People have always had concerns over their safety and home security; but when buying a home it must be taken into consideration with other factors such as price and size. It's nearly impossible to find the perfect home, so compromises have to be made.
Wanting to know how much people value safety, we spoke to nearly 1,000 homeowners in the U.S. We asked them what a safe neighborhood looks like to them; what efforts they take to feel safe; and how much more they would pay to live in a place where they felt safe. Keep reading to see what we found.
What a Safe Neighborhood Looks Like
Our study kicked off by asking respondents to define safety in a neighborhood. What types of things did they expect to see in a safe place? Answers were then further broken down by generation. We also asked about the top trade-offs they were willing to make in order to reside in a place they described as safe.
For most, a safe neighborhood meant that children would be playing outside (53.6%). Of course, the implication here is that they're safe to play without fear. Playing outside may be crucial to a child's development and well-being, but it's also clearly dependent on the safety of the neighborhood. Moreover, children who spend time outside are more likely to become better protectors of the environment as they grow older. Interestingly, children playing outside was the first sign of safety for younger generations, while older generations felt the key characteristic of safe neighborhoods was having walkers or runners out and about.
To achieve that safety, many respondents were willing to forgo a short commute in exchange for a longer one (40.2%), have an increased police presence (39.2%), or live in the lowest-valued house in the area (34%). The majority of respondents felt that sacrifices such as experiencing financial strain or attending low-quality schools were usually not worth the trade-off, however. Living in a smaller home was a sacrifice millennials were particularly unwilling to make.
Next, we had respondents look at descriptions of two different homes, which were the same in size and amenities, but in slightly different environments. Afterward, we asked them to estimate how much they would pay for a home similar to each and write-in their desired purchase price. Then we compared the average homeowner appraisal of each home to see how much more they were willing to pay for a slightly safer environment.
With children playing outside more often, a comparative lack of run-down homes in the vicinity, and sidewalks kept clean, respondents were willing to pay nearly $50,000 more for Home 2 than for the home that lacked these and a couple other characteristics. This reflects just how important small indicators of safety may be to the average American homeowner.
Some of our respondents valued safety even higher, and we found that 18.9% were actually willing to pay $100,000 or more extra for Home 2. Respondents who had children were willing to pay almost 26% more than other respondents for the safety of their home. Clearly, the presence of children is a key indicator of neighborhood safety, according to a majority of homeowners.
Transitional Property Value
Transitional neighborhoods refer to less-established areas with potential (as opposed to realized) value. While they may be situated close to under-developed areas, they offer more affordable prices. This section of our study asked respondents how smart they felt it was to buy in these types of neighborhoods.
The majority of respondents (54.8%) felt that buying in transitional neighborhoods was a good strategy. Those with families also felt pretty strongly: nearly 50% of parents surveyed said they were interested in buying a transitional property within the next year or next few years. Most financial experts would agree with them, arguing that if the value of the neighborhood does rise, the investment is the best-possible kind in real estate. That said, this type of investment is dependent on time, which may explain why baby boomers were the most averse to buying in transitional neighborhoods.
Thinking Through Transitional Properties
Of course, with safety being the main focus of this study, we wanted to look at transitional neighborhoods in terms of their safety against other factors that compelled homeowners toward transitional property purchases. While safety and investment risk were the two main downsides, homeowners felt strongly about the benefits of this type of investment. The potential for more space and a potentially big return on their investment seemed to outweigh the top risks.
Things like lack of amenities and limited nearby activities were certainly significant considerations, but again, lack of safety took the cake in terms of transitional downsides. Generationally, safety was the top concern for older respondents, including Gen Xers and baby boomers. For millennials, the investment risk was the top downside when buying in a transitional neighborhood. Surprisingly, respondents without children were more likely to think that transitional neighborhoods were unsafe (55.1%) than respondents with children (48.6%).
Interestingly enough, nearly 1 in 4 homeowners felt that purchasing a transitional property would be contributing to gentrification, which they viewed negatively, though nearly 19% felt this was a positive benefit.