When choosing the right home for your lifestyle, you must also choose the right neighborhood. While resale, style, and layout are critical, it’s also important to pick a neighborhood that you and your family will enjoy living in on a daily basis.
After learning your priorities, your buyer’s agent can help you identify the neighborhoods to begin your search, but your agent may not be able to answer all of your questions. Under Federal Fair Housing Laws, it is unlawful for an agent to engage in any conduct that is discriminatory on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status. However, your buyer’s agent can provide helpful sources of information so that you can evaluate different neighborhoods and find the right one for you.
A real estate professional should never steer you toward or away from a particular neighborhood if the homes there fit your needs and are within your range of affordability. If you are interested in a particular neighborhood, share this preference with your buyer’s agent.
Factors to Consider When Evaluating a Neighborhood
Spending time in a neighborhood at different times throughout the week can tell you a lot about it—but not everything. Ask yourself, “What kind of neighborhood do I want to live in?” Then do your research.
Depending on your needs and preferences, some factors may be more important than others, including:
- Neighborhood Profile: Research neighborhood aspects such as population density and the level of commercial development.
- Household Data: Take into account family type, average household income, and homeowner education level and occupation.
- Crime Rate: Crime is an unfortunate reality. No neighborhood is immune to crime, but you can make an educated decision about where to live by researching the area.
- Quality of Schools: Even if this doesn’t matter to you now, remember that this is an important factor for resale value. Base your evaluation on school performance as determined by average test scores, graduation rates, spending per student, and the percentage of college-bound students and National Merit Scholars.
- Amenities: What features you want in a neighborhood will be determined by the lifestyle you lead. Amenities to consider include shopping, transportation, parks and recreation, restaurants and nightlife, cultural institutions, and natural resources, such as nature preserves.
Viewing and Comparing Homes
Once you’ve set your priorities and geographical search parameters, your 3930 Group buyer’s agent will begin sending you listings via email to review and visit. That’s right, it’s time for the fun part: going out and touring homes.
Make sure to review the list of preferences you compiled in Step 3 before each series of home tours. You may even consider setting up a comparison table with your highest-priority boxes listed first.
As you know, buying a house is more than just checking off items on a list—you’re searching for a home. You need to consider a certain amount of emotion or intuition. In addition to meeting your criteria, a home should “feel right.” Be sure to share your reactions to each property, good or bad, with your buyer’s agent so he or she can help you refine your search.
If you decide to view homes on your own (an open house, for example) make sure the listing agent knows you are working with someone, and share your agent’s business card or contact information, if possible. Above all, be careful not to divulge details about your personal situation, as those details may hurt your future negotiating position if you decide to make an offer on the property.
Using Web Sites
The Internet makes shopping for a home easier than ever before. Websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com provide an opportunity for buyers to customize their search experience by manipulating criteria in unique and fun ways. Remember that not all information on the Internet is accurate and complete, even when found on these well-respected websites.
Your 3930 Group buyer’s agent is still the most important source for property information. He or she can share the most current and reliable listing information. This information may also include houses that buyers might not find on their own for a variety of reasons. Be sure to ask about any properties you find outside your agent’s search so that he or she may help you quickly learn more or visit the property.