The first step in choosing a home is to narrow down your choices for neighborhoods. If you are using a real estate agent during your house hunting process, with good reason he or she obviously can not provide you common demographics such as race, income, and gender specific statistics; nor should you base your residence on these factors.
However, other demographic trends can be important to your lifestyle as well as property values. Lifestyle factors will make sure your new house will also feel like a home, and considering property values insures that you are making a good investment for the future. Factors you should keep in mind when choosing a neighborhood are location, school district, transportation options, and type of neighborhood.
Location has always been the most important factor when choosing a neighborhood. In this context, consider if you prefer an urban or rural environment. While urban locations are closer to amenities, you generally also pay more per square footage. Also, property with desirable views (mountains, water, golf courses) costs more, but also tends to retain its value better. Bad views, such as railroad tracks and unattractive buildings, lower sales prices and property values.
Finally, consider your individual needs. If you have children and want them to have potential playmates, a family-friendly subdivision would be a good match. On the other hand, as a young couple with no children in the future a hip, urban area with local nightlife might be a good fit. Or, are you looking for peace and quiet? Then, a rural area might appeal to you.
Even if you do not have children of school age or any children at all, the school district is an important factor when choosing a neighborhood. Low performing schools will lower property values of the homes within that school district. If you have children younger than school age, the school district also matters when looking to the future.
If you need to commute daily, you will need to take into consideration how you will get to work from your new neighborhood. Not all areas have public transit. Even if they do, modes of transportation, ease of access, and availability differ from area to area. If you have a car and plan to use it, keep in mind that a short distance from your workplace does not necessarily mean the commute will be quick. Familiarize yourself with traffic patterns and observe traffic congestion during rush hour and other times of day you may be commuting.
Type of Neighborhood
Some people thrive in planned developments, while others do not like restrictions. Inquire upfront if the neighborhood you are interested in has a home owners association, because you will need to abide by its rules.
Lastly, there are different housing styles. Some may prefer condos or town homes with low-maintenance, while others want the privacy of a single-family detached home.