First Time Home Buyers

How to Narrow Down Neighborhoods During House Hunting

We all know that location is everything when it comes to finding a house. If you are planning on purchasing a home, keep in mind that you’re not just buying a house, you are also investing in a neighborhood. The two are synonymous so you need to be extra careful in choosing the area you’ll be living in.  To find that perfect house, you have to find that perfect neighborhood.  Here are a few ways in choosing a neighborhood while house hunting.

Know Your Affordability

Monthly expenses can also make a particular neighborhood more or less affordable in the long run. Let’s start off with property taxes. Property taxes are determined locally and can be quite high in certain neighborhoods, significantly adding to your monthly payment. Property tax rates also change over time, so this cost could potentially rise.  Do some research to see the current property tax rates. Also, take a look at how much they have increased in the last five years to get an idea of what you might pay in the future. Comparing tax trends in different neighborhoods may reveal which places help your budget go farther. For example, a $300,000 home in a neighborhood with a 3.5 percent tax rate might have the same monthly payment as a $350,000 home in an area with a 2.5 percent tax rate.  In addition, monthly homeowners association (HOA) fees can also affect the affordability of a neighborhood. These fees are required in certain condo communities and single-family home neighborhoods to maintain and improve properties in the association. This additional expense, often several hundred dollars a month, can be significant over time. Look to see if HOAs are common in the areas you’re considering (HOA fees are typically noted in the property listing). If you want to avoid HOA fees, that may help you narrow down your neighborhood pool. If you’re willing to take on this expense, consider adding these fees to your monthly budget and adjusting your price range accordingly.

Commuting Time

When choosing a neighborhood, it is good to know how long it will take you to get around.  Is there public transportation available as an alternative to driving? During peak times, how often does the transit stop?  With schools, Also the sign of a good neighborhood is a well-kept school. And if you have children, this is probably the first consideration when looking for a good neighborhood.  Another factor to consider is how your child will get to school. Is there public transportation? Can they walk? Is it safe? How far is it to drive?

Crime and Safety
 
Everyone wants to live in a safe neighborhood. However, depending on your budget and the city you want to live in, you may not have the option of life in the safest neighborhood in your town. However, there are varying degrees of safety. Just because a home is not in the top neighborhood does not mean it is genuinely dangerous.You have a variety of options to examine the security of a neighborhood. There are websites where you can type in the address and see the crime history near the home. One really good site for this information is neighborhood scout. Neighborhood Scout checks the safety history of crime for most every city and town in America. The site will also compare the neighborhood you are considering to other communities nationwide so you can make informed decisions based on your families needs. Searching methods include overall crime rate, property crime rate, crimes per square mile and violent crime rate. You can also talk to your Realtor about a given neighborhood. Talking to your potential neighbors to get an idea of how safe they feel is another good option. Just make sure to do your research so you are not surprised after you move into your new home.

 

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