Politics and real estate

How running for office made me a better Realtor

Those of you who don’t live in Bethlehem probably don’t know that I recently ran for (and won!) a seat on the town board. My four year term begins January 1st and I am very excited for the opportunity to serve our wonderful town. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about what I learned knocking on doors and talking to people across Bethlehem and how I can use that information to be a better Realtor.

When you buy a home you buy so much more than a house, you buy a community; a community that you will likely live in for many years. As important as the number of bedrooms, the size of the closets, and the condition of the bathrooms are, there are bigger factors to consider. As I campaigned across Bethlehem, certain issues came up again and again – taxes, services, and community amenities. I realize now more than ever that my job as a Realtor is to make sure my clients carefully consider these factors when choosing their next home.

Taxes – no one wants their taxes to go up. I didn’t need to run for public office to learn that. But it’s important to remember that taxes contribute to our quality of life and the value of our property. School taxes are a significantly larger portion of the total than property taxes. However, the quality of the school district correlates with the value of a home so while a buyer should consider the tax burden they will incur, it is important to keep in mind that the more highly ranked the schools are, the more money your home is worth.

Town services – all those things that you don’t really notice until they are lacking. Many of these services aren’t particularly “sexy” but it’s critical that they are provided seamlessly (I liken them to the roof and furnace of your home, you need them but they are never as fun to pay for as a new kitchen or bathroom). It’s important to consider what services a particular town provides and how well the town provides them when deciding if it’s the right place to live.

Community amenities – those things that enable you to enjoy the place you live, include sidewalks, parks and open spaces, town centers, access to shopping, ease of commuting, town sponsored events. Healthy communities are those that have a variety of amenities and have plans in place to maintain them. When buying a home, you want to consider not only the amenities you will enjoy right away, but the ones you will value as you age and your family changes.

While I knew beforehand that these factors should be considered when making a home purchase, I am more aware than ever of their importance. And while I didn’t run for office with the intention of becoming a better Realtor, I am grateful for the insight I gained in meeting many, many homeowners over the last several months and hearing their thoughts on community.