Buying a house involves dozens of interrelated decisions, many of which could affect the quality of your life for years to come. No pressure, though!

Working with an experienced real estate agent with whom you feel comfortable is one strategy for successfully navigating many of those pivotal decisions. The ideal buyers' agent will be familiar with neighborhoods in your target area, and is trained to help you match your requirements with properties in your price range. They can assist you in developing a priority list of things you want and need in your next home.

In addition to noticing the features of each individual house you're considering, there's also the bigger picture of the character of the neighborhood in which homes are located. Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind as you visit different homes for sale.

  • Street traffic: There are several distinct disadvantages to living close to a busy street or highway. First of all, there's the noise factor, which is often a deal breaker for people who thrive on peace and quiet! If you have young children, a busy street can also be a potential safety hazard. When you have cars constantly driving by your house, privacy is another issue to consider.
  • Proximity of houses: Speaking of privacy and quiet, there's also the question of how physically close houses are situated next to each other. If they're only ten or twenty feet away, then you might end up knowing more about your neighbors than you really want to! (The reverse of that is also true.) In those instances, privacy hedges and tall fences can provide some benefits.
  • Appearance of the neighborhood: If nearby houses are in run-down condition or poorly maintained, that's generally a "red flag," in regard to the quality of the neighborhood. The same can usually be said about prospective neighbors who keep junk vehicles or construction debris on their property for any length of time. If you're considering a neighborhood with one or more abandoned houses on the street, proceed with caution. However, what you see, is not always what you get! Appearances can be misleading, and there may be plans underway, for example, to demolish a fire-damaged house and replace it with a new and improved home. Very often your real estate agent can find out more about the circumstances surrounding an abandoned or boarded-up house. They may also be able to help you research crime statistics for a particular neighborhood or street.
  • Convenience factors: All things being equal, it's nice to live within walking distance or a short drive from grocery stores, drug stores, banks, public parks, the post office, child care services, schools, doctors, dentists, hospitals, veterinarians, restaurants, and other amenities.

When you've narrowed down your house search to one or two possibilities, a lot of useful information can be gathered by scheduling a couple additional visits and/or walkthroughs -- especially at different times of the day or week. Second and third visits to homes you're considering can definitely shed additional light on factors such as noise level and other quality of life issues.