real estate

How to inspect your future neighborhood

Take a broader view
Take a broader view © Cloudia Newland/Shutterstock.com

See and think beyond your immediate block. That empty lot on the corner entrance to your subdivision looks like a great place for neighborhood touch football or soccer, but it may contain an unsavory surprise: commercial zoning. Instead of just another house, that lot may someday yield a convenience store or fast-food restaurant, with the requisite noise, lighting and traffic. Find out from your agent or the city what's allowed there.

Finally, practice your commute from your prospective neighborhood. A home that's closer to work doesn't necessarily mean a faster drive time because of congested feeder roads and other factors. Study your mass-transit options as well, just in case. Determine if the area's service and leisure options are adequate and close enough for your tastes. "Look into the amenities of the area," Davis says. "See what churches are there or other things that might interest you like cafes, bars and malls."

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Rising rates and more: 5 housing trends for fall
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