So you’re looking at homes for sale and are ready to buy some real estate. Whether this is your first experience with a realtor and houses for sale or your fifth, one of the most crucial choices you face is choosing just the right neighborhood. Here are four tips for choosing the neighborhood that is right for you.
Talk To Your Realtor
This is the first step. Top realtors know things about the neighborhood that you won’t be able to find out easily. Nearly 80% of homebuyers have reported that they found their realtor to be a useful source of information, and this is one area where you can really use some advice. Ask your realtor about buying and selling trends in the area, price fluctuations, and what the economic climate is like.
Some people buy homes to get away from it all; others really want a strong sense of community with the neighborhood. If that community is important to you, be sure to look at the aesthetics of the area (attractive and clean places indicate that residents care), the walking distance to goods and services (especially if exercise is important to you), and whether the environment is safe. DOn’t be afraid to read up on crime reports, school evaluations, and the number of foreclosures in the area you’re looking for.
Take Warning From The Red Flags
Warning signs of a flagging neighborhood are thankfully pretty clear. If there’s an uptick in foreclosures, vacancies, and short sales, this is a bad sign. It can also be a bad sign if lots of homes in the area are being rented rather than sold. For one thing, renters rarely care for a property as well as owners, and for another this may indicate that owners are struggling to sell their properties. Lack of property maintenance has a cascade effect that can drag a neighborhood down. You’ll also probably want to avoid neighborhoods with major new highways going in nearby. Your realtor will know more about local construction in the works.
Parks and Parking
Parked cars can tell you a lot about a place. The more congested a street is with cars parked on the streets, the more likely it is experiencing a decline. Messy looks are never good, and that includes cars. The neighborhood’s parks are another great way to evaluate the condition of the community. A thriving and hard-working community cares about its public spaces and about having safe places for the children to play. Good parks also indicate good infrastructure in general.
Spot Bad Neighbors
This is a tough one because some neighbors are busy, hard-working people who just have trouble keeping up with their lawn care; while others are a true blight to the neighborhood and are dragging everyone’s property values down. Look for property upkeep in the homes surrounding the one you have your eye on. This doesn’t mean the properties have to be expensively maintained. They just need to show that they’ve got some tender loving care. Also, go by the place a few times at night and just listen. No one wants to move in only to find that the neighbors love to keep the party rocking until 2 am every Saturday night. This is especially important to check if you’re moving into a college town. Finally, it doesn’t hurt to check criminal registries for sex offenders in the neighborhood. Even if you don’t have any personal reason to worry, the presence of registered sex offenders can drag down property values.
A new home is one of the most important things you’ll ever invest in, so make sure that you take the time to ensure your investment is going to be worth it. Talk to a real estate agent, walk around with your eyes open, and choose the neighborhood that will be right for you and your family.