Most individuals in the United States have the lion's share of their entire net worth wrapped up in the home that they purchase. Years of savings have gone into the purchase, and mortgages can be as long as 12 or 30 years. When it comes to checking out the home before purchasing, you might think that home inspections and noting all the pros and cons of the floor plan would be sufficient. As it turns out, other factors like schools, parks and other amenities in the area can matter a lot as well. 

Talk to the Neighbors 

Take a stroll around the neighborhood before you commit to purchase your new home. Ask people you find outside doing yard work whether they've had any problems with noise on the weekends and how loud traffic gets on the weekdays. Another thing to ask about is crime. There are online resources to enable you to track crime in an area that you might be interested in living in one day, but asking the neighbors about any break-in attempts or petty theft can clue you into the safety of the area. Some of these attempts go unreported to police departments. You might also want to kindly knock on a few doors, introduce yourself, and ask your future neighbors whether anyone else on the block is thinking about selling soon. That could affect home prices or offer you a better buying opportunity. Ask people in the area about whether they know of anyone who is considering a big remodel in the future as that could affect home prices too or clue you into the difficulty in attaining permits for home improvements you're thinking about making after moving in. 

Check Out Google Maps 

In some respects, Google can be a time capsule that allows you a portal into what the area used to be like. For instance, you might find that some businesses depicted on Google Maps have since shuttered or that local apartments once had bars on ground-level floors. Pay particular attention to any parking issues and local amenities (schools, parks, golf courses, restaurants, etc.) when you look at your future address on Google Maps. 

Visit During Different Times 

This point was alluded to above, but you want to see what your future home will be like on both weekends and weekdays, as the amount of noise can be significantly different. A home near a bunch of bars or in a neighborhood where people vacation on the weekends will have a completely different complexion on the weekdays than on the weekends. There might be a lot of commotion when kids prepare for school in the early morning on the weekdays, for instance. Moreover, the community might be tranquil on weekend mornings, so the more experiences you can rack up with the neighborhood on different days and various times of weekends and weekdays, the better. 

Overall, nothing beats walking around the neighborhood yourself, but online tools can also help future home buyers. 



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