What to Look For in a Neighborhood When Buying a House
Find out how to choose a neighborhood with helpful tips from Citizens Bank
You've narrowed your search down from region, state, city and school district. Now it's time to look at neighborhoods to find the best fit for your family. If you're wondering how to choose a neighborhood, a helpful first step is to write down a list of everything you would have if you could live wherever you wanted, such as welcoming neighbors, close parks or a large yard. Make a list of what is important to your family, which may include schools, recreational facilities, churches and so on. What does your family need now, and how will that change in the future. Do you have kids, or are you planning to? How long a commute do you want? Will the area have a good resale value in a few years if you need to move? Once you have these written down, place them in priority order and start looking at the different neighborhoods. Here are some tips to help you narrow down your choices when choosing a neighborhood.
Decide on country, downtown or suburbs
Most towns in America are laid out with various options for neighborhoods within the downtown, suburbs and even countryside. Depending on the size of the city, there will be multiple school districts throughout this area, so take a look at the ones you like and find where they overlap with the type of neighborhood you're looking for. If you want a home with a short commute you may have to deal with some city noise, but suburbs may have higher taxes. Whether you're looking for a quiet country spot or a home bathed in ambient city light, you may not find everything on your wish list in one place. When choosing a neighborhood, make sure your top priorities are reflected in the different communities you look at.
Get to know the Joneses
Most people think about getting to know the neighbors after moving in, but there are some ways you can get to know more about the people you'll be living around. Start by surveying the lawns in the neighborhood to see how well maintained they are. Then, if you've found a home you're interested in, look online to see if there is a neighborhood association or a website providing more information about the area. You can also check with the local police to find out if the neighborhood gets much traffic and if it's safe at night. This will help you get to know the neighborhood and neighbors at the same time. You can also ask the real estate agent about the demographic of the neighborhood. For example, if you have young children, you may want to look at neighborhoods with other young families. Likewise, if you're young and single or your kids have moved out, you may want to choose a neighborhood filled with homeowners in a similar situation.
Check out local amenities
An easy tip for how to choose a neighborhood is to spend some time exploring it. Drive your commute from the different communities you're looking at and visit local parks, supermarkets and entertainment hot spots. How far away are the schools and city center? Would you feel safe walking around the town or streets at night? When it comes to choosing the right neighborhood, it's important to keep your budget in mind and look at homes you can afford, but it's also important to let your emotions lead you a little. This is the community where you'll be making friends, volunteering and raising children.
Compare the neighborhoods you visit to your original list of priorities
Understandably, some factors may be more important to your family than others when choosing a neighborhood. Rate the factors on your list of what to look for when buying a house, and weigh the variables to decide which elements you must have and which you can adjust or live without. For example, maybe you wanted to be walking-distance to the grocery store, but it's a 15 minute drive from the home you love. However, because it's located on a low traffic road surrounded by other young families, you might give up the short distance to the store in favor of the safer neighborhood. The right neighborhood should have what you want as well as what you need, though you may have to make some small compromises along the way.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan and start making offers
The home-buying process is not a linear one. Each step intersects with the others. When you're considering what to look for when buying a house, you'll probably be comparing different neighborhoods, prices and school districts at the same time. When it comes to choosing a neighborhood, it can help to have a mortgage pre-approval so you know what you can afford and can focus on the other elements of the neighborhood that are important to you. For more information on borrowing for a home, speak to a mortgage loan advisor from Citizens Bank. They'll help you learn more about the mortgage loan process so you can feel more confident when making an offer on your new home.