Advice Buying Real Estate

Choosing a Neighborhood

It's easy to get excited about a beautiful home that meets your criteria, but take the time to check out the area and neighborhood, too. The neighborhood and location can impact your monthly payment, enjoyment of your home and your lifestyle.

Location is most likely the one feature that adds most value to any real estate property. Therefore, much consideration should be given to the neighborhood where that home is located. Here are some items to consider:

Property Taxes

Property taxes can play a huge role in your overall cost of living. In California, we have Proposition 13, so property taxes have caps on how much they may go up each year. But there may be special taxes associated with the property above the base rate. It may be a good idea to check out the Orange County  Tax Collector site ; they provide an interactive map with multiple layers for your use.

Safety and Crime

Before you sign on the dotted line, search sites like and CrimeReports to get a sense of the safety level of a particular neighborhood. As with all homebuying decisions, determining what level of crime you feel safe with is all part of the process of choosing a neighborhood.

Topography and Geography

Geographic features like views and privacy can add value, but they may also include additional costs and/or considerations. Are you in a special flood zone or a seismic zone that could impact your insurance costs?


School zones come to mind when thinking of location, especially if you have children (or plan to have them soon), as they tend to affect home values. If schools are important to you, evaluate the schools in your neighborhood and which homes fall into which district. Additionally, there may be community centers or parks that increase the value of the neighborhood.

If you are targeting Mission Viejo, I have a great site where you can check out the schools, homes, parks, etc. in the area. Check it out here.

There are other things to consider when choosing a home and and neighborhood such as current and future property values, access to area amenities, public transportation, hospitals, etc. I can help you research your target neighborhood so you can make the best decision possible as a home buyer.