Before you buy a home, you owe it to yourself to know as much about the area as possible. While you may not spend much mingling with your neighbors, it’s important to inform yourself of the area BEFORE you buy a home.
Check Crime Rates
Take a look at the U.S.. Census Bureau’s city profiles for a list of crime statistics or utilize Google for websites like CrimeReports.com, Moving.com or NeighborhoodScout.com to find detailed reports of crimes committed in your area.
Check School Reports
Free websites like GreatSchools.Org or Zillow have a breakdown of school ratings paired with lists of student to teacher ratios. This is important to check regardless if you have children or not. Good schools attract higher demand for homes, which can affect the value of the homes in the neighborhood.
Learn the Traffic Patterns
Depending on where you move to, traffic may be heavier than what you’re used to. If streets are slow in the early morning, you need to take this into consideration when commuting to work or school. If the new location is within a reasonable distance, take a drive during “rush hour” to estimate your new commuting times.
Is it walkable?
If you like the outdoors, check out the town and see if there are sidewalks and streets that encourage pedestrians and bicyclists. Use Walkscore.com to find out the “walkability” rating for neighborhoods.
It’s important to note the condition of your potential new home. But what about the conditions of the roads, parks and businesses? Is everything kept up with? Or are buildings falling apart, roads are filled with pot holes and parks are abandoned? Chances are you don’t want to live there. It is also smart to check out the municipalities website for trash collection and other public maintenance needs.
Shops, Stores & Tourist Attractions
Is it a beach town on Lake Michigan or is it a small town in Mid-Michigan? Keep in mind, if your home is in a rural area – the nearest mall and grocery store could be at minimum 25 minutes away. On the other end – if you live in a heavily populated touristy city you need to factor in the crowds to your every day life. Is this something you can live with? Choose wisely.
When shopping for a home, pay attention the neighborhood. You can’t change the city as much as you can change the countertop in the home.