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Using Crime Statistics and Sex Offender Mapping in your Housing Search

July 26, 2011 by
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What’s the most common question that Realtors can’t legally answer?  “Is this a safe neighborhood?”


Map of Crime and Sex Offenders in the City of Rochester NY

Map of Crime in the City of Rochester NY

The federal government put fair housing laws into place to protect home buyers and renters from a myriad of discriminatory practices.  As a result, landlords can no longer post statements like, “great Catholic neighborhood”, or “no children allowed in this unit”.  Restricting this kind of language is obviously a necessity to prevent certain protected classes from being discriminated against.  Sometimes, fair housing regulations leave Realtors in an awkward position, because answering a question the wrong way might get them in a lot of trouble.

When I’m showing apartments or homes to prospective movers, they always want to know if this is a safe neighborhood.  Unfortunately, I can’t legally answer that question because safety is a subjective term, and my opinions or biases may shape what I consider to be safe. For that reason, Realtors can only provide their client with tools to make that determination for themselves.  In today’s edition of the Democrat and Chronicle, the City of Rochester announced that they will be partnering with CrimeReports.com to begin mapping crime in the city of Rochester.  The site also maps the location of every registered sex offender in Monroe County. Now agents and individuals can search police reports on a slick Google map interface and make the determination of safety for themselves.

The CrimeReports website maps robberies, breaking and entering, assaults, thefts and sexual assaults.  For some reason, the Rochester Police Department has chosen not to provide the data to map rape or other sexual assaults.  I certainly hope that they reconsider that, considering every woman would want to know this information about their community. When using this site, bear in mind that the RPD is just about the only local police department reporting data to the website. As a result, the suburbs look spotless, but this is only because they don’t report any crime data.  It is also worth noting that you should completely avoid using their neighborhood layer, which is supposed to show you the different city neighborhoods. There isn’t a single neighborhood properly identified on the site. All in all, it’s a great tool to use if you’re looking to determine just how safe your next community is.



How to Find Apartments in Rochester, NY

October 8, 2010 by in Renter Tips, Rochester Metro Area
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Finding apartments in Rochester, NY is not much different than finding a place to rent in most other mid sized cities. That is to say, it’s a pain in the butt.

Back in 2005 I quit my IT consulting job in Philadelphia, earned my NYS real estate license and bought two multi-family homes in Rochester, NY. It was a long standing dream of mine to invest in real estate, and having a Realtor for a mother it stood to reason that I’d make a great real estate agent. Within several months of receiving my license I began to get more and more interested in Rochester’s apartment market. At the time there were only a handful of agents focused on matching renters with great apartments. The act of finding someone an apartment took days or weeks versus a home sale which takes months. The fast paced nature of apartment search really appealed to me.  It was then that I decided to become a Rochester rental agent.

I began getting an influx of people who were eager to have me help them locate the perfect apartment, and with so many beautiful old homes in the city it was an exciting prospect.  Within weeks I realized why there aren’t more apartment agents in Rochester.  When a Realtor helps a buyer find a home, the first step is to search the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which every Realtor populates with their listings.  When a buyer’s agent brings the buyer to a listing agent and a deal is done, the two agents split the typical commission of 6% of the home’s selling price. As it turns out, most Realtors don’t care to list apartments because the typical one month fee is a fraction of a sales commission.  As a result, Realtors are not routinely adding apartment listings to the MLS, and there is NO centralized source of apartment listings the way there is for homes for sale.  Sorry to break it to you, but the closet thing renters have is an endless list of repeating low quality listings on Craigslist.

That’s where Newdigs comes in.  My business partner, Daniel Mooney, and I founded Newdigs as a free listing platform which is specifically engineered for listing and searching apartments.  As of today, we have more Rochester, NY managed communities listed than Apartments.com, Rent.com, ForRent.com, ApartmentFinder.com, or even Craigslist.  We will be working tirelessly through the Fall and Winter to boost the number of single family and multifamily homes we have listed for rent as well.  Thanks to our partnership with The Housing Council, Newdigs is also the #1 online source of apartment listings accepting DHS (formerly DSS) and Section 8.

If you’re trying to locate an apartment in the South Wedge, 19th Ward, Park Avenue or Monroe Avenue neighborhoods you can also use the local website RentRochester.com, fall back on craigslist, or just revert to driving around neighborhoods you’re interested in and look for lawn signs.  While you’re out doing walk throughs, be sure to let the property manager know that they can list for free on Newdigs.com.  By spring we should be very well situated to help you find just about anything.

Happy Apartment Hunting!