As we are underway in the fall market it is a prime time for real estate transactions across the country. The National Association of Realtors has shared that existing home sales are selling stronger than they were back in 2007 with activity up 4.5% over this time last year.

Choosing the right neighborhood goes right along with searching for the perfect home to purchase. While most buyers will be in search of things like school ratings, area amenities and public transit, others will value things like taxes, assessed values and operating costs. However, while some of these factors are important there are other things that you may want to consider as you learn if a neighborhood is right for you. Here are some tips to help you in your search.

Pricing predictability: A wise approach for forecasting how a home will retain its value is to review how it has performed in previous cycles. Although you cannot exactly anticipate how the future will affect pricing, you can definitely review historic data and trends that may show how well an area will weather a volatile market.

Barriers to entry: Zoning restrictions for an area as well as patterns for development can be a good indicator for what to expect for the future. In short, communities that are more strict and preserve their culture are historically more desirable places to live.

Owner Occupancy: A good gauge to consider is the percentage of owner-occupied homes in the neighborhood. In general, owner occupied properties are more likely to be upgraded over time. These improvements add value while creating stronger ties within the community.

Safety: Neighborhoods with a higher rate of owner occupants usually result in safer communities as residents become more invested in their neighborhoods. Research has found that there is a correlation between above average rates of homeownership and lower than average crime rates. For a full crime report it is always best to visit the local police station in your neighborhood of consideration.

Historical context: Long term residents and businesses tend to feel a sense of pride in preserving their community. Historic preservation can help maintain a neighborhood’s character and value as we have seen in select areas across the United States. The result is often a more desirable community with maintained value.

When you have identified a community of interest it is a wise idea to spend a few hours perusing public records and meeting the neighbors. A small investment of your time can be very valuable in making a smart purchase.