Buying a house is a big step in your life, whether it's your first home or the perfect place to retire. You've probably given a lot of thought to the amenities your new home should have, but you may not have put as much thought into finding the neighborhood that best fits your needs and budget. Here are some tips on finding the right neighborhood for you.
- Do Your Homework
There are lots of online tools that can make buying a house much easier by offering lots of great information — not only about the houses listed — but also about the neighborhoods. You can use these tools to get an idea of the neighborhoods that are acceptable to you and which ones are not. Some of the information you can find with online tools includes school districts and ratings, area employers, medical facilities, and activities. This data can help you narrow your search and find a neighborhood that really fits your needs.
Some online resources also offer information on housing values in specific neighborhoods. Knowing the values of other homes in the same area can help you avoid paying too much for a home, as well as give you an idea of what the future might hold. Look for areas where homes are appreciating in value. Talk to your real estate agent about the prices in specific neighborhoods. An experienced agent should be able to give you a good overview of various neighborhoods and their pricing trends.
- Check the History
One of the most important things you should look at is the neighborhood's history, especially as it relates to flooding and other natural disasters. Flooding can be a serious issue that may require you to carry additional insurance on a home in that area, but don't dismiss a home out of hand just because it's in a flood plain. Instead, find out as much as you can about whether the home has flooded and how often it's happened in the past. A home in a flood-prone area may have never flooded, but it's important to find out before you make an offer.
It's also important to check if there have been any natural disasters that affected the home you're considering, the neighborhood in which it's located, or the surrounding property values. Your real estate agent may not have this information, so be prepared to find it for yourself, if necessary.
- Don't Forget about Convenience
One of the considerations that may get lost in the shuffle of buying a house is that of convenience. Being near your favorite shopping options may not seem like a huge deal when you've found a house you love, but you can begin regretting your choice once you realize you're half an hour from your favorite store rather than half a mile. Don't forget to look at shopping and other nearby amenities, and consider whether or not you'll be happy if you can't walk to the corner store or local library like you used to.
- Find the Dream, Avoid the Nightmare
Buying a house is a big change, and moving into the wrong neighborhood can mean the difference between loving your new home, and only tolerating it. Make sure your dream home doesn't become a nightmare. No matter how much you like the home, if you don't like the neighborhood, you may be in for a rough time.
With these tips and help from your real estate agent, you'll be able to find a neighborhood that fits all your needs.