You can go to the local police department for the crime stats, go on line and look up the number and proximity of registered sex offenders (Megan's Law Offenders data base in California)and look at how the schools perform in the area. One of my favorite tools is a good ol fashioned walk around the neighborhood to speak with the neighbors. They will be surprisingly frank and tell you the good the bad and the ugly! Try walking around at different times and drive by neighborhood parks at different times of the day and note what you see.
To affect an exchange has it challenges, especially where a loan is required to complete the transaction in this market. To better help explore your options I would like to understand what you have and what you would like to acquire. We will want to explore the tax ramifications and other factors, This matter may be better handled on the phone. Please give me a call to discuss your options.