With so many options, how do you find the perfect home? It’s always a good idea to start by looking for the perfect neighborhood. The bigger the city, the more areas you’ll have to choose from. To help you manage the process, here are a few tips on how to choose the right neighborhood:
- Must-Haves, Like-to-Haves and Don’t-Cares — Make a list with three columns. If you have your heart set on a historic home rather than a new development, put it in the must-have category. If you’d like to live near the city center — but you would take a home in the suburbs if it came along — fill in the like-to-have category with your preference towards urban homes. If you’re open to both single-family and multi-family options, place that in the don’t-care section. Ultimately, think about the things you wish your current home had that it doesn’t, and then use those things to fill in your columns.
- Crime and Schools — These are two vital categories when searching for a neighborhood. Yes, areas in transition can improve over time, but it may take years to reduce crime and improve schools. Don’t have kids? The quality of schools in your area will still affect your resale value whether you like it or not.
- Proximity — What must be close by? For some homeowners, it’s work, school, places of worship, friends or relatives. You may want to be close to a specific type of recreation area, a public transportation hub or another amenity. If you don’t think about the proximity to the places where you spend most of your time, you’ll end up spending a large amount of time in your car — and an inordinate amount of money paying for gas.
- Weigh the Cost — It’s always possible that your dream neighborhood is still out of your price range. Make sure you get a loan approval early. Not only does this put real authority behind any offers you make, but it also prevents you from wasting time looking at homes you won’t have financing to purchase. Be sure to weigh the hidden costs, too. Costs can vary between neighborhoods as you enter and leave different taxing districts, and neighborhood associations that require dues can also affect the cost of a home.
- Boots-on-the-Ground Research — Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few neighborhood possibilities, you have to do more than just see them in person — you must experience them. Get out and talk to prospective neighbors, ask about the schools, and learn about the people who live in the area. Listen to the way a neighborhood sounds, and consider how it smells. A nearby highway or wastewater treatment plant, for example, can dim your excitement about a certain area. Also make sure you visit a neighborhood at different times of day and on different days of the week, so you can get a full picture.
Perfect Homes and Perfect Neighborhoods
Most real estate search sites have filters that correlate to some of these neighborhood-finding tips. If you filter for your must-haves, you should be able to identify the perfect neighborhood for you. And if you can’t afford all of your must-haves, view your next home as an investment opportunity that helps you build equity in the coming years as you work towards purchasing your dream home.
CENTURY 21 Core Partners includes a team of real estate professionals who can help you identify the right neighborhood for your needs and circumstances. Contact us today to speak to one of our helpful representatives.
Photo credit: The Truman show at Robert Mueller Municipal Airport via photopin (license)