Buying a home is a long-term, important investment, so take the time to discover what makes your targeted neighborhoods tick. There are a number of ways to check the pulse of a community; talking to neighbors can give you a great snapshot of what it’s like to live there. Here are five other ways to determine whether a neighborhood is the right fit for you.
1. Is it an up-and-coming area or still in transition?
You might start by researching local home values and foreclosure rates. Consider such factors as crime rate, development plans and proposed or new businesses. You can even contact local officials, such as the county property appraiser or the HOA manager (if applicable) for better insights. Sometimes buying a home in a transitional area may prove to be a good investment, but you probably want to make sure you'll feel good about your home in the interim, too.
2. Do the schools make the grade?
Even if you don’t have school-age children, you should be interested in how the schools in your potential neighborhood perform. Homes near high-ranking schools tend to maintain higher resale values. Start your research by visiting GreatSchools.org or using the SchoolFinder tool at education.com.
3. What’s nearby?
Consider what’s important to you in your future neighborhood, and then explore the surrounding areas near your targeted home. Among things to keep in mind are proximity to stores, schools and green spaces. Aside from being practical, these amenities make it easy to mingle with neighbors, set up kids’ play dates or just play fetch with your pup. WalkScore.com is a great place to search for nearby amenities – all you have to do is plug in an address and mode of transportation.
4. How far is it from work?
Try the new INRIX Drive Time tool on remax.com to determine how long it will take you to drive to work, school or area stores from your new home. You can also time a potential commute by doing a test drive during the time of day you’re most likely to go to and from work. Explore mass transit options. In addition to offering an alternative to driving, good public transportation near your home can have a positive effect on your property value.
5. How safe is it?
A neighborhood watch, well-lit streets, walkways, security systems and little to no signs of vandalism are signs of a safe neighborhood. You can see a picture of the types of crimes that occur in the neighborhood by researching on city-data.com or FBI.gov and the local police department’s website.
A RE/MAX agent is one of the best helpers you could have on your quest to find the right neighborhood – and the right home – for your needs. Cynthia Doehler can help provide the information you’re looking for.
RE/MAX, August 7, 2014