Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions that most consumers make. It's imperative to do your research early on. Prior to making this major investment, data should be obtained about the neighborhood you are considering. Evaluate school ratings, crime statistics, home value trends and any other criteria you consider important.
Driving through a neighborhood is certainly a good first step. It helps to see things with your own eyes. Check out the cars, lawn maintenance and condition of the homes. How safe do you feel? Do the homes and cars look well-maintained? Are most of the yards manicured and inviting?
Relevant Neighborhood Home Value Data Resources include:
NeighborhoodScout.com - Offers a wealth of information covering crime statistics, real estate trends, demographics and school rankings. This site provides a wealth of information all in one spot, but it is not free. While it may seem pricey, it may save you time in the long run finding all the information in one place.
Eppraisal.com - is another valuable source of information pertaining to home values. You can plug in any address on the home page and get an estimate of what that home is worth. Comparable homes in the neighborhood are listed with their sale prices and dates of sale. This service is free and extremely helpful in the initial stages of checking out a particular property.
Greatschools.org - this free site rates all schools in a neighborhood and includes test scores, student count, grade levels, ratings and parent reviews. They focus on student achievement and growth as well as college preparedness.
Spotcrime.com - quick resource for checking crimes reported near a given address giving you the ability to see the type of crimes and their frequency in the immediate area near the house.
"city.gov" - most all cities have their own websites that often convey the virtues of their neighborhoods. There, you'll also find resources and information available to you as a city resident including details on libraries and parks, a calendar of upcoming events, results of city council meetings and general information.
Factors to Consider When Buying
It is important to remember that a neighborhood with a poor school system may mean trouble for any investor. Even if you aren't personally affected, it may be tough to resell your home if the schools for that neighborhood have a poor rating. Typically, a neighborhood with good schools will hold its value when the economy weakens while other neighborhoods will lose value.
Pricing trends offer valuable information that should be considered. Are prices steadily rising or starting to dip. One of the worst investment decisions you can make is to buy at the top of the market in an area that is beginning to decline.
This country is comprised of neighborhoods that all have their own defining characteristics. Identifying the good neighborhoods on the rise is key for making a smart investment.