In the Market for a House - Here is how to Vet a N

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Real Estate


Your budget, where you work and the spots you frequent are all factors in determining where you’ll live next. But what if your budget or expected commute has you checking out streets, towns or districts you’re not familiar with?

To make your move a smart one, it’s important to gather enough information about the neighborhood you're considering and determine whether it will be a good fit in terms of walkability, safety and other factors.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to try out a neighborhood and research its features before you make an offer on a home or sign a lease. Here’s how to vet a neighborhood before you move:

Ask Your Real Estate Agent

A valuable resource is your real estate agent, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about the neighborhood you’re visiting. In many cases, your agent will want to drive you through the neighborhoods you’re considering to give you a bit of an insider’s tour and discuss pros and cons; I am always available to answer any questions you may have.

If you are curious about crime statistics, school information or median income, that information you should investigate yourself and consider carefully because the data may not fairly represent the neighborhood.

Visit at Different Times of Day

It's a good idea to visit the neighborhood a few times before you make a decision and do so at different times of the day. "I recommend going there on the weekends and at night to get an idea of what the area is like when you will be home "If it's Wednesday evening and the neighbors are having a party all night, is that something you would be comfortable with?   In the evenings, are people out and about, or do they seem to stay inside?  If no one is on the street after dark, it’s not necessarily a bad sign, however, if people are outside walking, running or biking, it’s a strong sign that they feel safe,”

Chat With the Neighbors

While you’re exploring the neighborhood, try greeting people who are out. Ask if they live nearby and what they like or dislike about the area. You may hear some honest opinions, ranging from how frequently a neighbor's dog gets out to information about an annual block party when everyone gets together.

Consider Nearby Real Estate Activity

Take a look at real estate information sites like Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia and see how many houses on your potential street are currently for sale or rent, as well as recent sales and be sure to ask about activity in the area. Your agent may also be able to provide a more nuanced analysis of what’s going on as to trends in value, gentrification and new commercial and residential developments.

Find the Closest Businesses and Attractions

When you visit a neighborhood, see how walkable your home would be to shops, restaurants, businesses, parks, entertainment, public transportation and the local schools to see if it's possible to get around on foot rather than in a car.

Look Up Local History

If the neighborhood you’re considering has a name, look into the history of the area. Historic neighborhoods may have websites set up by local historians. The city’s historical society may have a timeline about key events, and you may also find books or other publications that highlight significant events.  I would just Google the city, i.e.

Use Neighborhood Information Websites

If my client is a buyer, the two most often questions I get is 1) How safe is the neighborhood and 2) What are the school ratings.  Besides providing the information, I also provide the following links so my client has the resources to find information on all related areas of concern.  Here are a few websites that can help provide you with more information about a neighborhood:

  • Here, you'll find statistics including demographic makeup and median household income down to the neighborhood level for many cities in the U.S.
  • Walk ScoreSee a walkability rating for a neighborhood based on whether it's possible to visit stores and restaurants on foot, along with separate scores for bike-friendly neighborhoods and those with ample public transit options.
  • This police report-tracking service shows on a map the different crimes reported in a neighborhood or city.  In addition, you may find the sites below of additional help.

Here are 7 tools to help you research the safety of your neighborhood

  1. FBI Crime Data Explorer
    : Best for checking crime in your state
  2. AreaVibes
    : Best for getting a true idea of an area's overall safety
  3. The Neighbors App
    : Best for connecting with your neighbors
  4. Family Watchdog
    : Best for finding sex offenders
  5. CityProtect:
     Best for specific crime data
  6. SpotCrime
    : Best user-friendly tool
  7. Life360

: Best on-the-go crime data

  • The Opportunity AtlasThis organization examines the roots of affluence and poverty, looking at long-term census data, tracking a wide variety of details, from income to how far a person travels to go to work. “It isn’t designed for house hunters, but if you have the patience you can learn an incredible amount about a community,”
  • NeighborhoodScout. Find data on current real estate activity, neighborhood demographics, crime stats, school information and forecasts for the local housing market.
  • Local school zone locator. Most school districts provide easy interactive map tools to tell you what elementary, middle and high schools your address matriculates to and also to review the school scores.
  •  A simple Google search of "school zone locator" and your school district should direct you to the tool through either the city, county or school board websites.
  • Nextdoor. This social media website and app is dedicated to connecting people who live near each other. “Nextdoor gives you a sense of how the neighbors talk to one another and the overall atmosphere,” I find this is a good resource for getting referrals to vendors, contractors, house cleaners or finding your fur baby that escaped that fenced yard yet again (I know personally as I have two golden labs and they love an opportunity to escape their fence and explore!

I hope you find this information of value.  If I can answer any questions or be of any assistance, it would be my pleasure.  I can always be reached by text or phone at
909 292-8259 or email at


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