Most people’s first thought when buying a home is “where?”
Location is one of the most important, if not, the most important aspect for most prospective buyers. Although there are many other factors that go into price point, location is one of the biggest determining factors of the price point you will be looking at. This is why it’s important to truly understand what the location you’re looking at offers. “Would-be homebuyers may have a neighborhood they love, but with the rising costs, they often find themselves priced out of familiar territory. The budget-minded buyer wonders: What areas can I actually afford? Which ones will be a good investment? And where will I (and my family) be happy?” Says Curbed.
When choosing a location / neighborhood or just a general radius you would like to own a home in, there are many elements you need to consider.
Here are some helpful tips on where to start:
START WITH AN OPEN MIND
“Try not to rule anything out before you get started. A neighborhood you may have disliked on a visit could be a great place to live, or a corner of the city you previously thought was the end of the earth might actually be closer than you think, if you take into account an express bus.”
UNDERSTAND YOUR BUDGET
“Knowing your budget may seem like a given, but in the early excitement of the home-buying process, it’s easy to lose site of your financial constraints. You’ll want to work with a broker and a mortgage professional to pick apart your income so that you know exactly what you can afford. Once you’ve settled on a down payment and purchase price, a good broker can help you identify the neighborhoods that match your budget.”
STUDY LOCAL PRICING
“Once you’ve ID’d some neighborhoods, analyze the current and past pricing in apartment buildings and homes around the neighborhood. Most brokerage aggregation sites, such as Zillow and Trulia, show a price history of properties.”
TRACE THE PATH OF NEIGHBORHOOD GROWTH
“Rising home values is often a game of proximity. People and businesses priced out of one neighborhood will likely move to the next closest and more affordable neighborhood—and the cycle begins again. So if you can’t afford your dream neighborhood, check nearby areas in close proximity; if the adjoining neighborhoods are still too high, look to the next express stop out, if that’s relevant in your city.”
ASSESS THE EXISTING AMENITIES
“One major factor to consider is access to public transit, whether that be a train, bus, or bike lane. Another is access to greenery and open space, whether that comes in the form of a local park or a short walk to a waterfront; if there are children in your family or might possibly be in your future, check out the local playground options too. A neighborhood with a mix of residential streets, community gardens, and commercial corridors is a good sign, too. More affordable neighborhoods won’t always boast fully-formed commercial strips, but existing grocery stores, local restaurants, and yes, coffee shops, are usually a sign that there will be more to come.”
PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS
“You’ll pick up a lot just by visiting the neighborhood. Walking, shopping, and talking to locals in neighborhoods you’re considering will help you decide if it is a good fit for you and your family.”
DON’T BE FOOLED BY STATISTICS
“You may be tempted to refer to existing crime statistics, but you shouldn’t take those numbers as the end-all, be-all. “Crime stats don’t tell the full story,” Valhouli says. “A New York City police chief once said that if you want to make the crime in a neighborhood go down, you just reclassify a misdemeanor as a citation.” Instead, ask for local input—from existing homeowners, business owners, and brokers—to get a better picture of safety concerns in the neighborhood.”
RESEARCH THE SCHOOLS
“If there’s any chance that you’ll be sending children to the local public schools, do some due diligence on the schools. Leah Wiseman Fink, a former public school teacher and founder of Classes At, a parenting community in Brooklyn, cautions parents not to get too fixated on a home’s zoned school if your kid is still in diapers.”
Overall, it’s important to determine whether you love the house or the neighborhood and decide what ranks higher on your list. The features that make a neighborhood desirable can also raise the demand and prices, which is why these tips are helpful. It’s crucial to find the right real estate team in your area and to work with an agent to help you understand how competitive the market is in your desired area.