Finding a good neighborhood
Anyone will tell you that buying a home in a good neighborhood is essential. But what things go into making one neighborhood more desirable than another? Aside from an intangible feeling about a place, there are a number of qualities that set some neighborhoods apart, such as:
- Good public schools nearby.
- Well-maintained homes and clean public areas.
- Close proximity to good shopping.
- Public facilities like parks and community centers.
Doing thorough neigborhood research is critical if you truly want your home to fit your needs. Here are some basic strategies:
Call City Hall
You may like an area now, but you could feel differently if a football stadium or six-lane highway will be your future neighbor. Check with local officials on the zoning of neighborhoods and the likelihood of any substantial public projects. Large projects such as major road construction are planned years in advance.
Though appreciation can be an impossible thing to predict, it’s good to at least try to determine a home’s resale potential. Slow selling homes may just be a function of the current market, but they could also indicate problems (or perceived problems) with the neighborhood that could affect resale. Check for any information on new industries or companies moving to the area in the future that could lead to housing demand later.
Do the Footwork
Probably the most important step in researching neighborhoods is to get a first-hand look. Talk to residents, visit local schools, businesses, and parks, and get to know your way around. If you plan on using public transportation, see what options are available. Be sure to visit the neighborhood at several different times of day. Three quick ways to scope out a neighborhood:
- Eat at local restaurants (non-chains) to get a feel for the people.
- Attend a community meeting.
- Read the community newspaper for at least a week.
In the end your impression of a neighborhood will largely be an emotional reaction. By researching the facts and future of a given neighborhood, you’ll ensure that your hunches are well informed.