real estate

How to inspect your future neighborhood

Conduct a criminal search
Conduct a criminal search © Minerva Studio/Shutterstock.com

Nothing puts fear in a family faster than the discovery of a sex offender on the block. Moreover, sellers and agents in most states aren't obliged to volunteer information about the presence of nearby sex offenders. Ask pointedly if any listed offenders or previously listed offenders dwell in the neighborhood. Then always follow that up with your own search at the National Sex Offender Public Website, NSOPW.gov. Sex offenders have been known to cause more than worry wrinkles and less outside playtime; their presence can depress neighboring home values and dampen resale potential.

Don't overlook other crime either. No matter how bucolic an area appears, some neighborhoods are more prone to break-ins, car thefts and other offenses. For example, subdivisions just off major highways are attractive to thieves because they offer quick getaways. CrimeMapping.com maintains a crime log of most large and mid-size cities and can issue email alerts when a crime occurs in a neighborhood. If your area isn't covered, check with the city to see where you can inspect neighborhood crime records. Ask if the city offers email alerts.

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