Know Your Neighborhood Before You Buy
How important is the quality of the neighborhood to you as a home buyer? According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers, 64% of people married with kids found the quality of the neighborhood important. A great neighborhood can add quality to your life with good neighbors, amenities, education, and more. If you are house hunting a thorough investigation of the neighborhood and community needs to be done to make sure you are moving to the right place. Here are some tips on getting to know the neighborhood before you buy a house.
Create your perfect neighborhood
The first step to getting to know the neighborhood is creating your ideal neighborhood. Write down a list of what you must have in a potential neighborhood as well as things that you would like to have. Of course, you won’t be able to find the perfect neighborhood, but this will give you a great start on the most important aspects of a neighborhood for you while looking at different homes.
Nowadays, most housing information about the neighborhood, city, and district are available online. Get an idea of the home values in the neighborhood you are interested in by looking up housing prices. Zillow provides a great interactive chart that shows how home prices have changed over the past 10 years. This gives you a better overview of that particular housing area. Also, be sure to check tax rates! That way you’ll know how much of your salary will be going to different taxes like property or income tax. If you want to check out local news and stories about the neighborhood try finding the local newspaper or neighborhood blog. You can gain some unique insights as to what’s happening in the community.
Check Safety & Crime Rates
Safety is a very important aspect for most people when finding a house and neighborhood. You can find a lot of information about safety and crime in a neighborhood online and you can also call the local police department for more information. In order to see if there are any sex offenders in the area check out the National Sex Offender Database. You can also check out these crime mapping services that collect police and crime reports based on a particular area: Crime Reports and Crime Mapping.
Even if you don’t have kids, the quality of the schools in the area is important. Neighborhoods with better schools usually have higher home values. Find out about the schools in the area including demographics, student-to-teacher ratios, and test scores. If you are a parent it’s also a good idea to schedule a school visit. You’ll be able to meet the principal and teachers and also visit the school facility. Bring your kids as well so that they can share their feedback about the school.
Talk to the Neighbors
Another great way to learn about the neighborhood is to talk to the people that live there. Look for opportunities to introduce yourself and speak with your potential neighbors. Find out what they think about the neighborhood and if they would recommend it to you and your family. What do they like? What could change? By talking to people who actually live there you’ll find valuable information that could help you determine if you could live there.
Explore the Neighborhood
Aside from talking to potential neighbors try planning a visit to the neighborhood. Explore the area during the day and night and also on a weekday and weekend. Multiple visits will give you a better insight of the area and if it is right for you. When you explore the neighborhood check for noises like trains, airplanes, cars on the highway, or hospitals. If you are sensitive to loud noises it might not be a great idea to live close to those types of places. Also, be sure to look at the conditions of neighboring homes. If there are a lot of homes for sale and run-down yard, fences, and windows it could be a sign that the neighborhood is not in a good condition.
Check Public Amenities & Services
While you are visiting the neighborhood take some time out to explore the city. Check out all the public amenities like the parks, library, public transportation, and entertainment to see if they fit your needs. If you are going to be using public transportation test it out. Use the bus, subway or train to get a feel of the entire process from costs to routes. If you are going to be driving around find out about parking costs and availability in the area.
Finding a good neighborhood is just as important as finding the right house. You can make improvements to your home, but if you don’t like something about the neighborhood that will be very difficult to change. Take some time out to do your research and explore the area so that you are certain you will enjoy living there in your new home.