Make a Safe Investment in Your Next Home
Are you considering buying a home? As you know, the pictures on the listing don’t tell the whole story. The neighborhood in which your new home is located is just as important as the home itself, if not more so. And it’s not always easy to tell which neighborhoods are the safest. Some areas might look fine during the daytime, but they might take on an entirely different vibe after sundown.
So how can you really tell if your new neighborhood is safe enough to call home? It’s simple – just do some detective work.
Check the Crime Maps
You don’t want to live in a neighborhood riddle with crime, petty or otherwise. Thankfully, there are several websites that allow you to get a clear picture of how prevalent criminal activity is in your new neighborhood. These crime maps break down incidents by category, so you can tell what’s really going on in the area.
A few car break-ins in an urban area probably aren’t a major worry – most places have at least some crime. But a spate of violent crimes should give you pause.
Search the Sex Offender Database
Sex offenders have to live somewhere, but you probably don’t want them as neighbors, especially if you have or plan to have kids. Sex offenders are required to register their addresses, and you can find sex offender databases online.
Find Out If Everyone’s Selling
Do you see a lot of for sale signs in the neighborhood? It could be that longtime residents are cashing in – “selling high” with the intention of “buying low” elsewhere. Or, it could be a sign that they want to get out of the neighborhood as soon as possible. Too many listings in the immediate area could signal trouble.
Take a Walk Around the Neighborhood
Driving around in a car, there are things about a neighborhood that you might miss. Plus, you’re bound to feel safer in a protective bubble that can get you out of a bad situation in a hurry. To really get a feel for the neighborhood, take a tour on foot.
What do you see: children playing in well-kept yards? Friendly dog-walkers who smile and nod when you pass? Or do you see broken windows, overgrown lots and graffiti? Pay attention to how you feel when making your way through the area on foot. Do you feel safe, or are there parts of your path that give you pause?
If a daytime stroll feels safe enough, then visit at nighttime as well. Sometimes a place takes on an entirely different vibe at night.
Chat With Potential Neighbors
Chatty neighbors are one of the best resources for prospective homebuyers. If you look hard enough, you’ll likely find one or two older residents who can give you the lowdown on the area, from proposed infrastructure projects down to any neighborhood spats.
Rent Vs. Own
There’s nothing wrong with renting – most of us have rented our home or apartment at one point or another. But a neighborhood where a majority of the residents rent is an indication that the people who own the homes in the area don’t want to live there – something to consider.
Check the School Scores
When an area has excellent schools, it’s a sign that the locals take education seriously, and that the neighborhood kids have the opportunity to be challenged and inspired by great teachers. Lackluster schools tend to have higher dropout rates, and that means more kids roaming around with nothing to do. They might not be looking for trouble, but there’s a chance it could find them – and you if you happen to live nearby.
Call Your Insurance Provider
Insurance companies rely on the laws of probability all the time. The better the neighborhood, the less likely it is that they’ll have to pay insurance claims for clients who live there. Check with your local insurance agent to get their scoop on the neighborhood. Choose a part of town they recommend, and as an added bonus, your insurance rates might be lower.
Look for Signs of Vandalism
Vandalism can happen anywhere, but it tends to occur the most in places where the odds of getting caught are slim. If you see lots of walls covered in hastily painted tags or destroyed public property, you might want to think twice.
Trust Your Gut
Sometimes a neighborhood checks out but you still just don’t feel right about it. It could just be pre-purchase jitters, but it might be something more. If your instinct is telling you this isn’t the right neighborhood for you, be sure to trust it. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
Thanks for spending time with us. We hope these tips help you find your dream home in a neighborhood where you’ll enjoy carefree evening strolls. Happy house hunting!
Homes.com is the place to dream and discover your ideal home! Are you starting to get the itch to look for your first or next home, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place! Browse our real estate and lifestyle blog for home buying tips, mortgage guides, DIY ideas, interior design, lifestyle topics, general home inspiration, or just some homes fun. We are sure you can scratch that itch and find all the information and tools you need to help in your home search. Want to start looking at available real estate right now? Head to our home page and check out homes for sale or rent listings all over the country. Happy house hunting!