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Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1
reply to Dodge

Re: Picking location to buy a house

On of the most useful evaluation techniques is driving by the neighborhood you are considering purchasing a home in at key times. Find out when the children are picked up by the school bus in the area you are contemplating buying. Check out how the children are dressed and their behavior. The Realtor is prohibited by law in discussing the racial makeup of the neighborhood. Drive by on the weekend mid morning and early evening to see what type of vehicles are parked in the driveways. If you can find someone you know that lives in the neighborhood ask them if there are any problems. Unless you are looking in an older city where there is no land for new homes make sure that the homes in the area you are looking in are not functionally obsolete or very old.



IIIBradIII
Comm M-E-L Instr

join:2000-09-28
Greer, SC
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

I'd move into an apartment with a 1 year lease, in which time you can do local shopping for a house and get to know the area.

Of course, I can imagine difficulties regarding this plan, such as too many things and kids.

This, but just get a short-term lease if you don't want to wait a year. You'll pay slightly more per month to get a 3 or 6 month lease, but isn't something this important worth it? It would be to me.

This is how we did it when we moved out of state years ago. Rented a townhouse for a yr then we knew exactly where we wanted to buy. And we didn't buy where we would have bought a year earlier - that year renting gave us the information we needed to be informed.
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Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to Archivis

said by Archivis:

Let me ask you a few questions then.

How far down are you willing to narrow it down. You said "state". Which state are you in and do you require living in that state?

Do you have children?

Many states are rather large, so unless you live in Rhode Island, travel distance to your job is a rather big deal. I live in Pennsylvania, where it takes a solid 7-8 hours to drive from one side to the other and that's if you're taking the turnpike.

Right now we are in NY, but the housing market around here is priced beyond any rhyme or reason. From quick research online I can get twice the house and 10x land in NJ vs anywhere in NYC (counting all boroughs). Higher upstate in NY would still be a good option for us, but like I said I need no more than 1-1.5 hours to downtown Manhattan.

Here is the list of wants that mostly cannot be had in any of the 5 boroughs of NYC unless you are going into over a mil territory:
- decent back yard, enough to play around with a large breed dog
- enough space in the garage to keep at least one car indoors and still have a work area
- peaceful
- not be right on top of the neighbors
- safe

Obviously this is not the whole list of wants, but these are the items that I can't see getting by staying in NY


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

What attaches you to the area? Just your job?



Acc708

join:2008-06-28
reply to Dodge

A lot of New Yorkers also look towards Pennsylvania due to exactly what you are looking for and dealing with. A lot of good deals can be had there and they aren't all that far. Some counties also have a free website research option where you can do comps of what the houses sell for and when they were built, etc...


Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to Archivis

said by Archivis:

What attaches you to the area? Just your job?

Mostly, yes.

Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to Acc708

said by Acc708:

A lot of New Yorkers also look towards Pennsylvania due to exactly what you are looking for and dealing with. A lot of good deals can be had there and they aren't all that far. Some counties also have a free website research option where you can do comps of what the houses sell for and when they were built, etc...

I really don't see how PA is 1-1.5 hours away from NYC.


Acc708

join:2008-06-28

Takes about 1hr 45 mins from Philly to East Rutherford. Further north is closer.


Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1

1 edit
reply to Dodge

I grew up in the New York Metropolitan Area and spent my summers as a child between Port Jervis and Middletown in Orange County, New York. If you are going to work in Metropolitan Manhattan consider property along the Erie, Lakawana railroad, the name may have been changed to Conrail. I have a friend I visit that lives in Middletown, N.Y. and takes the train to NYC to attend various sporting events. You can take a train from Port Jervis or Middletown (Silver Lake) N.Y. and other cities further South, East directly into Penn Central. Housing prices in Orange County have not escalated as much as they have on the East side of the Hudson River.

You failed to mention where you work in the New York Metropolitan area. If you work in downtown Manhattan around wall street you can take the Erie Lakawana into Hoboken, New Jersey and then via the Port Authority Trans Hudson Tubes into Chambers Street Station, Manhattan.



fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to Dodge

The NYC area is pretty much a clusterfuck when it comes to housing. If I had the choice I'd live somewhere like Tennessee or Texas. But if we move, my wife loses her really good health insurance and pension which she worked hard for many years for. Plus I have a decent, stable gig.

