🏘️How Do You Define “Best Neighborhood”?
“What are the best neighborhoods in Frederick County Maryland?” Realtors® get that question often. Today’s home buyers are interested in finding a home in the “right neighborhood”, just as much as they are in finding the right home. What qualifies as the “best neighborhood” is subjective, of course, and not something that another person can quantify, other than the one who is asking the question. Best neighborhoods can include a variety of different criteria, like school districts, home values, access to amenities, distance from employment, robust HOA’s, NO HOA’s, beautiful country surroundings, large lots, small lots, and…you get it, a large number of other things. What is “best” means different things to each homeowner.
But, considerations about neighborhoods are important. We’ve encountered many a homeowner over the years who thought they found their dream home, only to later be dissatisfied with the neighborhood. Unfortunately, many homeowners experience home buyer’s remorse when that happens. Eventually, they start feeling dissatisfied with their home as well. It is important for home buyers to do their research on neighborhoods as well as the homes themselves.
How do you really define “Best” when it comes to neighborhoods, or houses, or towns, areas, or cities for that matter? While it’s impossible to ascertain what makes a “best neighborhood”, it is absolutely possible to do your research and find the neighborhood that is right for you.
🤐Real Estate Agent Advice about Best Neighborhoods
While real estate agents are certainly aware of home values, neighborhood amenities, and market trends, we aren’t in the business of giving advice of this nature. Here are three reasons why a Realtor® cannot give that kind of council:
- First, because it is completely subjective. One person might think a particular neighborhood is terrible because they don’t like having a strict Homeowner’s Association (HOA), for example. Another person might think that is the most important thing about a neighborhood. All the demographics and statistics in the world can’t clarify those subjective qualities that people are looking for.
- Secondly, We could be wrong. We are not experts in all things about Frederick living, we are facilitators to a transaction. Our duties are to help buyers and sellers navigate the complicated waters of a Maryland real estate transaction. The last thing that Chris and I want to do is give someone wrong information and let them make a huge decision based on that information.
- Thirdly, and probably most importantly from a Realtor®’s perspective, it is against Maryland law, and the Realtor® Code of Ethics for us, as agents to make any representations regarding the quality of a neighborhood. This kind of action can be considered a violation of Fair Housing laws, or could be considered “steering”, which is an illegal practice. The Maryland law also reads:
Realtors® shall NOT “advise the public on matters outside the scope of their real estate license”
Even so, what Realtors® can do is direct you to the resources you need to do your own due diligence. With that in mind, one of your best resources is a Google search. You can look for forums and discussion groups, where you can read conversations and ask questions yourself. There are many school rating sites. You’ll find information from the sheriff’s website, and you can always pick up the phone. Here are some other helps in your search for the best neighborhoods in Frederick and surrounding Counties:
🚸Best Neighborhoods in Frederick County for Young Families
Parents with young children usually have some particular wants and needs when it comes to a neighborhood. While schools are certainly an important consideration, there are other items of interest to growing families, like nearby parks and playgrounds, pools and access to athletic teams. Many parents don’t want the responsibility or expense of a pool, but love having one in the neighborhood. For a reasonable HOA fee, families can all the fun amenities. Here’s a list of great communities full of all the goodies children love:
- Lake Linganore Community is made up of 13 villages. They share four lakes, three swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course, playgrounds, picnic areas, basketball courts, volleyball courts, six tennis courts and three sports fields. (We lived in Lake Linganore for 16 years and raised our 4 children there. We loved it!)
- Spring Ridge Community has a large pool and club house, stores at the entrance, playgrounds, and Spring Ridge Elementary is within the neighborhood.
- Whittier Pond is another planned, mixed use community, located off of Christopher Crossing and Yellow Springs Road. There is a pond next to a small commercial district. There are several ball fields throughout the community, with sidewalks and bike paths. The community has three pools. Whittier Elementary School is within the community.
