Things To Do This Weekend

September 20th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate

Clematis By Night – Thursdays
Clematis by Night is the place to be for great live music, a taste of mouth-watering foods and fun people all in the hip ambiance of an energized downtown waterfront. Centennial Square at the end of Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.
100 N Clematis St. – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Clematis By Night

Friday Night Live – Friday
Ring in the weekend Friday nights at Concerts in the Court. A different band each week from pop to rock, country to jazz–loud, live and FREE. Come join us in Centre Court at Downtown at the Gardens! 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410  Downtown at The Gardens

Ladies Night Out – Friday
Calling all science-savvy ladies! You and your girls are invited to mix and mingle at the Science Center while enjoying a unique evening of interactive science exhibits, shopping, and entertainment. This event is for ladies 21+ only.
4801 Dreher Trail North – West Palm Beach, FL 33405  Ladies Night Out

Indoor Yard Sale – Saturday
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Shop our Indoor Yard Sale for a morning of great bargains.
4404 Burns Road – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410  Palm Beach Gardens Indoor Yard Sale

Brew 2 at the Zoo – Saturday
Sample amazing beer from South Florida, enjoy live entertainment, and munch on pub favorites! Palm Beach County’s most unique craft beer festival at Palm Beach Zoo is back for another round! A sell-out event each year, get your tickets now for this exclusive after-hours event!
1301 Summit Blvd. – West Palm Beach, FL 33405   Brew 2 at the Zoo

The Gardens GreenMarket – Sundays
At the Market, you can shop an abundance of just-picked, orchard-grown goods, a wide selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, fragrant herbs, honey, homemade old-fashioned breads, pies, cheeses, sauces, handmade crafts and much, much more. This event is rain or shine.
11010 N. Military Trail – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   The Gardens GreenMarket

Exterior Projects That Net You Cash

September 19th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Florida Realtors®

What to Ask When Choosing A Lender

September 17th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Florida Realtors®

5 Reasons You Should Sell This Fall!

September 14th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate

Here are five reasons why listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! In fact, more often than not, multiple buyers end up competing with each other to buy the same homes.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now 

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon!

Historically, a homeowner stayed in his or her home for an average of six years, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all that they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 44 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The abundance of inventory available in these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market for anybody looking to purchase these homes. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.1% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life 

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you feel you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

These Towns Will Pay For Your College Education

September 12th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Trulia’s Blog – by Laura Vogel

College is expensive. Put it on your city’s tab.

It doesn’t matter if your kids are five or 15—if you’re a parent, you’re probably worried about the cost of college. And if you went to college yourself, odds are student loans have been a drag on your budget for years. If you’ve asked yourself how you can get out of the steep cost of college—either in the future or the past—some American cities have the answer: Just move here.

These five cities offer higher education incentives to residents. That’s right, they’ll pay for part or all of your past or future college if you move there. Here’s the scoop:

Tribune, Kansas

$15,000 Off Student Loans

In the heart of the country, many small communities are offering clever incentives to lure educated new residents, and tiny town of Tribune, Kansas, is one of them. As part of the state’s Rural Opportunity Zone program, the community will pitch in to help new residents pay off their student loans.

Tribune will gift new arrivals (who have obtained at least an associate’s degree) up to $15,000 over the course of five years. The financial windfall can go far in this tiny western Kansas town. With around 750 residents, Tribune is too small for accurate home price data, but the surrounding cities of Syracuse and Oakley have average list prices of $122,627 and $112,312, respectively.

Niagara Falls, New York

$7,000 Off Student Loans

Long beloved as a honeymoon destination, this town on the border of New York State and Canada was attracting more tourists than tax-paying (and business-growing) residents, so its community leaders got proactive.

They decided to tackle one of the biggest problems facing young professionals, promising to pay off up to $7,000 of new residents’ debt over the course of two years. The one catch? To be eligible for the funds, newcomers must rent or buy a residence in certain, economically challenged parts of Niagara Falls‘ downtown. However, with a median home sale price of $94,000 and median rent of $725 per month, the reimbursement money will go far here. Plus, you can’t beat the scenery.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Free In-State Tuition

Families with children will find the free-college tuition program dubbed the Kalamazoo Promise enticing—and may even choose to move to this culture-filled town in western Michigan to take advantage of it.

Any graduate from public high school in Kalamazoo—having been enrolled from the start of ninth grade—is entitled to completely free tuition at any Michigan state college or university. This includes full freight at the prestigious University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, which U.S. News and World Report rated as the country’s fourth-best public school. Of course, your kids could also stay at home and attend Kalamazoo’s own Western Michigan University, saving you on room and board (and peace of mind), too.

