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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

5 Crime Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Home

The list of question every buyer asks about the various properties during a house hunt is relatively predictable.  How many bedrooms does it have? Baths? Square footage? What are the HOA dues?  What’s the school district?  

Then, we get more specific, personalizing the questions based on our own vision, aesthetics and lifestyle needs: Can that wall be moved?  Is there space for Grandma’s dining room table? Is there a shady spot for an orchid house in the backyard?

When it comes to crime, most of us simply don’t ask any questions at all, as (a) agents might be prohibited from doing much beyond pointing us to law enforcement sources, and (b) we tend to assume most neighborhoods are either ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ low-crime or not. The truth is never so black and white. Fortunately, technology has made it easy-peasy for us to get a deeper, more nuanced, and more usable understanding of the crime that takes place in our neighborhood-to-be, which in turn allows us to make smarter decisions about which home we buy and how we live in it, once we buy it, than we could have even ten years ago.

The key to tapping into this nuanced crime information is asking the right questions. Here’s a short list of the right questions to ask about crime before you buy a home.

1.  Do any offenders live nearby? In most states, Megan’s Law and similar provisions mandate that certain individuals with histories of criminal convictions must register their home addresses with local authorities, who in turn are required to make this information available to the public. Google “your city, your state Megan’s Law registry" to find sites where you can type in an address (like the address of the home you’re considering buying) and find a list of registered sex offenders in the area. Many of these sites will also offer you a map showing your address and the relative locations of the homes of the registered offenders.  

The reality is that every neighborhood - even very upscale areas - has someone living in it who has committed a crime in the past, so don’t completely freak out if you happen to find someone in your neighborhood-to-be with a history of sex offenses. The utility of this information is that it empowers you and your children to recognize these dangers and to take care to avoid hazardous situations. That said, if you happen to have young children and notice that the Megan’s Law map has a halfway house with a dozen registered sex offenders living right next door to your target home, that information might change your decision about whether that property is the right one for you.

There is also power in following the path of the information you are given on these registry sites.  Many will surface information like what the registrants’ crimes were, when they happened, the registrants’ photos and more useful intelligence. This information can help you evaluate the degree to which you should be concerned before you buy.

2.  Was the home a drug lab?  You think your home’s former owner’s food or pet smells are toxic? That’s nothing compared to the truly unpleasant and health-impairing effects some have experienced after buying a home that turned out to have been a methamphetamine lab in a former life.  If the sellers know this about a home, they should certainly disclose it. Unfortunately, many of these homes end up sold by banks as foreclosures, or by estates, trusts, landlords or other corporate owners who don’t know the home’s past - or don’t have a legal obligation to disclose it.

Get the answer to this question to the best of your ability via this two-step process:
(a) talk with the neighbors - they often will reveal whether the house had a shady past, then
(b) search the federal Drug Enforcement Association’s Clandestine Laboratory Registry, here:  http://www.justice.gov/dea/clan-lab/clan-lab.shtml.

3.  What sorts of crimes happen in the area. Where and when do they happen? Crime happens virtually everywhere. But the details of crime patterns vary widely in various neighborhoods. One side of town might be plagued with an overall low crime rate, but the crime that does happen tends to be violent crime after dark. While another neighborhood across town might have lots of car break-ins during the day while people are at work, but not much going on after residents get back home - and not much violent crime at all.  

This sort of information can be highly useful to a buyer-to-be, as it can help you make decisions not just about whether or not to buy, but also about whether to park your car outside (or not), whether to get an alarm and where in a given neighborhood you might prefer your home to be (e.g., interior cul-de-sac vs. thoroughfare in the same area).

Trulia Crime Maps offer precisely this sort of nuanced information, allowing you to view your town and neighborhood’s crime rate in heat map format showing the relative violent and non-violent crimes that have taken place recently in different parts of town. It also provides information on crime trends, in terms of the frequency of criminal activity taking place at various hours of the day, and the most dangerous intersections in your town or area.  SpotCrime.com offers another angle on nuanced crime data, breaking down crime types with easy-to-scan icons and providing data for communities all over the country.

