several as they sit (bored) at Open Houses really won't do any harm at all, especially if you tell them that your intended purchase is a couple of years on down the road.
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:29 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Having moved lock stock and barrel 22 times... all of the advice above is correct.
Rule #1 Stay away from realtors (they'll tie you up forever) While we do plenty of independent research before and during the home search, I'd definitely work with a realtor I was comfortable with in the end. If it takes 2-3 tries to get a realtor I am comfortable with, so be it, just as I would with any salesperson.
Rule #2 Don't look for houses (there will always be a perfect house) Huh? I agree it's important to try to narrow down neighborhoods first if that's what you mean. But the odds of then finding a perfect house are almost nil unless you build from scratch. Buying homes involves compromise(s) 99% of the time. Even if one partner finds something close to perfect, spouses often can't even agree on what's "perfect"...
Rule #3 Talk to the people Agreed, I've always gone back to homes we were about to purchase and introduced myself to a few neighbors to see what they're like/what they think about the neighborhood. And if there are restaurants, bars, stores nearby I will hang out there and talk to people if possible.
After picking the general location... State, Town, Neighborhood...
Then the people... You'll know.
I've only moved 10 times, but I find the above questionable as well.
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:39 AM   #27
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The odds of finding a perfect house are almost nil unless you build from scratch. Buying homes always involves compromises 99% of the time.
I feel like that's the case around here, anyway. Part of the reason why I haven't moved yet, is that I am searching for my dream house this time. I want it to have an attached garage!! Not having a garage was one of the compromises that I had to make last time, and I am still not happy with it. But the house not only has to have an attached garage, it has to meet many other criteria that are just as important. If I don't find such a house, I'll just stay put.

Around here, building from scratch isn't generally viewed as such a great idea since much of New Orleans is built on reclaimed swamps, and some areas have a lot of subsidence. It's hard to feel confident about how stable the soil is or isn't until a structure has been on it for several years and the land around the house (built on pilings, hopefully) has or hasn't sunk. That can entail its own problems and money-pit level expense.


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Originally Posted by Imoldernu
After picking the general location... State, Town, Neighborhood...
Then the people... You'll know.

Agreed! But I think that realtors can be very helpful in gathering information about neighborhoods (other than about the people). Individual people can move away, but the overall type of people in a neighborhood often doesn't change very fast.
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Old 04-29-2015, 01:42 PM   #28
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Extended visits when relocating is very smart IMO. We will probably even go so far as to rent a place for 6-12 months when we relocate before buying a house just to be sure.

I can't top W2R's advice either, do all the things that you'd normally want to do if you lived there (weather, culture, shopping, dining, sports, health care, etc. - whatever is important to YOU). It should give you more insight than if you treat it like a (splurge) vacation or go without some thinking/pre-planning.

The only thing I'd add is think of everything you think you WON'T like about the new location, and expose yourself to them.
  • If it's climate, visit during the worst time of the year from your POV, summer heat & humidity or winter cold/ice/snow.
  • If it's an area with significant population fluctuations (students, tourists, seasonal industry), go when it's most crowded or most sparsely populated if either are a concern for you.
  • And probably not an issue in most large cities, but I lived in a rural area (population 90K in the "Bible Belt") where religion was a big barrier for large numbers of locals. The first thing most everyone we met asked us is what church we went to? If we gave the "wrong" answer, even wrong Christian denomination (much less another religion or non-churchgoing), we were pretty much outcasts - I don't care to live in a place like that, though it appeals to some.
Just some examples, but I'd try to confront whatever seasons/conditions you're apprehensive about. The better seasons/conditions should exceed your expectations.

Best of luck...
The climate thing is something I definitely plan to do when we start getting serious about moving since the weather here is nearly perfect
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Old 04-29-2015, 02:17 PM   #29
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Anytime I want to know about any place (or anything), first thing I look at is Wikipedia. They often go over the whole socioeconomics of the area from every angle.

And I would be looking at all houses in my price range on Zillow.com.

But there's no substitution for getting feet on the ground.
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Old 04-29-2015, 04:38 PM   #30
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Oh, how do the "seniors" endure it? I doubt I'd make it halfway through such an onslaught before pleading a case of the vapors and claiming we require our naps! Then again, those sorts of communities, with their organized play, don't appeal to us. No matter where we end up, the neighbors will end up thinking we're "nice enough, but keep to themselves."

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Our last"search" was in FL, two years ago... considering different senior communities. It's a dog eat dog battle of realtors, trained to capture the client, and hold him/her there for as long as possible. Leading the tour around the property, the clubhouse, the pool, tennis courts and the unbelieveable listing of 2,000 different activities. Two or three hours of wearing the customer down and brainwashing.

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