UNITED STATES—Your neighborhood is part of your home. It’s where you spend most of your time away from work. It’s where you find your local community and where your children will meet their earliest friends. Your neighborhood can be a source of joy and connection; it can also be a source of headaches.

Because of this, it’s not unusual to want to know what’s going on in your neighborhood or in a neighborhood you’re considering moving into. You want to know that things are safe and keep potential home options known to you if you’re thinking about moving. When something is happening, you want to know what it is and what the end product will be. The following will explore a few tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself aware of the latest renovations and developments in your neighborhood.

Why Should You Care About Renovations And Developments?

Nothing in life stays the same; it’s the one guarantee we all have, and often, the force of change is the one that we’re most fighting with or against. While most people think of the ever-presence of change in terms of how it influences their families, homes, and jobs, neighborhoods are not without its impacts of it either. Knowing what changes are coming can help you adjust in a timely manner and make any preparations needed. It can also help you take a stance if you find a particular development problematic.

When homes or buildings in your neighborhood are undergoing renovations, the projects can impact you and your life. Foremost, if major renovations are being undertaken, there might be noise, construction vehicles, and by-products like dusty air for a while. It sounds unlikely, but people have been known to move into a home and spend the next two years renovating it—basically rebuilding the entire house from scratch. While you can’t control what other people do with their own homes, you can have realistic expectations about mess and noise, and this can help reduce feelings of frustration. Furthermore, if you’re considering moving into a particular property and figure out a massive construction project is underway, you can weigh this information in your decision.

Secondly, knowing what renovations are underway in a neighborhood more broadly can help you determine what changes are on-trend and contribute to home value. You might find that there are some elements that have become standard in your area that you can also employ to help bolster your home’s value. It can also give you an idea of what isn’t being done to the houses in your area to help you determine what tweaks to skip over if you’re renovating. This is an often under-looked point that can save you a lot of money; not all renovations and repairs improve home value by enough to make the initial investment worth it. Sometimes, they even decrease in value. And even in the situations where an improvement should improve a home’s worth, it is possible to price yourself out of a particular neighborhood’s market, making the investment worthless.

MLS Search Engines

Real estate agents have access to search engines specifically designed to help home buyers search for real estate listings. Many of these engines contain more information besides just the houses for sale in the area. Something like Showcase IDX lets you really explore a neighborhood from a real estate perspective. This can include details like whether homes were flooded in the past and zoning details. Most of these search engines will allow you to filter your search by the standard things like location, price, and the number of rooms, but it can also allow you to filter your search by neighborhood scores on things like safety, walkability, and amenities.

These sorts of tools are particularly helpful for people thinking about buying or selling a home in the near future. It also lets you notice real estate trends like the number of people looking to sell at a particular time in a particular place. Many listings specify what renovations have been recently done in a home and when less recent renovations were completed. Often, for example, they’ll state when the roof was last replaced.

Furthermore, listing search engines often also provide information about previous sales and what prices were involved. This can allow you to figure out property value trends like whether property values are increasing, decreasing, or stable in an area. Sometimes this research can be done street-by-street, which allows you to get a microeconomic view of the neighborhood.

Look For Local Facebook Pages

It might surprise you to realize that most neighborhoods and communities have a local Facebook page. These pages tend to include updates about events and other ongoings within the neighborhood, as well as details about problems people are facing. Checking out the local Facebook group can keep you informed about invasive species concerns, garden diseases that are spreading, local pranksters stealing everyone’s garbage bins, and even that local person who never ties up their dog. Whether you’re just moving to a new neighborhood, considering a particular community, or have lived in the same place all your life, the local Facebook page can be incredibly illuminating. It might even have updates about ongoing renovations.

If anyone is particularly vocal on these pages, you can also click their names and take a look at any public posts they’re sharing. Sometimes people are more honest on their own pages than on public ones.

Take any signs of division among the local population seriously. Many people in this day and age are becoming overwhelmed by the aggressive and divisive nature of politics and social beliefs and how intense disagreements can get. Pay attention to whether people are kind and respectful towards those they disagree with or if harsh words and insults are used. Some of the most rapid developments that are happening in neighborhoods all over the world right now spring up as a result of intense tensions that meet their boiling point.

