Know the Neighborhood by Lisa Getson
When making that big commitment to finally purchase a home, perhaps the most important decision is figuring out where to live. The first thing I always tell my clients is that a house can never be moved. Many homes are beautifully decorated or have been updated, but they may not be in the buyer's ideal location.
The first major factor in deciding where to live answers the age-old question: the city or the suburbs? I have many friends who work in the city and will live only in the city because they enjoy walking to work. I also have clients who work in the suburbs but prefer city living because they prefer the arts and entertainment, restaurants and night life. A buyer who favors the outdoors may enjoy living in the city if they can be near, for example, the East and West River Drives, but there also are numerous parks in the suburbs. And some of my clients, regardless of where they work, prefer suburban living for myriad other reasons.
The next step in choosing a neighborhood is determining what type of home you want to purchase. Do you want a single-family home? A twin? A townhouse? Do you want a condominium, and if so, do you want to be in a high-rise, with or without a doorman, or do you fancy a low-rise building? Different neighborhoods have different types of properties, so this will help narrow your search. Also consider your price range, so you can reasonably determine if homes of the type you are looking for are available in the neighborhood you select.
If you own a pet, this will become a factor if you are looking at condominium or apartment living. Each building will have requirements about what types of house pets they allow, if any at all. If you are thinking about residential living, various neighborhoods may cater to animals in their own unique way. For buyers looking to socialize and meet other dog lovers in the neighborhood, living near a dog park would certainly be advantageous. On the other hand, you may prefer a home in the suburbs with a large yard ideal for a dog or multiple pets.
Buyers who have children usually prefer to live in an area that is kid-friendly. If you choose to live in the city and want to be in a building, you may elect one where there are other children living. If you like the city but don't want to be in a building, check to see if the section of the city in which you are looking is near a park or recreation center or possibly a school. Walk around the neighborhood to get an idea of proximity to these features. And, although there are plenty of parks in the suburbs, not every neighborhood has one. More and more of my clients with children want a park within walking distance of their homes, and the neighborhoods that have one are increasingly popular. Buyers can usually research schools and school districts as well. School information is usually available online on school or township Web sites.
Another issue that comes up when choosing a neighborhood is safety. Obviously, nobody wants to live in a high-crime area. My best advice is to talk to the local police station, or better yet, talk to the neighbors about the safety of the area.
There are many components to consider when searching for the ideal neighborhood in which to purchase your home. Deciding between the city and the suburbs is a good place to start. Then take into consideration your own personal concerns, mix it all together and you will eventually come up with the perfect place to live. Once you have your neighborhood narrowed down, then you can zero in on the perfect house for you!
Lisa may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.