This incredibly valuable program is funded by a group of anonymous, civic-minded Kalamazoo donors: Who wouldn’t want to live in a town that gives so much back to its young people?

Wheelock, Vermont

Free Dartmouth Tuition

This small town in the Green Mountain State may be an hour away from the elite Dartmouth College, but the locations share a history, as well as a nearly 200-year-old education incentive agreement.

Six years after its founding in 1769, Dartmouth was struggling financially. It appealed to the state of Vermont for help, and was granted 23,000 acres—which included Wheelock—and the rent the school collected on the land kept it afloat. In 1830, Dartmouth’s president made a promise, since kept by the trustees, that any child of Wheelock who was accepted into the institution would get a complimentary education.

With fewer than 800 residents and about 10 high school graduates per year, fewer than a dozen Wheelock students have taken advantage of the offer. But with the now-$75,000-per-year price tag of Dartmouth College, parents could blaze an amazing trail for their kids by moving to this charming town in rural New England.

San Francisco, California

Free Tuition at San Francisco City College

San Francisco has some of the priciest real estate in the country, so any financial perk for living there is welcome news for locals. The City by the Bay’s just-launched Free City program offers residents free tuition to San Francisco City College.

To be eligible, students must have established residency in the state of California for at least a year, and they must live in the city of San Francisco by the first day of classes. This generous program is one of the easiest tuition-free plans to qualify for, and SFCC is among the U.S.’s top-rated two-year public colleges, with superior staff and career-focused programs.

Whether graduates go straight into the Bay Area’s hot job market or move on to a four-year college, those two tuition-free years can be a big boon for those saving for a permanent place to live in pricey-but-gorgeous San Francisco.

Read more:

Laura Vogel is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who swears that her neighborhood is the last cheap place to rent in New York City. She has written for publications such as Condé Nast Traveler, the New York Times, Real Simple, the New York Post, In Style, and the Washington Post. She was born and went to college in New England, then ping-ponged across the country between California and New York City twice. In fact, her first post-college apartment was just a nook with a curtain across it in San Francisco.

5 Reasons Why Listing Your Home For Sale This Fall Makes Sense

September 11th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! In fact, more often than not, multiple buyers end up competing with each other to buy the same homes.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now 

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon!

Historically, a homeowner stayed in his or her home for an average of six years, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all that they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 44 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The abundance of inventory available in these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market for anybody looking to purchase these homes. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.1% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life 

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you feel you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

 

What Is a Home Equity Line of Credit?

September 10th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Trulia Guides

A HELOC can make accessing funds you need on an ongoing basis quick and easy.

Life has a way of throwing you curveballs that can cost money, perhaps quite a bit of it. Scrambling to come up with the cash to cover these sudden expenses can take time you may not have, and can add more anxiety to what may already be a stressful situation. A helpful resource for covering those unexpected expense—as well as major projects that require an infusion of funds—is a home equity line of credit.

Home equity line of credit basics

home equity line of credit, commonly referred to as a HELOC, is a type of secured loan available to property owners. As the name implies, you are getting a loan based on the equity of your home. Equity is calculated by taking the current value of your home and subtracting any existing mortgages, liens or other liabilities against the property. The property serves as the collateral that secures the loan.

People often take out a HELOC as a second mortgage, but if you don’t already have an existing mortgage on your home, your HELOC which would then occupy the first mortgage spot in the hierarchy since there are no senior loans above it.

You can take a HELOC to finance a wide range of things, or simply to have a safety net that will be available in case of an emergency or unplanned expense. It is common for property owners to use a HELOC for home renovations, repairs or upgrades. This can be a smart move if those improvements increase the value of your home, making the HELOC an investment that can pay off in a profitable way.

Upsides of a HELOC

An advantage of a HELOC is that the interest rate tends to be relatively low, but the adjustable rate means you must be prepared for the rate to fluctuate. The interest you pay on a HELOC is usually tax deductible, up to a certain amount. Also, you only need to go through the application and approval process once, at the initial start of the process. After that, you will always have that credit—available for quick accessibility in case of emergency—without having to go through another application. You only owe based on the amount you have used, although some lenders do charge an annual fee for a HELOC regardless of what if any amount you have borrowed.

A source of recurring funds

Unlike a typical mortgage, which is an installment loan, a HELOC is structured as a revolving line of credit. That means it functions in a similar manner as a credit card, where you can draw from (in other words, borrow against) the loan up to the established credit limit. Making payments on your balance frees up more available credit, so you can keep reusing that credit over and over via a cycle of drawing on it and then paying towards the balance (or paying off the balance completely).

