The Must Use Tool for DC Home Buyers

by Joe Marhamati

Doing your homework when it comes to crime is one of the more crucial steps you should take before making the final decision on where to buy a home, particularly in a city like DC where it seems every other neighborhood is being labeled “transitional”.

Fortunately for those looking within the DC borders, there is a tool that makes this step fairly easy. The DC Crime Map provides users with crime stats within the vicinity of any address in the city limits, and allows users to choose a radius around that location as well as a specific time period to help define the search. For instance, users can search for crimes that occurred within 250, 500 or 1,000 feet of a given property over the course of the last few months, the last year, or just during 2009.

What pops up after the parameters are defined is a complete breakdown of violent crimes and property crimes for a given period as well as a complementary map that provides the exact locations of those crimes. A spreadsheet is also provided that also allows users to compare statistics from the chosen search with past statistics. For instance, if you search for crimes committed in the past year you’ll be able to compare those stats with crimes committed during the year prior to that, along with a calculation of the net change that provides a nice visual of the direction a neighborhood may be heading.

Crime activity around 11th and H Street NE

Prospective home buyers could spend endless hours playing with the map functions, comparing trends around their current home to places they have lived in the past, as well as comparing the neighborhoods where they may potentially purchase.

The faint of heart are well advised to avoid the mapping function, particularly for violent crime, as it may result in never leaving home again. For instance, this author found that in the past two months there have been seven violent crimes and 16 property crimes within 1,000 feet of his home (one of those took place at his residence when a shoddy Trek bicycle was absconded in March). Despite the unsettling statistics, the stats proved that the map is updated frequently. Not long after the bike was stolen, the crime was registered on the site with the location pinned.

Providing a meaningful breakdown between violent and property crime is obviously a useful metric for prospective buyers to determine their tolerance for a rough neighborhood, or their preferences in urban pioneering. But like any tool, the DC Crime Map requires some fine tuning to paint an accurate picture. Users are encouraged to view the maps associated with the numbers to see if crimes are clustered in one area or spread evenly through a neighborhood. Otherwise, one could inaccurately draw the conclusion that there is a lot of crime occurring in an area that just has a few rough spots.

See other articles related to: editors choice

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_must_use_tool_for_dc_home_buyers/1987


  1. KStreetQB said at 11:45 am on Monday April 19, 2010:

    Don’t neglect to compare the established downtown neighborhoods either.

    Over the last year, my ‘transitional’ address in Shaw experienced 22 fewer violent crimes and 97 fewer property crimes than my old address at 19th and R NW - probably one of the best addresses in DC.

    Happy to report that there were no murders within 1000 feet of either address.

  1. John said at 2:09 pm on Monday April 19, 2010:

    I’ve been using this site for well over a year and I’m addicted (when it is working).  Wish I had this before I lived in Columbia Heights.  Thank God I’m out of there now.

  1. Mrta said at 4:14 pm on Monday April 19, 2010:

    I appreciate you highlighting this useful tool.  Often real estate publications act as if safety is not a concern for homeowners, when it is probably the #1 most important piece of information.  I understand there are laws that keep real estate agents from making commentary on safety, but the effect can be a lot of hype about investment potential without weighing the risks.  Kudos once again to the team at UrbanTurf for providing such great resources!

  1. TruxRes said at 9:55 pm on Monday April 19, 2010:

    Funny—I actually moved from 20th + R to Truxton Circle. In all my years in DC, 4 friends of mine have gotten mugged: 2 in Dupont and 2 in Adams Morgan. None elsewhere. I’m on the same page as the first poster up top.

    This is a great resource. I’m hopeful it may help convince other buyers to make the move East.

  1. DG Cromwell said at 12:32 am on Tuesday April 20, 2010:

    There are other resources:



    These maps were much more interesting when short narratives were available with each crime. Some of my favorite narratives: 1. “Yo Slim, what you doing in this neighborhood?” Then he was clocked and robbed of his belongings. 2. An innocent bystander was caught in between two suspects shooting at each other.

    Needless to say, still moved into this neighborhood despite the robberies and something called Bloomingdale neck ties.

  1. hoos30 said at 1:30 pm on Tuesday April 20, 2010:

    It is worth the visit to the site just to see the cool little icons that depict each type of crime. There’s nothing like seeing someone with a bandit mask climbing in your window….

  1. Brenda Ford said at 9:31 pm on Tuesday April 20, 2010:

    This is a great site and I do use it, unfortunately, I found out the hard way that there are many crimes that remain unreported and won’t show up on this map.

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