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What makes a good neighborhood?
RE/MAX Genesis
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 • Posted December 11, 2007 10:00 PM

What are the qualities that make one neighborhood more desirable than another? According to real estate experts, they include close proximity to a thriving economic center; good public schools; nearby shopping areas; good public facilities, like parks or community centers; convenient commute options to a major metropolitan area; well-maintained homes; low crime; and a high percentage of owner-occupants.

After all, it simply makes sense that property values tend to remain steady in neighborhoods with well-defined identities and amenities that are available to everyone.

The fact is that when you buy a house, you also invest in the neighborhood around it. Whether the community is in a quaint area of town with a neighborhood square and clapboard houses, or in a neighborhood of lofts where modern living is the hallmark, a neighborhood is defined by its unique character – and that’s worth preserving to keep property values high.

But what’s the best way to know you’re investing in the right area? The best way is to look at neighborhood statistics and research, trust your own first-hand observations and emotional response, and visit communities to get the complete picture.

Do your research

Research potential neighborhoods well before you buy so there’s no pressure to make quick decisions. The last thing you want to do is be forced into a hasty decision when the market is hot and you really need to move. Start looking for the best neighborhoods today. Ask local Realtors about resale value, amenities and neighborhood character. Where are people flocking and why? Where are the great schools?

You can also do your own reconnaissance work. Check out areas just beyond your area’s most desirable, well-established neighborhoods. These communities are usually the next to experience a surge in popularity and prices. Look for these signs that it’s time to take a second, or third, look:

• Multiple offers on homes for sale

• An increase in the number of buyers moving in from other areas

• An increase in the number of local residents trading up within the neighborhood

• A decrease in the percentage of renters

• Signs of remodeling

It’s possible to get valuable neighborhood information like crime statistics, school scores and demographic information online. Good consumer Web sites abound, including Realtor.com and TexasRealEstate.com. Having access to all the facts means you’re not relying on idle comments from those who might not know.

The city’s zoning or planning commission is also a great place for research. Big projects like a potential highway cruising through your neighborhood are planned years in advance, so this department is the place to call. You can also find out how your area is zoned. If it’s commercial, there might be cause for concern if a convenience store goes up across the street from your new home.

Talk to potential neighbors

No one knows a neighborhood like the people who live there. You only get a fleeting glimpse of the whole picture when you drive through or look at houses. The best way to get the bird’s eye view is to ask someone who lives there. Talk to neighbors. Visit nearby schools and local businesses, and check out the neighborhood on your own at different times of day and night.

If you’re looking out of town or farther out of your area, subscribe to the local paper – and don’t discount the small local papers. They are usually packed with information that will give you a good idea of the neighborhood and community. Also think about what you need: if public transportation is a must-have, find out how accessible it is in the area. Are grocery stores, libraries and post offices close-by? What are the surrounding neighborhoods like? It’s important to take your emotions out of the equation and really take a hard look at the area – before you buy.

Get all the facts you can

It’s a fact that the quality of the neighborhood you choose plays a starring role in your home’s resale value, so it’s vitally important that you get all the facts before you make your move. With interest rates still near historic lows, more and more people are considering a home purchase. A little bit of research now will ensure your dream home stays that way.

For more information, visit TexasRealEstate.com. For professional services, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000 or lightfoot@moment.net.

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