Shortly after unpacking, it dawned on them. Where would they go to find vintage fixtures and authentic parts to renovate their home? Who will help them plan a kitchen remodel? Where is the closest vet to take their cat? So, they called me.
If you need to find neighborhood businesses after moving into a new home, here are a few places to look.
Let Your Agent Help You Find Neighborhood Businesses
If you had hired a neighborhood specialist as your real estate agent, that person still can be a wealth of information for you. Realize, too, that just because your transaction has closed, your agent does not disappear and will be thrilled to assist you.
Apart from supplying you with names and addresses of recommended businesses in the neighborhood, your agent may know other neighbors who have used similar businesses and can put you in touch with these people.
Ask Your Neighbors for Referrals to Neighborhood Businesses
Don't wait for your neighbors to knock on your door holding a plate of cookies. Throw your own Get-To-Know-Us party. Be proactive. Run off a couple dozen fliers and drop them on your neighbors' steps. Make it a Saturday afternoon potluck get-together.
Ask your neighbors where they shop and why. You'll hear a variety of opinions, both pros and cons, and some of your neighbors might even own a business themselves. Ask about their favorite:
- Hardware stores
- Doctors and dentists
- Beauty shops and manicurists
- Music and DVD stores
- Dry cleaners
- Gas stations
- Discount stores
- Shopping malls
- Jewelry stores
- Fast-food stores
- Movie theaters
- Book stores
- Banks or credit unions
- Grocery stores
- Smog stations (for those of you in CA)
- Automotive mechanics
- Emergency rooms
- Wholesale plumbing and electrical stores
- Post offices
- Housekeepers and gardeners
- Gardening stores
- Tax accountants
- Car washes
Ask Your Title Company for a Property Profile
Sellers typically receive a property profile package from their listing agent but they don't always pass it down to the buyer. You can get your own for free from the title company that issued your title insurance policy.
A property profile will give you more than comparable sales in the neighborhood. It may also include the names of your neighbors and neighborhood demographics compiled as follows:
- Population, age brackets, gender and marital status
- Number of automobiles
- Average monthly mortgage payments
- Number of home owners versus renters
Ask the Former Sellers Which Neighborhood Businesses They Frequent
When I schedule final walk-through inspections for my buyers, I ask the listing agent if it's possible for the sellers to be present. It's helpful to get first-hand tips about your home's quirks, but sellers can also share other important pieces of information with you such as the secret shortcut to the nearest freeway entrance ramp.
Go Online to Find Neighborhood Businesses
One of my favorite web sites is yelp.com. It's free and filled with reader reviews. Go to your city and enter the type of business you are searching for, followed by your address. You can refine your quest by distance: walking or driving. I found a great little hole-in-the-wall a few blocks from my house that I didn't even know existed!
You can also Google the name of your neighborhood and look for an association. Many neighborhoods have formed informal associations that meet once a month.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention About.com's Cities & Towns. Look up your city. You'll find tons of information about various neighborhoods.
And last, check out your city's chamber of commerce. Every single chamber maintains a business directory, many of which are online.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.