HELOC dollars and cents

HELOC interest rates are tied to the Prime Rate (called the index) plus a margin. The margin is a markup or added fee charged by the lender, and can depend on a number of factors including your credit score and history.

Lenders have a limit as to how much they will allow you to borrow with a HELOC, proportionate to the home’s value. This is called the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, and for many lenders the maximum LTV ratio would be around 80 or 85 percent.

Interest rates for a HELOC are usually variable, although some lenders now offer the option of having a fixed-rate structure during some or all of the draw period or repayment period. If the HELOC lender doesn’t allow for a fixed-rate option, the monthly payments can fluctuate quite a bit and make it more challenging to plan your budget. Some borrowers opt to convert or refinance their HELOC, once it has entered repayment, to a fixed-rate mortgage in order to have a consistent, predictable monthly payment.

HELOCs terms, structure and rates can vary, so it’s a good idea to shop around and compare options among several lenders.

Repaying a HELOC

HELOCs are divided into two stages: the draw period and the repayment period. The draw period is usually 5 to 10 years, but can extend up to 20 years depending on what the specific loan allows. During this period, you can draw on the HELOC. Payments during this period may be interest-only, which is more common, or interest and principal. Once the HELOC enters the repayment period, you can no longer access funds and will be making payments that combine interest and principal.

Can you use equity to buy another house?

You can do pretty much whatever you want with the funds you take from a HELOC. One way to use it which many people may not consider is using a HELOC as the down payment to buy another property. Whether you want an investment property or a second/vacation home, you can draw upon the HELOC to help with the down payment to buy a house if you don’t have sufficient cash available. The attractive rates of a HELOC can make this a smart financial move, but you must consider all the angles carefully. If you are unable to make the payments, you will be putting your primary home at risk. By carrying the financial weight of two properties—and the loans that go along with them—you may be spreading yourself thin, and will also be at the mercy of any shifts in the real estate market.

Read more:

307 Dartmouth Dr – Open House Sunday, September 9th

September 7th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate

What You Need To Know About Home Appraisals

September 6th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Trulia Guides

Things can get tricky when closing a deal, for both buyer and sellers.

A home appraisal is a critical step in the home buying and selling process, and it’s one that could make or break the deal for either side. For buyers and sellers, it’s important to know what an appraisal is, how an appraiser makes an evaluation, and how the outcome of an appraisal could affect your strategy in a real estate deal.

What is a home appraisal and why is it necessary?

A home appraisal is an expert opinion of a home’s value and it ensures the lender that their loan will be well-spent, or at least up to par with the agreed selling price. Since the buyer is borrowing from the bank, they will cover the cost of the home appraisal.

Who is an appraiser and what are they looking for?

A home appraiser is a licensed professional who has completed the required training, apprenticeships, and exams to carefully and impartially provide opinions about the value of real property, according to the the world’s leading organization of professional real estate appraisers.

That means your appraiser is not going to give a low estimate because they didn’t like your furniture, or the paint color on the kitchen walls. But rather, according to the Appraisal Institute, appraisers assemble a series of facts, statistics, and other information regarding specific properties, analyze this data, and develop opinions of value. The appraisal may also include recent sales information for similar properties, the current condition of the property, and the location of the property insight as to how the neighborhood impacts the property’s value.

Buyers: What if the appraisal is higher than your offer?

If the house appraisal comes in less than the agreed-on price, you could be left to make up the difference out of pocket, since lenders approve loans based on the appraised value, not the contract price. It’s possible the sellers will drop the price to match the appraisal. After all, if the appraisal was already low once, it could very well appraise low again. Here’s what you need to know about all the ins and outs of the appraisal process.

Understand what you can’t do. If you’re unhappy with an appraiser’s valuation, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to change the actual outcome. “Appraisers have to follow strict guidelines prescribed by Fannie Mae and lenders,” says Peter Grabel, a Connecticut agent. “There is a database that all secondary market appraisals go into, called Collateral Underwriter, or CU, that runs the appraiser’s report against a huge database of past appraisals and market data to confirm the findings are accurate,” says Brian Koss, executive vice president of Mortgage Network. “It’s a very regimented process.”But, this strict and thorough process benefits buyers by preventing appraisal fraud, such as lenders pressuring appraisers to inflate the home’s price so that a deal can be made. But some appraisers, to avoid being accused of this deceptive practice, appraise lower than they probably should. Ideally, homes should appraise at their true market value. And although you can’t influence the appraisal amount, you aren’t powerless.

