All of us with David Gala & The Hume Group have lived in the Tacoma area most of our lives. We know the individual quirks and amenities of each neighborhood like the backs of our hands. That said, it is against the Federal Fair Housing Law for and of us to steer your towards a neighborhood or talk you out of buying a house in another neighborhood. That makes it awkward when clients give us that look that says ‘level with me’ and ask “How is this neighborhood, really?”
Tacoma has a variety of neighborhoods and they have different things going for them. Some have amazing views, others are close to the freeway and sport super low prices. Every type of neighborhood has its pluses and minuses. In some neighborhoods the plus might be the price and location and the minus might be the crime rate. In others the plus might be low crime and beautiful homes, but the minus is an oppressive HOA or a struggling middle school.
While we aren’t allowed to tell you one neighborhood is better for you than another (that’s called steering and it’s been illegal since the 1960’s) we can help point you towards resources where you can do your own research and draw your own conclusions.
1. Your Friends and Family
Talking to friends and family is probably the most old fashioned yet still completely useful way for investigating a neighborhood. Inquiring with people who currently live in a neighborhood is one of the best ways to find out the pros and cons of living there. Talking to people who have moved out of a neighborhood can be illuminating as well, but steer clear of people who have opinions about neighborhoods they’ve never lived in. Sometimes an areas reputation doesn’t tell the whole story.
Crime happens everywhere, and the City of Tacoma Police Department tracks it all. This official site has information for you to research crime in neighborhoods in the city of Tacoma.
This site helps you figure out what kind of crime is happening on the street the house you are interested in is. It’s very visual and easy to use. While it might not always have the most up to date information that the City of Tacoma site has, it really helps you get a feel for overall crime. It also allows you to sort by type of crime, so you can sort out arrests and focus on burglary and vandalism.
If you are a believer in standardized test scores, then this site can help you compare schools. It was funded in part by Bill and Melinda Gates. If you do not believe test scores are the way to evaluate schools, we can think of no short cut. Ask around, talk to parents, talk to Principals when possible. Visit schools that you think might be a good fit for you and your student.
5. Your Own Eyes and Ears
It’s easy to fall in love with a house and forget to take the neighborhood into account. Some good tricks for getting a feel for the neighborhood are to visit in the evening on a Friday or Saturday night. Is it noisy or peaceful? Would you feel comfortable living here? If the house is on an alley, take a walk down the alley and see what you see. If you bump into any neighbors, ask them what they think about living there.
Again, as Realtors we are your advocates. We want to be your trusted advisors as we help you search for the perfect home for you and your family. That said, there are limits to what we can tell you. We hope this article was useful to you. Let us know what you think!
By Tom Hume – The Hume Group