How to Write a Neighborhood Guide
Home buyers may find the perfect dream home online, but they are unlikely to purchase that home until they understand the neighborhood it’s built in. Therefore, as a real estate agent, providing a neighborhood profile can go a long way to giving your clients a better understanding of the surroundings. Neighborhood guides, or profiles, add rich content to your website, and you can use snippets on Facebook to drive that traffic. Furthermore, neighborhood guides provide a hyper-local aspect to your website which allows you to rank organically for neighborhood search terms.
Just what content should a neighborhood profile have? Here are some items to consider to create a positive experience for your website visitors.
It’s best to start simply, highlighting the basics like local demographics and market data. Buyers are interested in population, employment rates, and industries and employers in the area. You can always touch on these topics, then link to a city, county or other government site for more information. What is the cost of living in the area? Is it reasonable or not so reasonable? How crowded is the community? Are people elbow to elbow, or will the buyer have wide open spaces? Realtors typically list a population per square mile as a great reference point.
Buyers are naturally going to want to know the average cost of homes in any particular neighborhood so they can set expectations accordingly. Most agents provide a price range, so that buyers can look at their candidate home to see if its price is at the bottom or top of that market.
Location, Location, Location
Of course, location is a key element that every buyer wants to know. If buying in the suburbs, highlight the home’s location relative to the nearest big city, so buyers can determine commute times and proximity to amenities that only big cities can offer. Point out the location of the suburb and surrounding suburbs as well, and be sure to point out proximity to major recreational areas or geographical features (“10 miles from Lake Such-and-Such” or “within walking distance to the Atlantic Ocean.”)
Adding a map is a great way to help buyers pinpoint the location. If possible, graphically show the neighborhood in relation to other areas (beach, downtown, transportation, landmarks, etc.) You can get the map you want from Google Maps, screenshot it, then save it to your site. Some agents even embed interactive maps for even more functionality.
Who wouldn’t want to know how safe a neighborhood is? Use local law enforcement sites to obtain data, or link to these sites for more information, but in general, buyers want to know about incidences of property crime as well as violent crime in the surrounding area. This is also a great place to highlight any novel police community programs or civic engagement groups trying to minimize crime in the area.
Is the neighborhood heavily wooded, or are there no trees in sight? Is the neighborhood more rural or more urban? These are details every buyer wants to know.
Potential buyers want to know about transportation as well. How close is the neighborhood to a metropolitan area? What’s the traffic like? Is there a mass transit system of buses, trains or subways?
The quality of area schools is a major factor in home purchases for buyers with school-age children. What is the public school system like? How close are the schools to the neighborhood? Are there nearby private schools, and are they affordable? This is a great place to list some of the highlights about the school: unique curriculum offered, any awards the district has won, stellar athletic teams, and such. You can highlight features, then link to school or district sites for more information.
The Great Outdoors
What does the neighborhood have to offer in terms of outdoor amenities? Are there a neighborhood pool, bike trails, hiking, jogging trails, or dog parks? Is the neighborhood near the lake, a beach, or the mountains? Regardless of whether the buyer is an avid outdoorsman or just someone who wants to take a nice sunset stroll once in awhile, most buyers want to know about these kinds of amenities.
Writing about the history of the community is an added bonus. Interesting facts about settlers, town founders, famous buildings, or famous residents are great additions. How old is the neighborhood? When was it founded? Interesting tidbits and compelling stories about historical figures can’t hurt either. List any historical landmarks, such as historical markers or state or national parks, that happen to be nearby.
Remember, buyers want to soak up as much information as they can about the neighborhood, so don’t forget to include local attractions. List tourist sites, professional sports teams, notable universities, cultural centers, and any other special attractions.
Be sure to include information about the arts, too, listing details about performing arts and museums in the area. Famous eateries and annual festivals are great to list as well.
Once you have all the details, write a lead-in paragraph that serves as an executive summary for that neighborhood. It can be short and sweet, but highlight significant details like the age of the neighborhood, architectural features, and historical significance. And don’t forget to include photos—a picture really is worth a thousand words!