“When you walk through a bad neighborhood, you don’t want a poodle by your side. You want a Rottweiler.”
Just imagine, a week after moving in you discover that the nice home across the street throws loud late-night parties four times a week.
You leave for work in the morning and realize your short commute is obstructed by hundreds of people dropping their kids off for school.
You notice random vehicles pulling up to a house on the corner in the middle of the night and leaving quickly if they see anyone else.
It’s not always easy to determine if the neighbors or neighborhoods you want to buy a home in are a good fit for your lifestyle. But today, I’m going to share some of my favorite tips for spotting bad neighbors and neighborhoods so you can try to avoid some of these unpleasant circumstances.
Why Is Spotting a Bad Neighbor/Neighborhood Important?
Do you plan to live in your new home for many years? Are you going to raise a family or take care of elders in your new home? If so, knowing about your neighborhood should be a priority.
Aside from basic safety, you need to make sure your lifestyle won’t be interrupted in you new home. Oh, and you need to know how your neighbors and neighborhood affect your property value.
Unfortunately, a bad neighbor or neighborhood can cause your property value to drop, which means you will start losing equity in your new home.
How To Spot Bad Neighbors
According to a Trulia neighbors study, 75% of us prefer that our neighbors have particular traits, characteristics, or behaviors to be considered a good neighbor.
Here are some warning signs and bits of advice to help prospective buyers see if a neighbor or neighborhood will be a good fit.
- Look for junk and old equipment. A homeowner with little concern for their property value will treat their property as a junkyard.
- Check out the parking. Does the street have ample parking, and do current residents park in an acceptable manner? It would be a bummer to buy a home and have issues parking after a hard day at work.
- Check for CCTV or Video Surveillance. If a lot of cameras are placed around a neighbor’s property that capture more than just their property, this should raise some red flags.
- Know the property lines. Are lines clearly marked, and are any bushes or trees intruding onto your prospective property? This can be a point of contention with many neighbors. If you haven’t read about prescriptive easements and adverse possession, take a look now.
- Find out how many people live next door. Is your prospective new neighbor running a boarding home? If the neighbor does have a busy household, expect it to affect you at some point.
- Ask questions. Question the seller’s agent or the seller about why they are moving. Ask them about the neighbors and their relationships.
- Drive by your prospective home several times. Driving by once in the morning and evening during the week and once on the weekend should give you a well-rounded view of the area. Take note of the parking situation, activity, noise levels, lighting, and traffic.
- Find the neighborhood busybody. Most neighborhoods have one neighbor that knows everything going on at any time. Ask them about the neighbors. They are always ready to spill the beans.
- Evaluate shared walls and fences. Ask the current homeowner how the maintenance for the wall or fence has been split. This is often a hot topic between neighbors when replacement or maintenance costs arise.
- Take note of the neighborhood animals. If dogs seem to bark a lot, check the neighbor’s yard and look for signs of pet feces build-up. If they aren’t picking it up, they may be neglecting other aspects of pet care, such as proper training.
- Still worried? Become a mini detective and find your prospective neighbors’ names online. Search for their social accounts and take a look. This will often give you a glimpse into a day in their life.
How To Spot a Bad Neighborhood
We are blessed here in Sanpete County with little to no bad neighborhoods. Just in case you’re wondering what a bad neighborhood looks like, here are some warning signs.
- Parks and Public Land: Check public parks and land and look at the maintenance and condition. These areas should be clean and not run down..
- Roads: Drive all the routes to your prospective new home. Are streets in disrepair? Has the city abandoned care or left it up to the homeowners?
- Traffic: Travel the area at different times of day and and on different days of the week. Tons of unmanageable traffic can mean an influx of outsiders to the neighborhood.
- Demographics: Use an online tool to learn the demographics of the area. A young family may not want to live in an area that is predominantly student housing.
- HOA Bylaws: Make sure the HOA isn’t going to make your home purchase a miserable experience. Read all the bylaws before you jump in.
- Foreclosures and Abandoned Buildings: These things in themselves are not a bad thing, but too many unmaintained properties invite crime and can lower property value.
- Previous Offenders: Use free online tools to check for released offenders.
- Local Marketplaces: A shopkeeper is usually the first to spit out a neighborhood’s problems.
- Crime Statistics and More Data: Find tons of information online based upon city, zip code, and possibly neighborhood.
- Walk around and take it all in! Do you feel safe? Would you let your kids go out and play? Look at the people and see what they are doing. Are they involved or just hanging out? Use your intuition. After all, it will be your neighborhood too if you purchase a home there.
Buying a home is in an important purchase. With the help of a knowledgeable Realtor, the whole process can go smoother. If you have questions about neighbors or neighborhoods, just ask! I visit neighborhoods all over the county, and I would love to provide you with some insight.
Do you have anything to add? I would love to hear from you in the comments.