Your home says everything about you. But so do the surrounding community and neighbourhood. Buying a home that fits your lifestyle needs to be included on every homebuyer’s “must have” list.
Think of it this way; when a real estate agent asks a buyer what they want in a property, the first answers are obvious: they list how many bedrooms and bathrooms the desire and updated kitchen and a nice yard. We don’t often hear what they want out of a neighbourhood. But location is the single most important factor a buyer should consider when purchasing what will probably be the largest investment they ever make.
Location Can’t Be Changed
Here’s a scenario: Let’s say you find a home you love. It has everything you need including the right amount of bedrooms, a large yard and enough room to grow. Everything checks out about it and the best part? You can get an excellent price as it has been sitting on the market for months. The sellers are motivated; in fact, they are practically giving it away! The bad side? The location is less than charming. The sellers have been unable to unload the home because the school district isn’t that great, commercial properties are next door and crime is increasing. For buyers who think with their emotions and not their head, this is where trouble happens. A buyer needs to sit back and think if this is really the best investment they can make despite the fact they love the house itself.
If you find such a home, remember this: one day you will want to sell this property. Chances are this will not be the last home you ever purchase. If your life circumstances change, such as a job loss or transfer, you will be stuck with a home in an undesirable area. Can you afford to have a home sit on the market for several months and while making repeated price adjustments? In a normal real estate market, homes can appreciate from 3 to 5 percent a year. Some years will be more, while other years will be less. Of course, these figures vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and region to region. But homes in bad areas don’t appreciate like other homes. You can tear down walls, remodel, do almost anything you want to make your home your dream home, but you can’t pick it up and move it somewhere else. You can’t make the school district suddenly better and you can’t curb crime if it’s prevalent. You can’t stop commercial development and you can’t stop foreclosures in your area that can bring your home value down.
Appraisers and real estate agents all agree that the following should be avoided when you consider buying a home:
Are you looking at a home where your neighbour’s home is in disrepair? Look closely for any uncut grass, garbage, clutter and weeds. Is paint peeling and shutters falling off? Are cars parked everywhere and does it look like people are coming in and out throughout the day and night? This is a huge red flag. Bad neighbours also ignore pets, so look for any dogs that are barking or tied up and look neglected.
Are there any foreclosed homes in the area? What about abandoned commercial buildings across the street? Graffiti? Closed businesses and schools?
Zoning and Development Issues:
Development and zoning laws can negatively impact neighbourhoods. Is the home you are considering mixed with commercial buildings or mobile homes? Are busy roads being built? In some communities, if your home sits on a busy street, 10 percent can be deducted from the value of a home while comparable properties in the same neighbourhood that are set back, get more favorable offers because they are considered safer and quieter. That may have sounded good to you when you purchased the property, but remember, it will come back to haunt you later.
Landfill or Power Plant:
If your potential dream home is near a landfill or power plant, you can lose on average 6 to 10 percent of your home’s value. If the landfill is deemed hazardous, then you can probably deduct 15 percent or more. Also consider the light pollution at night if you live near a power plant or prison.
When buyers are considering these properties they are under the impression that once they are inside their home, all will be good. From being in the real estate business for over 20 years, I can tell you that this feeling doesn’t last long with buyers. It’s a fleeting moment because eventually, reality will strike and the issues you didn’t think would bother you, will suddenly keep you up at night.
Remember this: in any real estate boom, buyers will make a run toward any home that hits in the market. Today, those buyers that bought homes in good locations have noticed their homes depreciating at a slower rate than those sitting next to a railroad track. Consider these recommendations when looking for a property:
Top Rated Schools: Even if you don’t have children, homes in good school districts are highly sought after. Buyers will pay more for such a home.
Close to Nature and Parks: Homes near the water, lakes, parks or rivers often hold their value as buyers want easy access to visually appealing settings.
Shopping and Entertainment: The majority of buyers don’t want to travel long distances to do simple grocery shopping or see a movie.
Conforming Neighbourhoods: People tend to gather and live near others who share similar values and where properties are similar. In other words, buyers want to live near people who are just like them.
Public Transportation: In larger cities, where owning a car is not necessary, buyers want to live near public transportation, especially when weather is inclement.
Put your mind at ease. When you are considering a home, check with your Windsor real estate agent to hear their feedback on the location of your property. Hire a true professional that knows the neighbourhood well, is in tune with local land ordinances and understands that the happiness of a client in the long run is the most important goal.