One of the most crucial factors to consider when you start your search for a new home is the location and neighborhood. This can be overwhelming, especially when you are relocating to a new city and you are learning the area. This process can also be challenging for long-time residents, because as cities like Raleigh continue to grow, many people find themselves priced out of their desired communities and have to look elsewhere. It is critical that the neighborhood you choose is somewhere that you feel confident in making an investment. Here are some tips for researching and selecting the right community to call home.
Create a profile of your perfect neighborhood.
Before you start vetting out neighborhoods, take some time to really think about what you want in the next community where you will reside. There will be some things that you may have to compromise, so make sure to create a list of your top five must-haves in the neighborhood to help focus your search. If you have children, you will want to consider schools in the area, parks and playgrounds nearby, and whether the community is family-friendly. Other considerations include daily commute time, average homesite size, architectural characteristics of the homes, safety, and walkability.
Be open to different areas.
In the current fast-moving real estate market, homes are being sold before they are even listed on the market. This means that you may need to be a little bit flexible with the specific areas you want to focus your home search. You may be surprised how well a community in a town that you haven’t previously considered may fit your needs.
Ask for opinions from locals.
If you are new to the area and do not know anyone, join some local Facebook groups to get some honest insight into the areas that you are interested in exploring. In cities like Raleigh that have a large population of transplants, there are constant discussions and threads in local parenting and networking groups that ask for intel on specific towns, areas and neighborhoods, and many people offer to answer questions one-on-one via Messenger. If you are already in town, ask anyone and everyone for information on areas that you are not familiar with or may be potentially interested in living. A local real estate agent is also a good reference, as they are experts in understanding the local market and have a different perspective. They will know how much the property values appreciated recently, any potential pitfalls and may also have the inside scoop on the HOA in the community.
Drive through the neighborhood several times.
If you’ve narrowed down your search to a few specific communities, drive through them several times, at different times of the day, one of those trips at night. Driving through can give you a feel for who your neighbors would be, how safe the area actually is, since crime statistics do not tell the whole story, and also see if there are any unsavory smells, unbearable noise, or dirty areas. If possible, talk to some of the residents to get their perspective on living in the area.
Research the property tax rates.
While property tax rates in a metropolitan area are similar across the region, there are some differences from one town to another, and as you get further into the outlying areas, the county rates can vary greatly. You may find that the tax burden in your first choice neighborhood is really high, which will shift your attention to a neighboring community that has a lower tax rate.
Consider your proximity to important places.
Most people consider how long of a commute to work they are willing to make every day, but if you are working from home that may not be a consideration.You may want to evaluate how far a community is from grocery stores, fitness centers, daycares, restaurants, and parks. Being close to amenities that you frequent every day can be a huge advantage and save you on gas and car maintenance costs.
Evaluate if the community fits your lifestyle.
Are you a social butterfly that enjoys befriending all of your neighbors? You may want to look for a community that has block parties and organized events either in the community or closeby. Prefer your privacy? You may want to look for communities with large homesites that are tucked away from main thoroughfares and busy roads. If you have kids, you may want to take into account if there are other families nearby, or if the community is mostly retirees. Having an atmosphere that matches the type of lifestyle that you enjoy makes a huge difference in your overall happiness in your home.
The process of finding a new neighborhood to call home is both exciting and overwhelming, as your satisfaction with the neighborhood has an enormous impact on your overall happiness in your home. Thoughtful and deliberate research and planning ensures that any homebuyer picks a community that meets their needs and lifestyle.
Thinking about buying a home? Check out this list of local professionals with the Jim Allen Group.
The Jim Allen Group is a nationally recognized and award-winning real estate team in Raleigh, North Carolina ranked the #1 Coldwell Banker HPW Sales Team in the nation.