When you buy a home, you buy more than the structure itself. You are buying into a neighborhood – an area that you will spend a majority of your time. Knowing what the area is like can help you determine if you are making a good investment. No matter how much you love a home, if you don’t love the area it’s in, you can quickly learn to dislike it.
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Visit the Neighborhood at Different Times
Aside from the times that you visit the home you want to purchase, you should also visit the neighborhood. Pick different times of days and different days of the week to walk or drive through the area.
Try picking at least one weekend day and one weekend night as well as one weekday and one weeknight. This way you can get a feel for what the area is like at different times. For example, the area may be nice and quiet on a Monday night when everyone is inside preparing for work and school the following day. However, Friday and Saturday nights may be a different story.
Visiting at different times will give you an idea if you have partiers as potential neighbors. You’ll also see how many children are around and what they do. Are they running haphazardly through the streets or are they out with their parents playing nicely? These are things you’ll want to note as you figure out the type of area you’d be the most comfortable living.
Talk to Neighbors
It’s not creepy if you strike up conversation with potential neighbors. Let them know you are looking at a particular home and see what conversation they strike. You can ask particular questions, such as:
- What’s the noise level like?
- How is the crime in the area?
- Do the neighbors get along?
This is just a sampling of what you could ask. You obviously know what information you need to help you make the right decision. Try talking to at least 3 different neighbors to get an idea of what the area is like. You never know when they may even have information to provide about the home you want to purchase. It could help influence your decision.
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Use the Internet
The internet can provide a wealth of information too. From blogs to newspaper articles, you can find out the details on almost anything that happened recently or in the past. Neighborhood blogs will give you the most up-to-date ‘gossip’ and information on the activities going on in the area. It may also help alert you to any issues going on in the area. You can find neighborhood information by searching the neighborhood name in Google. You can also check Facebook for groups specific to the area.
Newspaper articles will help highlight any recent crime that you may want to learn more about before making a decision. If crime seems to be an issue, there are also apps for your Smartphone that you can download that help you determine the types of crimes occurring in the area and how often they occur.
You may also want to know what the area schools are like. Greatschools.org is a great website to help you find this information. Even if you don’t have kids now, you should still determine the quality of the schools. Whether you’ll have children in the future or not, the quality of the area’s schools can make or break your home’s resale value in the future.
Check the Sex Offender Listing
Last, you may want to check the sex offender list to see if any sex offenders live in the neighborhood. This may or may not affect your decision to move into a home, but it doesn’t hurt to be informed. You can check the listing here. You can simply enter the address of the home you might buy and you’ll get a map of the proximity of any registered sex offenders.
The best way to find out about a neighborhood is to do your research. You’ll need to do some legwork and the rest online. The more research you put into an area, the more you’ll know about it. While you shouldn’t base your decision solely on the area, it should play a role. You’ll want to know what you are getting yourself into before making an investment in a home.