How to Choose a Great Neighborhood

homeRecently, our firm was contacted by a family looking for new homes for sale in Detroit Michigan. It was the family’s first home purchase, and they weren’t sure what to look for. While they had some desired qualities in mind such as two to three bedrooms, a garage, and a back yard, they weren’t certain how to choose a neighborhood or really evaluate whether a home was right for them. Experienced real estate agents offer the following tips to help families and other home buyers determine the right property for their needs.

Think about benefits, rather than features

Many homebuyers have a certain kneejerk reaction: “I want at least an acre of land” or “I need at least four bedrooms.” In some cases, this is based on real forethought. But in others, you’re thinking of the feature rather than the benefit. When you think about why you want an acre of land, it may be for privacy reasons. In many cases, it’s possible to get a house on a quarter acre of land with good tree coverage that’s more private than a strangely proportioned full acre. Or you might think to ask for a garage, only to realize what you really need is a workshop space. A finished basement or a specific outbuilding might be an equally viable feature that gets you the same benefit. The more you understand how you plan to use your space, the better prepared you’ll be the find creative solutions that meet those needs.

Get to know the vibe before you commit

Many homebuyers make the mistake of not spending enough time in a prospective neighborhood to get a “feel” for how it is to live there. Two busy city streets can each have a very different feeling. While one offers a friendly and upbeat vibe, another may simply be too frenetic and loud. The same can be said of suburban neighborhoods. There’s a big difference between the neighborhoods where families wave hello to each other and have block parties, and the ones where the Home Owner’s Association officials are measuring your yard with a ruler every Saturday. Everyone has a different vision for what their ideal home and immediate community looks like. Spend some time thinking about what that looks like for you, and try to get an independent sense of whether a prospective neighborhood can really deliver what you’re looking for.

Know the statistics

It’s also important to understand what the objective view of a neighborhood is. Have you taken the time to look at the crime levels, school quality, the sex offender registry, and any other important demographic data about your neighborhood? If possible, do this before you view a property. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a house or putting in an offer, only to find out that it’s in a high crime region or you can’t live with the local school system. Do your due diligence beforehand. You might always be willing to make a trade off; for example, a great deal on a home might allow you to afford private school, for example. But the first step to making an informed decision is knowing what you have to work with.

Choosing the right neighborhood and property is vital to being a satisfied homeowner in the long-term. Look beyond the basics of sticker price and the features on a house to really clarify what experience you’re looking for, what it’s like to live in a neighborhood, and scope out any hidden issues. Taking the time before you make an offer will ensure that you buy a home that you’ll love in the years to come.

About the author: Berlinda Andrews is an experienced Michigan realtor, who has more than eight years experience helping families find their dream homes. In her spare time, she writes for a range of real estate and design publications to share her expertise with a wider audience.