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How to research a neighbourhood before you buy

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When buying a new house, the location will always be very important in the decision making process

Our tips for researching a neighbourhood to buy your first home

Buying your first home is an exciting feeling but before you sign on the dotted line there is a lot to consider. You need to think about the kind of home you want, the type and size of mortgage that is appropriate and, of course, where you want to live!   

To make the process of selecting a suburb easier, here are some of the factors to think about:

Assess price growth

Buying a property is a major investment - the biggest of most people's lives. For this reason, it's important to consider if homes in the area are likely to increase in value. Ask yourself if neighbouring suburbs are highly sought after, if the suburb is being improved or "gentrified" by new residents, and if the infrastructure is being improved. All of these factors will tend to gives values a boost over time.

Look at neighbourhood Personality

Every neighbourhood has a different personality. This even extends to streets, where some can have a bad reputation. You can get a feel for the safety and personality of the area by searching relevant websites and community forums, chatting with locals, and having a good look around.

Check it's proximity to key areas

Consider how you would get to work from the suburb and how long it would take. Length of commute is a major factor in your quality of life. It is also a major expense. If the home is a long distance away you will cop the double whammy of lost time and extra expenses which negate its positive features. 

What kind of local facilities are available?

It’s a good idea to buy a home with good access to key facilities such as parks, supermarkets, shopping malls, hospitals, schools, and public transport. The closer they are, the easier life is going to be.

Get a Property Report

A lot of companies offer free property reports that give a breakdown of the suburb and demographics. This kind of insight will tell you a lot about an area as well as the types of people that live in it.

While it’s possible to do your own online research about a neighbourhood with a property and suburb report, nothing can beat seeing the neighbourhood with your own eyes.

So before you sign a property contract, you may want to do more research on the suburb. Here’s how:

Walk around the neighbourhood

This is the best possible way you can check out a neighbourhood. Just walk around the streets to see how far away the facilities are such as transport, schools and shops. You can also check out the cafes and restaurants nearby, or the local parks.

Whether it is easy access to these amenities will help you know if you would really want to live in the neighbourhood.

Moreover, if you’re buying for the purpose of an investment property, the close proximity of the amenities will give you an edge when finding good tenants.

Visit the property at different times of the day

A suburb can be different on different days and at different times of the day. Visit in the morning, in the afternoon, at night, during the week, or on the weekends.

The property may look different on the weekend with very few cars parked, but comes Monday it may get congested and noisy. Or a nearby alley that looks perfectly harmless during the day can look different at night if there are no street lights.

Doing this kind of research can give you an idea what the surroundings will be like at different times of the day.

Have a chat with your potential neighbours

Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with your potential neighbours. You can simply wave at them and say ‘hi’, and see if they answer back. Having a simple chat with a few residents or observing the neighbourhood can give you a good idea of the vibe of the area.

Ask your real estate agent

When you buy a house, your real estate agent will be the best person to ask what the neighbourhood is like since there’s a great possibility that your agent lives in the area, or he/she has spent a great majority of time in the neighbourhood.

Bottom Line

It can be difficult to find the perfect place, but researching a neighbourhood before you buy can help minimise the risk of bad impressions, disappointment, and regret.  

Choosing where to buy is a big decision but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Do your online research, get your home loan pre-approved, and visit the location at different times of the day to get a feel for the area. That way you won't be left regretting an impulsive purchase. 

About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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