It pays to check out a neighborhood
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

Q: The home we're interested in is just one of many for sale in the neighborhood. How could we check out if this neighborhood is worth investing in?

A: Even though you may think of the worst when you see many for sale signs, it could indicate that the location is desirable. The area may have had good appreciation and increase in value, enticing the owners to sell. It also may be an area where schools are strong, amenities great, but where owners are more of the age and demographics of those likely to be transferred. Relocation is more prevalent where owners are upwardly mobile.

It pays to learn as much as you can about a neighborhood, however, Ask real estate agents or appraisers to help you gather information regarding the average selling time of properties on the market and any factors not related directly to the property, such as area rezoning, sewer or street assessments, which could spur homeowners to sell.

You should also determine how list prices compare to final sales prices. A large number of sellers settling for far less than list price could indicate a hidden motivation and urgency not yet apparent. For example, increasing crime, pending rezoning, or restructured school boundaries might have an adverse affect on the stability of a neighborhood.

When you apply for a mortgage, an appraisal will be required. You could certainly make any offer contingent on receiving and reviewing a satisfactory appraisal. Besides stating the appraiser's estimate of value, there will also be an overview of what's going on in neighboring areas that could impact the home.