Crime Data doesn't Belong in Real Estate

We all want to feel safe in our homes and our communities, and when it comes to evaluating the safety of a neighborhood, many people turn to crime data as a reliable indicator. However, it's important to understand that crime data can be misleading, it perpetuates racial inequity, and doesn't accurately reflect a neighborhood's level of safety. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Reported Crimes May Not Accurately Reflect Actual Crimes: Crime statistics can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as population density, demographics, and police enforcement. For example, a neighborhood with a high population density may have more reported crimes simply because there are more people living there. Similarly, a neighborhood with a large police presence may have more reported crimes because there are more officers to respond to incidents. 
  • Crime Data Can be Outdated or Incomplete: Crime data may not include all types of crimes or incidents, and may also include reports of incidents or crimes that were not actually crimes at all.
  • Crime Data Doesn't Account for Other Factors that Impact Safety: Safety is influenced by a variety of factors beyond crime, such as traffic accidents, natural disasters, and environmental hazards. Crime data doesn't take these factors into account, which means that it may not provide a complete picture of a neighborhood's safety.

People are interested in safety, not crime, and everyone defines safety in a different way. So, what should you do if you're trying to evaluate the safety of a neighborhood? Here are a few tips:

  • Look Beyond Crime Data: Consider other factors that impact safety, such as traffic patterns, proximity to hazardous materials and production, and the quality of local infrastructure.
  • Talk to Locals: Ask residents and business owners in the neighborhood about their experiences and perceptions of safety in the area.
  • Visit the Neighborhood: Spend time in the neighborhood to get a sense of the environment and the people who live there. Ask a friend to join you for a walk around the neighborhood at night and see how it feels. 

When crime data is tied to real estate, it can perpetuate stereotypes and stigmatize certain neighborhoods. This can have a negative impact on property values and make it more difficult for residents to sell their homes or attract new buyers, and oftentimes reinforces racial bias. By considering other factors and talking to locals, you can get more of a complete picture of a neighborhood's safety and determine whether it’s a good fit for you.

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