One of the first thing you’ll probably ask your realtor when viewing homes is, “How is the neighborhood?” As a home buyer and future home owner, you’ll have your own set of values and characteristics you’ll be looking for in a neighborhood. But there might be certain things you aren’t considering that may be more integral in your decision than you realized. Check out the “Communities” page to learn more about neighborhoods I serve.
Here’s a list of ten things you should consider learning about a potential neighborhood:
Whether you have kids or not, it’s important to consider the school district because areas with better schools tend to have higher property values, ensure a consistent demand for housing, and increase the potential for higher resale prices. Check out Greatschools.org to read school report cards and reviews written by teachers, parents, and students about the schools in a certain area.
Safety should always be a concern when considering relocating. Realtor.com recommends visiting MyLocalCrime.com to pull up recent crime reports for a neighborhood and get a sense of the density of crime in the area. You can also use interactive crime maps like the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012) and consult the National Sex Offender Website (https://www.nsopw.gov) to get a comprehensive understanding of how many crimes and what type have been committed in the area.
It’s likely that you’ll be viewing homes in one season. If so, you’ll want to get an idea of what the rest of the year will be like when you move in. Maybe you have horrible pollen allergies or really prefer a rainy season. Consult The Weather Channel’s easy-to-use interface to learn detailed information about the area’s local weather including things like annual rainfall, humidly, and pollen index.
Remember that tax rates vary from state to state, town to town, and county to county. Research an area’s local tax information and rates on local municipality sites, as this information is available to the public.
Getting to know an area’s local laws before you close the sale is important because you might just find out that you won’t be able to grow that garden you desperately wanted to start. Or maybe you won’t be able to keep any commercial vehicles on your property or paint your house yellow. Most communities have local laws that dictate what can and cannot be done, and these local laws might be different from what you are used to.
Moving to or from a city with or without public transportation is a big adjustment. If you’re used to public transport, moving to an area without these options might mean buying a car as an added expense. If public transportation is a necessity for you, consider checking out WalkScore.com. Walk Score is highly recommended by Realtor.com for its user-friendliness and accuracy to give you a sense of what’s available and how important it is to have a car.
Walk Score can also help you determine a neighborhood’s walkability. How easily you can walk to your favorite coffee shop and grocery store is rated by Walk Score to show how conducive an area is for walking. If you prefer biking, Walk Score can also help you figure out how safe and easy it is to get around on two wheels. And remember that while a secluded home might sound appealing, that might mean you’re driving twenty minutes to grab a gallon of milk. Convenience and accessibility to your grocery store, school, or community center is important to consider.
The closer you are to the things you enjoy, the more you can enjoy doing them. Yelp and Moviefone are great resources that can help you discover local restaurant and theaters in a new area. And to get a sense of the entertainment, culture, and nightlife, Realtor.com suggests looking at Gravy (http://gravyanalytics.com/), a website and app that tells you everything you need to know from upcoming concerts to local community potlucks.
There may not be anything worse or more upsetting than finding out after you move in to your new home that the farmer across the street is selling to a Walmart chain. Future development in a neighborhood could also impact your family and resale of a home in both positive or negative ways. Consult your real estate agent and the local municipality to learn about any future development plans.
Light and Noise
Consider how important it is to you to have a neighborhood that is well lit. Check for street lamps, parking lot lights, and traffic lights to determine if the light will keep you up at night or ensure safe night play for your kids. Similarly, you might want to find out if the neighborhood is underneath a major flight path or if there is any potential for trains at night or other noises that could disrupt your living. Even if you don’t mind a little noise, recognize that more noise may make it more difficult to sell in the future.
For detailed descriptions, hundreds of statistics, and neighborhood profiles of your potential future community, you can also visit NeighborhoodScout.com.