Tips for choosing a location when house hunting
Finding the perfect neighborhood can be as difficult as finding the perfect house. Proximity to services, crime rates, school districts, and median home prices are just a few of the factors that can influence your search for a location. The following are all things to consider when searching for the right location – which will often lead you to the right house.
- Property taxes and specials. Property taxes vary from area from area, even within the same city. A property tax map can be used to identify tax rates in different areas. Likewise, make sure to ask about specials, which are the fees used to cover sidewalks, roads, and other neighborhood utilities. While more common in new developments, specials can also be found in neighborhoods where recent public works improvements have been made.
- Aesthetics and age. Picture your dream neighborhood: is it a tree-lined street with established homes, a sleek and modern subdivision of new construction, or something else entirely? Thinking about where you’d most like to live can help narrow down potential locations.
- Crime and safety. Researching crime in the area is one way to determine how safe a neighborhood is; resources such as City Data can provide information and statistics about nearby crime. While no neighborhood is crime-free or without safety concerns, consider what level of crime you are comfortable with in your neighborhood as well as the surrounding areas.
- Topography and geography. Consider the surrounding landscape when choosing a location. Could scenic views become totally blocked by new construction? Is the nearby river or lake a flooding hazard? Would hills become a hazard during icy conditions?
- School zones. Even if you don’t have children living with you, the local schools should be taken into consideration when searching for locations. Poor public school ratings can lower selling prices in a neighborhood as well as cause homes to stay on the market longer. Likewise, neighborhoods surrounding the best schools sometimes have over-inflated home prices which may not be worth it for families without children.
- Property values. Are property values in the area rising or falling? Is the price of a specific home comparable to similar homes in the area? Neighborhoods with rapidly dropping property values may not retain their value, whereas a sharp increase in prices indicate an up-and-coming area.