5 Tips for Finding a Home in a Safe Neighborhood
A home is probably the largest investment you will make in your lifetime. It’s a massive decision, and the risks and reward are clear. Choose wisely and you’ve got a safe, comfortable place to grow your family, to thrive financially, socially and personally, and hopefully to sell for a profit when you’re looking to solidify your retirement. Choose poorly and you could end up stuck in an upside down mortgage, with a problematic property in a neighborhood you don’t really like. All the experts agree that location is everything, and if you want to guarantee your enjoyment and the value of your investment, your best bet is to buy in a safe, stable environment. But how can you ever be sure you’re seeing past the surface impression? Here are five tips for finding a home in a safe neighborhood.
First off, talk to several local real estate agents. This is one of the best reasons to go with a professional instead of trying to handle the process yourself. You’ll have to pay that fee, but local realtors fully understand the pulse of the area. They’ll be well aware of recent trends, and can steer you in the right direction. The experts always say you should buy in a neighborhood on the upswing. But that upswinging neighborhood often closely resembles a neighborhood on the way down. Talk to the experts and you’ll get the real deal.
If you cannot find a realtor in the area who will give you a straight answer, go around and talk to the neighbors. This could feel odd at first, but if you bring a bottle of wine or a cake with you, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find some folks who will sit down and give you the straight scoop. Always take what’s said with a grain of salt, because an individual’s own prejudices may come into play. But if you talk to several different people in various parts of the neighborhood, you should get down to the truth.
Next, consider the overall cleanliness of the neighborhood. When an area is safe and secure people take care of it. The locals are protective, and want to see it remain the solid, beautiful community they chose. That means you should see garbage cans in good shape on many corners, streets and gutters that are free of trash, and very little graffiti. You’ll also see that most buildings are in good repair. If things are run down, broken and dirty, that’s a sign you may want to look elsewhere.
Keep an eye out for certain landmarks of a safe neighborhood as well. Is there a park nearby where you can see children playing? Is it in good shape? Are there schools, and a residential area that doesn’t have bars on the windows? You’re also probably on the right track if there are local police and fire stations close to where you are looking to buy. Most criminals and vandals will look to a different neighborhood if given the choice.
At this point you may have come to a decision. But take a last drive around the neighborhood and look for signs of home security coverage. If you drive through your neighborhood and you see almost every single house has placards on the lawn from ADT or Vivint home automation and security that could be a sign of trouble. Either break-ins are common in this area and people have begun to worry, or your neighbors are incredibly protective or paranoid. Any of the above may be reason enough to move on.