Everyone says the key to real estate is location, location, location. Often times THAT location (the one with beach access or a mountain view) is too expensive for us average Joes. Still, you want to find a location that meets your needs and your budget. So, how do you determine the best location? Here is a list of criteria for choosing a home that is just right for you.
First order of business, make a wish list of locations. It doesn’t hurt to also make a list of the things that you don’t want. Do you want a place that is lively and full of restaurants and clubs? Do you want a place that feels like it is warm and neighborly? Do you need a walking neighborhood? Check out whether people are out and about walking their dogs and riding bikes, then you can get a good sense of the type of neighborhood.
What do you like to do?
Proximity to things that are important to you should be considered. Determine how far the neighborhoods you are looking at are from things you want to do and the places you want to see. If it’s important that you be able to drive a short distance and go for hike, then that should be added to your wish list.
Check the stats! If you get serious about a particular area, then you should go to the local police station and get the crime statistics for the area. Find out what kinds of crimes are commonly committed in the area. (Your real estate agent can help you find that data as well).
Judge the outside
Examine the homes and whether or not they are well-maintained. Check out the streets to see if they are well kept. Also, examine any public areas. This examination will give you good sense of whether your home will grow in value or be devalued because of its lack of care.
The school system
If you have children, you will for sure want to check out the public school systems in the area. Visiting them would be ideal. Most schools will have an information sheet sharing their mission and the ratings among state and nationally ranked schools.
A bus stop
If you need public transportation, you will have to locate the closest bus stop and determine the transportation lines. It can be a good idea to map out any commutes by time and distances.
Envision the long term
Consider how long you will want to live in an area and whether it will be a good investment in the long term. It is a good idea to live in a home three to five years to gain some equity and potentially make some money on a resale.
Your agent is a resource
Utilize your real estate agent! Select a person who is knowledgeable about the area and can give you more details and insights into particular neighborhoods. They can also help to pull up reports of sales of comparable homes and give you an idea of the stability of the neighborhood. The reports can tell you whether homes in the neighborhood sell quickly and whether they hold their value and lead to a profit.
Once you find the right location, then you can look for the right home. A less than perfect home in a great neighborhood is a much better investment than a dream home in a bad neighborhood. Take your time and find a great location, a great agent, and then the just right home.