Three important things to consider when choosing a home

1. The best location

Location is important to getting the best financial experience and enjoyment out of a home. While most people know instinctively if the home itself is designed well and is aesthetically pleasing just from the feeling they get when they walk inside, the location of a home has a few more subtleties to consider. The age-old statement about real estate is: The three most important aspects to selecting a property are, “location, location, location.”

The value of a specific location can improve over time if there are upgrades to mass transit, new parks installed, or new community buildings added like recreation centers or schools. It is best to choose a location where these important community buildings are already close by rather than guess when they will be added in the future.

2. Distances and travel time

A great location is made up of not only the distance from the home to convenience locations like grocery stores and pharmacies, there is also a very strong tie between property value and the distance it takes to travel anywhere based on drive times.

For example, the highest paying jobs are usually in the downtown core of a given city. Therefore, all other things being equal, property values closer to the downtown area are likely to be higher than those farther away.

This distance and the time it takes to get there relative to other neighbourhoods can directly contribute to the value of the home. Just think of it in terms of dollars per hour of drive time. The less time someone has to spend in the car commuting to work, the more time they have to do other things and therefore the higher the home value. Proximity to public transit in urban centers can also create a spike in property values in close walking distance to mass transit stations.

3. Amenities within the neighbourhood

The neighbourhood and the reputation it carries can impact whether your new home retains or gains value over time. If the area is established and supported by strong amenities, home values are likely to be more stable and see sustained growth.

Other factors to consider if you have a family are the distance to the nearest schools, recreation centers and shopping plazas. Parks and other points of interest, like lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water, can also greatly enhance value.

Other aesthetic features of the neighbourhood like landscaping, sidewalks, grass-covered boulevards, and larger trees should immediately stand out and don’t be afraid to purchase based on your instinct in these areas. What looks good to you will likely also look good to a future buyer. Easy access to main roads to get around and reduce commute time can be a real positive too.

Making a move to any new home can take some getting used to. One way to “test out” a new home location before moving there is to take a few hours and visit the neighbourhood before you make your final purchase decision. Walk around and visit the amenities that you are likely to use the most often and see if you can visualize yourself going there daily. Fear of the unknown can be difficult to get over. By checking out the area beforehand, you may feel more comfortable and excited to move once you have experienced the community and met some of the people you will soon be running into more often.

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