July 13, 2015 09:30 ET

Spy Before You Buy: Seven Solid P.I. Practices to Stake out Your Neighbourhood

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - July 13, 2015) - A home is the largest and most important purchase people ever make. But in a climate of bidding wars and an urgency to get into the white-hot market, many are forced into snap decisions. Even in calmer markets, buyers often base their decisions on emotion and 'good energy' without really getting to know their new neighbourhood.

This can lead to buyers' remorse upon learning that your neighbour runs raves out of his basement, or that your seemingly calm street is a drag racing destination.

To empower Canadian homebuyers to do their own detective work, real estate brokerage, TheRedPin recruited private investigator Dave Perry, a former homicide detective and Co-CEO of Investigative Solutions Network (ISN). Perry is regularly called on to investigate investment neighbourhoods for a confidential roster of clients, and most recently for his own daughter.

Perry offers up the following tips on how to "Spy Before You Buy:"

1) Probe With a Puppy
A cute dog is the ultimate ice-breaker, so Perry recommends taking Fido for a walk around the neighbourhood on a weekend and chatting with your potential neighbours. Strike up a conversation and ask about safety, traffic, other neighbours, etc. They will be your best source for actionable intel. NOTE: The cuter the dog, the better.

2) Don't Be Too Cool for School
Your prospective home might be on a seemingly quiet side street, but until you've spent some time there, you can't be sure that it isn't used as a shortcut for savvy -- and speedy -- drivers. It's therefore a good idea to check out the traffic flow at different times of the day, particularly during school drop-off and pick-up. This will give you a good sense of traffic volumes.

3) Real Estate Recon
According to Perry, one of the simplest ways to stake out your neighbourhood is to walk it. Safely check out not only the main streets, but also back streets, paths and shops with an eye for broken beer bottles, graffiti and broken windows, which can be signs of youth/gang activity in the neighbourhood. Visit at different times and on different days of the week to get a full picture of the area.

4) Have a Covert Coffee Break
Plant yourself at the local coffee hot spot and ask staff, customers and anyone who will talk to you about the neighbourhood. Gather as much information as possible and try to find fellow coffee drinkers who have lived in the neighbourhood for several years. This is also a safe place to strike up a conversation since you'll be surrounded by patrons.

5) Take a Read on Renters
An overpopulated property can be a sign of impending trouble and likely be occupied by renters. Take note of how many cars there are in the parking lot and how well the property is maintained. If there's flowers in the garden and the lawn is mowed you're renter is invested in the property and you'll be fine.

6) Check in with HQ
Canada is one of the safest countries on earth, but if you're extra cautious, a good way to get solid information on a particular neighbourhood is to simply visit the local police station and ask their professional opinion of the area. Have there been a lot of police dispatched to the street you are thinking of buying on? Are there areas close-by that have a bad reputation? A good rating from police = a great and safe neighbourhood.

7) Surf the Turf
A lot of detective work can be done without ever leaving your home, says Perry. Try Googling the street and address you are looking for any media coverage from potential incidents. Most serious issues will come up in a routine search through local news outlets who post stories online.

"These are all great suggestions to get potential homebuyers familiar with an area," said Rokham Fard, CMO and Co-Founder of "While we encourage all our clients to do some real estate recon, one of the key benefits of using a local realtor is their in-depth knowledge of a given area. Our agents know their neighbourhoods inside and out, and are well equipped to find our clients the best area to meet their needs." is now servicing homebuyers in Toronto and Vancouver and will be adding selling services in the coming months. The company will also be rolling out in Calgary and other major Canadian real estate hubs throughout 2015.

About TheRedPin:

TheRedPin connects people, data and technology. Our platform carries the largest database of active residential listings in the Greater Toronto Area, with plans to expand nationally. We are a challenger brand, with a unique business model that streamlines the real estate journey, and provides exceptional end-to-end services and benefits, not found at other traditional brokerages.

Founded in 2010, four friends recognized that the real estate industry might be the only sector not influenced by technology. The four saw this as an opportunity to reinvent the way people bought and sold properties, more specifically the way homes were searched. Today, TheRedPin is much more than that.

We are a tech startup that doesn't answer to the industry, we answer to our clients and ourselves.

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