Your perfect house can become not so perfect if you suddenly realize you don’t like your neighborhood. That is why selecting the right community is as important as selecting the right home. So how do you pick the right neighborhood? Start by really looking at the neighborhoods around you and not just the homes. Stroll through communities at different times of day and even during the night. Figure out the types of things you like and don’t like about your neighbors. We aren’t suggesting you set up a surveillance van, but it is good to know if the whole neighborhood has dogs that bark all the time.
1: Put Pen to Paper
So what does your new neighborhood really look like? Start with your must haves such as community pool, sidewalks, or street lights. Then move on to the things you really want but aren’t necessities like community activities, walking distance to groceries, or HOAs. The reality is that you will probably have to compromise some wants so prioritize the ones that matter most.
A few things to consider when you are writing include:
Do you have children or are you planning to have children anytime soon? Then schools, parks, and after-school activities should be considered.
What type of home do you want? Single family and town homes provide some of the same features without the same lifestyle. Ranch and two-story homes create different living environments. What works for you?
How far are you willing to commute? What method of transportation do you use to get to work, school, and shopping? If your daily commute is a factor in your quality of life, then the distance from your neighborhood plays a huge role.
Do you want to be in a historic neighborhood or a new development? Sometimes you want to be in between. New construction communities come with new things and new covenants that guard the architectural decisions of the community. Historical areas can be governed by historical guidelines and legislative codes. However, older neighborhoods that are neither new or historical can come with challenges such as needed road improvements, run down common areas, or houses that simply require regular maintenance.
What do you not like about your current neighborhood? This is incredibly important because at the end of the day it is probably part of the reason you want to move. Want a pool? Tired of the noisy neighbors? Just want more space to invite over guests? All of those things should be on your lists.
Think about what you don’t want in a neighborhood, too. If you can’t stand late-night noise, you’ll probably want to steer clear of the college area or an area with a lively bar scene.
2: Generate Your Map
We’ve all used some type of online map to locate nearby food, gas stations, or ATMs within an area when we aren’t quite sure where they are located. This is a great time to create a map search for your future home.
Find your ground zero location for where you want to live and then begin to search within a radius around that area. If you are simply looking to move down the street or closer to the town, then you may already have some neighborhoods in mind that meet your list of must haves. However, do some research on neighborhoods that you quite possibly have never seen. Use your job, school, or church to start the process.
3: Turn to the next page
Once you start your map search, start listing new communities that you can view soon. Go online, speak with a local agent, and start looking at nearby points of interest to help with your future decisions. Important background information includes:
School information: Regardless of your current situation with children, schools can directly affect property values. Research both the public and private elementary, junior and high schools, as well as daycare programs within the area.
Crime statistics: No one wants to have to deal with the police after they move into a new home, so you may want to call them ahead of time. Local precincts can provide you data about local crime statistics and several real estate sites list this data as well
Parks and recreation: Love going to the park for walks, with your dog, or to entertain your children? Then know how far you will have to go!
Neighborhood associations: HOA’s can be a blessing but no one wants to find out at closing that they owe an extra fee for association dues and that they can’t plant those trees that they dreamed of when they first looked at the house. Ask about HOA’s and restrictions before you go binding on a contract.
Tourist attractions: If you want to get out and enjoy like, then contact local convention and visitor bureaus as well as chambers to learn about the area’s attractions. It will help to determine the local environment
4: Time to hit the Road
Once you have your list of neighborhoods, the best way to determine if you like the way they “live” is to actually go visit them. Plan some time one evening or over the weekend to drive through your list of communities and see what life looks like.
First impressions Matter. What do you notice first about the neighborhood? Do the streets have curb appeal? Are the houses well-maintained?
Can you see yourself there? You’ll enjoy the neighborhood more if it’s easy to do what you like.
Go for more than one day. Do the roads turn into a parking lot after school or during rush hour? Are people using grills or decks in the evening? Do people keep to themselves? Are the streets well-lit at night? These visual clues can help you decide if you’ll fit in.
We can’t say the word Schools enough! Even if you don’t have kids, pay a visit to the nearby schools. The will affect the value of your home when you resale it in the future.
Danger Beware. Are there any signs of vandalism? Do you see lots of for rent signs? Don’t risk your own home’s value based on the community’s downfall.
Time to listen up. What do you hear? Yelling, barking, trains, sirens? Do those noises bother you now? If so, it might be a good idea to cross this neighborhood off the list.
Go meet the neighbors. Find out how they like the area or what they would like to change?
Talk to someone who’s not an agent: You’ll get the best information from regular people who aren’t trying to make a sale to really understand community life.
Take in a deep breath: Literally! Does anything assault your nose?
5: Pick the Right Neighborhood!
Once you narrow down the communities – now you just need to find a home you love. However, there are a couple of things you should do first!
Find out how much house you can afford. The amount of money a lender offers you is often more than you can truly afford to pay. Find a great loan officer who can help you find the right payment for you.
Compare your loan options. Ask yourself these basic questions to find out what mortgage is right for you. How much money do you have to put down on your home? What does your payment look like?
Find a trusted agent: Real estate agents have the right knowledge to guide you through the process and will help you work through your list to find your best option for your new home. Ask around and get suggestions about someone who really knows the area where you have just picked your ideal location.
If you would like more information about finding the right neighborhood or need us to recommend some excellent mortgage professionals to help you start the financial process – give us a call!