How Do I Know If I Am Buying in a Good Neighborhood?

How Do I Know If I Am Buying in a Good Neighborhood?

5. The Home You Purchase

There’s one aspect of house hunting that tends to surprise people. Let’s VenГ¤jГ¤ morsiamet say you’ve narrowed your choices to two homes that stand side by side in a great neighborhood. One needs repairs and updates but has a huge lot. The other is in tip-top shape but sits on a lot half the size of the fixer-upper. The prices of the two homes are similar. Which do you choose? In most cases, the house in need of repairs is the better investment.

The reason: your house is a depreciating asset. On the other hand, the lot will maintain its value (or likely appreciate) relative to the house. If you bulldozed both houses, the larger lot would sell for more. So, if you can, choose a bigger, better-shaped, or better-situated lot over a nicer house. A less attractive house can always be updated, added on to, or replaced altogether, but the lot can’t change.

Buying a fixer-upper home in a popular or up-and-coming neighborhood can be a good investment if you have the time and money to improve the home.

A good neighborhood often has indicators of its stability from well-kept homes and yards, convenience to amenities, low crime rates, public transportation, public schools, and paved roads.

You don’t have to use a realtor to buy a home. However, a good local realtor can help you learn more about the neighborhoods, if you are moving to a new location. They can also answer questions about schools, local events, and the community. If you are buying a new house in your own hometown, you may be able to skip this step, but realtors may have insider knowledge of home sales and they may be able to negotiate on your behalf for a better sale price. That being said, it is possible to a home without one, just be prepared to the all the research, paperwork, and negotiating with the seller or the seller’s realtor.

The Bottom Line

Location isn’t entirely subjective-in fact, it’s based on a fairly static set of criteria. When you set out to shop for a new home, make sure the neighborhood isn’t just desirable to you but has objective qualities-such as attractive amenities, good schools-that will help ensure your investment appreciates in value over time.

There are several techniques that can help you pick a desirable home location. If you are thinking of moving to a new neighborhood-or simply buying property in one-it’s important to recognize that the locals are an invaluable source of knowledge. Mention to someone in a local coffee shop that you are looking to buy in the area, and you’ll find that people are more than willing to share knowledge and insights.

For the same reason, it can be useful to book viewings with a few local real estate agents, even if you don’t intend to use their services. As professionals who work in the industry, they will be able to give you pointers as to the most desirable (or the most profitable) locations in the area. They will also claim, of course, that their properties are all in great locations, so take what they say with a grain of salt. When you’ve narrowed down your property or location list to a few candidates, there is no substitute for research. For each property, you are considering, run through the factors above.

1. Centrality

Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. If you think you’ve been discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, marital status, use of public assistance, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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