Go Back To Article List

How to Study a Neighborhood Before You Buy House

Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Buying a house is one of life's big decisions and the location of that house may be even more significant than the house itself. Studying a prospective neighborhood carefully before taking the plunge and signing the purchase agreement can ensure you and your family a long, happy life there and save you serious headaches in the future.

The first thing you should look at is the overall property market in the area, even if you view the home as a necessity and not an investment, knowing where the property stands in the market is a great indicator of its future value. For example if the house is the most expensive in the neighborhood, it will be difficult to find a buyer later on. If, however, it is one of a number of desirable properties, buyers have more units to compare it to and there will be a larger pool of buyers looking for that level of home attracted to the area. On the other hand, if there are many derelict and run-down properties in your area, they will have a negative effect on land values. An abundance of 'For Sale' signs may give you more choice but also signals something else maybe wrong with the area.

As parents, we buy houses in neighborhoods that offer our families the best in life that we can provide for them. Be sure to find out about local facilities such as libraries, sports centers, public parks and health services. For those that are funded through local tax collection, study the market and demographics to assess whether the tax base is shrinking or expanding because these services are often the first to feel the effects of cuts. You will also want to thoroughly investigate local schools' performance, and reputation as they are one of the most important deciding factors for people moving to the area.

And finally, as people tend to do, we buy houses where the people we want to be near are. This may be as simple as moving closer to family or relatives but when this is not possible, finding a community that you can picture yourself being a part of can sway decisions immeasurably. Obviously, getting to know people and becoming part of that community can take a while, but the best way of getting a glimpse of life in a neighborhood would be to stop and talk to people, ask around town and just spend some time walking or driving around the community. If things don't appear as picturesque as you'd like, there's always the possibility that things will improve over time, but be realistic, you could be waiting a very long time.