tl;dr – Crime data is not a true reflection of actual neighborhood safety, and is often skewed by racial bias in policing and reporting, so Realtor.com and Redfin are both keeping it off their sites.
Here’s Realtor’s post: An Invitation to the Industry: Address Fair Housing Together
Yet we keep bumping up against one very old and persistent problem: the ability to afford and own a home can be unjustly limited by one’s race, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics.
These challenges also afflict people by virtue of their gender, sexual orientation and religion. Whatever the root cause, more must be done to level the real estate playing field for all. We at Realtor.com have been working to break down those hurdles.
For example, earlier this month, we removed the crime map layer from all search results on Realtor.com to rethink the safety information we share on Realtor.com and how we can best integrate it as part of a consumer’s home search experience.
In the weeks and months ahead, we plan to examine closely what neighborhood safety means for buyers and renters who use our site so we can reimagine how we integrate safety data on Realtor.com. Our goal is to ensure we are providing consumers with the most valuable, fair and accurate neighborhood data so they can make informed decisions about where they want to rent or purchase their next home.
And here’s Redfin’s post: Neighborhood Crime Data Doesn’t Belong on Real Estate Sites
We recently decided not to add neighborhood crime data to Redfin.com. We were considering this because we’re very much focused on answering all the questions people have when they’re considering a home purchase, and we know that one of these questions is whether they’ll feel safe in a given home or neighborhood. But the data available don’t allow us to speak accurately to that question, and given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States there’s too great a risk of this inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias. We believe that Redfin–and all real estate sites–should not show neighborhood crime data.
Even if you narrow down to crime as an indicator of safety, there are reasons to doubt the usefulness of the data available. The most straightforward source of crime data is the Uniform Crime Report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which collects reported crimes from police departments across the country. Most crimes in the U.S. go unreported, however, and most reported crimes go unsolved. The fact that most crimes are missing creates a real possibility that the crimes that show up in the data set skew one way or another. And the fact that most reported crimes go unsolved means that some of the crimes being reported in fact may not be crimes. If you’re extracting data at the neighborhood level, the risk of these gaps leading to inaccuracy becomes high.
If you’d like to learn more about how crime databases are not an accurate reflection of actual crime or safety, I highly recommend the two-part podcast from Reply All: The Crime Machine (part 2).