There’s a lot of excitement when it’s time to buy a new home. It’s a huge investment, and you’ll probably live there for years, if not the rest of your life. This will be the place where you create memories and maybe even raise a family. So it’s worthwhile to identify which neighborhoods are ideal before you start looking at individual homes. A real estate agent can help you pinpoint the best areas for your budget, but if you’re examining options on your own, consider the following factors:
If you’re working with limited funds, a real estate agent can help you identify areas that offer incentives for newcomers or programs that help first-time buyers. If you’re not sure how big of a loan you’ll qualify for, it’s best to figure out the financing before pinning down neighborhoods and homes.
You can use free online tools to scope out potential problems, but you should also visit each neighborhood you’re considering. Bear in mind that the feel of a neighborhood will vary based on the day of the week and the time of day you visit, so consider visiting multiple times.
Some cities have fantastic public transit, which may be able to get you to work faster than your car will. It’s a good idea to limit your search to areas within a reasonable distance from your place of employment, but research other transportation options, as it may open up other neighborhoods to you.
You may not have kids yet, but educational opportunities will be important if you plan to have a family in the future. There are many websites that rate schools, so you can read reviews or check the latest test scores.
People with close family ties will certainly want to keep this in mind, as it can be difficult to continually shuffle from one relative to the next, especially if you have children.
It’s a good idea to create a must-have and a want list, which include things like:
When you’ve got it nailed down to a few neighborhoods, consult with a real estate agent. Keep an open mind, though, because your agent might be able to come up with other neighborhoods that you’ve overlooked. You may also find that you’re willing to change your goals a little once you have a better idea of what’s happening in your market.