Know the neighborhood comps. You can take the seller’s word that the house you want is worth what they say it is. But, it’s always good to know what comparable homes in the area have recently sold for. “Ask your agent to show how they arrived at valuing the house so you can justify your offer price,” says Koss. If there are low comps in the area from short sales or foreclosures, for example, the appraisal could come in lower than your offer. Help guard against this by having your agent ask the lender to use a local appraiser who would be more likely to know the value of the home you want to buy.

Speak with the appraiser before the report is made. Why not request that your agent be on-site when the appraiser is there? “Your agent should provide printouts of recent sales (both on-market sales and off-market sales) that justify the purchase price,” says Joseph Montemarano, a California agent. If your agent can’t be there, at least have them communicate with the appraiser.“Communication is key,” says Peter Grabel. “If the agent is aware of any concerning issues, [they can] provide information to the appraiser before the report is generated.” Maybe the appraiser doesn’t know about the mold issue in the nearby home that just sold or the divorce that led to a quick sale, causing those comps to be lower.

Recognize the reasons for low appraisals. Use your knowledge of the area to inform the appraiser, who might not be aware of local factors as intimately as you are. Here are some issues that account for low appraisals, says Grabel:

  • Home prices in your area are increasing so quickly that the comps that sold six months ago don’t yet reflect this improvement.
  • There aren’t adequate comps in your area, so the appraiser referenced comps from a less desirable community.
  • The house you want has a much better view than the house that sold down the street, which overlooks power lines.
  • Your house has a beautifully finished basement with a bedroom and bathroom. (Appraisers are required to use a lower value per foot for space below grade.)
  • Your house has a pool or high-end landscaping, which didn’t lead to a higher appraisal.

Look at the appraisal report and ask about a revaluation if warranted. You have the right to see a copy of the appraisal report. Look it over as carefully as you look over your credit card statement each month. (You do that, right?) “If it has been found that errors or omissions exist within a report, it should be and will be corrected,” says David P. Anzueto, vice president of Atlantic Coast Mortgage LLC. “And perhaps the result is, in fact, a higher value.”If the house doesn’t appraise somewhere in the vicinity of the price you and the seller have agreed on — despite your efforts — you can ask for a revaluation. This tactic isn’t always easy to do and will cost you another appraisal fee.

Sellers: What if the appraisal is lower than your listing price?
Don’t panic. Remember to stay calm, assess the situation, and let your agent walk you through the process.

An appraisal lower than the agreed price can easily happen in a competitive market, where houses frequently bring in multiple offers. On face value, multiple offers are good news for you, the seller. They often mean getting more than your original asking price. For the seller, multiple offers can feel like winning — and they are.

Until your agent calls to tell you the appraisal came in below the agreed-upon sales price. Whomp, whomp, whomp.

The good news is that a low appraisal doesn’t have to be a deal killer. Having a knowledgeable agent at your side can make all the difference when it comes to bouncing back from a low appraisal.

Reduce the price of the house to the appraised value. As the seller, you can always sell the house at the appraised value without negotiating with anyone. This is the fastest way to “recover” from a low appraisal, but it could mean leaving money on the table. (And that’s always hard to swallow.)

Meet in the middle. If both parties still want the sale to go through, it could make sense to split the difference, with the seller dropping the price a bit and the buyer adding cash to the down payment. For example, if the difference between the sales price and the appraised value is $10,000, the seller could lower the price by $5,000 and get the buyer to bring another $5,000 to closing. This solution depends entirely on the relative willingness and financial positions of the two parties.

Challenge the appraisal. This option is a bit of a long shot. Only the appraiser’s client — the lender — can demand a review of the appraisal, and only the buyer can request a review or a second appraisal. As the seller, you can support the buyer in this effort by sharing the competitive market analysis that you received from your agent or by giving her the results of an independent appraisal, if you have one. You also can offer to split the cost of a second appraisal if the lender agrees.

This route has long odds because the decision is ultimately up to the lender, and the lender doesn’t have the same investment in the transaction that the buyer and seller have. If the lender doesn’t have a compelling reason to doubt the appraisal, then that tends to be the end of the line. (In my experience, only a small percentage of these requests are granted.)

Put the house back on the market. If the buyer can’t or won’t put more money down, and you’re not interested in reducing the price, you can take your chances by allowing the deal to fall through and putting the house back on the market. This can be disappointing to everyone involved. But if you’re in this situation because multiple offers brought the offer price above the asking price, then it might not be a bad way to go. You could get lucky and receive a cash offer when your agent relists the home. In that scenario, the appraisal won’t be an issue.