- The Villages of Urbana and Urbana Highlands are both planned communities about 5 minutes south of downtown Frederick. Like many planned communities, Conveniences include a community center, pools and tennis courts, newly built top-rated schools as well as a new, state-of-the-art public library. The hiking/biking trails, and pedestrian pathways connect several residential villages to one another and to a market district, with convenient access to grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores and businesses.
- Ballenger Creek is a group of neighborhoods in the city limits which are located close to all kinds of amenities, including parks, restaurants, ball fields, and more. The plus to Ballenger Creek is the location to commuter routes.
🏫Best Neighborhoods by School District in Frederick County
Are you looking for a home in a top ranking school district? Frederick County has great schools! Our schools have consistently ranked in the top 5 in a variety of categories for as long as Chris and I have lived here. Not only are great schools important for your child’s development, it’s becoming clear that school rankings have an increasingly significant affect on home values. Here are some resources to help you find great schools in Frederick County:
- U.S. News put out a recent report of the top 2000 high schools in the country. Urbana, Middletown, Oakdale and Walkersville High Schools all ranked quite high.
- Great Schools is a non-profit organization that ranks schools on 6 points of data. For more about how this rating is calculated, see their Summary of Ratings.
- Niche.com is a website that ranks schools on a variety of criteria. It ranks Urbana High School 14th in the State of Maryland.
- Another good review site is School Digger.
- Feeder school information is not guaranteed on any websites, as school boundaries change from year to year. Consult the FCPS Find Your Feeder School Map. Please consult the FCPS website for up-to-date information on Frederick County Public Schools.
🚗Neighborhoods Close to Commuter Routes in Frederick County
The major commuter routes in Frederick are I-70 going east and west, and I 270/15 going north and south. I-15 south takes you to I 340 and Northern Virginia.
- Commuting south: The neighborhoods in Ballenger Creek, as stated earlier, and Urbana neighborhoods are an easy hop onto I- 270 south.
- Spring Ridge, Holly Hills and Lake Linganore have quick access to I-70 east.
- If you’re going north or east, Worman’s Mill, Waterside, and Dearbought have quick access to I-15 north, and somewhat good access to I-70 East.
- There are several lovely neighborhoods on the northwest side of Frederick, but not so much easy access to commuter routes.
- We know a lot of people who live in Middletown, Jefferson and Brunswick who don’t mind the commute to southern locations. They all have easy access to the highways.
- Many downtown residents take the train and find it very easy to get to the station on East Street. There is a train station behind Riverview Plaza, in Frederick, one in Brunswick, MD, and in Point of Rocks, MD.
📈Neighborhoods that Have an Increase in Value in Frederick County
Home prices flattened in 2011 to 2013 and started to increase again in 2014. However, the breakdown of homes that have increased in value has more to do with price ranges than it does neighborhoods. Since the market started recovering in 2014, we’ve seen varying increases in all sectors.
Homes priced in the upper price ranges, which is $750,000 and up, have seen very little increase in value, while homes priced between $200,000 and $400,000 have seen the highest increase. The reason is demand. There is a very slim demand for homes priced in the upper atmosphere.
Several industries have moved out of Frederick County in the last decade, taking a lot of higher paying jobs with them. Unfortunately, industries haven’t moved in at a pace that would replace those jobs…and the demand for those homes. So, we’ve had several years of more homes on the market in the higher price ranges, with less demand for those homes. This has resulted in less, if any appreciation.
On the other hand, demand has been highest in the entry-level home price ranges. Townhouses have been appreciating more than single-family homes, followed by single-family “starter homes”. Of course this is a generalization, with exceptions in different communities and neighborhoods.
💰Most Expensive Neighborhoods in Frederick County
Obviously, the most expensive neighborhoods aren’t necessarily “the best” neighborhoods. Every home buyer can find their “best home” in their budget.
But it sure is fun to look at expensive homes, isn’t it?! Here are the most expensive neighborhoods in Frederick with the most expensive sold price for the previous 18 months:
- Baker Park, including Baker Park Estates – $1.4 mil.
- Edinburgh Forest (Ridge Road, Middletown) – $1.1 mil.
- Gran Mar (near Sugarloaf Mountain) – $1.285 mil.
