BY ERIK J. MARTIN, CTW FEATURES
They say home is where the heart is – or at least it should be, especially if you have a hobby, pastime, or recreational activity close to your heart and which you can’t live without.
Many home buyers don’t necessarily ponder how amenable their next residence will be to a passion like arts and crafts, making and recording music, collecting, or engaging in an outdoor pursuit. But the experts agree that this factor should be strongly weighed before committing to a move and home purchase.
“Home buyers should carefully think about their hobbies and passions when purchasing a home, no matter what stage of life they are in,” suggests Lauren McKinney, a Realtor with Beverly Hanks & Associates in Asheville, North Carolina. “With more people working from home than ever, they often have extra time for hobbies. And those near retirement want to be close to what they enjoy. Whether walking your dog to a dog park, enjoying boating with friends, or hosting an elaborate Halloween display on your property, keep these activities in mind when searching for a home.”
Robert Smith, broker/owner of Knoxville, Tennessee-based Brick & Mortar Properties, echoes those thoughts.
“It’s becoming more common now that buyers have flexibility in their work schedules to purchase a home based on personal interests rather than proximity to their office. I feel that this will continue to be the case. I’m also seeing this in empty nester buyers who don’t need as much space and can focus more on hobbies and personal interests,” he says.
The money saved purchasing a home in a location that isn’t conducive to a favorite hobby or activity may not be worth it, cautions McKinney. And even if you don’t currently have a preferred pastime, your next home may present more opportunities for hobbies nearby, so think carefully about future-proofing your next location for fun and recreational pursuits.
“Buyers may be more engaged in a particular community if there are activities that they may learn to enjoy and they can meet neighbors with the same common interests,” she adds. “But consider the distance to those activities before purchasing a home. A bigger or newer home may not always be better in the long run if you aren’t close to the places and pastimes you enjoy.”
Additionally, before choosing a property, determine if and how it can be modified and updated to fit your hobby, if necessary.
“It is sometimes much easier to build the perfect garage or space than it is to find the perfect property that someone else designed. Location is almost the only thing you cannot change in a home, but everything else can be changed,” explains Smith.
If you are thinking about purchasing within a homeowner’s association, check covenants and restrictions thoroughly to ensure your pursuit is allowed on or near the premises.
“If your passion is horses, but there are horse restrictions, you might find this out too late when reviewing homes on the market,” Smith cautions.
Think hard, too, about how devoted you will remain about your hobby in the coming years, especially if you plan to modify the residence to accommodate your passion.
“What may be a joy today could become a stressor later in life when a home or location is built around one specific thing. It could be difficult to sell due to the specific nature of the home or location,” adds Smith.
Shmuel Shayowitz, president/chief lending officer for River Edge, New Jersey-headquartered Approved Funding, recommends first renting a home in the area where you will indulge in your passion or hobby.
“By exploring the area without a substantial financial commitment, you are not trapping yourself in a location that might not suit your long-term goals or objectives. Alternatively, if you can monetize your hobby or personal interest, that might be a compelling reason to invest in homeownership without the risk of anchoring yourself financially in a geographical area,” Shayowitz advises.
Remember to put a pastime into proper perspective and priority, too.
“Location should be goal number one when purchasing a home, and price should rank number two. Safety and growth of an area can fluctuate, but picking a home based on these factors is usually next on the list,” Smith continues. “Traditionally, choosing a home based around a hobby has been a very low priority in my experience, but I see that shifting to a higher priority now and expect the same in the future.”