Schools, proximity to amenities, home price trends — these might seem like the sort of neighborhood characteristics that would matter most to homebuyers.

  • Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices' latest homeowner sentiment survey reveals factors important to aspiring homeowners.

Schools, amenities, home price trends — these might seem like the sort of neighborhood features that would matter most to homebuyers.

But while those factors are important to aspiring homeowners, “friendly neighbors” actually tops the list of selling points, according to a new survey.

Half of respondents to Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices’ latest homeowner sentiment survey said that friendly neighbors was their top choice for a neighborhood feature.

Other popular draws were walkability (45 percent of respondents cited it as an additional top feature), followed by good school district (41 percent), “accurate market value of a home” (39 percent) and confidence that a home will turn out to be a good investment (37 percent), according to the survey.

Real estate agents don’t always know if a community is blighted by curmudgeons or blessed with altruists. Plus, character judgments are subjective and fair housing laws can making disclosing demographic information tricky.

Many real estate professionals recommend advising clients who want to suss out neighborhoods to simply talk to locals.

The survey also offered insight into attitudes toward the housing market.

Sixty-eight percent of prospective homeowners and 70 percent of current homeowners have a positive view of the real estate market, up 5 percentage points and 4 points, respectively, from late last year.

Sentiment largely hinges on mortgage rates. Nearly half of current homeowners cited lower rates as the top reason for their positive view of the market.

Millennials are particularly sensitive to rates. Sixty-eight percent of that group reported having a sense of urgency to buy because interest rates might rise, while 55 percent said they are already discouraged from buying due to rising rates.

Despite the likelihood that rates will trend upward, 70 percent of prospective homeowners said they’re willing to wait to buy a home that suits their needs.

“Younger buyers are telling us they don’t necessarily want a traditional starter home you fix over time,” said Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CEO Gino Blefari. “They want move-in ready without the hassles and hammers.”

Email Teke Wiggin.

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