Most buyers state that the neighbourhood is their top priority when selecting a home - ahead, even, of price - according to research by the National Association of Realtors. The following is a checklist of questions to ask yourself as you investigate your prospective new neighbourhood:
- Is the neighbourhood stable, improving, or declining?
- Do sales in the area support the home's price?
- What neighbourhood characteristics do you want most: Close to work, schools, shopping, transportation, and recreation? Or, is proximity to friends and family more important?
- What kind of shopping options are available: local boutiques, big boxes, farmer's market?
- What about zoning and land uses? If the neighbourhood has a mixed land use that includes commercial, what is the trend and how might this affect your lifestyle and future sale?
- What do actual homeowners like/dislike about the neighbourhood? (Take a stroll, stop by driveways and front lawns to chat with them.)
- Does the neighbourhood have a friendly feel to it?
- What is the crime rate of the neighbourhood?
- Are the homes and yards decently maintained?
- What of the homes backing onto the house you inspected? Do they add to your backyard in a positive and appealing way, or would a privacy fence be the only solution?
- What about traffic? Is it particularly heavy and when?
- What are the property taxes and municipal services?
- If there is a pub close by, how noisy will it be on the weekend nights?
- What are the city's plans for the neighbourhood? Any commercial or industrial developments, or group housing, approved or under review?
Have you ever wished you took more time to investigate a neighbourhood before buying a home? Leave your comments below.
Eugene Pilato is broker of record at Century21 Today Realty Ltd. in Fort Erie, ON.