New Jersey isn't terrible but it isn't ideal either. You get more land but you get high property taxes and nanny state laws. You can't even pump your own gas here. Owning guns (if you're into that) is an ordeal. Strictest gun control laws in the nation.

If you want a lot of land you have to move far out and deal with the commute. 2 hours to Pennsylvania is not uncommon but you either get used to it or it gets old. It's not really the sheer distance but the fact that there are so many traffic bottlenecks along the way.

Many areas of NJ are served by reliable mass transit. Problem is, everyone wants to live there. So housing gets expensive in those areas. I have coworkers living in Princeton who commute to NYC by train. A train ticket is $400+ per month.

I have an old friend who lives upstate, in woodstock (yes, the music festival town). He commutes like 3 hours each way on amtrak.

There's also Long Island.


JoeSchmoe007
Premium
join:2003-01-19
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
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1 edit
reply to Dodge

3 hours each way is INSANE.

I have friends who live near Princeton, NJ. For them commute to work is 1 hr 45 min. I think this is also insane.

Do not rely on anybody telling you how long DOOR-TO-DOOR commute is.

People who live in suburbs are often delusional about it (except real estate agents, they will just lie to you).


When I first asked my friends who live near Princeton how long their commute to work in Manhattan is they said "Train takes one hour". Short interrogation revealed that it takes 20 minutes to get from the house to the train station in NJ and then another 20-30 minutes by subway in Manhattan to get to work. Plus waiting list for the parking near train station in NJ is 1 (or 2?) years, so husband has to drop wife off and then drive to work (he works in NJ). Otherwise it is a 40 minutes walk to train station on NJ roads (means no sidewalk, almost complete darkness in winter), and friends' wife actually got hit by a car once while walking (thankfully it was nothing but a scare and a couple bruises).

Don't forget if you ever have to stay late at work - good luck catching this NJ train that runs once an hour later at night and then not all, might as well just sleep under the desk at your work.

Oh the wonders of suburban living !



Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1

All in your mind. I drove 150 miles/day for 5 years and suffered no ill effects. You do what you have to do. OP might enjoy the suburbs in spite of the commutes. You or I cannot determine what others might want.


Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
reply to Dodge

You better check the property taxes before moving to NJ. Anyplace nice with a decent size house could run you $15,000/year in property taxes.



Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom

said by Bob4:

You better check the property taxes before moving to NJ. Anyplace nice with a decent size house could run you $15,000/year in property taxes.

Good advice. Here we don't have to worry too much. Our Real Estate tax is 0.47/100 with no other additional tax except personal property (vehicles, boats etc) of 3.75/100.

I never have understood why the taxes were so excessive up north.


dark_star

join:2003-11-14
Louisville
kudos:1
reply to Dodge

Lots of great advice in this thread. I'll try to add some.

Many locations (counties) have online resources that don't show up in Google search results.

For example, Jefferson County KY, is where I live (Louisville KY).

You can easily see the taxable appraised values of any address in the county on the Jefferson County Sheriff's website. On the same site you can also search for convicted sex criminals near any given address.

There is another website that lets you see if a property is in the flood zone (including the flood map panel number), the sales history (with selling price) of the property, the lot size, and the Census tract number. Yet another site (Louisville Police) shows crime maps.

Finding these sites is the trick, since they don't readily appear in search results. Try going to city, county, and all applicable law enforcement agency websites, and throughly explore those sites.

Some random items:

Never buy from a house flipper. The house was fixed up to sell, not to live in. After you move in, you'll discover the difference.

Don't buy a house with a lot of rental property around it. The nice guy renter that might be in there now will be statistically more transient than an owner. The next renter might not be so ideal. Plus the owner of a rental unit has a single goal: profit. Upkeep, upgrades, and improvements take away from that profit.

Nothing wrong with buying a fixer upper, if you want. But watch out for properties that have an uncorrectable defect. Such as, the house sits on an inferior lot, or is next door to run down apartments, or a run down house, or a too busy road. No matter what you do to make improvements, you won't able to fully enjoy your property because of defects like those.

