Home Buying Basics

When you buy a new home, you’re making a commitment to the neighborhood in which it’s located. It’s a package deal. The challenge is finding a “package” that complements your lifestyle.

Many homebuyers neglect to consider that crucial detail. Some learn months after they move into their new homes that there’s too much noise, they dislike their neighbors and the surrounding community is circling the economic drain.

The good news is that you can avoid such problems by conducting a little field reconnaissance before you make an offer. Read on for several tips on how to find a home and neighborhood you and your family will enjoy for years to come.

Decide What Makes A “Perfect” Neighborhood

Before you start your search for a new house, think about the features you’d like to see in a neighborhood. For example, you might want to live near your workplace to shorten your commute. Or you may want to live within walking distance of shops, theaters and restaurants. If you have young children, you might put a premium on living close to quality schools and parks.

Use your ideal community as a frame of reference. It’s a starting point. You may have to forgo certain features you want in order to secure others. The important thing is that you identify your priorities upfront.

Gather Information About Potential Neighborhoods

You can collect a lot of useful information about communities online. For example, use Google Maps to find out how far a listed property is located from schools, parks, shops and grocery stores. Use sites like NeighborhoodScout.com, CrimeMapping.com and City-Data.com to obtain crime statistics. Doing so will help you avoid areas that are rife with criminal activity.

Taking this step early will help you to narrow down your list of potential properties. If a listed home is located in a community that doesn’t appeal to you, drop it from your list and save yourself time.

Visit During Various Times Of The Day And Week

If you visit a property on a Monday morning, you’ll have a fair idea of what the surrounding neighborhood is like during that time of the week. But you’ll still be in the dark as to what it’s like during the afternoons and evenings. Also, the level of traffic, street noise, and general activity is likely to be different on the weekends.

The only way to truly know what an area is like is to visit it at different times of the day and different days of the week. Drop by in the morning, early afternoon and evening. Stop by on the weekends. Note when the traffic is heaviest, the noise level is highest, and whether residents spend time outside.

Note The Community’s Noise Level

Some people enjoy the quiet. Others are comfortable, even when there’s a cacophony of sound outside their homes. Before you submit an offer, make sure the noise level in the area suits you.

If a property is located near an elementary school, expect to hear children during the school year. If it’s located near a freeway, expect to hear the morning and late afternoon rush hour traffic. If a house is located near an airport, expect to hear planes flying overhead.

The fact that you love your house won’t matter if excessive noise makes it difficult for you to relax.

Speak With Your Potential Neighbors

The people who live in a community can provide unique and useful insight into the experience of living there. They can tell you about break-ins, the noise level, and about planned construction projects that might affect home values. They can tell you about the benefits of living on their street (e.g. no renters, friendly neighbors, etc.) as well as some of its downsides (barking dogs, loud children, etc.).

Your potential neighbors, particularly the ones who have lived in the neighborhood for years, can be a treasure trove of information. If you see them outside while you’re visiting the area, stop by and engage them in conversation. Most people will be happy to offer their opinions.

Once you’re convinced that the neighborhood you’re considering suits your lifestyle, and have found a property you love, ask your realtor to submit an offer. Your sleuthing efforts will pay off. You’ll be able to rest assured that you and your family will enjoy spending the next several years in your new community.

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