4.  What anti-crime features does - or can - the home have?  Review your disclosures and talk with the sellers (through your agent, of course) about what anti-crime features the home currently has. This will allow you to prepare for any upgrades, downgrades or changes you’ll want to make.  For example, if a home has security bars that were installed 3 decades ago, you might want to have them brought up to code with a fire release bar, or removed altogether.  Or, perhaps the sellers currently have the home wired for an alarm that can be armed, disarmed and video monitored remotely - if you want to continue that service, you’ll need to get that information and make the account change when you take over the other utilties and home services.

On the other hand, the home might not have any anti-crime features.  So, if there is a particular alarm or monitoring system you like, it is smart to check in with that provider before close of escrow to find out whether they can provide services to the new addres and, if so, what it will cost and take to equip the home and start service up at closing.


5.  What does the neighborhood do to fight crime - and how can I help? Neighborhoods across the country fight and prevent crime the grassroots way, by maintaining strong connections between the home owners and neighbors who all have in common the desire to live and raise their families in a safe, secure, thriving place.  Don’t hesitate to ask your home’s seller and/or any neighbors you talk to about whether there are any neighborhood associations, neighborhood watch groups, email lists, social networks, regular meetings, block parties or other community connections in which you can actively participate. ALL: Did you ever omit to ask a crime-related question about a home - and later come to regret it? Do tell. ALL: Follow Tara and Trulia on Facebook!

Comments

By cynthialeewatkins,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 09:27
Good questions! I wished I had asked them seven years ago....
By Rosalyn Sidewater,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 09:29
These are the most important questions to ask before buying a home! Thank you for this information.
By Douglas Deitch,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 10:08
These are excellent questions and inquiries to make and check out for oneself, as well. Be proactive. It's relatively easy and well worth the effort...
One further suggestion to the prudent safety first/"law and order" buyer ?... Proactively find out if you will be moving and buying into a sanctuary city (google it...), community, or region.

Sanctuary Cities explained...

http://sf-hrc.org/index.aspx?page=110

"In 1989, San Francisco passed the Sanctuary City Administrative Code 12H, also known as the Sanctuary City Ordinance ("SCO"). The SCO prohibits the use of City funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement with arrests and/or the gathering or dissemination of information regarding the immigration status of an individual in San Francisco, unless it is mandated by federal or state law, warrant, or court decision. The SCO specifically states that City and County of San Francisco employees:

Cannot ask about an individual’s immigration status;
Cannot disclose information regarding an individual’s immigration status; and
Cannot condition services based on an individual’s immigration status.

HRC is charged with implementing the Sanctuary City Ordinance by assisting the public in filing, mediating, and investigating complaints of non-compliance with the ordinance. "

