9 Tips For Researching A Neighborhood Before You Buy A Home

Just as important as the home you purchase is the neighborhood you purchase it in. Here are a few tips on finding a neighborhood that is safe and has great schools, but that also hits all of your other must haves.

1. The 20,000 Foot View.

If you just pull up to a house you might not be aware of key neighborhood features, the good and the bad, that are nearby.

Check out the home's address on Google maps to get the bigger picture of close by amenities, such as playgrounds and dog parks, or items that might decrease your day to day enjoyment of your home, such as train tracks or large power lines.

2. Property Taxes.

Many homeowners don't discover what the property taxes will be until they receive the first tab from the government.

Property taxes can vary considerably not only state by state but county by county and so do your homework to get an estimate of these taxes before, and not after, you buy your home.

3. Schools.

Even if you do not have children, the quality of the schools in your neighborhood can impact the long term value of your home. Take a few minutes to check out a school evaluation website, such as www.greatschools.org, to make sure that a potential buyer of your home won't run in the other direction if they care about the quality of the neighborhood's schools.

4. Don't Be Shy - Meet Your Potential Neighbors.

Knock on the door of your potential neighbors, introduce yourself and ask them if there is anything they wish they knew before they moved into the neighborhood.

You'd be shocked at the quality of information you can find out about your potential new home with a handshake and a smile.

5. HOA Restrictions.

It is worthwhile to review the HOA restrictions, particularly the rules that govern any issues that are of importance to you.

For example, some HOA regulations limit the number and size of pets a homeowner can have. You don't want to move into your dream home only to find out that Toto has to go.

6. Visit The Home More Than Once.

Visit the neighborhood more than once at different times of the day to make sure that there are no noise or other potential nuisances not only when the home seller ideally wants you to be there, but at other times of the day as well. 

7. Crime History.

Do a bit of digging into the crimes that have occurred in the neighborhood by visiting mylocalcrime.com.

By researching what crimes have happened in your potential new neighborhood you can get a better handle of what you might expect if you move in.

8. Be Aware Of Sex Offenders.

If you have children you should visit the national sex offender's database at NSOPW.gov.

Even if you do not have children, buying a home close to a sex offender might make the next potential buyer walk away.

9. Other Safety Concerns.

RealtyTrac.com has resources to help you evaluate the risk of earthquakes, tornadoes and former drug labs.

All of this might seem like a great deal of work, but the time you invest now in researching your new neighborhood can pay huge dividends not only on the quality of life you will have at your new home, but also on your home's resale value.

By doing your homework, you will not only be more likely to enjoy your new home but you are also likely to get a higher sales price when you sell it as many of the neighborhood features that are important to you are also likely to be important to the next buyer.

Want help finding a great neighborhood to purchase a home in San Francisco? Give us a call at (415) 295-6370.