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How to Avoid Rotten Neighbors

The Internet has revolutionized how we go about finding new homes. Now we can study home listings on our own, and online calculators can help us quickly see how much each contender might cost us per week. Our realtors are still usually darn useful, but even they have websites of their own.

As I've noted before, websites such as can now help us get a rough idea of home values in our neighborhood and in neighborhoods where we're looking to buy. I just learned of another handy tool we can use as we evaluate our potential new neighborhoods:

Click over there, enter your zip code, and you'll soon be able to scroll around a map of your area, zeroing in on whatever streets interest you and reading any flagged complaint. In Manhattan, I read about a woman in an apartment building who, annoyed by kids slamming doors, likes to slam the garbage chute repeatedly and loudly in the middle of the night. A Miami resident wrote about a neighbor, saying, "This guy obviously is selling drugs. Every day young people come to his house he walks to their car and they leave. He does not work and has numerous cars and boats."

Here are two caveats:

  • First off, many streets have no complaints at all. Odds are, that's because it will take time for more people to learn about the site and enter the information they have to offer. (It's also possible that many streets are relatively harmonious!)
  • Next, remember that each story will likely have another side to it, which isn't presented. The guy who seems to be a drug dealer may simply be independently wealthy, with lots of friends who stop by. The noisy lady might have insomnia and a hearing problem and not realize how noisy she's being.

Still, sites like this one are at least fun to poke around. And who knows -- it might end up alerting you to a problem worthy of further investigation.

Learn more
If you're interested in homebuying and -selling issues, visit our Home Center. You might also want to check out these articles, especially if you'll soon be buying a new home:

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