Respectfully submitted, Douglas Deitch http://www.santacruzrealestate.com , http://www.facebook.com/FreeMLS
By Peter Lake,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 10:37
What about asking if there was a suicide or a murder in the house?
That tends to make a difference.
By Brian,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 10:45
What about questions regarding things like infestations....is that a required disclosure even if you don't ask, or if you do ask are they required to disclose it? there is so much that can be hiding behind the walls, etc.....
By Diane Maxon,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 10:54
Thanks for this Tara. In my state (NJ) realtors are not allowed to answer questions about neighborhood crimes so your connections to websites where people can get this information is very helptul.
By Maria Stella,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 10:57
These are good questions for the renters too...May be even more, or at least with the same weight . With money only to rent, many and often times with a thigh budget renters can put themselves in areas with no quality of living.
All should be different if we are the people we should be. Then, no problems...only life to enjoy. But we are not (yet)and we should be prudent and make our choices wisely.
By designinthecorner,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 10:58
This is great. Some I of these I didn't think of at all, but I am checking the crime maps. The commenters made great suggestions too. Thanks!
By Njjax,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 11:25
Househunter123 is right on the money. Don't rely on the seller's realtor. If you want to know what's what , research yourself, the info is out there.
By Diane Mehok,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 11:27
In my many real estate experiences I find the best source of information comes from the long-time neighbors - the ones who have lived on the street for ten or more years and have been around for everything that's happened - take the time to walk around, knock on 3 or 4 doors, tell them you're thinking about moving onto the block - it's always surprising to me how willing people are to give you the low-down - I guess we're all a little gossipy at heart.
By Crissy Wise Ryan,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 11:28
I would like to say that everything you said is perfect in a perfect world. No matter what side of a town you are looking in that crime has ZERO zipcodes. It can happen in any part of town and at any time of day. I live in Texas and you can "put anything you want in writting", but if security is your main criteria then the buyer needs to be proactive get on the local police web site and give the zipcode it will give you a list of every single call to the police and for what reason.
By Tbriscoe,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 11:30
Family Watchdog: National Sex Offender Registry http://www.familywatchdog.us/
enter the address for info. on the neigborhood
By Heather Browne,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 12:39
You can find a lot of crime data online. Check with the local police dept. They may have a crime mapper on their website. All registered sex offenders are online. Usually living near a school or park will keep them at a safe distance. There are also various websites that collect and map crime date, like Spot Crime. Or do an archive search of the local newspaper or tv station, see if they've done crime stories near where you're looking.
By Hank Buczynski,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 12:40
Next Question: Where is the nearest Gun Store? What is the concealed carry permit process?
By Karentirio,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 12:49
Of course you're not going to get truthful answers from the homeowner or the Realtor so do your own research in finding the answers to these questions!
By Sheree Le Mon,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 12:53
Another important question that might be asked, is, has anyone died or been murdered in the house. For some it may not be important but for others, it might be a terrible thing to learn, after the fact.
By Arthurhanson,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 13:01
I've worked with communities and law enforcement agencies across the US for the past 7 years, helping them organize Neighborhood Watch groups with nationofneighbors.com. Often, the communities most concerned about crime are the ones that are not lit up on the crime maps. Smaller crimes often go unreported and things like vandalism, truancy, loitering, etc can really have a negative impact on quality of life. Check spot-crime or crimereports, but know that's only a partial picture. It's best to talk to the potential neighbors and walk around the community looking for signs of trouble. A few of these (in a suburban neighborhood) include empty bottles, broken glass, graffitti, loitering teenagers, no trespassing signs, heavy duty fences, unlit streets. Also doesn't hurt to drive through about 10:00pm on a Friday night and see how you'd feel about walking down the street alone.
By Dmd_mo,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 13:03
Wonderful article and awesome comments, especially Househunter123's.
By Bruce,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 13:10
I agree with the poster who said you should ask it there was a murder or suicide on the property. One of my neighbors bought his house and later found out the previous owner comitted suicide in the garage. That has to have a negative impact on the value of the house.
By Gladys Funke,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 13:24
I've been looking in coastal areas of Florida and Texas. I have seen property photos that showed what appeared to be mold, that would lead me to believe that the property may have been flooded by a hurricane or other natural disaster. Is this only revealed through a property inspection or is it just best to ask the broker and if he doesn't know have the broker ask the seller. Is there a way to verify whether a property has been in a flood caused by hurricane or other tropical storm.
By Ivette Munoz,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 13:28
Dana that is exactly what I do with my clients. I also tell them to drive around the neighborhood at different times of day . When I am showing the homes, if there is a neighbor outside, I go to them with my client and ask them questions about the neighborhood. When we list a house, if we know that there has been a death we have to disclose it. Therefore, if I am the buyer's agent, I make sure I let my client know when, were and how it happened if I know all the information.
When I am looking for homes for my clients, my first priority is location, location, location. Then comes everything else that they want.
By Dana Scanlon,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 13:38
These are great tools for our clients, and get tools for realtors to know about, since Fair Housing laws prohibit us from answering these often loaded questions. I will add a few of those additional web resources to the buyer guide my clients all receive!
I also encourage buyers to go hang out in the neighborhood or in front of the condo building and talk to people walking their dogs or coming home from errands about how they feel about the area.
By Mmullen192,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 13:56
Crime always seems to go up in the neighborhoods I move into.
By Janet Allen,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 14:01
From one day to the next an offender may move into and out of an area so when you do seek information it is only good for that day and time. Also I had a buyer ask to view homes in one city nearby because the buyers had gone online and found out that there were no sex offenders in that city. It was not discovered until later that the database for that city was not registering correctly. It was then realized that this was the city where most sex offenders were settling as they knew that the city's database was not current nor complete.
By Mary Ann Varner,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 14:01
Great post.....as always the comments are just as educational as the article. Thanks !
By PATTY HERBERT,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 14:23
This is good information. Thanks for posting!
By Barbara Murphy,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 14:28
This is excellent advice for the prospective home buyer or renter. I have a link to our law enforcement web sites from my web site, and encourage my buyer prospects to check out homes and neighborhoods before they fall in love with an "iffy" place that they may be uncomfortable with later. As this is the largest purchase that most people make (including investment property!) it pays to do your due diligence, and a professional Realtor is the one who encourages their clients to do that due diligence, and provides helpful suggestions as to the "how" like you've shared in your post today!

