Prospective homeowners typically have one major demand when home buying – THE right house at THE right price. When it comes to a homeowner who is a parent or with plans to become one, the list of demands becomes even more challenging.
For prospective homeowners who are parents, the list includes not only price but size, school ratings, neighborhood amenities, safety, proximity to shopping and recreation, the number of children in the neighborhood, backyard size, etc. It is about investing in a neighborhood and the surrounding community, and this takes some research and even good old-fashioned legwork to find the best neighborhood for you.
Do your own research. As real estate agents, there are certain neighborhood details that we cannot share with you. To do so would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or family status are federally-protected classifications. Divulging these details could sway a homebuyer’s decision on whether to purchase a home, which would be out of compliance with the Fair Housing Act. The discussion of a neighborhood’s crime rate is also off limits. As a homebuyer looking for the best neighborhood, you will have to do your own investigation. There are several online sites such as Family Watch Dog and Neighborhood Scout. Another excellent resource is NSOPW (National Sex Offender Public Website by the U.S. Dept. of Justice). The local police department can also run crime stats for you.
Talk to residents in the area. Reach out to your friends, family members, work colleagues, and others within your network to see if they can put you in touch with someone who lives in the area. Chat with store owners and let them know you are considering a move into the area. Again, the internet can be your best friend when trying to connect with the locals. Look on Facebook for online parenting groups, religious groups, hobbyists, and even political groups. Meetup allows you to meet people near you who share your interests – a great way to “find your people.” Connecting with locals who share your interests and values will give you additional insight into the area.
Peruse surrounding properties. Once you have your list of neighborhoods that meet your criteria, check them out in person by traveling several blocks outside the area. Look for graffiti, groups of people loitering, school-aged kids hanging around when they should be in class, and signs of suspicious activity. Do you see abandoned buildings or several empty homes? These potentially provide a place for kids to congregate and invite unsafe situations. Any of these should be of concern to you and warrant further research. Also, check out the neighborhoods in the evenings – watch neighbors getting home from work, see if the kids are outside playing, and watch for unusual traffic patterns.
Finally, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If something seems off about a neighborhood, trust your gut instincts. As a parent, you want to keep your child safe and reduce the risk of exposing them to unsafe areas where there are opportunities for them to engage in risky behaviors. If it doesn’t seem right, then it’s not right. While this does mean you will have to go back to the drawing board and start your house and neighborhood search again, you will be glad that you did. Remember, it’s LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Thinking about moving? Have questions about area neighborhoods and local communities? Contact us. The Sherry and Maria Team is dedicated to putting your needs first. We are here for you, first and always.