Location, Location, Location.
When you begin the searching process for your new home, it's best to start with neighborhood. Take into account everything from where your friends are, bike lanes, commute time, food scene, access to health care, etc...
Investigate the surrounding area: Good schools boost your property value. Research the closest parks and community centers and consider how busy streets impact the neighborhood. Check out stores and restaurants in the area. Let's be real, distance to the nearest place to buy milk or work-out is of critical import.
Take the temperature of the area: Is the average resident young, married, settled professionals with kids...? Are you looking for urban energy or quiet with big yards and wide sidewalks? It's important to think long term. Is this an area that will work for you in 5 years?
Research the Homeowner’s Association: What are the regular fees? Are there lawn or construction restrictions? Knowing these things can really make an impact.
A good real estate agent can furnish you with a wealth of local information and take you on a tour of the closest commerce centers, restaurants and shops. A little groundwork will help ensure that your dream house is surrounded by a dream neighborhood.