My First Home:
A guide for first time home buyers
Checking out potential neighbors
Before you discover that you've moved in next to Reuben
Klopek, let me suggest a way to avoid the dearest of neighbor nightmares.
Most first time home buyer guides I've come across
serve up the same simple dish about researching a neighborhood.
It usually runs something like this:
"Hit the Web for detailed information on neighborhoods
offering homes in that range. Sites like xxxx provide not only
the most up to date listings from the local MLS, but also data
on schools and crime stats."
While this is not a bad recommendation, it's merely
a starting point. The data on crime stats generally give you only
an idea of the level of crime in the area; not what types of crimes
are being committed or in which exact areas they are more frequent.
You don't need general crime stats. You need to know
as much as is legally possible about what you're immediate neighbors
are up to -- in the street and behind closed doors.
So, once you've decided on a house or a neighborhood,
be sure to make a couple of drive-bys during the night to see what
kind of activity is going down.
But, most importantly, take a drive to the local police
station and ask for a list of all the calls dispatched within a
1-mile radius of your neighborhood in the last two years. This report
should list the dates and times of the calls, the addresses the
police were dispatched to and the reasons for the calls.
When we bought our first home, my wife, a crime reporter
at the Sun-Sentinel, picked up the report for us -- unfortunately
we waited until after we signed the contract -- and we happened
to notice that the quaint, oak-tree shaded house next to us had
police visit three times in the last year for "domestic dispute."
It was too late to affect our decision, but at least we had an idea
of what we might be dealing with.
Always best to go in with eyes wide open.
Please send in any other tips
for choosing a good neighborhood you have used or recommend
using. I'll be sure to post them here.
A neighborhood investigation tactic from Holden
Lewis: Knock on the doors of your prospective neighbors, at
a reasonable hour, and ask them about the neighborhood before you
make an offer on the house.