The company that brought the walkability factor to help buyers decide if the neighborhood is walkable enough for them, is introducing a Crime Grade measure.
WalkScore.com allows buyers to use the beta program that gives users ratings from A - D. "Crime Grade is the first measure of crime safety for a home or apartment that accurately measures your personal risk," the company wrote on its blog.
Of course, we all know the saying, "Location, Location, Location." When it comes to real estate, this word holds tremendous importance. Much of what makes a location appealing is how it's maintained, its walkability, accessibility to shops, schools, amenities, entertainment, freeways or mass transportation, and its crime rate.
WalkScore writes, "What matters most is your per capita risk of being affected by crime". According to the post, what makes the company's maps different is the ability to measure the per capita crime rate.
Maps or statistics that report crime not based on per capita can make areas that are dense (such as downtown) seem heavily ridden with crime because the measurement is only based on the number of crimes in that area.
But WalkScore says it's the computing that makes their measurement different. "The Walk Score Crime Grade is computed using a patent-pending system that aggregates crimes near an address and weights crimes by severity and distance. We calculate a per capita crime rate for an address based on the total population (residents and workers) in the area."
Those crime rates are compared to other figures city-wide and then WalkScore assigns a letter grade rating for the area. To help people understand the real crime risk of an area, the company also uses various categories for crime based on whether it's personal such as a robbery or violent crime against a person or property crime–burglary or property theft. The system aims to provide a more accurate rating for personal risk in a particular area.
So far, Crime Grade is mapping out the risks in 16 cities including, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Louisville-Jefferson, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland, Raleigh, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.. The Crime Grade measure is for both homes and apartments. You can check your neighborhood's score at WalkScore.com.
While this system may prove to be a valuable tool, nothing replaces a buyer's research, education, and hands-on experience with the neighborhood. That means you need to go to the neighborhood and circulate about in it at different times of day and night. This will provide you an opportunity to see what it would be like to live in the area.
Talk to neighbors who have lived there a long time. Stop in and have coffee at the local shops–see what the clientele is like. Get a feel for what the community is like by attending local meetings, including Meetups in the area and police neighborhood watch groups.
You'll learn a lot from a few casual drop-in meetings. You don't have to stay the entire time, just long enough to educate yourself about the community and any concerns that current residents are facing. The time you invest in learning more will be worth it and will help you decide how much you are willing to spend on that home you spotted on the market.