i alreay responded to the question, but now i want to respond to what i consider "self-serving" answers by realtors. this is not meant to be offensive, it is meant to educate and please take it in that manner. if you are a realtor, and have no specific info about a location, there is no reason to give general info to merely get your name out there.
many communities are not served by local papers - papers may be distributed there, but contain no info specific to the local area. for example - 52nd & 1st in sunset park is not covered by the home reporter-sunset news. in fact the only police blotter info for sunset park can be found in the downtown & now bay ridge Brooklyn Eagle. as several of you have said, you must GO THERE - GO THERE AT DIFFERENT TIMES.
talk to people coming in and out of houses - ring a door bell. community boards (I've served twice) would only help if 1) there is an issue for that section of the community, or 2) someone has time to chat with you - doubt it.
i must admit i am surprised that this couple saw an actual apartment on 52nd & 2nd and called it "very nice". i watched as the old woodframes & brownstones (yes) that lined 52nd from 2nd to 3rd were burned out. I watched as one by one they were torn down and replaced by warehouses. i travel the block on my way home at a variety of times. i can't imagine any level of resdiential quality. one would have to go into this with the desire of being an explorer. it is a rough three avenue walk to the shopping district - uphill and across two separate 6 lane roadways. but there are two pluses - at night there is plenty of curbside parking and the subway is at 53rd & 4th.