Buying a home? Here’s what to look for in a new neighborhood.

older happy couple standing on front steps of house

There are many exciting aspects to buying a new home. One of these is discovering a new neighborhood and hopefully being able to enjoy its community features. Whether you’re new home is in a master planned community, a condo development or a historic district, getting to know a home’s immediate surroundings can be just as important as researching the property itself. In today’s post, we’ll highlight a few key features to look out for while you set out on your house hunting journey.

Amenities

If the home you’re considering is located in a master planned community or any type of development with distinct boundaries, an HOA, etc., then buying that home will most likely mean you get to share a few communal benefits with your neighbors. Not only are neighborhood amenities enjoyable for the residents, they can add value to each home within the development. 

Does the neighborhood include things like a community pool, tennis courts, walking trails or playgrounds? Does it have well-maintained common areas that are attractively landscaped? Do the HOA fees include helpful services such as regular lawn care, pest control or trash collection? If the community in question offers any of these features, and you don’t mind paying additional fees to use them, the home you’re considering could be a great value. However, the subdivision lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Often, these communities also enforce strict bylaws on residents in order to maintain the value and appearance of the homes within them.

Vacant Homes

Take notice of other homes that are for sale or sitting empty within the neighborhood. Multiple vacant homes in the same subdivision could be a potential red flag. According to Realtor magazine, one or two homes for sale within close proximity is OK; however, more than that could indicate that something is wrong.

On the other hand, several homes for sale in the same community could point to rapidly rising home values — leading longtime residents to put their homes on the market, knowing they can get a good price. If home values are going up fairly quickly in a certain area, this could be a good indicator that you’re buying in a popular area that may be likely to continue to grow in value.

The bottom line here is to do some research and ask your real estate agent to help.

School Enrollment

According to Realtor magazine, a fairly sure sign of a healthy neighborhood is steady enrollment in nearby schools. If school enrollment is on the decline in a particular area, it could be an indication that the area’s overall market value is decreasing. Again, this may not necessarily be the case so doing your due diligence as a home buyer is important.

Nearby Businesses

For some buyers, the idea of having a lot of stores, restaurants and entertainment venues within close proximity of their home is an exciting prospect. For others, it can be a turn off. Get to know what you really want in a neighborhood, then compare your shortlist with what each potential home has to offer.

For example, let’s say you’re considering making an offer on a beautiful historic home in your city’s downtown. The street is full of attractive, well-kept homes and the area has good safety ratings online. However, there are several shops, bars and late-night restaurants located just a few blocks away. This could mean a lot of traffic on weekends, especially in the evenings. And if you’re in a popular vacation destination, tourist season could be especially troublesome, if you’re the type who prefers peace and quiet.

Likewise, if the home is surrounded by regular businesses or industrial buildings, you may not have as much noise and activity at night, but these types of establishments tend to bring a home’s value down. Also, keep an eye out for empty storefronts and vacant commercial buildings. These could be clear signs that an area is on the decline.

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