So you’ve found the perfect home; everything is exactly as it says in the listing and on your walkthrough you’ve found it bright, spacious and all that you were hoping it would be. The kids’ school is a five minute walk around the corner and everything you need is located nearby, you could hardly get any luckier. But before putting in that offer, one thing that many buyers overlook is doing their research on the neighbourhood and the reality is that it’s one of the worst things you can forget.
While there are several quick ways to assess any neighbourhood, depending only on resources like Walk Score and the idea of full disclosure on the part of the seller can leave you in the lurch when it comes to knowing all there is to know about your potential new location. There are so many aspects of neighbourhood life that sellers are not required to disclose to you such as nosy or difficult neighbours, excessive noise, crime and any number of other potential problems.
When doing your research, do so objectively and thoroughly. The following is a list of three potential steps you can take to give you more of an idea of any neighbourhood situations you should know more about:
Chat With the Neighbours
A sure way to learn about your future neighbours is to approach them and introduce yourself. Assuming they are friendly (and if they aren’t, that’s good to know!) they’ll very likely be willing to tell you anything you’d like to know about the neighbourhood, ranging from the most noteworthy attractions to any neighbourhood problems. Not only will the introduction help you to establish rapport before you even move in, you’ll glean valuable information about the people you’ll be living near to in the future.
Walk The Neighbourhood!
One of the most charming and practical ways to find out about the neighbourhood is to spend some time getting out and about in it. Take an hour or two to wander around and observe, making sure to watch for anything you think might make it difficult for you to live there. Overly loud traffic, excessive litter or graffiti can all be clues you likely shouldn’t ignore and wandering around at different times of the day and on different days of the week can also help you uncover potential issues.
Are the neighbours comfortable and laid-back or are they living in constant fear of violence? Are there plenty of kids around for your children to play with, is there anything else you can see about the neighbourhood that looks as though it could become a significant nuisance? As far as location goes, your preferences are a highly individual thing and if you’re planning to stay in the home for quite some time it only makes sense to spend some time making sure that your surroundings will please you. Don’t rely on the idea of ‘full disclosure’ because quite often, as honest as people want to be, chances are they won’t be able to anticipate everything that could make the neighbourhood a disappointment to you and it’s up to you to do the research.
Be Aware of the Stats on Neighbourhood Crime
There are a number of ways to check up on the statistics around crime in your neighbourhood and if you are considering a purchase the onus is on you to avail yourself of any information you can on the subject. Be careful when checking out statistics, while it’s nice to have numbers that compare to national averages, a more realistic and helpful approach might be to compare the crime statistics in your neighbourhood with other local neighbourhoods. Another essential thing to check on for those with children is the sex offender databases in order to ensure that your kids will be safe. Another good way to get some perspective is to take a look at the neighbourhood news in order to ascertain what sorts of crime are more common in the area. If drive-by shootings and muggings are always in the headlines, you may want to look elsewhere while if most of the stories center on petty crime you may feel a bit safer.
Talking to the local police department is also a great idea as nobody knows an area better than those who patrol it regularly. Making a priority of stopping in to speak with the local officers can go a long way toward increasing your understanding of any issues you should expect in the future. Perhaps you’ll find the neighbourhood is as perfect as the home you want, but if you uncover major problems your research can also help you avert potential disasters.
Peterborough, ON K9J 1Z2