Whether comparing people, homes, cars, or neighborhoods, each and every one is going to be different. When purchasing a home there are many things that should be considered. Everything from how much to spend on a home, to the process of selecting the “right” real estate agent, and everything in between.
A common question that is fielded by real estate professionals is, “how is the neighborhood?” A great real estate agent should be able to provide information and/or resources to neighborhood information for their clients. By law a real estate agent cannot answer the question, “how is the neighborhood.”
Every person will have their own analysis and outlook on specific areas and while a real estate agent cannot answer this question, here are some tips for you to help choose the right neighborhood!
Whether you have children, expecting a child, or neither, the local school district is generally an important thing to consider when buying a home. The school district often times can impact the ease and timeliness of a future sale. Most buyers are not looking to move before they buy the home, however, they should be aware of the local school district.
There are several ways to get the information on a local school district. You can always ask your real estate agent to provide some information about the local schools and they should at the very least be able to provide general information. Another great way to find out about a local school district is by calling the school district main office. In most cases, the district is happy to either e-mail or direct mail information. Additionally, many districts offer the information on their website, and will direct the consumer there.
In the internet society that we live in today, this is always an option as well to finding information on the local school districts. Keep in mind the best information is normally going to be direct from the district. Greatschools.org offers some great information on each and every school (elementary, middle, high school, etc.) within a specific district.
Local Business & Shopping
Drive to a nearby “strip-mall” or shopping plaza and see what is happening. Are there lots of vacant stores? Are the stores thriving with business? The local businesses and shops can often indicate how the neighborhood is. Business owners in most cases want to be in a community where there is support and pride from the local residents. Contact the owner at a local, “mom and pop” business to ask them their opinion on the community. If they’ve been in business for many years, they have likely seen the ups and the downs of the neighborhood. Visit the communities local Chamber of Commerce for quality information about the local businesses and their representatives.
If an alternative to personal transportation is desired, the communities access to public transportation can be important when selecting a neighborhood. How close is the nearest bus line? How often are pick-ups and/or drop-offs made? How expensive is the transportation? If public transportation is desired, these are all things that should be analyzed when choosing a neighborhood to buy a home in. Call or visit the local transit authorities website to get detailed information about the public transportation.
To many consumers “convenience is king.” In many cases, this is also a critical component to choosing the right neighborhood when buying a home. Convenience to a buyer can have many different meanings. A common factor when a buyer determines the convenience of a neighborhood is the proximity of major expressways and highways. If the home is located in a neighborhood that is close to the major expressways, this can be a “plus” to one buyer and a negative to another. Another common convenience factor is the proximity of the local grocery store, corner store, or gym/fitness center. We also cannot leave out fun factors like distance to the beach, parks and boat launches.
Suburban VS. Rural
Simply stated, the proximity to other neighbors is often a factor in deciding a neighborhood. Some buyers enjoy having neighbors close while some don’t.
Just like school information, crime statistics, are an important factor to choosing the right neighborhood when buying a home. The internet is a good resource for crime information just like local school information. Use a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo! and searching for a city/town “crime statistics by neighborhood” will yield some good information. For example, “Sarasota crime statistics by neighborhood,” will bring up several quality websites, including information directly from the City of Sarasota’s website.
The best way to find out detailed information about the neighborhood crime statistics, is to call the local police department. The police department should have information about specific neighborhoods, information regarding crime prevention, community policing, and more.
Tax rates vary from town to town. Tax information and rates are available to the public. Also, information regarding specific property’s assessed value (Different than appraised and market value) is public knowledge. By calling the local municipality or accessing their website, this information should be able to be obtained.
Always keep in mind, a great real estate agent should be able to find out what the current tax rates are. Additionally, they should be able to find out what the tax rate pattern has been over the past several years. A trend (increase or decrease) in the tax rate can effect monthly payments, so by having an idea what the rates have done over the past several years can possibly help predict what they will do in the future.
Whether the plan is to stay in a home for 2 years or 20 years, the future development of a neighborhood, is important. The development of a neighborhood can impact the resale of a home, both in positive and negative ways. The future of a neighborhood also can have an impact on a family or a soon to be family. Are there discussions or proposals for an expansion of the local school district? A new library? A new community center? Between the local municipality and real estate agent, information regarding future development should be readily available.
Take a Look for Yourself
The above 8 tips should be very helpful while choosing the right neighborhood to buy a home in. The school statistics, crime reports, future development plans, and other tips are great, however, there is nothing like seeing the potential neighborhood for yourself.
If unfamiliar with a neighborhood, drive or walk around the neighborhood. Do this at different times of the day (morning, mid-day, evening). Take this time to check out the neighboring homes. Do they appear to be well kept? Are local residents walking their dog? Stop and ask the neighbors their opinion and thoughts on the neighborhood. Sometimes the best way to determine whether a neighborhood is right or not is to see it with your own eyes!
Choosing a neighborhood when buying a home is very important and there are many things to consider. Every buyer will have their own opinion and thoughts on a neighborhood. We hope these tips will help you choose the right neighborhood when buying a home.