FAQ ~ How Do I Know If the Neighborhood is Nice?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC NC# 218097

The house seems perfect, just the right size with everything youFAQ wanted. The price is within your budget.  Just one thing, you are wondering “How Do I know if the Neighborhood is nice?” REALTORS have certain rules they must abide by and one of them is not characterizing a neighborhood. This is up to you.

Drive through the neighborhood at various times of the day. Observe the yards of the neighbors, do they seem to keep their trash cans in and their lawns cut? Are there noises that you think will bother you in the long run? Maybe the neighbor has a pool and all the kids in the neighborhood come there for a daily scream fest. Maybe the other neighbor has 16 dogs, or a teenager with a band.

Strike up a conversation with a neighbor…they will usually be a wealth of information and it will give you a chance to maybe meet a new friend.

To investigate the crime rate, contact the local Sheriff’s office and find out how often they respond to problems in this area.

If there are Restrictive Covenants, make sure there are no problems with you parking your RV, boat or motorcycle.

How far is it to your local grocery store, restaurants, church and movie theaters…things that are important to you?

You’ll be surprised how much you can determine for yourself if your new neighborhood will offer everything you hoped for just by visiting it during different hours of the day. Then you won’t have to worry about whether or not the new neighborhood is as nice as you hope for.

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Jordon Wheeler
The Jordon Wheeler Group - Fairburn, GA
J W Group Real Estate Sales and Service

Hi Mona,

Great post for a question that we all get and have to careful in how we answer it.  I'm writing a similar post on the subject for my FAQs.  Best of success to you this year!

Jun 07, 2012 06:32 AM #13
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Praful, a lot can be learned just by cruising through the neighborhood.

Roger, what a perfect response!

Sheila, I'll have to visit your post and see what your experience was.

Toni, the general public doesn't understand that we are supposed to be the ultimate advocates for non-discrimination.

Brad, I was so distracted by the 6'9" that I had to reread your comment three times, lol.  What a concept...meet the neighbors.

Rachel, your idea of music might be someone else's idea of noise.  I like drumming, if it's good.

Ruthmarie, sometimes buyers don't realize there is research they have to do by themselves.  If they persisted in asking those questions, we'd have to refer them on too.

Carla, we all have different perspectives.  No way are we going out on a limb by doing the characterization thing.

Jordon, thanks. Best of luck to you also.

Jun 07, 2012 07:28 AM #14
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


You have provided a buyer with a good list of things to do to investigate the neighborhood.  I think that buyer who walk the neighborhood at different times of the day can learn a lot.

Jun 07, 2012 08:28 AM #15
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

That question was posed to me recently when I was hosting an open house. “How’s the neighborhood?” My answer: “Well, I don’t live here so I can’t really answer that question accurately. The sellers who live here have enjoyed it but it is time for them to move on.”

Jun 07, 2012 08:33 AM #16
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Mona, I always tell buyers to do this. As a matter of fact, a buyer recently drove by a house at 10:30 p.m. He wanted to see what the neighborhood was like that late. Lo and behold, the school next door had very bright lights shining that flooded the inside of the house. He was so glad he had heeded my advice. You never know what my be a deterant to a buyer. It's best for them to drive by and decide for themselves.

Jun 07, 2012 08:34 AM #17
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Love Karen Anne's answer. Of course, the only way to direct them is with what you wrote. You certainly can't say anything else.

Jun 07, 2012 09:19 AM #18
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I do get copies of covenants for buyers if there are any, but our contract actually spells out some things buyers should check for and where to check on websites for that info.

Jun 07, 2012 12:15 PM #19
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Good advice Mona.  Neighbors LOVE to share their knowledge of a neighborhood!  Driving through the neighborhood at different times of the day is very important, especially when it's time to leave for work, or return from work.

Jun 07, 2012 12:20 PM #20
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Mona, these are great tips for finding the right neighborhood. The Buyers I work with eliminate neighborhoods right off the bat if the yards and homes aren't being well maintained.


Jun 07, 2012 12:38 PM #21
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Evelyn, thanks and I think the neighbors appreciate being approached as if they were the authority in the neighborhood.

