How to Find Out if There is a Lot of Crime Before You Buy Your Home

The list of questions every buyer asks about the various properties during a house hunt can change with each person.  Color of granite?  How much landscaping?  Where can I put the doggy door?

Agents in San Diego are prohibited from discussing this and will refer you to law enforcement sites.  As buyers, we  assume that neighborhoods are either “good” or “bad.”  The truth unfortunately is never black and white. Looking at details a little closer helps, which in turn allows us to make smarter decisions about which home we buy and how we live in it, once we buy it.

Here is a quick list of the right questions to ask about crime before buying a home.

1.  What sorts of crimes happen in the area? Where and when do they happen? Crime truly happens everywhere. But the details of crime patterns vary widely in various neighborhoods especially San Diego because we have such diverse pockets within one zip code and the next.  Some areas may have more stay at home workers or entrepreneurs and more break ins during the night and other areas may have day time workers and more day time crime.

This sort of information can be highly useful to a buyer-to-be, as it can help you make decisions not just about whether or not to buy, but also about whether to park your car outside (or not), whether to get an alarm and where in a given neighborhood you might prefer your home to be (interior cul-de-sac vs. thoroughfare in the same area). is an easy, user-friendly way to break down crime types with easy-to-scan icons and providing data for communities all over the country.

 2.  What anti-crime features does – or can – the home have?  Review your disclosures and talk with the sellers (through your agent, of course) about what anti-crime features the home currently has. This will allow you to prepare for any upgrades, downgrades or changes you’ll want to make.  For example, if a home has security bars that were installed 3 decades ago, you might want to have them brought up to code with a fire release bar, or removed altogether.  Or, perhaps the sellers currently have the home wired for an alarm that can be armed, disarmed and video monitored remotely – if you want to continue that service, you’ll need to get that information and make the account change when you take over the other utilties and home services.  An amazing new business that can help with that is Awesome Automations  a San Diego-based company.

3.  Do any criminals live nearby?  Google “your city, your state Megan’s Law registry” to find sites where you can type in an address (like the address of the home you’re considering buying) and find a list of registered sex offenders in the area. Many of these sites will also offer you a map showing your address and the relative locations of the homes of the registered offenders.

The reality is that every neighborhood – even multi-million dollar homes  – have someone living in it who has committed a crime in the past, so take this all with a grain of salt. The utility of this information is that it empowers you and your children to recognize these dangers and to take care to avoid hazardous situations.

There is also power in following the path of the information you are given on these registry sites.  Many will surface information like what the registrants’ crimes were, when they happened, the registrants’ photos and more useful intelligence. This information can help you evaluate the degree to which you should be concerned before you buy.  Not to mention that something as “innocent” as “mooning someone” can be labeled as a sex offense…

4.  What does the neighborhood do to fight crime ? Neighborhoods across the country fight and prevent crime by strong connecting neighbors who all have in common the desire to live and raise their families in a safe, secure, place.

Here is a list of various associations that can help:

  • neighborhood associations
  • neighborhood watch groups
  • email lists
  • social networks
  • regular meetings
  • block parties or other community connections in which you can actively participate.