According to http://www.census.gov the median price of a new home sold in the United States in August 2016 was $284,000. For many people a home is the biggest investment they will make in their lifetime.
With so much to consider when buying a new home, buying in a safe neighborhood might be an obvious factor. Would anyone look at an area that didnt seem safe in the first place, yet alone move to the contract and purchasing phase of the process?
Surprisingly it is often not until after move-in that people consider crime. For those buying or building a new home while still living out of state (which happens often with retirees relocating to the sunbelt), the process may have involved only a few hours spent in the search process on location in the targeted area.
Paul and Francis Sagisky*, who recently moved into a new home in a peaceful, upscale new home community, were surprised to start hearing about problems with crime shortly after move in. A neighbor mentioned a break-in that occurred several blocks over. The Sagiskys, who enjoyed taking walks every morning like many of the community residents did, started carrying a baseball bat with them on every walk.
As new residents saw this, others started carrying bats during their walks and soon many of the residents carried baseball bats during their walks. Sales of homes slowed and some people put their homes up for sale, fearing that the neighborhood was declining. Would you buy in a neighborhood where you saw people carrying baseball bats?
Had they actually done some research, the Sagiskys could have learned the truth about actual crime in their neighborhood. Here are 3 tips on investigating the safeness of your neighborhood:
1. Check the internet for crime statistics in your area. https://www.crimereports.com/ lets you enter your address, a geographic radius for your search, and filter by types of crime and whether or not you want to include sexual offenders. This website collects crime reports from police and law enforcement agencies. Once the Sagiskys did this search, they found that there had actually been no crime in the past six months anywhere near their neighborhood.
2. Of course youre going to tour the neighborhood before you buy, but tour surrounding neighborhoods as well. If surrounding areas look like they are in decline, your neighborhood may not be far behind. If you see boarded up windows, junk cars or unkempt yards, this may be a sign that you should continue your search elsewhere. Safe neighborhoods are typically well kept.
3. Talk to your neighbors before you buy and move in. You can learn a lot from the people who live in the neighborhood. Ask about crime, problems with other residents, management of the neighborhood by an HOA, the quietness of the area especially at night. What are the pros and cons of living there? Would they buy there again?
By checking the internet and talking to residents, you can learn a great deal about a neighborhood. A little bit of effort can make your housing investment a great deal or a bad one.
*Names have been changed.