Thanks! Barbara Murphy, Broker, Tartan Properties, Pensacola-Pace-Milton-Gulf Breeze-Navarre FL
By Anna,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 14:38
Yep, I was stopped by a police man till investigating parking issues around rental property. Another agent, specialized in the area told me later on that there is a gang related problem. Even with massive foreclosure, and many offerings today is not less difficult to find a clean and good property.
By The Oppressed,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 14:58
sold a captain's home that was haunted, confirmed by later owners. forgot to mention it.
By Elizabeth,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 15:16
I didn't buy one house because the street it was on was only one street over from a high crime area that also had easy access to a major freeway. But guess who did buy a house-- though admittedly much much much more expensive --on that block? Mark Zuckerberg! Talk is the residents are thinking of putting security cameras on the street itself. Amazing when you pay $7million plus for a home like he did and you have to worry about crime.At another house I was considering, I asked one owner if their house had every been robbed. They said yes -- three times!!! Another good question to ask. I agree that a lot of crime is under reported. In upscale towns if someone pulls a knife, it can be described as a mere "altercation." More and more most expensive towns are seeing a real uptick in crime. I suggest buying right in the middle of a good neighbor to cushion yourself from surrounding areas. Also check bridges etc that connect crime areas to town you're looking in. People assume that because a town is affluent they are safe. This is no longer true. I have seen a big change in the past three years. Everybody is putting in security systems and cameras -- very sad but very true.
By Suelen278,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 15:48
Guess what? They never tell you the truth.
By Sue Von Hor,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 17:13
Depending on the state, disclosure of murder or suicide may or may not be required. Whether or not such event depreciates the value remains to be seen. As for mold, it would be wise to have the home evaluated by a professional who specializes in mold issues rather than ask a Broker or agent who may or may not know anything more than the current owner has chosen to share. If in doubt and if you have a concern. Ask. Preferably in writing.
By travelinlight1,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 19:06
In response to Karneterios remarks about untruthful responses from Realtors:

While there are no doubt some Realtors, and homeowners, who are less than honest regarding important questions and concerns a buyer may have (just as there are dishonest individuals in any every profession, job and area of life), to imply all Realtors will not answer your questions truthfully is out right offensive.
As a Realtor, I go to great lengths and spend a lot of time gathering any and all the information I possibly can to satisfy my clients questions, concerns and needs. I fully disclose every material fact allowed by law to every buyer, regardless of whether they are a client or not. Most Realtors take great pride in our profession, placing our clients’ needs (including "discovery") ahead of all else - including our own needs, our compensation, our free time...did I mention our sleep. I don't "sell" homes to clients...I find homes that best meet their needs and wants, and I'm the first one to tell them to run if something doesn’t smell right. Furthermore, I won't work with a seller who is not willing to fully disclose everything he or she knows about their home, or that I know about their home.
That being said, there are some facts regarding homes and neighborhoods, that we are prohibited from discussing by law. Breaking those laws can result in fines, jail time and the loss of our license. And I'm sorry, but all the "I won't tell anyone - just nod if I'm guessing right" requests in the world, will not get me to risk my license, career, freedom and means of putting food on my families table. If someone has a problem with what we are prohibited from discussing, take it up with your state and federal law makers.
I'd also suggest you do a little better job at selecting a Realtor the next time you need one. A few probing questions regarding who you choose to handle one of the most important financial decisions your likely to make in life, can go a long way. But hey, if you go with a friend of a friend’s mom's garden circle pal - - you deserve what you get!
By Maureen Mcdonald,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 19:07
you won't "just discover" a prior meth lab. we moved into one in SF, and noticed absolutely nothing that a good paint job wouldn't cure. asking about suicides, fatal accidents and murders is right on the money. and "spot crime" is our bible here in phoenix.

