If you’re in the market for a home, you’re no doubt thinking of what the home itself should have. A whirlpool bath, granite counters or a beautiful garden.
Sure, amenities are important. But it’s also important to focus on the right neighborhood. The best policy in home shopping is to choose an area that has everything you need and want. Then you focus on the specific homes and what you want within them.
Why? Well, neighborhoods vary. Location is only one example. And that’s only one example. Neighborhoods vary in their safety, the number of parks and just about any factor you could name.
So, what’s the best way to choose the right neighborhood for a home? Here are three tips.
Make Two Lists: What You Need and What You Want
This is a good idea for home buying in general: it’s also useful when looking at specific homes.
What do you need in a neighborhood? The ability to commute to work quickly? If so, is there good proximity to the freeway? Do you want to be close to downtown or near a park with trails where you can jog or take a stroller?
How about the size of your family? If you have children, or may someday, how is the school district? Are there safe places they can play with their friends?
Now, what about things you want? This is the list for things you would really like to have, but they aren’t deal breakers if the neighborhood doesn’t offer them.
Perhaps the most important item is the size of your new home. First define the minimum number of bedrooms and baths your family needs. Anything above is a “want” as long as the price is within your budget. Do you need a single level home due to an elderly or disabled relative who may live with or visit you? Or are you open to a one- or two-level floor plan?
Ideally, you’ll find a home that meets your wants and needs. But if something has to give in an otherwise desirable neighborhood, you have a firm sense of what the relative priorities are.
Walk and Drive Through the Neighborhoods You Like
Once you’ve determined neighborhoods that have what you want and need, walk and drive through them. Nothing gives prospective home buyers a better sense of a neighborhood than simply walking and driving casually around.
Try to do this at three separate times: weekends, mornings of weekdays and in the evenings.
Do people seem friendly and relaxed? Are people out shopping or tending their yards? Are homes and gardens well-tended?
If people are out and about, try to engage them in conversation about why they chose this neighborhood. Let them know you’re thinking about moving in. After all, they have an inherent interest in knowing their potential new neighbors – and if you do move in next door you’ll already have a connection!
Research the Statistics
Don’t rely solely on your feel for the neighborhood, though.
It’s a good idea to look up the neighborhoods of your choice to see if there are any news stories about them. You can also use the website Zillow to compare the price of your home to similar ones in the area. Just remember, if you’re buying a new home it may be more expensive, but you won’t have to remodel, fix broken appliances or clean up after the previous owner.
Buying a home is exciting. Make sure you choose a comfortable neighborhood and a house that fits your needs as one of the first steps in your search.
Are you looking for a new home in the San Joaquin Valley or Bakersfield? SJV Homes now has open for sale 10 communities with a combined 845 single-family homes. If you would like more information, sign up for our interest list here.