When it comes to real estate, you’ll hear one factor cited repeatedly: location. It makes sense. After all, it’s hard to delight in a home’s perfect floor plan or revel in its fantastic features if you are unhappy with its surroundings. Savvy homebuyers know that spending some time thinking about how to choose a neighborhood is a crucial part of the homebuying process.
How to Choose a Neighborhood
One person’s dream community can be another person’s nightmare neighborhood. As U.S. News & World Report indicates, the first step in choosing a neighborhood involves considering your preferred lifestyle. Do you crave the hustle and bustle of an urban center or the peace of a place that’s farther off the beaten path? Should things be within walking distance? Is a bit of a drive acceptable? Is a yard a must or a hassle that you’d just as soon avoid? What about public green spaces or sidewalks?
Answering questions like these lets you create a profile of your perfect neighborhood. What other factors should you weigh when thinking about how to choose a neighborhood?
If you have or plan to have children, the quality of local schools is an obvious concern, but even if you don’t, it’s still smart to research a home’s school district before you buy. As HGTV points out, homes located in sought-after school districts are generally in demand. As a result, they tend to have higher property values and can be easier to sell if you decide to move in the future. Although the Fair Housing Act bars real estate agents from offering information about specific schools directly to buyers, they can point you toward the websites of the local school systems and organizations that rate schools.
The Fair Housing Act also prevents real estate agents from providing information about the safety of a particular neighborhood. Fortunately, you can form a fairly accurate picture with a little detective work. As Forbes suggests, you can go online to view crime reports at websites like SafeWise.com and NeighborhoodScout.com. Alternately, talk to the local police. Speaking with the people who live in the neighborhood can also help you get a sense of how problematic crime is in the area.
The Job Market
The job market influences the housing market (source). People tend to want to be in areas where jobs are available, so areas with high job growth generally see an equal demand for affordable housing. However, not all job growth will impact the real estate market equally. Adding low-paying jobs typically brings an influx of renters. In contrast, an area where high-paying jobs are thriving is more likely to attract aspiring homeowners. Querying the local chamber of commerce and poking around online job websites can help you discover the state of the local job market.
How will you get to and from your new home? Is access to public transportation readily available? Are pertinent places in walking distance? How easy is it to reach popular commuter routes? As Realtor.com explains, mapping out your transportation options does more than help you plan how you can get around. It also allows you to consider how attractive a potential home might be to other buyers since they’re also likely to be interested in how the home’s location will impact their commute. To discover what’s involved in getting around a prospective neighborhood, visit it and wander around or go online for a virtual tour.
Finally, it’s smart to learn about a neighborhood’s amenities (source). Driving or walking around a community can help you discover what businesses are located nearby. It also allows you to find out about any local green spaces, entertainment venues, restaurants, or sports facilities. Then, you can weigh both the positives and the negatives. Are the amenities on your wish list part of the mix? How will the presence of the various amenities affect the atmosphere of the area? Will they cause concerns about traffic or noise?
Once you fully understand a neighborhood – its schools, crime rates, job market, transportation options, and amenities – you can decide if it’s a good fit for you and your family.
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