How’s the Neighborhood?
This is a common question for many homebuyers, but it’s a loaded question that Realtors should be cautious in answering due to the Fair Housing Act. Many details are off-limits in order to protect equal opportunity and safeguard against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. It is illegal for Realtors to steer clients toward or away from particular neighborhoods based on any of these protected classes. Questions that you may have about schools or crime statistics are also very subjective. Perception varies depending on who you ask. Communities have many defining qualities and what is important to one person may be different than someone else. While we can’t (and don’t want to) decide which neighborhood is best for you, we are happy to provide you with tools and resources to find the one that best meets your needs.
When shopping for a new house, it’s easy to get swept away by a gorgeous house that checks off so many boxes on your wish list, but be sure to look beyond the house itself. We recommend that our homebuyer clients determine what they desire in a neighborhood and then evaluate the neighborhood surrounding their prospective new home if moving to a new area.
Determine what is most important to you
- What are your hobbies?
- Do you like to be near water?
- If you have pets, are there sidewalks and parks nearby?
- How far are you willing to commute?
- How important is walkability?
- If you enjoy cooking, do you like the grocery choices nearby?
- Do you prefer living on a cul-de-sac or closer to a main highway for convenience?
- Do you want to live in a Homeowners Association?
- How far is the neighborhood from your friends and family?
- How far is the nearest hospital and fire department?
Evaluate the neighborhood
Often times, showings take place during the daylight hours, during which time it may be difficult to determine the traffic flow during rush hour. We suggest that our clients drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night, both during the week and on the weekends. Pay attention to neighborhood features, such as sidewalks and street lights, especially if walkability is important. Also, determine how convenient grocery shopping, dry cleaner stops, and other errands would be. Where are the nearest parks, greenways and other recreational areas in relation to the house you’re considering? Is there reliable public transportation nearby? For example, going east from downtown Nashville, residents have the convenience of riding the Music City Star commuter train, which has stations in Donelson, Hermitage, Mt. Juliet and Lebanon.
Talking to neighbors can be extremely helpful. Introduce yourself as a potential new neighbor and see what the other residents have to say about the area. You may get some good recommendations and maybe even start a new friendship too.
Most homebuyers know to check school zoning, crime maps, etc., but dig a little deeper to make sure your dream home is located in a neighborhood that best suits your family.
Use technology to your advantage
Unlike several years ago, homebuyers now have every type of tool and resource needed to learn the ins and outs of any neighborhood without ever stepping foot in it. Here are a few to get you started.
- CrimeMapping iOS app
- Not every area reports statistics to this (or any) app. Check with the local police department if you don’t find the information you’re looking for.
- FEMA Flood Map
- Google Maps Street View
- Local Facebook Groups:
- School Ratings & Reviews
- School Zone Finders:
- TBI Sex Offender Locator
- U.S. Census Bureau Fact Finder
Determining which area(s) you want to focus your search will save you a ton of time when you begin touring homes for sale and will help to avoid any surprises that may cause you to feel buyer’s remorse.
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