Sometimes when buying a home we know exactly where we want to live. We have a specific purpose or reason why we want to buy within a community or neighborhood. Maybe to be near family, work or because it’s surrounded in beauty. Other times we may have no clue where we want to live and need to research all we can before plunging into a huge commitment.

Luxury house entrance porch with stone column trim. View of walkway with landscape

In some cases we may be transplanting ourselves into a whole new city or even state for that matter. Then it’s easy to feel like an outsider and worry that you’d end up somewhere that is not your ideal place to call home. This is when due diligence pays off. The lists come out: what home features you’re looking for, price, and the neighborhood. Yes, neighborhood is a BIG factor when considering purchasing a home but where do you start and what factors are worth considering.

Stop guessing, we have compiled a list of the most important questions you need to ask before putting down roots within a community:

  1. Crime Rate – This is a BIG factor on many homeowners list. You will need to visit websites that can track sex offenders in your area and go to the local police station to obtain public information statistics that will help you evaluate the crime activity in your new community. Also your realtor can provide you with current information for certain aspects of crime or lack thereof.
  2. Amenities & Schools – Amenities are a great perk to any subdivision but everyone has their own idea of what an amenity may be. While a park may be pleasant to some, it can be annoying to people who don’t want to hear children playing. Determine a set of amenities that appeal to you and make a checklist for the neighborhood. Good sidewalks, nearby entertainment, bike trails and recreational venues are always popular. If you have children, then schools are a very important factor when selecting a home/neighborhood. You’ll want to check out the curriculum and rating of the school to find out what you can expect. Even if you don’t have children, selecting a home within a good school district can greatly improve the resale value of your home.
  3. ATLANTA - AUGUST 25: Children play at Centennial Olympic Park August 25, 2013 in Atlanta, GA. The park commemorates the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.Convenience – This is important when factoring in your commute back and forth to work or school. You’ll want to determine if there is shopping nearby and how close you are to the nightlife of your community. How far are you from freeway access and if there are any mitigating traffic indicators like school zones or malls that may adversely affect the peacefulness of the area.
  4. Annoyances – There is a BIG 3 to be considered in this category: Rental houses, Sounds and Smells. You need to visit your prospective property at different times of the day so you can observe the neighborhood at various hours. Listen for trains, nearby freeways or airports that may create a noise nuisance. Pay attention to the sewage and drainage systems in your neighborhood and see if you notice putrid smells. Look for bayous, rivers or ponds that can get stagnant; causing an increase in bugs and mosquitos. Lastly look out for rental homes. A large population of rental homes means you’ll be neighbors with renters, instead of owners. Then you may have neighbors that won’t have your best interests at heart.
  5. Future Plans & Expenses – Taxes can range from neighborhood to neighborhood so you’ll want to visit your tax assessor’s office/website and have a clear understanding of the history of the home’s taxes and any future increases you may encounter. Also certain subdivisions are zoned to HOA’s or Homeowners Associations and will have monthly or annual dues as part of mandatory membership. The dues usually cover the upkeep of the common areas. You will need to factor in this expense in your budget and determine if the neighborhood is worth the extra cost. Lastly, check in with your local planning office and find out if there are any major projects on the horizon or plans to tear down anything that may have attracted you to the area in the first place. You’ll want to know about any tree cutting or additional development plans.

These tips will help you take a more “in depth” look at the home and neighborhood you are about to become a part of.