I have discovered that most buyers know what they want in a Windsor home. They know how many bedrooms and bathrooms, what type of kitchen and floor plan they want. But when asked what neighbourhood they desire, some buyers are unsure. Do they want the suburbs? Close to good schools or maybe public transportation? What about next to freeways or downtown? The issue is, in order to love a home, you must love the neighbourhood. Living in an area that is not conducive to your lifestyle can only bring misery.
So how do you find the right community? Needless to say, it takes some research and some soul-searching. Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Will you have a family or will you be an empty nester? What are your “must haves” and “like-to-haves” in regards to finding a neighbourhood? Let’s break it down:
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you have children or plan on having children in the near future?
2. What type of home do you want? Condo? Townhouse? Single family?
3. Are you willing to commute?
4. What style of home? Are you looking for a historic home, new construction?
5. What do you want in a neighbourhood that you don’t have now? Maybe you want to live closer to parks, nature trails, the water?
6. What DON’T you want in a neighbourhood? Maybe you don’t want to live on top of your neighbour, or close to businesses or busy streets.
7. Do you want to walk to nearby attractions? Would you like to walk to coffee shops or restaurants or local shopping?
Once you have a good idea of what you want, then it’s time to do the research. Chances are, if you are moving close to where you live now, you know the area pretty well, however, if you are moving to a new town, you will have to do some work. This is where a good real estate agent who knows the community well, otherwise known as a neighbourhood specialist, will be invaluable.
Once you have an idea of an area that interests you, it’s time to dig up information. Here’s some things you will want to check out:
1. Schools: Always pick a neighbourhood that has excellent schools, even if you don’t have children and not planning on any. Why? Because when it’s time to sell, your home will be even more attractive to buyers. It’s much easier and you will get a higher price with a home in a good school district as opposed to one that has a less than a favourable reputation.
2. Crime: For specific information, contact the local police department.
3. Parks and recreation
4. Neighbourhood associations: Does your area have one? Are there fees? Rules?
5. Nearby restaurants/shopping, tourist attractions?
So far so good? Are you liking the area that you see and all indications are positive? Hang on, there is still more to investigate!
Keep an eye out! Look around the neighbourhood at various times of the day and night. What may look very peaceful and quiet during the day, can be quite different in the evening. Are the neighbours interacting? Are there plenty of children playing outside? Maybe cars are parked on the lawn or dogs are running around? Are the streets well-lit? You can see a totally different picture of a neighbourhood from one hour to the next.
Now visualize yourself living there. Can you walk your dogs safely? Are there areas to jog? Can children play safely? Are there signs of vandalism or lots of “For Sale” or “For Rent” signs?
Now listen! Are there dogs barking continously? Traffic noises? Airport noises? Talk to neighbours and see what they like and dislike about the area.
Finally, get a taste of the neighbourhood and see if you can imagine living there. Remember, even if it’s a great, coveted area, it may not suit your needs. The important thing is to trust your gut because you will be the one making the mortgage payments. While every home buyer needs to make compromises, location should never be one of them. If you can imagine living happily in a neighbourhood, and the home is within your budget, then it may be the perfect property!