Your real estate agent is there to serve you, to act as an advocate in the home buying process. Along with questions about the home buying process, you should also ask your real estate agent questions about the safety of your new neighborhood. You could fall in love with a house, but if it’s on the wrong side of the tracks, you won’t be happy living there.
Before you put pen to paper, consider these questions to ask a real estate agent about safety.
1. Is the neighborhood safe?
Fair Housing Laws won’t allow your real estate agent to badmouth a neighborhood or even to tell you if the area is considered safe or not. However, there are roundabout questions you can ask that may give you clues about the neighborhood. Ask about foreclosure rates, crime in the area, or school district ratings. Your real estate agent may be able to answer these questions, which will tell you about the neighborhood in general.
You can also do some research on your own to find out if a neighborhood is a safe. Ask current residents their opinions or observe the surrounding area. You can also go online and research crime in specific neighborhoods. A website like crimereports.com is a good place to start. When observing your potential new neighborhood, look for specific signs that may tell you about the safety of the area. These can include:
Broken windows on houses and local businesses
Buildings that aren’t kept up
An abundance of graffiti
2. What are the schools in the area like?
Even if you’re single or newly married and not planning to start a family right away, one of the questions to ask a realtor is about the schools in the area. Buying a home in a bad school district may be a deal breaker when you’re trying to sell your home in the future. The quality of the school district will impact what you pay now, but it will also influence what your home will sell for later.
In addition, a good school district may protect your home from the rises and falls of the real estate market. Even in a down market, a good school district can keep home prices up. In 2007, “The San Francisco Chronicle” reported the effect of school districts on the housing market, comparing two homes in the same neighborhood by the same developer. The houses were in two school districts – one excellent district and one poor district. The house in the good school district could have sold for $100,000 more, simply because of the schools.
3. What’s the lifestyle in the area like?
If you are a social person, like to eat out regularly, or enjoy exercising outside, you’ll want to discover the lifestyle of the neighborhood before buying. Find out about local restaurants within walking distance, the proximity of public transportation, and any nearby parks/playgrounds.
Once you’ve inquired about these things with your real estate agent, on top of doing your own research, you will be on the right track to finding your perfect home. Beyond neighborhood security, SafeWise recommends securing your home with a monitored security system. Use the SafeWise security system finder tool or by call 1-855-814-3077 to find the right one for you.
Written by Hillary Johnston
A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more