neighborhoods, like beauty, are in the eyes of the beholder. For
example, being near excellent schools is important if you have young
children. If, conversely, you're ready to retire, buying in a peaceful
area with outdoor activities may appeal to you, and being next to
a noisy junior high school is your nightmare! Personal preferences
aside, all good neighborhoods have the following characteristics:
Property values sag when homeowners no longer take pride in their
property. Avoid declining neighborhoods which display the red flags
of dispirited owners -- poorly kept houses, junk-filled yards, abandoned
cars on the street, many absentee owners renting houses, high rates
of vandalism and crime, and so on.
Amenities: Amenities are special features of a neighborhood
that make it an attractive, desirable place to live. Wide streets
bordered by stately oak trees, lush green parks, ocean views,
quiet cul-de-sacs, parking, and proximity to schools, churches,
shopping, restaurants, transportation, playgrounds, and beaches
are prime examples of amenities that add value to a neighborhood.
The more of these perks a neighborhood has, the better from the
perspective of most homebuyers.
schools: You may not care how good or bad the local schools
are if you don't have school-age children. However, unless you're
buying in a remote retirement or vacation-type community, you
had better believe that when you're ready to sell your house most
prospective buyers with kids will be deeply concerned about the
crime rates: Most folks today are concerned with crime. As
with schools, don't rely on hearsay or isolated news reports.
Communities compile crime statistics, generally by neighborhood.
Some communities are in a constant state of flux. Imagine
what would happen to property values if a junk yard were replaced
by a beautiful park. How about the reverse -- an ugly, multi-story,
concrete parking garage appears where there was once a beautiful
of ownership: A home's cost has no bearing on the amount of
pride its owners take in it. Drive through any neighborhood, posh
or modest, and you see in a flash whether the folks who live there
are proud of their homes.
Next Step: Evaluating Neighborhoods
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