Would you believe that when a consumer asks “how’s the neighborhood?” agents are legally limited on their potential replies?
Virtually everything we do is closely regulated, and if we were to say for example “oh…this is a bad neighborhood, it’s in decline.” we could lose our license? Yup. It’s true. It’s called “block busting” and we are forbidden to make comments like that. Same thing extends to ‘good school district’ vs. ‘bad’. And of course, it makes sense. How could we possibly have anything but an extremely subjective opinion based on our own standard of living and expectations which may or may not be similar to that of our clients.
Ironically, those sorts of questions are the precise things buyers and sellers want to have answered. So what’s body to do? Well…it’s too big a topic to bite off in once episode, but the “how’s the neighborhood?” question could be answered by asking a series of questions designed to evaluate based on your own values. If you want to get a feel for whether you’d like a neighborhood, ask yourself the following questions:
1. When I look at the homes, do I intuitively feel good or bad about how they are kept relative to my own standards?
2. When I look at the streets, do I intuitively feel good or bad about the level of cleanliness, repair, level of congestion, parking, and overall activity?
3. When I consider asking prices, do they appear to be on par with other neighborhoods I’ve looked at, or do they appear better/worse?
4. When I see people out and about in the neighborhood….how do I feel about how they conduct themselves relative to my own standards?
5. Based on what I’m used to, and my own associations would I be proud to bring friends and family to this neighborhood/home?
6. What have I heard from other people about the school district?
Of course, most of us have an immediate intuitive sense about these things, but buying a home can feel overwhelming at times so it may help to have a list.
If you want to go beyond your senses for some external validation, consider looking up the crime statistics on websites like http://spotcrime.com. Before you look up a prospective address, make sure you look at the activity that takes place in the immediate area around your current address. You might be shocked at what goes on right underneath your nose, and you want to have a sense of perspective on the relative differences between where you are and where you’re considering going.
If you want additional resources for looking up those harder to find details, give us a call. While we may not always be allowed to offer an opinion, we often can point you to a resource that can.
As always, happy hunting!