Finding the Perfect Home
The first thing that you need to take into consideration is what kind of home you are looking for. Do you want a house, a condo, an apartment or a townhouse? Do you want to live in an active city or a slow paced suburb? Is it important that your new home be close to shopping, restaurants, or parks? Before you start looking, decide what type of home and area you want. It will save you quite a bit of time.
Once you find a possible area, you need to take into account the crime rate. Everyone wants to live in a safe neighborhood. The easiest way to find crime statistics is to call the local police department. They should be able to give you statistics. You also want to look at the sex offender registry to make sure that your area is not heavily populated with sex offenders. Lastly, look around closely at your neighborhood for signs of crime. Look for broken glass, bars on windows and doors, graffiti and people loitering. If you can, drive through the neighborhood at night. Many neighborhoods look like heaven in the daylight but quickly become disruptive when the sun goes down.
If you are moving with children, you will want to look at the local school system next. Are the schools in walking distance or will your kids have to ride a bus? How do the schools rank? You should be able to do a search online for the school district and come up with rankings. Even if you do not have kids, you should probably look into the school system. Who knows, you might one day decide to have children. Also if you are buying the home, you want a good school system. Bad schools make for lower property values and homes that are harder to sell.
If you are purchasing your home, you must also look at what the property values are doing. Are they moving up or are they stagnant or even falling. Your realtor should be able to let you know. If they aren't much help, do a search for the county's tax appraiser online. They will probably have a searchable database with previous years home values. If that fails, look to see if the neighborhood is kept up. Are yards neatly trimmed or are they overgrown and full of weeds. Are there a lot of for sale signs in the neighborhood could mean a lot of foreclosures. Do people pick up the trash or are cans, cigarette butts and bottles thrown about. If the neighborhood isn't kept up, you can probably bet that it is on a downward slide.
It might seem like a lot of work to do this much research on your new home, but it is better than choosing a bad one. If you sign a lease on a bad home, you might be stuck there for one or even two years. If you buy a home in the wrong neighborhood, you might be unable to sell it and may be stuck there longer. Do your research, however, and you will dramatically improve your odds of finding your perfect home.
For information about mortgages, check out The Difference Between a Conventional and FHA Mortgage
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