however, unless you really at the high end of the buyer's scale, you will ALWAYS have a registered offender in a few block radius. just be aware!
By Maureen Mcdonald,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 19:19
regarding the above post..... a prospective buyer should go through the neighborhood, and obtain much of this information themselves. it's not rocket science. and you, as a consumer CAN do it!

so... consequently, "travelinlight" need not worry about the utter and total collapse of his entire existence just because he is feeling "pressed" for inappropriate information. given the tone of his provocative post, my business is not likely.

don't flatter yourself, sir. it's not very likely that you possess special powers. they'll find the perfect house- and get the scoop if they approach surrounding neighbors appropriately.
By Tom,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 19:48
**NOTE** Below homes are primarily foreclosures and homes that are vacant. Little humour but a lot of truth. Do your due diligence on ALL homes


There really is no safe bet as far as crime goes. You pays your money and you takes your chances most of the time. Theives and perverts don't read charts and graphs. They strike when the mood hits em.

You CAN however tell a LOT by just looking the home over.

One sure way to tell is by looking at the home, NOT the pictures on the bill or the Internet. Do NOT rely on pictures posted these are often 6-18 months old. When you look at the home, first look at the AC unit. The first question you should ask is "Is it THERE?" Here in S FL more often than not it is GONE...appliances? You should BE so lucky, those are usually the first to go, either by the last owner or thieves later. And how about them pesky kitchen cabinets? Are THEY still hanging? Nope, gone too at the home we looked at. How about the plumbing? Any fixtures left? Yep, them varmits down here will steal toilets as well. Uh...maybe better check the wiring...if you see drywall ripped out its a good bet them suckers ripped every bit of wiring they could get to as well.

I'm not making this up. We looked at more than ONE home here like this. That is a sure sign of crime. And the realtor? More often than not they have no idea any of the above items are missing, even tho by looking I could tell they'd been gone for some time. I don;t want to make anybody mad, but the realtor cannot sell you the house over the phone or off a website. (Even tho some people have bot a home that way, God love em.) They need you to physically LOOK at the property, just like a car salesman does when selling you a car. They have to get you to show UP first. That's their JOB. Like it or not, that's the truth. The bank? Give me a break...they know NOTHING...you have to TELL them in your offer.

The upside is maybe the home has Chinese Drywall and you would have had to rip out all the drywall and wiring anyway. No big deal. Whats 20-30000 one way or the other?