Unless it is on the beach, I would never buy in the flood zone. You'll pay for flood insurance forever, making the true cost of the property higher than it would be if it were not located in the flood zone. And even with the best of insurance, it would not be pleasant to have your home and belongings damaged or destroyed by floodwater.

I agree with other comments to take the time to become familiar with the market you're considering. Good deals on real estate are relatively rare, but if you don't know the market you can't know if you are seeing a great price or an average price.


bkjohnson
Premium
join:2002-05-22
Birmingham, AL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to Dodge

Subdivison is analogous to neighborhood, or maybe a group of contiguous neighborhoods, I guess. I like having more than one way in and out, in case one entrance gets blocked by a fallen tree, wreck. etc. With respect to aluminum vs copper, I was thinking inside, probably not range, etc. wiring. I used to live in a house with aluminum wiring, and it never gave any real problems. However, when I went to sell the house, it became somewhat of an issue with the buyer, and I had to pay for inspection and some remediation. After learning more about it I doubt that I would buy another house with aluminum wiring. There have been a good many threads here on the topic. As for fire protection, the rating of a fire department as well as distance to a fire station and hydrant can affect insurance costs. Probably won't be an issue, but still best to check. Also important to me are good EMS services.



nightdesigns
Gone missing, back soon
Premium
join:2002-05-31
AZ
reply to Dodge

As others have said, rent first and learn the area (make sure you want to stay as well). I relocated for a job 4 years ago and flew out for a weekend to find a rental. Really knew nothing of the area and were just looking for something centrally located that would work for a little while.

Once we had a chance to learn the area we found much nicer neighborhoods and as soon as our lease was up relocated.

If we had purchased a house in the first neighborhood, we would have been miserable. Also, had a few moments that first year when we were ready to go back. That would have been an extra burden.

Rentals are flexible and can be short term. Buying is not...
--
This Space for Rent...


pandora
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Outland
kudos:2
Reviews:
·ooma
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reply to Dodge

This is too complex and too personal for a public post. You need to evaluate the property price, school performance, taxes, if on or near a body of water number of feet about 500 year flood level, commute time, style of home, even size of garage door (many garage doors in new homes are too small for a full sized SUV and are a squeeze for many normal sized SUV's and mini-vans).

Personally, I'd never take a commute again that was longer than a half hour driving or an hour on a decent (and local) train. Over time too much of life is lost if a commute is long.

Proximity to shopping, entertainment, anticipated future development / changes of the area you are looking at, and the age / quality of any specific house.

Realtors tend to work in specific areas, and can't be overly helpful over a very large / extended range.
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"



AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
reply to Mr Matt

Stay away from Long Island.



AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
reply to Dodge

said by Dodge:

said by Acc708:

A lot of New Yorkers also look towards Pennsylvania due to exactly what you are looking for and dealing with. A lot of good deals can be had there and they aren't all that far. Some counties also have a free website research option where you can do comps of what the houses sell for and when they were built, etc...

I really don't see how PA is 1-1.5 hours away from NYC.

trick to commuting from PA is sleeping on the express bus that leaves at 4am
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Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27

said by AVD:

said by Dodge:

said by Acc708:

A lot of New Yorkers also look towards Pennsylvania due to exactly what you are looking for and dealing with. A lot of good deals can be had there and they aren't all that far. Some counties also have a free website research option where you can do comps of what the houses sell for and when they were built, etc...

I really don't see how PA is 1-1.5 hours away from NYC.

trick to commuting from PA is sleeping on the express bus that leaves at 4am

I have enough back problems to add to them by sleeping on a bus. In general I was never able to sleep in a moving vehicle, bus, train, plain, car, doesn't matter, just can't sleep like that.


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

said by Dodge:

I have enough back problems to add to them by sleeping on a bus. In general I was never able to sleep in a moving vehicle, bus, train, plain, car, doesn't matter, just can't sleep like that.

me either, until I started commuting to Brooklyn via mass transit.
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* seek help if having trouble coping
--Standard disclaimers apply.--

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
reply to Mr Matt

Port Jervis to NY Penn Station is 2 hr 15 min each way, and costs $418 per month.


Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to Bob4

said by Bob4:

You better check the property taxes before moving to NJ. Anyplace nice with a decent size house could run you $15,000/year in property taxes.

