Neighborhood Red Flags When Renting

So, you have found a great apartment, one that is in your price range. While it seems perfect, it is important to consider not only the apartment itself, but also the neighborhood you will call home for the foreseeable future. You want to feel secure in your neighborhood, have access to the basic amenities that you need and feel that you’ll live there with peace of mind. Here are tips on looking for neighborhood red flags when apartment hunting.
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Ask Questions
The best way to find out about an apartment building or an area in general is to ask survey the neighbors already living there. When you tour your apartment, not only take notes about the rental itself, but also about the social climate. If you happen to bump into residents, be proactive and ask them questions about the apartment. If you don’t run into any potential neighbors, quiz the landlord or apartment manager giving you a tour about the neighborhood.

Scope Out the Local Atmosphere
Before signing a lease, drive around the neighborhood at different times of day to get an idea of the atmosphere and to observe your potential new surroundings. Is it safe? Are people socializing or loitering? An obvious police presence should alert you to potential criminal activity in the neighborhood. You can also research crime rates online. Will you feel comfortable walking your dog in this neighborhood after dark?

Local Businesses and Storefronts
As you tour the neighborhood, scout out the local businesses. What types of stores are there? Small mom-and-pop stores and a rustic-looking downtown shopping district may indicate a warm, community-minded neighborhood. Large shopping malls with major chain stores and fast food restaurants could indicate a suburban, working-class area. Count how many boarded-up storefronts or run-down strip malls you find. A large percentage of closed businesses could indicate that the neighborhood is in the midst of an economic downturn. If you have children, look at school ratings online.

Neighborhood Maintenance and Homes for Sale
Try to get a feel for the economic direction of the neighborhood by examining the area’s real estate market. Well-maintained homes with nicely kept landscaping, fresh paint and modern cars in the driveway signify economic well-being. Untidy homes with junk littering the lawns indicate a lower quality of life. Look out for “home for sale” signs. A glut of houses for sale or declining home values could indicate a neighborhood that is going south.

It’s impossible to ignore the ever-present real estate and rental mantra of “location, location, location.” No matter how nice an apartment looks and how beautifully it suits your needs, it cannot compensate for a bad neighborhood. Inspect the neighborhood carefully to make sure that you buy a house in a neighborhood where you will feel happy and safe.

This article was originally published by Neil J. Leitereg on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here

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