In Florida, if you are part time you damn well better have a full time housesitter or you'll come back to find some of these nightmares waiting. They'll steal anything that isn't tied down, and most of what is. You need to live in the home full time, do not go anywhere for more than a couple hours and exercise your 2nd Amendment rights. This really is not an exaggeration.
By Itsnotme1207,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 21:04
buy acreage and guns...it works.
By Ed01br,  Fri Feb 22 2013, 02:21
Very good, congratulations.
By Lenori,  Fri Feb 22 2013, 04:11
The bank discounted a house after I attached in the offer the evidence that a horrendous crime had been committed in that house (a child was murdered by the mother) . I presented another offer with all the sex offenders living in the neighborhood. I got a good discount too. Home owners do not want those neighbors, so your pool of buyers is greatly reduced.
By Dennis,  Fri Feb 22 2013, 06:54
i asked my first agent about where are the good/bad neighborhoods and she replied, that there were no bad neighborhoods in Prescott. that's when i dropped her. i guess commission to her was more important than safety or truth to her clients.
By Becky Oliver,  Fri Feb 22 2013, 07:30
One problem we have faced is that when you check for offenders in an area you will get the current information available. But an offender is not required to disclose that information before leasing or buying a home. An offender must report it after a move but because it is not necessary to tell anyone while you look and sign papers, no one has the power to prevent an offender from moving in next door. That means we need to check from time to time even when we have settled in.
By Vicki Carr-mcfadden,  Fri Feb 22 2013, 08:04
I AGREE. ASK ABOUT EVERYTHING. ANYTHING THAT LOOKS OUT OF SORTS OR INCONSISTENT, CHECK IT OUT. THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS TO SPEND ALOT OF MONEY ON A HOUSE AND FIND OUT YOU HAVE A WHOLE LOT MORE PROBLEMS THAN YOU THOUGHT TO DEAL WITH OR TO FIX. IT IS ALSO A GOOD IDEA TO TAKE A FRIEND OR 2 WITH TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE PLACE. THIS WOULD BE ESPECIALLY HELPFUL IF ONE OF THOSE PERSONS ARE IN THE FIELD OF RENOVATIONS OR REMODELING, THEY PROFESSIONALLY KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR. MEET UP TO DISCUSS THE HOUSE BEFORE HAND, WALK THROUGH THE HOUSE WITH EACH PERSON LOOKING FOR THEIR OWN ISSUES TO CHECK OUT INDEPENDENTLY, AND THEN DISCUSS THE RESULTS OUTSIDE TOGETHER. IT IS A GOOD IDEA FOR EVERYONE TO HAVE A SCRATCH PAD TO MAKE INDEPENDENT NOTES OR TO JOT DOWN QUESTIONS OR ANSWERS. MAYBE ONE PERSON IS MORE WORRIED ABOUT CERTAIN ISSUES THAN ANOTHER OR MAYBE SOMEONE LOOKS AND ASKS QUESTIONS ABOUT CERTAIN ISSUES THAT NOBODY ELSE HAD THOUGHT TO ASK ABOUT. THIS AVOIDS THE SITUATION OF FORGETTING OR DOCUMENTING WHAT THE ANSWERS WERE FOR CERTAIN QUESTIONS. ASK DIRECT QUESTIONS OF THE REALTOR(REGARDLESS OF IT BEING THE BUYERS OR SELLERS). THEY HAVE TO ANSWER TRUTHFULLY, NOT DOING SO WOULD VIOLATE THE TERMS OF THEIR LICENSE. IF THEY ARE DISHONEST, IT CAN ALSO VIOLATE ANY CONTRACT BY LAW FOR THE PERSON BUYING THE HOME OR THE BANKS LENDING THE MONEY. ANY INCONSISTENCIES NEED TO BE ADDRESSED. IF THEIR IS MOLD OR LEAKS, IT IS BEST TO HAVE SOMEONE( A PROFESSIONAL) COME OUT TO THE HOME TO DO AN ACTUAL ESTIMATE FOR THE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. THIS IS ALSO TRUE FOR ANY KIND OF FLOORING , BROKEN WINDOWS, OR STUFF OF ANY OTHER KIND OF MATTER. THIS WILL HELP POSSIBLY TO NEGOTIATE THE PRICE IN YOUR FAVOR. IF YOU ACTUALLY CATCH YOUR REALTOR NOT BEING FORTHCOMING OR EVEN HESITANT WITH DIRECT QUESTIONS, IT IS BEST TO DROP THEM CAUSE THEY ARE EITHER NOT KNOWLEDGEABLE OR ARE TRYING TO HIDE SOMETHING. ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING IS FAIR GAME UNTIL YOU SIGN ON THAT DOTTED LINE... THEN IT BECOMES YOU NEW HEAVEN OR YOUR NEW HELL!!!
By K,  Fri Feb 22 2013, 13:04
Sad day in which we live. I can remember living in the city of DC as a child and fearing to be home alone. The one day I had boldness and courage WAS the day our home was broken into and I think as I ran up and down the steps when I thought I heard something...BURGULERS were actually in the house. I only FEAKED out much later, once I realized what I could have encountered. Maybe we should also ask are there any prayer meetings in the neighborhood?
By Rose,  Fri Feb 22 2013, 15:28
Crime is worse in the best most expensive neighborhoods here.
The thieves know they'll find way more in a rich neighborhood then where the rest of us folks live.
At least for property theft those are the statistics here.
Violent crime can happen anywhere, like the arrest of the South African Olympian currently for allegedly murdering his model girlfriend in his multi-million dollar home.
By David,  Fri Feb 22 2013, 18:44
These are great questions to ask, as I think they're all material information you need before buying a place. No one wants to live in a previous drug lab. Well, maybe some people.
By cvcoupons7,  Sat Feb 23 2013, 07:34
Thanks to all of you for you advise!
By Sukh Sagar,  Sat Feb 23 2013, 13:32
Yes true. I think that Councils must cooperate too . In limited cases they do in others they don't and buyers are in dark most of the time until they buy the property and pay for the searches when it is too late.
By Anthony Young,  Sat Feb 23 2013, 13:42
If you can stay away from schools and main busy streets that has a lot of businessess seems like the neighborhoods around those areas have a lot of crime.
By Kelly Miller,  Sun Feb 24 2013, 06:13
Buying a home is a life time investment. Therefore you should investigate everything concerning the area, the locality, the neighborhood to make sure its a healthy place to live in. These above questions will work as an eye-opener for buyers.
By karen.ramirez,  Sun Feb 24 2013, 22:14
Thank you so much for this very interesting post! This helps me a lot! Visit this site http://commercialinvestmentstrategies.com/ They're also good with multifamily investing! Thanks again! Aloha!
By Richard Diderich,  Sun Feb 24 2013, 23:07
I've heard that a house that has had Meth cooked in it, the fumes will rot out the nails in the house
By Felton Morgan,  Mon Feb 25 2013, 11:50
Felton Morgan,West Orange ,N.j.

