It can be a dreaded question in the Windsor house market: “Should I buy a home in an up and coming neighbourhood?” Why? Because this can mean purchasing a home is in an area that is in transition. It means there could be vacant buildings, higher crime, run down housing or maybe near busy roads or freeways. In some areas, it can be a toss of coin if the area will improve, or stay stagnant. Considering that the number one rule (and often the most ignored) in real estate is “location, location, location,” it’s a good question to ask whether any buyer should consider a home in a questionable neighbourhood.
First of all, why is location so important? As we all know, you can change a home. You can remodel it, restructure it, but you cannot move it. Once you buy a home, you are stuck with the location. Buyers who say they don’t care where a home is, but that they love the house itself, needs a few gentle reminders. You can buy the right home, yet in a lousy location. But if you plan on reselling, you may be in for a surprise. Homes in desirable areas sell more quickly and at top dollar in a good market. Homes in an undesirable neighbourhood can take much longer to sell and you automatically lower the price due to its location. That’s why we always utter our favorite mantra: location, location, location.
I always suggest that buyers hire a neighbourhood specialist when selecting a real estate agent. Go with someone who not only knows the area, but lives there as well. If you find a home that you really like, but the neighbourhood is questionable, your real estate agent can tell you immediately if you are considering a good area or one that is highly questionable. Certainly, there are areas that are in transition that have developed into respectable and affordable neighbourhoods. Some are filled with nice, unique shopping and excellent restaurants. But others, they simply went no where despite good intentions. Again, you won’t know this information unless you hire an agent that can give you the straight facts.
When buying a home, you want to live in an area that will make you happy for the next several years as today, buyers are no longer purchasing homes and turning around and selling them for quick profits, especially in undesirable locations. So not only must you like the house, you must like the area.
Ask yourself the following questions when you are considering a home in a questionable neighbourhood?
1. Are you prepared to live here for the next several years?
2. If you need to sell quickly, due to a job transfer or another emergency, are you prepared to have your home take longer to sell because of its location?
3. Homes in undesirable locations often take an immediate 15 percent price reduction than homes in better areas. Will you be prepared to lower your price if needed when it’s time to sell?
If you are still considering a home in a sketchy area, then do some research. Drive around the area at all hours of the day and night and look for the following:
1. Are neighbours having late night parties?
2. Are teens hanging around street corners at night?
3. Do you feel safe in the area at night?
4. Do dogs and other pets roam around?
Other things to look for:
1. What is the property upkeep of neighbours? Chances are, if it looks bad now, it’s not going to change when you move in. Remember, yards and upkeep of homes show pride of ownership. If too many homes show neglect in your area, this could signal problems.
2. Contact the local police department and see what the crime statistics are. You can even ask a police offer if he or she would live in this area or send their kids to school in the neighbourhood. Their answer should give you a strong hint. You will want to check to see if any questionable neighbours will be living next to you as well.
3. Check to see if your home is near any prison, landfill or power plant.
4. Walk around and talk to any store owners and get their impressions of the area. Do they see it improving or declining? Are business leaving the area or are new ones coming in? Look for graffiti, home foreclosures and vacant buildings.
These are just a few things you may want to consider if you found a home you love, but are unsure of the neighbourhood. Do lots of research, hire a neighbourhood specialist and take your time before you make an offer.