Elizabeth Yu – Real Estate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
When you buy a home, you’re also buying the neighbourhood, so it’s up to you to find the best area possible for your household’s needs. Why is that important? It’s the neighbourhood that helps determine quality of life which helps establish home values.
Moving to a new neighbourhood can be daunting, especially if you’re new to the city, so begin your search with the process of elimination. Get prequalified with a lender so you know how much you can spend. Share other pertinent information with your Realtor so we can get started searching for appropriate homes for sale within your price range. It’s important us them to know how close you want to be to work, friends and family, specific schools, what kind of housing, single-family or multi-family, you’d be most interested in, and the lifestyle you and your family want to live.
For instance, if you and your partner like to cook gourmet food together, it may be important to you to be near good grocery stores as well as have a house with a kitchen great for cooking. You and your family could be exercise enthusiasts, so neighbourhoods that offer parks, walking/biking/hiking trails and other amenities would be as valuable as having a house with an exercise room.
Once you’re Realtor has found a few homes for you to view, they can tell you what they know about the surrounding neighbourhoods. They’ll prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) composed of homes for sale and those that have recently sold most near the home you’re most interested in. Comparisons are based on similar homes within a given search parameter using fields of data including square footage, size of the lot, type of home (townhome, single-family, condo, etc.), when it was built, number of bedrooms and baths, updates, special features like a swimming pool, location, property tax data, recent sold properties, and homes that are currently on the market and for how long.
In these side-by-side comparisons, you may notice that prices may vary widely, even between seemingly identical homes. One property may simply offer better drive-up appeal, prettier views, access to a different school district or more extensive updates. Your Realtor can offer insights and suggestions to help you better understand property values and whether they’re going up or down and whether they’re consistent over time.
Curbed.com advises homebuyers to study every number they can, but even so, numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
Crime rates, absorption rates (how quickly homes sell in a given area), school statistics, and livability scores can all give you empirical data, but you should also see the neighborhood for yourself to make a subjective decision.
MagicBricks.com maintains that there are four aspects to choosing a good location to live:
Other considerations for your neighborhood should also include the following:
There are nuances to every neighbourhood that you can only learn by walking it yourself during the day and also after dark. Do the neighbours and businesses show pride of ownership? Do you feel you can walk safely anytime? Is the area as clean and well-cared for as you would like? Are other people out walking, too?
You should also take time to meet the neighbours around the homes you’re deciding between. You can ask people you meet what they like and dislike about the area. They may be able to offer tips like where to find a good landscaper or babysitter. You may learn the provenance of the home you’re interested in. You can also do a little research as well as join in neighbourhood groups through Facebook. You’ll get real-time news and public services updates as well as meet people who may become friends or resources for you.
Keep an open mind and remember that every location has its pros and cons. Ultimately, choosing a neighbourhood is up to you and your family’s preferences and priorities.