While there are the obvious things you’re told to look for during showings and house shopping processes like noise levels, dogs or other loud pets, zoning and property lines, there are less obvious and more nuanced aspects of neighborhood dynamics that could also be worth paying attention to.
Geographical Features & Infrastructure
Certain geographical features sometimes go unnoticed upon a first inspection, but it’s important to keep those in mind at whatever stage of the homebuying process you find yourself in. Pay attention to the age and height of nearby trees that exist in and around your property line, as this could be a future liability depending on weather conditions. The areas surrounding the foundation of your direct neighbors should be something you’re aware of, too--if their property is likely to undergo damage via flooding, that is something that could easily become your problem.
You should also become cognizant of the overall maintenance of the street and the perceptions of your neighborhood’s physical appearance. Is it known to be in an area that’s increasing in value, or depreciating? Are the curbs and sidewalks in good shape? Are the stop-lights and stop signs in your area actually functional and obeyed regularly?
As much as this sounds like an application for being a part of your local neighborhood watch, it’s not. Truly, these are things that you should be concerned with if you’re trying to make the most of your investment.
There are some grown-up horror stories that no one tells you about, and a lot of them start with “we live beside a school”.
While this can be seen as advantageous to homeowners with children or homeowners who are entertaining the possibility of parenthood on the horizon, things like speed limits, flow of traffic, overflow parking, and noise levels can be unexpected pain points that are hard to see coming upon moving in.
Other community hotspots like swim clubs, recreational centers, and social venues can also take a toll on your property with similar effects. The worst part is that problems like parking overflow or traffic issues as a result of schools or similar social venues are known to not be high priority for police.
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The other hidden thorn in your neighborhood’s collective side is the potential for short-term rentals and unruly tenants to infest your neighborhood at any given time.
Being aware of the houses that frequent renters allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of any disruptive behavior and it keeps you aware enough to not be surprised when these things happen. There are laws in many places outlining limitations and specific terms for renters, and the last thing you want is to move next to a place that could be frequently disruptive.
Being watchful of such things can also be a preventative measure if you’re aware of the rental laws in your specific area. Again, while this may seem like a fruitless chore to add to your list of things to stay vigilant about, it is worthy of your attention to keep your investment and your neighborhood in check.