Real Estate Trends and Tips: Know the Neighborhood
Perhaps the most frequently avoided due diligence duty by home buyers is a thorough screening of the prospective neighborhood and of its neighbors. While countless resources are spent on radon tests, inspections, surveys and appraisals, buyers too often settle for a cursory examination of the block that’s destined to become their habitat. There is no set strategy to screen neighborhoods but you might want to take into consideration the following:
- Conduct a criminal search: In most states, sellers and real estate agents are not obliged to volunteer information about the presence of sex predators. Don’t be afraid to pointedly ask if there are any listed offenders or previously listed offenders that live in the neighborhood. Always follow this up with a search on your own by going to the National Sex Offender public website.
- Do your homework on the neighborhood schools: Sellers might be reluctant to talk much about the school district if it isn’t exemplary. There are online resources you can pursue such as the National Center for Education Statistics website. Feel free to take a tour of the local school and ask about class size, enrollment and adequate school funding.
- Case the neighborhood: Most buyers visit prospective neighborhoods mid-day and don’t see their complexions change. Inspect the neighborhood at different times of the day. Watch out for unkempt lawns, ceaseless traffic din from nearby highways, bright streetlights streaming through windows and an abundance of houses for sale or in foreclosure.
- Take a broad view: See and think beyond your immediate block. For instance, an empty lot on the corner may look like a great place for kids to play but it may contain an unsavory surprise – it might be the future home of a convenience store or fast food restaurant with the requisite noise, lighting and traffic.