Before submitting an offer to buy or an application to rent, it’s important to check out the neighborhood surrounding a potential new home. Most buyers and renters spend hours online looking at photos and detailed descriptions of homes on the market, but zoom through the neighborhood on their way to and from the property without taking stock of what they see along the way. Making equal time available to check out the neighborhood can keep us from making a purchase or lease decision we could regret later.
While driving is necessary to check out commute times, walking the neighborhood is also a good way to get a better feel for what it would be like to live there. Walk the neighborhood during the day and after dark, including streets adjacent to the block where you may buy or rent a home.
Here are five important things to consider when looking at a potential new neighborhood.
1. Traffic Patterns. Determine if the commute-time flow of traffic is heavy in the direction you would be going. Adding ten minutes to a commute in each direction can mean 198 more hours sitting in traffic every year. Try driving the commute in both directions to determine average commute time and to search for alternate routes and short-cuts.
2. Distance To Frequent Destinations. Schools, parks, grocery store, dry cleaner, gas station, coffee shop – we don’t expect to find all these on most residential streets, but having them conveniently nearby can save a lot of time. Determine frequent destinations and give them priority in your consideration of overall convenience of the neighborhood.
3. Street And Sidewalk Maintenance. Deferred maintenance on public streets and sidewalks can mean extra wear & tear on vehicles and potential special tax assessments to catch up with repairs. Check out the neighborhood at night to see if streets and sidewalks are well lit and safe.
4. Condition Of Neighbor’s Properties. Pride of ownership is demonstrated by keeping homes and yards in good repair, which translates into desirable neighborhoods that maintain their value. A unique skill developed by many successful real estate agents is being able to determine if a neighborhood is improving or in decline. There can be many different reasons why home values move up or down in a neighborhood – nearby development, homeowners who don’t maintain their property, regional economic problems. If you notice mixed levels of property care in the neighborhood, consult with your agent regarding the current direction of property value fluctuations.
5. Meet The Neighbors. When walking the neighborhood, say hello to potential neighbors. If they’re open to it, ask about the neighborhood and if there are any specific problems you should know about before making your decision to live there.
Have questions about how to check out the neighborhood where you might live or real estate in general? Drop me a line using the form below.