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Bricks and boards may determine the cost of a home, but a neighborhood determines value.

Consider the identity of the neighborhood. The overall impression given by an area is key to its value.

Drive through and around the neighborhood. Value is enhanced by other well-maintained properties. Conversely, be cautious of areas with unkempt yards and homes, and businesses mixed in with residences.

Ask your Agent about the property tax assessment in the area, including any special assessments or pending bond issues.

Pay attention to neighborhood zoning. Good residential communities are zoned to keep out commercial and industrial users. Ask about other regulations in the neighborhood, such as on-street parking. Find out if this area is governed by any covenants.

List which community services are important to you. Do you need to be close to shopping, schools or a mass transit stop?

Get an idea of the neighborhood’s character by talking with people who live there.

Factor in the costs of commuting as you’re looking at neighborhoods. If your daily commute to work, school, shopping or other locations will be very long, you may have greater automobile expenses, such as gas, maintenance and insurance.