Tip: Know Thy Neighborhood.
Once you know the housing stock, you can look at specific neighborhoods. Cruise by at night time to see whether you get a "vibe" that it is a safe neighborhood. If you have children, you'll want to check out what types of large-scale facilities (airports, highways, chemical plants, etc.) are nearby, and whether you're convenient to shopping, work, and schools. You can do much of this independently, but you can also ask your agent to help you find sources of information about such things.