Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

December 15, 2015

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

By David Reiss

David Wilson quoted me in Are Neighborhood Watch Signs Killing Home Sales? I reads, in part,

Neighborhood watch programs proclaim that a community’s members have one another’s backs, a collective way of saying, “Hey, we got you covered.” So home shoppers who see neighborhood watch signs plastered on telephone poles and in parks should feel confident about settling down in that community, right?

Not necessarily.

A debate is brewing, most recently in Longboat Key, FL, over whether neighborhood watch signs are good or bad for property values. While some think these safety-first signs raise home prices, former Mayor George Spoll is arguing the opposite: that they make an area look crime-ridden, sinking home prices and scaring off potential buyers in the process.

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“It would be hard to say that a watch sign on its own is a good or bad thing, but in particular contexts it could make a difference,” says David Reiss, research director at the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School. After all, he points out, “If home buyers have heard that crime is an issue there, neighborhood watch signs may give comfort that the neighborhood is doing something about it. On the other hand, if it’s a neighborhood that is not facing major crime issues, signs may be a confusing signal.” 

Bottom line: If you’re a home buyer and see these signs, do your homework and research crime in the area. Go ahead and ask your seller and Realtor about crime in the area; call local law enforcement or search online on sites such as or

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