PCS Guide: Judge a Neighborhood From Afar

No matter how temporary a home may be, it’s still a home.

It’s meant to be a refuge from a sometimes chaotic, stressful world. It should never be a source of discomfort, meaning you’ve got to weigh your options heavily when choosing a house. While price, size and style are important features, there is so much more that goes into a home’s essence.

What happens when you get new orders but don’t have the proper time to scope out a neighborhood? Researching from a distance can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

Indicators of a Good Neighborhood 

You move in and get settled, prepared to get a good night’s sleep before your 5 a.m. PT drills, and your neighbor’s band decides it’s time to practice for their next gig. Not only that, but the lot across the street has been zoned for a new bar to open within the next month.

Avoid this outcome by equipping yourself with as much information as you can:

Get a Neighborhood Report

Sites like HomesAndLand provide neighborhood reports that include population, average age, households with children and more. All you have to do is type in your prospective Zip code and you can find information on demographics, weather, workforce, education and crime..

You can use the report to see how your personal information fits in. Do you have kids? Will you be the youngest or oldest in the neighborhood? Is there another neighborhood you’re considering with a lower burglary rate?

Contact a Reputable Real Estate Agent

If you’re deciding whether to hire a real estate agent, here are five ways it can work in your favor, particularly when it comes to finding an agent who will fight for your best interests. Find an agent with a good reputation and knows your potential area well.

Make sure your agent understands your needs as a military member, from your schedule and your relocation potential to the buying power and flexibility of the VA loan program. They can hone in on specific house details, such as being one that can more readily be sold in case of a PCS. Also find a real estate agent who can help put a military clause in your lease.

Go Beyond the Photos

Ask your agent or the seller to give a virtual tour of the home and yard, giving you a more full-fledged view of the property than a still photo. You can also cobble together a virtual tour of the full neighborhood and surrounding area. With Google maps, you can gauge the proximity of public resources like the library, the hospital and the fire station.

One thing to watch for is any eyesores or obstructions that may lower your resale value, in case you have to move more quickly than expected. Is there a large telephone pole in your yard? Is there a local bar bordering your backyard? Check to make sure you’re giving yourself the best footing to take on the military life’s ever-changing plans.

Ask Questions

Did the home seller ever have disputes with neighbors? Why? With problems beyond loud noises or obnoxious children, sellers are obligated to disclose disputes. Get a feel for the neighbors you may encounter and see how they fit your lifestyle.

Does the neighborhood have an association or planned get-togethers? A neighborhood that organizes itself is typically invested in their community. A community with strong bonds are usually more courteous and willing to discuss any issues that may arise.