Question Details

Rob, Home Buyer in San Diego, CA

Is it taboo to meet the neighbors before putting in an offer on a home?

Asked by Rob, San Diego, CA Thu Jan 24, 2008

(this is a hypothetical question: I am not planning on doing this: just garnering opinions on the topic)
Before moving to a new neighborhood, I've often been tempted to go door-to-door and meet the neighbors. Maybe get a little background info on the neighborhood, some juicy gossip, smoke out the crack dealers, whatever.
Is this taboo?
I would imagine in some cases you might learn some interesting info.
For example: I bought a home once where on humid days we would get whiffs of pet urine coming from a particular corner of the house. I own a cat and immediately suspected her (sorry Fluffy) but learned from an elderly neighbor years later that back in the day, a crazy old lady lived there and had like 100 cats that had to be hauled away by animal control. Now of course, this was never disclosed... probably never known by any of the Agents but an example of the things you might learn about a house by talking to the neighbors.

Help the community by answering this question:


Please DO MEET THE NEIGHBORS! As an agent, I cant tell you anything about the people who live in the neighborhood... I cant even tell you anything about the schools, but Uncle Joe down the street can tell you that the cops have been called 6 times in the last month to your potential next door neighbors house because they have an unruley teen... Mr. Smith 3 door up can tell you that the school that your kid is districted into has problems and Crazy Eddie can tell you that there is a keg party on the corner every weekend, but your agent cant legally tell you any such things and probably doesnt know that anyway.

I always encourage my clients to meet the neighbors so that they can make sure it will be a good fit.
Web Reference:
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2008
Rob-I personally encourage potential buyers to spend as much time in their prospective neighborhood as possible. Walk the neighborhood and talk to potential neighbors. Drive by at night, during work days and weekends. To spend all that money on a home, and find out after that the neighborhood wasn't what you had hoped can be a big let down. Visit the local fire department and police station and get feedback on crime and safety issues. Look at shcools, public transportation, zoning, HOA requirements,ammenities etc. Be an educated consumer in all aspects of a home purchase. You'll enjoy your purchase that much more. Common sense will dictate that when talking to neighbors, everybody will have an opinion and you'll just need to pick up on what's makes sense and what doesn't.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2008
Yes, Meet the neighbors.

Whatever you say, do not talk, about price, terms, or condition of the home.

Stop in with the local Police department, and discuss the neighborhood. Also any police activity that has occurred at the property.

Good Luck
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 25, 2008
Mr.P, Other/Just Looking in Arizona

It's a great idea and it's cheap insurance ...

I've always made it a point to check out the neighbors and the neighborhood before I make an offer (or scratch it off the list) ....

There's still the Saturday morning "hearing" ritual I'll go through before signing anything (I've done it for 25 years) ... I'll go to the street around 8:30am and just listen for the next 30/45 minutes .. you'd be surprised on how many corner basketball, skateboards, 3 dogs barking, I'm running my 400hp lawn tractors come alive on a Saturday morning ....

Did the neighbors tell me a story..? ..heck no, they're used to it -- it's just like that first dent on your car, 10 days have gone by and now you're over it ... same with neighbors and noise.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 25, 2008
It is aboslutely a good idea. Balance any info you receive with common sense. There are times when neighbors who have had disagreements and the resulitng report can be biased. Talk with a few neighbors and gain a consensus. A prospective buyer once spoke w/ neighbors and came upon one who said it was a great neighborhood, but that home had a lot issues. Upon further probing about the specific issues, a list of allegd problems all proved false. The neighbor exchanged phone numbers with the prospective buyer, and about 2 months later called the prospective buyer offering her home for sale. The prospective buyer shared the due dilligence efforts made in an attempt to verify the reported problems, at which the neighbor admitted she was hoping the buyer might be interested in her home instead.

That was probably the exception and not the norm. By all means, talk w/ neighbors and ask questions. It's a great idea.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 25, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
It is not only a good idea to collect information about your future neighborhood, it's responsible. Caution is recommended for the door-to-door approach as well as an understanding that there are people,who by nature are NEGATIVE, and will relish opportunity of bashing anything.
Information should be collected, processed, and validated. Believe only what you can varify.....

The "Eckler Team"
Century 21 Almar & Associates
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2008
I read something once about this particular topic:
A young couple with a growing family was looking at homes for sale. Next door to one of the homes they saw, an old man was raking leaves. They stopped and asked him what the neighborhood was like. He asked them "what is it like where you live now?" The couple smiled and said "it's GREAT! the neighbors are wonderful, we all watch out for each other and socialize with many of the families. We love it." The old man told them "Well, this neighborhood is just that! You'll be happy here, too."
A few days later another couple came to see the house next door. They too saw the old man raking leaves and asked him what the neighborhood was like. He asked them "What is it like were you live now?" They answered "We hate it. We have a bunch of gossipy neighbors, they're all jealous and like to talk about people behind their backs. We can't wait to get out of there." The old man told them "well I think you'll find the same thing in this neighborhood.".

So in answer to your question, yes, I would definitely question the neighbors, but take much of what they say with a grain of salt.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 25, 2008
I would certainly recommend walking the neighborhood and chatting up anyone that happens to be out and about. I don't know about interrogating them or interviewing as prospective neighbors though. I do recommend visiting a home at various times of the day and night which should give the opportunity to open a conversation with your prospective neighbors....especially the nosy ones. I also recommend visiting the local Police or Sheriff's department and see how they feel about the community and street that you are considering. Ask about criminal activity and number of calls in the neighborhood as well as the nature of the calls....if any.

Interviewing the neighbors may also return much more than you bargain for. Rent the video "MOVING" with Richard Pryor (relatively clean movie) for some examples of what could happen. A must see for potential home buyers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2008
Great advice from Angela and Graham. Definitely meet the neighbors. It's amazing what you can find out. And there's usually one unofficial "mayor" of the street--even in the suburbs--who's lived there forever and knows everything. Try to find him or her if you can. But just spend time there. Talk to people. Visit during the day and during the evening.

Also, talk to a policeman, if you see one. And definitely, definitely talk to the letter carrier.

That, by far, is the best way to get to know a community.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2008
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
PS: let's not get side-tracked with the topic of disclosures... that's a whole seperate topic.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2008
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