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How to Research an Area Before Buying a House

By Luke Skar | February 7, 2020

Doing your own research on an area before buying a house should be among the top 3 things a person does when considering a home purchase. Besides getting a pre-approval for a home and then actually finding a house to buy, you should also learn more about the neighborhood and the overall area will play a big role in how happy you are with the purchase.

Here are some tips on how to research an area before buying a house.

How to Research an Area Before Buying a House
How to Research an Area Before Buying a House

Should You Buy the Best House or the Worst House in the Area?

There are a handful of people within the real estate industry who have urged people to purchase the worst house in an area. The common theory was that a buyer could get a home cheaper than the average price for the neighborhood. Then, when home prices appreciated, the worst home would rise even more.

Unfortunately, lots of data have shown that this does not hold true. The worst home on a street, or in a neighborhood, is usually the worst for a good reason. When the other homes rise in value, the worst will also rise, but not above, or even faster, than its neighbors.

You are not much safer buying the best house in a neighborhood either. Instead, consider buying one that is close in price and features to the best home. Everything you need to know about homes for sale in Hardeeville, SC is stated on this website.

Understand the Demographics

We all have certain groups where we feel comfortable and safe. Hopefully, you can find such a group in your new neighborhood. Understanding the basics about your neighbors can help you determine if this will be a place for you to relax and unwind.

Demographics cover a lot of information. The average salary of nearby households, level of education as well as typical age range can give you a good feel for the kind of neighbors you have. For example, if you are a young couple with blue-collar jobs and young children, you may not feel as comfortable if your new neighborhood is filled with elderly people that are either retired or on the verge of retirement.

Conversely, if you are single and looking for other singles to hang out with, you might be bummed out to discover that the neighborhood is filled with married couples who all have kids under the age of 5.

Traveling to and From the Neighborhood

One feature that can really take the shine off a great area is the traffic conditions. Commuting to work, or school, or to the grocery store should not be a major hassle.

Part of what makes a good neighborhood is how you plan to travel. If you prefer to use public transportation like buses, railcars or subways, then you will need to pick an area that has good public transportation access.

If you are the type that prefers to drive yourself everywhere, how congested is the traffic during the morning rush and at night? Does the traffic seem to move along well, even during times of high activity, or is it a nightmare sitting through endless red lights?

Besides getting to work or school, are there any local attractions or places of interest that you feel would make your life better? Do you need access to a public library or a variety of restaurants or is a large park more to your liking? The features of the neighborhood and nearby area should fit with your life and your interests, not hinder your life.

School District

The presence of a school is important, even if you do not have any young children. In any city, the best schools will be in the midst of the best neighborhoods. The best schools attract higher quality homes, along with more robust businesses, and all the other fun things like better medical clinics, better shopping destinations and overall higher quality of life.

Do some research and find out which school has the highest SAT scores, best graduation percentage, and overall best academics. Getting in an area near the top school in your town can lead to a better appreciation of home value over time.

Local Taxes

Taxes play a role in most of our lives. It is especially important to consider the local taxes of a new area before buying a home.

The home will have property taxes that are due each year. The local courthouse can help you with the amount for the home.

The surrounding area may have a specific sales tax as well as a gas tax that is paid for the fuel in your car.

Some areas even have additional taxes to assist with education. These may be assessed with the property taxes or maybe part of the sales tax.

If you live in a state that has a state income tax, the local areas may also have an additional income tax based on the city of your residence.

Check Insurance Rates

Along with the property taxes, your home will need an insurance policy to protect against a wide range of events. Fire, storm, flood, theft and hurricane damage are just a few examples of a major event that could have a major impact on your home. It is wise to consult with 2 or 3 insurance agents to find out the potential insurance prices of the area.

Certain locations will carry a higher risk for potential catastrophes. For example, homes near the seacoast are normally subject to possible hurricanes. Some areas that are close to a lake or river may have additional flood insurance restrictions. And some places may be at risk for a forest fire, based on location to nature and the recent history.

An experienced agent that has provided policies for the home in your potential new neighborhood can discuss these items and prepare you for the future.


It is always a good idea to prepare yourself for potential problems with crime. Educating yourself about an area to see if it has less than the normal amount of crime for your state or city is a good plan to follow.

Many websites can provide you with detailed information about crime occurrence, type of crime and trends that show if crime is going down or up in particular areas.

Weather and Climate

If you are moving to a different part of your city, or simply a nearby town, then you are familiar with the local climate and will not need to do much research.

However, if you are moving to another part of the same state or even a different state, then you will want to spend some time finding out about the local climate.

Some areas have more precipitation than others, whether it is rain or snow. Other areas seem to have more sunny days. Getting this information could help you choose a great area that really enriches your life.

Summing Up How to Research an Area Before Buying a House

There are a lot of things to consider when moving to a home. You will want to make sure the actual home is a good fit for your current needs. But there are other things like commuting to work, local taxes and the variety of people in the area that can also play a big role in your ultimate happiness in the area.

Luke Skar is a 17+ year veteran to the mortgage industry. He strives to stay up to date with the latest changes and trends in mortgage lending as well as real estate. Through his blogs, websites and social media accounts, his goal is to help the community with as much factual knowledge as possible that helps all parties in real estate transactions.
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