10 Clues That You Are Buying In The Right Neighborhood

A great neighborhood helps to sell a home.  It also helps a home hold value and makes it easier to sell when you decide to move on. With all the pressure and excitement of home shopping, how can you know if a neighborhood is truly great?  Make a list of what is important to you in a neighborhood and shop for those qualities.  Use this guideline to help you make your list:

  1. Meet your specs. What does your ideal neighborhood look like? Are you looking for the invincible spirit of neighborliness that is apparent even to the casual visitor?  Is your ideal a close-knit community with trees, playgrounds and great schools?  Perhaps you prefer a place in the city that is just a quick walk from downtown shops, restaurants and entertainment.
  2. Can you get a latte? Upscale chain and independent retailers are signs a neighborhood is well-established or on the way up. These businesses signal a degree of affluence.  Also, they’ve typically done market research to assure themselves the neighborhood is stable and worth the investment.
  3. You see home improvements. Look for activity that shows owners are keeping up or investing in their properties. Improvements like new gutters, painting, re-roofing, gardening and landscaping, replacement windows, new fences and patios tell you that your neighbors have pride in their homes.
  4. Crime numbers are low. Don’t buy into a neighborhood without checking its crime statistics. City police department websites often publish them.
  5. Schools are strong. Where school test scores are strong, home prices are high.  Search GreatSchools.org for the schools’ scores in the neighborhood you’re considering.  Ratings are based on performance on state standardized tests.
  6. Bus stops abound. And subways. And rail lines. And Highway access. Homes with easy access to public transit fetch higher prices than similar homes without it, says a 2013 study commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors.  Homes within a half mile of “high-frequency” public transit were worth 41 percent more, on average.  But don’t’ get too close!  Locations adjacent to rail lines and bus stops lose value.
  7. Ownership is high. Neighborhoods with high homeownership rates are more stable. Exceptions: You can expect renters to outnumber buyers in expensive cities like New York and San Francisco.  Typically, renters are more mobile than homeowners.  Longtime residents watch out for one another, making for a safer community.
  8. Homes sell quickly. Fast turnaround of homes for sale indicates a neighborhood in hot demand.  Other clues that neighborhoods are in demand:  Employers are moving into the area with new jobs, the population is growing, and the supply of homes for sale is limited.
  9. The commute is not bad.  Homes located close to major employers and in city centers are in high demand. The Driving Boom – a six-decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States has been dwindling among younger people who prefer to use public transportation or the ever-popular Uber.
  10. You see plenty of churches. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that churches, mosques and synagogues are signs of community strength and evidence that residents are connected and invested.

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