Whether you're buying your first home, fifth home, a vacation property, or an investment property, its location will often determine its future value, and even certain aspects of your everyday life. To help you narrow down the areas that are right for you, begin by making a list of the most important factors.
Once you have a list compiled, do more in-depth research on each potential neighborhood. A good amount of information is available online, but the Internet doesn't have the full story. To get a true understanding of each neighborhood, take the time to visit at least once, consult your agent, and review the list of considerations below.
- Current employment and future opportunities
- Commute and transportation
- Real estate value
- Crime rates
- Proximity to family, friends, and activities
- School districts
- Town/city population size
- Healthcare facilities
- Proximity to airports
Be sure to choose the location that's right for you: Do you want to be downtown, in the suburbs, near work? Are schools an important factor? Do you want a community with plenty of outdoor recreational amenities; one with shops, restaurants and nightlife; or one with plenty of activities for children? Choosing the right location will ensure long-term happiness in your home.
Think about whether the house or the community matter more to you, and whether it’s worth it to make a longer commute in order to live in the suburbs, where your purchasing power could go a little further.
Next, take a closer look at the community you have in mind. Try to talk to your potential neighbors, and ask them lots of questions. These people could become your babysitters, your carpool buddies, and your closest friends over the years. If community matters to you, this is an important step you don’t want to overlook.
Visit more than once
Some good advice from the National Association of REALTORS®: Visit communities at different times of day and night, and on weekends and weekdays, to get a feel for who lives there and what the activity level is like.
Fair-housing laws prevent sales associates from telling clients about crime statistics or talking about “good” or “bad” schools. However, an agent can direct you to websites that provide information about those topics. Even if you don’t have or don't plan to have children, buying a home in a well-regarded school district can help the property’s long-term value.