Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or you're looking to move up, one of the first things to consider when buying a new house is the neighborhood. A good neighborhood won't just raise your home's value over time - though this is also extremely important - it will make your home a good place to live. It can be tough to eyeball a neighborhood and decide whether it's going to be a good fit for you or not, so we've chosen our top things to consider when picking your next neighborhood.
This goes beyond just wide sidewalks and quiet streets - you want to be able to go somewhere. The best thing to do when you're considering a house is to walk somewhere to lunch from your potential new home. On your way, look for local storefronts and see if they appeal to you - you'll be seeing them again if you buy the house. Count how many people you pass along the way, because this will give you a good sense of whether people like to walk around the neighborhood or stay in their houses and commute in their cars.
2. Distance to public transit
A study conducted by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors found that houses within half a mile of high-frequency public transportation service retained their value 42 percent better than average. Again, value isn't all you care about, but it is a good indication that public transit is a big plus for a neighborhood. Even if you drive everywhere, eventually you might have kids that will want to take public transportation. Young people also tend to congregate around public transit hubs, which gives nice a youthful air to a neighborhood.
3. Places to gather
Where you like to hang out with your friends depends a lot on your personal tastes. Some people like going to the bar every weekend, some people prefer a public park or a downtown area with lots of restaurants to try. Regardless of what your preferences are, make sure that your neighborhood has it. If you love to go to the park on the weekend but the house you're looking at is in a downtown area, surrounded by nightclubs, you're probably not making the right decision. The gathering spots around a home don't just influence what you can do, they influence the other people living nearby - your potential neighbors.
4. Crime rate
The crime rate in an area is a big factor in picking a new house. This is another aspect of a neighborhood that won't just affect your home's value, but your quality of life as well. Your Realtor should be able to inform you of the local crime rate, including any trends that suggest that more or less crime is happening recently. If you want to double-check those numbers, you can look up the crime rate on any number of websites.
5. Local schools
If you have kids, or you're planning to in the near future, the quality of the local schools should be a big factor in choosing your perfect neighborhood, according to How Stuff Works. If not though, make sure you understand that the quality of local schools is a big factor in calculating resale value, so ask your Realtor about it. If you do have kids, you'll want to do even more research. Ask the neighbors, attend a PTA meeting or go on a tour of the local schools with your kids to see how they like it.
Once you've found your perfect neighborhood, it's time to focus on your home. Getting a move in inspection is crucial for avoiding home-related problems after the sale is complete. A qualified home inspection professional can tell you everything you need to know about the condition of your new home, make suggestions that will save you money and improve your bargaining position with the seller.