It’s tough to get an accurate feel for a neighborhood—especially if you’re new to the area. Sure, you can check crime rates and do online research about schools and local events. But there’s one other very simple thing you can do to uncover a fountain of immediate info: Talk to the neighbors. Because who knows the area better than the people who already live there?Top of Form
Although it might seem awkward to approach strangers before or after looking at a house, savvy buyers will make a habit of it.
Here are five insightful questions that will help you glean some useful info.
1. “How would you describe the area, and what it’s like living here?”
This is a great open-ended question that allows neighbors to spill whatever comes to mind first—which is often the things that they love (and hate) the most about their neighborhood. They can potentially offer realistic information about neighborhood safety, demographics, and anything else you’d like to know.
Focus on getting a good feel for the vibe of the neighborhood, and make sure to ask several neighbors the same questions, so you can get a more accurate picture.
2. “If you could change anything at all about the neighborhood, what would it be?”
This is a great follow-up question, which will allow the person you’re speaking with to discuss any drawbacks to the area, such as limited parking, barking dogs or other inconveniences that might become big annoyances if you purchase a home in the area.
3. “Do particular schools have a reputation for being strong or weak in a certain area?’”
Schools should be a major concern, even if you don’t have kids. That’s because a good school district usually translates into higher property values; potential buyers with families will want to be in the best school districts.
4. “How do people like to socialize in the neighborhood?”
Were you hoping for backyard barbecues and home karaoke parties? Running partners and wine buddies? Do you prefer a peaceful vibe, or do you find quiet to be eerie? This is a great question if you want to find out whether you’re a good fit for the neighborhood.
5. “Is there anything that I should be aware of with this property?”
Once you’ve asked about the neighborhood vibe, it’s time to turn your attention to the specific home you’re considering. Although sellers are legally required to disclose certain information, neighbors might be willing to dish out more on the property—revealing things that weren’t evident in the disclosure.
So next time you head to an open house, don’t forget to set aside a few minutes to chat with the neighbors—what they say could cement your decision that this is the perfect place to live, or it could save you from making a big mistake.
Adapted from a blog on Realtor.com.
This material is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to its accuracy. This material is not intended to be construed as legal, tax or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult your legal, tax or investment professional for specific advice.