When Buying a Home, Don't Forget to Factor This in
"Location, location, location."
It's the number-one rule of real estate: where you buy is almost as important as what you purchase when buying a home. Considering the one thing you can't change about a property is where it is, it makes sense to pay attention not just to the house you're considering but the surrounding area, too.
Whether you're buying a home for the first time or you're a seasoned pro when it comes to house hunting, here are the questions you should ask yourself when thinking about the neighborhood, community, and town you might find yourself living in after your next real estate purchase.
What's the Immediate Area Like?
You probably pay a lot of attention to the individual properties you see with your real estate agent. You might be savvy enough to test every cabinet drawer and bathroom faucet, carefully looking over every detail in the home, and you should take the same care when inspecting the immediate vicinity as well.
For example, what may seem like the perfect house might not be so ideal if it's located in a neighborhood with a high crime rate. That's a worst-case scenario, but even more innocent factors can have a negative impact. How far is the nearest grocery store? Is it on a busy street that might create a lot of noise from the road, or pose a danger to young children? Is it easy for first responders to access, or is it more remote?
In addition to scoping out the property that's for sale, take a look at your potential neighbor's homes. Are they well-maintained, or more run down? Surrounding properties can drive your own home value down, so that's something to consider. Even if you don't mind what the neighbors do to their own yards, future buyers might if you want to sell your house one day.
What Does the Community Have to Offer?
Once you evaluate the immediate area, look at the community or town as a whole. What are your options for grocery stores and shopping? Are there parks and nature preserves? Does the town you want to buy in offer a lot of free events or amenities to residents (think: summertime concert series in the park, a well-stocked library, or clubs and shared interest groups).
There's no one "right" way for a surrounding community to be. It's more important that you think about what you value most and what you'd like easy access to, or what you'd enjoy in your everyday life - and then check to see if an area you might buy in offers what you're looking for. It might help to make a sort of checklist, and see how many boxes a particular location can tick.
How About the Local Schools?
Another consideration for most people is school districts. If you have kids, this is probably a non-negotiable, so be sure to do your research on what district your kids would go to if you moved. Not only does this matter for your own family, but it can affect your resale value as well if you do plan to move again at another time in the future.
How's the Commute?
You might have dreams of a rural homestead, but if you work in a city that's an hour away and you'll have to sit in gridlocked traffic twice a day, you might want to consider a more convenient location. Think about other things you want to access, too, even if it's not on a daily basis. Do you have family in nearby towns that you want to stay close to? Do you need to be able to get to an airport or train station quickly?
It's a matter of personal preference, as some people certainly find a commute to work or other important locations a worthwhile trade-off if it means getting their dream home. It's just something to be aware of and consider during your house hunt.
Other Details to Keep in Mind
When buying a home, you might also want to think about smaller considerations pertaining to the location, such as what the views are like (both inside and outside the home). Think about how far away it is from other properties (miles away or so close you could touch both houses at the same time?) and if the distance - near or far - might cause problems.
In addition to views, think about noise. Homes near major roads and highways might constantly hear the drone of cars going by, while properties near intersections or in cities will likely hear quite a lot of horns or sirens at all hours.
There's certainly a lot to consider when buying a home - not just with the property itself, but with the location it happens to be in as well. At the end of the day, what matters most are your preferences and priorities. It might help to make a list of what matters most to you when it comes to house location and compare your list to what potential properties can offer.