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Whether you’re renting or buying, finding a new place to live is a big deal.
You save for months or even years for a security deposit or down payment, take on a huge mortgage loan (if you’re going the buying route) and then sink a good chunk of change into moving expenses.
So what happens if, after living in your new home for a few weeks, you realize the neighborhood you thought you’d love is actually terrible?
Maybe you wanted an involved community, but what you got was neighbors who keep to themselves. Or maybe you live by the adage “good fences make good neighbors,” but this street is full of nosy neighbors and an overbearing homeowners association.
Maybe you moved in for the highly rated school and the potential for lots of neighborhood friends for your kids, but you didn’t realize that the neighborhood you picked — while technically zoned for the school — is actually populated by an older demographic.
Or perhaps it was conveniently left out that the streets flood every time it rains or there’s a serious raccoon problem or that at night, the bugs are so bad due to a nearby retention pond that you can’t even enjoy the brand-new back deck that was a huge selling point for you.
All of a sudden, you’re really wishing you had been able to chat with some like-minded locals before you made such a huge financial commitment, right?
Enter: Trulia’s new “What Locals Say” feature.
Trulia is a real-estate listing site you’re probably familiar with if you’ve been on the hunt for the perfect house or apartment.
Today, the site launched “What Locals Say,” a platform the company hopes will meet the demand for “rich neighborhood insights,” meaning everything from info about local parks and restaurants to the general feel of the community.
In 2017, Trulia conducted consumer research and found that 85% of people planning to buy within the next 18 months say the neighborhood is at least as important as the house itself, while 76% of the same potential buyers say the neighborhood is a primary driver for their move.
The top factors they take into consideration? Lifestyle changes, such as getting married or having a baby, a shorter commute to work or a new school for their kids.
The goal of the new feature is to shed light on these and other highly sought-after insights that people most often seek when shopping for a new home or neighborhood. And who better to offer them up than the people who already live there?
As of the launch, the “What Locals Say” service already features more than 7 million written reviews and polls that can help provide an accurate depiction of what it’s like to live in a given neighborhood.
Some give a basic overview of what people love (the schools, the walkability, the traffic), while others delve deeper into neighborhood life, discussing topics such as whether neighbors talk to each other, if there are a lot of dogs and if people decorate their homes for the holidays.
Basically, it’s a place for people to talk about neighborhoods’ cultural aspects — both good and bad — that don’t go into a basic real-estate listing.
So if you’re planning on moving anytime in the near future, whether you’re planning to buy or rent, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look to see what people think about the neighborhood before you get there and have to find out the unpleasant details on your own.
Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at Codetic.