July 3, 2011

Review: Sites break down neighborhood traits

LOS ANGELES (AP) — If you find a home on the market that has the right look, amenities and price, you're still only halfway there.

That's because a neighborhood is often as big a consideration as the house itself. Before you buy, you need to know if it's safe. Are the schools nearby any good? Are there parks, shopping centers or public transportation within walking distance?

Fortunately, there are more than a few websites that can help answer these questions and more.

SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD?

What makes a neighborhood livable is entirely subjective. It depends on the lifestyle you're seeking. But, crime is one concern just about everyone shares.

As a test, I selected a neighborhood in Los Angeles called Los Feliz, which is about 5 miles from downtown, and ran it through PolicyMap.com, NeighborhoodScout.com, CriminalSearches.com and newcomer Trulia.com, which recently launched its Crime Maps feature.

Overall, I found Trulia's approach most compelling. The site's maps allow you to visualize where —and to what degree— crime may be happening, down to the street level. The service is free, unlike NeighborhoodScout, which requires a paid subscription to access neighborhood-level crime stats. Those plans run between $39.99 a month and six payments of $19.99 for a half-year subscription. Review: Sites break down neighborhood traits - Yahoo! News

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