Let's assume that you have found a home in Berkeley that you are considering buying.  It really has a great deal of appeal, and the price seems reasonable.  There is a tendency, when you first see the home, to concentrate on it specifically.  However, each home is a part of a neighborhood, and since you will be potentially living in that neighborhood, you should expand your area of consideration about the home. Things can get overlooked that may become quite important down the road.  Here are some suggestions:

a. Drive by your potential new home from every direction.: Bring a notebook and record things that you did not observe about the house from the inside, but which are visible from the outside.  Check the neighboring homes more closely.  How careful are they about maintenance and upkeep?  How will their presence affect the value of your home now, and in the future, as all the homes get older? Are there elements that are going to irritate you once you move in?  Examples would include basketball hoops immediately adjacent to your driveway, or nearby unkempt front yards and planters. 

b. Consider the proximity of amenities that you are going to need regularly: How close are the schools, grocery stores, banks, libraries, and transportation sources like buses or BART?  Will a trip to each one be a project, or just a simple cruise downtown?  If you enjoy walking or biking, how realistic will that be for you in your new neighborhood?  How close are trails, parks and public recreation if those things will be important to you? Are they in good condition, or badly in need of upkeep and repair?

c. Make inspections of your neighborhood at different times of the day, and different days of the week: What will your commute to work or school be like if you are leaving on a Monday morning, or returning on a Friday afternoon from out of town?  Drive by your home at night.  What is your potential neighborhood like at night?  How different is it from the daytime, or on weekends?

As you can see, there are many other elements that need evaluation as you consider purchasing a new home, and many of these things are unique to just you and your family.  So take the time to do the job thoroughly, so that you don't have any unpleasant surprises later.


Posted by Bruce Wagg on


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