One thing many people forget to consider when looking for a new home is finding the right neighborhood to fit your needs. After all, there’s no point in finding the perfect house if it’s in an area you don’t really like. Here’s a quick checklist to keep you on track as you search for the best place for you.
__ Know Your Type
What type of neighborhood environment appeals to you best? How about one with a hot-spot, high energy, urban vibe? Or a park-filled, family-friendly suburban area? Maybe you want to experience quiet, private country life. One of these scenarios may peak your interest, or more likely a mix of them is the perfect thing. No matter what you choose, this is an important first step in defining the type of neighborhood you want to live in.
__ Amenities & Activities
Next, think about what amenities you’d like to have nearby like coffee shops, golf courses, health and fitness centers, shopping malls, grocery stores, and restaurants. If you have kids, note the location and accessibility of swimming pools, parks, libraries, and playgrounds. When it comes to social life, consider access to museums, clubs, concert venues and movie theaters.
Schools matter, even if you don’t have children. Homes located in a good school district typically hold onto their value better than those in less highly regarded districts. In fact, a 2013 realtor.com® survey of nearly 1,000 prospective home buyers showed that 91 percent said school boundaries were important in their search and are willing to pay 1 to 10 percent above budget to live within certain school boundaries.
__ Neighborhood Associations
Once you start narrowing down the field, ask your Realtor for information about neighborhood associations. Does the area you’re interested in have one? If yes, find out as much as you can about fees, benefits and restrictions.
If you plan on commuting to work, it’s best to chart your course beforehand. Take a practice drive during the hours you would normally work to evaluate the commute before making a commitment. Also, check out public transportation options – train, subway, bus, carpools, etc.
__ Take a Tour
Once you narrow down your search, take several tours of the areas you are considering and make it a point to observe those neighborhoods at different times. See how traffic adjusts to different times of day. Also note things that can affect your everyday life such as children playing in the neighborhood, construction, how well lit the streets are at night, and noise levels. Note the placement of amenities you would use regularly, such as coffee shops, grocery stores, or parks with playgrounds. And watch for potential negatives such as late-night bars, college hangouts, or bustling all-night convenience stores.
__ List Your Priorities
Defining the right neighborhood is the perfect first step to take when searching for a new home. Create your wish list filled with your wants, needs, and priorities using this checklist as your guide, then share it with your Realtor and you’ll dramatically increase your chances of finding a place to live that you can’t wait to get home to every night.