3 Things to Research Before Buying a Home

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on June 8, 2021

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Before you buy in a new neighborhood, be sure to do some digging.

If you're looking to buy a home, there are certain items you must check off your list first. You'll need to make sure you can afford the home in question and that purchasing it won't bust your budget in a serious way. You'll also need to make sure that you're a solid mortgage candidate (unless you happen to be sitting on a whopping pile of cash that allows you to buy a home outright).

In addition to these crucial moves, you'll need to do some research beforehand, especially if you're looking to buy in a new city or a neighborhood you haven't lived in before. Here are some key items to look into.

1. Local traffic

You might think you're buying a nice home in a random town. In reality, you may end up sentencing yourself to a long commute, whether it's getting to and from work, buying groceries, or shuttling your kids to school.

Some towns are more naturally congested than others, but if traffic patterns are such that the neighborhood you're looking to buy in is perpetually clogged, you may want to look elsewhere. Getting stuck in traffic day in and day out could seriously impact your quality of life. And, it could cost you more than you'd like to spend on fuel.

2. The school district

Researching a home's school district is an essential thing to do whether you have children or not. The more highly rated the local school district is, the more likely your home will be to appreciate in value over time -- and the easier it'll be to find a buyer should you decide it's time to move on.

Of course, if you do have kids of your own, it's especially important to research the school district, but don't just look at ratings. You may also want to see how the schools are broken down by attendance. Some districts, for example, have a separate school for lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school. That's a lot of different buildings to toggle between, and if you have multiple children, you may find that the setup itself is a hassle, even if the district is highly ranked.

To help you out, look into using one of the best real estate and home buying apps. They can make it a lot easier to search neighborhoods based on a number of factors, including schools.

3. Amenities

A nice set of local amenities won't just make your neighborhood more pleasant to live in. It will also help your home increase in value over time.

Before you buy a home, see what local attractions you'll have access to if you move forward with your home purchase. Are there nearby parks? Is there a nice selection of restaurants and cafes? And what municipal services does the town or city provide? Are you entitled to free garbage pickup? A sewer service? There are many expenses of home ownership to deal with. So these are important things to dig into before making your decision.

Purchasing a home is a big undertaking, and one that should involve a nice amount of research. Keep these key points on your radar in the course of your home search, and prepare to spend some time doing your legwork so you can feel more comfortable with your home buying decision.

And for more help researching homes, check out the following guides:

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