Neighborhood Shopping

Property Taxes

Property taxes can play a huge role in your overall cost of living. To get a sense of what your property taxes might look like in a particular county, check out this simple property tax map. Also, property taxes for specific homes are typically included in online property listings.

What to consider: How much will my property taxes be?

Safety and Crime

Before you sign on the dotted line, search sites like City-Data.com and CrimeReports to get a sense of the safety level of a particular neighborhood. As with all homebuying decisions, determining what level of crime you feel safe with is all part of the process of choosing a neighborhood.

Your real estate agent can guide you to various resources to help you answer questions about the neighborhood, but can’t voice an opinion about it per the Fair Housing Act. The act aims to provide equal access to housing for all groups of people and to protect against discrimination.

What to consider:

  • What is the crime rate in this particular neighborhood? How about the neighborhood next door?
  • What level of crime do I feel comfortable with? 

Topography and Geography

Land geography can play a role in costs — especially if you’re overlooking a scenic vista or you’re right by the water. On the flipside, look out for flood zones or other danger-prone areas when making a decision.

What to consider: 

  • Do I need special insurance in addition to homeowners insurance?
  • Is this property in a flood zone?

Property Value

If there have been some sales recently, then you can get a better idea of the potential value of the homes in the neighborhood. Typically, homes of the same type in the same location will sell within a few thousand dollars of each other. When looking at homes, your agent will pull listings of comparable properties, or comps, to see what other similar homes sold for so you can see if the home you’re interested in is priced correctly.

Question(s) to ask:

  • What are the comps in this area?
  • What’s the projected growth rate for this area?

School Zones

School zones come to mind when thinking of location, especially if you have children (or plan to have them soon), as they tend to affect home values. If schools are important to you, evaluate the schools in your neighborhood and which homes fall into which district. Additionally, there may be community centers or parks that increase the value of the neighborhood.

What to consider:

  • What school would my child attend if we moved here?
  • Are there parks or community centers in this area?

Using these factors as a guide for finding the right neighborhood can help you evaluate what you care about and make the decision that’s right for you.

smells-for-houses

Smells that Sell Houses

5 SMELLS THAT SELL HOUSES

What’s that smell? The sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses to connect buyers to a home. While a bad smell can really deter buyers, a good smell can tempt buyers to a sale. From “green” scents to seasonal scents, discover the right smells for triggering positive emotions and home sales.

1. Clean smell

Most of us associate “clean” with strongly scented cleaning products and disinfectants. It can even make buyers nostalgic. But remember, a little goes a long way. You should dilute your cleaning solutions so buyers don’t get overwhelmed.

2. Citrus

Using actual fruit is one way to get a clean smell without all the cleaning products. Lemon, orange and grapefruit scents are best. One great tip is to grind up lemon or orange rind with a few ice cubes in the garbage disposal. This will freshen up the kitchen, one of the most important rooms in the house.

3. Natural smell

Sometimes the best scent is no scent at all. Try using “green” cleaning supplies, baking soda and other non-scented products that neutralize odors. The idea is that simpler is better so you want to avoid complex, artificial smells from potpourri, sprays and plug-ins, which can actually distract buyers and turn them off.

4. Baked goods

Nothing can make a house smell more like home than freshly baked goods. But be sure to stick to simple smells like vanilla, cinnamon and fresh bread. You don’t have to really bake anything. One trick is to boil some water and throw in a few cinnamon sticks an hour before a showing.

5. Pine

Don’t we all love that fresh pine scent? Especially with the holidays around the corner, it’s a great scent to greet buyers when they walk in the door. If you don’t want to put up a live tree, you can simply hang a wreath of tree trimmings or some fresh garland. You can’t go wrong with setting a holiday mood to inspire a sale.

There’s a lot that goes into the sale of a home. Make sure a great smell is at the top of the list. And to increase its value even more, add an American Home Shield® Home Warranty to every transaction.

For more helpful tips, visit the American Home Shield® Home Matters blog