What To Look For In Your New Neighborhood When Buying A House In Fort Wayne, Indiana

Moving To Fort Wayne | What To Look For In Your New Neighborhood
Dave Brough:
If you’re thinking about moving to Fort Wayne, chances are you already have a pretty good understanding of what you’re looking for in your next home. Things like the number of beds, baths, if you want an attached garage, or nice yard space. All of these things are super important, but I think these things are only half of the equation. The community, or the neighborhood that the house is located in, is just as important, if not more important than the house itself. So I’m going to talk about some of the nuances of neighborhoods in Fort Wayne, so that you can get a comprehensive idea of what to look for in your next home.

I’m a local real estate agent here in Fort Wayne, and I want to help people get a better idea of what it’s like to live, work, play, eat, sleep in the Fort Wayne area. If you think my team and I can help you, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

So let’s get right to it. Like I said before, the house itself is not the only thing that you should be considering when you’re moving into Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne, like any other city, has its nuances. There are certain things about certain neighborhoods that I’d want to know and I’m sure you guys would as well. I’m going to cover most of those today.

Community Around the Neighborhood

The first thing you want to consider is the community around the house. Most people I talk to, when they’re trying to figure out where they want to live in Fort Wayne, base it upon the community. So how do you, someone that’s living out of state or someone that’s living in Fort Wayne, get an idea of that community? Well, a few things that I recommend would be to get out, walk around, and talk to neighbors. If you’re fortunate enough to be in Fort Wayne while there are garage sales, talk to people who are holding one. A lot of times these people are moving, or they just moved in. The best source of information is always someone who is local, and you can’t get any more local than someone that lives in the neighborhood you want to live in.

Not everyone wants to knock on doors. However, if you knock on a few doors and approach it the right way, you’re going to have people who genuinely want to offer their candid sense of what’s going on. Another option is to go to local grocery stores and see how people receive you. If you say, “Hi,” do they look you in the eyes? Do they look down when you’re approaching them, or look away? That’s telling right there. You can also go visit some parks or local coffee shops and start conversations with people. These things will most likely give you a pretty good idea of the vibe in the neighborhood. 

You could also go online. Most neighborhoods have some sort of Facebook group. If they don’t, they most likely have a website. You can get a really good idea of how strong the community is by how active the groups are. 

Lastly, you could conduct your own research and get your own information from going out on the streets. You should also be able to rely on your local real estate agent. If they’re good at what they do, they’ll have a pulse on the market and will be able to offer a lot of information. So get out there, walk around, explore the shops, and talk to a real estate agent.

Consider Local Schools Around Your Home

Another thing you’ll want to consider in the neighborhood you’re purchasing a house in is the local schools. Fort Wayne has several different school districts that you could potentially choose from based upon the location of the home. I would start by getting on a website, such as greatschools.org, and start doing some research. We have two fantastic school systems, Northwest Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools. These are both public school systems, but Fort Wayne community schools has some great options as well. Researching online gives you an opportunity to get an inside look at what they’re teaching, the facility, staff, etc. You can see which schools meet your expectations. I will also say that some people don’t have kids, don’t plan to have kids, or maybe the kids are grown and schools aren’t a priority. Don’t discount the factor of salability, or resale. If you’re in an area with a really good school system, whether you have kids or not, it affects your property value. Houses or areas that have better schools draw more people, their home prices are more stable, and they usually accelerate at a faster pace than houses outside of those school districts.

Owner Occupied Versus Rentals

Another thing to consider is the ratio of owner-occupied versus rentals in the neighborhood. We see rentals everywhere in Fort Wayne; even the higher priced areas. A nicer area would have prices around $300,000, and you can usually tell where the rentals are in these neighborhoods because of the maintenance of the houses. The grass is a little bit taller, there’s more weeds, the garage door is faded and needs painted, etc. So if you have six or seven of those in a small neighborhood, that could have an impact. You might have found a great house online only to find out that there are rentals in this neighborhood that are going to affect everyone else’s home values; or just the aesthetics of your neighborhood. You can have a neighborhood with some good rentals that are well kept, but it’s just something to keep in mind. 

