Claire Rainville, Broker Associate, REMAX

Interior home designs aren't the only elements that weigh in on whether or not you'll like a house. Front and back lawns, overall landscaping and durability of materials that the house's exterior is made of also factor into the decision. Another item, one which you may have little control over, has a lot of influence over how much you'll enjoy living in a house.

What you don't know about a neighborhood could hurt

That single factor is the neighborhood that a house is located in. Measuring the progress of a neighborhood generally takes time. You could visit a neighborhood two to three times and miss seeing teens hanging out on the corner.

You could also miss seeing stray cats and dogs roaming the neighborhood, climbing in and out of curbside garbage bins. Loud cars racing down the street in front of residential homes, couples fighting and police cars cruising through the neighborhood in search of people suspected of committing a felony are other happenings that might not occur when you drive into the neighborhood to inspect a house you're interested in buying.

Even if you don't catch potentially unwelcomed events happening in a neighborhood you're thinking about buying a house in, there are ways that you could spot a bad neighborhood. Spot one or more of these five signs and you could be checking out a house that's located in a depressed neighborhood.

  • Sewage problems - Sewage issues can make living in any house in a neighborhood a bad experience. You may not know that this problem exists until you move in and your toilet starts backing up. Of course, you could gain insight into the problem by asking current residents to tell you about their experiences with utilities.
  • Flooding - This is another time when you'll have to talk with neighbors to know how the land handles storms like major rainfalls.
  • Accidents - Move into a house that's located near a winding road and your power could go out each time someone races around the turn and hits a utility box. You might also have to reinstall your mailbox whenever someone loses control of their vehicle and crashes into your mailbox.
  • Pests - Raccoon, rabbits and deer can destroy your garden and your lawn. If raccoon get inside your house, they could damage furniture.
  • Illegal activities - Let illegal activities like drug dealing, illegal financial schemes or human trafficking go on in a  neighborhood and violence could erupt.  As with any sign that a house is in the wrong neighborhood, you'll need to talk with neighbors to get the inside scoop on the area. You can also read crime reports.

Give yourself a real win, buy a great house in a great neighborhood

Well maintained homes are not a guarantee that a neighborhood is advancing. People from all backgrounds commit domestic violence, use illegal drugs and put their pets ahead of every other dog and cat around. Let enough trouble happen in a neighborhood and businesses may start to vacate the area.

Let property taxes rise too frequently and residents may start to move too, leaving more and more houses empty. Utility problems also push homeowners out. As concerning as these events are, they are only a few signs that could tip you off to the fact that a neighborhood is wrong for you, even if a house in the neighborhood looks perfect.