Jason and I have been looking to buy a house for well over a year now. We absolutely love living in the city, but need to find a place that we can escape to during weekends and summer months. We need a place to store our belongings, a place for the kids to run freely, and a place to host large dinners or gatherings, and who knows maybe one day this will be our primary space.
We haven’t found anything right yet, which means the hunt continues and I have to say, the whole process is pretty exhausting. Just last week, after looking at ten houses, we found a house that checked every box, EXCEPT it was one house off a very busy road. The house was immaculate so the realtor was pushing the property’s good qualities (because there were a ton!), but just standing in the backyard, we could hear the constant hum of cars and big trucks whizzing by, so we knew that it wasn’t the right thing to do.
Completely fed up with our search and broker, we decided to take a step backwards and started chatting with Suburban Jungle, which is a real estate advisory firm that helps families find the right suburb, based on lifestyle, in addition to real estate preferences. They are the step before the real estate broker and use a town-first approach in helping families move from urban to suburban locations. While they typically focus on helping families find their permanent house, I spoke with founder Alison Bernstein, about our home search.
I’ve realized that wanting a three to four bedroom house with a backyard shouldn’t be our only criteria when searching. When we spoke with Suburban Jungle, we spoke about how to choose the right community, best times to buy and move, children’s’ activities, and much more. Alison brought up circumstances I hadn’t considered, like if Ryder has a baseball game on a Saturday how would we escape for the weekend, and how we should concentrate on something that is not too far away, but far enough that it feels like an escape. When looking at houses now going forward, I am taking her individualized advice into accountant as well as her broker recommendations, as this decision will be life changing for us.
We live in a world now where we hire advisors to help us navigate large and small aspects of our lives all the time. Whether it’s finding preschools and sleep away camps, organizing our closets, or someone to manage our finances, we seek input from experts to help us make informed decisions. But when it comes to buying a home, possibly the biggest purchase and one of the most important decisions of your life, most just go with their gut. Real estate agents work primarily for the seller and really just want to sell you a house. Their guidance is limited. Suburban Jungle offers their services for free; they don’t care where you end up purchasing a home. They just want to make sure you are choosing the right community. Once you start working with them, you will be matched with a town strategist who will then connect you with a local real estate agent in each of the towns you are considering. They also have a network of local moms and dads that they connect their clients with so that they can further evaluate the communities before selecting a house.
Suburban Jungle has just introduced a new feature this season, called Suburban Stroller Tours. Currently offered in Chappaqua, Westport, Port Washington, Montclair, Irvington, Larchmont, and Greenwich, you will have a guided tour in a town, capped off with a three course lunch. For me, this concept is absolutely brilliant, because there’s nothing like spending an entire day in a town where you are thinking of buying. By experiencing all the town and community offer may aid you in making a better decision on what is best for you, rather than only seeing the town from the car, as you run from house viewing to house viewing. If the group outing is not a good fit for you, they would be happy to coordinate a one-on-one experience for you, as well.
In the next few months, I hope to find something that is right for us, and so thankful for Suburban Jungle’s advice and guidance during this exciting, yet nerve wracking time. Hopefully, they can help you in your home search. In addition to NYC, their services are available in Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, and Los Angeles.