7 Qualities of an Excellent Neighborhood

Location, location, location. The phrase may have become somewhat of a cliché in the world of real estate, but it still remains the most important factor in determining the true value of a property. When you’re in the market to buy, you’re not just purchasing the physical home, but you’re also buying into the surrounding neighborhood as well.

While everyone’s got their own specific tastes and needs when it comes to the perfect neighborhood, there are certain traits that make a community an exceptional one.

Pride in Ownership

A neighborhood isn’t truly great unless there’s clear pride of ownership among all residents. How well every property is taken care of speaks volumes about what area residents think about their neighborhood and how proud they are to call it home.

If lawns are well manicured and landscaped, windows are clean, debris is cleared, and the overall street is in pristine condition, residents obviously are doing their part to keep the value of the area high.

Excellent Schools

Whether or not you have school-aged children, you still want to find out how well the local schools rank. Of course, parents obviously want their children to have access to the best schools, and many of them actually relocate specifically to be closer to these particular educational institutes.

But not only do great schools benefit parents and children, they also make the surrounding properties within the neighborhood more valuable. Buying into a neighborhood like this increases the odds that your property’s value will not only stay strong, but appreciate at a healthy rate over time.

Low Crime Rate

Turn on the news, and you’ll likely hear stories of violence and unrest in the same areas across the country. Such a scenario not only brings a feeling of insecurity and unrest among residents, it also pulls property values down.

On the other hand, a neighborhood that boasts a low crime rate allows residents to feel much more comfortable and secure. Such a scenario lends itself to higher property values, which can help you grow your home equity much faster.

Accessible Public Transportation

Having the option to take public transportation over commuting via a motor vehicle is an excellent bonus for any neighborhood. Studies have shown that the addition of a public transportation portal in a neighborhood tends to have a positive effect on surrounding property values. If you’d prefer to leave the car at home when commuting to a busy downtown core, you’ve got that option if your home is positioned close to public transportation.

High Walkability Score

Being close to restaurants, shops, markets, and other amenities is a real plus for any neighborhood. The ability to take a short walk to any of these conveniences significantly boosts the neighborhood’s walkability score, which tends to be factored in when valuing homes in an area.

Close Proximity to Medical Care

While having nearby medical facilities is a big plus for residents of any age, it’s particularly important and attractive for seniors and families with young kids. Knowing that you’ll be able to reach a doctor or hospital quickly is not only a bonus, it’s also a must-have on the lists of many homebuyers.

Green Space

There’s something to be said about being surrounded by greenery. Rather than having to drive hours out of the city in order to escape the concrete jungle, having a little bit of green space nearby can dramatically improve both the esthetics and the value of a particular neighborhood. Green space is easy on the eye, promotes a sense of serenity, and is healthier for the air we breathe.

The Bottom Line

When you’re out on a house hunting trek, be sure to have a list of neighborhood traits on your list. Don’t just get fixated on a home – make sure you consider the surrounding neighborhood that it’s located in. Not only do you want to enjoy what the area has to offer outside of your home, you also want to make sure that the property value remains intact – and preferably appreciates – over time.

Simple Ways to Save Money and Energy at Home

It costs a lot of money to maintain a home, but you might be spending more than is necessary. Your utility bills can be lowered significantly by reducing the amount of energy used in your home, and doing so may be much simpler than you believe. Small adjustments here and there can add up to big savings.

Here are some easy ways you can save energy in your home that are good for the environment, and your wallet.

Replace incandescent lights

Conventional incandescent lightbulbs only convert about 10% of the energy used into light; the rest is lost in heat. Swapping these lights with more innovative LEDs can significantly cut back on energy that’s not being used for lighting purposes. Not only do LEDs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, they also last about 10 times longer.

Skip the dishwasher

The amount of energy dishwashers use to heat the water and dry the dishes is significant. If you can stand it, consider washing the dishes by hand. At the very least, switch off the automatic air-dry after the final rinse and open the door open slightly to help the dishes dry faster.

Turn off electronics when not in use

All of your home’s TVs, computers, and other electronics are wasting energy when they’re left on and not being used. Plug your devices into a smart power strip that uses a lot less energy when they’re in standby mode.

Turn the temperature of your water heater down.

If you’d prefer to keep your current water heater, consider turning its temperature down to about 120°F. In addition, turn it down even lower when you’re away for a few days

Maintain your HVAC system

Your heating and air conditioning systems should be maintained at least once a year to make sure they’re working optimally and not using up more energy than necessary to operate. About 50% of the energy used in a home comes directly from these HVAC systems, so the more efficiently they function, the less energy will be wasted.

Insulate your windows and doors

Windows and doors that allow air leakage account for as much as one-third of energy loss in a home. Seal all these leaks with some caulking, and weatherstrip your windows and doors to prevent even further air loss.

Use less water and heat with your laundry

Little changes that are made when doing the laundry can save a great deal of energy. Don’t do the laundry until you’ve got a full load, and wash each load in cold water to cut back on energy used to heat the water. Once the laundry is done, hang the clothes up to air dry rather than using the dryer.