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Welcome to the neighborhood: What to look for when choosing a place to buy a home

4808268305_42c7397d1cLocation, location, location. And location. There’s a reason that real estate saying comes up over and over again. Many times, it’s better to choose a location you love and a house you only like rather than a location you are lukewarm about and a house that you love.

Let’s face it, it’s a LOT easier to change what you don’t like about your house (teardown, remodel, etc.) than to change what you don’t like about your neighborhood. One of those things you have much more control over! So it makes sense that choosing the wrong location is going to greatly impact your quality of life.

Here are some things that might lead you to regret buying in a certain location, courtesy of MSN Real Estate:

  • The great thing about renting is that it allows you to try out all sorts of different places, and you don’t need to stay there forever. But when buying, think about your long-term needs. Is the quiet suburban life going to drive you crazy with a lack of amenities in five years? Does that happening city neighborhood turn into a college party at night? What about neighborhood schools if you’re thinking about kids? Are you OK with walking places because parking is scarce or do you want to drive? At the same time, though…
  • …Don’t forget to buy for now (while keeping an eye toward the future). Your grandmother’s 85-year-old friend may really love the neighborhood she lives in, but does it suit your needs and lifestyle? Talk to more than one person.
  • You know what they say about assumptions, right? Do your homework. This is especially important when moving to an unfamiliar area. Take what you read and hear with a grain of salt. Try to go for experience and fact. Spend some time in your prospective neighborhood. Maybe a few nights at a hotel if you can. And check out things like crime reports for solid fact.
  • Commutes can be a killer. MSN Real Estate wisely points out that no matter the neighborhood amenities, they’re pretty hard to appreciate if you’re spending four hours commuting to your job. Look for a neighborhood with a manageable commute so you don’t end up hating your neighborhood or your job — or both.

Check out the article for some more great tips, including how to figure out if you fit into the neighborhood’s culture.

Have you ever made a bad neighborhood choice when seeking out a new home?

Image courtesy of Bill Gracey on Flickr.

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