NBSB’s Tips for Researching a Neighborhood Before You Buy
When looking for a home, you may hear the importance of “location, location, location” and while it includes factors like, commute, school district, and access to stores and amenities, the most important part of a location is the community. Buying a home in a neighborhood without knowing the area and community can leave you with regrets. These great guidelines will help ensure that you’ve researched the community you intend to make home as fully as you can.
Visit the neighborhood.
Now this may seem like the obvious thing to do but it is a good idea to visit any neighborhood you’re considering a few times to get the true feel of the area. Visit the grocery store, a local shop, take a walk, eat at a local restaurant, drive by the schools and see what’s in the area. It is also a good idea to visit and explore during different times of day to see how the area changes.
Connect with the Neighbors.
The people who know the most about a community are the people who are already living there. Without invading anyone’s private space, try to find an opportunity to strike up a conversation with some locals. They may be able to give you the details you won’t be able to find in other ways. Do they like the school system? Do they feel it’s a safe neighborhood? By visiting local stores or a coffee shop you can more easily meet some residents face to face.
Often times, towns have town pages on social media sites. If you tell the administrator that you are considering relocating to the neighborhood they may allow you to join the group. This could give you some insight into the town itself by seeing the day to day activities and community events. However, don’t let the forums hold too much weight as social media can be a place where keyboard warriors express every dislike and grievance. Which may give you a false impression of the location you’re researching.
It’s sleuthing 101. That’s right. A Google Maps search of the street address will show you an overview map with the schools, businesses and places in the area. A street view can give you a visual of an exact street before visiting. By doing a simple Google search you might also find interesting details about the community and surrounding areas like if there are parks, playgrounds or famous landmarks and hiking areas.
Do Your Schoolwork
Whether you have children, plan to grow your family or it isn’t a part of your journey, knowing about the schools systems is important. First, if you live a town with a good schools system you often will have a higher home value. Second, if you have or might have children, and you plan on sending them to public school, you will want to ensure they are getting the best possible education. Visit the School Locator page at the U.S. Department of Education website to find a local map showing the area’s public schools.
As a potential new homeowner, it is important to know how much of your hard earned income will be paid annually toward the sales and property taxes of your home. Popular real estate websites like Realtor.com and others offer these details. Since it’ll probably be a substantial part of your expenses make sure to do your homework and even calculate a budget for yourself. Great resources like NBSB’s “Great ways to start and keep a budget” can help you do that.
Calculate Your Commute Time
So you think you have found the perfect neighborhood to start your journey of homeownership but will you still love the location as much when you discover that you have to travel over an hour to work due to traffic. You always want to make sure to calculate your commute and if possible even give a test run at rush hour to see how long it will truly take.
Safety & Crime
Of course, safety of the neighborhood you are considering is very important. Often a Google search can help you find the crime statistics of the community you want to move to but you can also visit the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports webpage for additional information. For information about registered sex offenders nearby visit the National Sex Offender public page on the U.S. Department of Justice website.