Research Location Before Buying a Home in a Strange Neighborhood

November 4, 2001

Location, location, location . . . is the familiar refrain in the real estate world. Maybe it should be "look, listen and learn."

"Homebuyers need to keep their eyes open when researching neighborhoods," says Richard Roll, president of American Homeowners Association. "Nothing is as important to your quality of life and the value of your investment as the location of your prospective home."

The quality of local schools is a major factor in determining home values. Even if you don't have children, check into it.

Your home is worth more in a high-quality school district. Apart from the school's general reputation, other factors to consider are teacher-to-student ratios and standardized test scores.

Your proximity to job centers, shopping, and public transportation is another key consideration. What kind of commute is acceptable to you?

A related question concerns traffic congestion. How much time will you spend in it?

Closer-in homes are typically priced higher, while prices in the outer suburbs and rural areas are generally lower. It's a difficult trade-off. Are you willing to tolerate a longer commute in order to get a larger home for your dollar?

Nothing affects your peace of mind or quality of life more than your family's safety and security. Crime rates, or the perception of it, do more to sap a neighborhood's vitality and property values than any other factor.

Be sure also to consider nearby public buildings, freeways and other sites that may add noise, traffic or other disturbances.

The American Homeowners Association

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