1) Location is paramount to your decision. Where you purchase your home is critical. If you want a certain neighborhood, a certain school district, a certain proximity to a certain shopping center these criteria should all take precedence over anything else. Using these parameters will often limit your market area where you are looking. If these criteria are not that important your scope of search could be a lot broader. However, the most important decision is that the location you desire to search should not be compromised.
2) Make many visits to your search area. It is important to visit the areas you are looking during all different times of the day to see the broad activity that occurs over the period of time from morning, noon and night. A home or neighborhood may seem quiet and peaceful at 10A, but during the afternoon commute it might be busy and bothersome. The neighborhood school during the summer may look cute, but in the school year will be buzzing with activity and traffic. The little league park or the soccer fields look like great places for kids to play in the off-seasons, but when the leagues are in session the traffic, noise, and activity may be overwhelming for you.
3) Neighbors talk. All neighbors have information that is not 100% public knowledge. Walk around the neighborhood and talk to as many neighbors as possible. They will all have different stories to tell and information to gossip. The neighbors know where all the “bodies are buried” so to speak.
4) Get the neighborhood association documents. If the neighborhood you are considering has an HOA, get the documents and read them all. There are records, minutes, and notes about all of the dirty details that have occurred during the history of the property. There will be any records of litigation or disputes as well which would be important to know.
5) Local news might have information. Contact the local news agency to see if there is any information about the community or neighborhood. Are there any long-term problems or issues about the neighborhood that is common knowledge but no one talks about? Have there been any notorious events in the neighborhood?
6) Coming developments, construction, freeways. Are there any major construction projects or large developments coming that can change the texture of the neighborhood? City hall will be the proper location to check on any major projects in the pipeline.
7) Explore the surrounding area. A neighborhood might seem great, but the peripheral surrounding areas will also have an impact and affect your neighborhood. Make sure to check out all of the surrounding areas such that you are comfortable with the idea of those adjoining neighborhoods being close to yours.
The decision to buy a home is a process which has many moving parts. When buying a home research, diligence and a comprehensive strategy should begin with hiring a competent and experienced real estate agent. To make your home search fruitful and enjoyable learn everything about your potential neighborhood such that you are almost a neighborhood expert before you decide to make an offer.