You’ve heard it a million times – when it comes to real estate, it’s all about location, location, location! Well there’s a reason that this adage lives on – there’s truth to it!
When you’re in the market for a new house, you’re also in the market for a new neighborhood, so it’s important to consider the area when you are looking. But why is location important? To put it simply, you’ll be spending the majority of your time there, so why not make sure it’s a place that you’ll enjoy living? In addition, your neighborhood has a big impact on how your home holds (or loses) value.
There are a few things you can make a note of during your search to ensure that you’ll be happy in the neighborhood you choose.
Things to Look For
- Aesthetics – How does the neighborhood look? Are they yards maintained and streets kept tidy? Curb appeal doesn’t just apply to a home – it’s often the first thing people notice when navigating an area.
- Lifestyle – If you are a young twenty-something looking for nightlife and daily entertainment, you probably won’t feel comfortable in a rural bedroom community. Take a look at the surrounding area to ensure that the entertainment venues, noise levels, and other lifestyle options match your preferences.
- Accessibility – Does the house exist in the middle of a maze of side streets? Or are you a jogger, but there’s a lack of sidewalks? Being able to get around is important, so make sure that the area you select allows you to do so.
- Significant construction or developments – Some people like being on the cutting edge of developing areas while others prefer a more established area. Determining which type of area fits you will help you narrow down choices during your search.
- Other area characteristics – If a neighborhood is full of foreclosures or short sales, or if there’s an increase of rental properties, it may be an indication that home values may be soon affected.
Things to Research
- Quality of schools – A large number of buyers cite school quality as a determining factor when selecting a home. Even if you don’t have children, it pays to learn about school quality, as there is usually a correlation with property value.
- Commute – You may immediately consider your work commute when searching for a new house, but what about your other frequently visited locations – the family doctor, your child’s dance class, your bank? Make sure you are comfortable with the distance between your neighborhood and these locations.
- Safety – Local police departments should be able to provide you with area crime statistics that can give you information about what is occurring in your area. Pay attention to types of crimes and frequency, and for additional context, you can speak with your potential new neighbors to gauge their feelings about the area.
- Cost of living – You may have budgeted perfectly for a home, but if all of the area amenities are out of reach, you might end up being miserable. Check out the places you’ll be frequenting to ensure that they are not too far outside of your price range.
- Property taxes – Again, when budgeting for a home, you’ll also need to take into account the area’s property taxes. Contact the local appraisal district – they are usually able to provide the past few years’ tax rates, allowing you to estimate potential costs for homes in specific neighborhoods.
This seems like a lot to take in, but will help in the long run by making sure you settle down in a place that is ideal for you. You can use apps and websites – Walkscore, NeighborhoodScout, and Dwellr, for example – to get more information, or even consider using services like Airbnb to have a look at the areas you’re interested first-hand.
If you don’t want to handle it yourself – you don’t have to! Your home buying team members (your Loan Officer and Realtor) are experts in the areas that they serve and can provide context for each of these items!
Unless you have unlimited income, it may not always be possible to find the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood, but by looking out for these few items, you can work with your Service First Loan Officer and Realtor to prioritize your needs to find a home that’s a wonderful fit!