Master planned communities, or MPCs for short, are communities thoroughly designed to be all-encompassing: Most have public schools, office space, eateries, shopping centers, parks, and more within (or very close to) the neighborhoods where new homeowners are looking to buy.
But if every MPC claims to “have it all,” how are you supposed to pick the best for you? The process of buying a new home is daunting, and the surrounding community must play a role in your final decision. Here are some questions to help guide your home buying process.
What’s the lifestyle like here?
While no one is going to tell you the family breakdown of each neighbor, get a sense of the overall lifestyle vibes within a specific MPC. Is this a 55+ community, so events are geared toward an older demographic? Or perhaps the neighbors are predominantly young professionals without children, and so there are plenty of 21+ social events each month.
Don’t just ask about the lifestyle, though – do some observing! Are people making use of the greenspace and biking trails? Is there an event you can attend, as a potential resident, to get a feel for the energy in the community? Imagine yourself living not just in the home, but within the community as well.
What does future development look like?
One of the benefits of an MPC is development is outlined years in advance. With subdivisions, your view and surroundings are subject to future investors’ needs and wants. With an MPC, you know the intended purpose for each plot of land. Planning to grow your family by one or more kids over the next few years? Inquire about plans for building schools in the area. Walking access to a brand new elementary school could be the deciding factor between one community and another.
But it’s not just schools you should be thinking about. Knowing the nearest medical care facilities, shopping centers, and greenspaces are all important when you’re thinking about what contributes to overall lifestyle.
Be sure to take note of how long construction is planned to continue, especially when it gets time to select which lot within an MPC you’d like. If you know you’ll be bothered by the sounds of backhoes and cranes, and construction is set to continue off and on for several years, it’d be better to go with a lot secluded from the growing developments.
What are the available amenities?
You’re not likely to forget this question, but we wanted to include it just in case. While almost every MPC will have at least one pool, don’t forget to ask how many water features are available. If the only community pool is mere inches from the only splash pad, expect your quiet time to be regularly interrupted by birthday parties and toddlers.
Are you a fitness guru? Taking a tour of the available wellness facilities is helpful to ensure you have easy access to the equipment you need. Socialites and introverts alike will benefit from knowing how many community-sponsored events are free for residents versus how many (if any) come at a cost.
How many homebuilders are available in this community?
A huge appeal of MPCs is the variety of builders, floor plans, and elevations available. While a cohesive look is important to developers, MPCs typically have a wider range of options than a traditional subdivision.
Of note: Even if there’s only one homebuilder in a community, still take a look at their floor plans. Some builders offer upward of 25 floor plans within a single MPC, ensuring there’s still plenty of options.
Is there a homeowners association?
A homeowners association, or HOA, is the organization that mandates and enforces community-wide rules. These can be related to any exterior modifications allowed on a home, landscaping expectations, and general policies regarding shared or public spaces within the community.
HOAs are fairly common, and the mere presence of them is no reason to turn tail and run. However, having one doesn’t automatically put a community above the others, either. Once you’ve narrowed down your preferences, request the covenants, conditions, & restrictions from the specific communities. These documents, abbreviated to CC&Rs, will outline what is and isn’t allowed by homeowners within a community.
Are your Great Dane, German Shepherd, and adorably sweet pit bull planning on moving in to this community with you? Take note of any breed or weight restrictions when it comes to pets. Planning to decorate for the holidays, but prefer more off-the-cuff decorations? Check if there are any restrictions to how – and when – you spread your holiday cheer. Other aspects may be restricted by the HOA, too, so be sure to review the documents carefully.
Finally, if an HOA is present in the community, be sure to figure out how much the fees are. You’ll need to consider these when calculating out your monthly and yearly expenses, to ensure you’re not putting yourself in a financial bind.
There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Question
At the end of the day, it’s important to be thorough enough for you to feel confident in making a decision with the information provided. Chances are you won’t ask a question they’ve never heard before, so don’t hesitate to get more details or ask to see a specific amenity. Ready to find your dream master planned community? Head on over to NewHomeSource for resources on the home buying process, as well as up-to-date national listings.