Good restaurants aren’t the only amenities worth looking for in a neighborhood.
You can remodel a home, but there are some things about a neighborhood you can’t change. And many neighborhood factors can add value to your home. Here are some of the best features to look for:
If restaurants, a grocery store, post office, bank and other retail services are within walking distance of your home, chances are you’ll use them more often. A short drive to them isn’t so bad either, but walking or biking out to lunch can make a home much more marketable. Police and fire services should also be nearby.
A walkable neighborhood helps your health, the environment, finances and the community. The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 6 – 10 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood, according to Walk Score—an app that measures walkability.
Not driving a car lowers a household’s expenses, and for every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, they spend 10 percent less time in community activities, Walk Score says.
A truly walkable neighborhood can have a town center or public space nearby with enough people for businesses to flourish and public transit to run frequently. It may have affordable housing located near businesses, plenty of public parks, buildings close to the street and parking lots in the back to encourage pedestrians. It might also be close to schools and workplaces so people can walk from home. Lastly, its streets may be designed for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit.
Parks and green space are beneficial to everyone, but dog owners specifically need parks and walking trails to exercise their pets. Look for a clean dog park within walking distance of the home you want to buy. See if the dogs are well trained and get along, which can make going to the dog park more enjoyable.
Check with the city’s Planning Department to see what improvements are planned for the neighborhood and when they’re scheduled to be completed. Is a four-story apartment complex planned for an empty lot near your home? Will streets be widened? Are certain retailers coming soon?
Trees can cut a home’s cooling bill in half in the summer and can block wind in the winter to reduce heating by 20 – 50 percent. A healthy, mature tree can add $1,000 – $10,000 to the value of a home, according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. Large, healthy trees can be worth preserving and can add to the aesthetics of a neighborhood.