It’s what’s on the outside that counts – for home buying, that is
by First Financial Bank

That may sound counter to what most of us have been taught, but what’s on the outside matters just as much, if not more, when it comes to buying a house.

While there are many features you can change about the inside of your home, there are some important things on the outside that you simply can’t. So, whether it’s your first home or you’re considering an upgrade, here are a few things to keep in mind. Knowing where you stand on each will help focus your search and get you into the home of your dreams sooner.

  • Location, location, location – Location is key, but this can mean different things to different people. Consider what factor of location is more important to you and your family. Is it length of your daily work commute, proximity to family and friends, or convenience to shopping, parks or the airport? Or maybe you’re looking for an out-of-the-way respite from your busy work life. Since location is one thing that can’t be changed once you move, it’s probably at the top of your list.
  • Crime – No one likes to think about it, but unfortunately crime is part of living in any community. A neighborhood that skews higher in crime rates than another doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not right for you. But it can help you evaluate the home you’re considering and your ability to keep you and your property safe. Installing alarm systems or practicing safety habits can help lower your odds of being targeted. Check out a crime statistics map like this one in Cincinnati before you go hunting:
  • Diversity – We live in an increasingly smaller and more inclusive world, and Greater Cincinnati is no exception. So, it’s important to know what matters to you in terms of your relationship with neighbors. You may prefer a neighborhood where you share common interests or backgrounds with those around you. Or, it may be important for you to venture into new interests. Or, it may not matter at all. Just know that diversity comes in many forms: gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, culture, socioeconomic background and more. There is no right answer for everyone.
  • Taxes – Since your financial obligation extends well beyond your mortgage, consider the taxes before you buy. While a more expensive neighborhood may be appealing, odds are the tax rate is higher to pay for all those advantages. Visit the county treasurer’s website to get an idea of the tax rates and how they have changed in the past few years. You can also check out articles in the local newspaper or online to learn about pending or recent tax proposals in an area you’re considering. The more you know, the fewer surprises.
  • General vibe – Beyond who lives right next door, you may want to evaluate the neighborhood as a whole. Drive by at different times of the day and on different days of the week. Do homeowners keep their lawns looking nice? Are people outside? Are there lots of kids on bikes? Do people park on the street? Are garage doors left open? Each of these things can weigh positively or negatively in your mind so decide what’s important to you.

Once you’ve settled on the outside, it’s time to start looking on the inside. Getting pre-approval on a mortgage limit before you shop can save time and keep you focused on finding the perfect place to call home.

If you’re interested in learning more about our loan program for physicians, medical and business professionals, visit to connect with a mortgage officer near you.

Credit and collateral are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. This is not a commitment to lend. Programs, rates, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.