Finding the perfect house means more than the house itself. You have to love the neighborhood too. If you only love the inside of your home, but hate the community, you can quickly fall out of love with your home. So how do you find a home in the right neighborhood? Here are some simple tips.
Consider What you Want
The first step is to think about what type of neighborhood you want. There is no one-size-fits-all type neighborhood. Some people love to have neighbors right next door and who get together often. Others prefer to be more isolated and have more room in between the homes. Start with figuring out what you prefer so you can narrow down your choices.
Are you Against Homeowner’s Associations?
Even if you don’t purchase a condominium or townhome, you might still have a homeowner’s association. Consider the pros and cons of having an association oversee what you do and decide if you can handle it. Are you okay with someone dictating what you can and cannot do to your home? If so, there are many benefits of having an association, including a uniform and clean neighborhood.
Consider the Schools
Even if you are a single person right now and kids seem way off in the future, consider the school system. This is important even if you don’t plan on having kids. Good school systems play a vital role in property value. The better the schools, the higher the home values.
Proximity to Shopping
How far are you willing to travel for your normal errands? This will help you determine if an urban or rural home is right for you. If you need to be close to the shopping district, making it convenient for late night runs to the store, you need a more urban type setting. On the other hand, if you only shop occasionally and don’t mind traveling, a rural home might be suitable.
Consider the Taxes
Taxes in certain neighborhoods are higher than others, even in the same city. Before you settle on a home, do your research. Real estate taxes are public record. This means you can go online to the county treasurer’s website and see the history of the property taxes. This way you can tell how often rates changed and how much the taxes increased over recent years. This can help you avoid an unpleasant surprise after you own the home.
Determine the Crime Rate
Everyone searching for a new home should look up the crime rate in the area. At the very least, it lets you know what to expect. If the rate is too high for your comfort, it is best to look for a different area. A quick search online should turn up the crime rate for any given area. If you cannot find it, the FBI’s website has a list of known crimes in any given area.
Walk the Neighborhood
Nothing gives you a better feel for an area than walking the neighborhood yourself. Try to walk through it several different times and talk to as many people as you can. Take note of the people hanging out in the area. Look to see if the area is neglected or overcrowded with people. Have real conversations with people who already live there to see what they love and hate about the area.
Check out the Curb Appeal
Don’t ignore the other homes in the area when you look for the right neighborhood. Look to see if they are kept up and if anyone made improvements. Look for additions, patios, 4-seasons rooms, gardens, and even new roofs. This gives you an idea that the people who live in the area care about their homes. The more people you have who care about the area, the better shape it will be in down the road.
Check Out the Proximity to Transportation
How accessible is the neighborhood? Think of expressways and public transportation. How far out of your way do you have to go to get out of town? What about public transportation – is it nearby? This might not concern you now, but in the future if you have to travel downtown or you have relatives coming in, a close train station could really help. In addition, ease of transportation can help your home’s value increase.
Finding the right neighborhood takes time and plenty of research. Some of the research you can do online, but some just needs to be done in person. This allows you to see for yourself what the area is like. Hearing from people who live there helps you determine how the area changed recently and what trends it follows. If an area has a low crime rate, but the neighbors talk a lot about the “hoodlums” in the area, you might want to consider their input.
When you purchase a home, you purchase more than the home itself. You purchase the neighborhood, in essence, because it is where you belong. Are you the type of person who wants to get out and socialize with those around you? If so, you need an area with people who love socializing too. If you are more isolated and private, a rural home with fewer neighbors might suffice. Consider all of your options before settling, as a home is one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime.
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