LOOK INTO THE CRIME RATES
In addition to the U.S. Census Bureau's city proﬁles that list crime statistics, you can try sites like CrimeReports.com, which oﬀers local maps where you can access crime data in near-real time (the site has partnerships with more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies). You might also visit the local police department to ask about crime statistics and what neighborhood watches or alerts are in operation.
CHECK SCHOOL REPORT CARDS
Even if you don't have children, you should spend some time investigating the area schools (school districts are typically the largest beneﬁciaries of your property taxes). The reason for this is simple: good schools tend to attract a higher demand for homes, which can aﬀect the value of surrounding properties. One way to research schools in your new neighborhood is to visit the GreatSchools website, a non-proﬁt national organization, where you can ﬁnd valuable information from local preschools to colleges
REVIEW MUNICIPALITY AND PUBLIC SERVICES
It can be easy to focus on the condition of your prospective home, but you should also consider the general condition of the streets, sidewalks and parks in your new neighborhood. Take some time to research your new municipality (start with the oﬃcial website) and the services oﬀered. Don't be afraid to call your local clerk's oﬃce and ask questions if you can't ﬁnd answers on the website. Things like trash collection, street cleaning and general public maintenance can aﬀect your property's value over time, especially if these services suﬀer a sharp decline due to budget cuts.
WALK THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Visit the neighborhood at various times of day and on diﬀerent days. The nature of a neighborhood changes from day to night and from weekday to weekend. Make sure the activity and noise levels are to your liking. If you see residents out doing yard work or walking their dog, ask how they like the neighborhood and tell them you're considering buying in the area. Sometimes "insider" feedback can give you the real sense of a neighborhood.