As a first-time homebuyer, determining the neighborhood that fits your needs is pivotal to narrowing your home selection.
Choosing the neighborhood for your first home should follow a prescription whittled down by your values and priorities, always keeping your future plans in mind. You will eliminate much anxiety if you first decide upon a checklist of qualities which resonate most deeply with what you value in a home and in a location.
Julie and her team have years and years of experience in helping our clients devise checklists of preferences for their future neighborhoods. Here are our suggestions for major points to consider when deciding upon your new neighborhood.
Safety first, right? This is especially true if you have or intend to have children. The easiest way to learn about crime in a particular area is to visit CrimeReports.com.
Future Plans For The Neighborhood
Development plans can have a major impact on your home value, lifestyle, and traffic conditions. We can help you get in contact with the area’s Planning Division for zoning information and future development plans in your preferred neighborhood.
For general information about schools in your desired neighborhood, you can always go to the National Center for Education Statistics website. More detailed information, including parent reviews, can be found at Greatschools.org. After you’ve done your online research, we recommend scheduling a tour of the schools, which Julie and her team can also help you arrange. You may even ask to be put in contact with other parents who can answer any additional questions you may have.
Make sure the schools are in good financial health. Ed-Data enables you to access financial information for school districts and county offices of education. You may also review a school’s financial information at the Foundation Center’s website.
Consider if your commute to work from your desired neighborhood is tolerable. Taking a test drive at your normal commuting times may be helpful. Also find out if grocery stores, gyms, car repair and service shops, public transportation, schools, and health services are within reasonable distance.
Activities & Amenities
Think of your daily and weekend routines. Some buyers will never consider choosing a place which does not offer ready access to open spaces, while others consider a vibrant cultural or culinary scene essential to their sense of satisfaction and wellbeing. List your essentials and then research the different neighborhoods you are considering. Julie and her team will work closely with you in determining which neighborhood is the closest match.
Once you’ve narrowed your search, it is time to hit the streets and “date” your potential choices. As you do, use all your senses and trust your gut. First impressions are often reliable. Visualize yourself in the neighborhood. Where will you jog or walk your dog in the morning? Are there sidewalks? Look up an address on the Walk Score website to obtain a “walkability” rating for the area. Check the traffic at different hours. How congested does it get?
Visit the neighborhoods at different times of the day. Are people out and about during the evening hours? Are kids playing along the street? Enter a café and get a feel for the level of interconnectedness of your future neighbors. Is the social scene vibrant or are people basically keeping to themselves?
Look for activities that show owners are keeping up or investing in their properties. Also look for signs that the city is doing a proper job in maintaining public areas. Beware of cracked streets and sidewalks, broken streetlights, and vacant homes with shattered windows and overgrown yards. Find out all you can about the city’s Operating and Capital Improvement Budget and its overall financial health.
If you already have your eye on a specific property, knock on doors and chat with your potential future neighbors. Ask about crime, noise, traffic, and neighborhood issues. Julie can even help you find a neighborhood group and attend one of its meetings.