The Homebuyer’s Toolkit: Choosing the Right Neighborhood

When purchasing a home, it�s all about location, location, location

It's perfect! But what's it like at night?

It's perfect! But what's it like at night?

Imagine this: You’re finally a homeowner. You found the perfect abode that fits you and/or your family’s needs—spacious bedrooms, a big kitchen with new stainless steel appliances, hard wood floors, a white picket fence, and all that. But as soon as night falls, the neighborhood starts to look a little different. You notice crowds of people gathering on the corner, people yelling out of their windows, your car alarm keeps going off, and on top of that, every weekend your street becomes host to the eight-hour block party.

You may have the right house but it’s in the wrong neighborhood.

The reality is, it’s not the real estate agent’s job to give you the scoop on the neighborhood. Most won’t alert you to the negatives because their goal is to sell you a home and get a commission.

“Go when they least expect you,” advises attorney Enealia Nau of  NauCorp. Properties, Inc. “November through March are popular months that brokers like to show homes because most people are inside during the colder months.”

To get a real assessment of the neighborhood, survey it on a warm evening or the weekend. Choosing the wrong neighborhood can depreciate the value of your home, but more importantly, you want to protect you and/or your family from being the victim of a crime.

Nau provided some useful house hunting tips at this week’s homebuyer’s class sponsored by the Bedford Central Community Development Corp.

Find out if the neighborhood is safe. Ask the police department for neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type—burglaries, armed robberies—and whether the trend is increasing or decreasing crime. Also, is most of the criminal activity centered in only one part of the neighborhood, such as near a retail area?

Determine if the neighborhood is economically stable. Check with your local city economic development office to see if income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the percentage of homes to apartments? Apartments don’t necessarily diminish value, but they do mean a more transient population. Do you see vacant businesses or homes that have been for sale for months? That may not be a good sign.

Make a list of the activities—movies, health club, church—you engage in regularly and the stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel to participate in your regular pastimes and activities for each neighborhood you’re considering moving to.

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3 Responses to The Homebuyer’s Toolkit: Choosing the Right Neighborhood

  1. Ambient says:

    When purchasing a home try to look 20 years out. If you see trends, issues you don’t like, don’t purchase. Attempting to foresee 20 years in the future is a good thing. Chance are you could live there as long or longer.

  2. hoodtechie,miami says:

    choosing a neigborhood is like choosing a career,you make all th right moves but in the end you have to have faith that it will work out.there are no certain benchmarks to look for.i purchased a 400k home in atlanta and 4 years later a super walmart opened.traffic is conjestive,more cars,more noise and more talking to some of my neighbors we just found out that they are planning to build townhomes(price 145 to 185k) less than 1/2 mile away .no matter how much we all planned never saw it coming neither did the least thats what we’re being told

  3. Rod(Minneapolis) says:

    I am a Housing Studies major and I find this article to be a good summary of the basic tips to searching for a neighborhood. Like hoodtechie said, you have to have faith that a neighborhood will remain stable for many years, especially if you are buying an expensive home. One topic the article missed was the quality of schools in a neighborhood. Buying a home in a neighborhood with good schools is important even if you do not have children. The buyers of the home you eventually sell may have children and studies have shown that good schools and properties values correlate with each other. Lastly, work with a real estate agent you trust. Commission hungry agents are not out for your best interest.

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