Each spring when the weather changes it’s natural to begin thinking about big life changes, too. One of those changes may be buying a new home. But rather than just focusing on square feet and finishes, think about the kind of surrounding you’d most be comfortable in.
A home is not an island. The surrounding neighborhood is just as important because it can have a big impact on your lifestyle — safety, available amenities, and convenience all play their part, according to the National Association of Realtors.
So this spring if you’re in the market for a new home, make sure to check out the surrounding neighborhood to see if it’s the right fit for you – remember: “location, location, location” can be different for everyone!
• Make a list of the activities — movies, health clubs, churches — you engage in regularly and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you’re considering to engage in your most common activities.
• Check out the school district. The education department in your town can provide information on test scores, class size, percentage of students who attend college, and special enrichment programs. Even if you don’t have children, a house in a good school district will be easier to sell in the future.
• Check crime. Ask the police department for neighborhood crime statistics — not only the level of crime, but also the type — burglaries, armed robberies — any trends of increasing or decreasing crime and the location of crime.
• Look for economic stability. Your local city or county economic development office can tell you if income and property values in a neighborhood are stable, rising or falling, the percentage of homes to apartments. Apartments don’t necessarily diminish value, but they can indicate transient populations. Check for vacant or blighted businesses or homes.
• Consider resale value. A local real estate agent or trade association can give you information about price trends, inventories, selling times and other information that can indicate how well your home’s value will hold up.
• Hit the streets. Narrow your focus to several neighborhoods and do a “walk-through” of each. Pick a warm day when people are out and available for chatting. Look for tidy, well maintained homes, quiet streets and other indicators of neighborhood stability.