Posted on March 03, 2015

Finding the Perfect Home in the Perfect Neighbourhood

One of the biggest investments you will make is purchasing a home. Buying one is not as simple as making a decision about what to buy; it involves a process. Early on, you will have to decide if you are working with a real estate agent or going it alone. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and only you can decide which is right. Whether you work with an agent or not, there are some factors to consider before buying a home.

Location, Location, Location

It is a cliché, but it is much about ‘location, location, location.’ Generally speaking, the location of the home is a prime consideration. Price range will likely be a factor in determining which area you choose.

• Is sustainable living important to you? Then you will want to explore a home near transit or one where you can walk or bike to work.
• Where is your office? Anything that requires more than a 50-minute drive may quickly kill your enthusiasm.
• Consider the demographic. Young professionals may prefer an urban setting, whereas retirees may prefer a ‘gentler pace’ and a home near a golf course. Growing families may look for neighbourhoods with schools nearby.
• How long do you see yourself in the neighbourhood? When looking for a home, search for one that you see yourself living in for several years. Buying and moving to a new home takes a lot of time and effort, and closing and moving costs can add up significantly.

Do a Drive-By

You should consider amenities and neighbourhood conveniences in your buying decision. Some things to consider:

• Your favourite grocery store
• A range of restaurants
• Drug store
• Your bank
• Your preferred coffee shop
• Retail options
• A gym or recreation centre, something which your building may include
• Green space and dog-friendly parks
• Personal services, such as drycleaners, salon or spa
• Movie theatre or other entertainment options
• Auto-related amenities like a car wash, gas station or tire shop

The Devil is in the Details

Focus on a few things that are most important to you in finding the perfect space … and don’t forget the details!

• Spend some time on your walk-through – will your favourite pieces of furniture fit? Is there enough natural light? What are your storage options?
• Check for cell phone reception in the unit.
• Be sure to factor in closing costs, a home inspection, property taxes, and insurance.
• Read the Strata Bylaws to learn if a building is pet-friendly, non-smoking, dictates occupant limitations, etc.
• Talk to neighbours. They may offer valuable insight about the area.

At the end of the day, when buying a home, trust your instincts and be patient. Many people say they purchased a condo because it ‘just felt right.’ Happy hunting!

(How to Save for a Down Payment in Seven Simple Steps)