On The Today Show this morning, real estate expert, Barbara Corcoran, offered some home buying tips worth repeating on our blog. If you’re in the market for an investment corporate rental property, you’ll want to follow many of her suggested strategies when choosing a house to buy and what neighborhood to buy in.
Her tips for doing a thorough neighborhood check include:
Don’t fall in love with the house. Make sure you check the neighborhood first and make sure it’s where you want to be.
Don’t just trust the broker. Yes, your broker can provide crime stats on your potential neighborhood, but nothing beats walking the neighborhood yourself and doing your own sleuthing.
Check local hangouts. The guy running that local coffee shop knows the neighborhood best. Ask him for his thoughts. Why not?
Check out the neighborhood during different times of day. Visit the home during rush hour, weekends, mid-day, Friday nights, etc. You’ll uncover things you need to know about it when you vary your visit times.
Note if there are too many “For Sale” signs. If there are more than three “For Sale” signs in a three block radius, it might be a red flag that the neighborhood is still distressed. (CHBO Note: However, during peak buying/selling season, we think a red flag should be raised if there are more than five For Sale signs in a three block radius).
Analyze specific location. Avoid homes that are near bus or trash pick-up routes or next to an empty lot. You can look at Google Maps and look at streets from a bird’s eye view to get a feel for the neighborhood’s set up.
Talk to neighbors. Neighbors are usually willing to talk and tell you what they think about the neighborhood. Don’t be shy – spark a conversation and get to know those that will be living next door and across the street from you.
Visit local school during drop off or pick up. You’ll see how kids and parents interact with one another – it’s a great way to size up the neighborhood.
Check crime rates. Check sex offender lists and police listings. Information is readily available – do your due diligence!
Visit Town Clerk offices. The clerk knows zoning changes on the horizon and if anew cell tower is being put in next door to you. This can affect your property values so watch what the Town Clerk is doing carefully!
Look at cars in driveways. Look to see how many inexpensive new cars are parked in nearby driveways. Corcoran says this isn’t an “exact science” but it can show you if young people are moving into that neighborhood. Young people go where the jobs are – so young families moving in may indicate a neighborhood on the rise!
Check foreclosure rates. Go on Foreclosure.com and check rates in your neighborhood. If foreclosures are on the rise, give some pause to the neighborhood.
Check tax assessments. Every town assesses differently and you want to know how your town operates. Some access your home when you close – which will give you a different rate than the current owner. Some won’t access until you make a capital improvement. You want to know because this will impact your bottom line long term.
Understand price per foot. Ask your Realtor to check the price per foot for that neighborhood and make sure your price matches everyone else’s price per foot.
Good luck with buying the RIGHT new investment property for you. Hope these tips help!