House Hunting: How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Decide to Buy

Before you commit to buying a house for you and your family, you should always do some research about the neighbourhood. There is a lot to think about, and if you don’t take the time, you might miss something crucial. That could end up being the bane of your life once you move in – so don’t take that risk. Follow these steps to evaluate the area of your chosen property.

Check prices

First of all, you should look at how much the average house in your neighbourhood sells for. You don’t want to pay over the odds for the property, particularly if it is in need of some repairs or renovations after you move in. You can use websites like Zillow to search for property values in your area. Don’t forget to look up the property taxes and whatever you might need to pay on an annual basis, as this will have an impact on how much you are willing to spend.

If you do feel that the home is overpriced, you could offer a lower bid to see if the owner will accept. If you find that it is under-priced, however, don’t rush in – make sure you still do all of your checks, even if it does seem like a bargain.

Research crime

How much crime is there in your area? You want to feel comfortable in your home, so it’s no good choosing a neighbourhood where you will be scared about break-ins. Some cities have crime maps available, but if you can’t find one through searching, then use Google News to see what reports you can find about the local area. You can also check sex offender registries, which may be particularly pertinent if you have children.

If you come to a loss, try picking up a copy of a local newspaper. There should be reports in there about all of the local happenings. If you mostly see school sports results, charity drives, and lost cats, then you could be in a great area. If you see a lot of crime reports, however, this might not be a great sign.

Walk around

One of the best ways to really get a feel for a neighbourhood is to actually walk around it. You can park somewhere nearby, or have a friend drop you off, and then try walking to the areas you would like to visit. This way you can find out how long it would take you to walk to the train station, for example, or to the local school. If you have kids, you could drop them off on their own (or walk slightly behind them) to see how they manage walking to what would be their school.

You can also use Google Maps to check out what kind of businesses are in the local area. Can you find a café? A restaurant? A corner shop? How about a bigger store for groceries? What other kind of amenities can you find: a swimming pool, hair salon, gym, library, play park, pharmacy, doctor, dentist? If you don’t want to drive everywhere, you will want to make sure you could reasonably walk to the places you will visit often.

There are lots of things you need to evaluate about the neighbourhood of the property, but the main question you are seeking to answer is this: could you live there? If you have any doubts at all, you might be better off holding back and looking for a home in another neighbourhood that you love instantly. This may take time, but it’s worth it.


About the author:

Alex Lawson is a blogger and a financial expert supporting Brighter Finance. He often works with young couples and families, helping them find and finance their dream homes. Alex is also a huge fan of sports, swimming and surfing in particular.


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