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Looking around gated communities
August 21, 2011 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Are there reasonable (and legit) workarounds for looking around gated communities without a real estate agent?

We're fairly early in our exploration of neighborhoods where we might want to buy a house in a year or two. There is a really broad range of areas we're considering. Part of our process of narrowing it down is finding house listings on Redfin that meet our high level criteria, and driving to them to see what the neighborhood is like, etc. (Streetview is great, but still no substitute for checking it out in person). However, we've found that many of the neighborhoods we're interested in happen to be gated communities, which makes it hard to go inside and get a feel for them.

Obviously we could just wait for someone else to go in and follow them, but that seems kind of shady (I know if I were them, I'd be uncomfortable if someone did that). We don't really want to get a real estate agent involved quite yet. For one thing, we're so far out from buying that it seems premature (and not a good use of their time). But more importantly, we'd like to work with an agent who is very familiar with the area we choose to buy in, and right now our interests are so broad that no one person could cover that. Finally, while we are finding listings of houses for sale, odds that we'd actually buy one of those are very low since our timeline is so long. Viewing houses we have no intention of actually buying seems a little lame (if nothing else, it's not very respectful to the sellers to traipse through their house without considering buying it).

Has anyone else run across this, and how did you deal with it? Are we just SOL until we're ready to work with an agent?
posted by sharding to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
 
I doubt there are any 'legit workarounds': gated communities are gated because they want to keep out people who just want to look around.
posted by easily confused at 9:35 AM on August 21, 2011


Most people who live within won't give you the room to advance through the gate behind them. If you find a house in a gated neighborhood and want to get a feel for it, you would ask your agent to allow a second nighttime or weekend walkthrough or even a neighborhood tour on foot.

Have you talked to an agent yet? Looking online and driving around is a TERRIBLE use of your time. A good agent will help you narrow down your areas based on your needs and wants and if nothing is found within those parameters they will expand the area. You won't miss anything and you'll make the best use of your time. Don't be afraid to involve the agent early in your game. This is what they do.
posted by pink candy floss at 9:39 AM on August 21, 2011


If it's a public road into the community, head right on in behind someone. I do it all the time when cycling around and adventuring. The people in the neighborhood can suck it up.
posted by introp at 9:40 AM on August 21, 2011


We bought a house using Redfin as our agent. For a flat fee they would make appointments with us to see up to 6 houses within 2 hours.
posted by bq at 10:08 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


pink candy floss, we've purchased houses before, and are familiar with what an agent can do and how searching online works. Obviously to each his/her own, but we completely disagree that searching online and driving around is a bad use of time.
posted by sharding at 10:12 AM on August 21, 2011


Can homes for sale in gated communities do "Open Houses"? Are they listed on whichever site you're finding listings on? If so, you could start going to those with no need of an agent. I don't think there's anything intrusive about looking at houses and neighborhoods that way. Listing agents expect to get a lot of browsers at open houses.
posted by lunaazul at 10:33 AM on August 21, 2011


Find out who the management company is for the community, call them and explain the situation. IME, someone would be happy to drive around with you, or at least allow you access.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:56 AM on August 21, 2011


For some reason, most gated communities I've seen absolutely don't care about people entering on foot or bicycle. (It's not like the security guard is an effective means of anything, but I digress)
posted by schmod at 11:37 AM on August 21, 2011


I'm the sort of person who runs screaming from gated communities and HOAs, but let me toss another "hell yeah" for Redfin. If you find a place you like, just hire the agent to go look at it.
posted by straw at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2011


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