Finding the perfect home is about more than just bedrooms, baths, walk-in closets and a formal dining room -- the neighborhood is equally, if not more important than all those things.

But how do you research a neighborhood if you don’t live nearby or have friends in the area?

Fortunately, it’s gotten much easier than it was in the past when word of mouth was the only option.

Start with an online search. Go to your preferred search engine and type in the name of the neighborhood. Instantly you will see a list of reviews and perhaps even a neighborhood message board describing what the people who live there, or have visited, think about the area. Take these with a grain of salt, but note that they are a great way to get a “feel” for the area.

If you are considering buying a house in an unfamiliar neighborhood, talk to the neighbors after you view the house. Generally, people love to talk about their neighborhood, and you will likely get an honest, unbiased opinion of the neighborhood from those who live there and are not trying to sell you anything. A smile can go a long way.

It is normal and typically preferable to keep an arm’s length relationship with the sellers of a home. It helps during the negotiation process, but asking the sellers about the neighborhood is normally acceptable. Feel free to ask about commute times, good restaurants or the schools.  Many sellers will be more than happy to answer.

Where you live is as important as what you live in; so please, don’t forget to do your due diligence regarding neighborhood selection. It will cost you nothing and I am sure you will enjoy your home more if you are in a neighborhood that meets your needs rather than one that does not.

Contact me today if you want to know about schools, zoning or anything else to do with a neighborhood or area. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find a new home or determine the value of your existing property.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
[email protected]

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Poh/