Simple Questions to Ask Neighbors Before Buying a Home

Before purchasing a new home, it is important to check out the neighborhood. You may have questions to ask neighbors, in the area, before you decide if the house is right for you. Potential homebuyers can learn about the prospective neighborhood by getting out of their cars and talking to the neighbors.

You may not be happy if neighboring activities, schools and people don’t fit with your lifestyle—even if the potential home has the amenities of your dreams.

As you walk the neighborhood, prepare yourself with a few questions to ask local residents. You are certain to find out some useful information as you meet and greet potential new friends on the block.

1. Ask about the house

Neighbors often have good insights into the history of the home and its surroundings. A house can look great and pass all of the usual inspections, but some faults may not show up. Neighbors may know if the house you want to buy suffers from hidden problems.

Alternatively, if all of the neighbors had tree roots damage their water pipes, you will know to get your home checked for similar problems.

Learning more about the condition of the house and why the sellers are selling may put you in a better bargaining position when it comes to making an offer.

2. Find out about the neighborhood vibe

Because you will be new to the neighborhood, ask about local amenities. Where is the best dry cleaner, dentist, hair stylist, etc.? Do they know of any house cleaners or dog walkers? Where do people in the neighborhood go for fun and to exercise?

In addition to getting a feel for the available amenities, also ask about neighborly activities and whether people get along. Is there a neighborhood association? Are there regular gatherings? Do neighbors share parking spaces, responsibilities or other common areas? Neighbors, for instance, might take turn trimming hedges and trees on the property line. While legal documents might dictate these shared responsibilities, you also may find out about handshake agreements and determine whether you want to continue with the tradition.

As you assess the neighbors, think about how long you hope to live in the home and whether you’ll be comfortable living next door for that long. A great neighbor can be wonderful, as neighbors often become good friends for life. However, an aggressive, noisy or uncooperative neighbor can make your life miserable.

3. Determine if the area is kid-friendly

The neighborhood affects children, too. If you have kids, it’s important to ask about crime and safety, schools, as well as whether there are plenty of things to keep them occupied. Neighbors can tell you whether there have been issues or loitering at night, even if such activity doesn’t show up on police reports.

Consider what child-friendly activities exist, like whether there are reliable, local babysitters, good after school clubs, math tutors and summer day camps nearby.

It’s important to ask yourself whether neighbors will have a positive influence on your children during their interactions—they’ll see them much of their lives.

4. Rate your experience

Was your meeting with the neighborhood positive? Hopefully getting to know the neighbors was a pleasant event. You can confirm that the house really is for you and make a few lifelong friends in the process. Who knows? They might even invite you in for coffee and cake.

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