Pondering parking

Prospective homebuyers should seek property with space for their vehicles and easy access for visitors, too

By Erik J. Martin CTW Features

They say buying a home is the most important financial transaction of your life — followed closely by the purchase of a new car. At the intersection of those two is an important but sometimes overlooked factor for homebuyers: parking accommodation. The prospective buyer should seek parking in a safe, convenient location with ample space for guest vehicles, says Cher Castillo Freeman, principal broker at SKY Real Estate in Washington, D.C.

“Having a parking space that is off-street [on the property] adds value to a home and allows the owner easy access to it. Parking that is on the street but easily attained allows easy access and is a good selling point when the owner decides to move,” Freeman says. “Don’t fall in love with a property without examining the parking situation, because if you have to fight for a space every time you come home, you will not enjoy living there.”

Single-family homes

As a rule of thumb, a property should include at least one space for each vehicle of the buyer.

In an ideal situation, there should be one parking spot — whether it is indoor or outdoor — for each bedroom in their prospective residence, which makes it convenient for visitors as well as children who will eventually drive. “For example, a two-bedroom unit should have two spots, minimum, and there should always be ample guest parking,” says Karyn Anjali Glubis, broker with Tampa, Fla.-based The Real Estate Expert LLC. “But some communities do not allow you to park on the street, which limits the ability for guests to [visit]. It’s important to know these limits.”

When it comes to single-family homes and townhomes, consider your garage needs carefully.

“Can you gain access to the garage directly from the home without going out into the elements, and is the garage large enough to house all the things you don’t want to have to store in the house?” asks Patricia Cliff, author of “The Art of Selling Real Estate” (Booktrope Editions, 2012). “And how easy is it to back out of the garage onto a busy thoroughfare?”

Ensure that the garage is structurally sound and wide and tall enough for your current vehicles. Also, if you plan to regularly occupy the garage for hobbies or recreational use, it should be well insulated and equipped with heating and air conditioning for comfort.

Cliff urges buyers to consider problems and changes that could occur in the future. For instance, the garage should be above the floodplain to protect against extreme weather and flooding.

Ease of installation for plug-in electric or hybrid cars may also be a factor, she says.

Condominium parking

If you’re hunting for a condo, take a close look at what is and isn’t included for the unit’s price. Condo buildings — especially in busy urban markets — typically offer no more than one assigned parking space per unit, and often they charge extra for that space, says Amy McGee, real estate agent with Coldwell Banker United in Houston.

Buildings may offer additional spaces for purchase. Condo building parking spaces can be assigned (sometimes labeled “designated”) or deeded. With deeded parking, the unit’s owner is given fee-simple ownership of a designated space, usually for a premium fee. The owner is required to pay taxes on that space, which is bought and sold like any other type of property.

Depending on the covenants and restrictions of the condo or townhouse development, the deeded parking space owner may legally be able to lease out or sell that deeded space to another party.

Lastly, be sure the condo garage or parking lot on the property is well maintained, clean and secure.

“If it’s a parking lot, it should be gated and controlled by remote access using electronic key cards or remote controls,” Freeman says. “Also, inquire if the building has a security staff and how often it patrols the area.” © CTW Features