Home Buying for Dummies authors Eric Tyson and Ray Brown say, “Wonderful used homes are sometimes located in less-than-wonderful neighborhoods. You may be attracted to an utterly charming older home in a lousy neighborhood. Despite how much you think you’d love living in it, don’t forget that you’ll have to travel through the undesirable surrounding area every time you want to get in and out of your dream house.
“Even though you may be able to ignore gang wars and grafitti on every wall, will prospective buyers be equally tolerant when you’re ready to sell? Remember: ‘location, location, value.’ No matter how stunning the property or how great the deal you’re offered on it, don’t buy someone else’s problem.”
This popular guide, rated 5 stars on Amazon.com, echoes the advice of real estate agents. For example, one real estate agent’s webpage says, “You should examine the health of the local economy, area amenities such as parks and entertainment, school quality, and crime rates before you buy a home. Property values sag when homeowners no longer take pride in their property. Avoid declining neighborhoods which display the red flags of dispirited owners — poorly kept houses, junk-filled yards, abandoned cars on the street, many absentee owners renting houses, high rates of vandalism and crime, and so on.
Realtor.com offers a comprehensive list of things to consider on the topic of home values. In addition to the warnings against buying a house in an undesirable neighborhood, the experts here offer some tips in the event that you are already in such a home and want to stay in it:
- Advocate for the neighborhood. Are there properties on your block that are not well kept? If so, they’ll detract from your own home’s value. Talk to the homeowners or city code enforcement officers about ways to boost those homes’ appearance.
- Are the schools declining or overcrowded? Work with the school board to turn that situation around.
- A Neighborhood Watch program can help nip crime in the bud, making your block more appealing.
- Keeping an eye on the city’s zoning plans can help assure that your street isn’t expanded to four lanes or that an adjacent undeveloped block isn’t going to become the ugly, unappealing back of a strip mall.
In this time of declining property values and slow home sales, you may find others in your neighborhood to join in a neighborhood advocacy program with you. It may be well worth the effort and deliver unexpected dividends in neighborly relations as well.