If you’re starting to look for a new home, you probably will be scoping out new neighborhoods that may be unfamiliar to you. One of the best home search tips we can give you is to keep your eyes open for red flags.
Purchasing a lovely home in an undesirable neighborhood could be a tremendous mistake—especially when the day comes to resell in the future.
Not sure what to look for? We’ve assembled a list of neighborhood red flags to be aware of as you engage in your home search.
Neighborhood Red Flags During Your Home Search
Here are some critical items to take a hard look at during your home search.
#1 – Rundown homes throughout the neighborhood
When a tight budget is a concern for home buyers, there’s a temptation to buy a fantastic, big house in a less costly area. That’s not to imply that this is strictly a money issue. There are homes in modest neighborhoods that were once glorious but got left behind to fall into decline. And, there are low-income homes that are kept with immaculate attention.
However, when you see homes that are rundown throughout the community, it could be a sign that the residents have given up and the neighborhood is in rapid decline.
Example of some things you might witness include:
- Broken or cracked windows
- Vacant homes
- Gutters filled with vines or leaves
- Unkempt yards
- Sagging rooflines
The temptation to buy a wonderful home in a declining neighborhood is not always a wise choice; the values are on the decline. Instead, continue to look for other opportunities.
#2 – The school population is declining
Another red flag which may indicate a declining neighborhood is a decreasing school population. The most desirable school districts attract new families at a brisk pace. And, the opposite could be true when a school is losing students at a steady clip.
School enrollment statistics are available on the school district’s website or by contacting them by phone—look at trends over the past five years.
#3 – Many homes are for sale or rent
If you visit a community and notice that there’s an abundance of “for sale” or “for rent” signs dotting the front lawns, it’s indicative that there’s been a mass exodus from the area.
The reasons that trigger this can be widely varied. Perhaps the reason is relatively innocuous, such as the or area was once a community of older people who have retired to a sunnier climate. Or, maybe the city is overrun with burglaries an escalation in crime rate.
Check in with the local police department and inquire about the number of reports to discern the safety of the neighborhood.
#4 – There’s a funky smell permeating the area
If you step out of your vehicle to tour a home and are immediately hit by a funky, industrial odor, you could be close to an industrial area. These aromas permeating the area may stem from chemical processes. Who knows what you’re breathing?
Worse yet, you have no control over this.
#5 – Foreclosure and eviction notices posted
Another red flag—and this is a giant one—is seeing either foreclosure or eviction notices posted to the front door of several homes on the block.
These legal notices mean that whoever is receiving them has not paid their debt. While a short cashflow can happen to almost anyone from time to time, seeing several postings speaks to the economic health of the entire neighborhood.
#6 – People remaining indoors
Drive through nearly any neighborhood on a sunny afternoon, and you’ll find people outdoors washing their cars, mowing the grass, and weeding the flowerbeds.
So, what if you pull through an area and notice that homes appear to be occupied, but no people are enjoying a sunny day outside? No people on the front porch swing, no families grilling on the barbecue, and no children riding their bikes.
This desolate appearance can signal that residents don’t feel safe spending time in their yards or allowing their children outdoors to play.
Keep Your Eyes Open as You Home Search
As you embark on your home search, keep your eyes wide open. This attention to your surroundings is of the utmost importance when you are making as significant an investment as a home. It’s better to continue the home search until you find the best match rather than buying a home in an unsafe or financially unstable area.
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