There are many factors that contribute to the “location” of a home. Neighborhoods are one of these defining elements that play an important role in determining the desirability of a location. Here are seven indicators to consider when buying, selling or investing in a neighborhood:

SAFETY: People on sidewalks, children walking to school, dogs playing in parks – these are all indicators of a sense of safety. Low crime numbers are an obvious critical data point. Nearby public safety services also add to a sense of neighborhood security.

THE NEIGHBORS: Are the surrounding houses well-maintained? Dilapidated houses and unkempt lawns can be an eyesore and can contribute to underperforming home values. On the flip side, having good neighbors can increase value.

PARKS: A good park or open green space in a neighborhood can increase home values. They make for great places to meet, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors.

WALKABILITY: Put an address or ZIP code into Walkscore.com to obtain a “walkability rating” for neighborhoods or cities. Scores, ranging from zero (“car dependent”) to 100 (“walker’s paradise”). Being able to walk out the front door and down the street to the grocery store appeals to many buyers and boosts home value. It can also increase the community vibe of the neighborhood, making it a more enjoyable place to live.

SCHOOLS: Where school test scores are strong, home prices are high. Search Greatschools.com for ratings of schools in the neighborhood. While the importance of good schools are pretty obvious for those who have children, it can also be important for those without kids as well. Proximity to good schools can have an impact on the value of a home, as well as making it more appealing to future buyers.

HOMEOWNERSHIP: Neighborhoods with high homeownership rates are more stable. Typically, renters are more mobile than homeowners. Longtime residents watch out for each other, making for a safer community.

HOSPITAL: Having easy access to a great hospital is just about every homeowner’s goal. However, easy access is one thing, and being woken up by ambulance sirens all hours of the night is another.