Real Estate Blog for Communities across the U.S.

Assessing The Surrounding Community When Viewing A Home

Check out neighborhood before you buy a home

You should always check out the neighborhood before you buy a home.

When visiting an open house, we understandably pay more attention to the interior of the home than we do to the neighborhood that surrounds it. We closely inspect the kitchen, walk carefully through the bedrooms, and ask questions of the current owners regarding flooring, noise, and air conditioning. We take note of the carpets and listen for creaky stairs. In short, our senses are at full force and we make every attempt to leave no rock unturned.

This attention to detail often ends when we step outside. Sure, we care – and notice – if the surrounding neighborhood has beautiful streets, tall trees, and a distance from heavy traffic. We certainly look for an aesthetically appealing micro environment. But do we look beneath the surface? Do we draw impressions about the neighborhood beyond what can be plainly seen?

For many prospective home buyers the answer is “no.” This means that many people will start looking for moving services before they have a true grasp on their future neighborhood. But, fortunately, it’s not too difficult to make a concerted effort and analyze the surrounding streets with a discerning eye. Here are a few tips:

Consider street travel

Spending a few minutes sitting on the front stoop of an open house can be an incredibly illuminating experience. Look out at the street and assess the traffic that goes by. Is it all cars or are there also pedestrians? What sort of vehicles are people driving? What are the demographics of the drivers in the cars? While the type of street (arterial versus side) and time of day can influence this low-key study, you can still stand to gain valuable insights nonetheless.

Talk to a neighbor

Nobody knows the neighborhood better than a resident who isn’t looking to sell you their home, meaning that speaking with a nearby neighbor can often be helpful. The neighbor may be able to provide a “big picture” view of the surroundings and of the types of people who live there. The neighbor too, in their attitudes and degree of friendliness, may more implicitly tell you a good deal about the people with whom you may soon be sharing a border.

Look for red flags

There is much about a given neighborhood that is hidden away behind closed doors and, consequently, is difficult to analyze. But there are certain publically-displayed red flags that a potential buyer can look for when scouring the area. These red flags include large numbers of For-Sale signs, copious trash, clutter, or dirt in the streets, gutters, and sidewalks, and lawns or parkways that are not well-maintained. Such indicators can point to a high rate of turnover and a low degree of municipal investment.

Drive a hypothetical route

Some details of a neighborhood are not clearly apparent until that area becomes part of a person’s daily routine. With this in mind, you may find benefit in driving through the neighborhood, stopping at the local grocery store, and then driving back to the house as part of your visit. You may notice even more details by walking the route.

These are just a few tips for better assessing a local neighborhood upon visiting a prospective house. You also, of course, do online research beforehand and afterwards on websites such as city-data.com and greatschools.org. While the house itself should be the most important factor in every move, this ultimately does not mean that the details of the neighborhood should be glossed over or ignored.

Do you have any tips for prospective homebuyers to consider before they purchase a home? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below:

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