How do you decide which neighborhood is good while buying house?

Asked by Baybird, Bay Area cupertino san francisco palo alto berkeley marin county sonoma county vallejo Mon May 14, 2007

If you see well maintained houses in neighborhood, then does it mean that it's a safe neighborhood? Is there anyway to find out about people living on the street before you buy house?

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Bob Bredel, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Mon May 14, 2007
This is a loaded question. First, I always advise my clients to pick the three most important features they would like to see in their prospective neighborhood. The answers will differ based on the prospective buyer's current situation. A young family's needs will be different than a couple looking toward a retirement home.

Some of the most common features buyers look for are: re-sale trends in the prospective neighborhood, schools, crime rate, number of parks, age of homes, rentals vs. homes that are owner occupied, demographics, infrastructure and associated property taxes.

Make sure that your agent has extensive knowledge of the prospective neighborhood. It is also very helpful if the agent actually lives in or nearby the neighborhoods you are considering.

Finally, it is always a good idea to walk some of the residential neighborhoods on a Saturday or Sunday...if you come across a few neighbors working in their yard, you would be surprised at how willing many of them will be to volunteer information and their feelings about their neighborhood. Many of my clients have stated that this was one of the best pre-home buying moves that they made.
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5 votes
Barry Miller, Agent, Amherst, NH
Thu May 31, 2007
First make sure the neighborhood fits your personal style. Gated, not gated, kid friendly not kid friendly...etc.. Then do your due dilligence. Call the police department and get an idea of the crime rate, go online and look up neighborhood stats and check and see if any child molesters live near. Drive through at different times of the day, and night. Ask your realtor and if you can ask people who live there. Most will tell you its great..etc but once in a while you will get the real scoop.
1 vote
Vicki Moore, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Wed May 16, 2007
Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night - see what's happening, who's out, how noisy it is. Look at the condition of the cars parked nearby. Call the police department to check what types of crimes, if any, are being committed. If you see a neighbor out, talk to them; tell them you're thinking of moving into the neighborhood.
1 vote
Manisha, , Cupertino, CA
Mon May 14, 2007
We were looking for kids friendly neighborhood. So we asked owner of the house about neighbors. They were nice enough to give all the information they knew about their neighbors. That really helped.
1 vote
Joy Liu, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Sep 1, 2007
Hi Baybird - this is a great question. Especially if you are relocating to a new area. The suggestions provided by all the realtor professionals below are great - Michael's below is very helpful. I would also suggest you talk to your friends - find out where they live and if they like their areas and feel safe, etc. Often times with their input and a realtors input, you should be able to find a home in a neighborhood that you would feel happy with.
0 votes
Mike Kelly A…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Fri Aug 31, 2007
Baybird, you can always check with the local police before buying. Go down to the local station and make inquiries as to "calls" they make to the desired neighborhood. A junker in the middle of a nice neighborhood could signify a sloppy owner or perhaps something a bit more untoward (drug dealers come ot mind!). Don't forget Meagan's Law and your right to search an area for any registered sex offenders. Also, if you drive through a neighborhood during a weekday and see no cars on the streets, come back in he evening. If there is no parkign and multiple cars for every house then you've got many families and membes of that family living on the premises and/or big rental market. You'll have issues with cars abandoned, and too many people for the neighborhood. And finally, when you have an accepted offer on a property the transfer disclosure statement, or TDS, will or SHOULD describe any issues with neighborhood nuisances or issues. If all else fails, just choose the best school area--eveyone can tell you that!
0 votes
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sat Jul 28, 2007
I provide buyers ample resources of data, demographic reports, economic development data, census data, school reports from more than one source, and community profiles. These reports are great tools to use, but not the end all to the process or decision. The information is useful, and I do recommend that you obtain it from your agent. After reviewing data, you still need to spend time in the community talking with members of that community.

If someone is coming from out of the area, and particularly, out of state, I recommend that they spend a few hours doing the types of activities they would do in their day to day lives here. At each opportunity, spark a conversation with, “Hi, I am thinking of moving to this area. Have you lived here very long and how do you like it?” I suggest buyers go for coffee, stop at the news stand, perhaps stop in a local store or two. If the buyers have children, I suggest they take a drive by the school, or arrange a quick visit or tour. Chat with neighbors and ask them what they like about their communities. Residents are quite frequently proud of their communities and will often tell you more than you ever dreamed they would.

Deborah Madey - Broker
Peninsula Realty Group, Inc.
New Jersey
(732) 530-7755
0 votes
Yasmeen Hill…, Agent, Rohnert Park, CA
Fri Jul 27, 2007
Drive bay the neighborhood at different times of the day is a great idea. Talk to the neighbors and ask how they like living there, what do they think about the neighborhood, are there too many disturbances? Usually neighborhoods with great turnovers are less desirable than neighborhoods with people who have lived there fo a very long time. How well do people maintain their yards? Exterior of the homes? Are there more home that are owner occupied than non-owner occupied?

You may want to look online to sites that would verify how much crime was in the area.
0 votes
Jennifer Mon…, Agent, Charlotte, NC
Fri Jul 27, 2007
I provide detailed demographic statistics to my buyers (and always with my listings) when they narrow down the neighborhood they feel is right for them. Especially clients who are relocating to our area. I know our neighborhoods very well, but believe the client should have this information as their priorities are unique to them.

I recommend reading local neighborhood blogs to get the feel of the community and it's inner workings.

Price is always an indicator of the desirability of a neighborhood, so compare similar homes in differeing areas.
0 votes
Lenore and A…, Agent, Vista, CA
Wed May 16, 2007
This is where your friendly Realtor shines above FISBO's and Redfin. What I do after the initial interview about what you can afford is drive you all around our area just to give you an idea of what's what and where things are. As I do this I act as a tour director explaining the schools, shopping, commute patterns, etc. Generally, this helps my clients to decide on one community vs. another. We then begin to look at the homes. Once I have a clear idea of what you really want, we might shift areas a bit. Seeing well kept homes might indicate safety of an area, but then again, it might not. I know crime stats and can direct you where to find out more information. As for finding out about the people on a street? You can check the Megan's Law website. Part of what I give my clients prior to making an offer gives the names of the owners of homes on the street, but not of those who might be renting.
0 votes
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