When considering the purchase of a home, there is so much more than the bedroom and bathroom count to consider. Items like the kitchen counters, plumbing and lighting fixtures and even the landscape can all be modified to fit your personality. What can never be changed about a prospective home is the neighborhood it’s located in. This single issue is perhaps the most critical element to selecting that perfect dream home.
What to consider when evaluating a neighborhood
Throughout Riverside County, each city has laws on the books that often dictate what can and cannot be done with residential real estate. In some cities, the laws change from neighborhood to neighborhood. In the unincorporated areas of Riverside County, there are county ordinances to which homeowners much adhere.
Depending on where you end up calling home, the local laws can be dramatically different from what you are currently accustomed to managing. You may find that there are restrictions on where you can park and during which hours; for example, no overnight parking is not that uncommon a law in some parts of the county. There may be limitations as to what type of vehicle can be parked in a residential neighborhood.
Other cities can and do restrict the type of animals allowed, which means your pet pot belly pig may not be permitted. Most cities restrict the raising of any livestock, including chickens and goats from residential neighborhoods. Other cities will restrict the color you can paint a house, which means you don’t have to worry about having a neighbor with a purple fetish.
These types of laws are known as either “protective covenants” or “restrictive covenants.” It’s important to become familiar with the law of the land before you take possession. These laws are intended to protect property values and the tax base and are what’s perceived to be what the vast majority of the people do not want in their established neighborhoods.
The homeowners association usually either provides valuable amenities and services or can be a drain on your very existence. Never assume you know how they operate, as they run the entire gamut from being very professional and caring well-oiled machines to corrupt, inefficient and even petty overlords.
It’s so important to know what you’re getting into with your HOA before you agree to live by their rules. Do your due diligence by speaking to your new neighbors, research them on the internet and even plan on attending a meeting, which are typically held once a month. There are so many homeowners who loved the home they bought only to be overwhelmed by the restrictions imposed by their HOA.
It is so important to get your priorities straight when picking a neighborhood to live in.
Here in California homeowners are protected under the provisions of Proposition 13 so that their property taxes are very predictable year-after-year. Insurance, on the other hand, is anything but predictable. We have high-risk areas for fire and earthquakes; both are very real realities of life in Southern California.
It’s important to understand how the local taxes work and what the insurance companies think of the area in which your proposed neighborhood is located. When considering your property taxes, make certain you investigate and fully understand any “special assessments” that are bundled with the property taxes and when they will expire.
Sure that railroad track must be a half a mile away, but when that 100-car freight train goes rolling through at 4 a.m., you have got to ask yourself if this is what you bargained for. Maybe being close to the new hospital is a good thing until you start to hear the ambulances at all hours of the day and night.
Consider the noise level of a nearby school, when the children are out for recess playing or there are 100 cars crowding the nearby streets waiting to pick up the children. How about the convenience to the freeway – what level of noise does that bring to your property. Remember, it’s not just the inside; think of those summer barbecues you want to hold.
Another environmental issue you need to consider is the local odors. Riverside County has a lot of agriculture land that is covered with either crops or livestock. One creates a lot of fertilizer, and the other consumes a lot of fertilizer – either way there may be an unpleasant odor that finds its way to your home along with the flies and other insects.
The good news is that Riverside County offers something for everyone in entertainment. Being close to the things you like to do means that you get to do them more often. If you like wine tasting, the Temecula Wine Country is for you. If hiking is your thing, there are many trails scattered throughout the county. Live concerts and other cultural events may have you considering being close to either downtown Riverside or Old Town Temecula. Regardless of what you enjoy, there is a neighborhood in Riverside County to accommodate you.
In todays connected world, high-speed internet access has become a critical element to consider when home shopping. Just as critical, if not more, is having a good cell signal at the new home. Today, so many people are working from home and have given up traditional land lines. It’s imperative that a neighborhood has the capabilities to stay connected.
Think about the exterior lighting situation. Some people find comfort with bright street lights offering a level of security, while others cherish the darkness of the night and don’t want it invaded by parking lot lights, street lights, traffic lights or any other light source.
There are many ordinances on the books protecting bicyclists and establishing bona fide bike lanes and paths. Some communities, like Temecula and Murrieta, embrace this lifestyle and go above and beyond making their cities “bike friendly” while others may not be in compliance with all of the rules in force.
In addition to bike lanes, many neighborhoods will also have fitness parks and jogging trails to promote an active and healthy lifestyle for the residents. There are just a couple more things to consider.
There are going to be many factors into finding the perfect place to call home. It’s more than just what is found within the walls or even the property boundaries. The local neighborhood is where you will be living, meeting ne friends and raiding your family. There is much to consider. This list cannot be all inclusive, but it is a good place to start you thinking outside the box of the walls of the home and at the neighborhood as a whole.
Life is not all about how close you are to work, how close the shopping district is or how you’re going to maintain your new home. Life is about the moments, and those moments include your community and neighborhood. So figure out what’s important to you and prioritize them accordingly, something only you can do.
Questions regarding available inventory and/or other real estate matters please contact, [email protected] Mike Mason, Realtor & Broker/Owner of MASON Real Estate. LIC: 01483044, Temecula Valley resident for 30+ years, Board of Director (since 2011) Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors (SRCAR).