It has been said before that real estate is zip code, neighborhood, and even street specific. We agree with this notion that location is the single most important factor in choosing whether or not to buy a particular piece of real estate. Home shopping should be no different.
Finding the right neighborhood for ones needs will make all the difference in determining future factors such as resale value, home valuation, and ultimately (and probably most importantly) satisfaction with the homes purchased.
Doing Some Preliminary Research
After recognizing the importance of neighborhood location, one should look into their own situation to determine what needs will be of primary importance. Common factors are local schools, crime levels, neighborhood age demographics, proximity to workplace, proximity to transportation, area buzz, local hospitals, and types of property available.
Schools and Crime - There are a multitude of sites available online for learning more about area schools and crime levels. We personally like http://www.greatschools.org/, http://www.publicschoolreview.com/, and http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/. Most cities will also keep crime maps which they will furnish upon request.
Quick Neighborhood Look - We're huge fans of Google. We really like the Google Street View feature as it has saved us many trips to areas that would have been a quick turnaound. (**Note: If you pull up a home on our homefinder, make sure to check the map tab. You'll see the Street View window and access a webcam that can be walked all the way around the block. This tip is HUGE!)
Proximity to workplace/ transportation - Use Google maps again or a good old fashioned Thomas Guide to calculate an approximate distance from your place of work to all areas of interest.
All the details - A fantastic resource for finding the all important, but not readily available, information about an areas buzz, hospitals, or types of property is something like this North Orange County real estate guide in combination with a more localized neighborhood tools like this Placentia CA real estate page. These kinds of tools can really help a potential homebuyer to drill down into detailed area information without wasting any time. In the end, they may end up at a neighborhood specific page like this one about real estate in the Hidden Lakes neighborhood.
If prospective home buyers like the area, they will also find tools there that show them to local homes currently for sale. It is so easy, its almost cheating!
Driving The Neighborhoods
Traditionally, the most common way for prospective homebuyers to investigate real estate has been simply to get in the car and drive from neighborhood to neighborhood. While this is still a great way for consumers to get a feel for an area, we'd recommend they use the internet as much as possible both at the beginning of their home search, and when they reach the stage where they are starting to investigate individual properties. With the cost of fuel these days and the large number of properties available online, there really is no reason not to utilize the internet.
There is a point, however, when homebuyers will want to actually get out from behind their keyboards and drive around. They should be looking for things like:
- Overall appearance of neighborhood
- Types properties in the area
- Number of homes for sale in the area
- And similarity of house in question to others in the area
Things people should be looking for are:
- Look of neighborhood at night as opposed to the look during the day
- Any new distractions, disturbances, noises, or other that weren't present earlier
- Availability of parking at night versus daytime
Visiting Some Homes in The Area
When homebuyers get to the point where they have identified some likely neighborhoods and are comfortable with them, it is time to start getting familiar with the homes for sale in the area. This may seem repepitive but the best way to start doing this is again with the help of the internet. Online tools like our home finder will help you to investigate all the homes for sale in an area so that one can compile a list of favorites. Other tools like this premium buyer service will let a top-selling agent know a little about their needs so they can alert the buyers to likely properties new to the market.
Once a person has a list of likely homes it is time to go see them in person. Many people, especially first timers, seem to think the only way to view homes for sale is to attend an open house. Often, the best properties are never held open because the savvy homebuyers snag them before the agent even has time to hold the open house. The best way to see a home of interest is to contact an agent like us to schedule a private showing appointment. Then, we will make arrangements with the seller of the home, the sellers agent, and prospective buyer to coordinate a convenient time to take a private look at the home.
Follow the steps above and we guarantee that a prospective homebuyer will be able to find the best available neighborhoods, in the shortest amount of time, with the very least amount of headache.