Buying a home is not as easy as it used to be, but you’ve defied the odds: congratulations!
The process of buying a home can be intimidating – overwhelming, even – and there’s a lot to learn before you start making offers.
There’s one sometimes-overlooked step prospective homebuyers should take but often don’t. Do your research on any potential new neighborhoods, even before taking a tour of the homes.
Neighborhood Safety Comes First
There are a variety of sites you can use to get an feel for a new community.
Sites like NeighborhoodScout or AreaVibes will give you a leg up in terms of assessing a neighborhood safety, livability, and amenities. They will also allow you to search any area to see how it stacks up against national averages in terms of crime, school quality, cost of living and more.
Once you’ve determined it meets your standards, it’s also important to take the time to see the neighborhood for yourself in person.
Get a true feel for your new neighborhood by walking around and exploring what’s nearby and try and get a vibe for what it would be like on a typical day – or night.
Does it feel safe? Does it seem family-friendly? Would you let your loved ones walk the dog around the block after dark? How about a late-night jog?
Getting to Know the Neighbors
Where you live is just as important as who you live near. Don’t forget to research your neighbors!
There are many sites you can use to research neighbors. People search engines like Spokeo allow you to reverse search an address for information on current residents, including names, ages, home value, sex offender status and more. You can even search for criminal records for an additional fee. It may feel a little weird at first, but running a background check on some of the names you find can go a long way towards giving you peace of mind, especially if you have children.
You can also search government sites such as the National Sex Offender Registry to see nearby predators and search people by name or location.
(If everything checks out, you can also search your own (possible new) address for information on the home you might not have seen elsewhere, including past residents.)
Most of the time, your new neighbors will turn out to be upstanding citizens just like you. That said, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research to find out who exactly will be living next door to you for years to come.