You’ve found your dream home; the property is perfect, the house has everything you wanted, and more. The price is in your budget, and you’re ready to make an offer. Before you jump into the real estate game, it’s essential to check out the neighbors on either side of your dream home. After all, the right neighbors can make living in your home a breeze; the wrong neighbors can make you regret the day you moved in.
Spotting bad neighbors isn’t always the most straightforward task. It’s not like they have warning signs on the property. So, how do you determine what sort of people they are? With a little bit of investigating, you’ll be on your way to knowing whether the house is one you want to call home or one that you’d like to skip.
1. Always check out the neighboring houses
Most of us never go into real estate planning to sell, but neighboring properties can impact the resale value of a home. It’s essential to take some time to evaluate the neighboring houses; do they take care of the property, or is it in need of some care? While everyone may occasionally get busy, most homeowners take pride in their property. If you notice the yard is in terrible shape, the deck needs repair, and the home seems tired, there’s a good chance your neighbors aren’t ones to keep up appearances.
2. Take a Peak at the Backyard
Another helpful tip is to look into the backyard, if possible. Although some neighbors will keep up the front of the house, the backyard may be a different story. A fenced-in yard may be viewable from an upstairs bedroom, mainly if the houses are close together. Take note of any garbage, debris, or long grass protruding in the backyard. This area is prone to rodents, snakes, or insects, making it a hazard if unkempt.
3. Visit the home at a different time
It’s one thing to see a home during the day when no one is home. It’s another thing to see it during chaotic times. If you have the opportunity, drive around the neighborhood in the early morning and late evening. It will give you a decent idea of movement, noise, and disruption to your environment. Spending some time near the new home on a weekday versus a weekend may make a considerable difference as well. The last thing you want is a partying household next door while you’re trying to get the baby to sleep.
4. Ask the current owner about the neighbors
A good neighbor will be seen as an asset, not a problem. Talk to the current seller and ask whether they’ve had any issues with the current neighbor. Most that are friendly with their neighbors will start talking about all the positives of their community. If the seller suddenly goes quiet or seems to change the subject, take note and proceed cautiously.
5. Chat with the Neighbors
Everyone loves to give their opinion, so why not go straight to the source? If you’re interested in getting to know the people living next door, walk over and introduce yourselves. Explain that you’re interested in moving in next door (or down the street) and would love some feedback on the neighborhood. Ask about schools, churches, activities, and how long they’ve lived there.
Most people will get a decent feel for someone within a few minutes of friendly chatter. Although you should never judge people by their brief interaction, their answers may be disclosing who they are as neighbors.
6. Look for vacant or foreclosed homes
When purchasing a home, you want a prosperous and inclusive community. The only thing worse than a bad neighbor is a vacant one. Pay attention to the current living conditions of the homes surrounding the property. You’ll want to look for boarded-up windows, uncut grass, graffiti, and garbage. Signs of neighborhood struggles can indicate serious economic issues, including crime, poverty, or distress.
7. Consider looking into things further
If you’re still sitting on the fence when it comes to the neighbors, investigate things further with a people search on sites like checkpeople.com. Most background check companies will allow individual addresses to be searched, which will give you the name of the current property owner (you could also perform this search with the neighbors). You’ll be able to see any past criminal activity, sex offender status, or other concerning findings in a downloadable pdf file.
8. Give the Police a Quick Call
Although it might sound strange, the police are used to getting calls about specific areas. Make sure you contact the non-emergency line when phoning and give the rough location you want to purchase. If the officer has time, ask about police frequency to the area, general crime rates, whether the place is suitable for small children, or if they would move into the home or area themselves. If you notice any hesitation in any of these answers, you may want to reconsider the home purchase.
9. Ask Around on Social Media
Social media is the perfect place to gather opinions before making a major home purchase. With the real estate market booming, asking community-specific groups or chats about the location is a great way to find out the inside details you may have missed. Ask current homeowners what they love about the area and what they’d like to see improved. Find a list of community services that you find appealing and get honest feedback about those too.
10. Inquire with the real estate agent
Chances are, your real estate agent has seen and heard it all, from feuding neighbors to gated communities. Ask your agent whether they’ve sold many homes in the area recently and, if so, how many. They should disclose any significant concerns with the neighborhood but will often reveal potentially problematic areas as “upcoming” or “rebuilding.” If your real estate agent seems to be dancing around your questions, consider leaving the sale on the table and finding a different home.