In a metro area as large as Denver, there can be hundreds of neighborhoods to consider in your home search. Chances are you may already be familiar with a number of them, but how do you go about narrowing down such a large list? If you are unsure how to start your neighborhood search, I offer some considerations that will help you shorten your list so that you can work with a real estate agent to begin the next stage of your search, looking at homes.
The two initial steps to take when selecting neighborhoods that match your needs include independent research and asking your real estate agent for guidance. Focusing your research and questions in the following five areas will help you and reduce that overwhelming list of neighborhoods to just a few.
Rising Home Values
If you plan to stay in a neighborhood for a few or many years, understanding how home values in the area are trending is paramount. One hallmark of a good neighborhood is that its homes are, over time, rising in value. Websites such as www.zillow.com can provide preliminary information in this area. To ensure the accuracy of any internet data you find, I would also recommend consulting your real estate agent to validate that an area’s values are, in fact, trending upward.
Whether you have school aged children or not, it is good to understand how the schools in the areas you are considering stack up to others. An area’s school ranking can be important to your children’s education, future buyers of the home and possibly to the overall value of the house. You can research individual schools or see how different schools compare you can go to sites such as: www.greatschools.org/colorado/ or www.greatschools.org/colorado/.
Walkability & Recreational Amenities
A neighborhood’s walkability and its access to recreational activities such as parks and trails are additional considerations to help narrow your list. Your real estate agent and websites such as www.walkscore.com, Google maps, www.alltrails.com and parks.com are great resources to determine things like how conducive a neighborhood is to walking to stores, retail, restaurants, and public transit and how close it is to city parks and area trails.
While no neighborhood is devoid of crime, being aware of an area’s level of safety can be an important factor when selecting a neighborhood for you and your loved ones. To learn more about an area of interest your real estate agent can provide you with general crime demographics and many counties offer a section on their website dedicated to crime such as this one for Denver county: www.denvergov.org
Finding out the proximity of a neighborhood to household members’ workplaces can be a big factor in the overall decision to buy in one area over another. Google maps can help you determine distances between locations and then try out the “commute” by driving from neighborhoods of interest to your workplace during peak traffic hours. Doing this will give you an actual feel for the length of commute.
Although the internet is a great place to start gathering this information, physically visiting potential neighborhoods at different times of day and discussing options with your real estate agent will provide you with additional, invaluable information. Having grown up in Denver, I have a tremendous amount of knowledge about many of the neighborhoods here in the Metro area. If you need help finding the right neighborhood to fit your needs or have other real estate questions, give me a call.