If you’re searching for a new home, you know that there are a lot of variables to keep in mind – particularly in a lower inventory market with lots of competition. Perhaps one of the most important elements to consider actually has nothing to do with the house itself: the neighborhood in which a home is located. Here are some thoughts and ideas on how to choose the right neighborhood for your home search.
Make it convenient. Take some time to think about your daily routine and be sure that the neighborhood you’re targeting complements it. How long does it take to get to your office, the grocery store and other services? If you have children or pets, is the neighborhood close to parks or walking trails? Experiment with walking or driving to certain goods and services from the neighborhood at different times of the day, including rush hour.
Consider the schools. Even if you don’t have children or aren’t planning to send yours to the local public school, it’s worthwhile to find out if the neighborhood you’re considering has a strong school system. Homes in desirable school districts are always a good investment, from a resale perspective.
Research safety statistics. Your home should be a sanctuary, so it’s important to assess your comfort level with regard to the safety of your neighborhood. Local neighborhood crime rate statistics are typically readily available via city or county websites. You can also find out if an area has a Neighborhood Watch group or something similar. There’s no “right” answer here; you need to trust your instincts and be honest with yourself about what feels right to you.
Be flexible – and curious. Before crossing a neighborhood off your list, take some time to visit and get a sense of the overall vibe. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Don’t be afraid to approach people and ask questions, either – most people will be happy to talk to you about their neighborhood if they like it (and if they don’t like it, that’s worthwhile information, too).
Work with a knowledgeable agent. Experienced local real estate agents know the ins and outs of every neighborhood and can tell you everything you need to know about their growth rate, overall atmosphere and more. They often have an inside track on listings and can get you in to see houses quickly – a huge advantage in a tight market.
With these suggestions in mind, you can narrow down your home search and determine which areas will provide the best fit for you and your loved ones, both now and in the future.