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The house looks perfect and it has all the features you need. The location is convenient for your needs and there really is nothing standing in the way of buying this particular property. STOP. Don’t buy the house until you do one thing; investigate your new potential neighbors. Here are some tips for finding out the not so obvious facts.
Make Multiple Visits at Multiple Times
One of the best things you can do before buying the home is to visit the home are various times and various days. The appearance of the neighborhood at 11:00 am on a Wednesday will likely be different from the appearance on a Thursday night. Look for neighbors that are in the yard, on the street and how busy the roads are. Are any of the neighbors engaged in any loud activities such as parties, electric tool use or other annoying sounds? Take your time and make sure to visit the home on the weekend as well.
Chat Up Your Potential Neighbors
The people that will be your neighbors have the information you need. However, it can be a challenge to get them to talk. During your visits look for people out in the yard engaged in various activities. Start a pleasant conversation and ask them about their opinion of the area and the neighborhood. Ask a few open ended questions and give them a chance to talk. Make sure to ask if there are any troublesome neighbors to look out for or any problems in the area such as sink-holes, poorly built homes or sewer issues.
Use the Internet
Various websites like Google and Bing offer maps and street views of nearly every known address. Type in the address and look around. It is likely that the pictures are at least a few months old if not a few years. The home could look exactly like it does now or there could be some major changes. Take time to look at the home you intend to buy as well as the adjoining properties. You may discover something that raises a red flag and causes you to consider a different property.
Check Police Records
There are some websites and even smart phone apps that provide detailed police records for neighborhoods. These sites will usually list things such as robberies, vehicle thefts, and violent crime. Some neighbors on one street may not be aware of crime that is frequently occurring one or two streets over.
See if anyone is Blogging
Sometimes there will be a blog or even a small community newspaper published for the area that you are considering. If you can find the blog or recent paper take some time to review the information. Local events, improvements in the neighborhoods and other items will likely give you enough detail to see if this is the right area for you.
Some of these steps may take a bit of time to complete and may seem awkward at first. However, considering the large investment that comes with owning a home it really makes sense to spend some time researching your new neighborhood and ensure that it will be as nice as your new home.