Retirement for my husband is some years away but we went scouting for homes in Sedona, AZ this past week with only amazing views of the rocks in mind.
As geologists, we told our real estate agent “It’s all about the View!”, having looked at some properties on Zillow.
We were wrong.
Before looking inside some properties, we scouted neighborhoods via car the day before meeting with our agent. We crossed off most of the properties and began to change our criteria.
We began looking at homes as if we had to sell them in the future.
Massive homes sat next to tiny homes, horse stables, wood shops, and cars in the yards in many cases. There was no cohesion. We both agreed these houses could be tough to sell in the future if needed.
The house may look super in Zillow, but it may not “go” with the neighborhood.
The neighborhoods we liked had some cohesion. Not cookie-cutter, but they had a plan and the houses were of similar size and style with xeriscaping in between.
Once we narrowed down some neighborhoods, we saw several homes with great views. The top floors were beautiful but the basements were creepy in most cases. At 4,000 square feet, we felt like BB’s rattling around in a giant box. They were all way too much house and the intimate feeling of a home was lost.
A private pool
In Sedona, many of the homes are second and third homes for people, so they don’t need a private pool. A few years from now, this may be our primary residence. We both love water and each of us used to have a private pool in our former lives. We saw only 1 home with such a pool and hot tub and envisioned enjoying the pool, looking at stars, having parties and company.
A place for friends and family to visit
We considered many other locations around the country, like Ashville, NC. Compared with Sedona, no friends or family would visit us there- far away, difficult to get to.
Multi-level, just say no
Having had 9 surgeries and getting older, I appreciate the lack of multiple levels in a house. Some we looked at felt like rabbit warrens. One had 5 LEVELS (the 8 year old me would be thrilled). So many stairs just spells danger for me.
My advice? Use Zillow or Realtor.com as a first pass but don’t use it as a real-estate bible. Neither tells you if the listing is multi level-only an MLS portal via an agent does that. Google Earth might help you not be Neighborhoodwinked, but only driving it will really tell you.
When buying retirement real estate:
*go to daveramsey.com and find an ELP (Endorsed Local Provider) and establish a relationship. Ours agent is fantastic- there’s a reason Dave Ramsey endorses the right people.
*give yourself a few years to get to know an area
*try out the restaurants and supermarkets
*rent a car and drive around to check out houses and neighborhoods
*Ask your realtor about utility costs – a water bill in the desert might be really high
*Keep an open mind about what you want, expect it to change and be flexible:
-it might be the view