Moving can be a stressful experience, but finding the right house in the right neighborhood doesn’t have to be. With some research, a good team of realty and lending professionals and persistence, you can find the neighborhood that checks every box on your list.
Before you start looking for houses in your new locale, try to get familiar with the area. If you’re only moving within the city, you already have an advantage. You know the parts of town you want to be near, where you shop and where you want your kids to go to school. If you’re moving into the area, it’s more of a challenge to find the neighborhood that’s right for you, but it’s not impossible. Check out these seven steps to choosing the right neighborhood for you.
1. Make a list of everything you would like near your home.
Is it more important for you to live near great shopping, live sporting events or a lake and hiking trails? While it might not be possible to find a home with everything on your list, you can probably come close to it once you know what you’re looking for. Google Maps or other sites can help you spot trails, shopping and schools close to these neighborhoods.
2. Visit the websites of cities you’re considering.
If the city is new to you, you’ll learn valuable information like where the parks are, what kinds of entertainment options are available, and even what the trash and recycling schedule is like. While you may not base your eventual decision on this information, it’s a great launching point in the search for the right neighborhood. You’ll discover which areas closely match the points on your list and be able to eliminate others.
3. If you live close enough, drive through your new city.
There’s nothing like being on the ground to discover the feel of a place. Find neighborhoods that are near places on your list and make notes. Even if no houses are for sale in this area, you can mention it to your realtor, who may know of houses coming soon, or who can find comparable homes nearby. Driving helps you discover neighborhoods that might not have been on your radar from internet searches.
4. Look up groups on Facebook and ask questions.
Many neighborhoods have an online group where residents post information specific to that neighborhood. You may have to ask permission to join the group, but be honest in your request and say you’re looking for a home in the area and want to find out more. The administrator can admit you or point you in the right direction. There’s nothing like talking to people who already live in an area. They can give you an honest assessment of the neighborhood’s advantages and disadvantages. Reddit.com is another site where you can find subthreads on specific towns, neighborhoods and other locations, with information posted by locals.
5. If you’re looking at schools for your children, you can take a similar approach with online research.
Many schools have websites and Facebook pages. A site like this will give you a feel for what the school is like. You can reach out to administrators with questions, and they may arrange a tour or allow you to contact a parent with further questions. If you have friends in the area, reach out to them as well. You can also head to websites like publicschoolreview.com to find school rankings. It’s important to remember on sites like this, schools are often ranked by national test scores only. You’ll want to consider other things, like how far the school is from your potential neighborhood, what extracurricular options are offered and student/teacher ratios.
6. Find a great realtor who knows the area well.
Though it’s likely you already know a realtor or two, finding the right one for you is important. If you’re moving to an area, you’ll want a realtor who already lives there and ideally has a history with the area who can bring their own local knowledge to the table. Referrals through friends and family are great because you know someone else who has had a positive experience with the realtor. If that’s not possible, you can again turn to local groups online to ask for referrals and then research and interview your potential realtor. Ask them how long they’ve lived in the area and what their favorite places are to get a feel for how well you’ll work together.
7. Patience and vigilance are your best friends.
Let your realtor know your preferences and your price range. Set up alerts on your favorite housing site. When a house becomes available, you’ll already have all the information you need to evaluate whether the house and neighborhood fit your criteria. Finally, if there is a house you really love, you can always go with the old-school approach and contact the owner with an offer, even if the house isn’t for sale. You don’t know if they’re considering selling unless you ask.
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, you want to find a home in an area you love. Once you’ve found the right house, follow up with your mortgage lender at First Security Mortgage to make your dream a reality and enjoy life in your new neighborhood.