Finding your first home is one of life’s adventures. For first time home buyers, it’s also an excellent financial investment. Yet what many forget with their first home purchase is this that your home, unless it is in a rural area or on acreage, also comes with a neighborhood. As you shop for your first home, you are also shopping for your first neighborhood, and you need to consider the location carefully.
Here are some considerations that can help you choose the right neighborhood when buying your first home.
1. Consider Your Style When Buying Your First Home
The right neighborhood for you will have a personality that matches your. Are you active and social, or do you prefer peace and quiet? Some people thrive in a vibrant, busy, active community, while others prefer their home environment to be calmer. Also, consider the architectural style that most appeals to you. Would you be more comfortable in an older or historic neighborhood, or are you drawn to a more modern home style?
2. What are the Most Important Features?
Next, decide what features are most important to you. Does the neighborhood offer its residents a pool, playground area and/or tennis courts for an annual fee? Do you want to live close to parks? Do you need or want to be able to walk to the store? Would you prefer to live closer to your work or school, or can you handle a commute?
If you plan to use public transportation, determine if you need to live close to a bus or train stop. Make a list, then prioritize it in case you have trouble finding the perfect neighborhood.
3. Research Crime Rates When Buying Your First Home
As a result of the Fair Housing Act passed in the 1960s, real estate agents must be careful how much personal opinion they share with their clients, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find out information about crime rates for a particular neighborhood. Head online to research crime rates in any neighborhood you are considering.
4. Visit the Neighborhoods You are Considering
Once you have narrowed down your options to a few neighborhoods, drive through them at different times of the day, not just when you tour a home. Look for signs of excessive security measures, such as “Private Keep Out” or “Beware of Dogs” signs throughout. Get a feel for the neighborhood during the day and after most people have returned home for the night.
5. Consider Future Needs
When buying your first home, you are likely thinking about your current needs, but you should think about your future needs as well.
For example, if you do not currently have children, but are planning to start a family someday, you may want a neighborhood with quality schools and parks to enjoy. If you are currently a student, but will eventually be starting a career, a location close to potential employers may be more helpful than a location close to school.
6. Look up Property Taxes
Property taxes will vary from one city to the next, so if your home shopping radius includes multiple municipalities, this is another consideration to add to your list. If the taxes are much lower in one area versus another, you will save substantially by choosing the more affordable neighborhood.
7. Talk to Residents
If you can visit the neighborhood on a day when people are out and about, such as on a weekend when people are doing yard work, strike up a conversation. People who love their neighborhood are happy to talk about it, especially to friendly potential new neighbors. People who feel their neighborhood is unsafe may warn people about potential problems. This type of first-hand account can help you finalize your decision.
Buying your first home also means “buying” the neighborhood that comes with it. You need to find a community that is a good fit for your tastes and your needs. Take the time to do this research and soon you will settle on a neighborhood that is the right fit for you.
If you’re ready to begin the process of buying your first home, reach out to Peach State’s Mortgage Services Department! Call 770.580.6098 to learn more.