You know what they say in real estate: Location. Location. Location. It’s the most important factor in your decision to buy a home. Choosing the right neighbourhood has an impact on how much you’ll be able to walk and whether or not you have smooth access to public transportation. If you have kids, it will impact your decision about the schools they’ll be attending. And, the more great features the neighborhood has, the more attractive the house will be when it comes time to sell.
Here is a guide to follow when looking to purchase a home:
Schools and daycares
If you have a family, make sure the houses you look at are within the boundaries of the school where you’d like to send your kids. You can call the local school board to find out. If you are still in the family-planning stage, you’ll want to investigate daycare wait times and prices as well as drop-off and pick-up times.
Whether or not you need it, good access to public transportation adds value to your home. Even if you don’t need public transit now, what about if you want to start a family? As your kids get older, this feature will save you time driving around. Or perhaps you’ll want to start an Airbnb or have a tenant. Access to public transit is a necessity.
If you have kids or grandkids, a park is a fantastic place to have within a short walking distance. Visits to the parks give you an opportunity to meet your neighbours and a space for your kids to play. Playdates, street hockey games, biking adventures are the stuff of life-long friendships.
The older the trees, the more established the neighbourhood. Large trees provide shade, oxygen, and a space for birds to sing, which all create a wonderful atmosphere. Real estate prices are normally higher in large-treed areas. Communities like Westmount, NDG, Beaconsfield, are all known for their huge scenic trees — and high real estate prices.
There is a lot of hidden value in these concrete walkways. Not all streets have them and many don’t have them on both sides. This is important to note because sidewalks are a safety zone. They add to the atmosphere of the neighborhood.
Your real estate broker has access to a home’s “walkability score” on Centris.ca. A walking or biking community fosters a quiet neighbourhood, greater safety and community friendships.
Most municipalities have ongoing educational courses and park events — theatre, holiday parties, music concerts, kids events etc. Call the city and find out if the neighborhood has active community groups. Having areas that lend themselves to outdoor adventures within walking distance are also a bonus. Places to bike or jog, splash pads, tennis courts, golf courses all help to create a better quality of life.
Things to watch out for
When searching for your ideal community, you’ll also want to watch out for things you may not want to live near. Graffiti, too much litter, excess road noise, train tracks, noise from overhead flight paths, or industrial activity and pollution can all detract from your quality of life. If you have suspicions about the neighborhood, you may want to take that extra step and call the local police to find out more about the crime rate. Also, if you want to have a clothesline, front yard gardens, or hockey games in the street, call municipality to find out more about their bylaws.
Knock on doors
It’s always a great idea to walk the streets and get a feel for the area. Approaching a neighbour and asking questions is a fabulous way to find out more details that you might not see just by looking around. It’s a great way to learn about neighborhood problems, up-and-coming community renovation projects, or even Facebook groups for things like carpooling, community events, neighborhood activities etc.
Taking the time to ensure your dream house is located in your ideal neighborhood will add so much value to your life. Get clear on your wants and needs then do your homework. It will save you countless hours and even pay off financially in the future.
Jennifer Lynn Walker has specialized in buying and selling residential and multiplex properties since 2003. She’s built a strong team of industry experts to give her clients seamless service. She’s also the founder of Montreal Real Estate Investor’s Group with 1,250+ members and Jolly Green Homes, a resource-series devoted to helping homeowners build an eco-friendly life. For more real estate resources visit: www.montreal-realestate.ca