10 tips to investigate a neighborhood when buying a home. Finding the right neighborhood is as important as finding the right home. Some advance research will help you make sure you don’t have buyer’s remorse after moving into your new home and neighborhood. How to research neighborhoods using the internet. How to spot a declining neighborhood.
How To Investigate A Neighborhood You Might Want To Live In
When you buy a home you’re also buying the neighborhood. That’s why it’s so important to research a potential neighborhood as thoroughly as you might inspect and do your research on a home. Being happy with your neighborhood is a major factor in avoiding buyer’s remorse after you’ve moved into your new home. Here are 10 tips to follow to investigate any neighborhood you might be interested in.
Apps/Websites To Research Neighborhoods
You can also take advantage of various smart phone apps and websites to help you learn more about neighborhoods. Some great apps include:
- HomeFacts: this app provides information about a neighborhood’s safety, including crime rates, registered sex offenders, school information and ratings, and earthquake and tornado risks.
- Dwellr: this app utilizes Census Bureau data to provide some 40 different statistics about a community.
- AroundMe: this app helps you locate close-by coffee shops, supermarkets, restaurants, pharmacies, etc.
- AreaVibes: this website analyzes different cities and neighborhoods for crime rates, weather, school ratings, amenities, and the local housing market. It report on neighborhood crime rate compared to the state and national average, as well as the neighborhood’s total crime rate. It also gives neighborhoods a “livability score” based on how they compare to other neighborhoods in all the areas it analyzes.
- GreatSchools.org: families with school aged children can easily check out public and private school ratings with this website. The site also provides an app called GreatSchools Finder.
- Family Watchdog: is a free sex offender registry website, which will also provide updates on on activity in neighborhoods of interest.
9 Tips To Spot A Neighborhood In Decline
When buying a home you always want to make certain that a neighborhood is not in decline. There are signs to look for that will help you determine if a specific area/neighborhood might just be on the down-swing:
- Property upkeep…check for signs of disrepair and neglect of the houses and yards neighboring the one you are considering, as well as the condition of houses on nearby streets. And don’t forget to check out how public spaces (parks, playgrounds, etc.) are being maintained, as well.
- Vacant properties/foreclosed properties. Some are clearly visible, others not so much. Your real estate agent can help you identify these types of properties and help you determine if they represent a significant portion of the neighborhood or are simply exceptions to the overall neighborhood.
- Zoning changes. Zoning changes can impact the value of a property longer-term. Be sure to do your research on zoning changes or other development plans that might impact the neighborhood you are considering. Again, your real estate agent can provide assistance here, as well. A historically residential neighborhood now zoned for commercial activity is something you need to know about up-front. Expansion of roads next to a home can also negatively impact the value of a home longer term.
- Store closings. If stores are closing and moving to adjacent neighborhoods that may be a sign that a neighborhood is in decline.
- Increasing property taxes. When the tax base of a municipality starts decreasing, taxes often increase to support those “left behind,” but without any increase in actual services.
- Hospital closing. If a close-by hospital has closed or is closing its doors, just as with stores closing, it’s a sign that the neighborhood may be in decline and the demographics no longer able to support this service.
- Rent signs. When you see a lot of “for rent” signs in a residential neighborhood it might well be an indicator that homes are not selling. And when a neighborhood’s residents begin to lean toward renters versus homeowners, the nature of the neighborhood also changes and becomes more transient. And if you see homes being converted to apartments/multiple residences it’s another sign that houses may not be selling in a neighborhood and that an influx of renters will change the tenor of the neighborhood down the line.
- For sale signs. A lot of “for sale” signs might be an indicator that homeowners are looking to move elsewhere. Your real estate agent can provide you with lots of information on sales and home price trends.
- School quality declining. Homes in neighborhoods with top-rated schools command a premium in price. When school quality declines in a neighborhood there is an impact on a neighborhood’s home prices.