There’s an episode of the popular TV show “How I Met Your Mother” in which Marshall and Lily find their dream apartment in an unfamiliar NYC neighborhood. Without researching the community referred to as “Dowisetrepla,” they purchase the apartment. Later on, they make a ghastly discovery that their newly purchased dream home is “down wind of the sewer treatment plant.”
Funny as that may be, it does teach us a lesson about why you should take the time to research the neighborhood in which you plan to purchase a home.
So, what should you look into before you make an offer?
Find the Crime Rate
Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home. Before deciding on a community, take the time to research the crime rate in the area. Sites such as city-data.com or spotcrime.com will give you crime statistics broken down by the crimes committed, frequency and how your neighborhood compares to the nearest city, state and county. You can also contact the local police department to get a more specific report on the neighborhood where you plan to move.
Consider the Future
Buying a home is an exciting time. But, homebuyers can get overwhelmed with what’s going on “now” and forget to consider what’s going to happen “next.”
Before you settle on a community and house, be sure to think about what your life may be like in a year, five years, and 10 years. Do you plan on staying at your current job? Will you be getting a pet? Do you plan on having children (or more children)? Are your children going to be moving out of the house? All of these factors could dramatically change your decisions.
Aside from your own future, don’t forget to research the future of the area you’re considering. Ask local officials if any new development plans are in the works. Large developments – such as hospitals, colleges, or shopping malls – could change the atmosphere of your community and possibly attract a crowd that you were not prepared for.
How Long is the Commute to Work?
There are several factors to consider when estimating the commute time to and from your office. First and foremost is the distance – are there too many miles between your home and your office? The next thing to consider is the traffic. A 15-minute commute on a Saturday afternoon could take over an hour during rush hour.
Also, be sure to research any upcoming road projects. While road repairs are usually temporary nuisances, the meaning of “temporary” could be longer than you’d like.
What Amenities are Close By?
Whether it’s a day care center, a grocery store, a shopping mall or a really good pizza shop, we all want something to be close to our home. Before buying a home, make a list of places you frequent often and see how far they are from the home you’re considering. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than having an ice cream craving and then driving an hour just to get a cone.
Sights, Sounds and Smells
Don’t put yourself in an embarrassing, sitcom-worthy situation. Visit the neighborhood during the daytime and nighttime on both a weekday and a weekend. You may just find that the railroad track you thought was abandoned actually runs right after your kids’ bedtime.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask the neighbors! They likely know the area better than anyone and will provide you with information you won’t find on the Internet or by simply checking the place out.
Need more help? Ask your real estate agent for community recommendations based on your personal preferences. Also, check out AreaVibes.com, which will give you a “neighborhood livability” score and show you the nearby amenities, cost of living, crime rates, education, and even weather forecast.
This guest post was written by Kristie Vossler. She is the director of online communications and PR for Prudential Preferred Realty in Pittsburgh, Pa. In addition to digital and social media marketing, Kristie enjoys writing articles on homebuying, home selling and staging, real estate trends and home décor.