You have an excellent question that is asked often. I wrote a blog on this 2 years ago that may help:
Researching an area to move is probably the first thing you as home buyers do when wanting to move. The research often begins with the houses, and prices. If you like the homes for the price, then many buyers make searching community amenities and perhaps schools next.
Now comes the time to have the REALTOR take you out and tour the homes researched. Wondering if your research has been accurate you ask the agent â€œHow is this area?â€ At which point you should imagine hearing the sounds of a mack truckâ€™s screeching breaks trying to stop before hitting the itty bitty car in front of them. What I mean by this is did you know that it is a violation for us REALTORS to comment on any neighborhood, community, city, region, or even schools. Thatâ€™s right. We could be accused of trying to â€œsteerâ€ certain people into certain neighborhoods by answering questions like â€œWhat are the demographics here?â€ Or â€œWhat is the crime rate here?â€
To find these answers call the local police department. Google the local crime reports, which often will populate by entering an address alone. Drive the areas at different times and include early morning trips to gain an idea of traffic to and from your office if youâ€™d be in rush hour traffic. I had a client rent a hotel room one night near the house she was considering to get a feel for the community and commute to work. She shopped the nearby malls, ate at an area restaurant, walked the local park, and left the hotel for work in the morning. What a great idea to get hands on research.
Do your own investigating and ask neighbors in the community. With the Internet, everything youâ€™d want to know is at your fingertips from community reports, school report cards, US Census reports, employment / employers and more. Just remember, you shouldnâ€™t seek this information from a licensed Real Estate Professional. A home purchase is a big investment lasting years. Do your homework in advance.
I hope this helps.