10 Ways To Analyze A Neighborhood Before You Buy

Dated: 09/22/2015

Views: 327

You’re in the market for a house. You’re shopping around, on the hunt for a killer deal because you know the market is favorable. How much time have you put into analyzing the neighborhoods housing the properties you’re interested in? If the answer is slim to none, it’s time to rethink the home buying process. It is crucial to analyze a neighborhood before you buy, and there are ten distinct ways to do just that.

#1: Dream Homes Come From Dream Neighborhoods

If you’re reading our blog, chances are you’re looking for a home somewhere in Virginia Beach or Hampton Roads. Let’s say you find a home in Highcourt that’s within your budget and is just gorgeous. You’re sold because it looks like your dream home. Before you make an offer, stop!

Unless you’re looking at a home where the nearest neighbor is five miles away in every direction, dream homes come from dream neighborhoods. The person who lives to your right or left (or both) will impact how dreamy that home really is, and if they’re obnoxious, they’ll turn your dream home into a house of broken dreams.

#2: Add and Subtract the Crime Rate

The last thing you want to do is buy a house and wake up the next morning to a break in – whether it’s your car or the house! Before seriously considering a property, look into the local crime rate. The local police department can tell you what’s going on, and you can also use free resources like crimereports.com.

#3: Check the National Sex Offender Database

In this day and age, the crime rate is only part of the picture. You will also want to check the national sex offender database. It’s a good idea to know beforehand if any of your potential neighbors are less than savory characters, especially if you have kids.

#4: Gauge Hustle and Bustle

Noise and traffic are two easily forgotten elements that make or break a dream home. How close is the house to a heavily trafficked street? What kind of noise can you expect from neighbors? Do they have a pet, like a dog, that stays outside most of the time?

You can gauge the hustle and bustle near a property by visiting it at different times. Stop by during the day and at night. Drive by during peak travel hours.

#5: Check Out the School District

If you’re single or a couple without kids, checking out the school district can seem like a waste of time, but it’s not. You never know when your situation might change, and you never know if you will be the one going to school!

Look into the local schools, from primary to university level. What’s close by? How reputable are they? Are they established or new? A property’s proximity to schools can also give you an idea of the hustle and bustle you might face when schools are in session.

#6: Review Public Services

The state of public services in and around a neighborhood you’re thinking of moving into can indicate how well maintained the area will remain. When you drive through the area, do you see any signs of financial trouble? Are the streets well maintained and clean? What about nearby parks and sidewalks?

Take some time to scout out public transportation. How close is it to the neighborhood? What condition is it in? Where are the closest fire and police stations? What’s the state of the local library – is it functioning or shuttered? Due to a decline in property tax rolls, many towns have cut back on public services. Find out what public services a prospective neighborhood has access to and decide whether you are comfortable with this level of public service.

#7: Chat with the Locals

No one knows the house you’re thinking about buying better than the next door neighbor. And they just happen to also be a prime source for neighborhood gossip. We’re not encouraging the growth of the grape vine, but we do know the value of chatting with the locals.

The people who call the neighborhood home have a good grasp of what goes on. Your direct neighbors will likely have lots to say about who’s selling the house and the overall condition of the property. They’ll also have plenty to say about what’s happening on the street or around the block. Casual conversation can give you a lot of useful information about the local climate.

#8: Look Into the HOA

You’ve been doing your homework. You’ve found great reductions in the neighborhoods of Green Run and Indian Lakes, and you’re ready to move. Before you dive in head first, do these neighborhoods have an active homeowner’s association in place?

HOAs can be a major plus or negative for a potential homebuyer. An HOA means additional expense, but it can be worth it. Homeowner’s associations, when properly managed, can increase property value. As a result, buying a house within an HOA managed neighborhood, community, or development can turn a wise investment into an even smarter one. However, you need to thoroughly research the homeowner’s association first.

#9: Snoop Around

It was the poet Robert Frost who said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” The condition of the fences in the neighborhood just might give you a good idea of what to expect. Some neighborhoods don’t even need them unless they’re fencing in a pet or young children. Other neighborhoods need fences to keep the annoying neighbors and rising crime rate somewhat in check.

In other words, snoop around! Clues of what you’re potentially moving into are everywhere. For example, the number of For Sale signs can be a major indication of whether part of the neighborhood has gone downhill and if a major chunk is subject to an unknown future.

#10: Talk to Your Real Estate Agent

Last, but certainly not least, talk to your local real estate agent about the neighborhoods you’re considering. Their knowledge and experience will prove invaluable. Chances are they have the inside scoop on most neighborhoods. If something is amiss, they’ll be high on the Need to Know List.

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Alycia Jordan

Having lived in other cities, such as Cleveland and Idaho Falls, I only appreciate Hampton Roads that much more. Why? Because from almost anywhere in our area, a beach is only about a 20 minute dri....

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