Becoming a homeowner is a significant milestone in many people’s lives. They enjoy the independence of owning their own property. But buying a house can be a challenging endeavor. Aside from securing a loan and going through all of the paperwork, there is also the matter of picking the right home and neighborhood for your family. You don’t want to buy just anywhere and no two communities are exactly alike. Here are a few things to consider as you search for your next home:

Is the neighborhood governed by an HOA?

Not every neighborhood has a homeowners association. While the media often highlights only the negatives, there are many benefits to an HOA community. You can rest assured that the neighborhood will be well maintained; you won’t have to worry about living next to a run-down lot. This will help to protect the value of your property. You can also meet plenty of new people at neighborhood events and stay abreast of what is going on in the community through regular communications and meetings.

What amenities are available?

Another perk of living in an HOA community is that it often comes with amenities such as a pool, tennis court, basketball court, club house, playground, and other features. These are funded through your dues. If the neighborhood does not have an HOA, check out where the nearest amenities are located. If you know you plan on swimming this summer, where is the nearest pool and how much is a membership? Are you close to a park or playground where you can take your kids or pets?

What is the real estate market like?

Is it a community with a lot of turnover where homes are always for sale or having to reduce their prices? Or is an area where homeowners tend to buy and stay for a long time? If there is a lot of turnover, look into why; pay attention to any red flags that may arise. Also look into the safety of the neighborhood and how it is protected. You want to move somewhere that you will feel safe and can feel like you are a part of the neighborhood and community.

Some other things to consider include the cost of HOA fees and what is included if it is an HOA community, the school district it is located in if you have children or plan on having children, and how close it is to your work, restaurants, shopping, and major highways. If you’re not in a rush, make sure you take your time and consider not just the home itself, but also the area and its surroundings. Find a community that you love and which works with your lifestyle.

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