When vetting a potential new home, there are often many unknowns.

A buyer’s inspection or home warranty can help mitigate risks related to the property itself, but that is really only a part of the transaction.  Quality of life in your new home is impacted by many additional factors, not the least of which is your new neighborhood.

While understanding the nuances of a neighborhood can be complex and difficult from the outside, answering four key questions can help.  

Takeaways:

  • There is much more to a home purchase than the property

  • Neighborhood details can be an important consideration

  • Leveraging a few resources to answer some key question can help

 

Is the neighborhood safe? 

Your family’s safety is the single most important factor to consider about your new neighborhood. While crime statistics and the state’s sex offender registry can set a great baseline, they only tell part of the story.

To really understand an area, prospective buyers should also contact the local police department directly and ask pointed questions about calls they have received to the area.  Noise complaints and domestic issues may generate a call to law enforcement that crime statistics can miss. Most cities have a community outreach officer who will be more than happy to help.  

It is also a good idea to drive through a neighborhood on multiple trips at different times of day with an eye toward safety. On those trips be sure to pay particular attention to traffic volume, pride of ownership shown by residents, neighborhood watch signs and other clues you may have missed previously.

Does the neighborhood support your family’s lifestyle? 

Following safety, the livability of an area is the next most important consideration. How might the infrastructure of your potential new neighborhood impact your life? While considerations are many and your categories will vary, a few common considerations and web resources are listed below:

 

Schools

MN Department of Education- analyze a particular school by demographics, test scores, graduation rates and more

SchoolDigger.com- compare schools side-by-side via rankings & ratings

 

Commute

Move Minneapolis- public transit and other commuter resources 

Food

Yelp- the quintessential rating site is still King

Trip Advisor- rankings, ratings and resources

Outdoor Fitness

Mapmyrun.com  - locals share their favorite fitness paths (on & off-road)

Minnesota Biking - detailed trail maps from the Minnesota DOT

 

What will my new neighbors be like? 

While internet searches of public data can give you a decent idea about the demographic makeup of an area, that information may be less actionable than you’d like.  Most sites offer information for entire cities and fail to account for neighborhood-level variables.  To obtain the specifics here, a better resource is a pair of Nikes.  

As awkward as it sounds, walking the area and chatting up the locals can prove invaluable.  Remember most neighbors are as curious about you as you are of them.  Frequently by simply taking a little extra time to linger outside after a showing appointment, or taking a quick stroll around the block you can not only get the neighborhood vibe, but also make a connection, stop and chat and obtain much more.  

Is this neighborhood a good financial investment?

As much as your new home is an investment in the property itself, it is also an investment in the neighborhood-- the latter greatly impacting the former.   Understanding current trends and volatility of a given location can help protect that investment. A strong real estate agent should provide this information by combining an investment analysis of the home you are considering with some comparables and alternatives.

Additionally, tax information on specific homes is available on the county assessor website (Hennepin, Carver , Wright ).  Spend some time reviewing previous year’s tax info for your prospective new home, looking at overall trends.  If you see wild fluctuations you may want to discuss those concerns with your agent.

Bottom line

Answering these four key questions is a great way to vet the neighborhood of a property you are considering purchasing.  By putting in a little work on the front end you can ensure you end up in a neighborhood you’ll love.

If you have yet to identify a property, we have an even better strategy that flips the script entirely.  By starting with the lifestyle considerations that matter most to your family (rather than a property), we can narrow your search to neighborhoods that are the best fit. 

You’ll end up with a more efficient search and ultimately a home that not only fits your budget, but also a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle.  Call us today to get started.