How’s the Neighborhood?

How’s the Neighborhood?

This is a common question for many homebuyers, but it’s a loaded question that Realtors should be cautious in answering due to the Fair Housing Act. Many details are off-limits in order to protect equal opportunity and safeguard against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. It is illegal for Realtors to steer clients toward or away from particular neighborhoods based on any of these protected classes. Questions that you may have about schools or crime statistics are also very subjective. Perception varies depending on who you ask. Communities have many defining qualities and what is important to one person may be different than someone else. While we can’t (and don’t want to) decide which neighborhood is best for you, we are happy to provide you with tools and resources to find the one that best meets your needs.

Homebuyer Homework

When shopping for a new house, it’s easy to get swept away by a gorgeous house that checks off so many boxes on your wish list, but be sure to look beyond the house itself.  We recommend that our homebuyer clients determine what they desire in a neighborhood and then evaluate the neighborhood surrounding their prospective new home if moving to a new area.

Determine what is most important to you

  • What are your hobbies?
  • Do you like to be near water?
  • If you have pets, are there sidewalks and parks nearby?
  • How far are you willing to commute?
  • How important is walkability?
  • If you enjoy cooking, do you like the grocery choices nearby?
  • Do you prefer living on a cul-de-sac or closer to a main highway for convenience?
  • Do you want to live in a Homeowners Association?
  • How far is the neighborhood from your friends and family?
  • How far is the nearest hospital and fire department?

Evaluate the neighborhood

Often times, showings take place during the daylight hours, during which time it may be difficult to determine the traffic flow during rush hour.  We suggest that our clients drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night, both during the week and on the weekends. Pay attention to neighborhood features, such as sidewalks and street lights, especially if walkability is important.  Also, determine how convenient grocery shopping, dry cleaner stops, and other errands would be. Where are the nearest parks, greenways and other recreational areas in relation to the house you’re considering?  Is there reliable public transportation nearby?  For example, going east from downtown Nashville, residents have the convenience of riding the Music City Star commuter train, which has stations in Donelson, Hermitage, Mt. Juliet and Lebanon.

Talking to neighbors can be extremely helpful.  Introduce yourself as a potential new neighbor and see what the other residents have to say about the area.  You may get some good recommendations and maybe even start a new friendship too.

Most homebuyers know to check school zoning, crime maps, etc., but dig a little deeper to make sure your dream home is located in a neighborhood that best suits your family.

Use technology to your advantage

Unlike several years ago, homebuyers now have every type of tool and resource needed to learn the ins and outs of any neighborhood without ever stepping foot in it. Here are a few to get you started.

Determining which area(s) you want to focus your search will save you a ton of time when you begin touring homes for sale and will help to avoid any surprises that may cause you to feel buyer’s remorse.

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About the Author

My wife and I live in Donelson, where we both were raised and graduated from high school (DCA Classes of 1983 and 1984).  Our current home is on the Cumberland River, very close to my childhood home and the former homes of both my McDonald and Rice grandparents.

Our daughter and son are grown now, and our daughter, Stephanie Miller, is my real estate partner.  She lives in Lebanon with her husband and their two children.  While Stephanie and I specialize in the areas of Downtown Nashville, Donelson, Hermitage, Old Hickory, Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, we have and do serve clients all over Middle Tennessee.

As a Nashville native, I’ve spent a lifetime watching our city evolve, and I am enthusiastic about showcasing it to others and serving their real estate needs.


1997 — 2000   Fleetwood HOA Board Officer

2013 — 2016   Rhythm at Music Row HOA Board Officer

2017   Greater Nashville Realtors: Housing Opportunities & Affordability Committee

2017 — 2018   St. Martin Square HOA Board Officer

2017 — 2019   Brentwood Photography Group Board

2018 — 2019   Senior Ride Nashville


National Association of REALTORS®

Tennessee Association of REALTORS®

Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS®