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Choosing Your Neighborhood

July 29th, 2014

Happy New HomeownersChoosing Your Neighborhood

by Carla Hill

Choosing a home is about more than just selecting a house. Every neighborhood offers its own unique set of people, activities, and amenities. Which neighborhood is the right fit?

Take a moment to review the following factors that can influence your decision on where to live.

The first consideration of many home buyers is the education of their children. From private, charter, and magnet to public school, there are a wide range of options. Public schools dictate enrollment according to school district boundaries. Keep this in mind when looking at new homes. You may be surprised to find where lines are drawn. Are you trying to move into a highly rated district or are you wanting to avoid uprooting your children? You may wish to visit area schools to get a feel for which place is best for your family.

Next, analyze the data on the local economy. Is there a high rate of long-term employment? It’s always good news when new industries are moving into town rather than out of town. Home values should rise alongside demand. Dig a little deeper and find out what industries are holding steady, how long homes are sitting on the market, as well as your local unemployment rate.

Homeownership is at least partially about making an investment. Over time you hope to build equity in your home, allowing you to have not only a large asset, but also the ability to “move up”. Be aware of foreclosed homes in neighborhoods, as they tend to pull values down. And understand that some neighborhoods offer higher rates of appreciation than others.

Are home values on the rise? In today’s difficult market, many areas are experiencing depreciation. This is not the normal trend, but rather is the consequence of our recent recession. In general, homes increase in value by about 5 percent per year. Ask your local real estate agent for the stats on past appreciation rates.

An additional factor affecting home values is the condition of the prospective neighborhood. Be sure to drive up and down adjacent streets. Are homes and yards in good repair? You want neighborhoods that reflect care and attention.

Additionally, research the local crime rates. Some neighborhoods experience higher levels of crime, both violent and petty. Safety of your person and property are valid considerations when buying a home.

And finally, on a lighter note, entertainment options are another valid consideration for home buyers. From restaurants and parks to neighborhoods with high ratings of walkability, the choices abound. What works best for you? Are there certain stores, clubs, gyms, or churches that you frequent? Choosing a neighborhood means considering all the options. What do you need and want out of your next home?

Choose wisely and you’ll end up with a home that fits you now and for years to come.

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