When you’re looking for your first home, it’s not just the home itself that you must take into consideration. As the old real estate saying goes, location, location, location is incredibly important, too. There are lots of things you’ll want to know about the neighborhood you intend to look into – such as quality of schools, traffic issues, and how easy it is to commute to work from your location.
Don’t go into a housing purchase blind. Make the extra effort to research potential neighborhoods, which may require doing a little footwork on your own. While real estate agents are a crucial tool that can benefit you in many ways when buying a home, they also have their limitations. Due to Fair Housing laws, real estate agents cannot directly offer opinions on things like schools and crime rates in any certain area. They can, however, direct you towards resources where you can get this information.
We live in an age where we have almost any information we could possibly need at our fingertips. Don’t be afraid to use the internet as a tool to research your potential future neighborhood. BestPlaces provides information about unemployment, school spending, cost of living, and other demographics, all arranged by zip code. You can also find household income statistics from the Census Bureau at Census Explorer. Neighborhood Scout provides demographic information in addition to identifying factors that make a neighborhood special.
There are, of course, websites geared towards more specific information.
Of course, if you have or plan to have children, the quality of local schools is extremely important. Even those who don’t intend to have children, though, should pay attention to the quality of local schools. Schools influence how desirable a neighborhood is to live in, and thus the value of homes. Great Schools and School Digger can give you information on school ratings.
Family Watchdog, Crime Reports, and the above-mentioned Neighborhood Scout can provide you with crime information for the neighborhood you’re researching. You can even look up potential environmental hazards that could impact the health of your family with the Environmental Protection Agency’s MyEnvironment website.
Transportation and Getting Around
How easy is it to get around this neighborhood? Can you drive, bike, or walk easily about it? Check out WalkScore for answers on not just walking, but biking and transit too. If you take a tour of the neighborhood, apps like Around Me can help you find local things like parks, restaurants, libraries, and fitness centers.
Go Old School
While online research is undoubtedly convenient and useful, there’s no substitute for visiting a neighborhood and seeing it for yourself. Driving or walking through at various times of day will let you know a lot about what traffic is like and general activity levels throughout the day. You’ll notice what your neighbors are like and get a feel for its character and quirks. You’ll see how many families, single people, and empty-nesters there are. Visit local cafes and ask people about what it’s like to live there, and even about what they love and don’t love about their local community.
Need more help looking for your first home?
Stonebridge Mortgage Group can help guide you through the home buying process. We help get you pre-approved for a mortgage and help with your real estate loans and other mortgage solutions, both residential and commercial. We proudly serve the greater Portland area and are in Gresham, Oregon.