How do I find info about a neighborhood / area?

Summary: There are certain rules against giving personal insight into a specific area or neighborhood, but there are many resources available to help make an educated decision. Some of these include looking at crime maps, the national sex offender list, compare the number of houses for sale in the area, take a tour and look at the conditions, and talk to some people in the neighborhood.

A common question homebuyers have when buying a home is regarding the neighborhood / area. As a real estate professional, there are rules against giving personal insight into specific areas and neighborhoods, but this doesn’t mean that we can’t provide you with tips to help you choose the right neighborhood for you. Many buyers wonder about the growth of the local crime statistics, taxes, economy, and amenities. There is some information that you can find using other tools and resources as well.


Too Many Homes for Sale

An indication of a neighborhood’s overall safety could be the number of homes for sale. In some cases, a lot of house for sale shows that residents are leaving the neighborhood to escape the rising crime. Even if the number of homes for sale is due to other reasons, like a downturn in the market, the vacant homes often attract undesirable criminal elements, such as drug production, prostitution, and gangs.


Take a Tour the Neighborhood

Even if a neighborhood is well populated, the state of repair can say a lot about the overall safety. A safe neighborhood is usually well kept. These safer areas tend to have residents who look after the neighborhood, each other, and they take pride in their surroundings. When touring a potential neighborhood, take note of broken windows, overgrown yards, run-down homes, and fences. While most neighborhoods may have one or two unsightly homes, a large number could signal an unsafe environment.


Talk to People Living There

Nothing is more effective than a simple conversation. It could be helpful to take a moment to introduce yourself to potential neighbors and ask them about their personal opinion on the neighborhood. Ask them if it’s a safe place that they would recommend for you and your family, or if they have any concerns about safety. It takes a more extroverted person to do this, but it could pay off a lot in the long run.


Crime Mapping Service

There are services that collect police and crime reports that you can you use. By entering the address where you plan to buy, the services will display a list of the crimes committed in the vicinity, with breakdowns of the dates and type of crimes. You can compare potential neighborhoods with tools to see which ones have the lowest crime rates.


National Sex Offender Public Website

The United States Department of Justice maintains a database of convicted sex offenders. They have a valuable tool that helps determine the relative safety of a neighborhood called The U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). Similarly to the general crime mapping services, the NSOPW allows you to enter an address to see how many sex offenders live nearby.

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