- Holly Hills (Ijamsville) – $1.5 mil.
- Sugarloaf Mountain – $1.65 mil.
- The Meadows at Sugarloaf – $2.325 mil (see pic below)
- The Greens (Ijamsville) – $1.1 mil.
- The Prospect Before Us (Middletown) – $1.2 mil.
- Tobacco Spring Farm (Knoxville) – $1.15 mil.
- Valley View Estates (Middletown) – $1.15 mil.
- Weller Estates (Monrovia) – $1.15 mil.
- Whiskey Creek Estates (Ijamsville) – $1.375 mil.
Incidentally, according to a well-known appraiser in our area, a killer view can add about 10% to the value of a home. Sometimes more, depending on the rarity of the view and price range of the home. Is it any wonder that some of the most expensive homes sit at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain, or in the Middletown Valley? Mountain and valley views are often stunning!
💲Demographics in Frederick County
Based on 2016 Demographics from City-Data:
- The Median Household Income in Frederick County was $67,352 (Maryland = $78,945)
- Median Family Income was $79,167 (MD = $95,336)
- Median Household Income was $72,815 (MD = $87,776)
Based on Multiple List System:
- Median Overall Value – $313,000
- Average Single-Family Home – $386,000
- Avg. Townhouse Home Value – $262,000
- Avg. Condominium Value – $216,000
⚠️Safe Neighborhoods in Frederick County
This one is non-negotiable for home buyers…everyone wants to live in a safe neighborhood. How do you know if a neighborhood is safe? Unfortunately, as much as we may have opinions to give people, as Realtors®, we can’t give those kinds of recommendations.
There are laws that keep me from making “representations as to the ‘quality’ of a neighborhood”. As well as Maryland laws and Fair Housing laws, paragraph 49 of the Maryland real estate contract keeps me from offering any information regarding criminal activity or presence of registered sex offenders.
Additionally, paragraph 51 keeps me from “making representations” with respect to the following:
- Water quality
- State of sewage disposal systems
- Assessments of public utilities
- Details of the lot
- Existing zoning
- Soil conditions, flood hazard area, covenants, HOA issues…
- and the list goes on for about 1/3 of the page.
One thing I can and will gladly do…is help you find the answers to your questions. Here are a few good resources:
- Frederick County Sheriff’s Website. This has some interactive maps that are excellent resources.
- The Property Explorer
- Interactive crime map with sex offender registry
- School Finder
- Parks and Recreation Map
- Washington County Sheriff’s website.
- Montgomery County Sheriff
- Howard County Sheriff
- Carroll County Sheriff
Neighborhood Research in Frederick County
Sometimes you might not know what you are looking for in a neighborhood. Researching a variety of things can help you narrow down what is important to you. Here are some other great resources for your research:
- Neighborhood Scout is a useful site for demographic research.
- Street Advisor – a site dedicated solely to reviews from members. You can dig in to the granular level by using filters.
- Although TripAdvisor is geared towards travelers, it is very useful to drill down to amenities in a given area.
- Another site to learn more about restaurants and amenities is Yelp. Read reviews and decide for yourself.
- City-Data is full of great demographics about just about anything you’d want to know about a city, or a zip code. One of the best features is their forum, where you can ask, answer, and read questions.
- If walkability is important to you, check out the Walkscore tool.
- Drive Score is a similar site where you can figure out how your commute will be.
I’n conclusion, there is nothing so valuable as loving where you live. Take the time and research neighborhoods, schools, nearby amenities, and travel routes. Make sure you drive the areas you are interested in when school gets out, when commuter traffic is high, and when people are out and about, enjoying the amenities. There’s nothing like boots on the ground reconnaissance to give you the right information.
If you’d like our “Four-Corners-Tour of the area, don’t hesitate to reach out. email: firstname.lastname@example.org, call or text: 301-401-5119. We’re happy to show you around our beautiful Central Maryland area!
Do you live in another area and need a real estate agent? We’ll be happy to refer a top-notch agent!
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Frederick, Md 21701