When you buy a home, you buy more than the structure; you also buy into a neighborhood. You can’t just pick up your home and move elsewhere, so you want to make sure you love it. How do you know what the area is like if you don’t live there? We give you the top five tips on how to make sure you make a sound decision for your family.
Check Out the Crime Rate
It pays to know the crime rates before you move into a neighborhood. No matter how much you love a home, if you don’t feel safe in the neighborhood, you’ll never like the home.
You can do a quick Google search to find out the crime rates in your specific area, if you live in a large city. If not, you can use the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports to conduct a little research. If you are concerned about sex offenders in the area, you can also check the National Sex Offender Registry.
Once you know the area is safe, consider how you will get around. Is the area accessible to the things you need the most? Think of things like:
- Grocery store
- Public transportation
You know what you need close by in order to make your life easier. For example, if the grocery store is 30 minutes away, is that really feasible for you? Or if the highway is not easy to access from your area and you use it to get to work, it may not be the best option.
Check Out the Neighbors
This step might be a little tricky. Obviously, you don’t want to go knocking on doors and interviewing neighbors. But, with a little work, you can get to know the type of people in the neighborhood. Start by driving through the area at different times of the day and different days of the week. Check it out in the morning when the kids should be going to school. Drive through during the usually quieter afternoons, and again after school. Take another drive through at nighttime, both early evening and again late at night.
Pay close attention to the environment during each visit. Is the neighborhood bustling with people or is it quiet? Are there partiers that live on the block, blaring their music at 12 PM? These are the little things you’ll want to know before buying a home. What if the partier is your next door neighbor? Is that something you can live with on a daily basis?
Check Out the Schools
Whether you have kids or not, you’ll want to know what the schools in the area are like. You may have children someday and if you don’t move before then, you’ll need those schools. You can view the school’s ratings online, but there’s something about checking them out in person.
Ask the principal for a tour of each of the schools in the district that feed into your neighborhood. This includes the elementary, middle, and high school. Check out the conditions of the school itself and try to get a feel for what the kids in the school think of it. You can tell a lot just by observing as you walk through the school.
Look at the Taxes
Once you know the area is one that you could see yourself living, you’ll want to know the cost of the taxes. Real estate taxes can take up a good portion of your income if you aren’t careful. It’s not unusual for one neighborhood to have taxes as much as 30% or 40% higher than another.
If the taxes seem outrageous, check out other neighborhoods in the area. Then you can inquire about why the taxes are so high. Maybe there are amenities you were not aware of or it’s just an area that homeowners are fighting the cost of their taxes. If that’s the case, consider if it’s something you can handle if the taxes stay that high or go even higher in the future.
It pays to research the neighborhood before finding a home. Once you know where you would be comfortable living, then you can search for homes for sale. While it may seem backwards, it can save you a lot of time and heartache in the long run.