When you are house hunting for your ideal home, you should not look just at the home, but the neighborhood it is located in as well. Is it close to work? How are the schools in the area? Is the neighborhood filled with mostly renters? These are just some of the questions you should be asking. The neighborhood really makes or breaks a house. Even if the house itself has everything you are looking for, the neighborhood could have unfriendly neighbors or is located too close to high-density traffic areas. Here are some things you should consider and tools that you can use to inform your decision.
What Should I Be Looking For?
Determining if the neighborhood your dream home located in is right for you requires a clear list that contains your “must-haves.” Here is a list that someone might put together to rate their potential new neighborhood.
- People living in the neighborhood are friendly and have positive things to say about the area
- There is a high percentage of homeownership, not renters
- Owners are working on home improvement projects, which is a key indicator that your neighbors care about their respective properties
- Are residents out and about in the neighborhood?
- Does it pass the night time check?
- Is there low crime in the area?
- How are the schools?
These are just some of the common questions and concerns home hunters should be considering. Though some of these questions are answered by walking door to door or driving through the neighborhood at different times on different days, you can find out other things by simply doing a little research on your computer.
Tools to Help Research Neighborhoods
The internet is one of your most powerful tools when you are house hunting. Here are some tools that you can use to help complete your research.
- Zillow: One of the more well-known tools on this list, Zillow gives you data on how home prices have changed over the course of the last 10 years in the neighborhood.
- Retirement Living: This website will help you determine how much you will be paying in income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes.
- Uniform Crime Reporting: Use the FBI’s published data to see what the crime is like in the area.
- National Sex Offender Public Website: A useful tool if you are worried about sex offenders living in your neighborhood.
- Walk Score: Learn about what sort of restaurants are in the area and get a commute report.
- com: Gives you an overview of crime, schools, and real estate reports.
- HomeFair’s City Profiles: If you are concerned about living in an area with too many single people, you can use this website to get a better idea of the demographics of the area.
You can find a lot of the answers to your questions from your desk. However, even if everything checks out on this end, don’t neglect to go the neighborhood in person to get a feel for it first-hand.
Reading Between the Lines
There are a lot of key indicators that a neighborhood is not up and coming. According to Lisa Frushone, a real estate agent with Lisa James Otto Country Properties, “red flags include things like a new highway being built [in close proximity to the house], an increased number of short sales, foreclosures and vacant properties, but even the number of rentals in an area can be cause for concern.” Even if you met with some of the renters and they seemed friendly, that doesn’t mean that they will be there forever. That’s why they are a cause for concern because the neighborhood could go from good to bad with the simple interchange of a few renters. Hopefully, with a little bit of effort on your part, you can avoid this and find that dream home in our dream neighborhood. Your new home is going to be a part of your family and will solidify itself in the memories of your kids for years to come. Though the task may seem a little grueling, in the end, following some of the things we have laid out here will pay off when it is all said and done.