Location, location, location” it’s one of the oldest adages in real estate across the world. And it is certainly a very important factor to take into consideration when searching for the perfect Waterloo Region home.
There is more to a location – and to a neighbourhood – than some buyers realise, however.
What factors tend to be overlooked? What exactly should you really be looking at to avoid becoming a homebuyer who discovers that their chosen and paid-for home is in a location that is not all they expected it to be? To give you a helping hand we have devised this simple checklist.
Walkability can be defined in a lot of different ways, which largely differ by walking purpose: destination-driven, exercising, socializing, exploring, enjoying the outdoors…. You’ll often see ‘walk scores’ attached to a real estate listing and these can indeed be useful but they are not absolute. To really discover how ‘walkable’ a neighbourhood is you’ll have to get out there yourself.
Experiment by walking where you and your family members would walk and when. There may be obstacles, like very busy streets, that would affect whether walking would be the best choice, especially for children.
This used to be a big location factor, but online shopping has taken the shine off this convenience for many buyers. In some areas, malls are falling into disrepair and closing. Would that be a concern for you? In other locations, new large-scale commercial ventures are underway in or close to residential areas. How would you feel about having a big box store on your doorstep?
Some developments, especially large-scale projects, condominium towers, multiple-housing complexes, and commercial ventures, increase density, traffic, noise, and pressure on schools and community services. Years of planning and arguing often proceed ground breaking on such projects though, so today’s quiet streets may reveal little sign of what will begin once you move in. The lesson here? Ask a lot of questions about local development.
Sunshine is valued by most buyers, even though they may appreciate it for different reasons, ranging from improved gardening to making use of solar energy. In some areas, south-facing backyards are more popular and, in others, it’s south-facing fronts. What is blocking sunlight to the property now and what might block it in the future?
This is an often-overlooked factor. How recently have bridges and main roads, essential for access to the area and downtown, been up-dated and up-graded? Have water and sewage services been upgraded to serve growing populations? Or, will you face months, if not years, of “under construction” streets around your home at some point in the future?
Communal landscaping and mature trees enhance many neighbourhoods. But large trees can present hazards as they age. Are trees downed in storms replaced? What invader species are working their way through the area to undermine any personal gardening plans you might have for your property?
Taxes are a key location-driven affordability factor. What’s the pattern of increase in the area? How does local government raise the funds it needs to maintain the quality of life in the area?
One big note here: Don’t panic. All these factors will not affect every property.
But our point here is that buyers should find out which, if any, of these issues, could affect their new home, its market value, and their life at that location before they buy. Smart sellers – and/or their Realtors – will know the answers to questions relating to this things, but if they don’t, you may have to be willing to do a little investigating on your own. Annoying, perhaps, but something you should definitely do, to avoid any unpleasant surprises after the sale has closed.