Choosing the Right New Home Neighborhood

Written by  //  February 8, 2013  //  Home Buying  //  Comments Off

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If you are in the market for a new home, then you want to choose a neighborhood that is right for you. Likely, this means an area of the community that is safe, has a good mix of housing units available and offers solid investment potential. Score on all three and you will have a home that gives you much of everything that you need.

There are other points to consider about a neighborhood, including some that might have escaped your particular thinking.

1. Location, location, location. The three most important aspects of real estate are location, location and location. Why is location repeated three times? Well, its importance can never be underestimated. Indeed, if you have the right location, mostly everything else about the neighborhood will be right. Choose the wrong location and you will find that there are a number of obvious and underlying problems that you should consider. The obvious includes deteriorating sidewalks. The underlying could be an aged sewer system.

2. The schools. You are not married or you are married and you do not have children. You may be planning to have a family or you may have decided not to have kids. Regardless, the quality of an area’s public schools will have a huge impact on how your property is valued now and for years to come. The better the school system, the more likely your home will retain its value and be sought after should you ever decide to sell it.

3. Your commute. Unless you plan to work from home, your commute will have a large bearing on the value of a neighborhood to you. The area you are considering may feature well tended homes, manicured lawns, a community pool and nothing but cul-de-sacs connected to its main thoroughfare. Each of these features are a plus, but if getting out of your neighborhood and traveling to the interstate for the trip to your office is a chore, quite frankly that area may lose its appeal. Understand how much stomach you have a for a commute and plan accordingly. For instance, if 20 to 30 minutes is your maximum comfortable drive time under normal road conditions, then look for neighborhoods within that limitation only. Keep in mind an important wildcard too: mass transportation that can be accessed within walking distance of your home. It may not be a mode of transportation that you would consider, but it is an important factor that attracts like-minded people to your area.

4. Neighborhood demographics. You are single and are planning to stay that way. Moreover, you are interested in hanging around with people of a similar marital disposition, therefore consider your neighborhood’s composition as you explore your home options. The neighborhood could be wonderful, but if it is dominated by families with young children, you might find that your personal needs such as a cafe bar and other social amenities are lacking. If you prefer to keep your marital options open, consider a mixed-use neighborhood of single people, married people and retirees. Neighborhood demographics will weigh heavier on home shoppers that plan to spend time at home and are looking for a long-term investment.

5. Safety matters. Check out your neighborhood at various times of the day. Visit during the morning, afternoon, evenings and on weekends. Take note of who lives there, what visitors stop by and other activity that goes on. Your immediate neighbors — those that border your property — are your biggest concern. However, take note of a rental property, a foreclosed home or an untidy property on your street or around the corner. Signs of distress could should that a neighborhood is on decline. Check with your local police department to uncover the crime statistics and also check out the sex offender registry for specific problem individuals.

6. Ask around. Even if the neighborhood is unfamiliar to you, you can find out ample information by asking people you know about the place that you want to live. Ask friends, family members and co-workers about the neighborhood and pose your questions on real estate sites that feature the community you are considering. Ask people for their frank assessment of the area, but do not be dissuaded by one negative comment alone. Weigh each opinion and seek out corroborating information as needed. Get a strong feel for a neighborhood before moving forward.

Neighborhood Notes

Other matters of importance may include accessibility to stores, nearby parks, walk ways and bike paths, commuter stations and public amenities. When comparing two or more like neighborhoods, draft a list of “must haves” to rate each location.

See Also — 4 Common Financial Choices You Shouldn’t Do When Buying a Home

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