What to Look for in Your New Neighborhood
The famous line Location, Location, Location is not a joke when it comes to choosing the right neighborhood for your new home. Whether you are a first-time home buyer or moving up into your forever home, where you buy matters. Before you start your home search, determine where you want to buy. Narrow down the right neighborhood by reviewing these major influencers.
Type of Home
Have you always wanted to build a custom home? Are you looking for an existing home with years of charm? What size home is best for your family? Are you ready to downsize to a condo or townhouse? Choosing a specific type of home will help limit your prospective locations. If you’d like to build a larger, custom home, you will have to move farther from city centers to suburban areas where land is available. If you are open to existing homes, you will have a larger selection, since existing home sales or resales make up about 90% of all real estate transactions.
Available amenities will vary based on the type of neighborhood and homeowners’ association. Some communities give residents access to shared spaces like community centers, gyms, or pools. Multifamily residences like condo buildings or townhouses may have even more amenities like coffee shops, laundry, and other services. If you have pets or small children, dog parks and play areas are also important. If you’re farther from city centers, the distance to the nearest grocery store, bank, or healthcare center might be important to consider.
Where you work will also influence where you live. If you are willing to commute, make sure your new neighborhood has access to major highways or public transportation hubs. If your job is flexible or you work from home, commuting convenience will not be as important and you can broaden your search to a wider area.
If you have children or are planning to have children, find out where the local school districts are. If you already have children, you may want them to stay in the same school and will therefore have to restrict your search to their current district. Keep in mind, school districts may shift between elementary, middle, and high schools. When you plan on living in your home long-term make sure you research all districted schools your children will attend.
Taxes and Affordability
Home prices vary significantly based on location. Homes that are closer to city centers or other conveniences tend to be more expensive than suburban homes. Larger or custom homes will be more expensive than smaller, older homes. Property taxes also tend to be higher in urban areas. Living farther from city centers will cost more to commute. There’s a lot of numbers to factor in besides your monthly mortgage payment! Working with a local real estate agent that knows the area will help you analyze costs and weigh your options.
Before you start your home search, or even choose a neighborhood, it’s important to get preapproved for mortgage financing. Mortgage preapproval will give you an idea of how much home you can afford and will help you find neighborhoods in your price range.
Sources: US News and World Report