Is a New Planned Community the Right Fit for You?

Let’s start by defining “planned communities.”  For the sake of this article, it refers to those neighborhoods that:

  1. Consist of previously undeveloped land that is being (or was) developed with a detailed plan for a large number of residential homes.
  2. Will (or does) consist of at least 200 homes.
  3. Offers a variety of amenities to home owners.
  4. New homes are currently being built in the community.

Specific examples include Landfall, Porters Neck Plantation, RiverLights, Tidalwalk, and River Bluffs in New Hanover County.  Magnolia Greens, Waterford, Brunswick Forest, Compass Pointe, Winding River, Rivers Edge, SeaTrail, The Bluffs on Cape Fear, Palmetto Pointe, St. James Plantation and Ocean Ridge in Brunswick County.

We started to list the “pros and cons” of living in a planned community, but it quickly became obvious that something that may be perceived as a positive to one person may seem like a negative to another.  So here’s a list of characteristics typical of most (but not all) planned neighborhoods.  You can decide which ones you love and which you don’t.

The homes are mostly new or newer (depending on the age of the development) and, within each community or neighborhood within the community, the styles will be similar.  That’s not to say they are “cookie cutter.”  Most planned communities try to avoid that, but most often, you will not find a wide range of architectural styles in any one section of a community.

In this area, the most common styles of construction use brick and or cement fiber board (Hardiplank).

There is at least one, and sometimes multiple, community pool(s), in addition to a fitness facility, a club house, and tennis and pickleball courts.  All are attractive and generally high quality.

Several have an affiliated golf course or courses.  Most often, membership in the golf club is not required.

They have active Home Owners Associations with rules about how you’re expected to behave and care for your property.  For example, you can’t store an unlicensed car in your yard and you must get HOA permission to change the color of your home’s exterior.  Most people who choose to live in a planned community appreciate the rules because they believe it helps protect their property values.  Others baulk at the very idea of being told what they can or can’t do on their property.  Obviously, if you fall into the latter camp, a planned development would not meet your needs.

The developer or the home owners’ association invests considerable efforts to help community members connect through clubs, exercise classes and special interest events.  A few examples include water aerobics and yoga classes, wine and dinner clubs, community concerts, book clubs, holiday parties, and organized field trips.

The neighborhoods are regarded as “upscale,” with entry-level homes typically priced higher than the average home price in the area. Many feature guarded and/or gated entries.

The majority of the other new home owners have moved here from somewhere else.  Like you, they are without their old established social circle, so it’s easy to connect with your new neighbors and form new friendships.

Most of the neighborhood’s common areas are lavishly landscaped and quite attractive.

Some residents love the “newness” of the community.  Others feel there is a lack of history.

Lots are rarely larger than a third of an acre and often, considerably smaller.  Developers tend to charge extra for those lots considered to be “premium lots.”

In many communities, the HOA takes care of your yard maintenance.

Most are not age restricted, but the majority of the planned communities are primarily marketed to retirees, so the populations of most skew 50+.

If you have questions about any of the planned communities in Southeastern North Carolina, call us at 910-202-4813.  We’d love to help you!