Search focuses on yard, pool and TV space for gaming

The search

The high cost of living in Long Beach, Calif., and a desire to be in a strong public school district brought Hans Wang and Sook Kim to the Atlanta area, where Wang’s parents live.

They researched what they could get for their money in metro Atlanta, eventually aiming to live near top schools in Alpharetta or Duluth. The couple, who has two sons, Dylan, 6, and Kai, 2 1/2, got help from Hirsh Real Estate Specialists, which helped them identify three homes they viewed in one day.

No. 1: Updated in Duluth

The four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home on Poplar View Court in Duluth had been updated, with new hardwoods, stainless steel appliances, light fixtures and paint. The home was situated on a cul-de-sac lot, which families often like for security and privacy. But the couple was concerned the smaller backyard wasn’t the right fit for the kids and dog, and the neighborhood didn’t have the pool they were seeking. The home, built in 1998 in the Glenside neighborhood, was listed for $209,000.

No. 2: Fewer bedrooms, but fenced yard

The three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home on Birch Forest Lane in Alpharetta had an eat-in kitchen and an open family room so they could watch their kids while making meals. The kitchen had been upgraded with granite countertops and tile backsplash, too. The home also had a fenced backyard and deck, and it was a cul-de-sac lot. But it was unclear online whether the homeowners association fees for the Forest neighborhood, which has a pool and tennis courts, were $510 annually or per month, which could be a big budget buster. The home, built in 1991, was listed for $214,000.

No. 3: Plenty of outdoor space

The four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home on Murets Road in Alpharetta had a beautiful fenced backyard, Wang said. Details like bookshelves and a fireplace made the family room impressive, and it also had a new roof, countertops and hardwood floors. The home in the Abbotts Pond neighborhood, which has a pool, playground and tennis courts, immediately went to the top of Sook Kim’s list. Built in 1991, it was listed for $225,000.

The choice

No. 2. After determining the $510 association fee was annual, what clinched the sale was the family room's size. It had space for a 60-inch projection TV for watching movies or playing video games. "A lot of places are long and rectangular and they have a fireplace on the small end, so you have to have the TV on the long wall that's close to where the couch would go, and it wouldn't work out," said Wang, 42. Another plus: The pool is at the end of their street. The seller made changes, such as replacing the siding on part of the house and rotten wood around the windows, plugging a hole a woodpecker had made on the exterior and fixing a nonworking stove burner. They purchased the home for $209,000 in April -- just in time for them to meet mortgage requirements showing Wang's six months of permanent employment in Atlanta with Delta Dental.