One of the biggest lessons taught in real estate school is not to “steer” people into or out of particular neighborhoods. What could be a horrible neighborhood dynamic for one family may be a dream home for another. Our area offers such a diverse population and with that comes a plethora of desires and wants when house hunting. Some may find schools at the top of their list of dream home necessities, while the next family just wants to be in a rural country setting offering little to no neighbors.
As a Realtor, I am asked this question repeatedly, “Is that a good neighborhood?” My answer is always the same, “Well, I’m not sure what you mean by good. Good means different things to different people. I would encourage you to drive through the neighborhood in the evening as well as during the day to get a feel for the dynamics of the area.” The reality is how I feel about a neighborhood holds no value on my potential clients living in that home for a substantial amount of time. I know it’s easy to want your Realtor to answer the question with at least some sort of a biased opinion, but we just can’t.
Realty times offered a great article last month focused on “9 Reasons to visit a home at night before buying.” The article is chock full of helpful tips for a potential buyer to consider before placing an offer on that so-called dream home. Things such as: Is the neighborhood too active? Not active enough? Noise level? All of these things are items that can only be determined by the buyer and their family.
Another question I get asked often is, “What’s the rating on the schools for this neighborhood?” At that point, I refer buyers to Greatschools.org/va, and they can do some research on exactly what they are looking for in a school. There are schools in this area that rank fairly high at 8-9 stars, and some that are closer to 2-3 stars. Again, it really depends on what’s important to the buyer. For example, if their sons are star athletes, love playing sports and live in a school district that offer championship athletic teams, but may rank only 3 stars on the website, what’s more important then?
Open Houses are also an awesome opportunity to meet neighbors near the home you are interested in. Usually friendly neighbors love dishing out the latest scoop on the former homeowner and their perspective on the vacant home. It’s common practice for Realtors to canvas the neighborhood prior to Open House and invite as many neighbors to come through the home for sale and bring their friends/family members they would love to live near.
In summary, the potential homebuyer has to have a vested interest in all of the moving parts when it comes to determining the right home in the right neighborhood. Buying a home is usually the largest purchase a person makes, so it should be one that has been well thought out.