As stated below, you can ask questions in writing and have the seller answer them. Not only is an agent not allowed to â€œsteerâ€ you, they also cannot provide second party information that they have not personally verified. Let me give you an example:
The neighbors in a specific community knew that one of the neighbors had been accused of child molestation by one of his children. However, the individual had never been convicted. He was, however, â€œfully convictedâ€ in the neighborhood court of public opinion. An agent listed the home immediately next door the â€œpurportedâ€ child molester. The agent was aware of the allegations, but, since the individual in question had no verified criminal record, could not disclose anything one way or another. To do so would have been hearsay or even slander and would have made the agent liable for legal proceedings.
To get around this, you can ask the seller any questions you wish, including neighborhood safety, problems with neighbors, etc. As suggested below, you can also check Meganâ€™s Law websites, local crime web pages such as http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ca/san-ramon/crime/ and more. Ironically, the answers you get from the seller may not be indicative of the overall neighborhood â€“ everyone has personal opinions based on personal experience. As an example, I live in a very nice neighborhood but had a motorcycle stolen out of my driveway.