How To Choose The Right Neighborhood When Buying A Home

August 13, 2013
Last updated:
April 12, 2022
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The house that you buy is obviously important. After all, it needs to suit your lifestyle and give you space and amenities you need to be comfortable with. But the location of the home is perhaps even more important, and we’ll explain why in this article.

The old real estate cliché’ about “location, location, location” is true, as the area of the city where your home is located will have an impact on its future value as well as your lifestyle. In fact, the location is even more important as the home itself. You may be able to make significant changes to the home, but there’s nothing you can do about the location it’s in.

So what factors should you consider when you are choosing which neighborhoods to house hunt within?

Start with an Open Mind

For starters, you should keep an open mind when you are searching for the perfect neighborhood and 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 local or public transportation.

Understand Your Budget

Clearly, knowing your budget may seem like a given, but in the early excitement of the home-buying process, it’s easy to lose sight of your financial constraints. You’ll want to work with a lender 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 lender can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to finding the neighborhoods that match your budget.

Proximity to Your Daily Needs

One of the first things that homebuyers need to consider when they buy a home is how close it will be to work. For instance, if you work downtown, living downtown may mean a very short commute, but it will also likely mean a much higher price. Living out in the suburbs, on the other hand, may afford you lower prices and more space, but it also means that you will be adding time for a commute onto your day. While this might be worth the cheaper prices for properties out of the town center, it is something to consider when making your decision.

You will also need to consider whether the house is near shopping centers, schools, doctors, dentists, and other services that you will need regularly. What’s more, access to public transit, availability of bike lanes, nearby greenery, or open spaces matters too. Likewise, if there are children in your family or might possibly be in your future, then you should also check out the local playground options. Overall, a neighborhood with a mix of residential streets, community gardens, and commercial corridors is always a good sign. Along those same lines, more affordable neighborhoods won’t always have fully-formed commercial strips, but existing grocery stores, local restaurants, and coffee shops are usually a good indication that there will be more to come. All these amenities and your proximity to them will play a role in how much you are able to enjoy your new home.

Related: How to choose the right neighborhood in Seattle

Planned Developments

When you are choosing a neighborhood to buy in, do some research into what developments are planned in the future for that part of town.

For example, you might be able to get a cheap price on a home that is out of the way, but a new proposed highway leading straight into the town center that will be built in the next five years could increase property values considerably. It is well worth the extra time and effort to do a little research into what may be planned in the near future that could impact not only your enjoyment of your home but also the future value of your property.

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Overall Atmosphere

Take a walk around the neighborhood where you are considering buying and get a sense of the overall atmosphere. Are there a lot of families living there? Are there green places to relax? Are people friendly and saying hello to you? Does it seem like the type of place you can see yourself living in the long run? 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.

If you believe you’ve settled on a neighborhood, then take the research to the next level. You should also make it a point to check out your potential neighborhood’s news or local news source to get a better feel of the overall atmosphere. Along those same lines, if you have the time, you may want to consider whether or not your potential neighborhood has existing school boards, block associations, or community boards and see what their common concerns are.

Ultimately, you want to live in a place where you feel welcome and comfortable. And you may be able to get a sense of that by taking some time to hang out in the community for a little while before you make the decision whether or not to buy in the area.

Related: Best neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon

Property Values and Statistics

Different neighborhoods will have a range of house prices, and you will want to look for something with the right balance of value.

Some areas of town will be very expensive but very nice; other areas will have cheap house prices but might not be as pleasant to live in. Take the time to find the neighborhood that is in the middle, where you will find the right house and neighborhood at a good price. This is perhaps the “sweet spot” that you can take advantage of where homes and prices are what you’re looking for.

Finally, you may find yourself tempted to reference the neighborhood’s existing crime statistics, but you should take them with a grain of salt since they never tell the full story. Instead, ask for local input—from existing homeowners, business owners, and lenders—to get a better picture of safety concerns in the neighborhood.

These are just a few of the factors to consider so that you can choose the right neighborhood.

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Will you need mortgage financing to buy a home? We can help.  Sammamish Mortgage is a local, family-owned company based in Bellevue, Washington. We have been serving the entire state, as well as the broader Pacific Northwest region that includes Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon since 1992. We offer a wide variety of mortgage programs and products with flexible qualification criteria. Please contact us if you have mortgage-related questions.

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