One of the most important decisions a home buyer must make is choosing the right neighborhood. While this is a very personal decision that often hinges on hundreds of different factors, you should always keep in mind the following...
- If you are considering buying in an unfamiliar neighborhood, take the time to walk or drive around it, both during the day and in the evening.
- Check out the availability of community amenities (such as public transportation, parks, stores, churches and schools). If you have school-age children you may even want to visit the local schools and daycare centers.
- It's a good idea to travel the new driving route to and from work during the appropriate times to see what traffic is like.
- The quality of neighborhood planning, any future development plans and local zoning will also have a significant effect on a neighborhood's desirability. Re-sale values and even future property taxes are likely to be affected by any significant neighborhood changes. Are developers interested in the neighborhood? If so, find out what kind of projects they have planned. You should remember that attractive tree-covered empty spaces often become the location of new development in desirable areas.
- Find out if there are major infrastructure projects planned for the area. Major construction projects, which could be anything from building a new mass-transit station to widening the area's major roadway, are usually part of a long-range city, town or county plan. While construction can be disruptive, you need to determine if it will have a positive or negative long-term effect on the neighborhood and its property values. Find out all you can before you decide to buy.
- Look into the local job market as well. You can expect property values to rise if area employers are creating more jobs, especially higher-paying jobs.
- Talk to the neighbors. They could be one of your most valuable sources of community information.