Five Questions About Crime Every Buyer Should Ask

When a buyer approaches an agent or a seller about a home, there are already lots of questions that they have in mind. Some of these questions include things like dimensions, shade in the yard, and how a prospective home meets other aesthetic needs and requirements of your lifestyle. Other questions bring the future to bear and ask about moving walls, building codes, and the potential for additions or development of the backyard into something you will love and enjoy.

For as many questions as there are, and as many are asked when a person is looking to purchase a home, there are plenty of questions that are left unasked. Unfortunately, these are some of the most important questions to ask, and generally revolve around crime. Why don’t people ask these questions? Often, agents are limited as to what they can answer, so prospective buyers simply avoid asking. Furthermore, people tend to categorize neighborhoods into black and white definitive ideas that provide a false sense of security and confidence. But neither of these options is good for anyone involved.

Because knowledge is power, it’s important for prospective buyers to have an idea of what they are getting into before they learn it firsthand. To avoid nasty surprises, make sure that you don’t avoid asking about crime. On the contrary, approach crime related questions from the right perspective by starting with these five inquiries.

Are there any Criminal Offenders Living Near the Home in Question?

Most states have laws that require those with convicted criminal histories to register with local authorities. Those authorities are required, in turn, to report these things to the public in general. The best way to access this information is to type ‘Megan’s Law registry’ followed by the state and city in question, into your favorite search engine. This will provide you with a place you can go to view a list of registered offenders in the area, and often will include a map that will show the exact location of your home and the location of the homes of the offenders.

It’s important to note that prospective buyers will be hard pressed to locate a home that doesn’t have at least one or two offenders nearby. Anyone looking at this information should research the information presented before deciding against moving – the degree to which a person should be concerned can vary depending on the crime, when it happened, and what the current situation is. Knowledge is power, so knowing such intelligence can help you and your family recognize danger and avoid it rather than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist out there.

Were Previous Owners Running a Drug Lab?

Every home has a history, but few can be detrimental to your health after living in a home. Homes that were once methamphetamine labs, however, can pass effects to new owners that those new owners weren’t quite expecting. Sellers, who might know about this history, are not legally bound to disclose this, but most will if asked. If you still have your doubts, though, or if you are purchasing a home that was foreclosed on or sold by a bank, then you need to locate this information in another manner.

The best place to start is by talking to the neighbors. People who have lived around a home for a while might be clued in to the history of a house, especially if it was, at one time, a drug lab. They might be able to offer other information on the history of the home as well, such as questionable tenants, or even major repairs or damage.

After you chat with the people living in the area, check into the DEA’s Laboratory Registry, which can offer you the background you need to get some real information on the place.

What Kind of Crime Happens Here?

While it would be nice to move to an area where no crime happens, reality states that life simply isn’t like that. Every area will suffer from some kind of crime. Knowing what kind of crime that is, and when it occurs, can greatly help in finding a home in a place that you’ll feel safe. The fact is, crime patterns are more than just how much, but what kind and when, and patterns can greatly influence the purchase of a home.

Knowing that an area is known to have very little crime, but all crimes committed are mostly violent, can easily make an area with a higher crime rate, but only car break-ins and petty thefts, make infinitely better. That’s why you should take time and check out a couple of different resources to get a feel for the crime in areas you are looking for. Keep in mind that the ‘crimescape’ can vary dramatically from one side of a city to the other, so don’t write off an area just because of one side or the other.

What resources can you use to find the crime of an area? One of the best methods is to use the Trulia Crime Maps offered by the well-known website Trulia. These maps show types of crime according to area, frequency, and timing. A similar website, based just on crime itself and not real estate, SpotCrime.com, can also help you pinpoint areas in a prospective city or town that can be problematic, helping prospective buyers locate a relatively safe place to call home.

Is the Home Equipped with Any Anti-Crime Measures?

Some homes will come with measures that will help reduce the chance of a crime occurring there. Other homes, however, will not. It is up to prospective buyers to go through the measures, and options, before closing, when the agent is going over the paperwork. This will allow buyers to prepare for the upgrades they’d need to make the home safer, or the changes that might be needed to transition the home from the old owners to the new ones.

If a home doesn’t have any such features, it might be worth it for prospective buyers to take a moment and contact the services they have at their current home to find out if they can be transferred to the new place. Should it be found that they can, then buyers should find out what would be required to make this happen so that everything can be in place before the move.

Is there a Neighborhood Watch, or Other Methods of Fighting Crime?

Connecting with a neighborhood group or watch can help communities fight crime in a very fundamental way while building a sense of community at the same time. Everyone wants to raise their family in a safe place, and such neighborhood groups can serve more than just one purpose. They are far more important than one might originally think, which is why all prospective buyers should ask agents or sellers about the groups in the local area. Find out now, before the purchase, about groups, parties, and email lists that can be joined to see just how progressive an area is when it comes to crime in an area you are thinking of moving to.