Take a Walk on the Boardwalk (or Sidewalk)
If you've played the game Monopoly then you've probably picked up the Chance card that reads, "Take a walk on the Boardwalk. If you pass Go..." That's good advice when shopping for a new home. When you see a property you like and you’re thinking of making an offer, spend some time walking around the neighbourhood. This will give you a better sense of what it's going to be like to live there. After all, the last thing you want is to buy a dream home only to find out later that there are issues with the neighbourhood that make living there miserable.
If you have kids, see how far of a walk it is to local parks, playgrounds, schools and community centres. If you commute, you might also check out the route from the neighbourhood to your place of work. Is there a left turn that is likely to get backed up in the mornings? Also check out how well the neighbours take care of their properties. Homeowners tend to keep their homes looking good if they enjoy the neighbourhood.
As you walk, listen. Are there noises from nearby high schools, industrial areas, or highways that are going to be unpleasant for you? Find out if the neighbourhood is near an airport flight path, or if there is a railway in the area. (Your REALTOR® can find that out for you.) If you get a chance, talk to some of the neighbours. Ask what they like most about living in the area. You're likely to get some candid – and useful – answers.
Finally, spend some time visualizing living in the area. Can you see yourself enjoying what the neighbourhood has to offer? If so, then buying a home in that area will likely be a good choice for you.