Crime, Schools and Property Appearance: Factors to Keep in Mind When Buying

by Michele Lerner

DC Row Houses By tvol

When it comes to the types of neighborhoods that homebuyers desire, everyone has different taste. Some people want to live in a gated community with a swimming pool, while others want a neighborhood with a coffee shop or a café on every corner.

Most buyers, unless they are new to an area, generally know which neighborhoods they like and don’t like. But some, particularly first-timers who have never had to sell a home in a down market, don’t stop to think about future resale value when they are buying.

The classic real estate mantra — “Location, location, location” — really does hold up, especially in today’s market. So, while homebuyers should always search for a home they love and want to live in for at least three to five years, they should also keep in mind that their home is more likely to hold onto its value if it is located in a “good” neighborhood.

While plenty of characteristics matter when it comes to choosing a neighborhood, three main factors add value, whether you buy in the city, the suburbs or a rural area.

  1. Crime — There’s no question about it: Homes in crime-ridden neighborhoods are less desirable and therefore cost less. For some buyers, buying a less expensive home in a high crime area may be worth it, but it is important to remember that the home will likely not increase in value (and can, in fact decrease in value) if crime problems persist. Fair housing laws limit the amount of information real estate agents can share with their clients on crime statistics, but consumers can contact the local police station or visit CrimeReports.com to check on a specific area.
  2. Schools — Parents will often go to great lengths to move into a district with schools that have a good reputation for academics or athletics, which automatically increases the value of homes in a certain area. Homebuyers without children may not think about local schools during their search, but it will become very important when they are ready to sell their home. If you are buying a home within the District, you might want to check out both the local elementary schools and the charter schools to see how they compare with other schools in the city. Again, fair housing laws limit the amount of information on schools that real estate agents can share, but buyers can go to the website of each local school system to compare test scores and gather information.
  3. Appearance of Area Homes — Whether you are looking for a condo, a row house in the city, a town home or a suburban single-family home, make sure you check out the what the properties look like in the area. Nothing drags a home’s value down faster than sitting in the midst of uncared-for homes with peeling paint, uncut grass or a sagging porch.

Obviously, one or all of these factors become secondary if you find a fabulous home that you cannot pass up, but if you are on the fence about a property, any one of these issues could tip the scales.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/crime_schools_and_property_appearance_factors_to_keep_in_mind_when_buying/1484

1 Comment

  1. Emil said at 7:35 am on Tuesday November 10, 2009:

    I definitely agree with these points, but I do see a lot of single people in my age range (under 30) who are buying homes and don’t foresee having children for another few years and by that time will end up moving up, hopefully. So I do think that schools are becoming less important, especially because of the overall bad reputation of DC schools in most areas. It might be an important selling point, however, school rankings can change in developing neighborhoods so it is not something that can necessarily be planned out. As far as I know, only one family on my block of about 30 houses has children. I live near Dunbar High School which used to be a great school and now is just another public school.

Comments are closed.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