How to Research a Neighborhood Before You Buy - Helpful Tips
Molly Hitchens studied business for years before launching her career as a journalist and analyst specializing in original and innovative business planning. She shares her expertise through her work with The Idea Trader as well as through in-person speaking engagements at universities around the country.
Are you planning to buy a new home? You need to know whether or not the neighborhood is safe. Also, you'll need to check whether the area suits your current lifestyle and future expectations.
However, when you have several places to check, you need to strategize to save on time. This is a quick guide on how to research a neighborhood before you buy your next property.
You may also want to check out this helpful article on the benefits of living further away from the city.
Where to Research a Neighborhood Before You Buy: 7 Places
The internet is the easiest option. You will find various dedicated sites that discuss different locations in detail. Let’s take a look at these three active sites:
Zillow.com founded Trulia.com in 2004. The site has in-depth data on the transport, crime rates, and types of businesses, climate, and other public services of different neighborhoods.
Use this site to locate the best schools for your loved ones. It also informs you of the areas to avoid to stay safe.
In addition, you get to learn about your neighborhood’s general statistics. This includes their median age, marital status, and what most citizens do for a living.
The Neighborhood Scout is an analytics site that provides an address-by-address analysis. Here, you learn about housing trends and schools’ performance. You also learn about crime management amongst other aspects in the US.
However, you need to pay and subscribe to their monthly plans before gaining access to this data.
This website compares homes across cities based on the demographics, voting history, school reviews, and religious affiliations, amongst other aspects. You can also access research reports on various issues such as the best neighborhoods for veterans.
A Physical Drive Through
Visit where you intend to buy a house and get the first-hand experience for a day or two. Interact with the locals. Eat and shop in their local restaurants and shopping malls. Visit the local police station or hospital. Check the performance of various schools in that area.
While you're at it, inquire about the local bylaws regarding keeping pets and domestic animals if you plan to move in with your furry friends. Also, find out how far their designated parks and picnic sites are.
Do you use public transport often? Now is the best time to try the public transportation that will be serving your future home. Take a ride and learn about the cost, timings, and transport routes.
Approximate how long it will take you to get to and from work. No matter how much you know about a place, you need to experience it yourself.
Consult Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents are trained to provide accurate and up to date information regarding different places. They use this information to highlight the benefits of the area and the surrounding community.
Using an experienced real estate agent’s services saves you the work of gathering, analyzing and interpreting your research. Request your agent to provide you more information about the surrounding properties to your future home.
However, unlike other research avenues, engaging a real estate agent comes at a cost.
Engage with Social Media Platforms
Are you active on social media? Check various community forums that have in-depth reviews regarding the neighborhoods in many cities. Most neighborhoods also have dedicated social media groups and pages where the local citizens engage.
Join these groups and learn from them. You can ask a question occasionally. If you eventually decide to live in that neighborhood, you will have formed several friends already. Therefore, your transitioning will be smoother.
Finally, watch as your favorite influencer on YouTube discusses what they like and recommend for various locations. Start a topic or ask questions about the place and make use of the comments section.
Social media provides an unbiased avenue where you can research a neighborhood before you buy.
Consult with Mortgage Institutions
Most financiers and mortgage companies offer recommendations on which properties to buy. They base this advice on their in-depth research about such properties and their surroundings.
Similarly, they avoid buying and selling houses located in regions with a bad reputation. Make use of this advantage to learn more about your proposed neighborhood before you buy.
Visit your local library, the city planning office, or subscribe to a local property listing. Check the various housing reports and publications available for your future community.
These reports have well-researched statistics about, for example, interactive crime maps or how the housing prices have changed over time. They provide insight into how much you stand to gain should you intend to sell off your home in the future.
Local Newspapers and Bloggers
These days most newspaper sites have an online link to their daily publications. This is a quick way to access daily events and news in that neighborhood.
Newspapers give you a first-hand feel of life in that neighborhood. However, watch out for the overly exaggerated news. They don’t always paint an accurate picture.
What to Research
Now that you know where and how to research a neighborhood before you buy you should check for:
- Crime Rates: How safe is it to live in this community? This check is essential especially if you have school-going children or are planning to be out of your house at night.
- Interconnectivity: Does the neighborhood have reliable internet and telephone reception services? If you want to maintain communication with your family and friends, you need these services.
- Social Amenities: Inquire about the availability of hospitals, fire stations, organic food markets, shopping malls, transport facilities, and other public utilities.
- Supply vs. Affordability: How many houses are listed for sale in that area? Of these listings, how many are affordable? This gives you an idea of how fast the area might develop.
- Municipal Laws: Familiarize yourself with the local by-laws and how they will affect your day to day life.
- Future Property Development Plans and Assessments: Confirm the kind of planned developments around your proposed home and how they might affect you when you move in. Assessments such as changes in tax laws can push the cost of living up and will make it difficult for you to stay in that neighborhood.
- Employment rates: Employment draws more people to settle in an area.
- Property growth potential: How likely are you to sell your property ten years later?
The above techniques are cost-effective and practical. Follow these tips on how to research a neighborhood before you buy your home to avoid any future regrets.
Whether you are a single person, a retired senior, or a newlywed couple, this preliminary research will help you seamlessly fit into your new neighborhood.