We just bought a house in the Elmwood Village area. We are relocating from the West Coast. There were great houses on the market, very reasonably, with lots of renovations.
As far as crime, I looked into crime reports in the area with the police department and it was extremely safe. The street which we bought is tons of young professional families who told us about some good options for schools in that area. They all spoke very highly of the neighborhood and schools.
As long as you buy right around Elmwood Village and/or Delaware Park you'll find some great houses! Most of the homes around here are old - many with beautiful old woodwork and stained glass windows. The price you'll pay will greatly depend on how much work it will need - we bought a 140 yr old house really cheap and renovated the whole thing, but you can find many that are already renovated and gorgeous for more $$. Depends on what you're looking to do. The schools are Buffalo public schools (not great!) but there are a few good Charter schools and some very good private (and Catholic) schools. We've been here now for 12 years and we love it! If you need any reccommendations about any streets/neighborhoods in particular I'd be glad to give you my thoughts!
As for the schools - there are a bunch of choices - public neighborhood schools, public charter schools, parochial schools and private schools - there are also some great pre-schools and 2 montessori schools around here if you have little ones. It is the city, though, so some of the public schools are not great, and the better ones have lottery systems to get in, so you have to really ask around and get all the school application info so you don't miss any of the lottery deadlines!
As for crime - In these areas you're generally safe - the occasional car break-in or someone stealing something you left out in the front yard, but it IS the city, so we keep everything locked up.
So, with that in mind, when looking at a map of the area, you'll probably want to look in these areas -
To be within walking distance to Elwood Village, look: Between North Ave (South End) and Forest Ave (North End) and between Linwood Ave (East side) and Richmond Ave (west side). All the "cross streets" like Cleveland, Lafayette, Highland, Auburn, Lexington, etc are beautiful streets! Anything on Lincoln Parkway, Chapin Parkway or Bidwell Parkway is GORGEOUS - all huge mansions (way out of most people's price range!!), but definitely the most desirable streets!
To be in the great neighborhood around Delaware park you'll want to look: from Delware park (south end) to Hertel Ave (North End - and there are some nice streets north of Hertel, also) and from Main Street (east side ) to Elmwood ave (west Side). The prime streets around here are Nottingham, Middlesex, and Depew but most of the streets around here are really nice!
You had said that you'd be visiting the area in mid May, so you should line up as many houses to see as possible! But be sure to WALK around these areas, too to get a real feel for the neighborhoods. SPOT coffee is the best Elmwood Ave coffee shop. The Globe Market or Brodo are great places for lunch and I have a ton of great restaurant recomendations if you want any! Hertel Ave has some great restaurants, too. If you have time, you can walk around the loop at Delaware Park (@1.5miles around and you'll probably see all the soccer/baseball/softball leagues going on. If you have little kids and are bring them with you, there's a great playground near the Rose Garden by the lake at the end of Lincoln Parkway, and of course there are several playgrounds at Delaware park...
Sorry to ramble!
You will find the tools to answer your questions at my brokerage's website: http://realtyusa.com/community_tools.
Additionally, New York State provides school reports on this website: https://www.nystart.gov/publicweb/District.do?year=2008&
The zip code for Elmwood Village is 14222.
As far as a Real estate agent, I just spoke with Stephanie Pfaltzgraf at Hunt Real Estate - she's a friend of mine and she'd be glad to show you around if you'd like. Her # is 716-868-4125. She knows the area very well!
Also FYI - in the Hampton Inn building on the Chippewa St side is a great restaurant called Papaya - there's also a tex-mex place called Salsarita's and a desert and cocktail place called the Chocolate Bar that will probably be packed on Friday and Sat nights!
There are a variety of websites out there that can assist you in your home search. I write about the Buffalo area and you will find some helpful information. Fair housing rules stop us from answering some of your questions....
What a New York Realtor® cannot tell you about a neighborhood might surprise you. We recognize that the purchase of your Western New York home is a huge life altering decision and you want to make sure that you have not only the perfect home, but also that have all the facts you need to make that decision.
Attached is a document that may assist you, and definately check out the links that Michael gave you in his answer.
You will also need a good local attorney and Pand C agent which I can
help with as well. Please visit these pages to find
out more about the Pre-qualification Process!