Lets face it, there is a lot more to the value of your home than the features inside the four walls. Granite counter tops and Jacuzzi tubs are nice, but the great features inside a home will not mean much if the neighborhood it resides in is undesirable. But, have no fear, there are a few key steps that you can take when house hunting to ensure that your future neighborhood is as fabulous as your new home.
Spend time in the neighborhood. Visit the subdivision that you are looking at buying in or the top two or three that you are considering. Visit them several times at varying times of the day to get a feel for its culture, community spirit, ambiance, etc. It will be time well spent. Visit all the neighborhoods again at night too. Is it well lit? Would you feel safe there at night? Do you like how it feels? What does your gut tell you? Are kids playing in the street, riding their bikes around, etc.? Are the other home owners keeping their yards in decent shape? Are your future neighbors adding new features like fences, landscaping, sprinkler systems, etc.?
Talk to neighbors. No one can give you a better feel for what it is like to live in the neighborhood than the people who already live there. When you are out making a decision about which house is right for you with your realtor or on your own, take the time to stop and talk to people who are out mowing their lawns or watering their grass. Of the top five homes that we were considering, my wife and I stopped someone walking down the street every time and ask how they liked the neighborhood or if there were any issues we should know about before we bid on a house. It was time well spent just for the peace of mind factor. Our brand new neighbors saw me putting up a porch swing when they were house hunting and came over. They asked about the road that back right up to our back yard fences and the vehicle noise. It was a great question and a potentially very important deal breaker for purchasing the house if they did not know the answer.
I was so appreciative of the honest feedback I received when my wife and I were house hunting. Just remember not to sugar coat any potential problems or bad spot about the neighborhood. You don’t have to bring them up, but don’t shy away from them either if asked directly. You will potentially see these same new neighbors again when they buy the house in question, and you don’t want any ill feelings if you led them astray. Also, remember that you are an ambassador for your neighborhood. Every resident is. It is in everyone’s best interest not to have empty homes sitting idle in your neighborhood.