One thing that makes master planned communities more appealing than traditional neighborhoods in the eyes of some buyers is the community amenities. Location and home features are the top priorities, but community amenities could be the deciding factor if you find more than one home you like. The amenities could even determine which communities you consider in the first place.
Before you start your home search or the process of building a new home, it’s a good idea to sit down and compare community amenities since they’re an important part of the total package and can impact value. But how do you go about comparing community amenities? Keep these four things in mind.
1) What Amenities Are You Truly Likely to Use
When you’re comparing amenities you may be tempted to think the more the better. But amenities can increase the cost of ownership (see below), which isn’t ideal if you don’t plan to use them.
Think about your current lifestyle and the types of activities you already participate in on a regular basis. Also, consider what types of activities you and your family members are likely to enjoy in the coming years. For example, if fitness is a priority then a community with a hike and bike trail, gym, and lap pool are the types of amenities that you’ll actually benefit from.
2) Cost of Community Amenities
Each community Homeowners Association (HOA) decides on the dues that owners must pay, which cover the cost of maintaining amenities. This information must be disclosed before you sign the final purchase paperwork, and it can add to your monthly payment and the cost of ownership in some communities.
In addition to the cost of HOA dues, another point to consider is when they’re due. Some communities collect dues on a monthly basis, however, they can be assessed bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.
It’s also worth asking if there will be any potential special assessments. These are one-time HOA fees that are used to cover additional costs like the expansion or repair of a shared amenity.
3) Which Community Amenities Are Value Boosters
Amenities can be a serious value booster for the community’s homes – if they’re desirable features for the area. The perceived value of the available amenities is something to keep in mind as you’re comparing your options, especially if everything else is relatively equal.
Gated entries and dedicated security personnel are a great value add in the minds of most buyers no matter where you live. After all, you can’t put a price on the security of your home and family.
A National Association of Home Builders study found three other top community amenities across age groups are hike and bike trails, park areas and easy access to shopping.
4) Quality of the Community Amenities
You’ll want to take a close look at all the community amenities to gauge the actual quality level. A community pool is a good example. Many master-planned communities have a pool, but they can vary greatly in size and features. Is the pool large enough to accommodate the size of the community? Is there a kiddie pool area for small swimmers? What’s the seating situation like around the pool area?
Construction and maintenance are other quality factors to take into consideration. Ideally, all community amenities should be top quality construction and kept up daily so that it’s something you want to use rather than an eyesore.
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