Get The Low-Down On Crime

My readers come up with the best ideas (and buy homes I lust after, and fail to buy homes I admire).

In a comment on one of my recent posts, “FRD” suggests looking up a neighborhood’s crime statistics before buying a home there.

Makes fabulous sense.

He or she suggested the following websites which are relevant to the homes I was writing about:

www.rockridgencpc.com/crimestats.html
groups.yahoo.com/group/colbyparkwatch/
gismaps.oaklandnet.com/crimewatch/

Generally, a good first port of call is the local police department. The Berkeley Police website, for example, allows you to track past crimes by neighborhood. The report is called a Community Crime View and produces a map:

police-map.JPG

…and a table (which you hope looks as innocuous as this one):

police-report.JPG

There are various subscription services which claim to provide useful crime information. Neighborhood Scout is one and it produces tables like this:

crime-table.JPG

I’m sure there are other good sources of information. If you know them, let me know.

  • http://www.wilsonminer.com/ Wilson Miner

    For crime data in Oakland, you should definitely check out Oakland Crimespotting, a new project from the folks at Stamen Design.

  • Tracey Taylor

    Wilson: Thank you very much for that tip. I’ll flag it up to my readers. Tracey

  • Bob

    Real estate is taking so long to change because so many so-called agents are not trained in sales. They think they are, but they really are almost pure marketing. I have a home listed with a non-redfin agent. An agent from Redfin toured the house, and had some positive remarks to say about the house, (on your public website, so that anyone looking at my house on your site could see it), and made the gaffe remark that “it could use some updating”. Please – let the consumer draw their own conclusions. If you point out something just to let a prospective buyer know that you see the flaw(s) and you are as smart as they are, it is about the dumbest thing you can do – - so why do it on a website? Most of these “part-time” agents who rarely sell or list anything think that marketing is sales. It isn’t. Take some courses, learn about open-ended questions, and how to get to “yes” after five “no’s”, and how to do an elevator speech. It’s not about pictures on a website, it is about selling value to a client that actually needs some guidance, not just being a yes-person, but really selling what you believe in. And most RE agents are really poor at pure sales.

    • Audrey Lawrence, Redfin

      Hi Bob. Redfin is a little different in that it is not our agent’s job to sell a home to their client, it is to help their client find the home that’s right for them. They are paid on customer satisfaction, which means giving clients as much information as possible to make the best choices on one of the most important decisions they will make in their life.

      In the example you mention, someone who’s looking for a home that’s already updated could read that comment and not waste their time going to tour that particular home. But it could also interest someone who wants to buy a home that they can fix up and make their own.

  • http://quillrealty.com/ Quill Realty

    Bob, I’d add that in the modern world, and particularly with the advent of buyer’s agency, real estate agents aren’t even expected to be salespeople anymore. In the “good old days” when every agent worked for the seller, sure, they were acting as a true salesperson, no different than the shoe guy at Nordstrom (although some buyers may not have fully understood that dynamic). But today, buyer’s agents specifically work for the buyer. They are now, practically speaking, as much if not more a “representative” than a “salesperson.” And there’s no going back…

  • http://jeoftp.blogspot.com/ Jeoff Wilks

    Glenn, I’ve used Redfin a lot and I love your mission: to give people better data so that they screen out more homes and make fewer, more-targeted home visits. If you think about the new home market for a minute: other than quick-move-ins, every single person buys their home without ever seeing it yet — because it hasn’t even been built! They do so by looking at a floor plan, a lot plan, and a site plan. The floor plan tells you a lot about how well the interior of the home will serve your needs. The lot plan tells you if it has the kind of yard size and placement that you want. And the site plan tells you about traffic patterns and community arrangement. I can tell you I’ve visited hundreds of homes, wasting my time and my buyers agent’s time, simply to check out a home’s floor plan and lot size — only to find out it won’t work for me. I could screen out probably 80% of home visits if I had this information upfront — particularly the floor plan.

    Suppose you were to initiate a Big Data effort to ingest every floor plan you can get for every address you serve. They are often available on the public internet when the home is new. Index it and keep it around so that you have it later when the home goes up for resale. Then show it as part of the listing wherever possible.

    Buyers would be far more informed and would be able to zero in on the homes that work for them far more quickly. In some cases, as with new homes, they might even have the confidence to prepare an offer before ever visiting the home. That would do a lot to reduce the time and expense of real-estate transactions.