John, that's a very good response.

Wow Tammie, that would have been very distressing to discover their first night in their new home.

Thanks Jill.

Tammy, those GA contracts must be even longer than NC contracts.

Donna, also whatever time the schoolbuses return!

Sharon, no kidding.  Or if there is junk stacked up against the house.

Jun 07, 2012 12:43 PM #22
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Mona - When we had a buyers' market, I always told my clients that if a neighborhood concerned them, they should drive by in the morning, midday and at night, and maybe even on the weekend before making an offer.  Then they will get a feel for whether there are noisy neighbors, etc.  Yesterday I was supposed to meet buyer clients to place an offer on a property I'd shown them, but they called and said that they drove by it at night and there were so many cars and loud music that they couldn't even consider living there.  The trouble is, now we have a sellers' market here and you need to put in your offer the minute somehting hits the market or you will likely lose out.

Jun 07, 2012 01:41 PM #23
Iris Stuart
none - Santa Rosa, CA

Mona, this is really good advice for all buyers.  Years ago when I bought my home I visited the neighborhood at different times of the day and night (including weekend evenings) to get a feel for the area.  I also knocked on doors and spoke to the neighbors.  My daughter just had her offer accepted on a home and she's done the same thing.  Better to check these things before you take possession!


Jun 07, 2012 01:44 PM #24
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional
Hi Mona, Congratulations on the new Feature. I think neighborhoods and meeting neighbors while in the Buyer's investigative time frame is a good investment of time and effort. Frequently driving the neighborhood also can bring awareness of what it might be like living there.
Jun 07, 2012 02:06 PM #25
John Mosier
Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert - Prescott, AZ
Prescott's Patriot Agent 928 533-8142

Mona -- I would like to add "meet some of the neighbors."  Driving around and observing may not uncover all you want to know.

I moved recently to a new home. A month ago we adopted a grown Border Collie/Australian Shepherd. He is quite lovable well-mannered and entertaining but the old man next door has taken a dislike to him. He demanded that we keep the dog off his property. Our new home is perfect in every other way, but having him next door is no fun at all.

Jun 07, 2012 02:38 PM #26
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I'd suggest same tips.

Even myself, when I don't know the area well, I'll take few minutes to drive arond few blocks: you'll see the condition of streets, houses, how many listed, cars, landscaping, etc. 20 min drive around is usually very helpful and give a good idea:)

Jun 07, 2012 03:19 PM #27
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Mona-  You've given potential buyers a lot of great suggestions.  Many times they expect us to be able to answer this for them.

Jun 07, 2012 04:14 PM #28
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Mona,

In our area we have a 10 day inspection period.

That is the time to check out everything - including the neighborhood.


Jun 07, 2012 07:51 PM #29
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Susan, it's too bad they decided against the house, but it will probably be best in the long run.  Seems like buyers should be driving around town constantly to get a feeling for "all" neighborhoods.

Iris, congrats to your daughter.  Buyers need to take a hands on approach to checking out the vicinity.

William, thanks.  It helps if the buyers will check out a goodly sized radius around the house.

John, what a shame about the neighbor.  Wonder if there is a way to get him to thaw towards the puppy?

Inna, it is a great idea for agents when previewing properties to look all around the neighborhoods themselves.

Christine, sometimes they don't understand that we just can't answer this particular question.

Phil, we just have to make the buyers understand.

Jun 07, 2012 11:31 PM #30
Anna Tolstoy
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Natick, MA

Mona, excellent topic! ANd a question that we all hear a lot. I also say "drive through" but if the buyers are seriously considering certain house, I say, WALK throught he neighborhood. If you have kids, go to a local playground. You walk at a much lower speed  and you see things you wouldn't notice otherwise. Also, everybody has own level of feeling safe and secure. If you don't feel like walking on that street, it might not be the right  street to live on. 

I love to walk :)

Jun 08, 2012 05:55 AM #31
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Anna, great comment and yes it seems like a bad move to select a house located on a street you're afreaid to walk on.

Jun 08, 2012 12:22 PM #32
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GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.
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