Plus, even without the cash offer, another lender’s appraiser could have a more favorable point of view. When considering scrapping your deal, don’t forget that at this point your house has been off the market for several weeks and you’re putting yourself that much farther from a closed sale. This is where your agent is especially helpful. Your agent understands what the market is doing and can clarify your options so you can make the best decision at that moment. You might also have other options, as rules vary from lender to lender and from state to state.

Stay calm. The hardest tactic is also the most simple — above all, stay calm, look at the facts, and let your agent do the negotiating.

Read more:

No Regrets: 4 Ways to Find the Right Neighborhood

September 5th, 2018

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Trulia’s Blog – by Haley Glazer

Know what you want—then find it.

House hunters tend to focus on, well, the house. Extra bedrooms, an updated kitchen, a dreamy patio—these things may boost your future happiness while you’re at home, but what about when you walk out the front door?

It’s easy to forget to evaluate the whole neighborhood during a home search, and this can lead to neighborhood regret. According to a recent Trulia survey, 36 percent of respondents would move to a different neighborhood than their current one if given the chance. And that number goes up based on location and age. Forty-two percent of San Franciscans experience neighborhood regret, versus 35 percent of Austinites, and 42 percent of people 18 to 29 reported regret, compared with 28 percent of those 50 and older.

There may not be much you can do about your city—and even less you can do about your age—but there are other ways to up your odds of loving your new neighborhood.

Here are four ways to avoid neighborhood regret:

1. Prioritize the vibe

Put “the right neighborhood vibe” on your must-have list next to number of bedrooms during your home search. Do you want a quiet, family-friendly cul-de-sac full of minivans? Or lively, walkable, urban block flush with entertainment options?

Screening for the right vibe can vastly improve your chances of avoiding neighborhood regret. Fifty-five percent of people who are currently happy with their neighborhood were significantly influenced by the vibe of the neighborhood when selecting their house, compared with only 36 percent of people with neighborhood regret.

How do you do it? There are a million ways to figure it out, but luckily, you don’t have to do it on your own. Trulia has an amenities section on every neighborhood page. Check it out to see if the neighborhood you are looking at it is heavy on nightlife or mom-and-pop shops, depending on your preferences.

2. Check it out yourself

Neighborhood regret is more likely to happen when homebuyers don’t have access to accurate information about a prospective neighborhood. For example, 22 percent thought the vibe was oversold. Features like “vibe” are pretty subjective, so you’ll want to check it out yourself rather than take a listing’s or agent’s word for it.

Of course, you don’t always have time to visit a dozen neighborhoods during a home search—or even one if you’re shopping from afar. Fortunately, Trulia Neighborhoods includes neighborhood photo galleries to help you out (currently available only in San FranciscoAustin, and Chicago, but we’ll be launching in more metros soon). Whether you use the original photos to narrow your search down to a couple of neighborhoods to check out, or to scope out a community from across the country, the virtual tour is the next best thing to being there yourself.

3. Ask around

If you get the chance to spend time in a prospective neighborhood, get friendly. Strike up a conversation with pedestrians, baristas, and neighbors about what they think the neighborhood is like. Many of neighborhood regretters’ complaints are things that may be hard to spot during a quiet stroll. Thirty-three percent of them dislike the lack of social activity in their neighborhoods, while 30 percent complain of street noise, and 28 percent are unhappy about unfriendly neighbors.

Trulia makes the task much easier with crowdsourced reviews by your future neighbors our What Locals Saysection. Want to know how your pets or kids will fit into the community? With one click, you can sort reviews by dog owners and parents to see what they have to say.

4. Screen for safety and schools

It’s hard to beat safety and school quality in neighborhood must-haves. And yet, 21 percent of neighborhood regretters believe the school quality in their area was oversold. Problem solved: Trulia Neighborhoods includes detailed information about crime and schools, including a crime risk map, what locals say about safety, school ratings, and school reviews by parents. With such important information, nothing compares to hearing from those who already live there.

You can knock down walls and repaint your new home all you want, but when it comes to your neighborhood, you take it as it is. But if you choose the right one, that can be great news. Follow these tips, and you can find a neighborhood that feels like home.

Read more:

Haley Glazer is a public relations intern at Trulia. Originally from Rochester, NY, she is an incoming senior at Northwestern University studying Journalism, Integrated Marketing Communications, and Legal Studies. Outside of class, she serves as the Senior Editor for STITCH Magazine, Northwestern’s student-run fashion magazine. When she’s not reading up on the latest in real estate and lifestyle news, you can find Haley indoor cycling, obsessing over social media, and searching for the best cold brew in San Francisco.