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Choosing the Right Neighbourhood

When buying a home, the neighbourhood you select will not only play a pivotal role in your family's life but will also affect the resale value of the property.

One person's ideal neighbourhood, however, may differ greatly from another's. Regardless, there are some needs and wants that generally do not change. The distance from your new home to schools, churches and shopping, for example, will not only affect how you and your family settle into your new home it will also draw or turn off a future prospective Buyer.

A good first step is to enlist the services of a REALTOR® who works in the area you are thinking of moving to. REALTORS® are familiar with the communities in which they work and can answer many of the questions that you will develop during your search.

Check the lifestyle
A home is part of a larger community and, frankly, some communities are more desirable than others. Some communities are geared more to young families, while others cater to older adults and still others to singles or to an eclectic mix of residents.

Never buy in an unfamiliar community or neighbourhood unless you have spent some time there both during the week and on a weekend, day and night. Drive and walk around. Talk to store owners and people you meet on the street. Ask what they think of the neighbourhood.

If there are vacant tracts of land where you plan to buy, check with local authorities to see what the proposed land use might be. The last thing most home owners want is the development of a mall or high-rise office building across the road from their newly-purchased, residential property.

Don't let particular features in a home that appeals to you override its location and potential subsequent resale value. When analyzing a potential property, ask yourself if you can imagine living  not just in this home  but in this neighbourhood for the long term.

Remember that someday you may have to sell your home to someone else and things that may not be important to you - such as distance to schools, shopping, doctors and work - may be important to other Buyers.

Location, location, location

In addition to finding the right neighbourhood, consider the other homes immediately around the particular property you are interested in. Are they well-maintained and worth the same as, or more than the home, you are considering?

Is the location a quiet area or a major traffic thoroughfare? What kind of privacy does the backyard provide? Does the yard get morning or afternoon sun? If there is no house behind the prospective property, who owns that property and how will it be developed?  Check zoning and proposed development applications with the local municipal or regional authority.

Homes located further away from the centre of an urban area are generally less expensive. Are you prepared to invest the time and money it takes to commute and how long of a commute are you prepared to commit to? Is there public transit and good access to major roads nearby?

If you have children in school, what kinds of schools and services are available? Special needs and French immersion programs may not be as easy to access in some neighbourhoods. Will your children have to be bussed to their school? If a school is close by, will they have to cross any major intersections?

Being too close to a school, on the other hand, may have some drawbacks - few owners want the noise and disturbance of being located right next door.

Finding malls, grocery and specialty stores in urban, residential areas is rarely a problem. But, in neighbourhoods further away from urban areas, you may need to drive to the nearest convenience store. And getting to the local grocery store, pharmacy and other support services may require an even longer trek.

It's great to be located near parks and recreational facilities, but few homeowners appreciate the tennis court lights beaming into their backyards. If the home you are considering backs onto such a property, drive around the area and see how often the baseball diamonds, soccer fields, swimming pools and skating rinks are being used and when.

More serious concerns may involve having such things as gas stations, an airport, railway tracks, commercial developments, major arteries and cemeteries very close by. Before making a decision, think of your lifestyle and how a particular location would enhance or detract from it.

Multiple Listing Service, MLS®, REALTOR® and REALTORS® are registered trademarks of the Canadian Real Estate Association. REALTOR® identifies a real estate practitioner who is a member of the Association.

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