Crime, Schools and Property Appearance: Factors to Keep in Mind When Buying

by Michele Lerner

DC Row Houses By tvol

When it comes to the types of neighborhoods that homebuyers desire, everyone has different taste. Some people want to live in a gated community with a swimming pool, while others want a neighborhood with a coffee shop or a café on every corner.

Most buyers, unless they are new to an area, generally know which neighborhoods they like and don’t like. But some, particularly first-timers who have never had to sell a home in a down market, don’t stop to think about future resale value when they are buying.

The classic real estate mantra — “Location, location, location” — really does hold up, especially in today’s market. So, while homebuyers should always search for a home they love and want to live in for at least three to five years, they should also keep in mind that their home is more likely to hold onto its value if it is located in a “good” neighborhood.

While plenty of characteristics matter when it comes to choosing a neighborhood, three main factors add value, whether you buy in the city, the suburbs or a rural area.

  1. Crime — There’s no question about it: Homes in crime-ridden neighborhoods are less desirable and therefore cost less. For some buyers, buying a less expensive home in a high crime area may be worth it, but it is important to remember that the home will likely not increase in value (and can, in fact decrease in value) if crime problems persist. Fair housing laws limit the amount of information real estate agents can share with their clients on crime statistics, but consumers can contact the local police station or visit CrimeReports.com to check on a specific area.
  2. Schools — Parents will often go to great lengths to move into a district with schools that have a good reputation for academics or athletics, which automatically increases the value of homes in a certain area. Homebuyers without children may not think about local schools during their search, but it will become very important when they are ready to sell their home. If you are buying a home within the District, you might want to check out both the local elementary schools and the charter schools to see how they compare with other schools in the city. Again, fair housing laws limit the amount of information on schools that real estate agents can share, but buyers can go to the website of each local school system to compare test scores and gather information.
  3. Appearance of Area Homes — Whether you are looking for a condo, a row house in the city, a town home or a suburban single-family home, make sure you check out the what the properties look like in the area. Nothing drags a home’s value down faster than sitting in the midst of uncared-for homes with peeling paint, uncut grass or a sagging porch.

Obviously, one or all of these factors become secondary if you find a fabulous home that you cannot pass up, but if you are on the fence about a property, any one of these issues could tip the scales.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/crime_schools_and_property_appearance_factors_to_keep_in_mind_when_buying/1484

1 Comment

  1. Emil said at 7:35 am on Tuesday November 10, 2009:

    I definitely agree with these points, but I do see a lot of single people in my age range (under 30) who are buying homes and don’t foresee having children for another few years and by that time will end up moving up, hopefully. So I do think that schools are becoming less important, especially because of the overall bad reputation of DC schools in most areas. It might be an important selling point, however, school rankings can change in developing neighborhoods so it is not something that can necessarily be planned out. As far as I know, only one family on my block of about 30 houses has children. I live near Dunbar High School which used to be a great school and now is just another public school.

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