I woke up today asking myself why I am so into helping people pick a neighborhood that will work for them. I think a lot of the insight I have that benefits my clients comes from my own experiences and driving around Lexington neighborhoods since 1986. I have owned 3 houses in my life. One of them was too close to the train tracks. The Fire Department used the alley behind me to practice backing up their fire trucks. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! all day long every December. The Driver’s Ed teacher at the high school also picked the spot in front of my house to teach kids to parallel park. Every weekend, I would look out and see kids’ with their dad’s using MY car as their victim/reference car. I then moved to another house that was near a busy road. The problem there was that police would pull people over, they would turn down my street, stop in front of my house, and then get arrested if they had outstanding warrants. There are more people than I ever imagined that get arrested from a traffic stop. Then the house next door sold to a guy that turned his basement into a casino four nights a week. Plus the people who bought behind me and kept four large dogs outside 24 hours a day. Trust me……..I now have a sixth sense about these things!
For my current house, I have used my 6th sense to pick a winner. We are on a long cul-de-sac of 25 houses. We are not so close to the corner that my kids are at risk of getting hit when people fly around it. I am well within the perimeter of the well-defined boundaries of my area. And, for my own personal preferences, the house sits east to west. I don’t like it when one side of your yard gets baked in the sun in the evenings. I am also on a high point, which is good since I don’t like having a neighbor’s house looking down on mine. I also don’t like to hear traffic noise. I am about a mile from the interstate, but I can still hear some noise if the wind blows a certain way. Overall, I think I would have a hard time reproducing all the secondary things about where I am now that I like.
So, I am always asking my peeps if this or that is going to bug them if they lived there. I find that some people get really excited about the house, but don’t notice somethings that may bug them later. Such as noise, the view, the location within the neighborhood, a steep driveway. I look to see if there are signs of outside dogs in yards around them, neighbors that work on cars or motorcycles (no offense, my dad has like 12 motorcycles and I wouldn’t want to live next door to him!) I also tell people to drive around their neighborhood on a nice warm night and when everybody is coming home from work to see what it is going to be like. Of course we also hit the PVA to see how much is rental, plus the sex offender registry and crime map.
Those were all some practical things that can make or break enjoying your house, but there is more to this neighborhood thing you need to consider. When you buy your house, an appraiser will pick 3 similar houses, ideally within the same neighborhood. Well, when you go to sell, an appraiser will do the same thing! When selling is on your mind, you suddenly care about things like if you bought the most expensive house in the neighborhood or if you over improved. Why not think about that BEFORE your buy it? So, here is the caution tape that you generally want to stay within: Don’t buy the cheapest nor most expensive house. Don’t buy one that doesn’t really fit in well with the neighborhood (Think round house on Mt Tabor Road.) Don’t over/under improve. All neighborhoods go through cycles, so don’t buy in an area that is in decline. There is a ton of other stuff to consider, but the bottom line is that you really want to take a close look at the neighborhood. It is much easier to change a house than it is to change a neighborhood.