Next you must consider a neighborhood. You may want to know its boundaries and what lies adjacent to it that may diminish its value (Google it). You may not want to live next to a dairy farm, a smoke stack, a city waste dump, within the noise boundaries of an airport or backing to an obsolete trailer park. You should check and search online for crime statistics of the area, and for the location of sex offenders as well.
Notwithstanding the recent drop in gas prices, distances have become very important. Is there easy access to major highways? How far do you have to drive to work, to the supermarket, to the mall, the airport, downtown, and other amenities? Is mass transit an available option? We helped a buyer who actually visited the local grocery store, strip malls, a restaurant and the mall, and later decided it was not where she wanted to live. If you have children, is it a family-friendly neighborhood? Are there lots of children? Are the schools close? How are they rated? Are you close to the bus stop? Any parks or green areas nearby?
After the vicinity, the pride of ownership should be the most telling clue about a neighborhood. If everyone is taking care of their homes it will help maintain values. In this regard I must mention the often-despised HOA (Homeowners Association). They enforce the developer’s “CC&R’s” (Covenants, Condition and Restrictions), a document detailing the obligations and rules by which you will abide to be a member of the neighborhood. Rebels and advocates of free expression don’t do well here. But a frequent omission in discussing the rules is that they were put in place to extend the vision of the builder and its architect. Their holistic approach supersedes anyone’s right to express their individual taste. This integration adds a reliable measure of value to the neighborhood, where you would expect an “enforced” and permanent pride of ownership. The cons can usually be traced to self-managed (vs. professionally managed) associations made of community volunteers who run for office and are summarily elected with a small participation from the whole. These volunteers are in effect running the neighborhood on your behalf the best they can. So read the CC&R’s before you buy in one of these subdivisions.
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