There’s an old saying that ‘the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. But what makes one community more desirable than another? Often, it’s the visible aspects of the neighbourhood such as pride of ownership in well maintained houses and clean, tree-lined streets. Sometimes it’s the intangibles: a look or feeling you get while driving down a street. When you’re house hunting, it’s important to remember that when you buy a home you’re also buying the neighborhood.
Your home is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make. So, it’s wise to buy in an area that is stable and has a good reputation. A community’s reputation is based on many factors, including close proximity to a thriving economic centre. Look for good schools and easy access to public facilities such as libraries, parks and recreation centres. Also consider commute time: how long will it take you to get to work? Remember not to make that decision based on how long it takes to make the drive to view the house, but actually during rush hour. Are you the type of person who doesn’t mind an hour’s drive each way to work? Or do you prefer to take public transit?
Before you purchase a home, it’s a good idea to check with the planning and zoning departments at city hall for proposed developments in the area. If you’re looking for a quiet area away from the hustle and bustle, you’ll want to know if there’s a proposed shopping mall going in at the corner. Or could there be an office tower slated to back up against your backyard?
Try to get a sense of the community before you move in. Make several trips to the area you’re considering. Visit on different days of the week at different times of the day and night. Do you like what you see? Do you feel comfortable? Talk to residents—they are a wealth of knowledge about the area amenities and the community spirit. Read a few issues of the local newspaper to get up to date on current initiatives and developments. You might even want to visit the local library or community center to get an overview of what’s going on in the area.