Searching for your perfect home is surely an exciting time. There are so many things to consider, and it can be easy to fall in love with a home for its great floorplan or spacious yard. While these are important aspects of finding a home that’s suitable for you and your family, one of the biggest influences on the quality of life in your new home is the neighborhood in which it is located. These five tips will help you identify a community that is right for you:

  1. Know Your Budget­- Prices can vary drastically within an area depending on what neighborhood you’re looking at. Once you’ve roughly calculated how much you can afford to spend, begin searching for currently listed and recently sold homes in your general area and find neighborhoods that meet your wants and needs while coming in near or under budget. Your real estate agent can provide current sales data. While some home features such as a pool or a large yard may cost a premium in neighborhoods that are generally short on space, your budget may stretch further in other neighborhoods. Up-and-coming neighborhoods may offer an appealing price but be aware that there could be other concerns associated with that neighborhood.
  2. Research the local schools– For many families, the education of their children is going to be an important consideration. Don’t have kids? You’ll still want to check out the local schools. A good school system can positively affect property values, often more than any other single influence.
  3. Remember your lifestyle– What type of neighborhood suits you and your personality? Do you like having wide open spaces between the neighbors, or do you like being able to walk a few blocks down to your favorite store or restaurant? The available amenities of a neighborhood, and their convenience to you, can greatly impact how livable a neighborhood may be for you. If you work on one side of the city, you may not want to commute across town every day! While a nearby park may seem appealing, remember that close proximity to nearby amenities will increase traffic around your home. Visit a neighborhood at different times on different days of the week to get a better feel of what traffic conditions- both on foot and in cars- are like.
  4. Know the HOA- Not every neighborhood has a Homeowners Association, but every association does have rules and regulations which affect what you’ll be able to do on your property. Read HOA bylaws carefully and consider how they may impact you in the future.
  5. Study the Market- Neighborhoods change over time, and prices can fluctuate based on changes in the overall market- or on smaller changes, local to that neighborhood. If time allows, watch the market, and consider price fluctuations and what might be causing them. A new shopping mall being built nearby may increase values, while a new highway that brings additional traffic may decrease prices.

Finding the perfect neighborhood starts with knowing what you’re looking for, and then analyzing your options and determining what offers the most value for you and your family. Location, location, location… is one of the most popular phrases in real estate, and for good reason! A beautiful home located in the wrong neighborhood for you will never really be a dream come true. Having a trusted real estate professional in your corner can be a valuable asset in choosing the right neighborhood for you!