“How is Crime in the Neighborhood?”: How To Answer Your Client Honestly
When buyers want you to show them homes, one of the first thing they are going to ask you about (if they aren’t already familiar) is the neighborhood. As an agent, location can be used to your advantage when it comes to selling a home. But, if the location is less-than-desirable, it can make it very difficult to make a listing seem appealing, no matter how quickly a neighborhood may be on the come up.
So, how can you answer your client honestly about the state of the neighborhoods they are looking in, without losing them altogether?
If they’re looking, they already know something
If your clients are hiring you to go look at homes to potentially buy, then there’s a very good chance they already know a decent amount regarding the area. And, even if they’ve never lived in that specific city, it’s very unlikely that they’d make such a big investment in a place they know very little about. That being said, it can be hard to tell a lot about a place without actually living there. So, if they ask about the neighborhood, reply with something like, “Well, what do you know about it?”
Send them to the source directly
The best thing to do if your buyers ask you specifics about a borderline neighborhood? Don’t answer directly. Don’t even say something like, “It has potential” or “It’s ‘so-so’.” Give them websites they can go to to find out for themselves, such as Walkscore or City-data. Also, remind them that these websites are not always accurate, and if your buyers are looking in a city, there usually is some level of crime no matter what.
Ask what their specific concerns are
“Safety” can have a different definition for everyone. Some people are concerned about their home being too close to the highway or a factory that could be emitting chemicals. Others may be concerned about the amount of crime in the area, whether it’s been an increase in home invasions or a recent assault that took place a few blocks away.
To really gauge what your clients are worried about (and, to determine what’s a dealbreaker and what’s not), just ask specifically what their concerns are. Are they worried about walking alone at night, or raising their children in the area? Knowing this information can help you decide how much you should tell them.
Turn every negative into a positive
A great way to deal with clients who have safety concerns is to turn the negative news into positive news or try to swing it in a way in which it sounds hopeful. For instance, instead of saying, “There was in fact a robbery a few blocks over” you could say “There was a robbery here a few months ago, but, it was just a few high school students playing a game of truth or dare that got out of hand. Also, the crime rates have gone down tremendously in the city the last few years, and they are continuing to go down, despite this event.”
This is not to suggest at all that you should lie or stretch the truth. On the contrary, you should learn the details of any recent events that have happened, because your buyers will surely know about them already. Find out what details you can and dig a little deeper to see the magnitude of what makes local headlines.
Get friendly with the neighbors
A great way to learn about any neighborhood is to ask those who already live there. Before showing the home, knock on a few neighbors’ doors and ask them if they could shed some light on the community. Of course, don’t say, “I have clients coming in and they are concerned about crime in this neighborhood, what’s your take on it?!” That sounds presumptuous and not a good way to start a conversation about the place in which someone lives.
Instead, just approach the neighbors with simple questions like, “How long have you been living here?” “What do you like about this neighborhood?” “What are some of your favorite places to go?” “Are the neighbors friendly?” and “Is there anything you think that you’d like to see happen in this neighborhood?”
Direct them to the local police department
The absolute best way to share information about crime rates in a certain neighborhood is to advise your client to call the local police department. They will have the most up-to-date information regarding what’s happening in the neighborhood and will be able to give a more accurate portrayal of crime – or the lack thereof – in the area. To enhance your professionalism, keep a card of the police department with you at all times so you can quickly share it with your clients.
Offer to show them something nearby
As much as you need to look out for yourself, your job is to look out for the best interest of your clients as well. While it may be tempting to say that a neighborhood is a “good investment property” most buyers are aware of what that actually means. If you know deep down that the location is unsafe or might not be best for a young couple just starting out their family, then offer to show them something nearby. Your honesty will help build rapport with your buyers and hopefully help you to close a deal with them in the end.