When you are shopping for a new house, you may focus on how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need as well as the amenities the house offers. However, the other thing you need to focus on is the neighborhood where the house is located. This can be difficult if you are moving into an area where you are unfamiliar. These tips can help you evaluate whether the neighborhood would be a good fit for your family.
Prices Increasing Higher than National Average
One way to determine if a neighborhood is good is to look at price increases for homes in the area. Because home prices are increasing everywhere, it may be harder to see if one neighborhood has higher prices than others. Home prices nationally rose around 7 percent from last year so if you find a neighborhood where prices have gone up by 8 or 9 percent, you can probably be sure the neighborhood is a good one.
Household Incomes are Growing
When homeowners make more money, they are able to make more renovations to their homes. This means that home values in the neighborhood may grow as well. People with higher incomes spend more on landscaping and amenities for their home, like swimming pools or tennis courts. You can use information from the US Census to determine what a median household income is in an area. Overall, incomes have risen by about 5 percent over the past few years throughout the country.
The Diversity of the Neighborhood
Real estate agents are not permitted to disclose neighborhood demographics due to federal and state discrimination laws. If you want to live in a culturally diverse neighborhood, you can do your own research. Using the zip code of a new neighborhood or names of new developments, do a Google search for culturally related items, such as synagogues, Latin cultural centers or churches. If the neighborhood is diverse, you should be able to find a wide range of cultural events, businesses and community organizations.
How Good are the Schools?
If you have children, their education is extremely important. Even if you don’t have children, the quality of education in the area has a direct impact on home values. Research indicates that 91 percent of homebuyers ask about education and say that school boundaries were an important factor in deciding where to buy. School districts in this country are required to post a “report card” on their website. The report card includes standardized testing data, graduation rates, and college placement. Some also include AP placement information. You can also visit the district personally to talk to staff about the school system which is highly recommended if you have a child who may require special education needs.
If you are happy living in an area where you simply eat and sleep at home with no interaction with your neighbors, this may not be important. However, most families want to live where neighbors interact. There is nothing wrong with talking to people in the neighborhood before you choose to buy. Stop in at the local coffee shop and see how welcoming people are or take a walk through the grocery store to get a feel for how friendly the people who already live there are. Find out if there are community events, like block parties, farmer’s markets or parades. If there is a playground, take your children there to see how other children interact with them.
Are There Mostly Rentals or Owner-Occupied Homes?
There is evidence that people who own their homes take more pride in the appearance of their house than renters. If possible, choose a neighborhood where less than 25 percent of the homes are rented. It is important to note, however, that there are homeowners who do not take pride in the exterior of the home. If the neighborhood has several homes with un-mowed lawns, broken windows, missing shingles or peeling paint, you may want to consider a different neighborhood.
Growing Job Market
Even if you already have a job, you want to move into an area that has a growing job market. The strength of the local job market has an impact on home prices. If a big employer has announced they are moving to the area, the housing market will improve significantly. If you have children, you also want to locate in an area where they will be able to find work as they grow into adults.
Walking Distance and Transportation
Public transportation is important in larger metro areas so finding a neighborhood with easy access to it is critical. You also want to find a neighborhood that has good walkability to restaurants, shopping, parks, and other activities. Along with that, you want to choose an area that is safe. Real estate agents are not permitted to talk about how safe a neighborhood is but you can talk to people who live there or contact the local police to get information on crime rates.
A Significant Amount of New Construction
Take note of any new construction going on in the area, even if you are not buying a newly constructed home. When builders start constructing a significant number of new homes, it is a sign that the area is growing. Builders and developers usually do not build in an area where they don’t think the homes will sell and this leads to an increase in home prices.
If you are considering a new home, be sure to contact Southdown Homes to learn how we can help you make your dream become a reality. Call us at 610-873-1900 or visit our website to learn more about the Southdown Experience.