Now that you’ve decided to buy a home, it’s time to identify the neighborhoods or communities you plan to shop. If you’re looking for a home in a community that you know well, you probably already know exactly which neighborhoods you’d like to live in. For those of you who aren’t sure, determining which neighborhoods or communities will best suit your needs will require some research.
It’s time to create another homebuyer’s checklist and rank by importance the community amenities you must have and those you’d like to have. The list will help you remain focused on the important features while you look at a variety of neighborhoods and communities.
Some of the factors that will impact your quality of life include the condition of the local economy; local amenities such as libraries, parks, entertainment and shopping; school quality and test scores; and crime rates. There are many community resources that you can tap to learn more about a neighborhood.
The local chamber of commerce can bring you up to speed on the condition of an area’s local economy, inform you of any anticipated major changes such as a large employer that’s about to downsize or expand, or news of any new businesses that will soon move into the area.
Pay a visit to the local police departments and ask for detailed information about neighborhood and community crime statistics. In many cases, you can ask the department about a specific street and get informal but pertinent information about crime rates specific to the street/block and other related issues.
Hit the streets and obtain first-hand knowledge about an area’s access to transportation, and its proximity to schools, shopping and entertainment. Consider parking and hanging out for an hour or more during peak commute hours to get a feel for traffic conditions and other related issues.
Chat with homeowners in the area; they can provide you with detailed information about their neighborhood and community and related amenities, crime rates and any other issues that could impact your decision to settle down in that area.
Keep in mind that your Realtor is your number one source for neighborhood and community information. In addition to providing you with comparative market analysis data, he or she can let you know how long home listings stay on the market – which can indicate a neighborhood’s desirability. Your Realtor also is a neighborhood and community expert who can inform you on issues and amenities specific to the neighborhoods you're interested in, bringing to your attention suitable neighborhoods you may not have known about or otherwise considered.