The summer months are traditionally a time when many families make a move to a new home, but before they start packing, there are many questions they should ask themselves, says Fort Myers custom builder Bill Ennen.
‘We have a list of more than 200 questions we go through with our clients as they are planning their custom homes,’ Ennen said. ‘Every detail is important because this is their opportunity to get everything they want in a home. However, many of the issues covered easily apply to anyone shopping for a home. They have to do with practical advice on how to select the best home for the way you live.’
In addition to a standard list of ‘must-haves’ in the number of bedrooms and baths, homebuyers should analyze their lifestyle and create a list of what is important to them.
‘This is a very personal way to evaluate a home,’ Ennen said. ‘It allows people to separate the things they really need and want from the items that look good in another home or model.’
For example, they might consider whether their lifestyle involves frequently entertaining friends and family, the number of guests they might want to include at any one time, and whether or not they need a formal space.
‘The trend over the past few years has been to a more informal style of entertaining, even in the luxury market,’ Ennen said. ‘People are opting for open spaces, incorporating the kitchen into the living space. And in Florida, blending the outdoor living area into the indoor living space is paramount.’
However, there are still many families who prefer to have the dining space separate from the kitchen and don’t want the kitchen to be visible to guests. ‘Those are important considerations in selecting a home,’ he said.
For the custom homebuyer, creating a perfect master suite retreat is often a high priority. ‘For many of our clients, the master suite is where they begin their day, perhaps with a relaxing cup of coffee before breakfast. There is a strong demand for a master bath that provides individual privacy yet maintains the serenity and beauty of a spa,’ Ennen said. ‘This idea is not unique to the custom homebuyer.’
How guest bedrooms will function is another consideration, notes John Zagar, consultant for Florida Lifestyle Homes.
‘Families with children need bedrooms that will function as their children grow, with room perhaps for a study desk or an extra bed for sleepovers,’ Zagar said. ‘For those who often entertain out-of-town visitors or family, the size of the guest bedroom is equally important as they want to provide guests with the comfort they would enjoy in their own home. Our Key West model at Naples Reserve sold within a few weeks of opening, and the generous guest bedroom — which included a king-size bed — was one of the features the buyer said was important to her.’
In addition to selecting the right house, a buyer has the task of picking the right neighborhood.
‘In real estate, you often hear ‘location, location, location,’ and that is an important consideration in selecting a home,’ noted Randy Frederick, consultant with Florida Lifestyle Homes. ‘One consultant uses the expression that you live in a home but your life happens in a place, and that’s true. It’s important to be in a place that has opportunities for the activities you enjoy whether you’re sports-minded and want outdoor activities, proximity to a good restaurant or access to a variety of cultural activities.’
Whether building or buying, real estate professionals suggest visiting the neighborhood you’ve selected at different times of the day and on different days to get a complete impression of life in the area.
‘These are merely steppingstones that help people make important decisions about their new home,’ Ennen said. ‘I encourage my clients to talk about what they do every day. Do you value time in a quiet space to read? Do you do a lot of cooking? Do you need space for a home office that can also accommodate business visitors?
‘And, just as important, is evaluating the place you are currently living,’ Ennen concluded. ‘What do you like, and what space is wasted and unused? We can easily respond to individual needs when building a custom home. But having a clear vision of what your family needs equips every homebuyer to make the best choice.’
For more information about Florida Lifestyle Homes and the communities where they build, visit www.FloridaLifestyleHomes.com.
Founded in 1993 by Bill Ennen, Florida Lifestyle Homes, Inc. is a preferred builder in Quail West and Naples Reserve in Naples, The Club at Renaissance in Fort Myers, West Bay Beach & Golf Club in Estero, and Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. The company also has large estate homesites available in the private boating riverfront community of Caloosa Preserve and builds custom homes on owners’ lots throughout Southwest Florida. Florida Lifestyle Homes, Inc. is at 14311 Metropolis Avenue, Suite 101, Fort Myers.