When buying a house, most people have an idea of which neighbourhood appeals to them, with factors like proximity to a school or easy access to work or public transit often weighted heavily. Choosing the right area is about more than checking off items on a list, though: when you buy a home, you’re joining a community.
Buyers generally approach REALTORS with a clear idea of where they want to be, but since COVID, people have started to expand their horizons. Considerations are now toward areas that offer additional outdoor space, and with the newfound ability to work remotely, commute time is less of a factor.
1. Check the Community Plans
Sometimes buyers can fall in love with a property without realizing how the area around that property may change. You may love the unobstructed view from your living room window, but if it’s outside of your (potential) property, it’s not guaranteed forever. Consult the community plan before you commit.
It’s crucial to prepare yourself with the knowledge for what may be coming in the next 5 to 10 years before you make an offer, and that’s where a trusted REALTOR and neighbourhood expert can really come in handy. Zoning, land use, and school district boundaries can all change — make sure you’ve got support to help you navigate the way forward.
2. Prioritize Lifestyle and Livability Factors
While it may be a little intimidating to knock on a neighbour’s door, it’s often a good idea to connect with people who currently live in the area. They can provide valuable information about the neighbourhood and enable you to gain a deeper insight into the general lifestyle.
Go beyond the demographics of your favourite neighbourhood and start thinking about how your daily life will change if you move to this community. Depending on your lifestyle, it will be important to understand different transit routes, bike routes, nearby bus/train stations, and walking distance to amenities. A neighbourhood expert, like your friendly Stilhavn REALTOR, will have intimate knowledge about the area, including nearby amenities, transit routes favourite cafes, important statistics, and more.
3. Explore The Neighbourhood At All Hours
There is no single best time of the day to look around a potential new neighbourhood. In fact, it’s a good idea to scope out the area several times, visiting at different times of the day.
Visit at night, go for a walk on the weekend, or check it out after work, and figure out what kind of energy the neighbourhood exudes. Do you notice a lot of foot traffic? Some streets might be busier than they first appear and as with any residential area or main-street locality, traffic patterns can vary.
After all, one person can transform a house, but they can’t change the neighbourhood. In the long term, even the best house would fall short of expectations if you didn’t love the area that surrounded it. That’s why it’s so important to seek a desirable community that aligns with your lifestyle and needs, both present and future. Crucial amenities, a sense of security, a potential for growth and the community feel that works for you are all part of a neighbourhood’s unique charm.
4. What’s in the Area?
Any neighbourhood you visit and explore comes with it’s own shopping and amenity treasures. You might like to be close to a pharmacy, gas station or supermarket if convenience is important, or at least have them on the same route you would drive picking the kids up from school to save an extra trip out of the way.
If you have a pup, you might like to be close to a dog park, or an area where is safe and easy to walk them during the day or somewhere you yourself might like to go walking. Are there schools nearby, recreation facilities, restaurants, libraries, post offices or banks? What are necessary stops in your day or week that are best to have close by?
It’s important to keep in mind that the points on your checklist to make an area desirable to you, might also be on others’ too. In this case, the demand for homes in one area might increase, and along with it, the prices. If this happens within an area you are interested in, it might be worth weighing up some of the other factors to see if this will still work for you/your family, or if there are other areas to then consider.
This is a good time to work closely with a REALTOR to examine where the current housing market is, in that area or as part of a wider scope, and see how the pricing has changed, is changing or what (if any) future trends look like. Is it worth waiting or do you need to apply for or increase your mortgage application?
Remember, there are many areas that might fit the bill for your new location and there are also many ways to adjust your preference sheet – perhaps a smaller home, perhaps adding an extra 5-10 minute commute or perhaps even looking within a new part of the region! For example, if you’re in Vancouver, would you consider the Sea to Sky or the beautiful Okanagan for a change of scene? Also, don’t forget you can ask people in the area questions too! If you’re driving around and see neighbours, politely ask them how they find it, and always remember, a local real estate agent is your best friend to discover the in’s and out’s of an area.
Looking For Your New Havn?
If you’re looking for the perfect neighbourhood in Vancouver, the North Shore, the Sea to Sky or the Okanagan, reach out to Stilhavn agent today. A trusted Stilhavn REALTOR® can truly help you get the lay of the land…
Looking within the Okanagan, contact us here. Looking in the Lower Mainland, contact us here.