Investment: your home

InvestmentThe purchase of a new home is, for many people, their primary source of investment. Over the life of the mortgage, you will be putting a considerable amount of money into your purchase and, should circumstances change in your life, your home represents an asset that may be sold and can possibly return a handsome profit as well.

It only makes sense to consider ALL of the relevant information when purchasing a new home. This can be much more difficult, however, if you are moving across the country and are not familiar with the neighborhoods, schools, etc. associated with the home you are seeking to buy.

This is where websites offering information to potential home buyers can be a good start in researching the relevant factors.  For example, if you are planning a move to the Chicago area, you can first visit Illinois homes to view a variety of locally helpful data. Illinois rates for a variety of loan types are compared, showing the weekly change, along with a comparison to the national rates. You can view the city popularity below and see that Chicago is indeed a major market, which is likely to impact favorably on resale values. Visiting the Chicago page will provide further details, along with a list of nearby cities you may also wish to check out in case you don’t want to buy a home right in Chicago.

Each state has similar information available. You can, for example, visit the Indiana MLS and  view such information as statewide demographic details, or choose the city where you wish to see the same information. Even small towns are well represented. I checked Franklin, a town where I lived as a child. The population is now 1,264. You can view full demographic details with information such as ethnicity, family income, price of a home, education level, family size, age range, and even the average commute time. Housing-specific details include the percentage of owned homes vs. rented and the percentage of vacancies. Local hospitals, medical centers, schools, colleges, churches, and more details are provided. All of these factors influence the potential resale value of a home, as well as give a snapshot of the local market.

Another useful feature of such websites are the ability to view foreclosures and other specific real estate deals. While in the state of Indiana, since I am familiar with the cities there, I also checked out Indianapolis foreclosures. The important relevant information was provided in a list form for almost 6,000 foreclosures in that city alone. Each entry shows an aerial photo view of the home, address, foreclosure amount, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, usually the year built, the foreclosure company, the date the home was listed, and the auction date. More details are available from the listing page, but you do have to sign up to receive that information.

Much more useful information is included, from the mortgage calculator tools to more detailed relevant information. When I searched for my high school among the school listing, I was able to view the full county records and statistics, including expenditure per student, classroom ratios, graduation rates, how many students received free or reduced price lunches, the ethnic demographics, and more.

Use online resources to gather as much information about your planned move as you can, an you will be prepared to purchase a home in a neighborhood that will help you retain your home’s value and protect your investment, should you ever wish to sell it.