Great post.
By Brian Rutter,  Mon Feb 25 2013, 19:57
One issue which some have commented on but which the article does not cover is the ability of Realtors to give you this information. While it is absolutely a good idea to research crime in an area where you are considering buying, in many cases agents, whether they represent the seller or the buyer, are prohibited by law from discussing crime issues with you. In New Jersey, if you ask about Megan's Law, I have to refer you to the county prosecutor. If you ask about crime in general, I have to refer you to the local police. Someone raised the question of whether there had been a suicide or murder in the house. I can't tell you that, because it is considered not relevant to the real estate itself. None of this is because I am unsympathetic to your desire to know about crime in the area where you will live, nor is it because I want to "keep you on the hook" to get that sale. If I give you the information you want, I am breaking the law (and I guess increasing crime in the area!).
So by all means research the area where you want to buy, but don't be put off if your Realtor is not a helpful in this regard as he is in getting sales comps or mortgage resources.
By Carl Francis Ayeng,  Tue Feb 26 2013, 01:17
good advice!!
By IntuitiveBuyer,  Thu Feb 28 2013, 15:06
One of the posters wrote "In my state (NJ) realtors are not allowed to answer questions about neighborhood crimes." I wonder why? Just a rhetorical question. Everybody knows the answer but nobody is allowed to answer. Another poster recommends talking to neighbors. Still, talking in practical terms, if you move into a new city, the best advise is do not ever buy a house at least for a year. Instead rent something in the area or anywhere and repeatedly visit the area you want to move in, especially between 5 and 7 pm , when you can see who and how people come back to work, how they look, what cars they drive, how they speak with each other and behave. It is especially useful in "borderland" areas in-between so called good and bad areas. Saturdays and Sundays might be also a good time for such explorations. Believe me you will discover many things neighbors will never share with you. Talking with neighbors partially helps, but not always. Never rely on neighbors answers. I will tell you why: many neighbors do not their area to look bad and tend to praise it, especially when they are thinking about selling their properties and run away from an area. I myself experienced this many times. Plus, not many people are going to be frank with you about various things and people living in a neighborhood, especially in the current climate when many tend to exercise self-censorship. Better to rely on your own eyes and intuition.
By Josh Taylor,  Tue Mar 5 2013, 11:06
Great article I am going to share this with my clients.

