The time has come to buy a home and you have a list of questions a mile long. How many bedrooms does it have? What is the down payment? What are the taxes? What school district is it in? But there are some questions you should be asking that you may not have considered and these answers will not be disclosed on the property’s listing sheet.
In order to make a smart buying decision you will want to dig a little deeper into the neighborhood’s crime rate, area residents and what safety measures are in place to keep your family safe.
Here are a just a few things you will want to research before buying your next home:
1. Check the sex offender registry. Most states have provisions like Megan’s Law and other registries where individuals with histories of criminal convictions must register their home addresses with local authorities. Check the address of the home you are considering to see who is living in your potential new neighborhood.
2. What is the history of the home? You may think this unusual but some abandoned homes have been used as drug labs. Homes that were used as drug labs are hazardous to your health. A home that served as a methamphetamine lab contains chemicals that often make unsafe to live in. These homes are usually but not always sold by banks as foreclosures. If the bank or real estate agent does not know the home’s history they don’t have a legal obligation to disclose it so you will have to do your own homework. First, talk to neighbors to see if they have any information. You can also search the federal Drug Enforcement Association’s Clandestine Laboratory Registry.
3. Check the neighborhood’s crime rate. Don’t look at just the numbers of crime but also consider what sorts of crimes happen in the area. Are the crimes violent and non-violent? Will you need to invest in a car alarm or a security system after a rash of break-ins? SpotCrime.com gives detailed crime data, breaking down crime types with easy-to-scan icons and providing data for communities all over the country.
4. What precautions are in place in the neighborhood? Does the neighborhood have a watch program? Talk to the home’s seller and the neighbors about what type of precautions are in place. For more information on neighborhood watch programs check out the National Crime Prevention website.
5. Visit the neighborhood at different hours of the day; watch for unsavory visitors, traffic and vacant homes.
Buying a home is an investment in your family and your future. If you have any other questions regarding local information your real estate professional can help point you in the right direction. You can also always call the local police department and ask for any statistics they have on the area.