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Before signing on the dotted line you probably want to know a little bit about a neighborhood before moving in… Or at least, you should. Buying a house isn’t everything. You’re also buying the neighborhood. Think of it as getting married; you’re not just marrying your spouse, but a lot of times, the entire family as well. This is a lot like buying a house. The house doesn’t operate in a vacuum and unless you’re buying on several acres, you’re probably going to be part of a neighborhood or subdivision. So here’s how to pick the best neighborhood.

#1. Ask your real estate agent.

While we are bound by equal housing laws, and we can’t steer you towards one neighborhood or the other but we can offer information as long as it does not break any housing rules or we can offer resources for you to check out the property and the neighborhood yourself. We can supply links to crime and safety websites, family watchdog sites for sex offenders, and offer information on commute routes, the time it takes to get to certain places during different times of the day, and benefits that the neighborhood may provide such as a community center, swimming pool, or playground. We can also offer tips and suggestions if we have firsthand knowledge of the neighborhood, for instance, if we live there ourselves. Related: Why you need a buyer’s agent

#2. Talk to the neighbors.

This is probably one of the best ways to get to know a neighborhood. And, don’t just talk to one neighbor. You’ll get lots of different responses and you never know when you’ll get someone that just moved in and may not have a good understanding of the neighborhood or that cranky neighbor that’s been there for years the complaints about everyone. Talk to a few neighbors and see how long they’ve lived there and if they like the neighborhood or not.

#3. Consider real estate activity.

Are there a lot of homes for sale? This could be a big red flag that the neighborhood is declining. Ask around to find out if there are new subdivisions going in, major industries popping up next door that could severely impact the housing market, or if home prices have been declining over the last few months.

Related: 6 Steps to Purchasing a Home Remotely

#4. Find the closest businesses and attractions.

Are you over two hours away from the nearest major attraction? Maybe you’re just down the street from a Starbucks or grocery store? All of these factors add to the appeal and attractiveness of a neighborhood. Some people want to live way out in the boonies while others want to be in the middle of the suburban area. There are a lot of benefits to both so it’s important to know what you want to be close to and if this neighborhood provides that.

#5. Visit the neighborhood at different times of the day.

If you visit a neighborhood in the middle of the day, chances are it will be quiet, kids might be playing in the street if it’s summer, and there won’t be a lot of cars as many people are at work. But visited around 5 PM or even later around 9 PM, and you’ll really get a sense of who lives there, how many cars are parked in the neighborhood, and how busy rush hour can be. This may or may not affect your decision.

#6. Check out online resources.

Niche.com, NeighborhoodScout, and AreaVibes.com are all great neighborhood resources the talk about crime, entertainment, schools, and cost-of-living. You can also get reviews from locals that really tell you how it is to live in the neighborhood.

I’d love to help you find the right neighborhood in Chandler, Gilbert, or surrounding areas. I specialize in this area because I live here and I love it. Let me help you find the right neighborhood for your needs and your budget.

More: Top 5 Neighborhoods in Chandler

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