Is Your New Neighborhood Safe? How to Find Out

Services for Real Estate Pros with 5homestyle Kate Steven

It's scary how little people know about their neighbors – usually whatever their neighbors tell them. They often can't be sure what their names are. No shortage of risk goes with this. This is not a risk one is obligated to take because there are tools like background check sites, which are straightforward to use, making it easy to find out if your neighborhood is safe.

When to do a Background Check?

You might be thinking: a background check? Isn't that taking it a tad too far? Here's when it might actually be a good idea: 

  •       Erratic behavior on your neighbor's part
  •       They avoid other neighbors, including you
  •       You're thinking about asking them for a favor, like to babysit for you
  •       You feel like they're following you
  •       Your children or spouse has told you they make them feel nervous
  •       There are a lot of people coming and going from their homes at night or at odd hours

How to do a Background Check

Your main consideration is probably whether a neighbor might be doing something illegal. If they are, perhaps they've been caught in the past. If they have, they have a criminal record. This is not a private matter, and you're entitled to search for it. You need their consent to check their credit and identity, but not their criminal history, so feel free to use a tool to search for people online.

What Will I Find?

Online background screening sites can show details from many different sources, including records of property ownership, town census data, court records, etc. They typically provide information about people's previous addresses, jobs and workplaces, any property they own, business information, previous names, and relatives' names and addresses. 

What do I need to do a Background Check?

A neighbor's name and address should suffice. You can perform a reverse phone number search to learn more if you have someone's phone number. Ideally, obtain their date of birth as well. 

A basic background check should generate enough information to gain a general notion of what the person you're probing is like. You might find some wealthy attorneys with lots of assets living in your neighborhood, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It simply doesn't help because it doesn't tell you what they might or might not do. It doesn't even tell you if he's the owner of the vehicle always parked in your spot.

This is why a more in-depth search is needed. You might find your neighbor had a series of failed marriages, a history of financial troubles, or that they moved very often. Getting any information about social network profiles could lead to extra information and clues, such as their friends and relatives, what they do in their free time, or where they went to school.

Why try NextDoor?

NextDoor connects neighbors online to share local news and events or exchange recommendations. People use it to talk about trash collection, PTA, parties in the neighborhood, and more, like a chat board. They also use it to warn others if there have been any incidents in the area. You'll probably find at least a few neighbors have accounts on NextDoor. There might be some information about their hobbies and interests.

On this site, you'll see a map showing all of the buildings in the neighborhood. It sources Google Maps data and its own native data. People who have registered on NextDoor will have a green rectangle above their homes.

You will also see yellow dots above some homes. This means someone has invited that person to NextDoor, but they've neither accepted nor declined. If the person you're interested in has a red dot above their house, nobody has invited them to sign up, and they haven't done it on their own. You can send them an invite.

Those who sign up on NextDoor might have registered their last name. The site's default setting is only the name of the street the building's on. You might see this when you click on a residence. Alternatively, a window with a name could pop up.

Check the FEC

There will be some details about any neighbors who have something to do with politics on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website. You will find a list of local contributors by searching by name, city, and zip code. While this information doesn't make your neighborhood safer, you could draw some conclusions based on what party they actively support.

Final Thoughts

Most people's neighbors' identities are wreathed in mist. The mystery can lead to discomfort and even resentment against the background of common issues like noise, appearance, parking, or landscaping. Don't hesitate to run a background check on a neighbor who unsettles you rather than continue to stifle your unease. It's perfectly legal.

Comments (4)

Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Kate. We live in the concrete jungle of downtown Chicago. Hardly see the neighbors on our floor or the rest of the building. When in Florida knew all of the neighbors and their children. Had social interaction. Not at all here. Thanks for the tips. Enjoy your day.

Jul 02, 2022 05:36 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

Wonderful information, thanks for sharing and have a wonderful Holiday weekend, Bill 


Jul 02, 2022 06:47 AM
Joe Manausa - Tallahassee, FL
Joe Manausa Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Tallahassee Real Estate

Great information, Kate. Thanks for sharing!

Jul 02, 2022 02:18 PM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.

Jul 03, 2022 03:46 AM