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How To Evaluate A Neighborhood

It’s important to choose the highest quality neighborhood when buying a house. Why? It’s not only good for you and your family, but you will realize the highest increase of appreciation. In other words, your property value will rise faster in a better neighborhood. Why does appreciation matter? Because when you later sell or rent out your house, you’ll command the highest prices. By attracting buyers and renters who are willing to pay more, you’ll realize more profitability.

When you sell or rent your house, you want to receive the highest possible value. If your house is not competitive, it can sit on the market without activity. Now, how to find that perfect house in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

1. Streets. Good signs include curbs and gutters, sidewalks, street lamps, short streets, and cul-de-sacs. Also house numbers which are smaller numbers (3-digit) and house numbers posted on the curb and near the front door. Bad signs can be longer house numbers (5-digit), busy streets, long streets, and numbered or lettered streets (such as 60th Street, “C” Street). Do the streets stop and start, making them difficult to find on a map? Do the street names include directions, such as North or South? These may be indications of a lesser quality neighborhood.

2. Curb Appeal of Neighbors. Are there couches and indoor furniture outside? What about trash, overgrown lawns and bushes? These are bad signals. Other indications of a decaying neighborhood include rusty, non-working vehicles, vehicles parked the wrong way on the street, and vehicles parked on front lawns rather than driveways?

3. Types of Residences. How many single family residences versus multiple family residences (apartments) are in the area? Do most residents rent or own? Single family housing and owner-occupied homes indicate the highest level of neighborhood quality. Is housing governed by home owner associations, and if so, are they too active or not active enough?

4. Nature and Maintenance. Are there many trees on the streets? How many parks are in the neighborhood? Is there open “green space”? Is there resident pride, with repairs and maintenance being made promptly? If so, this community probably has a good reputation as a great place to buy a home.

5. Noise and Stigmas in the Vicinity. A “stigma” is a mark of disgrace or infamy and could refer to anything that is perceived as a negative connotation. For instance, if the neighborhood is located near a freeway or railroad tracks, most families will steer away from it. Other stigmas can be things like a water tank, junkyard, vet hospital, cemetery, or continuation high school nearby.

6. Types of Businesses Nearby. Indications of a good neighborhood are plentiful elementary schools and churches (or worship halls). On the other hand, when you see lots of bars and laundromats, that’s an indication of an inferior neighborhood.

7. Friendly Environment. When you see kids playing outside, families walking for exercise, residents walking their dogs, and families riding bikes together, you know this is a great neighborhood. A family-friendly environment is a good indicator that this neighborhood will maintain high property values for many years to come.
To get a more thorough view of a neighborhood, drive through at various times: day, evening, night, weekend. Observe everything and jot it down in a little notebook. When searching for a house to buy, after you select a few potential houses you like, you’ll want to examine each neighborhood more closely.

Remember, when house hunting, buyers and renters will choose the best house – and in a buyer’s or renter’s market (with the highest amount of inventory), only those in the best neighborhoods will be desired. Your Realtor can help you choose wisely now to ensure your home will continue to appreciate in value for many years to come.

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