There Goes the Neighborhood

Another one from our customer service archives…

Dear S.,

Hope you are well. I have another question for you. We are looking to buy a new house. We’d hate to move next door to someone who had barking dog complaints filed against them… or people who were reported for loud music, etc. Any way to research an address and find out more about the neighborhood?

Hi J,

Good luck on the possible new home purchase. A surveil of the neighborhood would be a good move. Do you have a particular house in mind or neighborhood/town/city? You can look in our directory to see if that city’s police department posts a “blotter” of incident reports. In big areas like LA and its suburbs, these incident reports are likely to contain only the more dramatic incidents, like burglaries, arrests, etc. But you never know. In more rural areas of the country, where the police have more time to update their websites, and less crime going around, you may find incident reports about noise complaints, altercations, or even runaway goats. Here’s one example of a police incident database, from Little Rock, AR. This site allows you to search by date, address, and incident type.

Pasadena, CA has a daily crime mapping site but I suspect it only reports major crimes. Still, you might want to find that neighborhood on this map and see if it is getting any unwanted “action”.

To see if your city has a site like that, click on the United States Free Public Records by State heading on our home page, then select your State. On the state page, you’ll see a link for Cities & Towns. Another way to get to links for your city is to use the “By City” search field in our Free Public Records Locator tool menu.

Once you’re looking at a specific home on the market, I might suggest taking a walk around the block at various times of day. Afternoon, after dinner, etc. That will give you much more observations about the street than just driving by. If dogs are a concern, you might want to walk near the house with your own dog (or borrow a friend’s). That will get every dog on the street out to the side gates, barking at you. Then you’ll know where the loud dogs are, and whether the owners keep them indoors or outdoors. There is a difference between a good guard dog and a yappy nuisance, so take that into consideration.

Another idea, if you’re bold enough, is to knock on a few doors and introduce yourself as a potential neighbor. It would take tact though, to ask about noisy residents on the block, as the person you’re speaking with might BE the noisy one. One idea is to ask around if the street has a Neighborhood Watch program and find out who runs it. Talk to that person and you’ll have a line in to all the gossip in the neighborhood. We have a person like that on our street and she knows all the issues between all the residents.