What many homebuyers tend to forget is that they aren’t just buying a house – they are also buying into a neighborhood. Basically, it boils down to this: that perfect-seeming house won’t be your dream home if the neighborhood isn’t a good fit. In fact, some people in the industry go so far as to say that choosing the right neighborhood is more important than picking the right house. But how can you know if the neighborhood is right for you and your family? Read on to find out what you should look for in your new neighborhood when buying a house inLos Angeles.
Overview of What to Look for in Your New Neighborhood in Los Angeles
As we just mentioned, focusing on the house alone is often a mistake. You should also cast a critical eye on the neighborhood.
Certainly, there should be a sense of community, a feeling that you belong there. But some of the other important aspects of the neighborhood you need to consider include:
- “Aesthetics. An attractive neighborhood indicates the residents care about it.”
- “Affordability. Sure, you want a cheap house, but you also want to be able to afford the cost of living in the neighborhood.”
- “Safe environment. Nobody wants a mugger or sex offender as a neighbor.”
- “Easy access to goods and services. Can you make a quick run to the bank or grocery store, or will every day be a headache behind the wheel due to traffic congestion or construction?”
- “Walking distance to goods and services. Even better, ditch the car. If exercise and a sense of community are important to you, find a house near the establishments you’ll be frequenting.”
Specific Things to Look for in Your New Neighborhood in Los Angeles
Now, let’s take a look at these things to look for in your new neighborhood when buying a house in Los Angeles (as well as others)in a little more depth.
As long as people don’t live in a neighborhood that is nothing more than a bedroom community, they typically want a neighborhood where residents interact and pull together. There needs to be a palpable sense of community.
According to industry pros, here’s what you can do to find out whether the neighborhood is a close-knit community: “One simple approach is to go knocking on doors. Don’t be afraid to talk to people who live there . . . Go to the local grocery or the local coffee shop or the local parks. See whether the [neighborhood] organizes community events, like a farmer’s market, Labor Day parade or neighborhood block parties.”
It’s also a good idea to talk to your local real estate agent. With her finger on the pulse of local markets, your agent can give you a good sense of what the neighborhood is like. To find out more, just call 562-881-9811.
Good schools are important for home buyers even if they don’t have children. The quality of the local schools can greatly impact your home’s resale value.
You can check the quality and reputation of schools with online resources like GreatSchools.org although they do have their limitations. A better bet is to visit the local schools, as well as checking “everything from graduation and college admission rates to AP enrollment and SAT scores.”
And, again, talk to your local agent. She will likely have a good handle on what you can expect from local schools.
TRENDS IN HOME PRICES
Everyone wants the home they purchase to be a good investment, to increase in value over time. And the quality of the neighborhood has a lot to do with that. So another of the important things to look for when buying a house in Los Angeles is whether home prices are rising.
Home prices have generally been going up for some time across the although the rate has slowed some. But the rate of increase is far slower in some areas than in others. What you should look for, then, is a neighborhood where “where home values are increasing at a faster rate than the national average.”
Your agent will be able to provide this information. Call 562-881-9811 to find out.
OWNER-OCCUPIED VS. RENTALS
Another thing to look for in your new neighborhood in Los Angeles is the ratio of owner-occupied homes to rentals. More homeowners than renters is a good sign.
Ideally, you want to find a neighborhood where the number of owner-occupied homes exceeds the national average ratio, which is 2 to 1. The simple reason a ratio higher in homeowners than renters is better is that owners typically take more pride in their homes, and they take better care of them. This will impact your home’s value and resale prospects.
It almost goes without saying that you should also consider the neighborhood’s safety. A neighborhood with low crime rates will be a better neighborhood.
Your agent won’t be able to advise you about neighborhood safety owing to the Federal Fair Housing laws, but you can do the following:
- Check websites like SafeWise.com and NeighborhoodScout.com
- Talk to residents of the neighborhood
- Speak to the local police
For many people today, especially those who live in larger urban areas, walkability is an important consideration in choosing a neighborhood. If you’re one of those people, then having stores, dining, and entertainment within easy walking distance is one of the things to look for.
You can check this at WalkScore.com, which “rates walkability based on proximity to restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, schools, and parks.” Even better, visit the neighborhood and just walk to these amenities to see how it suits you.
Talk to Your Agent
Maybe your best asset for evaluating and judging a neighborhood is your local real estate agent. Your agent will know exactly what to look for in your new neighborhood when buying a house in Los Angeles. Let our experienced agents assist you in finding just the right house and the right neighborhood. Send us a message or give us a call today at 562-881-9811!