What to look for when choosing a new neighborhood

Real estate is all about location, location, location. While some buyers focus on square footage, kitchen appliances, or numbers of bedrooms, the neighborhood can affect everything from shopping and commute times to resale value and school districts.

Whether you’re looking for a new house in your existing city or moving to an entirely new area, finding the right neighborhood for your family can be difficult. The following are just a few of the many factors to consider when choosing a new neighborhood.

  1. Commute times

The perfect home might not be so ideal if it comes with a two-hour commute to and from the office each day. Consider what the commute times to work and school will be from a neighborhood – as well as how this will affect your quality of life. Before purchasing a home, make sure to “practice” what the commute will be like at least once in both morning and evening traffic to see if you’re willing to do it every day.

  1. Rising home prices

Are home values in the neighborhood increasing or decreasing? Real estate prices are increasing across the U.S. On average, the price of single family homes are up 6.9% over last year. A neighborhood where home prices are increasing at higher than the national average is an indicator that the area is growing and thriving.

  1. Great schools

Even if you don’t have school-aged children, the schools in your area can affect your home’s value. A survey by Realtor.com found that 91% of buyers found school boundaries important when shopping for a new home. Choosing a neighborhood with highly-rated schools can help ensure you are making a good investment.

  1. Close-knit community

Even if you don’t want to become best friends with your new neighbors, finding a close-knit community is important to many home buyers. If your real estate agent isn’t familiar with the specifics of the neighborhood, don’t be afraid to go knocking on doors. Ask the people who live there about any community-specific events such as block parties, Fourth of July parades, favorite coffee houses and more.

  1. Access to amenities

Whether you are looking for a downtown loft or a suburban home, access to amenities and conveniences are important. Busy neighborhoods with shops, restaurants, and parks can increase in value over time; those that are further away from services and stores may decrease in value. For many areas, walkability has become a priority in helping residents access amenities.

  1. Crime

Federal Fair Housing laws prohibit real estate agents from commenting on an area’s safety. Websites like SafeWise.com and NeighborhoodScout.com can provide homebuyers with important crime information and statistics for an area. For an even more direct approach, don’t be afraid to ask current residents about incidences of crime in the neighborhood.

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