Safety and Walkability

Safety is another thing to consider. You can go online and find that most of this information is publicly available. You can check out websites like safewise.com, neighborhoodscout.com, or of course you can always talk to people in the area and see how they feel about the general safety of the neighborhood.

Walkability is important for a lot of people. You can find a home off a busy road and in a newer subdivision, and find that you’re kind of locked in there. These neighborhoods usually have one entrance that doesn’t connect to any other neighborhood, so you can only walk in the little loop. The older and more established neighborhoods typically have excellent walking because they’re all interconnected. Fort Wayne has a trail system called the Rivergreenway. The idea is everything is going to be connected someday. You can walk, bike, or hop on an electric scooter and go get a coffee, some groceries, or a bite to eat. That’s really nice  and convenient, especially in the warmer months. 

Wood Foundations and Electric Homes

Fort Wayne has several neighborhoods with homes that were built on wood foundations. They were done in the ’80s, and it really is a wood foundation sitting on stones. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be pretty easy to miss it, especially online. So the only way you would know is by looking at the wood underneath the siding, between the ground. You definitely want to rely on your real estate agent for that information. If you do buy a house with a wood foundation, definitely have it inspected. You want to know if there’s any sort of moisture intrusion, which would lead to an early failing of the foundation. Some examples of neighborhoods with these foundations are shown in the video.

We also have neighborhoods that were built with homes that never had a gas service to them. A lot of these homes are located towards the northeast side of Fort Wayne, and they’re all electric homes. With this type of home, it’s going to cost you more to heat your home. People generally prefer gas appliances because they operate at a lower cost per therm, and they’re more efficient. If you have an electric home, most of them don’t have duct work. This means they have electric ceiling heat, which is by far the least desirable heat source that you can put in a house here. They have cables that run through the ceiling, so if you’re trying to drill something and you hit one, you’re done for. The heat also rises, so if your heating source is above your head and heat is wanting to escape your home, it’s not a good source of energy. You’re also going to have loud window units in the summer, which are not as effective as distributing the air throughout the home.

Rivers and Flooding

We have really good neighborhoods in Fort Wayne that are by our rivers. We have three rivers, and this provides us with access to tons of great local parks. This provides great aesthetics because you’re not looking at houses all the time, you’re looking at parks. The downside is that these rivers flood. Fort Wayne and the federal government has done a lot to protect the city from flooding. Just be careful when selecting a home, because a lot of houses are in flood plains. However, you can google a map online to see if your address falls into a flood zone. Flood insurance could be an expense because of this, but you can think about it as being apart of your total cost of living. Sometimes you can get a better price on a home and just pay flood insurance while you have a mortgage on the property. Although, it’s been a while since a home in Fort Wayne has actually flooded because of the river rising.

The Seller’s Market

We’re in a crazy sellers’ market, and when the market shifts we’re going to see more inventory. I’ve had people in the past go through neighborhoods and see a lot of sale signs, and people will start to question why so many people are selling their house. At first glance, that could be an indicator of something going on in the neighborhood. However, if you really know the neighborhood well, there’s certain areas they just have a super high turnover rate. It’s not that people are moving out of the neighborhood, they’re just moving up or down. If the area is large enough and presents different options of inventory, it’s very common to see lots of sales in an area. So it shouldn’t alarm you, it could mean they want to have more room for their growing family, or they want to downsize because their kids are moved out.

Check For Sidewalks

The last thing to consider is Fort Wayne has a lot of neighborhoods that don’t have sidewalks. If you’re someone that likes to get out and walk around to get exercise, and you like to do that with the safety of a sidewalk, this is something to look out for. You’re typically not going to see that on Zillow, so hop on Google maps and make sure the house you want has sidewalks if that’s important to you. I guess the good side would be not having to shovel a sidewalk, but for the rest of us, it’s nice to have sidewalks.

I hope this was helpful. If I can be of service to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We help people move into Fort Wayne almost every single day!

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