Is Your Neighborhood Safe?

Neighborhood safety is not only important during the home buying process, but is top of mind to those who already own a home.  I think most everyone would like know how safe their neighborhood is, with certainty.

If you are a buyer, you would definitely want to go through all these steps to check out a potential neighborhood prior to making an offer on a property or during the due diligence period. When searching for your perfect home, the home itself is important, but remember, you are also buying into the neighborhood.  The neighborhood can make a difference in making your home a good and profitable investment.

Here are the top five ways to help determine your neighborhood safety.

1. Use a Crime Mapping Service

CrimeReports and SpotCrime are two services that collect police and crime reports. Enter the address and these two services will display a list of the crimes committed in the vicinity, complete with a breakdown of the dates and type of crimes. You can compare potential neighborhoods with these tools to see which ones have the lowest crime rates.

2. Check the Georgia Sex Offender Public Website

Georgia Violent Sex Offender Registry is available on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Website if a Buyer is concerned about the possibility of a registered sex offender residing in a neighborhood in which Buyer is interested. I searched in a 5 mile radius of my home and was shocked as to how many there were… wow!

You can also check out the United States Department of Justice database of convicted sex offenders at National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW).

Both are valuable tools in determining the relative safety of a potential neighborhood. Like more general crime mapping services, both these sites allow you to enter an address to see how many sex offenders live nearby.

3. Check out the Number of Homes for Sale in the Neighborhood

The number of homes for sale in a neighborhood can be an indication of its overall safety. You may want to look at the number of homes for sale as a percentage of the total number of homes in the neighborhood or determine how many homes have sold in the last year and compare it to the total number of homes.

I once had a buyer who was concerned that there were 10 homes on the market in this one neighborhood in Duluth, GA; however, there were a total of 600  homes in the neighborhood and therefore, it was less than 2% of the total.  It’s not unusual to see 6 – 10% of homes in a neighborhood that have sold over the last year.  Ask your Realtor to gather this information for you.

In some cases, a large number of homes on the market or have sold may be a result of residents leaving a neighborhood to escape rising crime. Even if the number of homes for sale is because of other reasons, vacant homes often attract an undesirable element. Drug production, prostitution and gangs are just a few of the criminal elements that vacant homes attract.

4. Tour the Neighborhood and Observe

A safe neighborhood is usually well kept, with residents who look after the neighborhood. Tour the neighborhood on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and observe the activity.  Also, take note of number and type of cars in the driveway, broken windows, overgrown yards, run-down homes and fences. While most neighborhoods may have one or two unsightly homes, a large number could signal an unsafe environment.

5. Talk to People in the Neighborhood

Few methods are as effective as a simple conversation. Take a moment to introduce yourself to the neighbors and ask for their opinion on the neighborhood. Ask if it is a place they would recommend for you and your family, and if they have any concerns about safety. If you are too shy, ask your Realtor to do it.  We Realtors are used to reaching out and talking to people (we may or may not know) and are also happy to help in any way.

Thinking of buying or selling a home?  Let’s meet for a 1 hour no obligation consultation. Joan Boudreau, (770) 356-4656, or send me your information below.

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