I already checked that. In comparison to Staten Island taxes seem to be roughly on par for the amount of land you are getting. I just have a feeling that if I'll buy something in Staten Island I'll be miserable and will regret it for a very long time. (I'm using Staten Island as that's the area where we almost wound up buying before).

I like DIY stuff, and there is just no space for any of it in Staten Island.


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
reply to Bob4

$418 is monthly maintenance on a parking spot in Manhattan.



fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to JoeSchmoe007

said by JoeSchmoe007:

3 hours each way is INSANE.

I have friends who live near Princeton, NJ. For them commute to work is 1 hr 45 min. I think this is also insane.

Do not rely on anybody telling you how long DOOR-TO-DOOR commute is.

People who live in suburbs are often delusional about it (except real estate agents, they will just lie to you).


When I first asked my friends who live near Princeton how long their commute to work in Manhattan is they said "Train takes one hour". Short interrogation revealed that it takes 20 minutes to get from the house to the train station in NJ and then another 20-30 minutes by subway in Manhattan to get to work. Plus waiting list for the parking near train station in NJ is 1 (or 2?) years, so husband has to drop wife off and then drive to work (he works in NJ). Otherwise it is a 40 minutes walk to train station on NJ roads (means no sidewalk, almost complete darkness in winter), and friends' wife actually got hit by a car once while walking (thankfully it was nothing but a scare and a couple bruises).

Don't forget if you ever have to stay late at work - good luck catching this NJ train that runs once an hour later at night and then not all, might as well just sleep under the desk at your work.

Oh the wonders of suburban living !

Yep, most of this is true.

But there are trade offs.

If you commute via train or bus you either sleep on the train/bus or pull out your laptop/ipad and get work done. I did a bit of both when I was commuting via public transport.

But living in the 5 boroughs doesn't mean your commute automatically becomes a few minutes. I lived in Astoria (Queens) and had to commute downtown to the old port authority building (aka Google) and it would often take me 30 to 45 minutes.

Some people live in the far reaches of Brooklyn and take over an hour to get to work, on a crowded, smelly subway, usually standing all the way.

I have a long commute and I drive. Am I nuts? I have 6 acres, a large home, peace and quiet. And I get home around 6:30 most days. I leave home early and therefore leave the office early which means I beat most traffic.

I would never live in the outer boroughs of NYC ever again. Shit hole is an understatement. You have rude neighbors playing loud music until midnight (when they're legally required to stop), noise all the time, rude kids jumping on your car if you're lucky to find a street space to park it. Not to mention that lovely new york city income tax.

Living in Manhattan? Yeah, the "nice" parts of manhattan aren't for folks like me. $5000/month in rent will gobble up a good chunk of my pay, no thanks. Then the apartment has paper thin walls where you can hear your neighbors having sex at 2AM or even farting too loudly.


fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to AVD

said by AVD:

Stay away from Long Island.

After Sandy, I'd say that's true. Most of LI is a flood zone, and it's just as shitty as NYC. The property taxes are also higher than a kite.


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
reply to fifty nine

said by fifty nine:

I have a long commute and I drive. Am I nuts?

yes
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8744675

join:2000-10-10
Decatur, GA
reply to Dodge

Hang out in a potential neighborhood at different times of day and watch what goes on. Is there a lot of cut-through traffic using the street at certain times? Is it easy to get in and out of then neighborhood without getting killed in traffic. How is the lot graded? Will I have a creek flowing through my yard every time it rains? Am I in a flight path for the airport where jets will be buzzing overhead all day? Are there annoying speed bumps in the roads in and out of the neighborhood? Are there a lot of houses in various stages of disrepair? Are there a lot of vacant homes or homes for sale? Does the neighborhood seem to be improving or declining?

How far is the nearest grocery store that I would shop at? How far and how good are the schools if you have kids. Will they walk to school or take a bus? What other services or businesses are close by. Are there a lot of vacant businesses around the area?

Police will give you crime statistics for a potential neighborhood if you ask. It's public information and often shared with neighborhood watch groups.

Just some of the many things that you don't always notice when viewing homes with an an agent during a quiet time of day. Trust your gut.



mityfowl
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Dallas, TX
reply to Dodge

Anything much more than an hour is nuts