One thing that a man should never forget when he is buying a home is that the home will be the center of his family life probably for many years. His children will be brought up in it and amidst its surroundings. In it his wife must do most of her work, and in it both he and his wife will spend most of their leisure time. He should, therefore, look at the different properties available and see how they measure up by these common-sense, practical standards. It is well for the family to picture itself going through its daily routine in the new house - cooking, cleaning, going to work, school, play, etc., at all seasons.
The mere fact that a showy mantelpiece is displayed, that a 4-inch steel I-beam supports the floor, that a radio set has been installed, or that several French plate glass mirrors are built in doors should not determine the buyer's choice or induce him to pay an additional $500 for the property.
In making sure that he is acquiring a satisfactory home, a buyer, whether he realizes it or not, usually takes into account most of the factors given below. Several of them do not apply in the case of purchases in towns and cities of moderate size.
Before buying, one should consider:
1 From How To Own Your Home (Washington: Better Homes in America, 1929), pp. 14-18.
1. Low or high land values.
2. Transportation facilities: (a) To place of work and (b) to shopping centers.
1. Character of the neighborhood.
3. Desirable points for the lot: (a) Shade trees, shrubs, and planting; (6) set of house with reference to sunlight and prevailing winds; and (c) character of the soil and necessity for grading, filling, or draining.
1. Danger in buying a lot too long before building.
2. Extent of street and public utility improvements (paving, sidewalks/ water supply, sewerage, electricity, gas).
3. Possible assessments.
4. Proportion of lot value to total outlay.
5. Checking property values: (a) Land and (b) house.
6. Plan of house and quality of construction.
7. Steps taken in buying.
8. Examination of title.
Choosing the general location for a home is usually a matter of compromise, but none the less important. A little forethought may show the futility of searching for property in certain sections, or perhaps limit the choice to a given district, which will permit better use of the time spent looking for the right lot.
Low or high land values: In larger cities one must decide between a small lot in a more convenient and accessible location, where land values are higher, or a larger lot farther away from the center, where land is not so expensive. This problem is often closely bound up with that of a single detached house as compared with a double house, or a house in a row. Detached houses on large lots are preferable, but on narrow lots they frequently have middle rooms that depend for light and air on side yards only 3 or 5 feet wide and may not be so desirable as good row or semidetached houses.
A site with a yard, especially where grass can be grown, is particularly desirable for families with children, and a space for a vegetable garden is also one of the advantages that may go with a good-sized lot.
Transportation facilities: The general location of the home may depend largely on the part of the city in which the members of the family are most likely to be employed. It should be either within walking distance of the probable place of work or in reach of good transportation. The mere promise that a trolley, or bus line will be provided is not enough. Ability to reach shopping centers is important for the housewife.
If there is no zoning law, how about private restrictions? Are there any restrictive clauses in the deed? In the deeds for all other houses in the block? If even one or two lots near by are unrestricted, objectionable buildings might be erected on them. Is there a requirement to build a house of a certain minimum cost? Could that much be afforded? Are the private restrictions such that a home will surely be protected? For what period do the restrictions run? It often happens that the private restrictions were made to run for, say, twenty-five years and they may be about to expire, leaving the home unprotected. Verbal representations concerning other buildings in the neighborhood are of no binding force on their owners.
The advantages of having a home within the jurisdiction of good fire and police protection are obvious.