This article covers things that should be considered when house shopping and choosing an appropriate neighborhood, including local schools, government, and businesses.
One of the primary reasons that many individuals and families choose to purchase a house is because of the investment value of real estate. Houses and land are appreciating assets, in that they generally increase in value with the passage of time. While most houses will increase in value over time, some houses decrease in value. The neighborhood in which the property is located can often dictate whether the house will increase or decrease in value, and should therefore be carefully considered while looking for a home to purchase.
There are several other reasons to consider neighborhoods when looking for a home to purchase. You typically want to be in a neighborhood that will meet the needs of your family. If you are single and not planning on having children, then you may desire to live in a neighborhood where similar people reside. You may want to live near the heart of a city so that you will be close to work and local entertainment. If you are married with children, however, you may feel that the best neighborhood for your family is outside of the city, where the streets are quieter and the children have more room.
The first and most important consideration in shopping for a neighborhood is the local school district. This is an essential consideration if you have children or plan on having children, and is also a very important consideration if you are buying your home as an investment. Schools are very often the center of activity in any neighborhood, and property value of the homes in the neighborhood will typically rise with the quality of the schools in the neighborhood. This rise in property value will positively affect the neighborhood schools because schools normally receive part of their funding from local property taxes. Schools therefore receive more money from the neighborhood tax base, and should provide more services to the community.
There are several ways to find out about the local schools in the neighborhood where you are house shopping. If you are concerned with graduation rates and test scores, you may be able to contact the local board of education or the state department of education to receive a breakdown of statistics of the school in the neighborhood where you are house shopping. Some states may give schools yearly report cards that list the services provided by the school and success rates of the students. These annual school reports will probably be available from the state department of education.
Another method investigating the quality of the schools in a neighborhood where you are house shopping is to visit the school and talk with the teachers and administrators. Visiting a school and speaking with the faculty and staff can provide information about the quality of education the students receive, the age and condition of the actual school campus, and the degree of involvement of the school with the community. If you visit a school that looks relatively new, has clean grounds, and posts announcements for events like plays, athletic competitions, PTA meetings, and clean up days on the walls of the school building, the school is likely very involved with the neighborhood. This method of investigating the schools in a neighborhood in which you are house shopping may also be accomplished by actually attending a school sponsored event.
Another consideration in picking a neighborhood is the quality and location of the businesses in the area. This should be considered for both the appreciation value of your home and your personal convenience. If you find a house that you are interests you, find the nearest grocery store, gas station, and department or discount store. Consider how far you have to drive to get to the stores in the area. Also look to see if business is growing or leaving. If most of the stores in the neighborhood business district are older and there are many vacant buildings, then the neighborhood may be declining. If the stores look new and there is evidence of current construction projects in the business center, the neighborhood may be growing. The local business consideration is important whether you want to live in an older neighborhood where business is declining or a new and growing community. Evaluating the nearest commercial areas can very often provide important information concerning the neighborhood and can also allow you to meet some of the prospective neighbors.
Neighborhood shopping should also involve a visit to the local town hall, city hall, police station, and fire department. You may not need to visit all of these places, but you should at least inquire about the size of the police department and frequency of crime in the community. You may also want to ask about the local fire are rescue services, as many small town fire departments are operated entirely by volunteers. You may also want to consider local ordinances and laws when investigating a potential neighborhood. These should be matters of public record which are available at the city or town hall.
Several other factors to consider in choosing a neighborhood to shop in may vary depending on the individual. Older home purchasers might seek a neighborhood that has a local hospital and an active senior citizen community center. Single adults might seek a neighborhood that has an active night life and is near a large business or commercial district, and families with children might seek a neighborhood where there are large yards, quiet streets, and convenient schools and shopping. While these personal preferences are important, proper evaluation of the local schools, business areas, and government services and are essential factors to consider in picking the best neighborhoods.