How to Evalute a Neighborhood

Real Estate Agent with The Buyers' Counsel

Houses in a rowLooking for a home in Massachusetts also involves finding the right neighborhood.  

If you have done any home searching at all, you know that a property that looks good on a listing sheet may be completely otherwise when you get up close and personal.  This makes it crucial to do some neighborhood evaluation before making a commitment. 

It is not just an issue about what the actual home looks like - but what is across the street?  It may very well be staring at a building that is an eye sore.  

How close are the houses on either side? Do the neighbors have old cars, boats or RV's stored in their yards? Some of these things can reduce the value of the neighborhood, and, ultimately, the property.   Once you have moved into the neighborhood you won't have much power to change the overall image of it so know that your first impression is critical. It can tell you what you think of the area and how comfortable you will be living there.

Traditionally, neighborhoods contain houses that are similar in age, size and value.   If you are buying a large four bedroom colonial, you do not want it to be in a neighborhood of small capes and ranches.

Being the biggest house on the street can have a negative impact on how well a home will retain and appreciate its value.   It just makes sense to have homes surrounding you that are similar or better than yours since part of a home's value is judged by its location.

What to look for in a neighborhood evaluation:

  • Are there sidewalks and places for children to ride their bicycles?
  • Do the homes have curb appeal and make a good impression?
  • Are there parks nearby?
  • How does the area fair on a "Walkability" scale?
  • What is the proximity to the schools?
  • Are there markets or stores that are convenient?
  • Is there a feeling of safety and cleanliness in the area?
  • Are the neighbors friendly? 
  • If you have children, are there are other children of similar ages in the community?
  • What is the area like in the evening - is there adequate lighting?

If you have a home in mind, it's best to visit the area a few times to make sure that it is going to be suitable for you.  If people are in their yards, stop and ask them how they like the neighborhood. 

In this age of the Internet you can find a lot of information about crime rates and demographics on-line.  However, nothing replaces a conversation with someone who actually lives in the neighborhood for getting the straight story.


Copyright 2010 "How to Evaluate a Neighborhood"

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Claudette Millette, Broker, Owner, The Buyers' Counsel - a Buyer Broker Since 1992

If you have questions about buying a home in Massachusetts please give me a call at 

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