Ask any realtor what sells a home and the answer will be a great neighborhood. Great neighborhoods hold their value and/or appreciate and make it easy to sell when you decide it’s time to move on.
Finding the right neighborhood, however, takes time and effort. Before beginning the buying process, it is important to develop a list of wants and needs. Determine what you are looking for – is it a big yard, a particular style of house, a gated community. Don’t forget to add amenities to your list such as proximity to sports facilities for you and your family (community swimming pools, parks, etc.), easy access to cultural and entertainment venues, and walkability.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a neighborhood.
Schools. If you have children or are planning to have a family in the future, buying a home in a neighborhood with good schools should be a priority. Even if you don’t have children to educate, you should be aware that homes located in a good school district typically hold onto their value better than those in less highly regarded districts.
Commute Time. A major consideration for most home buyers when it comes to choosing where to live is how they’ll get to the places they go regularly. In neighborhoods near or in a city, prime locations are typically close to public transit options.
Look up an address or ZIP code on the Walk Score website or mobile app to obtain a “walkability” rating for neighborhoods or cities. Scores range from zero (“car dependent”) to 100 (“walker’s paradise”).
Compare neighborhoods. It is a good idea to visit a prospective neighborhood at various times of day and on both weekdays and weekends to get a feel for what it would be like to live there. Look at how the homes are maintained to see if they meet your standards.
Block watches and neighborhood meetings. These are signs of a closely knit community. If you find a neighborhood group, attend a meeting or two to meet people and ask questions. Subscribe to neighborhood newsletters.
Police and Fire Departments. Find the nearest fire and police stations and fire hydrants. Nearby public safety services add to a sense of neighborhood security. Also, a firehouse nearby might mean lower homeowners insurance premiums.
Bottom Line: No one community is right for every buyer. The way to choose the right neighborhood for your needs and your budget requires research and some soul-searching about your priorities. Are you ready?
10 Ways to Find Out about a Neighborhood without Being There: www.realtor.com
9 Ingredients of a Great Neighborhood, Ranked: www.realtor.com
How Safe Is Your Neighborhood? 5 Tools to Help You Find Out: www.safewise.com