Select A Department:

Courses in this Department

How Ready Are You to Buy a Home?

Determining Your Dream Home and Finding It!

Factory Built Homes Are Worth a Look

Purchase Manufactured Homes with FHA Loan

How to Buy a Foreclosed Home

Pros and Cons of Corner Lots

Know the Neighborhood Before You Buy

Tune in to an Open House on the Radio

Finding a Qualified Broker or Agent

Shopping for a Loan and Choosing a Lender

How to Improve Your Credit

How to Survive the Loan Application Process

Making an Offer and Signing Contracts

Cancel Your Contract in 3 Days

Understanding the Closing/Settlement Process

Choosing Home Inspection and Settlement Professionals

Double Check Your New Home - The Walkthrough

Know Your Consumer Rights

Seniors Have Many Housing Opportunities

Preparing for the Big Day -- Relocating Moving

Make Your Home Your Castle - Cost Effective Redecorating Ideas


Finding a Good Neighborhood

What Goes Into a Good Neighborhood?
A lot.

Here are just a few of the factors you should consider when looking at possible neighborhoods:

  • Commute Time

    Is your new home going to be nearby or light years away from your workplace? How much time will you spend in traffic? This is a major factor in many major metropolitan areas. It not only affects your commute but time spent locally performing errands, as well as your peace of mind. You don't want traffic jams cutting into your daily life.

    A shorter commute means more time to spend with family, friends and pursuing things outside of work. The actual commute time between your prospective new home and your job needs to be measured both in miles and traffic congestion you'll encounter. It doesn't hurt to actually try driving it yourself during peak rush hour times. That way you'll avoid a traffic nightmare.

    In urban areas, closer-in homes are typically priced higher, while prices in the outer suburbs and rural areas are generally lower. The potential trade-off for a longer commute is a larger home for your dollar but more stress getting to and from work. Everyone's different. A larger home may be more important to you. Determine what kind of commute is acceptable to you.

  • Proximity to Schools, Facilities, Shopping and Public Transportation

    Access to public transportation can make a longer commute easier to swallow. Check out the home's proximity to bus and train lines, and find out if they're safe, reliable and generally on time. This is obviously important if any member of your household doesn't drive.

    Don't ignore proximity to the other necessities, too, such as grocery stores, gas stations, or pharmacies. How far do you have to drive to pick up a half-gallon of milk? How close are you to medical and fire and police services? If you have or plan to have children, will they be attending public or private schools?

    You'll need to consider distances from primary or secondary schools, and how long a bus ride is okay for your children. Or is bus transportation not available; leaving you with driving your kids to school?

  • Quality of Schools

    The quality of local schools will be a factor in your investment, even if you don't have children. Why? Because a strong school system enhances an area's overall property values.

    Family buyers are always looking for good schools. Apart from the school's general reputation, other factors to consider are overcrowding and teacher-to-student ratios which some say directly affect quality of education.

    Look at the school's standardized test scores compared to both statewide and national averages. Contact the local PTA and talk to parents who really know the school system.

  • Crime

    Nothing affects your peace of mind or quality of life more than your safety and security. Crime, or the perception of it, does more to sap a neighborhood's vitality and property values than any other factor. Keep in mind that most homebuyers only visit homes during the day, forgetting that a neighborhood can change radically at night.

    Take a drive during the evening around the neighborhood. You could notice a seedy curbside hangout or a nightclub with drinkers spilling out onto neighborhood streets, things you might otherwise miss during the day.

    The National Association of Realtors tracks the crime rates in over 500 cities. The National Crime Prevention Council also maintains statistics for localities compared against national averages.

  • Local taxes and fees

    Are property taxes reasonable compared to other jurisdictions? The local chamber of commerce tracks this kind of information. What will your annual property tax payment be?

    Find out the tax rate from the local town or county assessor's office. To calculate your bill, multiply the tax rate as a percentage times the home's value.

    Look out for communities that are building and growing too fast-that could mean a shortfall in services such as school capacity, roads or sewage treatment, and a possible increase in fees or property taxes.

  • Future Construction and Potential Nuisances

    What is the area zoned for? Is the property nearby ripe for development? This is especially important when buying a new-construction home in a planned community. Do some research, or you might be sharing your neighborhood with multitudes of people in new homes that didn't even exist when you moved in.

    Your new-home agent can tell you about home construction plans in your housing development, but most agents feel constrained from telling you anything about construction plans by other developers in the area. Your best bet is to do some research yourself at the local town or county planning office. Find out what type of construction is planned in and around your prospective new neighborhood, including the type of home, i.e., apartments, single-family detached homes or townhouses.

    You don't want to be surprised by a new shopping center going in down the street, either. City planners also can tell you about planned infrastructure improvements, including major roads, schools, industry, etc. Are there any planned or existing stadiums, airports, freeways and other facilities nearby that could add noise, traffic and other irritations to your daily existence?

Enough, Enough!

Don't feel bad if is this seems like a ton of research. Buying a home takes time and can be a bewildering experience no matter how many times you have done it. Will the home and neighborhood provide you or your family all the things we've covered? Will the property have strong resale value when you're ready to sell? Let's face it, some of us don't want to start from scratch. When it comes to buying a home, we'd rather save time and headaches by getting an experienced real estate agent or broker to guide us through the process no matter how many times we have gone through the process ourselves before.

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