One of the big challenges in finding a potential home to purchase is to determine which neighborhood suits you and your family best. Do you want a quiet neighborhood with architectural charm, or a more developed area with lots of young families and children around, or are you looking for the cosmopolitan feel of a city area?
What are the best ways to checkout potential neighborhoods? The starting point should always be a list of the critical factors for you and your family.
What are your drivers? Is it:
- Access to public transportation?
- Proximity to work?
- Great schools?
- Public parks?
- Active recreational areas?
- Art and Culture?
- Specific shops or restaurants?
Once you have a mental or actual list of the things that really matter to you then when possible tour the neighborhood. If you can be certain to go during rush hours, school bus times, and during the day, evening, and weekends to see how the neighborhood changes. When feasible, walk around in the area to see how it feels, smells and looks up close. Talk to neighbors and local shop owners, ask questions about the neighborhood; if you have children talk to local parents and visit the school and meet potential teachers.
It is important to also visit shops, churches and other locations that are important to your daily life; often there are substantial differences even in chain stores in terms of inventory, prices and store hours.
Home purchasing is one of the largest investments made, it is important to be thoughtful and patient with the decision process. In a market like Vancouver where the housing market has remained stable and prices are continuing to rise; it will be important to balance prudence with the need for speed in the market place. Otherwise you may miss the house you want, as another buyer may swoop in during your research time. So plan the research, know the market well before contacting real estate agents. Know what you want in the neighborhood, what neighborhoods seem to fit your needs best and then talk to the real estate professional about their knowledge of those neighborhoods to see how it fits with your understanding.
Big investment can be epic in their ability to make or break your financial security; you should be prepared, well researched and prudent in the shopping process in order to get the best bang for your buck.
Look also to the local infrastructure. Are the roads, street lamps and bridges in good repair? Does the neighborhood look like it is investing in economic development? Are there ample opportunities for employment and affordable housing to attract a work force and strong tax base to the area? How has foreclosures impacted the neighborhood? Are there abandoned properties on every corner?
What are the local zoning, building and remodeling restrictions and what will they do to your plans for the property? If you are dreaming of a studio, can you actually build it on your property?
A little planning, some local visits and some thoughtful research can not only save you from making the wrong purchase but can improve the transition to your new neighborhood.