Buying and moving into a new home is one of life’s great experiences, especially if you’re buying your first home. From getting that pre-approval to the “yes!” response on an offer to closing and moving in, every step is exciting. And while the process is engaging and fun, it’s important to prepare for moving day […]
4 essential tips for finding the right neighborhood
Where you buy a home is just as important as the property itself. Remember, the home isn’t in a void—you’ll have neighbors, a commute, and amenities to think about. Prioritizing your “must haves” will make your decisions easier and help you find a home you’ll be happy with over the long term.
When looking for the right neighborhood for you and your family, ask yourself these questions:
Is the area affordable?
Once you have an idea of where you want to live, you’ll need to check to make sure it fits into your budget. The area you choose to live in directly affects your home’s value. A home with the same size and condition can vary widely in price depending on the neighborhood and its amenities. Property taxes also tend to be higher in areas with higher property values. Research property taxes and other costs like food, utilities, and child care to make sure there are no surprises after purchase.
What does your commute look like?
How far are you willing to commute to work from your new neighborhood? If you can’t easily get to work from your new neighborhood it may be better to choose someplace that’s more convenient. Prefer a different mode of transportation? Sites like Walk Score® provides helpful tips about neighborhoods and how easy—or difficult—it is to walk or bike there. If you are in a metro area, check to see if public transportation may be an option.
How far do you have to go to access essential services?
For some people, having to go a distance for services like groceries and entertainment isn’t that big of a deal. They get the home they want (maybe in the country) and are willing to make that trade-off. Other people seek out communities specifically for their amenities and are willing to pay HOA fees for the shared use of community services. Ask yourself, are you looking for peace and quiet, or playgrounds and shopping centers?
What’s the school district like?
Whether or not you have kids, knowing what school district your desired home is in can often benefit you in the long run as homes in highly-rated school districts tend to hold their value better. You can research schools in your preferred area via online resources.
Lastly, there may be incentives for buying homes in certain areas. The USDA provides home loans with no down payment required in qualifying rural areas. State and local governments may also offer homebuyer assistance and grant programs in certain census tracts. If you are on a budget, these options are worth looking into.
Buying a home is a highly personal decision. Use all the resources at your disposal, including real estate agents and mortgage lender professionals. Someone from SmartMortgage.com is available to help you understand what the best move would be for you to make, depending on your individual financial goals.