If you are buying a home outside of your current town, you may be flying blind. If you aren’t familiar with the region, you could accidentally end up in a bad neighborhood or simply with bad neighbors. Don’t be sold on a home just because it fits your idea of a nice-looking residence. Scrutinize a little bit, and dig up the dirt on the neighborhood.

1. Research the Area

Look up statistics about the area. Things like the quality of schools, businesses, and services will help you to get an idea of the area you are considering. If there is a country club, it may be upper end….but visit the country club. It may be a doozy that is on its last leg and has a poorly maintained golf course. Make sure your information is updated. Communities change over time, so don’t rely on old info. Another thing you cannot rely on is social media, but at the same time, it can give you some really good dirt on local drama. If there are any major red flags, research it deeper to see if it’s real.

2. Talk to the Neighbors

There’s no better source than a primary source, and neighbors are just that. Ask them about the neighborhood, and while you’re at it, give them the onceover. Could you live next to them? This does not mean you have to be future besties, but you also need to tolerate one another. It may sound a little intrusive to barge in on the neighbors, but it will actually help break the ice. Who knows? Maybe they’ll help you move.

3. Get an Inspection

You also don’t really know what the last homeowners did. That’s a nice new paint job, but what is it covering up? New floor? Prior water damage? None of these things necessarily mean the other, but an inspection should weed out any major cover-ups. Inspectors will notice things that the potential home buyer may miss, such as a faulty water heater or a termite problem.

4. Check Utilities

Lastly, it is good to check the utilities. Is the home an energy hog? How much is the gas compared to other homes with electric heat? How much more in water does it cost to maintain a full-size swimming pool? This information will help you to determine if it is a home you can truly afford.