When shopping for a home, the location of a property is one of the key factors that can determine the value and desirability of a property. Not only should you be paying attention to the physical location of the property (is it located on a cul-de-sac or on a busy thoroughfare?), but also the entire neighborhood it’s located in. Buyers are always in search of a good neighborhood where they will feel at home- safe, secure, and surrounded by good neighbors and the necessary amenities to facilitate their desired lifestyle.

There are a few common criteria that are often used to identify a “good neighborhood”, such as the quality of the schools, the physical appearance and infrastructure of a neighborhood and community, recent sales and property values in the area, and even crime statistics. However, these positive characteristics do mean higher land values. For shoppers on a tight budget, you might have to look elsewhere. The good news? There’s no shortages of neighborhoods where those traditionally desirable characteristics are becoming more common- meaning that finding a neighborhood on the upswing can be pretty easy!

Purchasing a home is a large financial commitment, so you won’t want to feel like you’re making a long-term gamble. That’s why it’s so important to look for these signs, to help determine if a neighborhood is truly improving:

  • Pride of Ownership: Taking a walk through a neighborhood can be an eye-opening experience, giving crucial insight into the potential worth of the neighborhood: is this somewhere you’d like to call home? Regardless of if you’re looking at city apartments, spread-out suburbs, or even more rural wooded area, a neighborhood should feel clean and welcoming. While it might be a stretch to expect your next-door neighbor to greet you like Mr. Rogers, it can be easy to determine the overall “feel” by interacting with those in the community. Are they friendly and outgoing, or do they tend to mind their own business? Take a look at their homes: are they well maintained? Look for the signs of responsible homeowners. In the same way you want to carefully inspect a home you’re considering purchasing, extend the same treatment to other homes in the neighborhood.
  • Real Estate Sales Activity: Improving neighborhoods will show signs of increasing demand, most notably properties that are selling quickly, and increasing home values. If you notice these two signs while investigating a neighborhood, it’s a good sign that desirability is increasing- not only do more people want to live in that area, but it could also mean that external forces will be bringing additional improvements as well.
  • Infrastructure and City Planning: While homeowners are responsible for keeping their lawns mowed and clear of debris, the city or county government are responsible for the condition of sidewalks, roads, and bridges. Keep an eye on the local news for pending projects coming down the pipeline- new schools, community centers, and even roadways. When a city invests in a neighborhood, it often signals increasing property values in the future.
  • Business Investment: When businesses are looking to expand their operations into a new market, they seek out existing untapped markets, and improving markets. They want to buy in while prices are still affordable but won’t invest without having a good indication that the necessary clientele are going to be present to support this new location. While you might want to keep an eye out for your favorite restaurant (for personal reasons), pay attention to all businesses which may be investing in your area. Small businesses, where the owners are putting their own money on the line, are a good metric for the commercial health of an area. Large businesses often come with entire management teams to help identify growing markets. Upscale retailers, attractions like fine dining and clubs, and even luxury car dealerships can be clear indicators that an area isn’t just on the upswing- it’s about to boom!

Finding the right neighborhood is all about finding somewhere that meets your needs while still being affordable. While there’s an appeal to moving into the nicest neighborhood in town, not everyone can fit it into their budget… and honestly, with all the great new developments, there’s never been a better time to find a new and improving area to call home! A watchful eye can help you find a great spot to settle before the prices skyrocket. Good luck and happy hunting!