Working for the Prince William County Police Department for 12 years has given me an education about the communities in Northern Virginia. But much of what I’ve learned in local law enforcement can be found by doing your homework with the help of the internet. As a Realtor, there are good questions asked by clients moving into the area which I am prohibited to answer. Ask a real estate agent the known locations of drug areas, the highest incidents of theft and assault related to gang activity, or habitual problem houses in any neighborhood, and they won’t be able to answer you because the Realtor Code of Ethics prohibits them from giving you a straight answer, or they simply don’t know. Other area police departments include: Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, Fredericksburg City, and Fauquier County. These are the smart public safety and education searches when buying a home:
I spent 12 years as a Prince William County Police Department Patrol Officer & Sergeant, and Detective assigned to the Special Problems Unit, Burglary Unit, & Violent Crimes Unit. This experience leads me to encourage everyone entering the home buying process to conduct the research from the following sources before signing a purchase agreement on any home.
(1) Determine neighborhood crime:
View weekly crime reports of the jurisdiction you plan to make your new home. Local police departments index weekly crime reports for at least 60 days. It’s easy to view these reports and find locations which have patterns of criminal activity. Problem addresses can be determined by reviewing the arrest report information of suspects. Names and addresses are provided with these reports.
(2) Keeping children safe at home:
Visit the Virginia State Police Sex Offender & Crimes Against Minors Registry. When sex offenders are sentenced they are required to follow registration as a sex offender, and keep probation/parole officers updated on their whereabouts. When you sign a purchase agreement in Virginia your Realtor is required to tell you about this website. But potential homeowners should check this website before making an offer on any home.
(3) Neighborhood Watch Coordinator:
Contact the Crime Prevention Unit for crime statistics. But don’t stop there. If you want to find the unfiltered facts of any neighborhood ask to be put in touch with the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator (NWC). The NWC has a network of neighbors reporting problems to them. When I was a patrol officer I spoke to neighborhood watch participants often to learn information related to crimes or problem locations.
I spent 12 years in Prince William County Schools. I was given the opportunity to receive a first-class education on the backs of taxpayers. The county budget dedicates 57% of all yearly revenue to the school system. I refer my clients to these internet sources for information on public schools:
(1) School District websites, individual school websites, and Facebook pages.
Prince William County This website is updated regularly. From here you can find the website of each school (93 schools total). It is a comprehensive website. As a parent I feel it answers any questions I may have moving into a new school district. A nice feature for potential home buyers is the Find Your School option in the Parents tab (all schools districts have this feature). Other websites for school districts in Northern Virginia include: Fairfax County (12th largest U.S. school district, 53.5% of 2011 budget was dedicated to education), Fairfax City (4 schools which are newer facilities, AP/Honors Program), Spotsylvania County (5 high schools, 14,000+ students), Stafford County (30 schools, great athletics and activities programs, usually ranked in the top 5 overall school systems in Virginia), Fredericksburg City (5 schools, James Monroe High School has an outstanding athletics department and there is usually a team competing for a Group AA state championship, and Fauquier County (3 high schools, 5 middle, & 11 elementary schools serving 11,000 students mostly in the Warrenton area. There are also 9 religious & independent schools in the county.
For statistics, test scores, and parent reviews.
Individual schools are compared to others in the same school district. Schools are also given state rankings in all Standards of Learning test scores.
(4) The PTO President
As mentioned earlier in Public Safety, if you want an unfiltered version of what is going on in a neighborhood you need to speak to the NWC. It’s no different in public school systems. Our children were educated in Stafford County Public Schools. I coached football at North Stafford High School. Our experience as parents, and a member of a high school athletic department and Athletic Club qualifies us to tell our clients to contact the PTO President at the school serving the attendance zone where you are considering the purchase of a home. This will present you with an inside view of the administration and faculty.
If the athletic department is a concern we recommend you speak to the President of the Athletic Boosters. If you would like information related to each program (usually coaching information), a good source is the Club President of the sport(s) your children play. As a football coach I can tell you the Touchdown Club President at North Stafford High School was a wealth of inside information. The administrative staff at each school will give you the necessary contact information.
Maryanne & I serve Northern Virginia. We have sold homes throughout the region. My family has been involved in residential home building and sales in the area since 1970. We have the knowledge, work ethic, & experience to represent the toughest residential real estate transactions. We routinely work between Springfield and Spotsylvania. We also offer our services from the City of Fairfax to the Town of Warrenton. If you select us to represent your needs as a buyer or seller you will not be disappointed. Find recommendations on Trulia.com, Zillow.com, & LinkedIn.