Amerifirst blog

Explore our blog for insights on buying, financing, remodeling, and taking care of your home.

Back to all posts

Six Tips on Choosing the Right Neighborhood for Your New Home

shutterstock_751516327.jpg
 

If you're in the market for a new home, you'll also be looking at the neighborhood. In fact, the character and amenities of the neighborhood may be as important to the property value as the house itself.  Whether you're looking for a neighborhood with large houses and expansive lawns, or a modern condo in a thriving downtown area, there are characteristics that make up a great living area. Wondering what to look for? We suggest the following:

 

 

1. People are out on the streets:

A good sign of a neighborhood’s vitality and safety is seeing people on the sidewalks, children riding bikes and youngsters walking to school. Being able to leave home without your car keys and walking or bike riding to the market, coffee shop or restaurant is a wellness booster and contributes to a sense of community.  If walking is important to you, look up an address or zip code on the Walk Score website to get a “walkability” rating.

 

 

2. School test scores are strong:

Ask any parent with school-age children and he or she will tell you that the quality of the school system is one of their top priorities when choosing a neighborhood. Living in an area with a much sought-after school system raises your property value, so be sure to check your school district scores and district boundaries. Read written reviews, test scores and other school data at greatschools.org.

shutterstock_2016216.jpg

 

3. Ownership is high:

Neighborhoods with high homeownership rates are more stable. In addition, longtime residents typically look out for one another, which encourages safety and low crime rates. You can find pertinent information such as home values, environmental hazards and crime ratings at homefacts.com.

 

4. Convenience:

Homes located close to major employers and in city centers are usually in high demand. From commuting to work to running out for a gallon of milk, the proximity of the places where you travel most can make a significant difference to your quality of life. When considering a new neighborhood, ask yourself how much time you’re willing to spend behind the wheel. Need some help? Calculate your commuting time at smartasset.com.

 

5. You like it:

Get a feel for the neighborhood by attending open houses, walking around and spending time in restaurants and coffee shops. It’s also important to visit the neighborhood at night and on weekends to get the complete picture. Some experts recommend visiting at least three different times of the day to get a better idea of the smells (sewage problems, stagnant lake), sights and sounds of your proposed location. For example, if you visit at lunch, it will most likely be relatively quiet since children will be at school. Visit again on Saturday afternoon to get a more accurate reading of an area’s noise and activity level. Looking for one of the best places to live in the US? Visit areavibes.com.

 

6. Crime:

Block watches and neighborhood meetings are signs of a neighborhood committed to fighting crime and of a tight community. But don’t rely on anecdotal information - get the hard facts about any problems in the neighborhood by checking municipal police department websites for statistics and asking your real estate agent for information. Read up on crime and other reports at NeighborhoodScout.com.

 

Are you looking for a new home and neighborhood? We can help you get mortgage ready. Send us a message today!

CONTACT US

Janet Veach
Janet Veach
Janet Veach is the Communications Specialist for Amerifirst Home Mortgage. As the former Communications Director with the Alzheimer’s Association in Central Illinois, she believes that building strong relationships leads to dynamic partnerships that can dramatically improve our neighborhoods and communities. The mother of three sons, she has heard many a good story, and specializes in creating content that educates, communicates our core values and promotes genuine relationships with our customers.

Related Posts

Home Maintenance Tips for Winter

Sure, spring cleaning sounds great.  However, in reality, tackling a long home maintenance checklist all at once can be overwhelming. Rather than letting it all add up, what if you tackled home maintenance a little each season? Here are some ideas for taking care of your home during the winter months.

Tips for Paying Off Your Mortgage Faster

There are several ways to pay off your mortgage faster and save on interest payments. Even better, not all methods require spending a lot of extra money! Take a look at the list below: Make extra principal payments.  You can pay extra money toward your mortgage balance each month or make a larger, lump sum payment on your principal each year. This reduces the amount due on the mortgage as well as reducing the amount of interest that will accrue. Extra money can also be added to the principal payment from bonuses, gifts, savings and extra earnings. Just remember to make a note on the check for the money to go towards the principal! Make one extra mortgage payment per year. One of the easiest ways to make an extra payment each year is to pay half your mortgage payment every other week instead of paying the full amount once a month, otherwise known as “bi-weekly payments.” With these payments, an extra payment is made so that the total number of payments that one makes adds up to 13 payments in a year rather than the 12 that would have been made with monthly payments. This adds up to significant interest savings over the duration of a mortgage. You also want to make sure that if your lender accepts this kind of payment they will not charge you a prepayment penalty. Also verify that the bi-weekly payments are being applied to the principal amount and not the interest. Otherwise, you won't notice the savings. Reduce your balance with a lump-sum payment. Have you inherited money, earned a bonus or commission, or sold a large item? You could apply that amount to your mortgage’s principal balance. Another option is any time you have a month where you have that third paycheck, apply that to the principal on your mortgage. This will happen twice a year, adding an extra principal payment to your mortgage loan. While paying down a large debt is nice, it's not a requirement. Consider making sure you have enough to work toward other financial goals, such as an emergency fund, before paying more on your mortgage. However, there are many options you can explore that best fit your budget. You can learn more about buying your first home with our Get Mortgage Ready Guide below.

Mortgage Interest Rates Up - Is It Still a Good Time to Buy?

You've seen the headlines and heard the chatter - mortgage interest rates have gone up. How long will this last? Will this be a return to renting for people who were thinking of buying a home? Or is it just a small adjustment in the overall scheme of things? 

icon_footer_phone-01

Call us

800.466.5626

icon_footer_laptop-01

Get started

Apply online today