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You’re Buying the Neighborhood

You’re ready to buy your first home. As you write your wish list, you may find that it grows longer than you’d imagined. You want more living space, a place to do your art and crafts, enough bedrooms to expand your family, a separate master suite, and an entertaining area that will wow family and friends. All in the best neighborhood, of course! 

Whether you’re shopping for a home in a familiar or an unfamiliar neighborhood, remember that you’re buying more than a home. You’re also buying the neighborhood, so it helps to establish which areas are the best contenders for your family. 

Why is that important? It’s the neighborhood that helps establish home values, which depend largely on location (close to high-paying jobs, high-scoring schools, high-starring restaurants, etc.) and the desirability of the homes and local amenities. 

Check out the neighborhoods based on a small radius of where you want to be that’s most important to you, whether it’s to be in a certain school district, close to work, or close to family and friends. 

Desirable neighborhoods are pretty, updated and well-maintained, but things can change over time, so look for signs of transition. Homeowners reinvest in their property by repainting, making repairs and refreshing their homes with updates. Their lawns are mowed and well-maintained. The key is that you’re seeing reinvestment in the area.  

Small signs of decay don’t necessarily mean a neighborhood is going to seed. An older neighborhood will appear dated compared to new home communities, and it might not be quite ready for a renaissance. That could mean a bargain for you if you’re among the first owners as a neighborhood transitions upward. And you could kickstart the trend by remodeling an older home and making it appeal to modern aesthetics. 

To learn if an older neighborhood is good for you, pay close attention to the amenities as well as the homes for sale. Business owners serve the local neighborhood, so consider the nature of the stores, banks and food services you find. Are there too many dollar stores VS boutiques, payday loan shops vs. investment firms, fast food shops vs. better restaurants? Does the neighborhood offer goods and services you’d actually want to use, like child-care, health care, and veterinary clinics? Are there parks and places to go for entertainment? 

You’re buying the day and night of the neighborhood, so visit the areas you like best at different times of the day and on weekends. How well lit are the streets at night? What’s traffic like and how long do you estimate your commute to work and schools will be? Talk to people you come across. What do they think of the area? 

You’ll be happier if you pick the neighborhood first, then the home. Choose no more than three areas to begin your search, then drive them with your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional. While you’re looking, they will fill you in with their knowledge of the neighborhoods and help you find the best homes to match your needs.