How to Avoid the 10 Biggest Mistakes Buying a New Home
Mistake No. 2 - Not Fully Checking Neighborhoods:
Taking a “Bird’s Eye” Tour
Once one or more preferred locations have been identified, it’s time to begin
targeting specific neighborhoods. However, it's easy to get infatuated exploring
new places to live and make the common mistake of not performing a detailed
evaluation of all neighborhoods under serious consideration. This will typically
require detailed street maps, a systematic drive around each neighborhood (e.g.,
1 to 5 mile radius), numerous excursions out of your car to query residents, and
in some cases visits to the local building department. In addition, satellite
mapping now available on a number of web sites (e.g., Google Earth as well as
several others that can be identified with a web search) provides the ability to
take a “bird’s eye” tour above a desired area right from you computer.
Visits to the local building department are particularly important for
neighborhoods bounded by undeveloped land. In these cases, it’s important to
identify pending land uses that may have significant impacts, both good and bad.
Potential projects of concern include land uses that generate lots of traffic
(e.g., new highways, shopping malls, sports venues, etc.), and localized air
pollution or noise (e.g., industrial projects, land fill sites, toxic cleanup
activities and highways).
Additionally, local health factors concerning air and water quality should be
considered. Although home buyers are typically restricted to specific regions,
air quality can vary significantly due to micro-climate affects, prevailing
winds, and adjoining land uses. In particular, neighborhoods near busy highways,
military bases, land-fills, and local airports can be more adversely affected by
noise, air and ground pollution. Water quality can be checked by speaking to
residents, contacting local water agencies, or having water tested in
neighborhoods with wells.
The ‘Neighborhood Checklist’ provided in this section can help check each
neighborhood under consideration. In some cases important hidden conditions need
to be uncovered (see Mistake No. 8). For example, rush-hour traffic may make
neighborhood egress or access very difficult; a nearby manufacturing plant may
produce highly annoying fumes only apparent when the wind blows from one
direction; or undesirable views of adjoining highways or industrial activities
may be exposed only during winter when trees lose their leaves.
This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s better than being surprised after a
home purchase by an existing condition that may limit enjoyment or reduce resale