Learning About Real Estate Listings and Agent Services

Looking for an Ideal Neighborhood? Ask These 3 Questions

by Elaine Ryan

One resource that many people overlook when buying a home is the value of talking to neighbors. While it can take a little bit of courage to walk up to a stranger's house and ring the doorbell, doing so can be valuable. If you're eyeing a house to buy and you're getting close to submitting an offer, you should consider visiting the neighborhood with your real estate agent and contacting a few nearby neighbors. Some will be more talkative than others, but if you briefly explain who you are and that you're planning to buy in the area, you'll generally find that people are friendly. Here are some useful questions to ask.

What's the Neighborhood Like?

Asking a broad, open-ended question about the neighborhood can be very revealing. Whereas a seller and his or her agent will be keen on giving you a positive impression of the neighborhood, consulting people who live in it and don't have an agenda to sell can give you the valuable information that you need to proceed one way or another. For example, a resident may tell you that the neighborhood is quiet or loud, that that traffic quickly get congested, or that there's talk of building retail developments nearby in the near future.

Who Lives Here?

For many people who are buying a home, it's important that they fit in to some degree with other homeowners in the neighborhood. Asking residents who live in the neighborhood can give you more information that you might glean by simply driving through the area a few times. Perhaps you want to hear that most of the homeowners are retired—this might be ideal if you're anxious about security, as you'll know that the presence of residents at home during the day can have people watching your home while you're at work. Or, maybe you're planning to have a child in the next year or two and you want to hear that the neighborhood is mostly made up of young families.

What Are the Issues?

Asking about any negative things that are present in the neighborhood should give you an idea about whether you want to move in. Every neighborhood can have some drawbacks, but make sure that you ask enough residents so that you get an honest assessment, rather than a grumpy person's perspective only. For example, you might hear that a particular area is noisy during commuting times because motorists frequently take a shortcut down the street. Or, you might hear that there are issues with loitering.

If you're ready to buy a house, use these questions to determine whether or not you're ready to proceed. Contact real estate agents for further assistance.