Choosing a home in an unfamiliar neighborhood can be nerve-racking, but it’s almost inevitable when moving to a new city—or even across town. There’s a lot at stake: The wrong decision can cost you money and peace of mind.
Here are some tips to guide you in your search.
Mission: Neighborhood reconnaissance
As with any house hunt, you should first figure out your budget and what you would need, want, and like to have in a house and in a neighborhood. But if you’re relocating across the country, your biggest challenge will be doing long-distance recon on your new hometown.
While you can’t gain access to private social networks such as Nextdoor until you verify you have an address in a neighborhood, a little cybersleuthing will reveal insights on day-to-day life and concerns in areas you’re scouting.
Once you know the general area in which you’d like to live, websites such as City-Datacan collect and analyze data from numerous sources to create detailed profiles of U.S. cities, including information from crime rates to weather patterns. Homefacts includes similar information, then drills down further, listing neighborhood statistics such as median home price, homes for sale, and foreclosures.
AreaVibes can help you narrow down a search; after you type a ZIP code or city in which you’d like to live, you can adjust metrics such as amenities, crime, cost of living, and housing prices to compile a list of neighborhoods that match your “livability” needs.
Speaking of lists, Livability regularly develops city rankings for a range of topics, including small towns, college towns, and overall best places to live.
The Chamber of Commerce in many towns will also provide a guide for people who are relocating. Also, look for news on property taxes in recent years—falling property taxes likely mean that communities have had to cut back on public services.
If you have children, you’ll want to read up on local public schools on GreatSchools.org, as well as determine what day care and after-school activities are nearby. Even if you don’t have children, good schools are a major factor in determining home values in a neighborhood.
No neighborhood is perfectly tranquil, but check CrimeReports.com for crime reports and maps to get a sense of where an area falls on the spectrum. You should also visit the National Sex Offender registry and FamilyWatchdog.us, which will identify registered sex offenders living in the area. NeighborhoodScout.com will consolidate crime, school, and real estate data in one report, as well as compile lists on safe cities and neighborhoods with good schools.
Draw on a professional’s expertise
If there is one time above all when you’d really benefit from working with a real estate agent with deep knowledge of an area, it’s when moving to a new town.
A knowledgable professional should be able to provide recommendations and compile background information on neighborhoods and homes that fit your needs and price range. Come prepared with a neighborhood or neighborhoods you like, and he or she can give you more information or suggest similar alternatives.
Get down with the locals
Once you’ve done the research and found a neighborhood you like, drive by several times during the day and at night. Look for the following:
Are there many “for sale” signs on lawns?
Are there any abandoned or boarded-up houses in the vicinity?
Is there a lot of trash on the sidewalks?
Is the neighborhood close to a shopping or business area?
How well are neighborhood parks maintained?
Is street parking restricted after school and during rush hour?
If you have time, try to get a drink in a local bar or a cafe and talk to people there. Apps like Meetup and AroundMe will help you connect with people in a town that have similar interests, as well as help you find the nearest hot spot.
These will be your potential neighbors, so they will provide valuable impressions on whether you’ll be pleased with where you eventually live.
Updated from an earlier version by Herbert J. Cohen
Author:Dawn Borkowski Phone: 864-313-4608 Dated: April 24th 2015 Views: 342 About Dawn: ...
With approximately 50 years combined experience, Guest Group brings a wealth of varied experience in both Residential and Commercial Real Estate.
We are loyal, ethical and very dedicated to our clients. We give exceptional service and continue to have our clients for life. We compliment each other and understand the Real Estate Industry and the Local Market.
We have strong negotiating skills and transaction servicing that will ensure you of a successful real estate experience.
"This was the second time that my family has gone with Guest Group. Dawn and the crew helped my wife and I purchase our first home a few years ago. Now that our family has grown, we needed our house to grow as well. Our home was sold within 5 weeks and for 97% of the asking price. Then they found us our dream home on budget and in our desired area. They were more than willing to work around our complicated work schedule and helped us with finding a reputable mortgage broker and home inspector. Should we ever desire to move again, the Lawton team will be who we go with!!"