Home & Garden

Find the right smaller home

Some of the familiar advice about buying a new home is the same, whether you’re moving into a suburban or urban setting: Visit when residents are at home to get a feel for the place, and talk to potential future neighbors.

There is one important difference, though: If you’re considering an urban midrise or high-rise, you can rent first. Many of the big uptown buildings, unlike suburban cul de sacs, have rentals available.

Take advantage. You might learn that you don’t like high-rise living, or that the particular building is not for you.

“We’re putting folks in apartments,” said T.J. Larsen of My Townhome, who specializes in uptown living. “We’ve got some clients in a VUE apartment, for instance. … See if you like high-rise living. You might not.”

In the suburbs, you might drive through on Saturday morning to get a feel for the street. Is the neighborhood full of walkers? How about kids?

In an urban building, Larsen said, visit the gym or pool deck at 5:30 in the afternoon. You might discover that the building has a 30-something party atmosphere. “Show up at 5:30,” he said, “and you’ll see what it’s like.”

If you’re an active adult, you might want something a bit calmer. You might want something that feels more like a 55-plus community, Larsen said, even though it’s not age-restricted. “Clients say, ‘We want to be in a place that’s happening – but we’re not willing to give up our sleep for that.’”

Ask residents what they like and dislike. Ask whether noise is a problem.

Just as you’d choose a real estate agent familiar with the suburban neighborhood you’re considering, select an agent familiar with the personalities of uptown buildings.

Larsen said clients come in and say, “‘We see everything that’s available. That’s not a problem when we search online. We need someone to tell us which one is right for us.’”

The Avenue condos have a big pool scene, he said, while 400 N. Church is much quieter.

An experienced agent also can alert you to issues that never would arise in a suburban neighborhood, ones you might not consider. For instance, how many of the units are primary residences? Some buildings have lots of second homes.

Allen Norwood

More on downsizing

If you’re thinking about downsizing, you’ll find lots of assistance online:

▪ Professional organizers can help you sort through clutter, and sell or donate items. Visit www.findmyorganizer.com.

▪ If you’re going to sell items online on sites such as Craigslist, be sure to follow safety rules. Go to www.craigslist.com and click on “personal safety tips.”

▪ AARP offers advice on downsizing and retirement planning. Visit www.aarp.org.

▪ The market for homes restricted to those 55 and over is booming. If you’re interested, Google “active adult communities charlotte.” If searching for a home on www.carolinahome.com, the public face of the regional Multiple Listing Services, plug “active adult” into the Remarks Keyword Search box.