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By G. Smith,  Sun Mar 24 2013, 06:50
Great read very informative. A good gauge as to the current crime activity in the area is to walk around the home and look for the air conditioner. If its gone you no what your dealing with. Wrote a blog on it the other day. Thought i would share it with you.
http://www.trulia.com/blog/g_smith/2013/03/the_importance_of_air_conditioner_cages
By Voices Member,  Wed May 15 2013, 12:44
From David at http://www.epplerflutes.com :
I have never even considered the need for asking these questions... To me it seems kind of scary. "Has this home been a drug lab?"
By keesaespley,  Thu Jun 13 2013, 01:58
Does this home? Do the work I can associate Martha with at least two outa five. can you?
By montemike72,  Thu Jun 13 2013, 09:38
i am curious, do the realitors feel a responsibility to the community they are selling a house in, to ask the buyer, if they are a convicted sex offender, felon, scam artist, drug user ect,
By rtamboer,  Fri Jun 14 2013, 06:34
How about looking at the State laws you choose to live before you narrow it down to even a house location. Like how liberal is the State politics because since I am liberal, how high are my taxes? We like higher, spread the wealth taxes. Is it against the law to carry a weapon? I'd rather depend on the police for protection then private gun ownership. As we all know, there will always be law enforcement there to prevent a rape, robbery, murder. Can my under aged daughter have access to Planned Parenthood, morning after pills, and unfettered abortion? Will the State provide huge welfare benefits to her if she decides to have her baby but no support from the baby’s daddy.? Sanctuary for illegal aliens because they want free stuff from the spread of wealth just like me. Signed Liberal.
By cmwal4,  Fri Jun 14 2013, 06:46
Wow David, you are painting all black families as criminals. I live on a very mixed street, and the only crime we had was from the white teenager down the street who was breaking into homes and selling drugs. By your standards, you also don't want to live where there are teenagers.
By CJLinden,  Mon Jun 17 2013, 01:47
Unless you are looking at living in an obviously poor/dangerous neighborhood, is all of this alderal REALLY necessary (who cares if someone died in you House, unless the body is still here!)? The odds of your Child being abducted are SO much SMALLER than dying at your hands in an Auto accident as to be insignificant. While I've been Burgled once (in Newbury park, #1 or 2 safest City in the NATION), Robbed at gunpoint (in West Hollyweird) and had 3 other small items stolen over the last FORTY YEARS!
I worry daily about the idiot driver next to me....
Especially when you’ve got a 1 in 100 chance of dying in a car crash.
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/31/how-scared-should-we-be/
“Heart disease (1 in 5), Cancer (1 in 7), Stroke (1 in 24), Hospital infections (1 in 38), Flu (1 in 63), **Car accidents (1 in 84)**, Suicide (1 in 119), Accidental poisoning (1 in 193), MRSA (1 in 197), Falls (1 in 218), Drowning (1 in 1,134)… Other risks are in the 1 in 5,000+ range, @ less than 5,000 people/year, just how unlucky do you feel?”

http://bigthink.com/risk-reason-and-reality/child-abduction-risk-reason-and-a-reporters-personal-story
"...while hundreds of thousands of children go missing in the United States each year, after you eliminate the cases of family abduction and runaways, and even kids who are snatched by strangers but who get home okay, the number of children kidnapped and harmed had held steady for decades at only about ***100-200 per year***. Held steady! There was no “new epidemic” of child abduction. (The current statistics are about the same.)"
[More likly to die from Heat-stroke~ === Bike accident 762/Yr=1 in 4,919, Air/space accident 742/Yr=1 in 5,051, Excessive cold 620/Yr=1 in 6,045, Sun/heat exposure 273/Yr=1 in 13,729, or Shark attack* 62/Yr=1 in 60,453 //CJL]
http://www.ivillage.co.uk/child-abduction-the-real-story/81425
http://www.ivillage.co.uk/child-abduction-the-real-story/81425?field_pages=1
"Stay calm - Keep things in perspective. The world isn't full of dangerous people; we just hear much more about them thanks to today's news channels and websites. Abductions by strangers might attract lots of media attention but they're very rare."

Assault, of ANY type, ain’t even in the noise level.
Come’on folks, GET A GRIP!

The bit that is left out here is that, no matter how cautious or scared we live our lives in the end we are dead. Life has a 100% mortality rate. So live while you can and take some chances, someday, perhaps soon either you, your chances or both will no longer be around. — P.Essimist
By tdelcueto,  Mon Oct 7 2013, 11:53
I'm lucky that the area where I purchased my first home is nice and quiet. I lived there for ten years and now it's being rented out! Hopefully the area doesn't change, but these are definitely good questions to have on hand when searching for a home!
By tdelcueto,  Mon Oct 7 2013, 11:53
I'm lucky that the area where I purchased my first home is nice and quiet. I lived there for ten years and now it's being rented out! Hopefully the area doesn't change, but these are definitely good questions to have on hand when searching for a home!
By sherpasean5,  Mon Oct 7 2013, 12:41
Well I think I would need a pool installation east Northport, NY if after considering all of these things the house passes on these grounds but doesn't have a pool. I need a pool! http://www.pooldoctor.com

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