Real Estate Expert Marian Schaffer Cites Top 5 Things to Look for When Choosing a Master Planned Community

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Marian Schaffer Provides 5 Tips for Choosing a Master Planned Community: These 5 Elements Will Help Ensure a Thriving, Financially Solid Community That Fulfills Residents’

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Staying on site at a community to make sure these 5 factors are present is a priceless exercise in the process of choosing the master planned community for your needs and your lifestyle.

Marian Schaffer, Principal and Founder of Southeast Discovery, a real estate consulting firm specializing in guiding Baby Boomers with their real estate needs in the niche markets of retirement relocation and second homes in the Southeast region, recently noted why relocating retirees are attracted to master planned communities, and cited 5 important things to look for when choosing a master planned community to purchase property in.

“Master planned communities have been and continue to be a desirable choice among relocating retirees for several key reasons, including robust amenity packages, existing social infrastructure, architectural review boards and restrictive covenants which provide both protection and enhancement to property value, and, because of the comprehensive planning, research and conceptualizing that goes into creating a master planned community, the unique ability of these communities to meet the specific needs of homeowners,” said Schaffer. “Because many of the relocating retirees we work with plan to buy a home in a master-planned community, part of our process is to share with them the key factors to look for in the communities they’re considering.”

The five characteristics buyers considering a master-planned community should look for according to Schaffer, are:

Amenities completed and infrastructure all in place. “We encourage buyers to look at master planned communities where amenities have been completed, or at the very minimum, communities where the developer is actively building the amenities as promised in the marketing collateral produced for prospective real estate buyers,” said Schaffer. Buying in a master planned community where the amenities are incomplete and there is no indication of construction taking place to complete them is a risk is not worth taking, according to Schaffer.

A desirable location close to towns, cities, natural amenities, airports, and good health care. “Master planned communities located near larger cities that offer shopping, dining, medical facilities, airports and good school systems usually fare the best in terms of attracting real estate buyers,” said Schaffer. Communities in excellent locations tend to see their underlying real estate go up in value over time; master planned communities located near colleges also tend to do well, according to Schaffer. “And in the case of the Southeast, where natural amenities like lakes, mountains and beaches abound, communities located within or near these natural amenities market very well to real estate buyers; consequently, this type of real estate tends to hold its value very well,” said Schaffer.

Build activity of new homes taking place. The real estate market has been improving over the last several years, and as more baby boomers flee the severe winter weather, high cost of living and property taxes in the Northern and Northeastern states, more building activity is taking place in Southeastern master planned communities. Increased build activity is one of the indicators of a robust economy; consequently, communities where a lot of build activity is taking place typically enjoy a strong financial foundation.

“We are seeing more building activity of new homes taking place in master planned communities in the past 12 months than we have seen in the marketplace over the past 7 years,” Schaffer said. “This is because interest rates have remained historically low – money is cheap and therefore borrowing costs are reasonable – and the demographic of retiring baby boomers continues to produce a steady stream of real estate activity in the Southeastern states. Master planned communities have designed a very soup to nuts approach for out of state buyers migrating to their communities to build a new home; it’s a very streamlined process.”

Quality construction. “Master planned communities that stand the test of time and appreciate in value have several key components, such as quality construction, in both the amenities built – clubhouses and fitness centers, etc. – as well as the homes built in the community,” said Schaffer. “Homes that are not well-constructed don’t stand the test of time and their real estate values do not hold well. We recommend to our clients that they do their homework on a builder before they enter into a build contract. The same due diligence should take place when the developer in the master planned community also builds homes within the community – buyers should do their homework first.”

The developer of the community has a strong track record. Buyers should do research on the developer before buying into a master planned community. “They should ask themselves, ‘What is the developer’s background? What developments have they completed prior to this current development?’ Their track record should speak for itself,” said Schaffer. “As we share with our clients, a company can only be as good as the CEO running it, and the same holds true for a development and the developer or development group running it.” Schaffer looks for three things in a quality developer: 1) experience and longevity in the market place, 2) an unblemished reputation, and 3) a portfolio of previous quality developments completed. “Past performance can be indicative of future performance,” said Schaffer.

When looking for a master planned community, Schaffer says to “Do your homework. Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, continue to look around.” Because there are so many choices throughout the Southeast region to consider for retirement relocation and second home properties, Schaffer says the best approach to the process is to work with someone you trust who knows the marketplace, and to get firsthand experience of a community from visiting it in person.

“You can do endless research, which is not a waste of time, but it won’t substitute for the worthwhile exercise of getting out there and visiting areas and communities firsthand,” said Schaffer. “Putting your feet on the ground and staying on site at a community to make sure the 5 factors outlined here are present can be a priceless exercise in the process of choosing the master planned community for your needs and your lifestyle.”

About Southeast Discovery
Since 2004, Southeast Discovery has been a trusted resource for candid information and insight on communities, developments, and general real estate in the Southeast. Through its highly-ranked web portal, newsletter and blog and its one-on-one work with clients, Southeast Discovery helps buyers actively looking for a retirement or second home in the Southeast navigate the process of identifying the right area and community for their needs. To learn more, visit http://www.southeastdiscovery.com/.

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