Home Hunt Base – The Neighborhood

Home buyer wants, needs, preferences … are nearly always focused on house and lot.
The neighborhood may be even more basic.

Suggestion – Examine the neighborhood – then the property

Where does neighborhood fit in home hunt priorities? Bedrooms, baths, square feet, number of stories, lot size and, of course, price … are the criteria buyers first talk about when asked “What are you looking for?” These are fundamental, of course, but before getting too focused on specific homes, a more efficient approach might be to examine the neighborhoods.

Of course, the question:  What neighborhoods?

The basic search criteria for viable neighborhoods are:  Dwelling Type (Single-Family-Detached, String, High Rise, Manufactured), Price Range and Year Built. Some of the other basic criteria that might apply are 55+ restricted, no HOA, horse privileges, and golf community. Think about this criteria list first and foremost.

If you have a preferred area, such a commute circle around work or a school district, applying the basic criteria to the area will produce the currently “Active” matching listings … and their subdivisions/neighborhoods.

Examine the subdivisions first:.

  1. Is the area in good condition? Examine the zoomed-in-satellite version of maps for home neighborhood listings and listing front photos. Is there an excess of vehicles around? Do the public spaces seem well maintained? How about the roads? Do most listings have good curb appeal? Do the listed properties appear to be well-maintained? Drive the neighborhood for all properties you go take a look at.
  2. What is the reputation of the school district? Ultimately, you are very likely to want to sell. Even if you don’t have children, the school district’s status can affect property values. Get the scoop on the district’s rankings in academics and financial stability.
  3. What’s the crime rate? Oftentimes you can find maps provided by the city that show what crimes occur in the area and how often. The FBI may also have reports available for the area. Do a little research to make sure you’ll feel safe in your new home.
  4. What amenities are nearby? Do you want reasonable access to public transportation? How about nearby shopping, restaurants, banking, schools, etc. Make a list of the amenities you need closeby to support your lifestyle.

Most properties in metro-Phoenix are part of a HOA – homeowner association. Before you commit to a purchase, or if you focus down to a single neighborhood, as tedious as it is, review the CC&Rs …Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions … the “rules of the road” for what you cannot do with and to the property.

For example, it’s a near certainty you could NOT paint the house red … not that you would want to, but you couldn’t even if you did want to. Anything that is exterior to the structure likley has restrictions … not only paint color, but also landscaping design and components, roofing materials, fence heights, etc. … everything you can walk around and see.

If you intend to change much of that, will you likely run into HOA objections?

And if it’s an investment, find what restrictions for that exist in the CC&Rs.

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