Tips for Buying a House in Philly: Check Out the Neighborhood

A home is more than a collection of rooms. Location is also important. Before you buy a Philly home, get to know the area. Look for new businesses and happy neighbors and check to see if other people are interested in moving in, too.

There’s more to buying a home than simply looking at the features of the property. When you buy a house in Philly, you’re not just investing in a physical piece of property. You’re also becoming part of the neighborhood. Before you buy, it’s worth it to make sure the neighborhood is one that is well established or up-and-coming, not one that’s on a downward trajectory. Follow these tips for buying a house so that you end up with a place you can really call home.

See It In Lights

A house and the block it sits on can look different at different times of day. Before you buy, it’s important to get a sense of what the area is like morning, noon, and night. Visit in the evening, after the sun has gone down and pay attention to the light on the block. Are there street lamps to provide ample illumination and do residents have lights on their homes? Is there a loud party taking place in one of the houses on the block? Check out the block in the middle of the day to see what’s going on. Is it quiet or full of people sitting on stoops and chatting? Is there a lot of traffic on the street or do few cars drive by?

Other common tips for buying a house include taking a good look at the other homes on the block. Does it look as though people care about where they live? Look for litter on the streets, graffiti on the walls of buildings, and check out the number of abandoned or vacant buildings on the block, if any. If you own a car, pay attention to parking options. Is there ample street parking or does it look as though you’ll have to circle the block several times before you find a spot?

Look for Amenities

One of the great things about Philadelphia is that it’s a fairly walkable city and its neighborhoods tend to have a lot of amenities nearby. Check out what’s near the home you are interested in. Look for a grocery store, coffee shop, or restaurants. Plug the address into WalkScore to get a sense of what businesses are nearby, what the transit options are like near the property, and how long you can expect to walk to get to the nearest coffee shop, store, or restaurant.

Check Out Crime

Safety is an important consideration when buying a home. Get the full story on the area you’re thinking about moving to by researching crime reports for that neighborhood. You can use CrimeReports.com to find out about recently reported crimes near the house’s address. EveryBlock can also provide you with information on crime in the area, as well as information about new businesses or recent civic developments.

Chat with the Neighbors

Sometimes, the best way to find out more about a house and its neighborhood is to go straight to the source: the neighbors. You might not want to knock on doors, but if you see a person out and about, don’t be shy about asking him or her about the block or about the details of the house. A chatty neighbor is likely to give you the full scoop on who lived in the house, what goes on in the neighborhood, and whether you want to move there or look elsewhere.

Home is where the heart is and buying a home is more than just buying a building. Before you make a purchase, make sure the neighborhood is one you want to live in.

Image Source: Flickr/Ron Reiring

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