There's no better way to paint a real picture of life in the neighborhood than by using a couple senses to get a complete picture of the prospective community. 4) Search for clues

Sights:

- Remember your first impression. You not only want to feel good about where you call home, but also impress buyers when you're ready to move on.

- Visualize yourself in the neighborhood. Think of your daily routine. Does this neighborhood meet your daily needs?

- Observe the streets at different times of day. Driving through at various times gives you a snapshot of the community. For example, do the roads get congested at rush hour, are neighbors using grills or decks in the evenings and socializing, are the streets well-lit at night?

- Make sure local schools make the grade. Visit the schools. With or without children, it will be easier to sell later if the schools are nice.

- Look for warning signs of future trouble. Do you see abandoned buildings or excessive vandalism? Are there a lot of "for sale" signs on rentals?

Sounds:

- Bird and nature sounds are generally pleasant, but do you also hear noise from the highway, airport, hospital or nearby clubs and bars?

- Talk to future neighbors. They have the dirt on the neighborhood that you won't find elsewhere.

- Talk to more people. That means talking to waiters at local restaurants, shop owners and others building a business or working in the area.

5) Find the house you love

Now that you've chosen the neighborhood, you can search for the home of your dreams. Luckily, you've already done much of the upfront work.

- Find out how much house you can afford. Your real estate agent can recommend mortgage brokers to help you determine exactly what you can afford to pay while prequalifying you for your upcoming purchase. You can also plug in your own figures beforehand by using a mortgage calculator.

- Compare your loan options. A real estate agent and mortgage broker can again help you better understand your choices. Here is a tool to determine which loan term is best for you.

- Draw up the must-have's and nice-to-have's for your new home. Having a clear picture of what you want in a home will help immensely while house hunting. If you are new to the home buying process, learn about 18 different home styles here.

- Find the perfect house. Contact us today to start your search.

Best of luck!

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