Location, Location, Location: Researching a Neighborhood Before You Buy

Doing your research on an area before making what could be a lifetime purchase is critical.

How do you investigate a potential neighborhood?

There are a number of factors and issues that should be considered in your evaluation. Some of them can be covered merely through by firsthand observation, others will have to be explored with the assistance of community and government organizations. While this may seem like overkill imagine spending $200,000 or $2,000,000 on a car before you know if it comes with tires and an engine. It's unfortunate that as consumers we research specifics on small electronics and automobiles more than we research community aspects that can affect a real estate purchase.

With online resources such as satellite imagery you will be able in most cases to get an aerial view of the neighborhood you want to purchase in. Unless you drive block by block, you may easily overlook community characteristics that can affect property use and value located in close proximity to your prospective home. Either visit the local police precinct or call to get current crime information. Review the U.S. Census for local demographics and community information. Spend an evening and or a weekend day exploring the neighborhood for yourself.

How far is your new neighborhood from your place of employment? How far is too far? Bottom line: check the driving time and traffic patterns, both coming and going, by driving the route you'll take. Are there any activities or facilities in the area that will make the trip more unpleasant or time consuming on specific days of the week? As an example, is there a bridge that backs up on Friday afternoons as people rush to their weekend retreats?

If you have children or anticipate having them, you'll want to check out the schools in the area. There is extensive information available online that discloses items like average test scores, local and national ratings. If your child is a gifted student, you'll want to inquire about accelerated courses. If your child needs special education opportunities, ask about them.

This may sound a bit picky, but you should visit and evaluate your local markets, shops and restaurants. Do they sell quality products? Is there a convenient place to purchase daily necessities such as milk, luncheon items, coffee, etc.? Do the local restaurants suit your taste? The answers to these questions may not factor substantially into your moving decision, but they are part of the equation and should at least be recognized and considered.

Availability of community services should not be overlooked. Is there a good hospital in the immediate vicinity? Do they have an emergency room? How about parks and a library? Visit these facilities and make sure they are adequate for your needs. You are about to make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. Don't be timid. Ask questions, make notes and weigh all the pros and cons before deciding.

Here's a look at the current real estate market in Rye:

*Properties on the Market:            

Single Family- 133

Condominiums- 7

Cooperatives- 31

Rentals- 58

*Properties Rented/Sold ( last six months):    

Singe Family- 97

Condominiums- 9

Cooperatives- 19

Rentals- 110

Data from Westchester Putnam Multiple Listing Service as of July 12.

Vanessa Jones has more than 15 years of experience in real estate. She is the Vice-President of Paddington Stone Realty of Rye, LLC. Jones began selling real estate in New York in 2006. Prior to that, she owned and operated a private real estate firm in Beverly Hills, California. For more information, you can visit her web site, www.VanessaJonesWestchester.com. Her column, Rye Real Estate Update, will appear twice a month on Rye Patch.


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