When you’re house hunting it’s easy to concentrate solely on searching for a home that matches everything on your wishlist, or at least as close to it as possible. But real estate experts agree that choosing a great neighborhood to live in is just as important as choosing the house itself because after all, you can change and update your home but you can’t easily change your neighbors or the lifestyle vibe of the community.
Can You Afford to Live in the City You Want?
Besides the housing market, determining factors in choosing a neighborhood or city can include job opportunities/transfer and the city’s cost of living. You’ll also need to factor in property tax rates, state tax, city tax, town tax, school districts, possible Homeowners Association (HOA) and associated fees, and/or accessibility to health care as applicable. Or maybe it’s not a city at all that you’re looking for – maybe your dream property exists in the suburbs or a larger property with land and room to grow.
Secure A Great Real Estate Agent
Take the time to find a knowledgeable real estate agent who’s willing to work with you to find a home within your budget that will also meet or surpass your housing needs. A great realtor will offer insight as to key amenities in the neighborhood as well as zoning and utility information. Not sure who to choose? Consult the DomiDocs list of trusted nationwide professionals near you.
Doing Your Own Research is Key
There are four key aspects worth considering when you’re choosing a new neighborhood for you and your family.
- Crime Rates: As keeping your family safe is of the utmost importance, contact local law enforcement or go online to view crime statistics for a prospective neighborhood you’re interested in. According to the FBI, mortgage and home title fraud are among the fastest-growing white-collar crimes in America so be sure to protect your family and sign up with DomiDocs HomeLock® today.
- Lifestyle: What stage of life are you in? If you’re a young couple ready to start a family, you’ll have different neighborhood requirements over an older couple seeking a pared-down lifestyle. What things about a location or neighborhood are most important to you and your family? What amenities do you want to have near your home — shopping, recreation, exercise, etc.? Does an urban, suburban, or rural location best meet your needs? How long of a commute is acceptable to you? Do you need highway access? Is taking public transportation part of your plan? How close to public transportation do you need to be? Will the neighborhood you’re looking at suit your and your family’s needs both now and for years to come?
- Pride of Ownership: Well-maintained properties with manicured landscaping and lawns are great signs of a good neighborhood where homeowners take pride in their home investment. Does the neighborhood have an HOA? If so, there’s probably a consistent look within the neighborhood as homeowners must strictly follow any HOA guidelines, so if you’re not into adhering to rules, another neighborhood may offer you more freedom in your housing choice.
- Quality of Schools: Do you have or do you plan on having children? What are their schooling needs? You can check the school district website to get report cards of local schools which will include overall ratings as well as demographics, graduation rates, and test scores. Real estate agents state that buying a home in a neighborhood with good schools is a smart investment for future buyers.
These are just some of the questions to ask yourself when you begin to think about where to look for your new home.
Use a Decision Matrix to Evaluate Potential Homes
Selecting your new home can be an emotional experience and filtering through all of the decision points can be overwhelming, but doing so is worth the effort as it helps to eliminate any confusion. Because each homebuyer will have a different list of considerations and will likely assign different levels of importance to them, it’s a good idea to create a decision matrix through which you can filter each property you consider. You can make a relatively simple spreadsheet, listing on one axis the attributes you desire in your new home and on the other the homes you’re considering. Then assign a point value from 1 to 10 to each home on each of the attributes in the matrix. The home with the highest score should be the one that best meets your needs. Even if it is not the home you ultimately select, going through this decision-making process can help you make a data-driven decision and avoid the all-too-common pitfall of falling in love with a house that really isn’t a good fit for your needs. The best way to compose a matrix is to build the spreadsheet, assign a weight to each attribute. For example, for a particular buyer, school quality might weigh in as an 8 while proximity to highways is weighted at a 3 while for another buyer those weightings might be reversed.
Once you’ve chosen your new neighborhood with the thoughts of keeping you and your family safe and comfortable, you will need to take your family’s security to the next level by protecting your home from fraud. DomiDocs HomeLock® is the most advanced home title tracking and digital property monitoring available which scours third-party listing sites and checks official records to alert you before any damage is done. Sign up for HomeLock® protection today!
Author – Connie Motz