Research Neighborhoods before Buying a House

Many homeowners know exactly where they want to live and already have a neighborhood in mind when they meet with their real estate agent. On the other hand, there are many buyers, especially for the first-time home buyer,  who are open to house-hunting in various neighborhoods. They may be moving to a new city and have little idea about prospective neighborhoods. Choosing a community can be as significant as choosing a house. It's important to research neighborhoods before you close on a house. While your real estate agent can provide you with considerable information about prospective communities, you can also find neighborhood information online.

A Stable Or Progressive Housing Market

Not only study safe environment for children in the neighborhood but also get to know the market. Familiarize yourself with terms like median home prices and comparative market analysis (CMA). They indicate the health of the real estate market in a particular area. Before buying a home, you should find out how the market has changed over the past few years and responded to economic indicators like employment and industrial development? Do you see a steady increase in home prices? Another good parameter to look at is the change in rental prices. If rents are increasing at a good pace, you will know that a lot of people are moving into the area and it is in high demand.
Lots of ‘For Sale’ signs could raise an alarm, but is not necessarily an indication of a struggling market. Pay attention to the number of foreclosures and short sales in the neighborhood. If there are too many, you should be a bit cautious.


Many house hunters want to know about neighborhood safety before they purchase a house in any community. If you're moving to a neighborhood in Chicago, for instance, you can search the crime map to locate neighborhoods with low crime statistics. A neighborhood with high crime statistics may not be a good investment, particularly if those statistics affect home values. On the other hand, you can also use the crime map to compare neighborhoods in terms of safety. These rates can vary quite widely even among neighboring communities.


Home buyers with children are naturally concerned about the quality of education in their prospective neighborhoods. Neighborhood statistics regarding local schools and other neighborhood amenities can be researched on sites like, which provides overall neighborhood reviews. AreaVibes is another helpful neighborhood review site you can use when researching neighborhoods associated with your real estate deal.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University

Green Spaces

When searching neighborhood statistics, be sure to research the number of parks and green spaces located in the area, particularly if you enjoy walking, jogging, or bicycling. Parks can make a neighborhood more attractive. A lack of green space may not be something that concerns you, however. Even so, you'll want to search for places like parks, forest preserves, and trails that may impact your house-buying decision.

Green Spaces - Downtown Chicago near McClurg

Green Spaces - Downtown Chicago near McClurg


How do you prefer to get to work? You may find that a home you're interested in is in a neighborhood that does not have direct access to public transportation. For instance, if you want to take the Metra into the Loop but you have to drive twenty minutes to get to the nearest Metra station, it could affect your decision of whether or not to buy a home in that neighborhood. In some cases, neighborhoods that have convenient access to public transportation could feature more expensive properties than those found in outlying communities; although, that's not always the case, especially when talking about the suburbs of Chicago.

Chicago Public Transportation

Chicago Public Transportation

Services and Amenities

Finally, you'll need to research your prospective neighborhood to determine the services and amenities found there. Are shopping centers within easy distance? What about senior centers and gyms? What about community centers and high-quality medical facilities? Some home buyers insist on living in neighborhoods with a thriving park district of public pool. Others want to have access to a local dog park or performing arts center. Check out the area to determine what types of businesses and restaurants operate there.

A few more things you should look at are:

  • Are the streets wide enough and sidewalks clean? Is the neighborhood properly lit during the night?
  • Do residents look after the maintenance of their homes’ exterior features like landscaping?
  • Are you buying in an established neighborhood?
  • Are there any planned developments proposed or new housing or commercial projects coming up?

Get answers to these questions because they can have a great deal of impact on how the neighborhood will shape up in the near future. Any big development may cause traffic and noise to increase substantially. Your target neighborhood is a quiet residential area today, but may not stay that way two years down the line. You can find out these details by visiting the local zonal office. Know the neighborhood when buying a home is significantly beneficial.

Knowing all of this information can help you decide whether or not to purchase a house in a particular neighborhood. The more you understand about a community upfront, the better you'll feel about your decision. Again, tap your real estate agent for more information. You should ask lots of questions about the communities you visit before you make an offer on a home.


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