Finding the right neighborhood is just as important as finding the perfect house. Although “location, location, location” usually refers to neighborhood attributes that will hold property value and increase resale, there is no one neighborhood that’s right for every buyer. Choosing the best location for your individual needs can be just as tricky as choosing the best home for your family. Hone in to your perfect neighborhood by considering these 8 expert tips:
- Outline Your Priorities
The best way to avoid disappointment is to outline a list must-haves vs wants. What is most important or critical for your lifestyle? Do you need a large yard or garage space? Are nearby amenities important to you? Would you like to be in a secluded neighborhood or a bustling downtown area? List your must-haves at the top of the list, and your “wouldn’t it be nice to haves” at the bottom of the list.
- Think about Short Term and Long Term Plans
Is this neighborhood a location you plan to spend the next 1-5 years or 15-20 years? In what direction do you see your family going? If you’re a young couple ready to raise a family take note if the area is family-friendly. Are there other young families close by? What are the posted speed limits on neighborhood roads, how busy are the streets, and are there pedestrian friendly walkways and sidewalks? Are your children ready to start their own adventures or are you ready to retire and looking for a relaxing, quiet lifestyle? If you’re interested in beginning or changing your career, what types of industries are in the area?
- Audit Your Lifestyle
Are you the type of person or family that likes to get up and go? Are you looking to join a team, find a hobby, attend events, or have social gatherings with your neighbors? Find a neighborhood that already has intramural sports available or family friendly block parties. Are you interested in going out every night to the hottest new restaurant or bar? A thriving downtown might be the place for you. Is diet and exercise important to you? Look for health food stores nearby and fitness centers or outdoor trails. Is coffee the most important part of your day? Make sure there are ample coffee shops and cafes between your home and workplace. http://walkscore.com is a great site to find out what’s in walking distance.
- Check Out the Real Estate Competition
If you’re driving down the street and see a bunch of for rent signs or foreclosures, that’s probably not a good sign. A high amount of foreclosure signs could indicate the area is not financially stable. In turn, foreclosures and for rents drive down not only property value but also property taxes. This takes away valuable funding the city uses toward safety and public services.
- Do Your Research
Do some digging and look into the crime statistics and rates in the neighborhoods you’re considering. If the spot you’re considering looks concerning, call up the local police to ask more questions. Maybe the research you are conducting misrepresents a specific zip code and deters you from considering an otherwise perfect location.
- Check out the Schools
Although this may seem obvious if you already have children or are planning to, making sure an area has good schools is important for every buyer, no matter their lifestyle. Typically homes within top ranking school systems are valued higher. Fair Housing Act prohibits Realtors® from directly providing school data and rankings, but your agent can refer you to sources like http://greatschools.org that you can use for your research.
- Commute Times
According to Forbes Magazine the average national commute time is 25.5 minutes. Depending where you live, your commute can make or break your day, each day, every day. When choosing the right neighborhood, consider the location of your job, traffic patterns, and means of transportation. Test what your daily commute would be by driving from your new neighborhood to work and back during peak traffic times. If it’s tolerable, great! If not, look into public transportation options, or find a neighborhood closer to your office.