There are many benefits to buying a suburban home. Many families are attracted to the large space, peacefulness and sense of community in the suburbs. Many suburbs in Massachusetts also have great schools historically, which make them great neighborhoods that hold long-term value. These great school towns can also be competitive for first-time home buyers. Some condo owners migrate to the suburbs as their kids get older and trade up for more space.
What to watch out for when buying a suburban home? Here are some major points to consider:
Schools: inventory is low for entry-level homes under $700,000 in top school towns such as Lexington, Newton, Wellesley, Acton, Belmont, Weston. Other high-quality school towns are more accessible but still popular, such as Bedford, Concord, Wayland, Sharon, Canton. Many other towns offer decent quality schools for buyers to choose from and since Massachusetts in general have better than national average schools, anywhere in the top 20 still rank well nationally. Don’t get too caught up in the school rankings though. Some of the ranking criteria can be arbitrary and change from year to year. Also school ranking is not necessarily a direct indication of how well a child might fit in with the particular school community.
Foundation: when you walk into a single family home, the first thing you should study is the foundation. Is the basement well-supported? Are there serious signs of settlements or flooding? Are there problems that might be costly to fix? If you aren’t sure, consult an experienced real estate professional because foundation problems can be one of the most costly problems to fix. If you are considering making an offer, you should budget accordingly as well depending on how costly the issues. There are issues that you should simply walk away from.
Septic system: for single-family homes, it is important to make sure that the septic system of the house works properly. Water drainage is more important in more rural areas compared to the city. Septic systems can be fixed of course, but you should take the cost into consideration when deciding how much to offer.
Pest infestation: make sure you read the seller disclosure of the property. A seller disclosure is a document provided by the seller that details any potential issues, improvements or history of the house. Some sellers will disclose history of pest infestations such as termites. An experienced real estate professional can help you analyze the seller disclosure properly. If the subject property does not provide a seller disclosure, your buyer’s agent can help you request one. It is important to perform your due diligence before jumping on the property.
Location: make sure you do lots of research about the commutability. Some neighborhoods can have bad traffic if you are trying to commute to the city for work. Also, some houses right next to a heavily trafficked road can be harder to resell later, although this certainly works case-by-case. For every house that stays on the market longer, there is always a story behind it. It is important to understand the story and history behind it and plan your strategies accordingly.
In our next article, How to Stand Out Among Suburban Home Bidding Wars, we will discuss some of the strategies for winning your first bid and how the pricing works in the suburban market. I hope you find these articles useful! If there are other issues you are considering or want to discuss, feel free to contact or .