How to Research a Neighborhood

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 28 May 2014 07:01

You’ve probably heard the adage that when it comes to matters of real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” Well, if you’re thinking about moving and buying a new house, that adage is certainly a key component of which properties you’ll want to look at. Whether good schools, proximity to public transportation or other services, safety, or general friendliness of your neighbors is your top priority, you’re going to want to learn a little about the neighborhoods where you are considering buying.

Here are five resources that might help you assess what a neighborhood is like before you make the investment to buy:

1)    Online searches. These days, it seems you can find out just about anything online, and that goes for neighborhoods. Many communities have local websites or periodicals where you can get a feel for things like safety and crime rates, what constitutes “news,” and recent events and happenings. Various real estate sites can also give you an idea of home values, recent sales, and other basic information about a target neighborhood.

2)    Your real estate agent. Agents who have worked in a community for a while can be excellent sources of information on schools, parks and public works, transportation, and shopping. They can also give you a good idea of a neighborhood’s “feel” and reputation, as opposed to mere demographic information.

3)    The sellers. While you may wish to retain a certain amount of professional distance when dealing with the sellers, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask them for information on topics like utility costs, public services, recent tax bills, and other facts that might affect your impression of a neighborhood. Just remember that the seller’s number one interest if to find a buyer for the home, so sticking to facts rather than opinions is probably your best bet.

4)    Town hall. Lots of information can be found at a community’s town hall, such as spending on public services and schools, zoning regulations for different parts of town, voting precincts, and of course town government. Paying a visit to the local town hall can give you a good idea about how a community is structured.

5)    The neighbors themselves. Now that winter is ending and more people are spending time outdoors, if you’re looking at buying in a neighborhood, you might talk to a current resident and ask a few questions. What is the average demographic? Are the schools good? Do neighbors like to socialize? Is there a lot of turnover, or do residents stick around for years? All of these questions can give you good information about the complexion of a neighborhood. For well-rounded results, visit the neighborhood at different times of day so that you can talk to a spectrum of people who are out and about.

Of course, if you’re surveying a neighborhood in the hope that you might wish to live there, a little personal exploration is always a good idea. See for yourself whether the area seems friendly, is walkable, or is located near the types of businesses and attractions that are most important to you. Take a look at whether the neighbors seem to care about their properties and whether they stay on top of basic upkeep. Get a “feel” for whether you will fit in once you buy. Some neighborhoods are highly sought after because of a school district or commuting ease, while others are known just for a great sense of community. Make a list of your priorities in a neighborhood, and do a little research. After all, while you’re looking for the home that best suits your needs, shouldn’t you also consider the neighborhood that you’ll be calling home?


Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Kim Clark

As a Real Estate broker, a former pediatric nurse, and a resident for 35 years, Kim Clark knows Cape Cod! She specializes in residential real estate, waterfront homes, dock homes, golf homes, 1031 tax exchange, and at this point works mostly by referral. She also has a team member that specializes in commercial real estate if that is your need. As the owner of Bayside Realty Consultants, Kim services these areas: Cape Cod, Orleans, Dennis, Brewster, Harwich, Chatham, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Eastham, Wellfleet,Truro, P-Town, and Sandwich.

Kim has been married for 27 years and has two children, two dogs and a cat. She enjoys water sports, classic cars, hockey, basketball, volleyball, and car racing. She owns a pro-4 race car that races all over New England.

Agent Resource

Limited time offer - 50% off - click here

Realty Times

From buying and selling advice for consumers to money-making tips for Agents, our content, updated daily, has made Realty Times® a must-read, and see, for anyone involved in Real Estate.