You just about answered your own question. Look for a neignborhood that the homes were recently remodeled, painted, landscaping, etc. What we like to call "Pride in your neighborhood." Stay away from busy streets, commercial areas, graffiti, and areas where the neighborhood has just given up.
If you need assistance with your search please call or email me. I just finished a remodel of a home at 1461 W. Ash, Fullerton not too long ago which I purchased as a fixer. Take a look at this neighborhood so that you can see the turnaround.