7 Tips to Scoping Out a New Neighborhood Before Buying

Planning on moving to a new neighborhood? Many times when people start the moving process, we tend to focus on making sure the property is going to meet our needs. Beyond the property lines, however, knowing your neighborhood can really help you make sure your home is going to be the best fit in the long term. Here are a few tips to find out a little more about the area before you buy:

1. Take some time to do some online research about the neighborhood.

First of all, the internet is a valuable resource!  It can provide a wealth of information about the neighborhood you are planning to move into. Typing in the neighborhood name into search engine helps paint a picture of what that neighborhood is known for. Real estate listing websites often have tools that can help you get a locals perspective on how they feel about their neighborhood. You may even be able to find message boards or community center websites that can tell you about the community services that are provided for the neighborhood.

2. Read the local newspaper.

Are you having trouble finding information online? In smaller and more rural areas, you may have better luck going to a local store and picking up the newspaper for a few weeks. Similarly, you can also take the opportunity to look at any local bulletins that you find in the area. What services locals are providing or information that they are posting on those bulletin boards can give you a bigger picture of what the neighborhood is like.

3. Meet the neighbors!

This doesn’t mean that you should walk up to a neighbor’s home and just knock on the door!  An easier, and less intrusive method, is to go to a nearby park or community center and meeting locals there. Likewise, you can just head into the local cafe, restaurant, or grocery store and talk to someone at the counter.  It’s a really great way to learn a little bit more about the area.

4. Research local businesses and attractions nearby.

Different types of businesses can either be a draw or a deterrent to a potential buyer. For example, having a local bar within walking distance could be great for an individual who enjoys the relaxing and socializing after work;  however, it may not be the best fit for a family. A dog owner may love being a few houses down from the local dog park; however, someone who is looking for a quieter neighborhood may want to keep that in mind. You can also find out what businesses are new or in the process of coming to the area, which can be an indicator of an up-and-coming neighborhood. Because of this, buyers will want to take advantage of getting into these areas early before prices rise from the popularity.

5. Find out the crime reports.

You can find apps that give you data on the crime stats for the area.  There are a few nationwide crime report maps that can help you investigate specific areas. Crime can happen anywhere, but it is good to know the frequency and types that are happening in a neighbor.  Above all, this can help you make the best decision for your future home.

6. Visit the area at different times.

What is your neighborhood like on a weekday vs. on the weekend? What about mornings, afternoons, and evenings? You can learn about traffic patterns during these times as well as the activity of your potential neighbors. Maybe there is one neighbor that plays loud music on the weekends or uses power tools late into the evening. Similarly, perhaps the road becomes bogged down with traffic during rush hour. While these things may not necessarily be a deterrent, it is good to keep in mind what to expect.

7. Work with a local real estate agent.

If you are moving from a different area or state, you may feel tempted to use the agent selling your current home to help you buy a home.  But local agents have valuable insight into the neighborhood.  When they represent the buyer, their goal is to find the place that is going to best suite your needs: both for your home and the area you are moving into.

Interested in moving in Southern Maine? Come talk to us at in Scarborough ME to find out more about the local area!

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My brother Jack and I co-own The Real Estate Store. I grew up and live in Scarborough, ME. I became a real estate broker in 2005, but Real Estate is a family business for us. We are second generation Real Estate Brokers. My experience working with apartments and with residential construction has given me insight into cost-aware construction and green construction and design.

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