You don't. Housing 'quality and pricing' follows an elevation gradient. Here is a rule of thumb: lowest elevation (e.g., Fall Creek) Older homes, moisture issues, funky neighbors, but. Mostly mix of 'locals' (translation: people who work at or for Cornell), occasional Cornell staff/faculty, typically single prof incomes, multiple kids (such that Fall Creek is all they can afford). next up the hill, an area like Belle Sherman. Slightly better homes, newer, bigger lots. Typically, double prof income, perhaps a few kids. Go up another level of the gradient, and you're in Cayuga Heights. A lot of double professor households, fewer kids. Big lots, considerable attitude (lots of local 'thou shalt' rules to follow).
The other axis is 'linear distance'. The further away you get out of Ithaca, the more affordable the housing. For xxyyzz $$$, you get 2x the house, if you're willing to live in T'burg, or Dryden, etc. But then, you have to commute. That gets old, fast.
Basically, the housing market in Ithaca is silly-stupid. This is a closed market - two universities, lots of people with money who need a place to live. Small town with little construction of new dwellings (recent efforts on 79 not-withstanding). As such, lousy old run-down houses get premium prices. I left another but much larger University town - for the same price as my Fall Creek house, I had 2.5 times the square footage, 4 x the lot size, taxes about 50% of what I pay here, for a house 75% of the hotels in Ithaca are flea-traps, over-priced, and laughably poor. But, why pay for improvements when desperate parents (visiting kids at school) and silly corporate recruiters will pay for them at way inflated prices.
If you're still looking at Fall Creek, couple of pieces of advice (that I wished I'd had) - when a realtor calls something a 'character feature', that is simply code for 'stuff you're going to fix later'. When I was looking at housing in Ithaca, I heard the phrase 'character feature' for >85% of the places I looked at. I didn't understand the code then, but now (after ~30-40K in renovating said 'character features', like an 'original 1960's tin roof!'), I've learned my lesson.
Also, in Fall Creek, you either like your neighbors, or you don't, and with so little space between houses, you really better hope for the former. Definitely ask if the houses surrounding you are owner occupied, or rental properties. Avoid the latter like the plague, since that will mean you have little to no control of what happens next to your house.
And, it is hopefully obvious that the 'helpful realtor' answers posted here are little more than cold call solicits to get you to 'work with them',, meaning they are angling for their percentage. I'm not a realtor - just someone who has lived here for quite some time.