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How to Choose the Right Location For Your First Home

How To Choose the Right Location for Your First Home

If you're shopping for your first house, you likely have a wish list or a list of “must-haves” for your dream home. One of those items is probably location. After all, a house can be updated and changed to make it your own, but you can’t change its physical location, neighborhood, or community vibe. 

Below are some considerations that could help you decide if the neighborhood you're looking to purchase your new home in is ideal for you and your family's needs.

1. Property Taxes

The home’s property taxes are different from one city to another. If your home shopping radius includes multiple municipalities, you should consider adding this to your list. You could save significantly by purchasing your first home in an area with lower taxes. County tax records are available through the tax assessor’s office or property appraiser’s website.

If researching property taxes online through the county property appraiser’s public records, it’s important to look for comparable homes that recently sold. Depending on your local tax policies, a home’s value may be reassessed once it’s sold. If you use the current homeowner’s taxes of the home you’re considering, you may not get an accurate figure. Your realtor or financial institution are also available to help you accurately estimate property taxes.

2. School Districts

If you're planning on sending your kids to the local public schools, make sure to research the schools thoroughly. All things considered, a good school district can translate to a good neighborhood, increasing the home’s value, and, of course, a quality education for your children. 

Don't become too obsessed with the school your child will be zoned for if they're still in diapers. Zones frequently change, so the home’s location could be rezoned before your child even begins kindergarten. Factors that may play a role in your decision may include:

  • school’s test scores
  • cultural and racial diversity
  • school environment
  • access to extracurricular activities
  • career/vocational programs
  • advanced placement or dual enrollment
  • special education or other needs programs  

Your best bet is to take a tour of the schools so you can get a feel for them. You might want to meet up with other parents whose children are going to the schools. Or you can research online; perhaps find a Facebook group dedicated to your neighborhood schools where you can ask about and hear other families' experiences.

3.  Crime Rate

Neighborhood meetings and block watches are signs that your potential neighborhood is a tight community dedicated to preventing or fighting crime. However, you don't want to only rely on word-of-mouth information. You should also check for statistics on the local law enforcement websites and ask for information from your real estate agent.

4. Local Entertainment

Do you prefer being able to get from one place to another on foot? Are you looking to be within walking distance of restaurants and stores? Or are you okay with driving to different businesses? These are things to consider when looking into the neighborhood.

5. Distance to Work

Are you planning on walking, driving, or taking public transportation to work? Are you willing to commute to work? If so, how far? Do you have a vehicle? Figure out how far away your job is from where you're going to be living to make an informed decision.

6. HOA Fees and Rules

If you plan to purchase a home in a gated community or community with amenities, you may be subject to paying homeowner’s association fees. Along with a required payment, HOAs typically have rules. You should become familiar with the rules and restrictions before buying. Besides landscaping requirements or limited paint colors for your home, you may be restricted on projects such as putting in a pool or home additions.  

The bottom line: To decide if a neighborhood is right for you, you need to become a detective of the sort. Investigate what you want, do your due diligence, and locate a neighborhood that will fit your needs. Keep in mind that you may have to make compromises. Add any "must-haves" to the top of your list and the "wants" to the bottom.

CAMPUS Can Help!

Buying a new home is a significant financial investment. There are many details to understand and decisions to make before the purchase. 

Our Real Estate team is here to help answer all your questions and assist you throughout the home-buying process. To learn more about home loans or to receive answers to your mortgage questions, give us a call at 800-367-6440 and press 7, or book an appointment online.


Other Resources:

Video: Our Mortgage Experts Provide Tips for Buying Your First Home

3 Things to Avoid When Applying for a Mortgage

Best Way to Save for a Mortgage Down Payment

The Three Most Important Documents When Buying a Home

By CAMPUS USA at 25 Jan 2021, 09:42 AM

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