You may have just stepped into one of the most beautiful homes you've ever seen and you're urgently moving to make an offer. Before you move to soon and commit to the home you should remember that your home is not just your property. It extends into the surrounding community. Your neighborhood is your home just as much as your town. You're buying into that neighborhood so it's important to do your research into the area around you. Gathering information goes a long way toward ensuring years of happiness.
Getting from Point A
We spend only a portion of our lives in our homes - the rest is spent out and about running errands and doing other things in the community. Examine the area around your new home to see if the things you need are conveniently located: Schools, grocery and shopping, entertainment, etc. Also check the roads during various times of the day - will it be a nightmare navigating the streets around your new home?
Even if you don't haven children now, you might someday. Likewise, others in the community likely have children that attend the local schools. The local school system has a dramatic effect on the quality of the neighborhood, the resale value, and even the overall attitude of the local children. When you want to buy a home talk to the realtor about the local school district and get detailed info on class size, dropout percentage, school rank and standardized test scores.
Every neighborhood has it's unique feel and style to it. Informed home buying means spending time in the area to decide if it's a good fit for you, your family and your lifestyle. Part of that investigation involves looking into places like the hospital, churches, museums, parks, theaters, sporting events and fields, community associations, local businesses, chatting with locals while walking and even testing your cell signal around town.
It's unfortunate, but just about every neighborhood has some level of crime that takes place. A little research can help you determine if you're in an area that is virtually crime free or if the criminal activity is through the roof to the point where the mafia play hopscotch on your porch. To see if your neighborhood is safe, talk to the local law enforcement about criminal history and statistics. You can also personally examine the area for vandalism or neglect and scan local news for regular criminal activity.
You should definitely look into the utility services before buying a home. Many first-time buyers overlook this and it's extremely important. Does the home use water and sewer lines or is there a well and septic system? Do you use natural gas or will your home need to be heated through other means like wood or propane? What are the hookups in the home - will you need to buy new appliances to cook with electricity or gas, or dry your clothes with gas?
Research goes a long way to ensuring that you're comfortable in your new dream home as well as the neighborhood - and will ensure that you avoid investing in a house that you quickly grow to dislike because of a thousand barking dogs, crimes, poor quality neighbors or worse.