Inquire About Future Planning

Reach out to the local council and see what their plans are. Projects and developments can have a huge impact on a neighborhood. In particular, they tend to influence property values, traffic, and pollution. If you notice a project in the plan, you can research people’s opinions on this particular project by searching about it online. If someone is aware of a fault in the plan or possible negative ramifications, they will probably be writing opinion pieces about it and sharing petitions.

You might also want to look into local charitable organizations and the projects they have underway. Things like small home communities for homeless people or clean needle clinics can change the dynamic of your neighborhood.

Spend Some Time On Twitter

Twitter is a scary place online, but it can also be really informative if you know how to use it. Take a moment to search for your neighborhood or community’s name within a hashtag. You can also choose to set the trends box to your particular area (there’s a change button on the trends box). Local news outlets, councils, people, and organizations might be tweeting about ongoing things.

Local Real Estate Agents

Part of thriving as a real estate agent involves knowing what’s going on in a particular neighborhood. A good real estate agent will know the energetic direction a neighborhood is heading, including what demographics are moving in and what demographics are moving out and municipal projects about to be undertaken. They also know what renovations are making the biggest impression on home values, so they can give you an idea of what home projects are probably going to be popping up in the near future.

Local News

While the world news has been front and center for a while now (and maybe you’re at your wit’s end and want nothing to do with it anymore), it’s local news coverage that can help you understand what’s coming next for your town. This is where you’re going to hear about new by-laws that are up for discussion and zoning alterations that can make the difference between whether your neighborhood stays quiet and residential or gets a massive shopping center right in the middle of town.

Go To Community Events

In tight-knit communities, people tend to keep each other informed of what’s going on. If development is particularly decisive, this is even more common. If a park is being turned into a protected wetland where dogs won’t be allowed to enter the property in the future or laws regarding food trucks are changing so that a few local business people won’t be able to provide the lunches that everyone loves so much, people talk about it. The human community is one of the most integral parts of living a long and healthy life; despite this, fewer and fewer people take advantage of what a community can truly offer.

Meet people and talk to them about themselves. Ask what has been going on lately. You’ll be shocked by how detailed the answers you get are. The lovely side effect of this step is that your home becomes safer; when interviewed, burglars state that they look for communities where neighbors don’t ask questions while they scope places out. Studies are also finding that feeling like part of a community can increase your life expectancy. If the community is faith-based, this increase can be up to 14 years!

Explore The Area

Not everyone participates in community things which means wandering through the neighborhood can let you in on the less-reported developments that are ongoing. Construction and renovations are often pretty easy to spot from the street. As well, sometimes city councils will hide particular plans as long as possible if they know the process will be greatly hindered by the local population; often, by law, they’re required to post a sign about any major changes, however, so you might be able to get a sense of some of the larger renovations ongoing by reading signage. Finally, you’re going to want to look for spray paint or powerline markers. Electrical companies, plumbing companies, utility providers, and other businesses often mark places where they’re going to begin work before they get started.

Make sure to explore the area at different times of day and on different days of the week. You’ll be able to gain a much better sense of the area when you see what it looks like throughout a few weeks.

Look At Crime Statistics

Most police forces collect data, and often this data is amalgamated on a particular site. Once you find that site for the neighborhood you’re interested in, you should be able to get a bird’s eye view of the crime rate and the type of crime occurring. Pay special attention to trends in this regard. If the crime rate is growing, the police force has been given budget cuts, or the type of crimes occurring is growing more violent or scary, this should give you an idea of the direction the neighborhood is evolving in.

Notes About Search Safety

While you’re no doubt eager to get to understand your new or potential community better, it’s important that you take steps to protect your privacy as you search. Because people searching for homes in search engines for listings tend to include information like the amount they can spend on a house and the location they’re looking for one, people who hunt for and mine data to sell to marketing corporations or other corporations consider these searches highly valuable. They are targeted fairly often, and this means you should take a few precautions to protect your privacy. Data security and data rights are huge issues that are only expected to continue to grow in the future.

The above information should help you gain an awareness of the renovations and developments happening in your area. This seems like a lot of work, but once you figure out the channels that local people are using, it becomes a quick and easy check every so often. If you are concerned about anything you discover and home value, reach out to a local real estate professional; they should be able to inform you of the impacts you can expect. As well, if you become aware of anything criminal or dangerous, report it to the appropriate authorities in your area.