See the answers below - they explain why Realtors cannot tell you about the safety of certain neighborhoods, i.e. steering of any kind is illegal. So you will have to do it on your own, and by the way everyone's feeling for what is good and what is bad, what is safe and what is not is personal and different.....same goes for schools, school reports of all schools are on their websites for you to see, you should visit the schools and get a tour and discuss what is important to you FOR YOUR KIDS, COULD be vastly different from other parents and their kids' needs....
When it comes to Realtors they will be super helpful and necessary to you (do not buy without an experienced area Realtor) as they will find the right homes for your needs in size, price, style and locations, lot size etc., but they will also make the appointments accompany all showings, point out advantages and disadvantages of certain homes, show you comparisons of other homes on the market and those similar that have sold, help you make the offer, negotiate the terms and price in your best interest and on your behalf, and guide you through the entire process up to a successful closing, and make sure you also hire
a local experienced real estate attorney once you have a contract signed.
Good Luck a happy 2012
Edith YourRealtor4Life~! and your Chicago and Northern Illinois Expert
Working always in the very BEST interest of her clients, buyers, sellers and investors alike....
Edith Always goes the X-tra Mile with a Smile for her clients!
Referrals of your friends, family and acquaintances are always highly appreciated