You found the home you want to buy. The current owners didn’t mention a single negative aspect. You had it inspected, twice. The deal is almost set. Still feel wary? Here’s a common-sense tip: Talk to the neighbors! If this is an established neighborhood, chances are they’ve been there for a while and can fill you in on details that your home’s owner may have left out.

Lots of information can be gained from talking to your potential neighbors. First, you might find out a problem with you dream home that the current owner forgot to mention. Second, you can gain significant information on the community that this home resides in. Third, you can see if your personalities seem compatible.

Neighbors are usually more willing to share information on a home than the owners who are trying to sell it. They might know that the wooded surroundings attract uninvited rodents into the home, or that the basement floods every time it rains, or that the electric bill skyrockets during the winter because of poor insulation. Or perhaps the neighbors don’t know of anything wrong with the home! Either way, this information may be the deciding factor for you, so it’s worth investigating.

Ask questions about the neighborhood and the town. Find out what age group makes up the majority. If you have kids and the neighborhood is mostly a young or old crowd, you might want to reconsider. If you’re not one for following HOA rules, find out how strict they are in this neighborhood. Is it a quiet or lively environment? Once you gain a knowledgeable concept of the neighborhood, ask where the neighbors like to eat or shop in town. What is the crime rate like? Gaining information on this new environment might be your deciding factor.

Through a quick meet-and-greet, you can gain an idea of the neighbors’ personalities. Do they have a boundary issue with your potential yard, landscaping or fence? Do they despise pets? Perhaps they get angry from cars parked on the street, or maybe they are chain smokers who will disrupt your air quality. If you’re looking at an apartment or condo, this is especially important. Do your neighbors throw a lot of parties and make a lot of noise? A personality clash/agreement may be your deciding factor.

If you’re still stuck on how to approach the neighbors, here are some examples of startup questions:

  • How long have you lived in the neighborhood?
  • What do you like and dislike about the community?
  • If you could change something, what would it be?
  • Is it quiet?
  • Does everyone get along? Are there block parties and community garage sales, or does everyone keep to themselves?
  • Do you know why the seller is moving? Is anything wrong with the house?
  • What is involved with the HOA?
  • Where do you like to go in town?
  • How is traffic in the area?