Falling in love with a house is easy.
Falling in love with a house AND the neighborhood is a lot trickier! Your realtor will assure you it’s a good area to live in, but you must understand that they’re trying to get you to buy the house. It’s not that you shouldn’t trust your realtor, just understand; they have their own motives as well. Accept the fact that the realtor, seller, inspector—or anyone else involved—will not show you the bad sides of the area.
That’s your homework.
Of course, not everyone does their homework, despite hundreds of potential problems. Be on the lookout for red flags, such as:
- High crime levels
- Too much traffic on the street the house is on
- Notorious schools
- Long distance from your regularly-visited places (like work or a grocery store)
- Train tracks or airports nearby
- A nearby creek prone to flooding
- Local wildlife that’s annoying or dangerous
- Slow internet speeds
The potential problems for a “Naughty Neighborhood” are endless!
To avoid the Naughty Neighborhood, get proactive with the following steps:
Have you considered renting for a year, close to where you want to move? This will give you a year-round taste of the going-ons of the area.
POP IN OFTEN
Or if you already have your eye on a specific house, visit it three or four times a day, both on weekdays and the weekend. It might be a different experience every time.
GET THE DROP ON REAL CRIME
As for crime, check crime reports with the local Police department, and remember to take them with a grain of salt. Some areas are populated by homeowners who report every little thing they find, leading to a huge list of reports, but no actual crimes. Other areas are full of criminals who don’t report any crimes at all, leaving you with a clean-looking slate.
This is why visiting and staying in the area, as well as talking to a few friendly residents who already live there is the best way to assess the crime levels (just be safe doing it).