Questions to Ask About the Neighborhood

Where you live should reflect your lifestyle. These questions will help you find the best community for you.

Federal fair housing law prohibits real estate agents from steering you to one neighborhood or another, but agents they can direct you to resources that will answer your key questions about neighborhoods you're considering.

Is it close to my favorite spots?

Make a list of activities you engage in and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel to engage in your most common activities.

Is it economically stable?

Check with your local economic development office to see if household income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the ratio of owner-occupied homes to rentals? Apartments don’t necessarily diminish value, but they indicate a more transient population. Are there vacant businesses or homes that have been on the market for months? Check news sources to find out if new development is planned.

Is it a good investment?

If you're working with an agent, ask about price appreciation in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, this information will give you a sense of the home’s price stability and growth potential. Your agent also may be able to tell you about planned developments or other changes coming to the neighborhood — such as a new school or highway — that might affect its value.

Do I like what I see?

Once you’ve narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, drive or walk around to get a feel for what it might be like to live there. Take notes: Are the homes well maintained? Are streets bustling or quiet? Pick a pleasant day if you can, and chat with people working or playing outside.

Is it safe?

Contact the police department to obtain neighborhood crime statistics. No neighborhood is free from crime, but consider not only the number of crimes but also the type and trend. Is crime going up or down? Pay attention to see where in the neighborhood crime is happening.

What’s the school district like?

This is especially important if you have children, but it can affect resale value as well. The local school district can provide information on test scores, class size, the percentage of students who attend college, and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, visit schools in neighborhoods you’re considering.

How will I get to work?

If you work outside the home, you may want to know about tolls, public transportation options and other factors that will affect your commute.