From an actual email:
We are new in the area and we don’t know which area is good. Our budget is 200K to 250K. Hope you can help us.
This question is a close kin of the question from a few days ago, “Where are the good schools?”
We probably get the “good neighborhood” question more often than just about any other. But like the “good schools” question, we can’t really answer it…
the illegal funneling of home buyers to a particular area based on the desire to keep the makeup of that neighborhood the same or intentionally change it.
In addition to the potential Fair Housing Act violations that may occur with an agent telling someone what is the “best area”, again we are faced with this — what is the definition of “best”?
“Best” means different things to different people. People tend to look at several things when deciding where to live. In addition to things like home prices, styles and amenities, most home buyers want to know many other things about their potential neighborhoods such as (in no particular order):
- Crime Rates
- Tax Rates
- Proximity of shopping, restaurants, houses of worship, hospitals, and service related businesses.
- Access to freeways, airports and mass transportation.
- Recreational activities such as parks, pools, running trails, gyms.
Fortunately, there is a great deal of information on the above (and more) on the Internet. We’ve previously discussed resources and methods for investigating schools. Here are some sources for some of the other items that concern most buyers.
Crime Rates: The single best resource for investigating crime rates in an area is the local police department. If you call the NON-EMERGENCY number of a local police department, they should be quite willing to direct you to the proper authority on local crime rates. The Internet is also a wealth of information. We’ve assembled several local sources at our Phoenix Crime Statistics page on ThompsonsRealty.net. If you are not in the Phoenix area, try the FBI Uniform Crime Reports site or just Google, “City Crime Statistics” or “City crime statistics by zip code”.
Tax Rates: Google “City property tax rate” or “City property taxes”. Likely the county tax assessor’s office website is also a very good source.
Proximity of Services: Some of the mapping sites may be the best way to get a “birds eye view” (or better!) of a neighborhood and surrounding areas. Google Maps, Google Earth, and MSN Maps Live are some of the “big players” with some pretty amazing technology. Some real estate specific sites such as Zillow and Trulia offer not only very good mapping capability that can let you virtually drive around a neighborhood from the comfort of your home, but they are also good sources for other real estate related data such as taxes and sales trends.
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to some specific neighborhoods, there is absolutely no substitute for walking or driving the neighborhood. We encourage buyers to visit likely neighborhoods at different times of the day, as well as weekdays and weekends. Some neighborhoods change significantly from days to evenings and weekdays to weekends. When you get down to choosing between a few houses, consider talking directly to some of your potential neighbors, the home owners association (HOA) management, and HOA directors before making your final decision.
Your real estate agent should be able to help you with Neighborhood Property Values and additional resources to assist you in making this important decision. The Internet is a powerful assistant in this process, but you shouldn’t rely on it completely.
Happy house hunting!
[tags]Phoenix real estate, good neighborhood, real estate and the internet[/tags]