real estate

Neighborhoods where home prices don't fall

Investigate neighborhood amenities

Look for communities that have a lot of amenities.

"The more varied amenities you can find in a community, the better it is," Kline says. Communities that offer tennis and basketball courts have a stronger value than places where you have to drive 20 minutes to get to anything.

"People want to live close to things like parks, libraries and shops, and they would prefer to walk there rather than drive if they can," Kline says.

Check out the schools

Homebuyers should look for a neighborhood within a good school district, even if they don't have children. Families always want to purchase homes in such neighborhoods.

Due to Fair Housing laws, real estate agents cannot discuss whether schools are good or bad. However, consumers can find test scores and other statistics on school district websites and school reviews on the Internet.

Know the local crime rate

Crime rates also influence neighborhood values. Look at police district websites or call the local police substation to ask about crime statistics for individual neighborhoods, Sidorowicz says.

Hoefer says it's important to look at crime trends: "You do not want to buy in an area where crimes of any kind are increasing."

In areas with improving crime rates, it may take time for perception to catch up to reality, Hoefer says.

"Buyers need to realize that the stigma of a high crime rate can last a long time and hurt property values, even after crime has dropped," he says.

Gauge the neighborhood's curb appeal

The physical appearance of a community can be a strong indicator of its stability.

"If there are too many places in disrepair, that can be an indication of a lack of pride in a community," Kline says. "Places that are well-kept and have some landscaping and fresh paint indicate an area where people will work hard to maintain the value of their property."

Find out about future development plans

Learn about future development plans that could have a negative or a positive impact on property values. Talk to real estate agents and research government websites to track down such information.

"There may be a little risk in relying on a revitalization project to improve home prices, but this can be a way to get in on the ground floor of an improving area," Kline says.

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