Know Your Neighborhood Before You Buy

By Brad Schmett|July 18, 2015

Purchasing a home in a new area can be an exciting adventure if you make certain that you know your new area well before you buy. A little research can go a long way toward your peace of mind and satisfaction when moving day finally arrives. Let’s take a look at some steps you can take, thanks to the ease and convenience of the Internet, to make sure your new neighborhood is everything you are hoping for.

First check the crime rate in and around your new city. Thanks to Google many cities now feature interactive maps that allow you to view the density and frequency of various criminal activities. You can also browse the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports website. For sex offender information go to the Department of Justice website and look for their National Sex Offender Public Website. You can also visit your local police department and ask questions. Find out the rate for break-ins and burglaries, vandalism and other property crimes before you make a final decision.

Climate and weather are also very important. Even if you think you know, it is always wise to go to the website for the city you have chosen and look for the annual and monthly averages for temperatures and precipitation. This is also a great way to decide when to move, so you are not doing the heavy lifting in the heat or during a rainy season. Perhaps most important, it will help you understand and project how high or low heating or cooling bills might be.

If you have children you will also want to know all about the local school district. Of course you can ask at your local Chamber of Commerce but there are also websites such as Walk Score and Neighborhood Scout that will offer you a comprehensive overview. Do some digging and ask other local parents how they feel about the school district. This can be a deal breaker or a real boost for your home buying decision.

Finally, check into the local tax rate and any special assessments such as Mello-Roos or even a Home Owner’s Association. These are things that are not always obvious or even fully known until escrow is already in process. Check with your Tax Assessor’s office and ask your real estate professional to locate this information. Know exactly what you are buying and how much to expect to pay. A little advance work can pay off big time and you will know you are making the right decision when you sign your loan docs!

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