Choosing a neighbourhood-Canada
When you set out to buy a house, you're not just buying a home - you're buying a location. And even the most perfect house won't feel right if you're in the wrong neighbourhood. Conversely, the less then perfect home in your perfect location could possibly be improved with a good renovation plan. Educate yourself about the area so you'll choose wisely; consider what renovations give you the best return for your buck - and end up being happy with your decision.
Are you close to shopping and recreation? Being close to stores, parks, recreational facilities, a post office and dry cleaners will save you time.
Do people in the area take care of their homes? Explore the neighbourhood, keeping an eye out for signs of neglect (overgrown lawns, houses in need of paint, trash and junked appliances littering yards). A run-down neighbourhood can drive down your property value.
Are there schools nearby? If you have children, the proximity and quality of schools is key. Some schools will provide data (i.e. average test scores) that can determine quality. Talking to neighbours with children can be helpful, too.
Is there good access to transportation? Living near public transport and/or major highways can mean an easier commute to work.
Is it safe? Check with the local police department - they may be able to provide statistics about break-ins or other crimes. Statistics Canada also provides loads of information on different areas, population, age, average income, etc.
Will the home increase in value over time? Homes in some neighbourhoods appreciate faster than others. Research the selling prices of homes in over the past decade or so to predict future trends. Your agent may be able to provide helpful data.
Is it quiet? Listen for traffic noise, barking dogs, airplanes and any other noises that might bother you. Return to the neighbourhood at different times of the day to get an accurate impression.
There are other articles about house buying in the Housing section of the Wiki.