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Safe Neighborhood: How to Check It Out Before Buying a Home

Before buying a new home, it’s important to carefully look at the neighborhood that you are planning on moving to. To make an informed decision:

  • Walk around the neighborhood. Visit the neighborhood at different times of the day, and try talking to some of the neighbors.
  • Do online research. Looking up the house on Google Maps will help you find any local schools, doctors, grocery stores, public transportation stops, and more near the house.
  • It’s important to know the facts. You should research the local school quality, road conditions, future development plans, the neighborhood’s crime statistics, and more.

The Neighborhood Matters

When asked, a real estate agent will always say that the most important thing about any home is the “location, location, location.” Mainly because, “safe neighborhood, safe neighborhood, safe neighborhood,” is not as catchy.

Before you purchase a new home, carefully look at the neighborhood where the prospective home is located. Researching on Facebook, Google, Google Earth, county records, and other resources are all tools that you can use to avoid making a huge mistake.

Questions to Ask

A potential home’s view and plot are a huge part of the location’s appeal. While the neighborhood can be almost as important.

You should consider if the schools are good. Will you have a longer commute? Is there quality healthcare nearby? Is there a good local supermarket? Is the crime rate relatively low, did any of your neighbors recently make the news for selling drugs? Is there a mall or big shopping center close by? Does the town have any plans on adding a highway or airport runway near your home?

These are all answers that you should know before you close on a new home.

Walk Before Web

Even with the best research skills, there is nothing better than actually exploring the neighborhood around your prospective home on foot. While walking, you will notice details that you might not catch while driving around or on Google Street View. You might also be able to pick up on unique smells and sounds. Maybe there is a delicious bakery nearby or a construction zone that will wake you up early.

Visiting the neighborhood at different times of the day is very important. Your potential new neighbor’s kid might practice his drums on the weekends or during the evenings. The reason the student house next door to you was quiet on the morning of the viewing was the residents were still sleeping off their hangovers from their frequent all-night parties.

Walking around the neighborhood also allows you to talk to your new neighbors and ask them how they like living on their street. You can stop by to have a quick chat, make new friends, and get all of the details about your new potential neighborhood.

The Worldwide Web Is Your Oyster

Google Maps is a good starting point. Type in the address of your new potential home, then click on the button that says “nearby.”

Google Maps will also allow you to choose the type of places you want to find: schools, restaurants, hospitals, stores, gyms, and much more. If the type of place you are searching for doesn’t show up on the list, type it into the search bar, for example, “fast food” or “grocery.”

When you click on “Directions,” you will be given different routes, approximate travel times, and distances. You can also choose your transportation of driving, public transportation and walking.


The U.S Department of Education’s website has a school locator page that will display a local map with all of the public schools in your potential area. You can then click on the “school profile” for each school in order to learn more.

On, you can find the ratings and rankings of public schools in a district.


There is a web tool on Consumer Reports that lists all of the hospitals in your city, county, or state, and their rankings and ratings. The website will also give you information on each facility’s record and performance categories.

On websites like Angie’s List and Yelp, you can find out more information about local family doctors (primary care physicians). You should keep in mind that these are not always helpful and are based on the opinions of the patients. The Consumer Reports website has a great article on tips and tricks for finding the best doctor.


If you go to the CrimeReports website, you can type in your zip code to find recent crime incidents in that area. You will be shown a map with pins, and when clicked, the pins provide more details on the crime. You can also edit your search time period to look at older crime activity and new criminal activity.

If you are looking for information on local sex offenders in your area, the U.S. Department of Justice has a search tool on its website. All you have to do is visit the website, type in your potential home address, and learn about any potential sex offenders living within a three-mile radius.

The home

You can also use the local county and city offices or the local courthouse to gather more information. These places can typically give you records that date back 20 years, including encumbrances and deeds, like mortgages and other charges.

Other Resources

For demographics of the area, the 2010 U.S. Census can help you on its website. You can look at everything from your state to your census division. This will give you a breakdown of the community’s population by sex, age, race, ethnicity, and housing status.

Checking out the local newspaper or news station website can also help you get a great feel for the area. This can help give you a better insight into what residents are dealing with and any issues that concern the area.

Shortcuts Cost

For a shortcut to some of the information talked about above, you can use the Neighborhood Scout website. This website will give you a detailed analysis of the local housing market and price trends.

There is a minimum number of searches that you can do for free before you must pay to use their site. This might be better to use at the beginning of your search timeline when you’re trying to pin down the neighborhoods you want.

Be Realistic

You can’t expect any neighborhood on this side of Alpha Centauri to be perfect. When buying a home, it’s all about trading off things from your list wish.

This will apply to streets, areas, and homes as well. You should have realistic expectations when you go to look at the neighborhood.

What Are Today’s Mortgage Rates?

No matter what neighborhood you decide on, the home will always be more attractive if you can get a better price on it. While 2022 has had some pretty high mortgage rates, they are expected to go down by 2023. Always remember to contact multiple different lenders to shop around for the best quotes, then choose your best offer.

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